Policy Statements and Initiatives

CLG: Local Government Minister John Healey has set out measures that councils already have to tackle potential moves by owners to try & avoid council tax liability and gave a zero tolerance pledge to intervene with further measures if evidence suggests deliberate dereliction of properties is taking place.
Changes to the out of date system of reliefs are intended to remove perverse incentives to keep buildings empty and encourage owners to bring them back into use, helping to revive high streets & town centres. Charities, community amateur sports clubs and companies in administration will also be granted a complete exemption from rates on their empty properties.
Press release ~ Business Rates - Reliefs ~ Commercial and Industrial Property Estimated Vacancy Statistics: England, 2004/05 ~ Modernising Empty Property Relief - A Consultation Paper (closed) ~ Government response to replies ~ Local Government Association ~ Valuation Office Agency ~ Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation ~ Rating (Empty Properties) Act 2007) ~ Guidance on the use of Section 215 of the TCPA 1990 ~ Section 94 of the TCPA 1990
CLG: Yet another ‘red tape busting’ review to weed out bureaucratic hurdles and create a more efficient planning service for the public and business, has been launched by the government. The review 'Planning Applications: a faster and more responsive system' will examine what can disrupt the progress of an application from when it is submitted up to & beyond when a decision is made. 
New investment to empower local people to use the planning system to shape their communities has also been announced.  Planning Aid funding is being doubled to £3.2m this year, to enable more people to benefit from free independent advice to help them comment on proposals, make representations at inquiries, or submit a good planning application.
Press release  ~ Planning Policy Statement: Planning and Climate Change - Developing Practice Guidance ~ Working Draft of Practice Guidance to support the Planning Policy Statement: Planning and Climate Change ~ Planning Portal ~ Planning Aid: Community Planning ~ Community Planning (Scotland) - What is Community Planning? ~ The review team contact: reviewofplanningapplicationprocess@communities.gsi.gov.uk
ScotGov: Alex Salmond has challenged the recently formed Scottish constitutional commission to put forward the proposals they develop to be included in a referendum on Scotland's constitutional future. 
The First Minister laid down the gauntlet to the review's members as he launched the second phase of the Scottish Government's National Conversation, where he welcomed representatives from Scotland's civic institutions to an in-depth discussion about the implications of constitutional progress for life in Scotland.
The National Conversation was launched in August 2007 with the launch of Choosing Scotland's Future - a document built on the premise that the people of Scotland are sovereign and should be allowed a referendum to decide how they are governed. The public are invited to join the National Conversation by logging onto a dedicated website where they can add comments to a Blog which began last week.
Press release ~ Choosing Scotland's Future ~ National Conversation ~ Ministers' Blog ~ National Conversation with Scotland's Institutions
DCSF: A package of measures designed to revitalise geography in schools and sit alongside the new ‘more flexible curriculum’ has been announced by Schools Minister Jim Knight, in a bid to reverse the declining numbers studying the subject. Teachers will be provided with interactive resources to bring to life 'hard to teach' topics like fieldwork and subjects such as climate change, diversity & social cohesion.
Knight said he would extend the Action Plan for Geography, with £1.8m investment over the next three years and announced that the Royal Geographical Society and the Geographical Association had won the contract to deliver the next phase of the Plan.
Press release ~ Royal Geographical Society ~ Geographical Association ~ Geography Teaching Today website ~ Geography Ambassadors ~ Chartered Geographer Teacher status ~ Geography Quality Mark ~ The Standards Site: Geography at key stage 3 ~ Geographical Association Conference
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