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

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NORTH-EAST RAILWAY BRIDGE REPAIRS COSTS SOAR BY£100,000 AS NEW WRANGLES ENSUE ...
NORTH-EAST RAILWAY BRIDGE REPAIRS COSTS SOAR BY£100,000 AS NEW WRANGLES ENSUE

Councillors will today be urged to sanction considerable further expenditure to improve the barriers four crumbling railway bridges at Dalton-on-Tees, delayed by a 'who pays for what' row between North Yorkshire CC and Railtrack. Officials are meeting senior county councillors this afternoon to ask for the go-ahead to commit more funding to the projects, with County Hall chiefs hopeful that the extra spending will be approved to allow work to get under way at Dalton-on-Tees, Danby Wiske, Thirsk Station and Thorpefield. Talking to The Northern Echo , Brian Jones of the environmental services department, said: 'With double-height barriers and quite complicated foundations to consider, I think it will be substantially above£200,000.'

ABERDEENSHIRE COUNCIL TO BRING ITS STAFF CLOSER TO COMMUNITY

Plans to convert retail space in Ellon to provide a new base for council staff in the town are marked for approval today. Aberdeenshire Council's application to alter premises at 29 and 45 Bridge Street is part of a plan to reorganise council staff to bring services closer to Ellon residents. But some of the authority's own workers have branded it an expensive and unnecessary move that would lead to a 'fragmented and inefficient service', reports The Press and Journal .

COUNCIL HEARS PROPOSALS FOR LIVERPOOL FOOTBALL CLUB'S RELOCATION

Liverpool Football Club told Liverpool City Council's ruling executive board yesterday that consultants GVA Grimley have concluded Stanley Park is the best option for the club and Breckfield area. The overall proposals for the area which GVA Grimley has prepared for the local authority state that funding will come from a variety of sources including the council, club, Heritage Lottery, the Sports Lottery and Merseytravel, reports icliverpool.co.uk .

'CLIMBIE CASE COUNCIL ... ACCUSED OF A COVER-UP' OVER MURDER IN FLAT

The Evening Standard (20/5/02, p15) claims that two Hackney LBC social workers saw 'wet, bloody handprints on the walls of a flat they were visiting,' went home for the weekend without reporting the matter. A spokeswoman for the council told the paper: 'The council has conducted its own investigation and we are satisfied that at the point when the social workers visited the flat there was no concrete evidence that a crime had taken place. Neither social worker was criticised by the trial judge.'

'ONE OF WORST EXAMPLES OF COUNCIL BEHAVIOUR TO COME BEFORE EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL' ENDS

Claims by Birmingham City Council's former head of equalities, Dr Haroon Saad, that former Birmingham City Council chief executive Michael Lyons was guilty of race bias, have been rejected by an employment tribunal. This decision draws a line under what The Birmingham Post (18/5/02, p3) calls 'a potentially embarrassing episode for the council which began in 1997 when Dr Saad was accused by his bosses of deliberately falsifying statistics regarding the number of racial incidents in Birmingham.' The case prompted the council to draw up an action plan to improve race relations amongst its 49,000 workforce.

FORMER TEACHER WINS LANDMARK RULING IN INTERNET LIBEL CASE

Retired Yorkshire teacher Jim Murray made legal history yesterday when he successfully sued ex-pupil Jonathan Spencer for for saying on the FriendsReunited website that Mr Murray was sacked from his position at Ridgewood School in Scawsby, Doncaster, for 'making rude remarks about girls' and for 'strangling' a pupil. The former language teacher, who had actually retired as a language teacher in 1983, was awarded£1,250 in damages as the first person to win a pay-out over libellous remarks made in the course of a 'virtual conversation'. Mr Spencer, who was also ordered to pay damages of£150, now faces losing his job ... as a teacher.

IN BRIEF:

- An art exhibition which shows an artist performing a sex act on a disabled man received approval on its opening night at Birmingham's Ikon Gallery. The explicit film presentation entitled Kimaru-San, which is part of a festival funded by the city council and lottery money, reports icbirmingham.co.uk .

- The Birmingham Post (20/5/02, p11) looks at the 'limited airing' received by a Private Member's Bill designed to counter low voter turnout - the Compulsory Voting Bill - believing it something of a lost issue in the recent local elections.

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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