Saturday News Review

Campaigners warn council soup ran ban human rights breach

A proposal to outlaw soup runs for homeless people in one of the country’s most affluent areas would breach human rights laws, campaigners have warned. Westminster council has become embroiled in the row after threatening the crackdown on the service around Westminster Cathedral Piazza, central London, in an effort to discourage rough sleeping. The Conservative-run council is considering criminalising free food for the homeless amid claims it causes litter problems and creates disturbance to local residents throughout the area, one of the capital’s most affluent. Officials claim up to seven soup runs feed about 150 homeless people outside the cathedral each night, giving out hot drinks and making it a “no-go area” for residents and businesses. But human rights campaigners them as “wholly unacceptable in a civilised society”. Volunteers have also accused the council of being anti-Christian. The claim is denied by officials. – the Telegraph

Cameron backs plans to protect children from sexualised imagery

David Cameron is to back a plan to stop retailers selling inappropriate clothes for pre-teens and shield children from sexualised imagery across all media, including selling “lads magazines” in brown covers and making the watchdog Ofcom more answerable to the views of parents. Retailers would be required to sign up to a new code preventing the sale of items for pre-teens with suggestive slogans, which the prime minister has repeatedly criticised. The proposals come in a long-awaited report, leaked to the Guardian, on the commercialisation of childhood. It was commissioned by Cameron and is due to be published on Monday with strong support from Downing Street. The report, which was prepared by Reg Bailey, the chief executive of the Christian charity Mothers’ Union, finds “sexualised and gender stereotyped clothing, products and services for children are the biggest concerns for parents and many non-commercial organisations”. In response to his recommendations on clothing, it is expected that the British Retail Consortium, following consultation with Mumsnet, the web-based parents’ forum, will announce a new code next week. – the Guardian

Shops should have to display “lads’ mags” in plain covers and stop selling suggestive clothes to pre-teens under a range of measures backed by David Cameron to protect children from sexualised imagery. Music videos should carry cinema-style certificates, advertisers should be discouraged from putting up raunchy posters near schools and broadcasting regulators should be instructed to clamp down on explicit programmes before the 9pm watershed. The plans will be set out next week in a report commissioned by the Prime Minister on combating the sexualisation of young children. The report, Let Children Be Children, was drawn up by Reg Bailey, the chief executive of the Mothers’ Union. It warns: “Sexualised and gender-stereotyped clothing, products and services for children are the biggest concerns for parents.” – the Independent

Vocational training should start earlier

At least 40 per cent of pupils should take high-quality vocational training that leads directly to a job to cut the youth unemployment rate and boost economic competitiveness, according to Tim Oates, director of research at the Cambridge Assessment exam board. He suggested the Government should also consider giving children more job-based tuition at the age of 14 or even as young as 11. The recommendations are likely to form part of a wide-ranging review of the National Curriculum to be published later this year. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Oates said England risks being left behind other developed nations because the country fails to offer students the chance to go down a “rigorous vocational route” at the end of secondary education. – the Telegraph

Crack down on high earning council tenants

Tenants who earn more than £100,000 a year could be removed from their council houses under plans being examined by the Government. Housing Minister Grant Shapps complained that some wealthy people were living in properties that should be kept for the least well off. “With so many people in housing need languishing on the waiting lists which doubled under Labour, it’s right to consider whether people on £100,000-plus salaries should get their rent subsidised by the taxpayer,” he told the Daily Telegraph. “Social housing is an expensive and scarce resource which should be targeted on supporting those in real need.” Up to 6,000 people could be affected, according to figures prepared by officials, and ministers are ready to change the law if necessary to ensure local councils and social landlords can evict those who refuse to leave, the newspaper reported. The lower rents charged by social housing meant people in some parts of London could save as much as £70,000 a year compared with the price of a similar property in the private-rented sector, it said. – the Independent

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