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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS (UPDATED 11.10AM)

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FURTHER WARNINGS OVER STAFF SHORTAGES IN SCHOOLS ...
FURTHER WARNINGS OVER STAFF SHORTAGES IN SCHOOLS
Rising property prices and the housing shortage across London and the south are making it harder for schools to recruit and retain staff, warn leading educationalists and headteachers. Local Government Association education chair Graham Lane told The Guardian(p1): 'The government needs to look at the financial structure of teacher's pay to keep the talented people in the profession.' And the paper details measures being taken by the government to help local education authorities. Also see LGCnet: 'TEACHER RECRUITMENT CRISIS APPROACHES MELT-DOWN SAYS UNION'.
BUSINESS OBJECTS TO SUPPLEMENTARY RATE PROPOSALS
Opposition from the private sector to government plans for local authorities to levy supplementary rates on local businesses is 'determined', reports the Financial Times(p4). Businesses complain that safeguards of consultative partnerships are not sufficient.
CONTROVERSY OVER MEANS TEST FOR HOME CARE
Government proposals to make charges to the elderly and disabled fairer have been greeted with 'grave concern' by an umbrella group covering charities involved in the area, reports the Financial Times(p3). Ministers said they expected local authorities to raise the same sum from charges as they do now under the draft guidance published yesterday (see LGCnet).
COUNCILS ACCUSED AFTER GIRL RETURNED HOME TO HER DEATH
Charges of incompetence and negligence against local authorities have been made at an Old Bailey murder trial. The Guardianreports (p4) how the jury heard that a number of London councils knew of the plight of eight-year-old Anna Climbie who died from hypothermia and neglect in her Tottenham home. A lawyer for the defence said: 'Three London boroughs were well aware of the plight of this child and none took any effective action.'
LAB-LIB DEMS SEEK COMMON ENGLISH REGIONAL POLICY
Improvements to the way the government operates in the English regions is the subject of a paper being worked on by the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties, reports the Financial Times(p2). However, The Guardianreports (p8) that the Lib Dems have 'abandoned' the joint Lib-Lab cabinet committee because of the government's stance on proportional representation. The committee has not met since the summer.
AIRPORTS: OUTLOOK BRIGHTENS FOR REGIONAL HUBS
A resurgence in demand for Britain's regional airports following chaos on the railways and the growth in low-cost airlines is examined in the Financial Times(p23). It writes: 'The pace of privatisation of regional airports should quicken as local authorities take advantage of the demand for assets.' But it warns that one of the negative factors of regional airports is that expansion may be restricted on environmental grounds.
ASTEROID 'NEAR-MISS' LEADS TO CALL FOR INCREASED SPENDING ON TELESCOPE
A 'near-earth objects' taskforce recommendation to the government for increased spending on a telescope allowing more accurate monitoring of space has been underlined by a recent incident. Over Christmas, an asteroid missed earth by 770,000 kilometres. The Financial Times(p2) quotes an expert: 'The asteroid was 50 metres in diameter ....and had it hit London or Tokyo there wouldn't have been very much left.' We only heard about this asteroid two to three days in advance, which would not have given us much time to take action if an impact was imminent.'
'SANCTION STATE FUNDING FOR POLITICAL PARTIES' - SENIOR LABOUR FIGURE
Calls for state funding of political parties' election campaigns are further examined in the wake of the revelation of Lord Hamlyn as the donor of£2m to the Labour party. Parliamentary Labour party chairman Clive Soley has thrown his weight behind the idea, reports The Guardian(p8).
'MORE ROADS BUILT UNDER LABOUR THAN THE TORIES'
Labour's pledges to cut the number of car journeys within five years have been abandoned, researchers at Aberdeen university say. More road schemes per year will be completed than under the Conservatives, reports The Guardian(p10). More was being spent on public transport, however. Powers to impose restrictions on the motorists had been devolved to local authorities. More research was needed to assist councils to meet government imposed targets on reducing road casualities. The Guardian carries a table indicating deaths and injuries in various regions in England.
ASDA/WAL-MART PLANS 13 NEW SUPERMARKETS
Supermarket chain Asda, bought by Wal-Mart Stores in 1999, has no reason to build stores in the UK as large as those in the US, reports the Financial Times(p2). The paper outlines plans to open the first purpose-built Wal-Mart store in Britain, a 100,000 sq ft supermarket in Swindon.
HUMAN RIGHTS ACTUSED IN LEGAL MOVES TO BLOCK MOBILE PHONE MASTS
An objection to the construction of a mobile phone mast has been lodged in the high court by a Leeds resident. The Times(p5) says it is thought to be the first of hundreds of similar pending cases. David Lale claims that the goverment did not allow him to object to the mast at a fair and proper hearing, thereby breaking Article 6 of the Human Rights Act. The Times reports that Mast Action UK said that it was also planning to object, using the same Act, to several mobile phone masts.
By LGCnet news editor Gary Henson
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