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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT STORIES IN THE REGIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 16:55HRS

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IN DEPTH: CONTOVERSY OVER NEW DONCASTER MAYOR'S£100,000 SUPPORT STAFF WAGES BILL ...
IN DEPTH: CONTOVERSY OVER NEW DONCASTER MAYOR'S£100,000 SUPPORT STAFF WAGES BILL

It has emerged that Martin Winter is using£100,000 of taxpayers' money to pay for a spin doctor, communications manager, executive office manager, personal assistant and assistant for his deputy, all of whose wages will be paid from council coffers. The jobs have all been advertised and Mr Winter is adamant that the posts have been carefully thought through, are necessary and are cost-effective, telling the Yorkshire Post(22/5/2002, p5): 'Office accommodation for the council as a whole is at a premium and the Mansion House and Priory Place are no exception. It must be remembered that the mayor has an entirely different role in steering this authority forward and delivering for the people of Doncaster. I have thought very hard about where the mayor's team should be based and with council colleagues I have considered all the options, including moving into external offices away from the Mansion House but this has simply been too expensive and not cost-effective. This short-term solution is not ideal and not one I wanted to take, but it is the best for now.'

MAYOR OF PM'S 'FAVOURITE COUNCIL' ALSO WANTS TO HIRE SPIN TEAM, BUT AT£200,000 COST

The directly-elected mayor of Newham LBC, Sir Robin Wales, is planning to spend more than£200,000 hiring his own 'spin doctor' team of highly-paid consultants and advisors, reports the Evening Standard (p19). Sir Robin countered criticism, saying: 'The role of mayor is a new post for Newham and unlike my previous position of leader, which was a part-time position, the workload will be considerably greater and I therefore need additional support. It is worth noting that the mayor of London has 38 staff in his office. The money for the posts will come out of the chief executive's current budget and existing staff may well be appointed if they are the best people for the job.'

ANOTHER TWIST FOR NATIONAL STADIUM FIASCO

It emerged last night that the Football Association told the Birmingham bid team that its plans were a viable alternative - even though it had signed a deal to keep football at Wembley. In a letter obtained by The Birmingham Post, the FA's chief executive, Adam Crozier, made it clear to the Birmingham and Solihull NAtional Stadium Project team last July that a national stadium in the Midlands was still an option.

IN DEPTH: LEAKED REPORT SUGGESTS MANY FAILINGS OF COUNCIL'S PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION

The Audit Commission's corporate governance inspection report into Hull City Council's previous administration identifies multiple failings by leaders who 'shirked difficult decisions' and 'ruined opportunities through political in-fighting' and a council which has operated beyond its means for many years. The report reads: 'The council's corporate management controls, services and systems have been a major block to progress and a drain on service capacity. The council has backed off from difficult decisions and some officers have lost heart in seeking to give rational advice, seeing it so often acknowledged and then ignored.' New council leader Simone Butterworth told the Yorkshire Post: 'We've had to sit and listen while the old council spouted about its ambitions to be a top 10 city, but top 10 is what top 10 does and we are clearly a long way off. We are at rock bottom. The report could not be clearer in its damnation of these endless years of Labour rule. We have been left with a real mess to dig ourselves out of. The city deserves so much more. We have been told central government are going to intercede in housing but if we don't sort things out they could step in and remove the very idea of a Hull City Council within three years.'

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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