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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 11:50HRS

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FIRE DISPUTE #1: ANOTHER STRIKE IN PROSPECT AS NEGOTIATIONS SET TO FAIL...
FIRE DISPUTE #1: ANOTHER STRIKE IN PROSPECT AS NEGOTIATIONS SET TO FAIL

Firefighters' leaders said last night that another eight-day strike to begin next week was 'almost definite' after employers admitted they had no new proposals to make in talks today. The stalemate came as the government hardened its stance, saying it was prepared to put up with 'months and months' of strikes until fire employers come up with a properly-costed pay package. But Nick Raynsford, the local government minister responsible for the fire service, allowed a glimmer of compromise by telling council chiefs that he was prepared to offer transitional funding for 'the right deal', reports The Independent(p2).

FIRE DISPUTE #2: JOINT CONTROL ROOMS THE WAY FORWARD, SAY EMERGENCY PLANNERS

The case for joint control rooms for handling 999 calls has been strengthened by their use during the fire dispute, according to senior police chiefs and other emergency planners. The president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, Sir David Phillips, said the joint control rooms had worked 'extraordinary well' in ensuring a flexible, efficient response to emergency fire-related incidents by the police and army, reports the Financial Times(p4). 'Police forces have been arguing for joint control rooms for some time and the experience during the fire dispute had resuscitated our enthusiasm,' Sir David said yesterday.

GATWICK LEGAL RULING DELAYS GOVERNMENT'S AIRPORT EXPANSION PLANS BY A YEAR

The government's 30-year plans for airport expansion will be delayed until next autumn, transport secretary Alistair Darling admitted yesterday. This week the high court overturned the government's intention to exclude Gatwick airport from its plans for new capacity in the south-east. In a commons statement yesterday, Mr Darling said the rulingwould 'inevitably mean an extended period of uncertainty for everyone'. He said a revised set of options would be published next year, prior to a four-month consultation period. The consultation on the original plans was issued in July and was due to end on Saturday, but will now have to be completely redrafted, reports The Independent(p2).

GOVERNMENT WILL GIVE EXTRA MONEY FOR COUNCILS TO PAY BED-BLOCKING FINES

Local councils opposed to government plans to fine them for 'bed-blocking' in hospitals won a big concession yesterday. Health minister Alan Milburn said he would give councils an extra£100m a year from the NHS budget to help pay the fines, telling the commons that the extra money would cover the expected level of fines, ensuring councils were no worse off than they are today. If they improved their performance they would be able to keepthe extra money, reports the Financial Times(p2).

AN EXTRA£100M FOR SOCIAL SERVICES TO TACKLE DELAYED DISCHARGE

RULING ON AYLUM-SEEKER'S FAMILY WHICH WOULD NOT TRAVEL TO DISPERSAL AREA

Unless an asylum seeker could show a pre-existing right to support, there was no jurisdiction to hear an appeal where the home secretary had granted support subject to a condition, reports The Times (p43). Mr justice Silber, so held in the queen's bench division when allowing the secretary of state for the home department's application for judicial review and quashing the determination of the of the chief asylum support adjudicator on 17 January 2002 that she had jurisdiction to hear an appeal by Ahmet Dogan against the secretary of state's decision, under section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, to grant him asylum support on the condition that he and his family mo ved from their existing home to a dispersal area to which they refused to travel.

BUDGETS OF LONDON COUNCILS MAY BE HIT BY CENSUS SPENDING CONCLUSIONS

London will be the main loser if the new population census figures are used to set local authority budgets for the coming year, according to official figures. The figures were released by the office of the deputy prime minister in an answer to a parliamentary question. No authority gains more than£10m as a result of the new numbers, reports the Financial Times(p4).

IN BRIEF:

-- The chief executive of services provider Capita, Rod Aldridge, has said that it will not bid for Public Private Partnerships (PPP) unless executives are granted direct access to ministers, reports The Times(p29).

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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