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19 Jan 2004 : Column 1095Wcontinued
Mr. Brady: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to his Answer of 5 January 2004, Official Report, column 149W, on relationship managers, which authorities rated as weak in 2002 are involved in the on-going discussions with his Department over arrangements to accept assistance from his Department on a voluntary basis. 
Mr. Raynsford: Officials from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister are discussing with Wolverhampton, Northamptonshire, Havering, Merton, Enfield, Milton Keynes and Nottingham, whether those councils would wish to develop their relationship with Government through a named official.
Mr. Brady: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to his Answer of 5 January 2004, Official Report, column 149W, on relationship managers, what assessment was made of Trafford Metropolitan borough council's corporate capacity to improve; and what the outcome was of that assessment. 
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Mr. Raynsford: The Audit Commission carried out a corporate assessment of Trafford Metropolitan borough council published as part of the Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA) of the authority in December 2002.
Following the CPA assessment, the Audit Commission orchestrated an improvement planning process with the council, involving relevant representatives from government departments and inspectorates. This process established the priorities for improvement and agreed a co-ordinated and focused programme of follow up inspections based on the findings of the CPA assessment. Trafford Metropolitan borough council's priorities for improvement are set out in their Best Value Performance Plan, published in June 2003.
Mr. Brady: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to his Answer of 5 January 2004, Official Report, column 149W, on relationship managers, what discussions have taken place with Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council following the comprehensive performance assessment; and whether he will appoint a relationship manager to improve Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council services. 
Mr. Raynsford: Since taking up his post in September 2003, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's Director of Local Government Practice in the North-West has met with the Chief Executive of Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council on several occasions, as part of his broader brief. In particular, he has provided the council with advice on the availability of funding through the capacity building programme run jointly by the Government and the Local Government Association.
Mr. Brady: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to his answer of 5 January 2004, Official Report, column 149W, on relationship managers, what criteria he used to distinguish between councils rated as weak in 2002 when considering the appointment of lead officials to work with councils. 
Mr. Raynsford: Following the Audit Commission's Comprehensive Performance Assessment announcements in December 2002, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister appointed lead officials to engage directly to secure recovery in those authorities classified as 'poor' and those categorised as 'weak' with a corporate capacity score of one, indicating little scope for managing recovery.
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v. Perks and the West Midlands (West) Valuation Tribunal (2003) EWH 1749 Admin; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Raynsford: Entitlement to disabled band reduction is a matter for individual billing authorities. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister therefore has not estimated how many properties might be affected by this decision.
Mr. Sanders: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make available supplementary funding to local authorities which incur expenditure as a consequence of the judgement in the High Court Case R (Sandwell MBC) v Perks and the West Midlands (West) Valuation Tribunal (2003) EWH 1749 Admin. 
Planning policies for affordable housing are set out in Planning Policy Guidance note 3, "Housing", and in Circular 6/98, "Planning for Affordable Housing". They advise that where local planning authorities are able to demonstrate a lack of affordable housing to meet local needs, based on up-to-date surveys and other data of local need, they should indicate in their local plan how many affordable homes need to be provided throughout the plan area, and set indicative targets for specific suitable sites (expressed either as numbers of homes or a percentage of the homes on the site).
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many council houses were sold in Chorley in the last five years; and how many properties remained in local authority ownership in each of those years. 
|Council house sales||LA rented stock estimates at end of year|
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on progress since the announcement of the (a) Milton Keynes, (b) Ashford and (c) Stansted Corridor Sustainable Communities; how much public money has been spent; how much private sector capital has been committed; how much land has been acquired; how much land will be acquired; and over what timescale. 
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Partners are well advanced in developing the £88 million worth of projects approved in July as part of the Government's Sustainable Communities funding package and we are on target to meet the £21.5 million allocated in this year's programme. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's further announcement of 14 January 2004 allocated an additional £63 million to a further 27 projects. £11.5 million has been allocated to schemes which will deliver new and improved strategic green spaces in the growth areas, including a new regional park in the Nene Valley, and a significant expansion of the Forest of Marston Vale in Bedfordshire. Over £50 million has been awarded to 18 other projects to provide key transport and economic infrastructure including new bridges and roads to access sites for 6,850 homes that would otherwise be blocked.
The vast majority of development within the housing growth areas will be undertaken by the private sector but detailed information on each investment is not collected. In addition there will be major investment programmes on commercial sitessuch as the £800 million programme for Central Milton Keynes, involving English Partnerships, Milton Keynes Council and a number of private investors. Many schemes funded by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister are, however, designed to enable local partners to lever in specific private sector commitments to infrastructure by unblocking barriers to investment. In most cases negotiations are ongoing, but examples of match funding already committed include the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's commitment of £10.6 million for road access to the Wellingborough East development site, which is matched pound for pound by Bovis Homes.
There are no targets for land acquisition in the growth areas; the need for land assembly by the public sector will be determined on a case by case basis. Several of the projects for which the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is already providing funding will facilitate the assembly of parcels of land for public benefit, such as the provision of affordable housing and community facilities (for example in Harlow), or high quality green spaces within or around the growth areas, as in Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire. The funding will also facilitate the remediation of heavily contaminated land and the preparation of sites for release to the private sector for development.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister which Government Departments are involved in plans for the development of the (a) Milton Keynes, (b) Ashford and (c) Stansted Corridor Sustainable Communities; and what commitments they have made. 
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would be taken forward across Government, with schemes including transport, health, education, sports and green spaces. For example, transport commitments include the £1.6 billion announced by Alistair Darling in July, and most recently the Department for Transport's Local Transport Programme announcement of December 2003, which included schemes worth £221 million across the three growth areas.
A wide range of public agencies are involved. Bringing more agencies together with local partners to look at strategic infrastructure issues is the purpose of the Inter Regional Board being established for the Milton Keynes South Midlands growth area, which will hold its first meeting on 11 February 2004.
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