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Public Sector

LGC (Local Government Chronicle)
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Civil Service World (formerly Westminster and Whitehall World)

Inside Housing
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The Planner
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Transform
Regeneration and Renewal
Axis
Wind Power Monthly
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Housebuilder
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Modus
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Architects Data File (formerly Building Projects)

Lighting Journal

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Sunday Telegraph Turkey supplement

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Professions and Business

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Journal of the Islington Archaeology and History Society
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Skipton Life (Skipton Building Society)

The Planner

All about SME: an interview with Brian Berry

Are smaller builders the answer to the nation's housebuilding crisis? Without a doubt, FMB chief executive Brian Berry tells Mark Smulian

Tech landscape: Planning in 3D

Once a high-tech McGuffin beloved of procedural forensics TV crime dramas like CSI, the 3D printer is now the next must-have tool for developers and planners, says Mark Smulian

Back from the edge: Hull, UK City of Culture

A city ‘on the edge of things’, Hull is undergoing a reappraisal, thanks to its designation as UK City of Culture 2017. It couldn’t have happened without planning, finds Mark Smulian

Night and the city: can planning help protect night-time economies?

Should licensing and planning be working in partnership to protect vibrant night-time economies? asks Mark Smulian

What's on the Agenda? The New Urban Agenda assessed

A powerful blueprint for urban development for the next generation, or an agreement diluted by political horse-trading and its lack of legal force? Mark Smulian takes a look at the New Urban Agenda, the centrepiece of the UN Habitat III conference.

Patchwork of power: How devolution is unfolding in England's regions

Devolution of powers to city regions and combined authorities is supposed to usher in an age of rationally organised local government. But the picture is piecemeal, finds Mark Smulian

A flaw in the plan

Cultural differences between planners and developers can scupper even the best masterplans, finds Mark Smulian. Why does this happen - and what can we do about it?

Crossing the divide: An interview with Louise Brooke-Smith

Louise Brooke-Smith was the first female president of RICS. But breaking new ground is nothing new for a planner surveyor whose career has taken her from Congleton to the Congo and beyond, as Mark Smulian discovers

Why aren't councils building more houses?
In the postwar heyday of house building, councils built more homes than private developers. Now, at the height of a housing crisis, their contribution to numbers is negligible. Mark Smulian ask why councils are not building more

London calling: An interview with Richard de Cani
If London is to be 'the best big city on Earth', the demands of both commerce and 8.6+ million inhabitants can't be met by its largely elderly transport infrastructure. Transport for London strategist Richard de Cani has his work cut out, reports Mark Smulian

Back in gear: The regeneration of Longbridge
The history of Longbridge has been a transition from boom to bust. The car manufacturing plant set up by Herbert Austin in 1905 served in two world wars and fought off post-war economic depression, strikes, mergers and takeovers. Now a new town is emerging from the 468-acre site, finds Mark Smulian

Career development: Working overseas
For planners seeking to work abroad there is no substitute for researching your target country either on holiday or for a study visit. But bear in mind that working there will be very different. Mark Smulian reports

Career development: Working with politicians
Half of planners are employed by local government and work with elected councillors from day to day. Relations can be tense, says Mark Smulian, but understanding a politician’s priorities can ease the path to effective working

Balancing act
Inclusive planning may once have been all about disability access and the province of designers alone, but it is now something planners should be addressing too. By Mark Smulian

Turning the tide
The Treasury has vowed to fund more than 1,400 flood defence projects to protect 300,000 homes. The ÂŁ2.3bn investment will help prevent ÂŁ30bn damage in areas including the Thames and Humber Estuaries over six years. But amid climate change can it ever be a winnable battle? Mark Smulian reports

Back on track: A branch line revival
The drive to get us off roads and on to more eco-friendly communal trains is fraught with difficulty not only because of Beeching's legacy, but also because of the disconnect between planner and rail authorities, says Mark Smulian

Park life: How the Olympic Park is becoming a city annexe
The Olympic Park lies in legacy afterglow, but by 2030 – if all goes to plan – it will be not so much parkland as a city annexe with green spaces, says Mark Smulian

A broader view
Combined authorities are the new kid on the block for strategic planning. Mark Smulian looks at what they mean for growth and infrastructure

Fatal extraction? The challenge of fracking
The drive for economic growth means the government is going all out for shale gas exploration. Mark Smulian reports on the challenges about to face the planning system

Call of duty to co-operate
Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire Councils are working harmoniously to deliver a joint local plan in tricky circumstances. What is their secret to cross-boundary civility asks Mark Smulian

The good fight
Concerned at the impact that betting shops and hot food takeaways can have on the social values and health of their communities, local authorities have started to fight back. By Mark Smulian

Street view
What next for the struggling high street? The Planner examines the latest thinking and how the usage mix is changing in the light of social and technological trends. By Mark Smulian

Peer pressure
Not content with ploughing through reams of national planning policy guidance to update it, chair of the National Housing Federation Lord Taylor is on a mission to solve the housing crisis. By Mark Smulian

Sea of change
Seaside towns in parts of the country are stuck in a vicious cycle of decline. Now some are fighting back and aiming to revive their fortunes. By Mark Smulian

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  Modus, RICS magazine
No great shakes
Five years on from being devastated by a series of earthquakes, rebuilding activity in Christchurch is progressing slowly. Mark Smulian reports

Choose Your Colours
With so little difference between the main UK parties and voter apathy at unprecedented levels, another hung parliament looks likely. Would this be good or bad news for the built environment. Words by Mark Smulian

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  Planning magazine
Solar system
Government incentives have resulted in a slew of applications for solar farms in the south of England. Mark Smulian asks what planners can do to minimise their impact

Cut Choices
The cuts in funding for councils have prompted a radical rethink in how services are delivered. Mark Smulian reports on three options open to planning departments

Working on well-being
Planners and health professionals are likely to be working in closer conjunction now that councils must lead the way in promoting public health, Mark Smulian predicts

Offshore options
Government funding for the renewable energy sector is giving port operators and coastal authorities an impetus to look at what they can do to support offshore wind development, Mark Smulian finds

Picking up the pieces
Local enterprise partnerships look set to play a key role in economic development across England but their relationship with strategic planning remains uncertain, Mark Smulian finds

Joining forces
Sharing planning services between districts is starting to catch on as a way local authorities can meet tight budgetary targets by making the most efficient use of managers and service teams, Mark Smulian discovers

Council counts the cost
Last autumn's severe flooding in Cumbria has given local authorities and other public bodies much to think about in planning recovery operations and guarding against similar events in future, says Mark Smulian

Time at the bar
Many pubs have been lost as landlords realise their potential for conversion to higher-value uses but now planners are likely to find themselves at the forefront of a preservation drive, Mark Smulian finds

Atomic reaction
Councils with nuclear power stations on their patches are unlikely to oppose further development as long as local impacts are considered, says Mark Smulian

Expansion grounded
Planners are juggling issues ranging from job creation benefits to nature conservation impacts as they field a wave of expansion projects from airports of all shapes and sizes, says Mark Smulian

Greening our cities
A lack of political commitment and a shortage of green skills are pushing urban landscaping down the pecking order despite the potential benefits it offers for improving local quality of life, Mark Smulian reports

Seeing a wider picture
Conservative leaders promise councils more autonomy on key planning decisions but history shows that a workable strategy is more than the sum of its parts, says Mark Smulian

Resorts on the rocks
Many seaside towns are now looking to a mix of cultural regeneration and higher education to tide them through the ongoing uncertainty over economic prospects and restrictions on public spending. Mark Smulian reports.

Guiding the way
Cambridgeshire's prototype system will help transport planners in other parts of the UK establish the potential for guided busways in relieving congestion and supporting major development schemes, Mark Smulian predicts

Treading with care
Councillors attempting to give a steer on development proposals without waiving the right to represent the people who vote for them still face a host of difficulties despite relaxed rules and revised guidance, Mark Smulian discovers.

Burning issues
The emergence of coal bed methane as a potential power source has caught policy-makers on the hop and individual authorities are having to react fast in deciding their stance, Mark Smulian reveals

Cities Raise Sights
Developers and councils remain determined to pursue tall building proposals in the teeth of the recession despite uncertainty over their benefits and drawbacks, Mark Smulian discovers.

Downland Dilemmas
Problems are brewing as ministers and a host of local authorities consider the shape of planning powers and staffing arrangements in the South Downs as it becomes England's tenth national park, Mark Smulian discovers.

Creative Potential
Scarborough is reaping the rewards of developing its cultural community as a key element in its programme to create a year-round economy for the resort, reports Mark Smulian

Business Methods Cut Cost
Planning departments are adopting business methods to identify activities that add real value to their service and sifting out those that are not essential in the quest to make financial savings, Mark Smulian discovers

Borders closed on skills
London boroughs are looking closely at the scope for developing existing staff skills amid signals that changes to work permit rules could be about to cut off the supply from overseas, Mark Smulian reports

A Ten Year Standstill
A decade since its launch, the government's bold vision to improve the nation's transport system has hit the buffers. Mark Smulian asks what went wrong.

Dealing with the downturn
Latest signals in the housing market pose some serious dilemmas for planning authorities about land supply, affordable home targets and revenue streams for infrastructure provision, Mark Smulian discovers

Town derailed
The switching of Eurostar's Kent hub to Ebbsfleet faces claims that it will fail growth in Ashford and lead to a rise in road traffic congestion. Mark Smulian investigates

Partners branch out
Community rail partnerships are now proving their worth in promoting sustainable travel, economic opportunities and regeneration in countryside areas, contends Mark Smulian

Tide goes out for resorts
Coastal towns all around the UK face a multitude of unique pressures and may need a wide range of special measures to help them get back on their feet, maintains Mark Smulian

Consultation hit by legislative update
Consultation techniques are under scrutiny again amid moves to recast the role of local government, reports Mark Smulian

Kent aims to reuse housing
Planners in east Kent are employing various means of tackling the problems posed by vacant housing, reports Mark Smulian

Sustainability drive hurts rural housing
South West councils are up in arms over policies that restrict the supply of housing for rural people, reports Mark Smulian

Ports expand without guide
Approval of three major ports on the east coast highlights the lack of a clear national strategy, reports Mark Smulian

Battered economy in need of recovery
The Channel Tunnel put a huge hole in the Kent ports' ferry business and the local authorities are still struggling to revive their economic health

Will Crossrail make the end of the line?
The long-delayed Crossrail project may have been given the green light, but many issues still need to be clarified and it does not mean it will be built

Flat proposals put focus on guidance
Gradual replacement of older houses with flats is a source of concern for councils and residents, reports Mark Smulian

Housing time bomb threatens rural life
Affordable housing is a key issue on the Norfolk coastline but solutions seem as far away as ever, reports Mark Smulian

Developers aim for riverside recovery
A dormant section of one of London's least packed boroughs at at the centre of an uncommon renewal drive, says Mark Smulian

Kent aims to reuse housing
Planners in east Kent are employing various means of tackling the problems posed by vacant housing, reports Mark Smulian

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Regeneration and Renewal
Skills developer
Mark Smulian interviews building firm Mace's UK regeneration head John Boulby

An uncertain future
Wales' regeneration funding is being targeted at six areas, but what about the rest of the country? What future is there for places that aren't on the Wag's priority list? Mark Smulian reports

The future of funding
Last month, the Homes & Communities Agency published its first corporate plan. Mark Smulian investigates what it means for future regeneration funding.

Eclectric electric
Open 24 hours a day and with office space that can be expanded or shrunk at a month's notice, Sheffield's new creative business incubator offers firms maximum flexibility - and a helter-skelter. Mark Smulian takes a tumble with economic development expert Karl Dalgleish.

Public Inconvenience
The tortuous history of the Public arts centre in West Bromwich makes for painful reading. But, as Mark Smulian reports, something of value may be saved from the wreckage

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  Materials Recycling World
Link to stories on Materials Recycling World

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  Transform

Green vs Brown
With the need for new homes ever-increasing in the UK, Mark Smulian looks at the case for green versus brownfield sites


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Axis – Journal of Housing Planning and Regeneration
Construction: Skill shortage threat to new home supply
Skilled builders were hard to find in the 1980s and it seems that very little has changed since then. But is prefabrication a cure-all solution or is it time to get a grip on training? asks Mark Smulian

Urban regeneration: Holland on track for high-speed system
The Netherlands has taken sustainable transport strategies one step further by putting them at the heart of inner city regeneration. Mark Smulian looks at the potential benefits to the community

Urban development corporations: Gameplan for growth
West Northamptonshire Urban Development Corporation is the first of its kind to bring some sort of pecking order to growth. But how much of an example will it be to other areas? asks Mark Smulian

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LGC (Local Government Chronicle)

Analysis: Buses Bill powers could help drive up service standards

By Mark Smulian

Europe: Everything would look different following a Brexit

By Mark Smulian

Fostering political change for the better
London's political classes are now much more reflective of the city's rich diversity, but there is still a way to go. Mark Smulian reports

Integration : its good to share
The connection and relationships between boroughs is changing as they seek savings and better services. Mark Smulian reports

LGC review of the year 2014
This year may have offered little money but councils have gained a rare sniff of power, reports LGC’s Mark Smulian

Committees offer tonic to member discontent

Seeking out a truce in the welfare civil war
Kicked around by political parties and a polarising topic for voters, welfare reform provided potent fuel for the LGC Civica Question Time debate. By Mark Smulian

Review of the year 2013
Like Christmas toys removed from their rightful owners by overbearing older relations, local government's powers in 2013 in theory glittered with attractive possibilities. But in practice endless impediments were placed in the way of councils' ability to play with them as they wished. Someone was always at hand to tell councils "no, that's not nice, stop it", writes Mark Smulian.

Too big to suceed?
The huge South East Local Enterprise Partnership is three years old and not yet properly functioning as it struggles to define a workable governance structure. By Mark Smulian

Changing up a gear without taking a fall
Whetehr its big projects that capture headlines or small-scale change on the ground, innovation can provide answers to austerity. But being prepared to learn from, and communicate with, others around you is critical. Mark Smulian reports

There is a quiet revolution going on
Local government minister Don Foster tells Mark Smulian the true extent of change has yet to be widely appreciated

Review of the Year 2012
More 'localism' but less control, and less money to do anything with. It was a tough year, as Mark Smulian summarises

Winning the battle for hearts and minds
Outsourcing is becoming an increasingly flexible solution, but the public still needs to be brought on board. Mark SmuLian reports

Peer challenge: so far so good but where now?
With the first peer challenges of the sector-led improvement drive now complete, LGC analyses the lessons learned. By Mark Smulian

Time to tackle the tricky issue of demand
Managing the demand for services may help stretched resources go further, says Mark Smulian

History of the chiefless councils. By Mark Smulian
North Tyneside 1992-2002: It did not work over time. Bristol City Council 1999-2002: a council with no leadership

Small but 'significant' shift to committees
The government's plans to allow councils to return to the committee system could be taken up by a small but significant number of single- and upper-tier authorities, LGC has learned.

An alternative way of looking at services
Mark Smulian explores the potential of the Open Public Services white paper

Making sense from messiness
LGC and Ernst & Young’s roundtable explored how the sector can tackle uncertainty and upheaval, writes Mark Smulian

No winners, only losers
Local government was promised a new role by the coalition government - but it did not expect it to be as Eric Pickles’ punchbag, says Mark Smulian

A different way of working
Imagine a country where ministers and council leaders meet in an atmosphere of mutual respect and civility to negotiate their powers and finances, where government spending is directed to outcomes agreed locally and where ringfencing is a distant memory. By Mark Smulian

LGC 50 supplement - the most influential voices in local government 2011

Don't all try to find a partner at once...
A potential spike in outsourcing contracts may limit councils' options, writes Mark Smulian

Look back in wonder - with the benefit of hindsight
It opened - and closed - with anxiety about snow and council gritting supplies. The intervening months saw a change of government, councils learning they faced a 28% average grant cut and Eric Pickles telling councillors to grow up. Mark Smulian looks back at 2010.

What is the best way forward from here?
The only certainty for local government is change. LGC and PwC's round table set out to weigh up the options, writes Mark Smulian

Easing the pain of cuts
Salami slicing won't be enough - service delivery will have to be transformed, says Mark Smulian

Local income tax must wait
Liberal Democrat shadow communities and local government secretary Julia Goldsworthy talks to Mark Smulian

Regulation returns on the buses
A small local government revolution took place recently on the historic streets of Oxford, as Oxfordshire CC became the first council to use new powers in the Local Transport Act 2008 to tame the free-for-all that is the bus industry says Mark Smulian

Roads to sustainability
People's concern about carbon emissions is, it seems, strong until it has an impact on the use of their own cars, says Mark Smulian

Declarations of independence
Independents and small parties have prospered from public disillusionment over Westminster politics. But can people elected on different, even conflicting, platforms form effective administrations asks Mark Smulian?

Scrutiny - a budding profession?
With the scope of council scrutiny set to expand, Mark Smulian charts the progress of this rapidly developing local government discipline

The middle man
Alastair Robertson is retiring as head of the chief executives' trade union. He tells Mark Smulian why its members should be alert for the knife in the back

Claws out for a chief executive
Disputes besetting Somerset County Council involve an MP, a chief executive, a councillor, the chief constable, a 1930s singer and a talking cat. Mark Smulian unravels the tale of an extraordinary clash of personalities.

Sink or swim for budgets
Free swimming has started, a year after free bus travel began. Both concessions command wide support but some councils face ruinous bills, says Mark Smulian

Nobody home
As the recession bites, an increase in empty homes is blighting areas. Mark Smulian reports on how they can be turned into affordable housing

Debt advice, priceless
As the economic downturn continues, indebted residents plagued by financial crises are relying on their council for help. Mark Smulian reports

Turning over a new leaf
The next chapter to be written for libraries could see them transformed from quiet, bookish places to multi-purpose facilities, says Mark Smulian

Signed, sealed, delivered
The first council-run post office has opened in Essex, proving that standing up for the rights of communities can make a difference. Mark Smulian dons his postman's hat

Suffolk no more
The Boundary Commission's plans to eradicate Lowestoft from its county of Suffolk have riled locals. Mark Smulian heads east to find out that you can't change where you come from

Trouble in paradise
The government's surprise proposal for direct elections to national parks has shocked their authorities and local government alike. Mark Smulian joins the debate

Hidden treasures
From bananas to piranhas, local authorities' inventories contain all sorts of weird and wonderful possessions alongside more conventional assets like buildings and land. Mark Smulian reports

Just the Ticket
Parking and enforcement are high on residents' hate list with a perception of over-zealous councils making millions from controls, Mark Smulian reports

Section 106 squeeze
Affordable housing relies on s106 deals. Now, as the credit crunch bites, local government is feeling the pain, says Mark Smulian

Regenerating seaside economies
The credit crunch and environmental pressures could boost seaside towns - with proper marketing and investment, says Mark Smulian

A new beginning
Once the initial shock has passed, those who have lost their seats can console themselves with the fact there is life after political death, Mark Smulian discovers

Stamped out
The Post Office's programme of branch closures has sparked fury across the country. Mark Smulian investigates how councils are battling to reverse the tide

Controlled explosion
Building control work can vary from household jobs to large regeneration projects, says Mark Smulian

Flying south for the jobs
Graduates boost economies, but many university towns and cities lose them to London and the south-east, Mark Smulian reports

Protecting the public
Trading standards is no longer a department on the periphery of local government that nails rogue traders - its remit extends from tackling under-age drinking to loan sharks, says Mark Smulian

All change please
It has been a long and controversial journey, but London's St Pancras station has finally arrived at its destination of international status. But what effect has the development had on local communities? Mark Smulian finds out

Who will benefit from the London Olympics?
The 2012 Olympics are meant to leave a legacy of regeneration, not just for London, but the whole of the UK. Mark Smulian asks what local authorities should be doing

A design for life
Before forging ahead with Brown's vision for eco towns, planners must learn from the successes and failures of the new towns built after the Second World War, says Mark Smulian

Counting the cost of high-rise living
Communities in the suburbs are under threat by the demand to replace family homes with flats, says Mark Smulian

The rise of the airport
Councils are faced with a major dilemma surrounding airport expansion. Do the economic benefits of expansion outweigh environmental concerns and local misery? Mark Smulian finds out

The young ones
What spends ÂŁ750m a year and vomits on doorsteps? The answer is 'students', says Mark Smulian

Grave concerns
As available land comes under pressure, is recycling cemetery space the only option? Mark Smulian looks at the alternatives

Buying overseas
Foreign property isn't the sole preserve of rich couples on reality TV... pension funds should also be looking further afield, says Mark Smulian

School of thought
The Education & Inspections Bill was written with an eye on inner cities, but will it work in practice? Mark Smulian reports

21st century Tufty Club
The road safety message has come a long way since Tufty the squirrel. Mark Smulian reports on councils that are leading the way

Home sweet home
With ALMOs and the new profession of housing strategy coming to the fore, Mark Smulian investigates what is next for council housing

Mud, music and money
Rock festivals are no longer events to be feared. With a bit of planning councils can turn them to their advantage. Mark Smulian tunes in

Hedge your bets
They might have a reputation for being riskier than betting on the dogs but hedge funds can make sense, says Mark Smulian

Burning a hole in your budget Fuel costs are going up and emissions must be cut in order to control global warming. Mark Smulian looks for answers to one of the toughest challenges today

Cities lead the way
They are new here, but city regions abroad have been driving regeneration for years says Mark Smulian

Regeneration games
Moves to spruce up and revive cities gained momentum in the '80s - but their origins date from the start of the 20th century. Mark Smulian looks back

Crossing continents
Forging links with authorities in far-flung places isn't just an excuse for suntans and sangria. Mark Smulian explains

When the clerk ruled
The role of council chief executive in some form or other goes back 800 years. But a lot has changed since the days of town clerks. Mark Smulian looks back

How housing fell down
What used to be a foundation of local government power is now in ruins - but do ALMOs provide a future? Mark Smulian reports

Regeneration screen break
When Channel 4 announced it would lead - and record - the regeneration of an entire town, the former pit community of Castleford was the perfect project. One year on, those grand designs are reaching fruition. Mark Smulian reports

Almost dressed up and nowhere to go
Transport chiefs are eyeing Ken Livingstone's sweeping powers over the London bus system with envy. What can they do to catch up? Mark Smulian reports

May the North be with you
For the Northern Way to be a success, it needs more than good intentions, says Mark Smulian

Grip and grill
Slow, Stalinist and ineffective. Mark Smulian asks what it's like to be on the receiving end of the Standards Board

Winner stakes all
Blackpool sees the licensing of super-casinos as a return to more prosperous times. But is it a gamble too far, asks Mark Smulian

Flood, sweat and tears
It is not every day one of your villages is washed away. North Cornwall DC's David Brown tells Mark Smulian about the clean-up - and the underwear shortage

Brighton rocked
Brighton & Hove specialises in contrasts. A merger of Labour and Tory strongholds, with extremes of wealth and education. And a slipping CPA to boot, says Mark Smulian

Country strife
A rural move might appeal to affluent city dwellers, but it doesn't make life easier for those already there, says Mark Smulian

Demolishing the arguments
Local listing cannot always prevent historic landmarks from being redeveloped, but it is still worthwhile. Mark Smulian reports

Local government in a different hemisphere
Chris Simpkins left Lincolnshire for the Falkland Islands. He talks to Mark Smulian about penguins

Whatever happened to the West End?
The Newcastle of old is on the way out, but what is coming next, asks Mark Smulian?

Money to burn
School fires cost ÂŁ96m in 2002, leaving insurers Zurich Municipal keen to stop the latest rash of attacks, says Mark Smulian

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Community Care
Social work opportunities in the Midlands
Social work vacancy rates are high in parts of the Midlands, despite progressive working practices and attractive environments. Mark Smulian reports

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Civil Service World

Catherine Brown interview: Food Standards Agency chief on modern regulation and the horse meat scandal
Outgoing Food Standards Agency chief executive Catherine Brown believed she had a job with a low media profile until the horse meat scandal raced over the horizon. She tells Mark Smulian about the changes she has made in the department over the last five years and her plans for the future

Passport to equality: Making the civil service more disabled-friendly

The civil service has set its sights on being the UK’s most inclusive employer. Mark Smulian reports on efforts to make that vision a reality for disabled staff, and hears personal stories about the barriers they face

What's the secret behind effective policymaking?

A new resource from the Centre for Public Impact rates the effectiveness of policy initiatives from around the world. Mark Smulian reports

Interview – Paula Sussex, Charity Commission CEO: We’re looking long and hard at quality and performance

Two years into her tenure at the Charity Commission, chief executive Paula Sussex says her organisation is making substantial strides towards turning around some damning findings from Westminster watchdogs. Mark Smulian reports

Are the What Works Centres working – or is evidence-based policymaking still a pipe dream?

Using evidence to inform policy seems like a no-brainer. But often it’s not that straightforward – particularly for politically sensitive issues. Here,Mark Smulian looks at the progress of the What Works Centres, which aim to improve decision-making in key policy areas by exploring, well, what works

Buying from the boutiques
The government is eager to increase the amount of goods and services it buys from small and medium-sized enterprises. Mark Smulian attends a round table on the opportunities, the challenges – and the solutions

Towering ambition
Across government, information technology and procurement professionals are contemplating a dramatic shift in the way IT services are managed. Mark Smulian listens in at a round table on the concept of 'tower services'

University outreach officer
A regular column in which people explain how government policy affects their working lives. Interview by Mark Smulian

Image counts
A recent CSW survey, carried out with BT, revealed that awareness of the Public Services Network is low among public servants. Mark Smulian examines why that might be, and discusses the likely consequences

Roundtable: A secret gathering
As the government deals with more digital information and online services, its traditional ways of managing data security are looking outdated. Mark Smulian reports on a Civil Service World round table debating the issues.

Spending to save
A recent Civil Service World round table debated how new kinds of payment systems could be used to advance the personalisation agenda, and how localism presents new challenges for cost control. Mark Smulian reports

Tribal Consultancy Westminster & Whitehall World supplement

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Housing
Low rise in the low countries
To many in the UK, housing in the low countries begins and ends with the 'Deflt model'. But, as Mark Smulian discovered in Rottedam and Flanders, there are other lessons to be learned and pitfalls to be avoided.

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Housing Today
Knock-on effects
When West Hampstead Housing Association collapsed, all concerned were taken by surprise. Now two reports suggest its ramifications may be felt throughout the sector, says Mark Smulian

The accelerator
Sir John Egan gave his name to the governemnt's agenda for restructuring the relationship between the construction industry and its customers - but he still wants more. Mark Smulian asks him why.

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Inside Housing


Social rent: still a big part of landlords’ plans

Inside Housing’s Top 50 Biggest Builders survey showed contrasting approaches to social rent. Mark Smulian speaks to several landlords to find out why the tenure is still part of their growth plans

Meeting the innovators

Digital innovation is set to change the way the sector operates, as seen at Housemark’s Evolve pitch day. Mark Smulian finds out what the future holds

Keeping the faith

Sustainable housing was once the cornerstone of new development. But policy shifts over the past 18 months have set the clock back. Mark Smulian finds out whether social landlords have put the concept on the backburner

Bish, bash, Boff

Conservative Andrew Boff doesn’t toe the party line. But as chair of the London Assembly’s housing committee, what sort of a ride will he give Sadiq Khan? Mark Smulian reports


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Pensions Insight
Merger on their minds
As the debate over the future of local government pension scheme funds rages, Mark Smulian weighs up the pros and cons of mergers

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Estates Gazette

Buoying Hull’s economy as tide turns on Ł500m of EU funding

Hull has been a major benefactor of European Union funding in various ways to the tune of some Ł500m in recent years. Yet last June it showed its gratitude by voting 67.6% in favour of leaving the EU, on a 62.9% turnout. By Mark Smulian

The lowdown on metro mayors: Manchester and West Midlands

Campaigns by prospective metro mayors were already under way in six city regions when the snap general election was called. So will the surprise announcement affect the outcome? Mark Smulian reports

Hampshire devolution in deadlock

Poised somewhere between bemused and aghast, the property industry around Southampton has watched an epic political row stymie a devolution deal to regenerate the area. By Mark Smulian

Standing in the way of control

Following North Somerset’s decision to opt out of devolution, a newly elected mayor for the West of England could find themselves overseeing strategies for areas over which they have no control. Confused? Mark Smulian explains

Has the Hinkley pause hampered investor confidence?

When the government pressed pause on Hinkley Point C, the entire industry was left in the dark as to why. But as foreign investors take more of an interest, there’s still plenty of confidence left in the market. Mark Smulian reports

Build it and they will come

Taking care of business? Local authorities will need to be bold if they want to bring in the companies that will regenerate their areas. By Mark Smulian


Red flag for the red trousers

Labour's Marvin Rees has replaced George Ferguson as Bristol's mayor. Among his first tasks will be to negotiate with the Tory councils surrounding the city on how to get the best devolution deal for the region. Mark Smulian reports

Multiple partners

The government wants to devolve power to a combined authority comprising Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Peterborough councils. But these four entities have their own ideas about who should combine with who. Mark Smulian reports

The power to transform

Lincolnshire has beaten other East Midlands counties to a devolution deal with the government and will use its new political independence, and a bit of Whitehall cash, to build homes and improve infrastructure. Mark Smulian reports

In for a long wait?

The West Midlands Combined Authority has been devolved a raft of powers by chancellor George Osborne. But the power to create a regional spatial plan is not one of them. Mark Smulian reports.

Who's on board?
The West Midlands risks being left behind by rival powerhouse Greater Manchester unless it forms its own 'super council', but local rivalries, questions over boundaries and economic tier could derail the idea altogether. Mark Smulian reports

Concrete garden
Two new garden cities are under way in the South East, but they bear only a passing resemblance to their forebears. Mark Smulian reports

London in 90 minutes
Norwich's travel connections with London and Cambridge are improving, but will shorter journey times kick-start the city's property market? Mark Smulian reports

Joint efforts
Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire are poised to form a combined authority, but uncertainty - and a general election - are holding up plans. Mark Smulian reports

Still taking the 'no' road
Scotland's property business remains sanguine following the SNP's general election triumph - with a second referendum unlikely to be an immediate concern. Mark Smulian reports

Land of opportunity
Can the North East's recently established occupier-focused enterprise zone bring the regeneration to the area that the government is hoping for? And what will the impact be on the local property industry> Mark Smulian reports

The Daedalus Enterprise Zone: Off the radar
Southampton and Portsmouth's aviation and marine industry-themed enterprise zone has scored a couple of early hits with lettings, but for most in the property market it is not on their radar. By Mark Smulian

An enterprising idea
Rents on a Norfolk enterprise zone recently outstripped those in Norwich city centre, but agents are split on whether they can be sustained. Mark Smulian reports

Enterprising ideas
A complex number of elements are in play to make the best use of Birmingham city centre’s enterprise zones. Mark Smulian reports

Market sea change
As a huge new port and logistics park springs up in the south Essex hinterland, industry experts are united in their belief that the development can only be positive for the local market. Mark Smulian reports

Fumbling in the dark
Wales is to get five new enterprise zones, but the details are vague and there are suspicions, says Mark Smulian, that the initiative is nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction to the loss of a substantial motor industry investment

Developers decry lack of opportunity
Unlike their predecessors, the latest wave of enterprise zones, such as those in the North East, will not provide backing for developers' schemes, Mark Smulian reports

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Legal Week
Data, data everywhere
Legal Week takes a look at how e-discovery and data management can help businesses facing unprecedented levels of scrutiny. By Mark Smulian

Bright lights, big city
Emerging markets are enticing for any firm looking to expand, but they also present particular difficulties for the unprepared. Mark Smulian explains why a little local knowledge goes a long way

Differences dissolved - distinctions between local and international firms in Europe are blurring
As Europe's legal systems become increasingly harmonised, distinctions between East and West and local and international firms are blurring. Mark Smulian reports

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Law Society Gazette
Property solicitors will have to adapt to a rapidly changing market
By Mark Smulian

Transport of delight
Reforms to the Local Transport Act 2008 will create more work for lawyers, says Mark Smulian

Power in numbers: making sense of the numbers behind commercial litigation
By Mark Smulian

Insolvency specialists - high demand, short supply
The UK has nosedived into recession - but for some this financial cloud has a silver lining. After a relatively lean decade, the downturn is potentially lucrative for insolvency specialists. By Mark Smulian

How oil prices and the credit crunch affect aviation law
Airlines have gone to the wall as the price of oil rockets. How can lawyers help the industry weather the turbulence? By Mark Smulian

Council law teams get commercial
Local authority legal departments are increasingly competing with private firms for public sector work. By Mark Smulian

Trouble shooters
Law firms called in by local authorities can expect to encounter an eclectic mix of work, explains Mark Smulian

In the public interest
As the work-load for solicitors in charities increases, Mark Smulian looks at the rewards of operating in a sector that can rarely match the financial incentives offered elsewhere.

The luck of the draw
While many lawyers are willing to work pro bono, and the not-for-profit sector is growing, funding legal projects is not easy. Mark Smulian reports

Opening doors
With the advent of home information packs, solicitors fear competition from estate agents. Could solicitors acting as estate agents themselves be the answer? Mark Smulian investigates

Seal of approval
Notaries claim that their counterparts in France and Spain are flouting EU rules on open competition. plus, they face upheavals in the legal services white paper, reports Mark Smulian

Fighting form
Solicitors claim they are plagued by problems with the stamp duty land tax forms. So are these glitches the result of computer or human error? Mark Smulian investigates

Come fly with me
Superjumbos, 'Dreamliners' and a post-9/11 recovery mean that aviation law is on the up. Following a recent high-profile law firm merger, Mark Smulian takes to the air

In the hot seat
Lawyers who act for controversial clients face everything from death threats to unwanted pizza deliveries. Mark Smulian asks some of the people in the firing line how they cope with it

A nice little earner
Law firms are reportedly wasting millions on misdirected marketing. So what are they doing wrong? They need to convince partners of the value of a clear strategy, says Mark Smulian

Judgement call
Patent agents and trade mark attorneys want the right to become judges in specialist courts. But are they equipped with the necessary legal skills? Mark Smulian investigates

For the public good
The role of public inquiries is under close government scrutiny. How effective are they in ensuring that their welter of recommendations are implemented? Mark Smulian investigates

A friend in need
There is increasingly more to professional negligence actions than just conveyancing claims. Mark Smulian talks to the lawyers who sue other solicitors and defend them

Lateral shift
A partner cloaks his move to another firm in secrecy. But culture clashes may sour the experience. Mark Smulian examines how due diligence can prevent such problems

On good authority
The furore surrounding Professor Sir Roy Meadow in the Sally Clark case showed shortcomings in the expert witness system. Mark Smulian reports on a crisis in public confidence

Building blocks
The construction industry is buoyant. Yet despite the plethora of projects, fewer cases are going to court. Mark Smulian explains why more and more firms are trying out adjudication

A boost for diversity
As the Law Society backs the Black Solicitors Network, other groups are battling to end discrimination against ethnic minority solicitors in law firms, reports Mark Smulian

City feels the heat
The reason London is losing international arbitration business to cities such as Paris and Geneva is not solely down to cost. Deep cultural divisions also exist, argues Mark Smulian

Detecting duplicity
Mark Smulian talks to solicitors about the four main scams currently being targeted at the profession, and urges firms to stay alert to any early indications of fraud

Doing the dirty deed
Becoming a partner at a law firm may include unexpected difficulties. Mark Smulian looks at the systems here and abroad and warns that dangers can lie in the small print

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Local Government Lawyer
Into the void
The government's announcement that it is to abolish both the Standards Board and the predetermination rule has been welcomed in some quarters, but leaves councillors and lawyers in the dark about how they will be replaced, writes Mark Smulian

Partners in crime
Under the new standards set by the Tenant Services Authority social landlords not only have to tackle anti-social behaviour but also provide evidence of how they are meeting their obligations. But their ability to do this could be constrained by scarce resources and the ongoing challenge of ensuring effective partnership working with other agencies, writes Mark Smulian.

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Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (Cilex) Journal
Local authority legal services: made for sharing? Increasing financial pressure on councils means that it is becoming common to share legal services and staff. In this article, Mark Smulian considers the impact of this trend Publish and be Damned
Mark Smulian looks at the impact of the Defamation Act 2013 on the libel laws and the opportunities for Chartered Legal Executives

Making the Courts Pay
Mark Smulian reports on whether the courts should pay their own way and what impact the new fee hikes might have on users

Life after Jackson
Mark Smulian surveys the world of legal costs in the wake of the landmark Jackson review

Step by step
Awareness and use of the Rehabilitation Code has come a long way since it was launched in 2000, but there is still room for improvement in how it operates, reports Mark Smulian

All in a good cause
Charities can require legal advice across a range of fields. Mark Smulian looks at their needs and how Chartered Legal Executives can get involved

Search engines
Competition is increasing among search providers - even before the hotly-anticipated arrival of the Land Registry in the market. Mark Smulian reports

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Health Service Journal
Planning for healthier places
How will health and council planners work together, asks Mark Smulian

Pooling Power
One solution to the cost-cutting era looming over the NHS could be the Total Place programme, in which local public sector budgets are co-ordinated for greatest impact. By Mark Smulian

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Wind Power Monthly
Wind Fails to Make Friends
The planning system in England and Wales has been blamed for keeping the UK's rate of wind development low. But could developers do more to help themselves? By Mark Smulian

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Motor Finance
Talking tough
Lessors' reputations are at stake due to end-of-lease charges, says Mark Smulian

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Public Finance
Africa: pumping up the tax volume
African countries urgently need to expand the revenue they raise from taxes. How can this be done in a sustainable way, without reliance on depleting natural resources? By Mark Smulian

Public property: concrete assets
The ongoing fiscal squeeze is encouraging public bodies of all shapes and sizes to reassess how they use, and might benefit from, the properties on their books. By Mark Smulian

Coalition tensions to play out in local elections
The local elections in England on May 5 will inevitably reflect voter's views on national issues and the performance of the government, by Mark Smulian

Liverpool looms as unions prepare for bitter jobs battle
Public sector unions are gearing up to face the prospect of inevitable spending cuts after the general election. Next week's TUC conference will indicate how far they will go, says Mark Smulian

Laml ruling sends councils back to the drawing board on co-operation
By Mark Smulian

Are unitary councils the shape of things to come?
By Mark Smulian

The tourist trap
As if foot and mouth, September 11, the Gulf War, Sars and terrorist threats were not enough, British tourism also has to cope with a muddled mix of funding bodies. Mark Smulian reports

Training its sights on costs
Running costs are spiralling out of control on the UK railways, yet the industry does not even know what it owns. Mark Smulian investigates the role of the Strategic Rail Authority in pulling it all together

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Moneywise
Are you at risk from 21st-century crime?
A new century has revealed a new breed of criminals with hi-tech methods. Mark Smulian explains what you can do to protect yourself

How to keep rogue traders from your door
Unsolicited callers, from cowboy builders to loan sharks, are on a mission to raid your bank account. Mark Smulian explains how your local council's trading standards department can help.

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London Loves Business
Link to features on London Loves Business

Supply Management
Salt at a pinch
It takes a lot of grit to keep the roads free of snow and ice. Mark Smulian looks at how some councils managed

A lot on their plates
Improving the quality of school dinners has given procurement a problem to sink its teeth into, as Mark Smulian discovers

The great classroom experiment
The government has launched a radical procurement model to rebuild and renovate all of England's secondary schools. Mark Smulian reports

A force for good purchasing
The procurement team behind London's police force is making big changes. Mark Smulian examines its record so far

London's growing pains
The British government's plans to redevelop a massive parcel of land to the east of London will stretch the purchasing activities and capacity of many industries, as Mark Smulian reports

Trams get a fare deal
Escalating costs threatened to derail three systems in England. But inventive procurement has put two back on track, says Mark Smulian

Councils taxed by web buying
Local authorities in England have made only 'patchy' progress on e-procurement, as they struggle with the demands of the government, councillors, the Gershon review and suppliers. Mark Smulian reports

Get in lane
A call for collaborative procurement for road maintenance seems like a U-turn by the Highways Agency. Mark Smulian examines whether councils will be able to tackle bumps in the road - and make savings

Closing the gap
Uniting Transport for London's fractured purchasing teams was difficult. Faiza Rasheed, head of TfL's policy, strategy and best practice unit, tells Mark Smulian how she did it, increased efficiencies and saved money

Practice makes perfect
Councils are coming under increased pressure to deliver ever-greater savings over the next spending period. Mark Smulian looks at their progess

Renovation, Renovation
Government targets for the provision of decent homes will entail an intense programme of refurbishment, including bulk buying, by social housing providers. Mark Smulian examines what the impact will be for procurement

Saving brick by brick
In an effort to save millions of pounds, 32 housing associations joined a collective purchasing pilot scheme. Mark Smulian assesses the results

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New Start
Breaking down barriers
Five years on, is the Social Exclusion Unit still at the cutting edge – or has it begun to drift? Chief executive Claire Tyler talks to Mark Smulian

Carving out a community
At the heart of the Thames Gateway, the biggest regeneration scheme in Britain, lie plans to turn disused quarries into new communities. Mark Smulian reports


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Housebuilder

White Paper Signals Planning Reforms

Mark Smulian looks at the planning aspects of the recent Housing White Paper and sees some subtle, and not so subtle, changes in how the government wants local authorities to play their part in delivering new homes

Healthy Housing

Mark Smulian looks at the NHS Healthy New Towns initiative and charts its progress on sites around the country

Fostering Understanding Among Planners and Builders

There is a gap in understanding between planners and developers which is slowing development down and delaying decisions. Mark Smulian reports on ideas to help each “side" understand the other better to improve the relationship

Key Planning Reviews Threaten More Uncertainty

This year could see uncertainty and disruption in the planning process as the government seeks to review both the New Homes Bonus and the Community Infrastructure Levy. Mark Smulian reports

A journey into the unknown
The government is looking to double the speed of delivery of new homes at Northstowe in Cambridgeshire by commissioning them directly. Mark Smulian finds out how this might work - and whether it can be a success or will it all go horribly wrong

Housing zones - an opportunity, but with issues
Mark Smulian looks at what is meant by housing zones and finds out whether they are a true opportunity to deliver increased numbers of new homes

The return of the council house
Changes in council borrowing rules and the cutting of grant to housing associations have prompted local authorities to consider building homes themselves again. Will this be an opportunity for housebuilders? Mark Smulian reports

A Battle on the Boundaries
The abolition of the regional strategies saw the loss of the mechanism that enabled neighbouring councils to work together to provide for local housing need. To tackle this, the government brought in a new duty to co-operate - but is it working? Mark Smulian investigates

Two Sides to an Interesting Political Experiment
The government has introduced new initiatives to try to boost housebuilding, focusing on easing the planning delays and affordable housing demands. Housebuilders hope this will work, but, as Mark Smulian reports, local authorities are by no means convinced

Eastern Block
A report published earlier this year by HBF set out the extent of the housing crisis in the east of England, revealing that fewer than half the homes the region requires are being built. Mark Smulian asks local politicians to explain why.

Taking the Red Tape Challenge
Mark Smulian looks at the two initiatives currently underway to ease the red tape burden on the industry. Will they work or are they just fiddling around the edges?

Public Land Release for New Homes
We have had initiatives to release public land for housing development before, and they came to nothing. What is different about the latest plans and will they work? Mark Smulian reports

Follow the money
Is the New Homes Bonus really working? Mark Smulian reports on local authorities that have already benefited from the bonus and finds out whether they will spend the cash for more growth

Affordable home hiatus
The government is confident that its overhaul of the social housing system - and cuts in funding - will offer providers the flexibility to supply 150,000 new homes to 2015. But Mark Smulian has identified four problems that could lead to a downturn in new build

Local homes for local people
Mark Smulian talks to housebuilders, planning consultancies and local councillors about the effect of the new localism policy and the potential opportunities and pitfalls for the industry

HCA flexes muscles on new home design
The Homes and Communities Agency wants to see all homes in which it has some involvement built to new and higher space, design and sustainability standards. But housebuilders are not sue this has been properly thought out. Mark Smulian reports

The chosen ones
The HCA's select list of housebuilders and contractors chosen to deliver the public land initiative has caused dismay and controversy, as well as delight for those that made the cut. Mark Smulian talks to the lucky and not so lucky

Train times
As public funds become more scarce, those in charge of cash distribution are going to be more demanding. Take note - if you have not got an apprenticeship programme, start one now because, as Mark Smulian reports, this will be the key to future funds

Rental adjustment
Is it time for housebuilders to take a serious look at getting involved in the private rented sector? With initiatives under way to boost new build for rent and to shake off the Rachman and Rigsby reputation, Mark Smulian looks at the opportunities

Terms of association
Can housing associations save the industry in this recession, asks Mark Smulian

Blast from the past
People in the industry today who survived and thrived in the last housing market downturn have some important insights to impart. Mark Smulian looks back to the early 1990s

Lifetime homes hit home
At a time when developers are struggling to gte to grips with the latest sustainability standards and challenging market conditions, government decided to drop a new regulatory requirement onto their laps - lifetime homes standards for all new homes. Mark Smulian seeks the views of an increasingly disaffected industry

Partnerships push
Mark Smulian looks at the potential of local housing companies

Cross purposes
Cross subsidy deals done to fund on-site affordable housing and estate regeneration are eroding traditional boundaries between housebuilders, housing associations and ALMOs, reports Mark Smulian

On track
Inspirational development plans held back by a lack of transport infrastructure? Mark Smulian discovers Kilbride Community Rail's solution: it plans to bring disused railway lines back into use and option the surrounding land for housing.

The tide turns
Mark Smulian looks at the impact on the industry of the Code for Sustainable Homes

Gateway to a promised land?
The government sees the Thames Gateway as the answer to the south east's housing shortage. But is it all it's cracked up to be? Mark Smulian looks at the opportunities for housebuilders east of the meridian and some of the challenges still to be overcome

Space premium
Mark Smulian hears three perspctives on English Partnerships' new space standards

Sustainable communities: Landscape views
As you arrive back to your desks after the Sustainable Communities Summit, you will no doubt be struggling to absorb the content of numerous workshops on the likes of creating partnerships, renewing housing markets and, of course, building sustainably. Mark Smulian considers the purpose of the summit, and where the government's ambitious plans are headed

Sustainable communities: Housekeeping
What is a sustainable community? "Sustainable Communities" is the catchphrase of the moment. But what does it actually mean? Does building them increase property values? Mark Smulian grapples with the concept, and finds out how the development industry is doing the same

Red tape rules
Housebuilders are faced with burgeoning regulatory red tape - a major cause of frustration and delay. Mark Smulian talks to the industry about why, when much of it is designed to help, good intentions are often subverted through poor implementation

Thames Gateway pioneers: home and dry
The Thames Gateway lies beyond the protection of the Thames Barrier and there is no denying it is largely a floodplain. Mark Smulian considers the implications for stakeholders involved with the government's housing growth plans, and how they plan to tackle the risk

Power conductor
Centralised procurement and management structures offer cost efficiencies for large housebuilders - but devolving power to regional operations also has its advantages. Mark Smulian considers the issues T

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Construction Index

Housing snakes and ladders

The UK’s social housing sector is in flux as developers, housing associations and contractors try to navigate a way through a maze of apparently conflicting policies. Mark Smulian reports.

Safe as houses
Across the country councils are building houses again, and many will use this as an opportunity to promote their local economy by awarding work to small and medium sized builders where possible. But will recent government measure throttle this modest growth industry in its infancy. Mark Smulian reports

Passiv approach to social housing
Local authorities and housing associations are pioneering the adoption of the Passivhaus building standard in the UK. Mark Smulian reports.

Pulling the plug
Much-admired training charity Building Lives has lost funding to which it was, apparently, never entitled.Mark Smulian reports

Garden leave
In the future, we'll all live in leafy, sustainable garden cities... or so some Edwardians believed. Today, that idea is being dusted off and taken out for another airing, to the delight of those in the construction industry. Will it take off this time? Mark Smulian reports

New planning policy fails aggregates industry
Are changes in the planning regime failing to safeguard the future supply of essential construction materials? Is it a real threat? Mark Smulian reports

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Sustainable Housing
Location location location
The four nations of the UK have differing standards and funding for building sustainable housing. So which country best supports new eco-homes? Mark Smulian investigates

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Sustainability Talk and News
The HS2 big debate
What is the logic behind the long anticipated HS2 line and why does it divide people so? By Mark Smulian

Construction provides the ideal opportunity to upskill a community
A sustainable community is not just somewhere that has good recycling and 'green' home installations. By Mark Smulian

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Lighting Journal
Local Heroes
Infrastructure investment is at the heart of the government’s drive to devolve powers to local authorities. So will this be good news for infrastructure lighting projects? Quite possibly, argues Mark Smulian

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Contract Journal
Social housing swallows infrastructure spend
As the government prioritises its spending, across the country infrastructure schemes are being put on hold as the dwindling pot is shifted into social housing in market renewal areas. Mark Smulian identifies the schemes at risk and those poised to benefit

Ideas invited to kick start social housing
With little private development underway to subsidise social housing starts, the Homes and Communities Agency is inviting contractors to come up with alternative ideas to kick-start the sector. Mark Smulian looks at the funding options available

How to speed up regeneration projects during the downturn
A new way of using surplus public sector land and buildings could be the key to keeping regeneration work flowing for contractors during the economic downturn. Mark Smulian explains

Managing roads maintenance
The way that roads are run has changed. Road maintenance is now being managed in the same manner as buildings, by valuing it and then planning the maintenance spend. Mark Smulian explains how the highways budget is now being spent

Social housing gets into bed with the private market
It's a long time since anyone in the industry thought about Norman Lamont's housing market package but with chill economic winds blowing through housebuilding, memories have stirred of the emergency measures 15 years ago. By Mark Smulian

Why landfill tax hikes could encourage fly-tipping
It's a safe bet that if income tax rose by 25% in one go there would be demonstrations in the streets. Yet that is the increase that demolition contractors face in the landfill tax, and with the promise of a similar rise next year, by Mark Smulian

Indecent exposure
Councils have a 2010 deadline to meet the Decent Homes Standard, but a few are dragging their feet - which could end up costing them much more in the long run. Mark Smulian explains

Defending the gateway
Developers can heave a sigh of relief – the government has dropped plans to levy a flood defence tax on new housing in the Thames Gateway. Instead, they will be expected to incorporate sustainable, `soft' drainage solutions into new developments. Mark Smulian explains

Gateway to the Games
Plans for the regenertaion of the Thames Gateway were well established when the news broke that London was to get the 2012 Olympics. Will this accelerate the much-needed change in the region, or will efforts be refocussed on the Olympic sites at the expense of further-flung projects? Mark Smulian investigates.

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Construction News

Local councils go radical on maintenance to combat shrinking budgets
With budgets under pressure and a 14-year maintenance backlog, councils and contractors are exploring radical solutions for local networks. By Mark Smulian

Police embrace BIM on Ł100m HQ and training projects
Involving facilities management from the start has far-reaching benefits for the buildings’ lifecycle. By Mark Smulian

HS2 and Heathrow fight political battle
Construction of the High Speed 2 rail line would mean 32 billion-worth of work, while adding a third runway at Heathrow would generate an additional 9bn. By Mark Smulian

Teaching trades to all-comers
Kensington and Chelsea College has plenty of takers for its construction courses. By Mark Smulian

A Year to Rebuild LA
Mark Smulian reports from Los Angeles on the huge operation to put the city back together after last week's earthquake

Prefabrication is remedy our health service needs
The National Health Service has a 3.2 billion pounds construction programme planned. But as much as a quarter of this could be wasted by a construction industry struggling with skills shortages and traditional methods, and a client attached to lowest-price contracts and design changes. Mark Smulian reports

Contractors in the community
Millions of pounds in council housing refurbishment work is available over the next decade across the Midlands and northern England. But, as Mark Smulian reports, the only contractors likely to enjoy a share of it are those that are as concerned with communities as they are with buildings

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Architects Journal
Profession fears procurement overhaul

Architects divided over effect government plans to shave 15-20 per cent off construction costs will have on design quality, writes Mark Smulian

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Architects Datafile

New forms of learning

Middlesex University needed a flexible and sustainable campus to suit a diverse range of subjects and new teaching methods. Mark Smulian reports on the results

Is it refurb or rebuild?

The Bartlett School of Architecture will move into its new 22 Gordon Street building this autumn, but its predecessor home will be lurking within, explains Mark Smulian

Let Us Play
A redundant Bedford church has been converted to a theatre that serves both a school and the local community. Mark Smulian reports

Reed all about it
The University of East Anglia's new Enterprise Centre makes large scale use of thatch as a carbon reduction measure, Mark Smulian reports

What the doctors ordered
Mark Smulian takes a look at the University of Leicester's new Centre for Medicine, which will be the UK's largest non-residential Passivhaus project to date

Passive position
Passivhaus is a standard for insulating buildings to such high levels that energy bills fall to a fraction of their normal cost. A development in North London is among trailblazers for this technique in the social sector. Mark Smulian reports

Too green to build
So determined was a Peterborough school to gain a BREEAM Very Good rating that it had become too expensive to construct. Mark Smulian hears how architects adapted the design

Titan in its tomb
The country's second largest ever concrete pour was needed to create a building for Cambridge's materials scientists in which vibration could be kept to a minimum. Mark Smulian reports

Speaker's Corner
An energy efficient, new headquarters named after a former parliamentary speaker has brought Croydon Council closer to its public, Mark Smulian reports

The heart of the matter

A constricted site overlooking live hospital wards has given the University of Leicester a new Cardiovascular Research Centre, Mark Smulian reports

Taking care by design

A new care home has been designed to create a luxurious environment for residents and to help those who suffer from dementia. Mark Smulian hears how SanctuaryCare did this

Calling planet Earth

The International Broadcasting Centre will link Stratford to the world during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. But will it find a new owner after that, asks Mark Smulian

How the village will grow

Mark Smulian looks at the infrastructure built to turn the Olympic Village into a thriving community and part of its surroundings

Straightening out a rabbit warren

Leicester University Students' Union building was notorious for its confusing layout, but a refurbishment and modern extension has created a building fit-for-purpose, Mark Smulian reports

A Pool by the Sea

Olympians will soon be training in Southend's new swimming pool using the UK's first precast dive tower. Mark Smulian reports

Everybody back on the bus

The world's longest guided busway is almost ready in Cambridgeshire. Mark Smulian finds out how it was built, and why the county council didn’t want a railway or road

The Building That Never Was

Waveney Campus would have provided a home for two councils and specialist accommodation for fish researchers, but a surprise blow means it cannot be built. Mark Smulian finds out who killed off ÂŁ53m of regeneration

Travel Weekly
Brazil: Plain old animal attraction
It was my first time on horseback, and the doubts crowded in, despite the presence of two lifelong cowboys to lead our party.

Demand exceeds supply
Viistors advsied to book early for Tanzania, by Mark Smulian

Coach and Bus Week
Winning combination
A successful partnership between the council and operator has seen passenger numbers grow in a city where walking and cycling are real alternatives. Mark Smulian reports from Cambridge

The cost of regulation
The coming years may see ever greater amounts of public money allocated to bus transport but it's unlikely to come without strings attached. Mark Smulian taks a look

Subsidies: the balancing act
The chances are that bus operators do not much concern themselves with the costs of care for discharged hospital patients, the conduct of the 2001 census or the intricacies of the council tax system. Maybe they should, says Mark Smulian

A peerless partnership
As rumours of re-regulation grow in strength, the industry can point to GoAhead's Brighton & Hove Buses an as example of a partnership between a bus company and a council that works a treat. Mark Smulian investigates

Around the web
In just a few years the internet has transformed the way we live and shop. But have the bus companies got to grips with websites? Mark Smulian plans some virtual journeys

Local Transport Today
Scrutiny report puts Southend's buses back on the council's map
Southend, a town of 160,000 people, has had no subsidised bus services since the local council's financial problems led to the abandonment of bus service funding in 2004. Mark Smulian examines how a scrutiny committee is trying to give fresh impetus to improving the town's bus services

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Public Sector Travel
UK public sector conferences moving to urban venues
Many UK public sector conferences such as the Chartered Institute of Housing and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development are moving venues, says Mark Smulian

How the MoD uses online booking tools to control travel cost
Civil servants – and military officers who fill management roles – at the Ministry of Defence need to travel all over the world to visit military bases in the UK and abroad, attend conferences, meet foreign governments and deal with suppliers. By Mark Smulian

Ministry of Defence travel programme makes big savings
The Ministry of Defence does everything from fighting a war in Afghanistan, to operating nuclear submarines, to training recruits, even to providing troops for official ceremonies. It is a huge operation, which needs almost ÂŁ200 million of business travel a year to keep it going. By Mark Smulian

How the Commonwealth Local Government Forum manages travel
The Commonwealth Local Government Forum has one of the smallest yet most complex demands for travel in the public sector.

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Business Travel World
Gaining ground
Environmental concerns, economic prudence, higher air fares and now infrastructure improvements may all be tipping the balance towards the train. Mark Smulian examines the development of high-speed rail

Frameworking practices
The public sector spends a great deal on hotels, but this spend is fragmented and lacks coherence. Mark Smulian examines the prospects for a consolidation strategy implemented by the Office of Government Commerce

A healthy operation
The Department of Health's travel budget is a tiny part of the Treasury's health spend, but that doesn't mean no one's watching, says Mark Smulian

Time & Motion
The inspectors who check standards all over the country travel a great deal. Mark Smulian uncovers the different agencies' methods for meeting those needs

Coming clean
Carbon counting is the new zeitgeist. Mark Smulian examines key arguments in the growing surface versus air emissions debate

Non-profit motives
Travel for charities can mean conflicting pressures, finds Mark Smulian

The blame game
New corporate manslaughter legislation means travel managers will have to put pressure on TMCs to provide correct information, says Mark Smulian

Party political journeys
A new prime minister, conference fever and a phantom election have forced the major political parties to show their hand on a number of policies, Mark Smulian looks at what they have in mind for business travel

Fares fair?
As business travellers using the railways endured a torrid time in the New Year, it emerged that not only were ticket prices rising but TMC commissions were being cut. Mark Smulian looks at the consequences for rail buyers

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Routes News
The central issue
Central American countries are keen to grow their slice of the European tourism pie, but more direct air services look to be a long way off, writes Mark Smulian

Open Borders
Mark Smulian talks to South African Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk about his dream of making an African e-vfisa regime a reality

Free movement
Oliver Clark and Mark Smulian analyse the potential impact of the lifting of restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian citizens within the European Union.

On the right track
With a second international airport under development and the modernisation of Tribhuvan airport ongoing Nepal hopes to offer a more attractive proposition for airlines, writes Mark Smulian

Reach for the sky
Mark Smulian talks to the CEO of SkyWork Airlines about the carrier's network strategy.

Fuelling Demand
Alberta’s booming oil industry is proving a major boost to Edmonton International Airport’s passenger traffic, writes Mark Smulian

Life beyond Reykjavik
Mark Smulian discovers that some of Iceland’s more remote regions are bidding to attract new airlines

Expanding East
Wizz Air recently opened new bases in Lithuania and Serbia. Mark Smullian finds out what’s behind these moves and where Wizz would like to expand to next.

Meridian
The airport of the future
Mark Smulian reports on the expansion of London City Airport

Brave New World
Woolwich is becoming a very different place,as Mark Smulian discovers

Our town
Will it be all change for Greenwich? Mark Smulian finds out

Skipton Life
Doing it for the kids
Skipton savers have donated over ÂŁ1 million to the NSPCC and Children 1st since 1999. Mark Smulian finds out where your money goes.

Journal of the Islington Archaeology and History Society
Picture palace
It is 75 years since the Holloway Odeon opened. Mark Smulian goes behind the historical scenes

Clocking on
The Caledonian Park Clock is ticking again. Mark Smulian talks to Alfie Dennen about how his Stopped Clocks Project got it going

Spiral pioneer
The first spiral escalator in the world, unearthered in an Islington tube station, was extraordinary, but abandoned and forgotten. Mark Smulian reports

Retail Newsagent
The retail hustle
Conmen are targeting small retailers with a wide variety of scams, but forewarned is forearmed, says Mark Smulian

To each his own brand
Own-brand ranges offer higher profit margins and give customers more choice over price, making them an opportunity not to be missed for retailers, says Mark Smulian

C'llr (Councillor)

Osborne’s devo legacy

George Osborne may be gone from high office but his legacy lives on in next May’s votes for elected mayors to exercise devolved powers in combined authorities. Mark Smulian brings the story up to date.

Planning for integration

Sustainability and transformation plans are bringing health and social care together locally, but is local government's voice strong enough? Mark Smulian reports

Leading the devo charge

Elected mayors are being created across most conurbations as a condition of the government’s devolution deal. But there is already one unelected mayor – at least for now – in place. Tony Lloyd is Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s interim mayor pending elections next year. Mark Smulian spoke to him for c’llr.

Turning the clock back to Dreamland

Thanet council used a compulsory purchase order to enable it to bring an old space back to life to bring the tourists back to Margate. Mark Smulian reports

Change the culture to protect childern

Anne Longfield had barely got her feet under her desk as children's commissioner for England when the second bombshell about councils and child sex exploitation landed in as many months. She tells Mark Smulian that she doubts local government has heard the last of such detonations

The 100 day blueprint
The Local Government Association has a vital role in persuading national politicians that its proposals for renewing the roles of Whitehall and Town Hall are in the national interest. Mark Smulian spoke to new LGA chair, David Sparks

Looking out for Lewisham's legacy
Depending on what the voters of Lewisham decide in May, Steve Bullock could be heading for a fourth term as its Labour elected mayor, which would take him to 16 years in office – longer than any prime minister has served continuously. Mark Smulian spoke to him for c’llr.

Discipline is the key
A majority of one keeps any council administration on a knife edge, and the ruling group and its leader on their toes. Nottinghamshire County Council leader Alan Rhodes found himself in this position when Labour regained power in May 2013. Mark Smulian reports

Picking up the pieces
You know it's trouble when a company that contributes more than half a town's business rates suddenly closes. That is what happened to Dover District Council in 2011 when Pfizer closed its life sciences research and development operation in Sandwich. Mark Smulian reports.

Winning ways
Paul Bettison won a special award for his contribution to local government at this year's c'llr achievement awards. Mark Smulian spoke to him about his unusual entry into local government and his work on housing and the environment.

Banking on the Bonus
If you are a council at the top of the list, the New Homes Bonus looks like a winner. But it’s a different story for those at the bottom and, writes Mark Smulian, questions are being asked about whether it is actually leading to more homes being built.

Jason Kitcat
Mark Smulian meets the leader of the UK's only Green council and asks if there is more to the party than green issues.

A fresh approach
As the Bourne Legacy - the latest in what seems to have become the 'Carry On Bourne' series of films - hits the screens, a namesake is bidding to become the head crimefighter of Sussex, writes Mark Smulian.

Onwards and upwards?
He is one of the most high profile and controversial council leaders, but Stephen Greenhalgh decided to stand down, mid-term. Mark Smulian asked him why and about his record as leader.

Work as therapy
Many councillors are dedicated, but few perhaps would continue to discharge their duties from a hospital bed in the early stages of recovery from a life-threatening illness, during which they admit they lost the will to live at times. Mark Smulian reports.

Where are they now? Steve Charters
Mark Smulian finds out how a former councillor has made the journey from a radical local government experiment in the east end of London to French champagne country.

Older people: councils need to see the bigger picture
With local authorities under unprecedented financial pressure, it could be older people who bear the brunt of cuts, because, as an age group, they are heavy users of public services. Mark Smulian asked four older people, all active in campaigns on behalf of their peers, for their views on how councils should respond.

Profile: Graham Baxter
Mark Smulian meets Graham Baxter, leader of North East Derbyshire and winner of the leader of the year award in the LGiU awards

Bosses beckon for big cities
The leaders of 12 major city councils are about to have greatness thrust upon them, in some cases very reluctantly. Mark Smulian spoke to some those in line for the hot seat.

Suffolk's green revolution
It's bold to claim that one's county can be the greenest, but that is the status towards which Suffolk County Council is working. Mark Smulian investigates.

My patch - Brent
Mark Smulian meets Hayley Matthews who holds the distinction of being the country's youngest cabinet member

My patch - Solihull
Mark Smulian meets Solihull leader Ken Meeson

My patch - Lea Bridge
Mark Smulian meets Elisabeth Davies



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