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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT STORIES IN THE REGIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 17:10HRS

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CAMDEN REPORTEDLY PROMPTS OPT-OUT CLAUSE TO GOVERNMENT'S LICENSING BILL ...
CAMDEN REPORTEDLY PROMPTS OPT-OUT CLAUSE TO GOVERNMENT'S LICENSING BILL

Prime Minister Tony Blair has been told his government's Licensing Bill - which allows pubs and clubs to open round the clock - is 'wrong' by Camden LBC leader Jane Roberts, reports the Hampstead & Highgate Express(10/10/03, p1). Councillor Roberts' appeal has reportedly prompted Tony Blair to consider offering a discretionary 'opt-out' clause to places like Camden, where more than 400 venues apply for licences every year.

CHILD ABUSE PLEDGE CANNOT BE DELIVERED

Following the case of Caleb Ness - see The Herald(10/10/03, p1) - senior social workers have admitted that Edinburgh City Council will not be able to honour its pledge to review urgently the cases of 342 children known to be at risk of physical abuse from their parents, reported The Scotsman (11/10/03, p1).

IN DEPTH: PRIVATE COMPANY'S SOS TO GOVERNMENT AFTER UNDERESTIMATING SCALE OF SCHOOLS TASK

The first private company to run schools in Yorkshire has admitted it had underestimated the task and asked the government for help. Education Bradford, run by management firm Serco, said it was in discussions with the government over ways to speed up improvement at the city's failing schools, reported the Yorkshire Post(11/10/03, p1). The appeal prompted Yorkshire MP Marsha Singh to defend the government's spending on education in Bradford and blame the cash crisis on council mismanagement. He said city schools had benefited from 'over and above' the normal amount of funding, and he called on Bradford City MDC to show how the money had been spent.

AULD ENEMIES SIGN UP FOR OLYMPIC BID ALLIANCE

Scotland is bidding to be marketed as training grounds for the thousands of international athletes who will travel to the UK should London's bid to stage the games succeed, reported Scotland on Sunday(12/10/03, p12).

OPPOSITION TO SUPER-BOROUGHS FROM BOTH NORTH AND SOUTH OF THE THAMES

In a comment column for the South London Press (10/10/03, p12), London Assembly Green Party leader Darren Brown calls for smaller London boroughs, providing 'a real voice for London's communities'. 'The denizens of Hampstead,' reads the leader column in the Hampstead & Highgate Express (10/10/2003, p14), 'would argue that even Camden Council is too remote for their liking.' What the paper believes must be addressed are anomalies, 'such as the nonsense of Highgate being divided among a number of different authorities which seem incapable of communicating properly on issues of common concern.'

THE COST OF SUSPENDING A COUNCIL CHIEF EXECUTIVE

The suspended chief executive of Kingston upon Hull City Council, Jim Brooks, could learn his fate this week, amid opposition claims that the drawn-out procedures have cost the taxpayer £2m, reports the Yorkshire Post(p4). Protracted negotiations have finally led to a hearing on his conduct this Thursday chaired by independent investigator Nicholas Underhill QC, but some sources suggest a settlement may be agreed before it takes place.

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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