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15 Jan 2003 : Column 666W—continued

Fire Service

Mr. Chope: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what progress has been made in the procurement of a national radio network for the fire service; and when he expects the budget to be complete. [90434]

Mr. Raynsford: A notice announcing the procurement was published in the official journal of the European Communities on 24 October 2002, approximately three months ahead of schedule. As a result 45 companies requested pre-qualification documentation. Subsequently 33 companies submitted a response; of these 17 wished to be considered as the main contractor and 13 as possible subcontractors. The evaluation of these responses is continuing and due to be completed during February 2003. Invitations to submit formal proposals will be issued to the pre-qualified organisations in May 2003.

The budget for the ongoing costs of the project team is complete already: it is being funded from within the office of the Deputy Prime Minister resources. The budget for the main project investment will be in place before contracts fall to be signed, in financial year 2004–05.

David Davis : To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when fire fighting personnel, including those military personnel on Operation FRESCO, have been redeployed from their home fire stations in each month since October 2002; and whether such stations are classified (a) rural and (b) urban. [90223]

Mr. Raynsford: Fire service redeployments are arranged at local level and are not recorded by Her Majesty's Fire Service Inspectorate. In a number of fire brigades responsibility rests at station level to arrange short term redeployments to maintain crewing on a day by day basis. In such cases the overall crewing level for the brigade would be recorded, but individual movements would not be directly measured. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is not aware of any significant movement between rural or urban areas.

Armed Forces personnel were not attached to individual fire stations.

Housing Need (Children)

Mrs. Calton : To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to meet the housing needs of (a) homeless children and (b) families with children living in poor housing. [88540]

Mrs. Roche: Homeless children under the age of 16, are the responsibility of social services. Under the homelessness legislation, as amended by the Homelessness (Priority Need for Accommodation) (England) Order 2002 and the Homelessness Act 2002

15 Jan 2003 : Column 667W

which both came into force on 31 July 2002, local housing authorities in England must ensure that suitable accommodation is available for children aged 16 or 17 who are homeless through no fault of their own (unless they are a relevant child for the purposes of the Children Act 1989 and the responsibility of social services).

In terms of supporting families with children, in March 2002 the Government announced a commitment that by March 2004 local authorities shall ensure that no homeless family with children is in a Bed and Breakfast hotel (B&B) other than in an emergency, and even then for no more than six weeks.

High B&B using councils have been required to submit action plans on how they intend to meet this commitment. The Homelessness Directorate is working closely with these and other lower using councils on delivery of these action plans. This has been supported by a #35 million grant programme in 2002–03 together with changes to housing benefit subsidy implemented by the Department for Work and Pensions.

For 2003–04 the Homelessness Directorate will allocate up to a further #15 million to help authorities meet the March 2004 B&B commitment.

On 3 December, I announced that the Government intends to outlaw the use of B&Bs for homeless families except in an emergency. The Government will be consulting in due course on options for strengthening the homelessness legislation by Order and through statutory guidance to:

The Government has set a target to bring all social housing up to a decent standard and to increase the proportion of private housing occupied by vulnerable groups that is in a decent condition by 2010.

The Government has also announced a new house-building programme worth more than #1.2 billion, up #365 million on the current year. The extra funds have been allocated to the Housing Corporation's Approved Development Programme (ADP) and should deliver up to 21,000 affordable homes in 2003–04.

Light Pollution

Mr. Luff : To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recent planning policy guidance he has issued on light pollution. [90388]

Mr. McNulty: A specific Planning Policy Guidance Note on light pollution has not been issued. However, in 1997, the Government issued XLighting in the Countryside: Towards Good Practice". This document gives advice on the adverse effects of lighting schemes associated with development, both in the countryside and in the urban context.

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Local Government Reorganisation

Mr. Gordon Prentice : To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what estimate he has made of the cost, by English regions, of re-organising local government, should a decision be made to establish a regional assembly. [90701]

Mr. Raynsford: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has made no estimate of the cost of re-organising local government in the English regions as this will vary significantly, dependent on which regions opt for elected Regional Assemblies, the extent of two tier authorities in these regions, the changes recommended by the Boundary Committee for England and subsequent decisions made by the newly created authorities about their organisational structure and levels of service provision. As indicated in the draft guidance to the Boundary Committee on which the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is currently consulting. A model is being developed to be available to the Boundary Committee, or those making proposals to the Committee, to assess the relative cost differentials of different unitary structures.

Deprived Urban Post Office Fund

Lynne Jones : To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what his definition is of 'urban deprived' for the purpose of distribution of the Post Office Fund for Urban Deprived Areas; and if he will make a statement. [90043]

Mr. McNulty: For the purpose of distribution of the Deprived Urban Post Office Fund, an urban area is a ward in a community of over 10,000 people, while a deprived area is a ward in the 20 per cent. most deprived wards in England, as measured by the indices of Deprivation 2000.

The Indices of Deprivation 2000 are measures of deprivation for every ward and local authority area in England. They combine a number of indicators which cover a range of domains (Income, Employment, Health Deprivation and Disability, Education, Skills and Training, Housing and Geographical Access to Services) into a single deprivation score for each area.

The Deprived Urban Post Office Fund is only available to sub-post offices located in the 20 per cent. most deprived urban wards, with priority given to those located in the 10 per cent. most deprived urban wards.

Sefton Council (Neighbourhood Renewal)

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much funding Sefton council has received from the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund; when funds were received; what projects have been funded and by how much; and which organisations are responsible for (a) managing and (b) delivering each project. [89485]

Mrs. Roche: Sefton council has received Neighbourhood Renewal Funding of #2,815,650 (2001–02), #4,223,475 (2002–03), with a further #5,631,300 to be made available during 2003–04.

The projects in the following tables have been funded during the first two financial years. The commissioning process for year three has commenced, with no funding decisions reached as yet, although some initial approvals may be made on 13 January 2003.

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ProjectFunding (#)Managed and delivered by
Raising Attainment277,732Sefton MBC
Mentoring and behavioural support74,993Sefton MBC
Alternative Curriculum92,497Sefton MBC
Pilot Area Learning Support82,489Sefton MBC
Crime Reduction48,260Merseyside Police
Communities against Drugs50,600Merseyside Police
Multi Agency Refurbishment of Premises20,000Merseyside Drugs Council
Neighbourhood wardens244,583Sefton MBC
South Sefton Healthy Neighbourhood Programme377,744South Sefton PCT
Central Southport Healthy Neighbourhood36,254Southport and Formby PCT
Healthy Workforce Development50,000Sefton MBC
Alexandra Mount Parenting Centre50,000Sure Start Partnership and Parenting 2000
Demolition of Princess Royal35,804Sefton MBC
Move On Accommodation80,000Sefton MBC
Park Lane Regeneration243,000Sefton MBC
Greencroft Regeneration301,000Sefton MBC
Feasibility Study for Environmental Improvements7,315Sefton MBC
Environmental Improvements Fund182,422Sefton MBC
Environmental Hit Squad107,847Sefton MBC
Enhancing Citizens Panel in Bootle and Litherland11,074Sefton MBC
Community Development Initiative1,707Sefton MBC
Learning, Skills and Knowledge20,000Sefton MBC
Neighbourhood Renewal Enabling Budget203,275Sefton MBC


#217,054 funding carried over to 2002–03


ProjectFunding (#)Managed and delivered by
Schools for the community350,000Sefton MBC
Raising Pupil Attainment149,509Sefton MBC
Mentoring and Behavioural Support75,000Sefton MBC
Alternative Curriculum92,500Sefton MBC
Pilot Area Learning Support82,500Sefton MBC
Neighbourhood Wardens100,000Sefton MBC
Crime Reduction50,553Merseyside Police
Youth Inclusion Programme35,000Youth Offending Team
Kids off the Streets243,000Sefton MBC
Communities against Drugs100,000Merseyside Police
SWACA—Centre of Excellence50,000Sefton Women and Childrens Aid
South Sefton Healthy Neighbourhoods361,850South Sefton PCT
Southport Healthy Neighbourhoods60,000Southport and Formby PCT
Surestart Development Workers76,374Surestart Partnership
Netherton Feelgood Factory200,000Netherton Feelgood
May Logan Centre100,000May Logan Centre
Brighter Living Initiative50,000Brighter Living Initiative
Play Area Improvements166,500Childrens Fund/Sefton MBC
Environmental Hit Squad343,645Sefton MBC
Community Kerbside Recycling398,598Sefton MBC/Community Enterprise
South Sefton Recycling Centre50,000Sefton MBC
Community Environmental Manager33,000Sefton MBC
Move on Accommodation80,000Sefton MBC
Greencroft Regeneration300,000Sefton MBC
Park Lane Regeneration240,000Sefton MBC
Neighbourhood Area Panels17,000Sefton MBC
Management Information Project44,000Sefton MBC
Community Development Worker16,338Sefton MBC
Community Development Worker—North Sefton30,000Sefton Council for Voluntary Services
Neighbourhood Renewal Action Fund120,000Sefton MBC/Sefton Community Foundation
I Kiosks63,000Sefton MBC
Neighbourhood Renewal Facilitation Budget240,026Sefton MBC
Learning, Skills and Knowledge36,212Sefton MBC
One Stop Shops50,000Sefton MBC

15 Jan 2003 : Column 671W

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