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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT STORIES IN THE REGIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 16:40HRS

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COUNCIL BLAMES ITSELF FOR SKI SLOPE DELAYS ...
COUNCIL BLAMES ITSELF FOR SKI SLOPE DELAYS

A damning report by Aberdeen City Council's chief executive Douglas Paterson and its personnel director Richard Parker yesterday apportioned blame for almost a decade of delay in building a replacement for the city's only dry ski-slope. The report claims problems with accountability and responsibility for the project, a lack of project leadership, differing political 'steers' in relation to a preferred site and the inexperience of some staff involved all contributed to the delays in the Kaimhill ski-slope project at Garthdee, reported The Scotsman(19/2/04, p11).

PLANNERS NOTE AIRPORT'S STEALTHY EXPANSION

Coventry Airport has been branded 'cynical' and 'devious' by Warwick DC planners over its intention, announced with travel operator Thomsonfly in December, to fly two million passengers a year from the end of March, reported The Birmingham Post (p3). The council's planning committee unanimously voted to inform the airport that apparent attempts to increase the length of the runway and build a car park were outside its permitted development rights. The council's chief planning officer John Archer said he preferred 'to keep powder dry' on what measures the council will take against the airport should a 93-metre strip next to the legal runway, surfaced with a similar material to the runway and which now boasts a turning circle, be used as an extension to the runway. The planning meeting at which the airport's application for a new passenger terminal will be considered has been put back to 1 April.

MAYOR CLAIMS ADMINISTRATION 'INHERITED' PROBLEMS BEHIND£31M LEISURE CENTRE CLOSURE

Clissold Leisure Centre could be shut for 18 months and cost taxpayers millions to repair, Hackney mayor Jules Pipe admitted last week, reported the Hackney Gazette (19/2/04, p1). The news that residents could now be locked out of the£31m flagship project until August 200 5, and that repair costs 'could run into several millions', was revealed by the mayor in a live radio interview. 'To be perfectly realistic,' Councillor Pipe admitted, 'the kind of works that will be needed on this building, it's practically as if we are starting from scratch.'

DYNAMISM OF WELSH ECONOMY RELIANT ON CREATION OF PRIVATE SECTOR JOBS

If the Welsh economy is to become more dynamic it needs to reduce its reliance on the public sector for jobs creation, Conservative shadow trade secretary James Arbuthnot warned yesterday. Speaking on a visit to south-east Wales, Mr Arbuthnot warned that while new jobs were being created, too many were to be found in the public sector, and so were 'jobs that have to be paid for by the wealth producers.'

COUNCIL OFFERS ARTISTIC CENTRE GENEROUS RE-LOCATION GRANT

Argyll & Bute Council has made plain its determination to sell off an educational centre which has nurtured some of Scotland's greatest artistic talent, by giving its operators a£9,000 grant to explore relocation options, reports The Scotsman. Councillors made the award to Actual Reality along with a pledge that the group will be allowed to remain in Castle Toward until 'at least August 2005'. Speaking after the strategic policy committee meeting, committee chairman and council leader Allan Macaskill said the possible development of the centre would benefit the whole community, including the present users.

BRYANT HOMES SAYS NO TO BRIAN JONES

Cheltenham BC has unanimously agreed to change the name of a street remembering late Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones, reported The Birmingham Post (18/2/04, p3). Housing developer Bryant Homes applied for the name to be changed in November, following objections from residents and prospective buyers of the properties, and will now re-name the close after 20th century writer John Moore.

£95M DRIVE AGAINST ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR MAY DIVERT RESO URCES FROM CHILD PROTECTION

Child support services are suffering because of a£150m shortfall in funding to local authorities, Scottish ministers have been warned. The 32 local authorities have calculated there is an almost 50% annual shortfall in Scottish Executive funding to care, reported The Herald(19/2/04, p2).

MORAY COUNCIL TOLD TO IMPROVE SCHOOLS

Education minister Peter Peacock, who will shortly ask MSPs to vote on legislation outlining the Scottish Executive's power to intervene in persistently failing education authorities, has told Moray Council that it has to raise its game and turn its services around, reported The Scotsman(p9). Inspectors highlighted widespread underachievement among pupils and called on the council to provide better strategic direction to improve standards (click hereto see a summary of the inspectors' main points).

HIGHWAYS MANAGER HAS DENIED HE WANTED TO EMBARRASS LINCOLNSHIRE LEADER SPEECHLEY

Former Lincolnshire CC head of technical services Paul Jameson has faced claims in Sheffield Crown Court that he deliberately set out to get rid of Jim Speechley, reports thisislincolnshire.co.uk. In his third day of testimony, Mr Jameson said he wrote to the leader on 14 February advising him to consider declaring an interest. When asked about the 40-day delay Mr Jameson said several drafts of the letter had 'bounced between' himself and two other senior officers, director of highways and planning Richard Wills and chief executive David Bowles.

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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