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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT STORIES IN THE REGIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 16:45HRS

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COUNCIL ACTS AGAINST BUSINESS RATES REFUSENIK ...
COUNCIL ACTS AGAINST BUSINESS RATES REFUSENIK

A shop owner locked in a long-standing battle over non-payment of her business rates is to be made bankrupt, her local council said. The order was made against Nellie Copson, who has refused to pay rates on her derelict High Street shop in Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire, since 1999. Wychavon DC said it secured the bankruptcy petition at Worcester County Court on 19 December and was now waiting for official receivers to retrieve the£1,644 Miss Copson had failed to pay. The move is the latest episode in a lengthy battle between the council and Miss Copson, who was sent to jail for 14 days for refusing to pay up but, at 83, is now too old, reports The Birmingham Post(p3).

COUNCIL SIGNS UP BIG NAME FOR HOUSING TRANSFER VIDEO

Soccer pundit and former Villa manager Ron Atkinson is starring in a£136,000 video designed to persuade council tenants to accept a new landlord. Big Ron was filmed interviewing Birmingham's housing boss Dennis Minnis about plans to transfer the city's 88,000 council homes to a private community landlord. The videos will be sent to each council tenant as part of what has been branded a 'propaganda' drive before a crucial vote on the issue due to be held in the spring. Council officials say former Aston Villa boss Big Ron was chosen to take part in the video because of his own council house roots in Birmingham. Conservative group leader Cllr David Roy told icbirmingham.co.uk: 'The argument should be able to stand up on its own merits rather than resorting to this. It smacks of desparation.'

CLOSING CHAPTER OF VALERIE LEMMIE SAGA

It has been confirmed that Valerie Lemmie, the American who was appointed chief executive of Birmingham City Council but failed to take up th e offer, is to become city manager at Cincinnati, Ohio, where she will be paid£142,000 to run a local authority far smaller than Birmingham. It has also emerged Ms Lemmie was on a shortlist for the Cincinnati job a month before being offered the position of chief executive in Birmingham, reports The Birmingham Post(p3).

NEIGHBOURHOOD WARDENS HIT BACK AT CLAIMS THEY'RE DOING THE WORK OF POLICE

Barnet LBC launched its neighbourhood warden scheme with a fanfare last year, promising to create a safer borough by putting new 'eyes and ears' on the streets.

The£18,000-a-year uniformed council employees patrolling Barnet's streets were to provide a visible deterrent to low-scale crime and anti-social behaviour. The council aims to have 30 neighbourhood wardens and three supervisors on Barnet's streets by the end of March, reports the Hampstead & Highgate Express(p11).

IN BRIEF:

-- The South London Press (p4) reports that Southwark LBC send out 172,000 polling cards for its 31 January mayoral referendum, marked only 'Southwark Referendum Official Poll Card', leading to the council's helpline being 'inundated with calls from confused residents'.

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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