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Voting (Postal Strikes)

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans the Government have to change the rules on (a) postal and (b) absentee voting to take into account postal strikes. [18445]

Dr. Whitehead: The Electoral Commission announced on 20 November that it was initiating a review of postal and absent voting, to report by September 2002. The Government will consider any recommendations which the Commission may make for changes in legislation.

M6

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans his Department has to improve the M6 between Birmingham and Manchester. [18438]

Mr. Jamieson: The section of the M6 between junction 11 and 20 is currently being investigated as part of the West Midlands to North West Multi-Modal Study. The consultants are due to release the final report for the study towards the end of January 2002. It will be for the Regional Assembly in the North West and the West Midlands Local Government Association to consider the report and make their recommendations to the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions. The Secretary of State will decide which measures to take forward through other Government agencies. If approved any new works could start within the 10 Year Transport Plan period.

M6/M56

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he expects work to begin on the motorway link between junction 19 of the M6 and the M56. [18447]

Mr. Jamieson: The M6 and A556 are currently being investigated as part of the West Midlands to North West Multi-Modal Study. The Consultants are due to release the final report for the Study towards the end of January 2002. It will be for the Regional Assembly in the North West and the West Midlands Local Government Association to consider the report and make their recommendations to the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions. The Secretary of State will decide which measures to take forward through other Government Agencies. If approved any new works could start within the 10 Year Transport Plan period.

28 Nov 2001 : Column: 939W

Cheshire Fire Service

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many persons were employed in the Cheshire Fire Service in (a) 1997 and (b) 2001. [18450]

Dr. Whitehead: Based on annual returns submitted to HM Fire Services Inspectorate, the number of persons employed by Cheshire Fire Brigade as at 31 March 1997 and 31 March 2001 was as follows:

19972001
Wholetime firefighters620612
Retained firefighters192190
Control room staff2924
Other staff88103

Speed Limits (Residential Areas)

Mr. Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what estimate he has made of the average cost to local authorities of introducing 20 mph zones in residential areas. [18481]

Mr. Jamieson: The design and implementation of 20 mph zones is a matter for each local traffic authority and therefore estimates have not been prepared centrally. Costs will vary according to the size of the zone, the type and number of the speed controlling measures used and the quality of the materials. From past experience costs of typical schemes are likely to be in the order of £100,000 to £200,000.

Traffic-Calming Measures

Mr. Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how much local authorities have spent on traffic-calming measures from 1992 up to the last year for which figures are available. [18480]

Mr. Jamieson: The introduction of traffic calming measures is a matter for local highway authorities. We have no details of the amounts spent by authorities since 1992.

28 Nov 2001 : Column: 940W

East Devon-London Transport Links

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment he has made of the adequacy of (a) rail services and (b) bus services between east Devon and London; and if he will make a statement. [18282]

Mr. Jamieson: No formal assessment of rail or coach services has been made.

On rail services, we would expect South West Trains and Wessex Trains in consultation with local stakeholders to come forward with proposals to meet demands for new or improved services. The Strategic Rail Authority's Strategic Plan, which will be published in the near future, will set out its priorities for enhancement to the network.

While we recognise the value of long-distance coach services, decisions on the services to provide are a matter for commercial operators responding to passenger demand.

Housing PFI

David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the status of the housing PFI pathfinder projects. [18291]

Ms Keeble: There are eight pathfinder authorities currently going through the procurement process for housing private finance initiative. The authorities are at varying stages in the process. Manchester, Sandwell, Islington and North East Derbyshire are evaluating bids from potential contractors. Leeds, Newham, Camden and Reading are due to issue a document inviting bids during the next three months. Contract signatures are expected during 2002.

Housing (West Midlands)

David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the number of new homes constructed in the west Midlands by local authority area using Housing Corporation funding in the past five years. [18290]

Ms Keeble: The number of new homes constructed in the west Midlands by local authority area using Housing Corporation funding in the past five years is shown in the table. (The table does not include Housing Corporation funded rehabilitation of rented stock and low cost home ownership schemes).

Outturn Outturn to date(14)
Local authority1997–981998–991999–20002000–012001–02
Birmingham582660476321179
Bridgnorth1229
Bromsgrove183915325
Cannock Chase528196417
Coventry83156126632
Dudley2967208
East Staffordshire723915
Hereford38
Herefordshire27585333
Leominster19
Lichfield43654
Malvern Hills37285025
Newcastle-under-Lyme5124601310
North Shropshire124341215
North Warwickshire77
Nuneaton and Bedworth274590640
Oswestry34195
Redditch1027232128
Rugby44564
Sandwell10210614812215
Shrewsbury and Atcham1283512
Solihull4279137
South Herefordshire10
South Shropshire34911410
South Staffordshire291525161
Stafford-61164
Staffordshire Moorlands20642
Stoke-on-Trent891821121836
Stratford-on-Avon27143922
Tamworth1126337
The Wrekin3719778412
Walsall1281451128446
Warwick1556156045
Wolverhampton1461041098240
Worcester45124
Wychavon2916542
Wyre Forest31425456
Total1,9082,0472,0011,621518

(14) 2001–02 completions to date


28 Nov 2001 : Column: 941W

Housing Transfers

David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) which local authorities have transferred their housing stock to new registered social landlords and if he will give the number of homes involved in each case; [18289]

Ms Keeble: A table indicating the local authorities that have transferred some or all of their stock to registered social landlords has been placed in the Libraries of the House.

Applications for a place on next year's Large Scale Voluntary Transfer Programme are due to be received by 11 January 2002. Once these applications have been assessed my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will announce the local authorities that have been granted a place on the programme.


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