England & Wales Daily News – plus our training on speed reading (and remembering what you’ve read).
Good morning LGIU members! Grab your morning brew ☕ as we catch you up on everything happening in the world of local government today.
New law to ban tents for homeless
Home Secretary Suella Braverman is proposing new laws to restrict the use of tents by homeless people, arguing that many homeless individuals see it as a "lifestyle choice". The plan would introduce new penalties for people who authorities believe have rejected offers of help. Ms Braverman said: "What I want to stop, and what the law-abiding majority wants us to stop, is those who cause nuisance and distress to other people by pitching tents in public spaces, aggressively begging, stealing, taking drugs, littering, and blighting our communities". Housing charity Shelter responded, stating: "Living on the streets is not a lifestyle choice. Homelessness happens when housing policy fails and boils down to people not being able to afford to live anywhere. Private rents are at an all-time high, evictions are rising and the cost of living crisis continues". The plan is expected to be included in the King's Speech, which is to focus heavily on law and order. The proposals may target tents that cause a nuisance, such as obstructing shop doorways, and could create a civil offense for charities providing tents deemed to have caused a nuisance.
Sky News BBC News Financial Times The Sunday Telegraph Mail on Sunday The Observer
Anyone 'undermining' UK could be branded an extremist
Government officials are reportedly proposing to broaden the definition of extremism to include anyone who "undermines" the UK's institutions and values. The new definition prepared by civil servants working for Communities Secretary Michael Gove is part of a review of non-violent extremism. The proposals have raised concerns about the suppression of freedom of expression and has been opposed by civil rights groups, warning it could "criminalise dissent". No public consultation has been conducted on the new definition, which has alarmed many civil rights advocates.
Multi-billion pound fund for levelling up left unspent
A multi-billion pound fund designed to boost levelling up and replace crucial EU funding is being left unspent by the vast majority of councils, research by the Bennett Institute for Public Policy at Cambridge University has found. The main reasons for a significant underspend in the Shared Prosperity Fund are money being handed over too late to spend, a lengthy and bureaucratic process, and a hollowing-out of council expertise. The fund is designed to provide £2.6bn by 2025. However, 95% of the local authorities that received funding in 2022-23 were unable to spend all of their share. Across the UK, 43% of £429m in funding was not spent. Not a single council in the North of England, Scotland or Wales spent its full investment. The unspent money has been rolled over into this year, but experts fear similar issues will see the underspend persist.
Labour plans to give councils power to shut undersubscribed academy schools
The Telegraph understands that Labour is planning to give councils powers to close down undersubscribed academy schools, marking a major reversal of former Education Secretary Michael Gove's reforms. Academies are currently outside local authority control, meaning councils have no powers to compel them to reduce their pupil rolls or close. The shadow education secretary, Bridget Phillipson, intends to provide local authorities with an enhanced role in managing the demographic decline of primary-aged children that will require school closures nationwide. The reduction in birth numbers since 2013 and a larger drop in the population in 2021, potentially related to the pandemic, have led to a decline in primary school numbers. However, the situation is not as acute in secondary schools, where numbers are expected to peak in 2024 or 2025 before declining.
The Sunday Telegraph
PM urged to revive HS2 legislation for Manchester rail link
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and other northern leaders are urging Chancellor Rishi Sunak to revive a stretch of the HS2 rail project between central Manchester and the city's airport. They want the Prime Minister to use the King's Speech to bring back legislation authorising HS2 infrastructure to allow the construction of a new rail link between Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Airport. This link could also be used by east-west rail projects across the North. Manchester City Council leader Bev Craig also urged Mr Sunak not to “throw away the painstaking work” done on the bill approving infrastructure for HS2, adding: “Scrapping the bill now would also throw away years of detailed work and undermine the potential for a more forward-thinking future government to revive the Birmingham-Manchester leg.”
Speed reading (and remembering what you've read)
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Cruise ships failing to use greener onshore power
Research shows how cruise ships visiting Britain are frequently failing to use "zero emission" onshore power, instead polluting the local environment with fumes. An investigation found that cruise ships at Southampton, Britain's largest cruise port, regularly rely on marine gas oil or liquefied natural gas, both of which contribute to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The use of onshore power facility was only recorded 71 times out of 300 days when cruise ships were docked at the port. The UK Chamber of Shipping cites cost as a factor, as onshore power is more expensive than marine fuel. Campaigners argue that cruise operators should be required to disclose their use of onshore power. Southampton City Council member Katherine Barbour said: "If cruise liners aren't mandated to change, this will continue and our residents will suffer. We need all berths able to provide onshore power, and ships need to be adapted to use it."
Heavy rain sparks new flooding fears in South
More heavy rain is forecast in much of the South of England today, raising fears of new flooding. The Met Office yellow warning for rain was extended to midnight last night as 42 flood warnings remained in place in the wake of Storm Ciaran. The Environment Agency said rivers would rise "really quickly" as the ground was already saturated by rain.
The Sunday Telegraph
Funding boost for Oldham town centre housing plans
Oldham Council has received £3m in funding from the Government's Brownfield Land Release Fund to build up to 2,000 new homes in the town centre. The funding will be used to prepare three key sites, including the Civic Centre and Queen Elizabeth Hall plot, for the construction of new, sustainable homes. The money will also go towards site remediation and preparatory works. The funding is part of the One Public Estate programme, aimed at helping councils across England free up council-owned land for new homes.
Manchester Evening News
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