DCLG: Local Government Minister Phil Woolas has announced that sixteen councils bidding for unitary status have been shortlisted to go forward for consultation (closes on 22 June 2007). If implemented, the government hopes that it could save up to around £200m per annum.

The government claims that re-structuring will help to prevent unnecessary inefficiency, confusion & duplication of services. For example currently in some areas maintaining the grass verges can be a matter for the parish council, keeping the pavement clean - the district council and keeping the road clean - the county council.

In remaining two-tier areas Government expects all councils to pursue new working arrangements to achieve the same level of improvement & efficiency gains as they expect the new unitaries will be achieving. As part of this, Government also invited councils to submit proposals to pioneer, as pathfinders, new models of two-tier working. Five proposals have been submitted to Government and a decision on those proposals will be made after the local government election ‘purdah’.
Press release ~ Consultation document Proposals for Future Unitary Structures: Stakeholder Consultation ~ Invitation to councils ~ Strong and prosperous communities - The Local Government White Paper ~ Press comment from LGA

DfT: Transport Minister Gillian Merron has announced a consultation (closes on 19 June 2007) on changes to the scheme for disabled parking badges. The main changes proposed include:

The new regulations will be in place by September 2007 and are in line with recommendations from a Disabled Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) report from 2002. Gillian Merron also announced a three month strategic review of the scheme, which will contribute to a comprehensive Blue Badge Reform strategy, to be published in 2008.
Press release ~ Consultation documents ~ DfT - Disabled Person's Parking Badge Scheme ~ Directgov - Blue Badge parking scheme ~ Find a Blue Badge Parking Bay ~ Disabled Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) ~ DPTAC 2002 report recommendations ~ DfT Blue Badge scheme explanatory booklet ~ Guidance on enforcement ~ Blue Badge Network

DH: The government has published a consultation paper (closes 25 June 2007) setting out its proposals for changes to the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, which consolidated earlier legislation, much of it dating back to the 19th century.

The Act gives local authorities certain powers to prevent & control the spread of infectious disease and the consultation paper proposes that these powers should be brought up-to-date, in particular by:

Press release ~ Review of parts 2, 5 and 6 of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 ~ UK Public Health Association ~ Health Protection Agency ~ The Royal Institute of Public Health ~ Public Health Resource Unit ~ NICE – Public Health ~ Public health training for local government: evaluation of a pilot programme: summary ~ NeLH: Public Health

DfT: Government Ministers have launched a consultation on how the aviation sector can play its part in combating climate change through the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). If airlines within the scheme emit more than their allocation of carbon allowances, they would have to buy an equivalent number allowances from the carbon market.

The consultation (closes 1 June 2007) seeks responses on a number of issues, including the following:

Press release ~ Consult ation papers ~ De fra - EU Emissions Trading Scheme ~ Defra - Carbon offsetting ~ Travel Foundation ~ Integrated travel emissions profiles ~ DfT - The Eddington Transport Study

DCA: The Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) has announced that there is to be a further opportunity to comment (by 21 June 2007) on the proposals to amend the Freedom of Information (FoI) fee regulations – See ‘In the News’ above.

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