Burying bad news?

All governments are sometimes accused of "burying" bad news when the media is taken over by one dominant or interesting issue.  This was certainly true of the time Prince William announced his engagement. Among bad news stories from the coalition government were:

- Children's centres in deprived areas no longer be obliged to offer full daycare or to hire staff with both Qualified Teacher and Early Years Professional status (Announced by our MP, Children’s Minister Sarah Teather at the Daycare Trust conference.) 

- "Aim Higher", the programme to get working-class youngsters into universities, is set to be axed by the government – at the same time as fees for university students are trebled.

- 3000 jobs are set to be cut from the Greater Manchester Police Force, representing a 23% cut in the workforce over the next four years – contrary to promises to protect frontline services.

Thanks to the media obsession with the royal family and some media management and convenient scheduling of announcements, these cuts will be overlooked, when they should be significant news stories.

Progress on Burnley Practice campaign

Patients of the Burnley Practice at Willesden Centre for Health and Care will have received a letter letting them know the PCT have opted for option 1: putting the practice out to open tender to keep it at its current base - the Willesden Centre for Health and Care.  This marks a success for the campaign by patients and ward councillors against the original proposal to close the surgery and to disperse patients to other doctors. We were warned that if Option 1 did not succeed, the PCT would disperse the patients to other surgeries - not a simple task to move around 3,000 patients in an area already acknowledged to be short of doctors.  The PCT has at last listened to the concerns of patients and we now await the recommendations being agreed at the NHS Brent Board meeting 25th November.  (For background, see More on the Burnley Practice)

Brent council rewarded for member development excellence

Brent Council has received a special London Councils award to mark its good work in helping their councillors do a better job. The Member Development Charter is awarded to councils in recognition of their work to provide councillors with the support, skills and training they need to develop and to manage their local authority’s budgets and services. It is backed by Local Government Improvement and Development (LGID). The council has demonstrated commitment to providing support to its members and helping them to develop the skills and knowledge to undertake their demanding role in developing and monitoring policy and serving their residents.