A BBC investigation into changes in English council spending as a result of Whitehall funding cuts has found that "housing and planning budgets have been particularly hit". It said that spending per head has fallen in all areas between 2010/11 and 2017/18, apart from children's social care. However, planning has had the biggest fall, a drop of 55 per cent, from £47 per head to £21. It was followed by housing, which has dropped by 48 per cent from £53 to £28.
The Birmingham Mail reports that Birmingham "should be twice the size in order to become a wealthy 'global city'". The article is based on findings in a new report by the think tank Policy Exchange. To boost economic growth through agglomeration, it calls for England's second city to double the population to two million people, the article says. To this end the think tank has recommended that the West Midlands Combined Authority "should help ensure Birmingham’s population grows by at least 200,000 people by 2040". The researchers examined the government’s Midlands Engine policy, "which is supposed to grow the economies of both the West Midlands and the East Midlands, and to encourage the two regions to work more closely together", according to the newspaper.
The Times reports that "hundreds of new homes built with sub-standard mortar are in danger of crumbling, according to an investigation that poses fresh questions of newbuild developers". An investigation by BBC2's Victoria Derbyshire programme, based on claims by a retired construction manager, heard of faults in homes on at least 13 sites across the UK, the newspaper says. These include allegations that properties constructed by big developers "have been built with mortar that contains three times more sand than it should", but builders and warranty providers "have been trying to keep the issue out of the public gaze by using gagging orders".
The Daily Telegraph reports that homeowners in a "quiet residential street" in Kent are "furious after a lavatory block for bus drivers was installed on a street corner near their homes". Transport for London (TfL) put the lavatory in Biggin Hill, but residents, who have likened it to Dr Who's Tardis, say they were not consulted. The lavatory did not require planning permission, TfL told the Telegraph, who added that it had been "installed in agreement" with Bromley council.