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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT NEWS IN THE SUNDAY PAPERS

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AUTHORITIES STING CASH MACHINES FOR COUNCIL TAX...
AUTHORITIES STING CASH MACHINES FOR COUNCIL TAX

Local authorities are sending tax bills to thousands of stand-alone or hole-in-the-wall cash machines because they constitute business premises, reports The Sunday Telegraph (pg1).

The newspaper says that the levying of business rates by councils is giving banks - who 'slap customers with sneaky or hidden charges' - a taste of their own medicine.

Because councils pass details of businesses to water companies, many machines are also sent water bills.

The size of the tax bills averages£2,000-£3,000. However, water bills had been successfully challenged, said NatWest.

TERRORISTS 'PLANNING CHEMICAL ATTACK ON LONDON UNDERGROUND'

Terrorists have been planning to release a nerve agent on a tube carriage in London on or close to the anniversary of bombings last July, reports The Sunday Telegraph (pg1).

The newspaper quotes security sources, speaking after the arrest of two men in east London on suspicion of terrorist activity. Both men, one of whom was injured by a gun-shot in the police raid, deny any offences.

An estimated 1,200 people are 'living ordinary lives' across Britain but are secretly planning 20 terrorist plots, the sources added.

A London Assembly report into last year's attacks is due to be published on Monday, the newspaper also reports (pg5). It is expected to call for emergency engineers to receive automatic exemption from bans on driving in bus lanes and London's congestion charge. The engineers work for London Underground and carried out vital work in tunnels after the attacks, but at the time were subject to traffic regulations as they raced to the scenes.

The Observer (pg5) adds that the report will recommend that text messages are sent en masse to the public warning them which areas to avoid after any future attack.

PRESCOTT UNDER FIRE OVER HOUSING STRATEGY'S IMPACT ON WATER SUPPLIES

A parliamentary committee will criticise John Prescott for putting water supplies at risk in his plans to build one million homes in south-east England, reports The Sunday Times (pg2).

Mr Prescott failed to sufficiently consult water companies before his former department announced the house-building plans, the Lords subcommittee is expected to say in a report due out on Tuesday.

Ruth Kelly will be responsible for addressing the report's concerns.

CASINO GROUP TRIES TO WIN OVER BISHOP WITH PROMISE OF CHURCH PROJECT FUNDING

A giant gambling company bidding to set up a Las-Vegas style site in Sheffield has told a bishop who strongly opposes the plan that church projects could be funded if it is given the go-ahead, reports The Sunday Telegraph (pg9).

Sources said project funding came up in a meeting between Rt Rev John Nicholls and Neil Murphy, managing director of Sun International - the British arm of South-Africa-based Sun City Casino group. Mr Murphy apparently told the bishop that the council's preferred developer would pay millions of pounds in planning gain, and the council would be likely to pump funding into voluntary groups, including those run by the church.

Mr Murphy told the newspaper that the company had not offered to make any payment to a particular project in order to win support for a bid, but he had spoken generally about the council wanting to support community projects if a super-casino was approved for the area.

MUGGINGS RISE AS FUNDING ENDS FOR EXTRA BOBBIES ON THE BEAT

The first annual rise in muggings for four years is set to be confirmed in Home Office figures next month, reports The Sunday Times (pg4). Senior police officers said the increase was linked to the end of a government street crime initiative, funding for which ran out last year.

One anonymous Met commander said the scheme's end had resulted in 600 officers no longer out tackling street crime.

The figures come amid rising concern over a series of stabbings and a blade-carrying culture among young people.

TEACHERS LET PUPILS LISTEN TO MP3 PLAYERS IN CLASS

Teachers are allowing pupils listen to MP3 players in class because it 'keeps them quiet', reports The Sunday Telegraph (pg8).

The newspaper quotes unnamed secondary school teachers who have written about their approach on an education website. They claim that students are less chatty, get more work done and are easier to manage.

The National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers warned that the practice could be distracting for other pupils who could overhear the music while other teachers warned it would not improve pupils' ability to learn.

The newspaper also reports, in a separate story (pg8) that some trainee teachers receive no more than one half-day lecture on how to maintain discipline in the classroom.

ASBO BANS YOUTH FROM MEETING BROTHER IN PUBLIC

An ASBO is banning a 17-year-old from meeting his older brother in a bid to `protect' him from a bad influence, reports the News of the World (pg28).

Jimmy Fitzgerald, of Burgess Hill in west Sussex, has been ordered not to meet his brother Ricky, 29, in public. Ricky was Britain's first recipient of an ASBO and 'their association isn't doing Jimmy any good', according to chief inspector Chris Ball.

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