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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT STORIES IN THE REGIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 15:30HRS

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UNION LEADER CALLS FOR GREATER DIRECT GOVERNMENT FUNDING OF PUBLIC SERVICES ...
UNION LEADER CALLS FOR GREATER DIRECT GOVERNMENT FUNDING OF PUBLIC SERVICES
The private sector cannot provide a panacea for the problems facing public services, president of TUC Wales Derek Gregory will warn the government today. Mr Gregory, regional secretary of Unison, will address more than 350 delegates at the start of the Wales TUC's annual conference in Cardiff, believes the only way to improve public services, was through greater direct government funding. The TUC leader will also urge the National Assembly to make better use of European Objective One funding by placing greater emphasis on the quality of job creation rather than quantity, reports Business Wales(p1).
BRADFORD REPORT PAINTS GRIM PICTURE OF CITY'S FEARS AND MUTUAL DISTRUST
As expected, Lord Ousley's reportmakes for uncomfortable reading, painting a bleak picture of a divided city ill at ease with itself and with deep-rooted problems in its race relations, schools and policing. Above all it describes Bradford as being in the grip of many fears: crime, gang culture, the illegal drugs trade, growing racial intolerance, and of talking openly and honestly about problems, reports the Yorkshire Post(p4).
WELSH ASSEMBLY TO IMPOSE HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS POLICY ON OPPOSED COUNCILS
Welsh local authorities will be told tomorrow to hand their 190,000 houses over to housing associations. Welsh national assembly local government minister Edwina Hart will risk a major clash with the leaders of the 22 councils, which are opposed to the move, by telling them to adopt the controversial plan, reports The Western Mail (p5).
LEGAL BILL FOR COMMUNITY COUNCIL WHICH TOOK ON CBC OVER TWO PLANNED PFI SCHOOLS
A community council is facing a legal bill of around£150,000 after it lost its battle against the local authority it said had infringed the rights of local people, prejudiced the planning application, failed to use correct tendering procedures and not consider the environmental impact of a PFI schools project. The high court yesterday rejected claims by Llantwit Fardre Community Council that Rhondda Cynon Taff CBC acted unlawfully and unfairly in dealing with the development of a£26m Lifelong Learning Centre in Church Village, near Pontypridd, reports The Western Mail (p8).
OBJECTIVE LOOK AT OBJECTIVE ONE'S AIM TO PUSH UP GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT PER HEAD
The Western Mail (p10) considers Objective One and asks if expectations for it targets of creating 43,000 jobs and 6,000 small businesses in western Wales and the Valleys in the next seven years are realistic, even if Wales adopts a mass transit system similar to Manchester's to connect the South Wales valleys with the southern coast. The paper believes the Welsh Assembly has three jobs to do: 'Ensure the other elements are in place so that Objective One has something to support; persuade its partners that this money is a springboard and not a lifeline; and make sure projects are strategic and of high quality.'
MDC GROUP LOOKS AT CONGESTION CHARGES AND THE ALTERNATIVES
Plans to cut the number of cars travelling into towns and cities in the West Midlands are set to be unveiled in the autumn amid growing opposition to the introduction of congestion charges. The Charging Developoment Partnership group of seven MDCs are looking into the tax proposals and exploring all the available options. Last night Walsall MDC leader said: 'I feel that charging people to get into the centre of our towns and cities will be their death knell and we must come up with an alternative,' reports The Birmingham Post (p1).
HR COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN FINDS HIS COUNCIL'S ABSENTEEISM RECORD 'TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE'
Birmingham City Council employees take 150 per cent more time off sick than workers in the private sector, one of the worst absenteeism records of any organisation in the country last year, according to research carried out by the Confederation of British Industry. Cllr Muhammed Afzal, equalities and human resources committee chairman, explained that all employees absent for more than four weeks were being referred to the council's own doctor. 'Obviously, there are some people who are genuinely sick, but there are also some people who may have been abusing the system,' he added, reports The Birmingham Post(p2).
LABOUR PARTY SUSPENDS COUNCILLORS FOR VOTING AGAINST THEIR GROUP LEADER
Four councillors have been thrown out of the Labour group on West Dunbartonshire Council for supporting an opposition motion of no confidence against their group leader. The six-month suspensions - one of them imposed on councillor Danny McCafferty, education spokesman for COSLA - were handed down by the Labour party's national executive committee in London yesterday in the wake of a vicious internal council battle over the controversial dismissal of the council's former deputy chief executive, Ian Leitch, reports The Herald (p6).
by Assistant Editor Neil Watson
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