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Council leaders warn of cuts to services

Services like bin collections have already been cut back. Credit: PA

Council leaders warned a reduction in government funding would lead to cuts in services which are already struggling.

Surrey County Council leader David Hodge said: "The reality for Surrey is we are facing significant demands on school places and on adult social care and children's services.

"When we have taken 40% out of our budget, it is extremely difficult to continue to do that."

Buckinghamshire County Council leader Martin Tett said a "tipping point" had been reached "where we can't just eat away at our back office services any more, we are going to have to do things in terms of home-to-school transport, cutbacks in a whole range of areas that people are going to really start noticing now".

He added: "We are going to have to make cuts of another £46 million in the next three years, and those cuts are going to be felt by people."

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Government pledges £275m to help freeze council tax

Credit: PA

The government has pledged £275 million to help local authorities freeze council tax.

Local government minister Kris Hopkins urged councils to take up the offer of money, telling MPs: "All councils should be freezing their Council Tax in 2015 to 2016 and helping people with their cost of living.

"We are providing additional funding equivalent to a 1% Council Tax increase, to help councils freeze."

Man arrested on suspected firearm offences near Dorset school

A man has been arrested on suspicion of firearm related offences near a school in Dorset that went into "lockdown" today, following reports of shots being fired at workmen nearby.

1,000 people interviewed in wide-ranging abuse probe

A total of 18 separate child abuse investigations are currently underway as part of the over-arching Operation Fairbank - a wide-ranging probe prompted by allegations of historical paedophilia made by MP Tom Watson.

Police say these 18 strands are "varied", not all linked and "not all in London", adding that some relate to care homes, and not all involve "VIPs".

One of these 18 is Operation Midland, which the force has been discussing today, and which will cover claims that three boys' deaths were linked to alleged abuse involving MPs in London.

One thousand people have been interviewed and 900 documents have been seized so far as part of the wide Fairbank investigation.

At present, five people have been charged over historical claims - including John Stingemore and Father Anthony McSweeney in relation to Grafton Close Children's Home in the capital.

However, they have so far received no allegations of abuse by any "VIPs" at Elm House Guest House in west London, and are appealing for anyone who may have been abused there to come forward.

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Cuts 'could push some authorities to breaking point'

The latest government cuts in council funding "will push some authorities to breaking point", according to experts.

Graeme McDonald, director of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers (SOLACE) said: "This settlement reminds us that the financial challenge facing local government is immense.

"Government is beginning to recognise that councils have led the way on deficit reduction, but with cuts and demand increasing, fragility is beginning to show.

"The financial future of local services is unsustainable without a more ambitious plan for public service reform."

Police: 'No risk to children' after reports of shots fired

Dorset Police have said that there is no risk to children at Highcliffe School, after it was put on lockdown following reports of shots fired at workmen nearby.

No arrests have been made, after an armed response unit attended the scene.

MPs abuse probe: Missing person checks after murder claims

Police investigating the alleged murders of three boys have confirmed they are checking against missing person files from the time, ITV News Correspondent Ronke Phillips reports.

No bodies have been found at present to support the murder claims - which are said to be linked to an alleged Westminster paedophile ring.

However, police say they believe the allegations - - to be "credible and true" and are taking them very seriously.

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