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Centre parting

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Press comment on the search for a new chair of CABE, in succession to Stuart Lipton, includes the suggestion that former environment secretary John Gummer could be just the man. There is a problem, however: as a sitting MP he could not undertake the job of chairing a 'non-departmental public body', as CABE officially is. On the other hand, were he to retire from parliament at the next election? What is certainly the case is that he had more effect on the planning system than any secretary of state in recent decades, with his outlawing of additional out-oftown shopping centres. Let's hope Tony Blair doesn't wreck his legacy by sucking up to Walmart and letting them revive the menace to town centres.

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