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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT STORIES IN THE NATIONAL PRESS

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DISTRICT FIRST COUNCIL TO BUILD ITS OWN HOSPITAL...
DISTRICT FIRST COUNCIL TO BUILD ITS OWN HOSPITAL

Wychavon DC is the first local authority in Britain to build its own hospital, reports The Times (p15).

The£6.7m scheme is being funded by the proceeds of housing stock sold off in the 1990s. The building, which will house a 26-bed hospital and GP surgery, will be leased to South Worcestershire Primary Care Trust.

The Times adds that the Conservative council did not consult the Department of Health, but did secure the support of the local Tory MP. An opposition Liberal Democrat councillor is also in favour of the plans.

Previously the council has funded the building of a Waitrose store.

CAMERON CRITICISED FOR TIMING OF UPCOMING TRIP

David Cameron is under fire for planning a trip to a glacier in Norway just two weeks before next month's local elections, according to The Daily Telegraph (p2).

The newspaper quotes an unnamed senior member of the shadow cabinet warning that 'it really is barmy to be jetting off to do this in the middle of the local election campaign'. The source added that if Mr Cameron was really worried about climate change, 'why isn't he looking at the problem of flooding on his doorstep?'

But a spokesperson for the Tory leader believed the trip's coverage, and its focus on the environment, would help the party's chances in the local election.

TEACHER LOSES COMPENSATION BID OVER `FARTING CHAIR'

An employment tribunal has rejected a claim by a former deputy headteacher, who left her post after being subject to jokes about her `farting chair', reports The Guardian (p9).

Sue Storer was seeking£1m in compensation from Bristol City Council based on 17 years of lost earnings and pension income. She claimed her request for a new chair was refused while two other male deputy heads at Bedminster Down secondary school in Bristol received new seats.

The tribunal ruled she had not been unfairly dismissed or discriminated against, and that Ms Storer should have arranged a new chair for herself.

PENSIONS ROW RUMBLES ON

Private employees will soon resent `public fat cats' on generous pension deals, writes Max Hastings on the Comment pages of The Guardian (p30).

He writes: `The louder the unions howl about threats to their feather-bedding, the more people will notice what public servants have got, and others have not. We are still a long march from another winter of discontent and its political consequences, but every local government strike brings it a little closer.'

The same newspaper carries a letter (p33) co-signed by several activists criticising today's rise in the state pension of just£2.20, and calls on the government to raise it to at least£114 per week.

LIVINGSTONE LINKS POLL TAX RIOT TO TIANANMEN SQUARE MASSACRE ON CHINA TOUR

An editorial in The Daily Telegraph (p19) calls for London mayor Ken Livingstone to be removed from office following comments he made yesterday at the start of a tour of China.

The newspaper reports (p4) that Mr Livingstone, when asked about how he felt being at the start of the Tiananmen Square massacre, replied, 'In the same way that Trafalgar Square has had an interesting history, not always a peaceful one, there's a very clear parallel. We've had some interesting riots in Trafalgar Square - I mean, only 20 years ago, the poll tax riots, and flames licking up.'

HOMELESS MAN WINS APPEAL OVER SEX ACT IN PUBLIC

A homeless man has won an appeal against an offence of outraging public decency because the only witness to his sexual conduct was a CCTV camera, reports The Times (p14).

Keith Rose believed no one was around when he had oral sex with his girlfriend in the foyer of a Lloyds TSB branch in Sheffield. A district judge fined him£50 and ordered£75 in costs but a High Court judge ruled that 'that there had been no act which actually outraged public decency since there had been no public to outrage'.

SMALL LICENCESS PARTICULARLY HIT HARD BY LIQUOR LICENSING REFORMS

A watchdog will today warn the government that small licensees were hit hard by new rules that came in last November, according to the Daily Telegraph (B2).

Small businesses such as florists which occasionally sent champagne, or village hills holding events, were caught up in an unknown system or faced steep fee increases, the Better Regulation Commission has found. There was 'a strong case for exemption' in such cases, its report states.

EDUCATION BILL `WILL CREATE GHETTOES OF SCHOOLS FOR UNDERCLASSES`

A union leader will hit out at the education bill today, reports The Guardian (p11).

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers will outline her concerns at the ATL's conference in Gateshead.

'Working-class parents and their children will find nothing in the education bill which will help them to achieve more from the state education system,' she is due to say. 'The danger is that they will find themselves ghettoised into schools for the underclass where peer group pressure is not to achieve but to reject education and all that it can offer.'

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