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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT STORIES IN THE REGIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 14:30HRS

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ANTI-BED-BLOCKING PLANS BEING MADE TO REQUISITION DIVERSE BUILDINGS AS CARE HOMES ...
ANTI-BED-BLOCKING PLANS BEING MADE TO REQUISITION DIVERSE BUILDINGS AS CARE HOMES

Plans to requisition hotels, old hospital wards or army and student residences as care homes are being made as the bed-blocking crisis in Edinburgh appears to be approaching meltdown, with 500 private care home beds lost over the past four years. Chair of the Lothian NHS Board, Brian Cavanagh, told The Herald(p1) that a range of options were being explored for the new care homes. Some might be run by community trusts, and council and NHS land could be swapped to build them.

IN DEPTH: SORRY STATE OF FINANCE FOR SCOTLAND'S ROADS MAKE IT 'POTHOLE NATION'

Commenting on the findings of the Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance Survey , the transport spokeswoman for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, Alison Magee, told The Herald : 'Cosla will be meeting the transport minister shortly to discuss the comprehensive spending review as it affects transport issues, and investment in local authority roads will be one of the main items on the agenda.' A Scottish Executive spokes-man said the country's 32 councils were allocated£70m over the past three years for local road and bridge maintenance, and had been given extra cash earlier this year to help deal with the backlog.

IN DEPTH: WELSH ASSEMBLY INSTRUCTED COUNCIL TO BLOCK FILM STUDIO PLANS

There was anger last night after the national assembly ordered a local authority to block plans for the£350m 'Llanharanwood' film studio complex with the potential to create more than 6,000 jobs. Members of Rhondda Cynon Taff CBC confirmed they had been directed by the assembly to refuse planning permission for the proposed Llanilid film studio development near Bridgend. An assembly spokesman confirmed last night that the M4 was the key issue, telling The Western Mail(p8): 'This contravened the assembly's Planning Policy Wales guidelines and UK national policy.' Council leader and assembly member Pauline Jarman labelled assembly officials 'the new Luddites' for sticking to policy at the cost of economic development. The council's cabinet member for economic and community development, Jonathan Huish, said: 'We are dismayed that the assembly government has formally directed that the application for the£350m Llanilid film studio development be refused. The assembly government appears to have issued this directive on technical planning grounds. Given the potentially massive economic development and social benefit that this development would bring to a wide area of South Wales, Rhondda Cynon Taff CBC will be having urgent discussions with the applicant developer to determine the best way forward to assist this project's progress to its next stage.'

IN BRIEF:

- The number of children looked after by local authorities dropped by 4 per cent last year, according to new figures released yesterday by the scottish executive, reports thescotsman.co.uk .

- There is not enough time to introduce a full postal ballot for the Scottish parliament elections next year, Stephen Byers told the commons yesterday. However, he said it would be possible to bring in a full nationwide postal ballot for the European Parliament elections in 2004, reports The Scotsman(p10).

- 'Now come clean over stadium debacle', The Birmingham Post (p10) suggests of ministers and the Football Association. 'The very least the government can do now is set up a truly independent inquiry to establish the truth about this bizarre affair,' it continues, 'which has left Birmingham City Council and private sector partners£1.5m out of pocket. Nothing less will do.'

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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