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Rough Sleepers

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what time of day on average rough sleeping head counts supervised by the Rough Sleepers Unit took place during the last year. [36986]

Ms Keeble: The DTLR's guidance "Evaluating the Extent of Rough Sleeping" states that rough sleeper counts should take place on a single night and should take place between midnight and 6am.

The guidance contains the methodology for carrying out a count of rough sleepers. This methodology was developed by voluntary sector agencies including Shelter in the early 1990s and has been tested and developed through independent research. The methodology has remained unchanged and has been used nationally for over five years.

Rough sleeping counts are arranged and supervised by staff from voluntary agencies and local authorities. Members of the Rough Sleepers Unit assist local authority and voluntary agencies in a voluntary capacity in carrying out street counts.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what payments the Rough Sleepers Unit have made in the last year to house rough sleepers in temporary accommodation; and if he will publish a breakdown of expenditure. [36987]

Ms Keeble: The Rough Sleepers Unit funds a range of housing associations and voluntary organisations in England to provide temporary accommodation, including hostels and rolling shelters, for rough sleepers. In financial year 2001–02, this amounted to £8,193,000.

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Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what steps are taken during rough sleeping counts supervised by the Rough Sleepers Unit to ensure the personal safety of those conducting the count. [36985]

Ms Keeble: Rough sleeping counts are arranged and supervised by staff from voluntary agencies and local authorities. Guidance issued to local authorities highlights that the safety of counters should be the overriding priority when carrying out a count and that safety is discussed before a count takes place.

Counters work in pairs for safety reasons and to verify the accuracy of the records made. In some cases voluntary organisations have drawn up additional safety and good practice guidelines to ensure the well being of their staff and volunteers who help out with counts.

Arrangements should also be made in advance by local authorities or the voluntary agencies for the safe transport home of counters, by taxi if necessary.

Housing Stock Transfers

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what guidance he gives to local authorities regarding information in publicity material about stock transfer of local authority homes; and what advice he gives to tenants questioning the accuracy of such information. [36600]

Ms Keeble: Guidance on publicity material is contained in the Department's "Housing Transfer Guidance—2002 Programme" which includes a Good Practice Guide on consultation material. A copy of this document is in the Library of the House. If tenants have any concerns they should raise them with the local authority or the Independent Tenants Adviser.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how much was spent in 2001 and what budget is allocated for (a) 2002 and (b) 2003 for early debt redemption costs of housing stock transfers in England and Wales. [37645]

Ms Keeble: The Department currently has no budget for this purpose because local authorities in England are required to meet the early debt redemption premiums that may be incurred when authorities repay housing debt at the time of a housing stock transfer. Responsibility for housing in Wales is a devolved issue and is now a matter for the National Assembly for Wales.

Transport Capacity Studies

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when work will begin on the Greater Manchester capacity study. [37238]

Mr. Spellar: A high level strategic study was carried out last year jointly funded by the Strategic Rail Authority, Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive, Manchester Airport, Railtrack and the Highways Agency.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on when work will begin on the West Midlands capacity study. [37231]

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Mr. Spellar: The West Midlands capacity study was completed last year. Railtrack is undertaking further development work to refine the proposals.

Nottingham Express Transit

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the Nottingham Express Transit Light Rail scheme; and when he expects it to open. [37254]

Mr. Spellar: The Nottingham Express Transit is a 14km light rail line running from Hucknall, north of Nottingham, through other former mining communities and disadvantaged inner city areas before reaching the city centre and terminating at Nottingham railway station. The scheme will promote regeneration and ease congestion by providing better transport choices in the area and easy interchange with local and national rail services. The line is under construction and scheduled to open in November 2003.

Train Operating Companies (Fines)

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what responsibilities (a) the Strategic Rail Authority and (b) the Office of the Rail Regulator have in levying fines on train operating companies. [37233]

Mr. Spellar: Section 55 of the Railways Act 1993 (as amended by section 225 of the Transport Act 2000) established an enforcement regime in the hands of the appropriate authority which permits it to impose a monetary penalty for contraventions of (a) licence conditions, franchise agreements and certain obligations concerning closures of railway facilities and (b) enforcement orders made to secure compliance with any such obligation. The Rail Regulator is the appropriate authority for licences. The SRA is the appropriate authority for franchises and closure obligations.

Social Housing

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many council dwellings were built in each of the past 10 years for which figures are available. [37299]

Ms Keeble: The figures for the number of council dwellings built over the past 10 years are given in the table together with the new build in the first nine months of 2001–02.

Local authority new building: England

YearNumber of dwellings
1991–927,001
1992–932,381
1993–941,431
1994–95853
1995–96752
1996–97451
1997–98323
1998–99194
1999–2000102
2000–01717
2001–02(12)94

(12) Provisional estimate for April 2001 to December 2002.


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Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions further to his answer of 29 January 2002, Official Report, column 140, on housing associations, if he will publish his assessment of the value for money of house construction by housing associations and councils, indicating in both cases the allowance made for housing benefit and other associated benefit costs. [37738]

Ms Keeble: We generally expect house construction by housing associations to offer better value for money for the taxpayer than construction by councils, owing to the greater ability of housing associations to draw on private sources of funding.

Council Tax (Sussex Police Authority)

Mr. Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the average amount of council tax is, based on the average band D dwelling, that tax-payers in East Sussex (a) contribute towards policing through the Sussex Police Authority and (b) contributed towards policing in tax-year 1996–97; and what the English shire average for these periods was. [37904]

Dr. Whitehead: The table shows the band D council tax set by Sussex police authority in financial years 1996–97 and 2001–02. This is the amount of council tax per band D property in East Sussex that was contributed towards the cost of policing in Sussex. The average band D figures for the English shire police authorities are also provided.

£

1996–972001–02
Band D council tax for Sussex police authority4659
Average Band D council tax for English shire police authorities4772


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