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Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made in implementing the recommendation of the Northern Ireland Assembly regarding (a) seats and (b) seatbelts for all school children travelling to and from school in buses. 
Mr. Gardiner: In 2003 the Department of the Environment commissioned transportation consultants to carry out an initial cost benefit assessment and draw up Terms of Reference for a full Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) of the Environment Committee's seating and seatbelt recommendations.
This research confirmed that these recommendations have very large capital and operating cost implications set against a small safety benefit. The consultants advised that, in order to complete a robust RIA, more data on travel demand, bus operations and school pupil casualty rates were needed. The Department is currently collating and collecting this information.
The Department of Education has no plans to amend the existing arrangements until the results of the RIA are known. All new Education and Library Board buses have seat belts fitted as standard. It will, however, take some time to replace the existing fleet which consists of almost 700 buses at present. Board buses are maintained to a higher standard than is required under current legislation.
12 Oct 2004 : Column 239W
Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment the Government have made of the operation of the School Travel Plan Pilot; and what plans there are to extend its scope. 
You recently asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland a Parliamentary Question about what assessment the Government has made of the operation of the School Travel Plan Pilot; and what plans there are to extend its scope. I have been asked to reply as this issue falls within my responsibility as Chief Executive of Roads Service.
You will be aware that, as proposed by the Regional Transportation Strategy 200212, Roads Service has been working to address the issue of the 'school run', given its impact on morning traffic congestion, through the Travelwise "Safer Routes to Schools" initiative. The overall aim of this initiative is to encourage more children to walk, cycle and use public transport for their journey to school.
The Department of Education, the Department of the Environment Road Safety Team and other agencies are working alongside Roads Service in this project.
The following six schools are currently participating in the initiative:
St. Joseph's College, Belfast;
Oakwood Integrated Primary School, Dunmurry;
Wallace High School, Lisburn;
St. Anthony's Primary School, Craigavon;
Parkhall College, Antrim; and
St. Brigid's College, Londonderry
This is the first time a schools initiative to promote sustainable modes of transport has been undertaken in Northern Ireland. Measures at the six schools are mainly exploratory and at different stages of development. The overall aim is to assist each school in developing a travel plan, which sets out a package of measures for reducing the number of car trips made to school. Where appropriate, Roads Service will subsequently introduce improvements to the roadway, such as installing pedestrian facilities and traffic calming measures, to facilitate children who may want to walk, cycle or use public transport. Additionally, other measures such as cycle shelters and lockers are provided by the Department of Education inside the schools premises.
To get the school travel initiative started, Roads Service and its partners have spent nearly £85,000 over the last three years to investigate existing infrastructure and facilities at the schools, examine accident data, undertake surveys to establish baseline school travel information, and pay for the training of a Travel Plan Co-ordinator who was appointed to champion the initiative in the schools. No specific funding has been allocated as yet for the further development of travel plans, as resources are being concentrated for the time being on the pilot group of six schools. However, it is intended, as part of the next stage of the initiative, to develop a practical support package that encourages other schools to engage in the travel plan process.
The improvements to the infrastructure and facilities at each of the pilot schools will be completed early in 2005. While we will undertake a preliminary assessment of how successful these measures have been during the latter part of 2005, initial work including installation of cycle shelters at the schools has had very positive results and generated an increase in cycling among pupils.
Mr. Spellar: Following UK-wide consultation, as announced in "Pathways to work: Helping people into employment: the Government's response and action plan" [CM 5830], the Government have undertaken research to explore the potential for extending statutory certification to nonmedical health care professionals.
Angela Smith: The Sports Council for Northern Ireland is presently planning a number of schemes which will include provision to increase sports facilities where required in advance of 2012. These include a new Sports Grounds Development Programme, Soccer Strategy programme and community based and performance focused Lottery capital programmes. The Sports Council is also currently developing a sports facilities strategy to help determine levels of sports facilities likely to be needed in Northern Ireland in the future, including prior to 2012. In addition to this, I am presently giving consideration to the possibility of a multi-sports stadium for Northern Ireland. The Department of Social Development (DSD), through its Regional Development Offices, and with assistance from the EU Peace 2 Programme, is contributing to and providing funding for the development of a wide range of multi-sports facilities in Northern Ireland. Moreover, in implementing the Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy over the next 710 years, DSD will continue to support regeneration proposals that incorporate sport as part of the comprehensive regeneration of disadvantaged areas.
Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to his answer of 20 May, Official Report, column 1216W, on teachers' sick leave, when he intends to write to the hon. Member for East Antrim. 
Mr. Gardiner: I wrote to the hon. Member for East Antrim on 1 October indicating that the number of teachers who took sick leave of 20 days or more during each of the last five academic years is as follows:
|Number of teachers with 20 or more days sick leave|
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps are being taken by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment to encourage maximum use of the former TK-ECC site in Dundonald, following its recent sale. 
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