The Guardian reports that shadow chancellor John McDonnell said that the crisis in the funding of councils may have opened a window of opportunity for a debate about radical ways of boosting local government budgets, such as a land tax. Such a tax, it reports, would be directly related to the wealth of homeowners and would capture the rapid growth in house values. "I think we are at a stage where the decline in terms of funding to local government and the consequential effect on local services - many of them are in crisis - means, I think, that people are now willing to consider more radical solutions than they have in the past," McDonnell said.
The Guardian also includes a column by Simon Jenkins in which he argues that British planning is "a mess", and that it is "awash with political donations and lavish lobbying as the construction industry wrestles to capitalise on the Conservative’s ‘let-rip approach’ to urban and rural development". Jenkins cites the reported hospitality given to Westminster City Council’s planning committee chairman Robert Davis, and the case of developer Irvine Sellar’s ‘Paddington Pole’ development. The scheme, Jenkins alleges, was "waved through the planning committee against all local opposition". He adds that the failure of London mayor Sadiq Khan and housing secretary Sajid Javid to intervene in the proposal was "most unusual for a controversial project".
The Times (subscription required) reports that net EU migration fell last year to its lowest level in five years, prompting warnings of labour shortages from business leaders. The Office for National Statistics reports that migration form the EU fell by 75,000 to 90,000 in the year to September 2017, the first time in five years that it has been below 100,000, the paper says. The British Sandwich and Food to Go Association said the decline highlighted the shortage of workers in its industry.
The Nottingham Post reports that planning permission has been granted for a new £58 million skills hub for the city’s college and a derelict city centre site. Nottingham City Council’s planning committee approved plans for the Southern Gateway project, which will see a new car park and bus station, new shopping and a skills hub for Nottingham College on the Broadmarsh site.