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11 Feb 2004 : Column 1526W—continued

Housing Stock Transfers

Mr. Purchase: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to his oral answer of 4 February 2004, Official Report, column 748, if he will list (a) local authorities which have held ballots of tenants in the process of transferring stock to other ownership or management bodies and (b) those which have not. [154309]

Keith Hill: A ballot has been held for all Large Scale Voluntary Transfers of local housing stock to Registered Social Landlords. Details of the results in each case are on the housing transfer page of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's website. The table following shows the methods used by local authorities for measuring tenant support for Arms Length Management Organisations.

Methods used by local authorities for measuring tenant support for Arms Length Management Organisations

Operational ALMOs (i.e. Those who have received s.27 consent)
Ballot held
Round 1Derby, Hounslow, Kirklees, Rochdale, Stockton-on-Tees
Round 2Barnsley, Carrick, Colchester, Leeds East, Leeds North East, Leeds North West, Leeds South East, Leeds South, Leeds West, Waltham Forest
Round 3High Peak, South Lakeland
Other test of opinion used
Round 1Ashfield, Westminster, Wigan
Round 2Blyth Valley, Bolton, Brent, Cheltenham, Hillingdon, Kensington and Chelsea, Oldham, Salford (since withdrawn)
Round 3Gateshead, Solihull, Warrington
Approved ALMOs but not yet operational (i.e. those awaiting s.27 consent)
Ballot held
Round 3Camden (since withdrawn), Islington, Sheffield (partial)
Other test of opinion used
Round 3Barnet, Easington, Harrow, Newcastle, Poole
Current ALMO bids
Ballot held
Round 4Hammersmith and Fulham
Ballot proposed
Round 4Nottingham, Sheffield (partial), Slough
Other test of opinion proposed
Round 4Bassetlaw, Brent (partial), Bury, Ealing, Eastbourne, Manchester (partial), Newark and Sherwood, Rotherham, Sandwell, Wolverhampton


11 Feb 2004 : Column 1527W

Local Government Finance

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what methodology he used in his calculation that South Bucks District Council is receiving an increase of 3.4 per cent. in its grant for 2004–05. [154473]

Mr. Raynsford: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister first calculated the amount of grant authorities would have received in 2003–04 on a like-for-like basis with 2004–05 i.e. the amount that an authority would have received had the transfers in funding and function relating to 2004–05 had occurred a year earlier. More detailed information on the calculation of the adjusted 2003–04 grant amounts can be found on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's website at http://www.local.odpm.gov.uk/finance/0405/adipaps.pdf

The results of these calculations for South Bucks were as follows:




The amount of grant authorities will receive in 2004–05 was then calculated in accordance with the Local Government Finance Report (England) 2004–05. The results of these calculations for South Bucks were as follows:




The change in grant between 2004–05 and 2003–04 on a like-for-like basis was then calculated as follows:



£85,481 or 3.468 per cent.

Pathfinder Projects

Mr. Pike: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on progress of each of the housing renewal pathfinder projects. [154027]

Keith Hill: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has now announced funding for three pathfinders. These are £125 million for Manchester Salford in October 2003 and more recently £69 million (plus £4 million early wins money) for Newcastle Gateshead and £86 million (plus £4 million early wins money) for Merseyside. These three schemes are now tasked to deliver their proposals up to March 2006.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has now received strategic schemes from the South Yorkshire, East Lancashire and Oldham Rochdale pathfinders. These schemes are now being assessed by officials while being independently scrutinised by the Audit Commission. Negotiations on their proposals have commenced but it is not yet known when they will conclude. Strategic schemes from the remaining pathfinders are due in over the next few months with announcements following in due course.

Mr. Pike: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he expects to make an announcement on the Elevate Housing Renewal Pathfinder Project Programme Bid. [154029]

11 Feb 2004 : Column 1528W

Keith Hill: Elevate East Lancashire's market renewal scheme was submitted on 31 December 2003. Negotiations with Elevate East Lancashire on its proposals have commenced but it is not yet known when they will conclude.

Phone Masts

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many phone masts there are in (a) the UK, (b) Lancashire and (c) Chorley; and how many are shared between operators in each of those areas. [153718]

Keith Hill: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

However, during September and October every year the mobile network operators write to every local authority with details of their network rollout for the year ahead. When they write to the local authority they also provide details of their existing sites within the local authority area. My hon. Friend may wish to contact the network operators for copies of their plans.

Regional Government

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on devolved government in the regions. [154386]

Mr. Raynsford: In the 2001 Manifesto the Government made a commitment that provision should be made for directly elected regional government to go ahead in regions where people decided in a referendum to support it and where predominantly unitary local government is established.

The Government's proposals for establishing elected assemblies in those English regions that want them, and for improving existing arrangements in all regions, were set out in "Your Region, Your Choice: Revitalising the English Regions (CMS511)" which the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister published in May 2002.

The Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Act 2003 provides for referendums and associated local government reviews. My right Hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister announced in June 2003, following a soundings exercise, that the north-east, north-west, and Yorkshire and the Humber regions would be the first regions to progress towards a referendum for an elected assembly. Local Government reviews are under way in those regions. When the Boundary Committee have presented their recommendations orders in Parliament for referendums will be laid.

If there is a "yes" vote, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will need to introduce further legislation to provide for assemblies to be established. The first assemblies could be up and running early in the next Parliament.

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the establishment of referendums for regional government. [154387]

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Mr. Raynsford: The Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Act 2003 provides for referendums on whether to establish an elected assembly and for associated local government reviews on options for local government restructuring.

My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister announced in June 2003, following a soundings exercise, that the north-east, north-west, and Yorkshire and Humberside would be the first regions to progress towards holding a referendum for a regional assembly. Local government reviews are underway in these regions. When the Boundary Committee have presented their recommendations, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will lay orders in Parliament enabling referendums to take place.

Mr Rosindell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much has been spent by the Department on (a) research and (b) preparation for regional referendums on devolved government. [154388]

Mr. Raynsford: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has not spent any money on research on regional referendums. Some staff time has been spent on developing policy and preparing Statutory Instruments related to the referendums.

The cost of designing, printing and disseminating the results of the soundings exercise, that established which regions had an interest in holding a referendum, was £2,500 plus some staff costs. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will spend £500,000 in this financial year, on an information campaign about elected regional assemblies in the three northern regions.

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what estimate he has made of the cost of running a regional referendum. [154390]

Mr. Raynsford: The Government are currently consulting on The Regional Assembly and Local Government Referendums (Counting Officers' Charges) (England) Order 2004, that will establish the costs of conducting the referendums. The cost will vary from region to region, depending on the size of the region, electorate, and level of turnout.

Based on the figures in the draft order the cost of holding a referendum will be £1.47 per elector, if everyone eligible votes.

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether his Department has a special unit to organise and operate referendums. [154391]

Mr. Raynsford: The Electoral Commission is responsible for the organisation and operation of the regional referendums.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister does not therefore have a special unit to carry out these functions. However, some staff time has been spent on developing policy and preparing Statutory Instruments related to the referendums.

Mr Rosindell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether he plans that regional assemblies would be able to levy taxes. [154393]

11 Feb 2004 : Column 1530W

Mr. Raynsford: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister stated in the White Paper, "Your Region, Your Choice" (Cm 5511) that an elected assembly will be able to raise money from a precept on the council tax. It will not be able to levy other taxes, including varying non-domestic rates or business taxes.


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