What we’re reading 18/11/10

Residents aren’t ‘cash cows’ warns minister. Bob Neil’s warned councils not to push up charges. He was responding to the MJ’s story that “charges are set to rocket as spending cuts bite”. However, as we pointed out last week, it’s not clear that the research the MJ based its headline on really supports this dramatic claim.

Restriction to UFO watching in Warminster? The good people of Warminster do a nice line in investigative photo-journalism. Here’s another excellent installment.

Headteachers ‘hiding unruly pupils from Ofsted inspectors to make schools look better’. A former member of the General Teaching Council for England has said that “Ofsted’s views on behaviour are not worth the paper they are written on because there are lots of strategies head teachers use to avoid the Ofsted inspectors”. He seems to be suggesting that there’s been gaming in the education system to outwit a bureaucratic framework of accountability. Who’d have thunk it? Traditional forms of accountability, such as governors and councils, are surely a far better bet. The worm, however, seems to have turned.

Public sector workers encouraged to form John Lewis-style co-operatives. Flint-eyed Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude has urged public sector workers to set up co-operatives to run public services. It will be based on a public “right to first refusal” to run services. There’s been opposition to the announcement from a couple of trade unions. It’s also true, however, that Labour councils like Lambeth are the leading lights on this. It’ll be interesting to see who wins the Red versus Blue mutualism battle. Fans of Red mutualism will be heartened that Hazel Blears has already ridden into the breach.

Global Voices. The LGiU’s a firm supporter of local councils. But we’re also interested in democracy in all its myriad forms around the world. This site’s a brilliant window on local debates around the world.

GP consortia could number 200. The government’s proposals for GP commissioning are beginning to take shape. They’re looking rather bigger and less local than promised. We’ve found that councils are already worried about the prospects of engaging with GPs on their public health role.