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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT NEWS IN THE NATIONAL PRESS

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HEALTHY WOMEN BLOCK HOSPITAL BEDS FOR TWO YEARS...
HEALTHY WOMEN BLOCK HOSPITAL BEDS FOR TWO YEARS

Two elderly women have stayed in a hospital bed for two years despite being healthy enough to leave two years ago, reports The Sun (pg23). The bedblocking case has cost the NHS£359,000.

The women are ineligible for local authority care but complex family and funding issues means they do not have any cash to fund private care. Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust is taking legal action to evict one of the women.

A report in The Times (pg10) adds that Hampshire CC says it is making 'great strides' in reducing delayed discharges and 500 more nursing home beds will be available later this year.

POSTAL VOTE FRAUD INQUIRY FOCUSES ON TOWER BLOCK

Nearly all the residents of one tower block in London may have been victims of postal voting fraud, according to The Guardian (pg9).

The details emerged a day after police revealed they were investigating possible fraud in eight boroughs, seven of them in London.

Ninety out of 93 residents of a tower block in east London have been registered for postal votes, despite few actually applying for them, according to the Respect party. It has passed details to Special Branch detectives.

The Times (pg2) also reports that a 50-year-old woman arrested in Birmingham on Wednesday is the wife of Liberal Democrat candidate Mohammed Khan. A Conservative candidate for Oxford City Council, Charles Steel, is also being investigated over alleged forged signatures of nominees.

SUICIDE BOMBER 'HELPS BNP'S CAUSE' IN LOCAL ELECTIONS

The home town of Mohammad Siddique Khan is being targeted by the BNP in next week's elections, reports The Times (pg35).

The newspaper describes the leader of the July 7 bombings in London as 'the BNP's invisible poster boy' in Dewsbury, part of Kirklees MBC.

Dewsbury's Labour MP, Shahid Malik warns that while he understands frustrations of constituents, 'the BNP would only make things much, much worse'.

POLLS SHOW LABOUR AT 'LOWEST EBB' THIS PARLIAMENT

A survey commissioned by The Independent (pg4) has found Labour's popularity has fallen but the Tories have not taken advantage of the government's troubles.

The survey compiles the average results of four major polls carried out this month and finds Labour and the Conservatives are both on 33 per cent while the Liberal Democrats are on 22 per cent.

John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University also predicts that next week's local election results will be similar to 2004 - which was bad for Labour.

RISE IN PRIMARY SCHOOL PUPILS IN OVER-30 CLASSES

Around 29,000 primary school pupils are in classes that breach the official limit of 30, reports The Guardian (pg14).

The figure is 5,000 more than the previous year.

Government officials claim the number of classes breaking the law has actually fallen, because many of the large classes were approved as exceptions and given temporary permission to exceed the limit - such as when children move into an area after the start of the school year, or a local authority places children with special needs in a school.

COUNCIL WORKERS SACKED FOR MOONLIGHTING

Two local authority workers were sacked for moonlighting after they unwittingly turned up to do the job at their council leader's home, reports The Daily Telegraph (pg11).

The Northumberland CC employees took on a job to lay a patio after they were recommended to the wife of the council's Labour leader Bill Brooks. But the men - one of whom was on sick leave at the time - were caught when they turned up to deliver materials in the distinctive yellow council van.

The GMB union said the men are planning to appeal against their dismissal for gross misconduct.

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