Lunchtime news May 2

With Tony Blair’s departure from number 10 imminent, the Mirror reports that Gordon Brown will launch a new era of council house building when he takes over as prime minister.

HIPS come in for flak from a number of papers, including the Guardian, which all cover a critical House of Lords committee report claiming that the packs have been stripped of their original purpose and were opposed by the property industry.

Guardian Society profiles Shaun Bailey, former youth worker and Conservatives’ prospective parliamentary candidate for Hammersmith. ‘I’d love to be able to tell you about an offshore account, a mistress in the Bahamas, a powerboat and dodgy dealings. But I’m sorry, I haven’t done any of that. I’ve been living on an estate,’ he tells the paper.

Bill Bryson, the bestselling American author, is to become the new president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), replacing Sir Max Hastings.

The chief executive of Sunderland Arc, Tom Macartney, tells the Think conference, which ends today, that buy-to-let is jeopardising Britain’s city centres.

Latest data on the housing market from the Land Registry showed house prices rose by 1 per cent in March to stand 8.3 per cent higher than a year earlier, one of the highest annual rises in almost two years. The average price of a home in England and Wales is now £178,423.

Debbie Crew’s award winning campaign against abuses by private landlords continues to gather speed. More signatures are now being sought for an electronic petition to the prime minister to stop a Section 21 Notice being used by landlords to shirk their legal responsibilities.