Weekly media round-up 23/04/16 – 29/04/16

This week has seen 551 LGA mentions in national, regional, trade, broadcast and online publications including 59 LGA mentions in national newspapers, broadcast and online articles.

Record 440,000 hospital admissions due to obesity in 2014/15

Friday 29 April

Community Wellbeing Portfolio Holder Cllr Izzi Seccombe featured in the Times, Metro, Mirror and Mail Online with the LGA's response to new official figures which revealed the scale of the nation's obesity crisis. 58 per cent of women and 65 per cent of men are now classed as overweight - while obesity has increased from 15 to 26 per cent of the population since 1993. The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) figures also showed a 10-fold increase in the number of hospital admissions where obesity played a role. Cllr Seccombe said: "These are extremely worrying figures that illustrate the scale of the challenge we face in the fight against obesity. But the problem will only get worse unless we take urgent action, with the number of obese adults in the country forecast to soar by a staggering 73 per cent to 26 million people over the next 20 years. We cannot delay tackling this issue any longer."

Times p23
Mail Online
Mirror p25
Metro p17
LGA media release

 

Right to Buy extension criticised by MPs

Friday 29 April

The LGA's response to the Public Accounts Committee's report into government plans to extend the Right to Buy scheme to housing association tenants was reported on BBC Online, Mirror Online and Independent Online. The report questioned how the policy will be funded, whether proper replacement homes will be built and said there was evidence that it could increase overcrowding for those in housing need. The LGA has raised concerns about the policy, which the Government said will encourage home ownership. Cllr Sharon Taylor, Vice Chair of the LGA, said: "We share the Committee's concerns about the difficulty in assessing the impact of this in each local area, and have opposed proposals for it to be funded by forcing councils to sell much needed housing. We are urging MPs to vote for a vital amendment that will mean councils retain sufficient funds to replace any higher value home they are forced to sell to fund the policy one-for-one and with a tenure that best meets local need."

BBC Online
Mirror Online
Independent Online
LGA media release

 

Headteachers' union chief criticises government over academisation policy

Friday 29 April

The LGA was referenced on Guardian Online in a preview of a speech by the new president of the National Association of Head Teachers, Kim Johnson, ahead of its annual conference to express concerns over the Government's Education White Paper. Mr Johnson, a head teacher of an academy in Kent, was set to ask: "What is wrong with being a ‘good' or ‘outstanding' school within the local authority system?"

Guardian Online

 

Actress criticises fracking

Friday 29 April

Actress and Greenpeace activist Emma Thompson referenced the LGA in a Mirror opinion piece criticising fracking, claiming it has led to polluted water, greenhouse gas emissions and bankruptcies where it has taken place in America. She praised Lancashire County Council for refusing plans for fracking and referenced Communities Secretary Greg Clark MP urging the LGA in July 2015 to "take power now".

Mirror p8

 

Many children in care denied mental health treatment, says report

Thursday 28 April

Community Wellbeing Portfolio Holder Cllr Izzi Seccombe was interviewed on LBC about the LGA's response to the Commons Education Committee's report on vulnerable children in care being turned away from mental health treatment. This was also reported on BBC Online, Guardian Online and Mail Online. Children in care are too often missing out on treatment for mental health problems despite being four times more likely to experience them, according to MPs. The committee found children fostered in England are sometimes denied treatment simply because they move placement too often. A significant number of local authorities are also failing to identify mental health issues when children enter care, the committee said. Cllr Seccombe said: "We recognise improvements urgently need to be made to the mental health services available to all children, in particularly those in care. To provide the level of support required, we need a joint approach with every organisation involved in a young person's life, such as schools, carers and health services, as well as councils. But this vision needs to be backed with proper funding, which at the moment is around 6 per cent of the NHS mental health budget and 0.7 per cent of its overall budget."

Cllr Seccombe on LBC
BBC Online
Guardian Online
Mail Online
LGA media release

 

CBI chief urges rethink on apprenticeship training levy

Thursday 28 April

The FT and BBC News channel reported the LGA's warnings about how the Government's Apprenticeship Levy will cost councils £207 million a year and that the money should instead be pooled locally to be spent on closing skills gaps and meeting employers' needs. This followed the CBI calling on government to "radically rethink" the levy, which will be introduced next year. Businesses with a pay bill of £3 million or more will pay a 0.5 per cent payroll tax to pay for millions of apprenticeships across the country from April 2017. Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director General, said businesses are concerned about the impact of the "rushed out" plans.

BBC News
FT p4
LGA media release

 

Lords try again to overturn Government refusal to take in child refugees in Europe

Wednesday 27 and Thursday 28 April

Asylum, Refugee and Migration Task Group Chairman Cllr David Simmonds featured in the Guardian about how councils have doubled the number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children they have accepted in the past year. The LGA's lines were reported again in two further Guardian Online articles, following the Prime Minister's response in the Commons to amendments to the immigration bill. Peers supported a second proposal for the Bill calling on ministers to relocate and support a specified number of children in the UK. Cllr Simmonds said: "Councils have doubled the number of children they were taking from countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq from 2,000 to 4,000 a year." Cllr Simmonds also explained that there is a process in place for children with relatives in Britain to be reunited with loved ones.

Guardian (Tuesday) p12
Guardian Online
Guardian (Wednesday) p4
LGA media release

 

More clean air zones needed, say MPs

Wednesday 27 April

Guardian Online and BBC Online reported the LGA's statement, issued in response to an Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee report on air pollution, which called for the creation of clean air zones in city centres. The MPs said more cities should get the enhanced powers being granted to London, Leeds, Birmingham, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton, which allow cities to charge high-polluting vehicles to discourage them from entering the city centre. Its report said emissions had been declining significantly but there were up to 50,000 early deaths each year in the UK because of cardiac, respiratory and other diseases linked to air pollution. The LGA said clean air zones "are not the answer to tackling air pollution" on their own. It insisted councils need a range of powers and devolved funding to combat the issue.                                                             

Guardian Online
BBC Online
LGA media release

 

Doubts cast over rural England elected mayor plans

Wednesday 27 April

BBC Online reported the LGA's lines on devolution and how local areas should be able to accept new powers and extra funding offered by the Treasury without having elected mayors. A spokesman said: "People should be free to choose the appropriate model of robust governance for their community."

BBC Online

 

Policy Exchange opinion piece on forcing schools to become academies

Wednesday 27 April

The LGA's lines on academisation were referenced on Telegraph Online in an opinion piece by Jonathan Simons of think-tank Policy Exchange about the Government's plans.

Telegraph Online

 

Local authority schools outperform academies, research suggests

Tuesday 26 April

Analysis by the LGA which showed that 86 per cent of council-maintained schools continue to outperform academies was reported on BBC News, BBC Online, Guardian, Times, Telegraph Online, Mirror, Sun and Star. This compares to 82 per cent of academies and 79 per cent of free schools. The research also shows that council-maintained schools rated as "inadequate" were more likely to improve by their next inspection if they stayed with their local authority rather than becoming an academy. Children and Young People Board Chairman Cllr Roy Perry said: "These figures clearly demonstrate that councils are education improvement partners, rather than barriers to delivering the high-quality education that our children deserve. With 86 per cent of council-maintained schools in England rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted, the Government needs to recognise councils' role in education improvement and that imposing structural changes on schools is not the best way to improve education." The LGA's cross-party letter opposing forced academisation was referenced on Independent Online.

BBC News
BBC Online
Guardian
Times p4
Telegraph Online
Independent Online
Mirror p2
Sun p2
Star p2
LGA media release

 

Call for FOBT stakes to be lowered

Tuesday 26 April

The LGA's media release calling on government to lower the maximum stakes of Fixed Odds Betting Machines (FOBTs) from £100 to £2 and to give councils powers to stop the clustering of betting shops was reported in the Mirror, New Day and ITV Online and also discussed on LBC. The Association has also called for licensing laws to be updated to allow councils to take health issues associated with problem gambling and anti-social behaviour concerns into account when considering applications from betting shops. Safer and Stronger Communities Board Chair Cllr Simon Blackburn said: "Councils up and down the country are worried about the number of high stakes FOBTs and betting shops on our high streets, and are frustrated by the lack of powers they have to curb them. The higher stakes permitted on FOBTs is significantly out of line with other high street gambling machines and the harm and anti-social behaviour they can cause has become an issue of growing national concern. Councils are not anti-bookies but a new cumulative impact test would give them the power to veto new shops - and FOBTs - in areas already saturated by betting shops."

LBC
Mirror p16
ITV Online
New Day p3
LGA media release

 

April blizzards bite

Tuesday 26 April

The Express reported the LGA's lines about how councils are prepared for the forecast drop in temperatures. Britain was put on a freeze alert with severe weather warnings in place in the North, with coastal and exposed regions braced for 60mph gales with hail, snow and thunder threatened. Councils put their gritters on standby and the LGA urged people to keep an eye on the elderly and vulnerable.

Express p11

 

Charities call for action over homelessness in England

Monday 25 April

The LGA's lines about the need for government to meet its commitment to replace high-value homes sold to fund the extended Right to Buy scheme were reported on BBC Online, as part of a wider story about homelessness. A group of homelessness and housing charities is calling for English law to be changed to mirror elements of the system in Wales, where councils have a stronger duty to prevent homelessness, in order to help prevent people ending up on the streets. Cllr Sharon Taylor, Vice Chair of the LGA, said: "Finding emergency housing for homeless people, particularly young or vulnerable people or those with families, is increasingly difficult for councils as the housing crisis intensifies. The Government has promised to meet its manifesto pledge to ensure councils can replace higher value homes sold to fund the Right to Buy extension to housing association tenants. This must clearly ensure councils will retain enough of the receipts to replace each home sold with affordable homes in the same area on a one-for-one basis. This commitment is imperative to ensure that councils can reinvest in rapidly building the socially rented homes that people in their areas desperately need. This is also the best way to bring down homelessness, reduce waiting lists and cut housing benefit spending."

BBC Online
LGA media release

 

LGA President on the Housing and Planning Bill

Monday 25 April

LGA President Lord Kerslake featured on the BBC News channel with his remarks on the Housing and Planning Bill, in its review of the week in Parliament.

Lord Kerslake on BBC News channel

 

£400 instant fines in war on fly-tippers

Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 April

Economy, Environment, Housing and Transport Board member Cllr Martin Tett featured in the Sunday Mirror in support of the introduction of a fixed-penalty notice scheme to help deal with fly-tipping incidents. Cllr Tett also featured in a wider piece in the Mail about the rise of fly-tipping across the country. Fly-tippers will face on-the-spot fines of up to £400 from May 9 for small-scale offences, giving councils more power to crack down on illegal rubbish dumpers. Previously their only option has been to haul suspects through the courts, often at significant cost. Councils had to deal with 900,000 incidents in 2014/15, up nearly 60,000 from the previous year. Cllr Tett said: "At a time when councils face difficult choices about services in the light of reducing budgets, they are having to spend a vast amount each year on tackling litter and fly-tipping. This is money that would be better spent on vital front line services. The Government has responded to our call for councils to be able to apply Fixed Penalty Notices for small scale fly-tipping – and this is a big step in the right direction."

Sunday Mirror p24
Mail p28

 

Restaurants advised to give families tap water

Saturday 23 April

The LGA's release calling for restaurants to offer free tap water to families eating out, as a healthy alternative to sugary drinks, rather than waiting for customers to ask for it was reported widely on BBC News, Sky News, LBC, BBC Radio 2, BBC Online and ITV Online. Community Wellbeing Being Portfolio Holder Cllr Izzi Seccombe's comments were also broadcast on BBC Radio 5 Live news bulletins and reported in the Telegraph, Mail, Times, i paper, Star, Guardian Online, Mirror Online, Express Online and Metro Online. Safer and Stronger Communities Board Chair Cllr Simon Blackburn was also interviewed on BBC Breakfast and BBC Radio 5 Live. Cllr Seccombe said: "We want restaurant owners to play their part in tackling childhood obesity by offering families tap water. While most restaurants will happily provide a glass of tap water on request, we're saying it shouldn't be something you have to ask for. Some people may be too embarrassed or find it awkward to ask for tap water. Others may simply forget it's an option. Water brings important health benefits and keeps people hydrated. For children it's an alternative to a sugary drink, while for adults it might dissuade them from ordering another alcoholic drink."

Cllr Seccombe on BBC Radio 5 Live bulletins
Cllr Blackburn on BBC Breakfast and BBC Radio 5 Live
BBC News, Sky News
BBC Radio 2, LBC
BBC Online
ITV Online
Telegraph p15
Mail p26
Guardian Online
Mirror Online
Express Online
Metro Online
Times p37
i paper p23
Star p15
LGA media release

 

Building homes faster could spare the green belt

Saturday 23 April

Chairman of London Green Belt Council Richard Knox-Johnston cited the LGA's figures in a letter to the Telegraph showing there is already planning permission for nearly 500,000 homes that have yet to be built. He said  it is "a myth" that houses will only get built by giving more planning permission on greenfield sites and that the release of brownfield land suitable for developers should be prioritised to avoid building on green belt land.

Telegraph p23
LGA media release

4 May 2016