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ROUNDUP OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT STORIES IN THE REGIONAL PRESS - UPDATED 17:25HRS

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CPA RATINGS #1: TORBAY COUNCIL ENGAGES AUDIT COMMISSION IN LEGAL BATTLE...
CPA RATINGS #1: TORBAY COUNCIL ENGAGES AUDIT COMMISSION IN LEGAL BATTLE

Torbay Council has launched a legal battle against the Audit Commission to preserve its reputation, in what could be a test case for the rest of the country, reports thisisSouthDevon.co.uk. It is planning a legal block on the publication of the CPA league tables. The scoring system - which is understood to have given Torbay Council a 'poor' rating - has been branded 'crude' and unfair to 'loyal and hardworking employees' by angry council leader Eileen Salloway. If the Commission refuses by 4pm today, Torbay will tomorrow seek an injunction at the high court banning publication.

CPA RATINGS #2: BIRMINGHAM CITY COUNCIL COMMENTS ON 'WEAK' LABEL

Council leader Albert Bore said of his council's CPA rating: 'We don't believe they have given us full recognition for the areas in which we are high achievers.' A council spokeswoman admitted the report also highlighted the council's failure to focus in key areas such as housing and social services. A leader column in the paper (p8) declares, with essential services its main target: 'Weaknesses must be eliminated in council.'

COUNCILLORS INVESTIGATED BY NATIONAL WATCHDOG AFTER CONDUCT BREACH ALLEGATIONS

A group of Southwark LBC councillors are being investigated by the standards board after allegations they breached the authority's code of conduct, reports the South London Press(6/12/02, p1). Southwark LBC leader Nick Stanton, his deputy Caroline Pidgeon, chief whip Jeff Hook, executive member for regeneration and economic development Catherine Bowman, executive member for housing Beverley Bassom, could all face up to five years' disqualification if the Standards Board for England finds against them. All five are alleged to have failed to refer an allegation of a breach of the code of conduct by a Southwark LBC councillor. Also under investigation is Lib Dem East Walworth ward Cllr Margaret Ambrose.

COUNCIL MEETING CANCELLED - NOTHING TO DISCUSS

A full Islington LBC meeting planned for 10 December has been cancelled - because there is nothing to discuss, reports the Highbury & Islington Express (6/12/02, p2). Mayor Margot Dunn called off the meeting which, under the new system, is the only forum which brings the whole council together.

COUNCILLOR'S KERB-CRAWLING CHARGE DROPPED

Senior councillor Alec Nicol, who was arrested during a police crackdown on kerb-crawling in a notorious red light district, has had the charge against him dropped. Cllr Nicol told The Herald (5/12/02, p5) he had been in the Leith area of Edinburgh after 'following the plight' of local residents demonstrating against prostitution there.

INELIGIBLE MAYORAL CANDIDATE ARRESTED, RELEASED ON BAIL

Ineligible Hackney LBC mayoral election candidate Errol Carr has been arrested, 'on suspicion of attempting to obtain attempting to obtain a pecuniary advantage, in relation to him trying to gain employment as mayor of Hackney,' according to a police spokeswoman. She added that Mr Carr was also arrested for 'offences under the Representation of People Act, which related to details he gave on an electoral registration form.' Mr Carr has been bailed to return to an east London police station on 8 January.

EDINBURGH CITY COUNCIL MAKES FIRE PROVISION

Following the massive fire which destroyed part of the historic Old Town of Edinburgh and caused millions of pounds' damage, emergency accommodation was provided by Edinburgh City Council for 54 people evacuated from surrounding flats, reports The Scotsman. Edinburgh council's public safety manager, Brian Sibbald, said structural engineers would assess the area once the fire had been extinguished before deciding whether any buildings needed to be pulled down. 'The buildings in this area have all suffered damage on the upper floors with roofs collapsing,' he said. Every effort would be made to get people back into their homes, offices and buildings around the fire site as quickly as possible, he added.

IN BRIEF:

-- Calderdale MBC's councillors look set to award themselves huge pay rises which have been recommended by an independent panel, reports The Yorkshire Post (7/12/02, p10). Every one of the 54 members will get£8,155 a year, a rise of 43 per cent.

by assistant editor Neil Watson

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