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Revenue Support Grant (West Sussex)

Mr. Flight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what weighting was given in the recent provisional revenue support grant figures for West Sussex county council to (a) pressures on social services for the elderly, (b) changes in transport costs for education and social services and (c) flood damage in West Sussex caused by last year's heavy rains; and if he will make a statement. [23653]

Dr. Whitehead: The Government looked at the pressures facing local government when setting the spending plans for 2001–02 to 2003–04 in the Spending Review 2000. Those spending plans provide for good increases in grant to local authorities overall. Our proposals for the funding of local authority revenue expenditure next year provide real terms increases for education, social services and environmental, protective and cultural services. The proposals include the £300 million over the SR2000 plans which the Government have provided for this year and the next to assist councils in building care capacity.

In allocating the overall level of funding between authorities, the SSA formulae recognise that pressures on social services are higher for some authorities than for others. For example, they take account of the size of the elderly population in each authority and other factors such as deprivation. General grant to West Sussex in 2002–03 under our proposals is £343 million which is an increase of £22.5 million or 7 per cent. on a like for like comparison. This is above the average for comparable authorities.

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The Government have also provided £26 million in emergency financial assistance through the Bellwin scheme to councils affected by flood damage as a result of last year's heavy rains. West Sussex county council received £6 million. Revenue expenditure by West Sussex on flood defence not covered through the Bellwin scheme is taken account of in the calculation of West Sussex's flood defence SSA.

In addition, recognising the severity of last year's floods, the Environment Agency in Sussex has benefited from £1.1 million for emergency response and repair costs and £0.2 million for design and feasibility costs of river strategies. It will also receive a grant for the capital programme of £9.6 million in 2002–03.

Remote-controlled Model Aircraft

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the use of remote-controlled model aircraft in areas used by the general public. [23402]

Dr. Whitehead: The Department offers to local authorities standard forms of byelaws to prohibit or regulate the use of power-driven model aircraft, including those controlled by radio-signal, in pleasure grounds and open spaces. Before making this type of byelaw, local authorities are advised to bring their proposals to the notice of the British Model Flying Association and of any local model aircraft clubs, and consider their views.

Flood Plains

Mr. MacKay: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make an assessment of the need for special consideration where water from a site drains to a flood plain in the context of the PPG25 Guidance. [23538]

Ms Keeble: PPG25 already indicates that applications of such a size or nature relative to the receiving watercourse/drainage system that there could be a significant increase in surface water run-off from the area are likely to require particular consideration of flood risk issues. This applies whether a development is within the flood plain or is outside it but drains into the flood plain.

PPG25 also advises that developers should carry out an assessment of the flood-risk and run-off implications of their proposals that is appropriate to the scale and nature of the development and the risks involved. In particular it advises that the run-off implications of development for all areas are controlled, where possible, through the use of sustainable drainage systems.

RAF Staff College, Bracknell

Mr. MacKay: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment he has made of the calculation of his inspector in the report on the Bracknell Borough Local Plan regarding the limits on the number of dwellings in the development of the RAF staff college site in Bracknell. [23540]

Ms Keeble: I understand that the area referred to is included in the council's draft local plan, which has been assessed by an independent inspector after a public inquiry. It is a matter for the local council to take forward

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the recommendations of the inspector. The Secretary of State also comments on draft plans and did so in this case, supporting the independent inspector's conclusions.

Mr. MacKay: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will limit the built area of the site at the RAF staff college site, Bracknell, to 25 hectares. [23536]

Ms Keeble: The details of any site are a matter for the local authority who have primary responsibility for the planning of their area. I also understand that there is an outstanding planning application for the site, so cannot comment on the details of this application.

Mr. MacKay: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment he has made of the Inspector's report on the Bracknell Borough Local Plan, relating to the impact on local roads of the construction of housing on the site of the RAF staff college. [23537]

Ms Keeble: The Inspector charged with examining the Draft Local Plan's proposals had the benefit of hearing views on the traffic impacts of this proposal and recognised the need for measures to address the issue, before making his recommendations. The Council will also be able to assess transport impacts as part of their consideration of any planning application.

Postal Votes

Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many votes were cast by post during the 2000 Greater London Authority elections (a) in absolute terms, (b) as a percentage of all valid and non-valid votes cast and (c) as a percentage of the London electorate. [23367]

Dr. Whitehead: There is no central figure for the number of votes cast by post during the 2000 GLA elections.

Fire Service (Shropshire)

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will (a) introduce a spatial factor and (b) increase the total for fire service funding for Shropshire and The Wrekin. [22390]

Dr. Whitehead: As a combined fire authority, Shropshire and Wrekin Fire Authority draws its revenue funding from its constituent local authorities, namely Shropshire county council and Telford and Wrekin council. As part of the provisional local government finance settlement, announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 4 December 2001, Official Report, column 167, the total fire standard spending assessment for those authorities would be increased from £9.267 million in the current year to £9.461 million in 2002–03.

There are no plans to make changes to SSA formula methodology for 2002–03. However, the Government are committed to funding the fire service by a means of grant distribution that is fairer, more stable, and free from perverse incentives. It is therefore working up proposals in partnership with local government for reformed grant allocation formulae to be introduced in 2003–04. One of the options, which is being considered as part of this review, is the inclusion of a sparsity indicator in the fire

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funding formula. The Government are also willing to consider proposals for other spatial measures which might be included in the formula.

Local Government (Electronic Delivery)

Mr. Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will set out the allocations he intends to make available next year under the local government Online project. [23876]

Mr. Raynsford: We have recently published the Local Government White Paper "Strong Local Leadership—Quality Public Services" setting out our vision for a stronger local government and improved public services. E-government is essential to that vision and many councils are seizing this opportunity to transform the way they deliver services and engage their communities.

To this end the Government have committed £350 million over three years to support putting local government online. So far, £25 million has been allocated to 24 pathfinder projects (with a further pathfinder being funded under the Invest to Save Budget) to develop new approaches which can be shared with the wider government community.

We expect all councils to rise to this challenge, and deliver e-enabled services by 2005. To help them achieve this the Government intend, subject to the agreement of Parliament, to provide a capital grant of £200,000 each to 398 local authorities in 2002–03 to support proposals contained in their Implementing Electronic Government (IEG). Subject to demonstrating that they have made good progress, and have used the first tranche of money to good effect, we also intend them to receive a further £200,000 each in 2003–04. We will accordingly lay a Special Grant report before the House setting out this intention, in the near future.

We have also made provision for financial support to facilitate partnerships both between local authorities, and between local authorities and other public bodies, as well as for further national projects available for use by all local authorities.

We shall be writing to leading potential partnerships between councils and with other public services seeking further evidence of how their partnership will contribute to delivering joined up, e-enabled services.

We have struck a balance between resources for individual councils to help them meet local priorities, support for partnerships, pathfinders and other national projects which provide the essential building blocks for every council to use.

The draft national local government Online strategy to be published early in the new year will set out how we will continue to support pathfinders, and seek views on new national products which can help all councils move quickly and cost effectively toward the standards of e-enabled service offered by the best. We will announce detailed plans for the remainder of the funding in the new year alongside the publication of this strategy.

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