News Council tax set to rise by as much as five per cent

The amount paid by households towards the cost of policing looks set to rise by up to five per cent this year as the Government faces a potential show down with its flagship Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) who are demanding above inflation increases in council tax to combat swingeing budget cuts.

Nicola Marshall with her son

Government's adoption drive hailed a success as rates rise 10%

The number of children adopted annually in England and Wales rose by almost 10 per cent between 2011 and 2012, official figures published tomorrow show.

The number of detentions under the Mental Health Act is increasing

Mentally ill patients sectioned unnecessarily as 'only way' to a hospital bed

Chair of the Health Select Committee says claims amounted to 'more than anecdotal evidence' and should be urgently investigated by the Department of Health

Rent out your driveways, Eric Pickles tells homeowners as he vows to clamp down on 'parking tax'

Communities Secretary argues renting out spaces can help households increase their income 

Eric Pickles' approval of a council's building plans was shot down by judicial review

Allotment holders win victory over Eric Pickles' building plan

Communities Secretary had to backtrack after approving moves by a council to build homes on a 2.7 hectare patch of land

Of the ten biggest surpluses ten came were from London councils with Westminister heading the top of the list with a £41.6m profit before spending on road infrastructure was taken into account

Councils rake in millions from parking fines as RAC attacks authorities' 'nice little earner'

Parking charges are providing huge cash surpluses for some councils with the 359 town halls across England having a total current account surplus of £565m

More allotments are being sold off by councils

Allotment-holders take legal action against Eric Pickles

Legal action launched over decision to allow sale of sites

Two dead after 'suspicious' flat fire in west London

Two others are being treated for multiple injuries as 58 firefighters battle the blaze in Hounslow

Horsemeat

Slow, badly executed, indecisive and poorly communicated - watchdog rapped for 'wait-and-see' handling of horsemeat crisis

Some of regulator's staff  had 'limited experience' of food-safety crises, official report concludes

Khat is banned in the Netherlands

Theresa May to ban Khat in face of advice from drugs advisers

Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs ridiculed suggestions that its supply is linked to terrorist groups

Education is about more than making a fast buck, Mr Gove

One thing sticks in my mind from my visit to Sweden to study their free schools system – upon which Michael Gove has based many of his education reforms.

George Osborne praised Eric Pickles, pictured, as

Eric Pickles' Communities Department - charged with getting local council budgets under control - fined for £217m unauthorised overdraft

Margaret Hodge describes department finances as 'a shocking example of incompetence'

Half-brother of Tory MP John Whittingdale held in abuse inquiry

Charles Napier arrested as part of investigation in to alleged abuse at the Elm Guest House in the 1980s

Court of Protection: Out-of-hours process is one-sided and inherently unfair - and it must change

It only takes 237 words written by a single social worker on form COP3 (a Court of Protection “Assessment of Capacity” application) for a judge to decide to imprison someone in a care home. I know because I counted the words in the assessment relating to case I am involved with.

Bomb disposal team is called to mosque in Walsall after suspicious item discovered

Residents say an explosion was heard on Friday evening before the item was discovered on Saturday

Missing 14 year old girl Lorna Vickerage, left and John Bush, right, 35. The teenager has been missing since 10 June and police believe she has vanished with a man over twice her age, believed to be John Bush

Lorna Vickerage found: Missing 14-year-old girl from Doncaster and family friend John Bush found near London's Euston station

The pair apparently tried to check into a hotel in Watford, but Bush's card was declined

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Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
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Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game