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13 Feb 2003 : Column 967W—continued

Domestic Violence

Margaret Moran: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will place in the Library the data on local authority performance provided to the Audit Commission on the extent of domestic violence refuge provision in 2001–02. [97913]

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Mr. McNulty: Information on local authority performance for 2001–02, including data on the number of domestic violence refuge places provided or supported by local authorities, was placed in the Library of the House in December 2002.

Havering Borough

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what plans he has to visit the London Borough of Havering; [96207]

Mr. Raynsford: My hon. Friend the Member for Shipley met with a delegation representing the London Borough of Havering on Thursday 8 January 2003 to discuss the provisional localgovernment finance settlement for 2003–2004. Three written representations were also received from Havering during consultation on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's proposals. These representations have been carefully considered alongside all others, as the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister took final decisions on the settlement.

Parliament has now approved the settlement which provides an increase in formula grant of £2.25 billion or 5.9 per cent. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has ensured that all local authorities receive a grant increase on a like for like basis which is at least greater than inflation. The London Borough of Havering has benefited from this guarantee. It will receive £154.4 million in general grant in 2003–04, which is an increase of £5.2 million.

There are currently no plans for my right hon. Friend Deputy Prime Minister to visit the London Borough of Havering. I myself visited the London Borough of Havering on September 2002.

Lionheart Industrial Estate, Alnwick

Mr. Beith: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will call in the planning application by Northumberland County Council for a waste transfer station on the Lionheart Industrial Estate, Alnwick. [97260]

Mr. McNulty: Northumberland County Council, as waste planning authority, granted itself planning permission subject to a number of conditions on 5 February 2003, for the construction of a waste transfer station and household waste recovery centre at the Lionheart Enterprise Park, Alnwick.

Prior to that decision, my right hon. Friend, the Deputy Prime Minister, received representations which included a request for him to call-in the planning application. My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister concluded that there was not sufficient conflict in this case with national policies or any other sufficient reason to warrant call-in of the application.

A copy of the non-intervention letter giving the reasons for this decision will shortly be placed on The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's web-site at However, officials will forward a copy to the right hon. Member.

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Local Government Finance

Harry Cohen: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister for what purposes he has held back part of the local government grant settlement; and if he will make a statement [97936]

Mr. Raynsford: None of the grant to be distributed by the 2003–04 local government finance settlement will be held back. Each local authority and specified body will get the grant allocation agreed by Parliament on the 5 of February, unless Parliament agrees an amending report at a later date.

Local Government Recruitment

Mr. Gareth Thomas: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what action he is taking to increase (a) graduate recruits, (b) recruits from the private sector and (c) recruits from the voluntary sector into the senior management of local government; and if he will make a statement. [97599]

Mr. Leslie: Recruitment and retention is a key part of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's capacity building programme for local government. Both the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the LGA have committed additional funds to expand the work of the local government specified bodies as part of this programme. As a direct result, the Employers Organisation (EO) is to increase the number of students on their National Graduate Recruitment and Development Programme in 2003–04.

As well as recruitment, it is equally important that local government employees get the support to encourage them to stay. In collaboration with Warwick University, the EO will run a number of support programmes for aspiring middle and senior managers. A new accelerated development programme based on the Civil Service's "Fast Stream" scheme will provide support to staff aiming for senior management positions through the key stages of their career. In addition, the Improvement and Development Agency's (IDeA) has developed an Advanced Leadership Programme to develop the skills of aspiring senior managers in local government.

These initiatives, along with the wider modernisation agenda, will improve the image of local government. This will make it a more attractive option for people from all areas, including the voluntary and private sector, with whom authorities already work in partnership.

North West Regional Assembly

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what central Government funding the North West Regional Assembly received in each year from 1998 to 2003. [97199]

Mr. Raynsford: The North West Regional Assembly first received Government funding in 2000, when they were appointed as the Regional Planning Body for the North West. Funding is currently channelled through top tier local authorities. The Regional Assemblies Preparation Bill, currently before Parliament, contains

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provision that would enable the money to be paid directly to the Assembly. The amounts involved are as follows:


In the Spending Review 2000, the Government announced that they would make £15 million available to all the Regional Assemblies over a three year period (2001–04), to enable them to carry out their scrutiny of the Regional Development Agencies, to co-ordinate regional strategies and to undertake other activity to benefit the region. The NWRA's share of this is as follows:


Planning Enforcement

Mr. Wood: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he plans to publish a response to the consultation exercise on the effectiveness of planning enforcement; and what process will follow. [97641]

Mr. McNulty: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is currently considering the 482 responses received to the "Review of the Planning Enforcement System in England" consultation paper. We will be making an announcement on our conclusions and how we intend to take them forward as soon as possible.

Rough Sleepers

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what methodology is used to count the number of rough sleepers; when the last count took place; and how many rough sleepers there were in (a) Portsmouth, (b) Southampton and (c) Fareham at that date. [94923]

Mrs. Roche: Guidance was first published in 1996 on counting methodology developed in partnership with charities and voluntary organisations helping people sleeping rough. Independent evaluation has confirmed that the methodology remains the most robust method for measuring relative levels of rough sleeping and of change over time.

Local authorities are responsible for ensuring that the counts are undertaken and that the methodology is followed. The snapshot counts should take place on a single night, between 12 am and 6 am. The definition of people who should be included in rough sleeper counts is clearly set out in the guidance. It is: people sleeping, or bedded down, in the open air (such as on the streets, or in doorways, parks or bus shelters); people in buildings or other places not designed for habitation (such as barns, sheds, car parks, cars, derelict boats, or stations). Guidance is also given on the appropriate timing of rough sleeper counts—which will depend on the level of rough sleeping reported and on local circumstances.

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Portsmouth last carried out a count in May 2002 and found one rough sleeper; Southampton last carried out a count in November 2001 and found six rough sleepers; and Fareham last carried out a count in February 1998 and found 13 rough sleepers. Since 1998, Fareham has reduced its numbers of rough sleepers and in the Housing Investment Programme return, July 2002, returned an estimate of 0–10.

Sustainable Communities (North-East)

Vera Baird: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he will announce a housing market renewal pathfinder project in the Tees Valley. [97216]

Mr. McNulty: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is promoting a new, long-term approach to tackling housing low demand and abandonment. Nine pathfinders have been identified, focused on the areas most acutely affected. Although we are not seeking to establish further pathfinders at this time, in our action programme, "Sustainable Communities: building for the future", we explained that we would use the lessons learned from the pathfinders to help all areas with declining demand to tackle the problems better.

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