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2 Nov 2004 : Column 181W—continued


Beach Safety

Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to his Answer of 25 October 2004, Official Report, column 1075W, on beach safety, who is responsible for beach safety in a given local authority area. [194997]

Phil Hope: Beach safety and management is generally at the discretion of the owner of the beach, whether it be a private owner or a local authority. The owner or occupier may have certain responsibilities under the common law such as laws of negligence, or under statute, such as laws concerning occupier's liability or health and safety at work. A local authority also has a power to make byelaws under the public health legislation relating to public bathing and to the use of pleasure boats. The Health and Safety executive or a local authority is the enforcing authority for certain Health and Safety matters in relation to some beach activities.

Fire Control Centre (South-West)

Ms Atherton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether a building design has been commissioned in relation to a regional fire control centre for the south-west. [195131]

Mr. Raynsford: A building design has been commissioned by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister with regional input. The need for national resilience calls for a single basic design which, in turn, will bring economies of scale. Local variations will result from differences between sites, the need to fit in with local planning requirements and options for internal aesthetics.

The design has been developed with input from control room staff and presented to a wide range of stakeholders, including existing control room staff, and has been subject to independent peer review. Further details are available at the FiReControl website, which is in the public domain (

Land Sales

Mr. Edwards: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister which local authorities have applied for Article 4 directives with respect to subdivision and sale of (a) agricultural land, (b) woodlands and (c) meadows. [195288]

Keith Hill: The information requested is not held centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. An informal survey of Government Offices for the Regions, prior to the hon. Member's Adjournment Debate of 12 October on the Sale of Woodland, suggested that the South-East and the West Midlands are at present the two regions where Article 4 directions
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are most commonly used to deal with unacceptable development associated with plot-sales and subdivision of rural land.

Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to make payments through the local government settlement to compensate local authorities in growth areas as a result of the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme making no allowance for population growth. [194946]

Mr. Raynsford: The Government are currently exploring options to make the local government finance settlement more forward looking. Using projected data for population, for example, would benefit high population growth areas.

Mobile Phone Masts

Tom Cox: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what arrangements are in place to seek the views of the public before planning permission for mobile phone masts is given; and if he will make a statement. [195586]

Keith Hill: Current planning guidance for all electronic communication developments is set out in Planning Policy Guidance Note 8 (revised) (PPG8). The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has also issued a Code of Best Practice on Mobile Phone Network Development.

When the Government published PPG8 we strengthened public consultation requirements for prior approval for mast proposals of 15 m and below and for masts on buildings and structures so that they are exactly the same as applications for planning permission.

The statutory requirements for public consultation require that as a minimum, authorities have to notify neighbours directly or place a notice on or near the site. Representations should be made within 21 days. It is, of course, open to authorities both to notify neighbours and to post a site notice if they consider it appropriate to do so. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's approach is to give local planning authorities the flexibility to decide the most suitable method of publicity in each case.

Apart from the statutory minimum, advice is also given to local planning authorities to consider what other methods of publicity are available for attracting a wider audience. Local planning authorities should consider whether the press, local amenity societies and residents' associations should be made aware of proposed developments.

Guidance also underlines that school governors must be consulted on proposals for new masts on or near a school.

Outside designated areas licensed operators are authorised under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 to install specified small scale apparatus without the need to make a planning application to the local authority. However, simply because these small developments do not need planning permission it does not mean that there is no public consultation. The Code of Best Practice that was produced jointly by central and local government and the
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mobile phone industry is clear that operators will assess every potential site and rate it using the "Traffic Light Model". The Traffic Light Model allows a site to be rated according to its likely sensitivity in terms of environmental, planning and community considerations. This model determines the level of public consultation that will be required if the site is selected for the installation.

Pension Funds (Suffolk)

Mr. Spring: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether the (a) Suffolk county council and (b) Forest Heath district council pension funds are in (i) surplus and (ii) deficit; and by how much. [195719]

Phil Hope: The most recent actuarial valuation report of the Suffolk county council pension fund showed that its assets represented 83 per cent. of their accrued liabilities as at 31 March 2001. The contribution rate for
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participating employers, set by the fund actuary for the triennial period ending 31 March 2005, has been certified as being sufficient to ensure the on-going solvency of the fund. The results of the 2004 valuation exercise are not available.

Forest Heath district council is not responsible for a pension fund although it contributes as an employer to the fund administered by Suffolk county council.

Regional Assemblies

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the Housing Market Renewal Pathfinders in England; and which local authority area each covers. [195167]

Keith Hill: The pathfinders cover sub-regional housing markets, which straddle parts of two or more local authority areas. The nine pathfinder areas cover parts of the following local authorities:
PathfinderLocal authorities
Birmingham and SandwellBirmingham city council and Sandwell Metropolitan borough council
East LancashireBlackburn with Darwen borough council, Hyndburn borough council, Burnley borough council, Pendle borough council and Rossendale borough council.
Hull and East Riding of Yorkshire(13)Hull city council and East Riding of Yorkshire
Manchester and Salford;Manchester city council and Salford city council
MerseysideLiverpool city council, Sefton council and Wirral Metropolitan borough council
Newcastle and Gateshead;Newcastle city council and Gateshead council
North StaffordshireStoke city council, Newcastle under Lyme borough council and Staffordshire Moorlands district council
Oldham and Rochdale;Oldham council and Rochdale Metropolitan borough council
South YorkshireSheffield city council, Barnsley Metropolitan borough council, Rotherham council and Doncaster Metropolitan borough council

(13) The Hull and East Riding pathfinder covers Hull City only.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what compensation central Government will make to local authorities for the extra costs of (a) the introduction of regional spatial strategies and (b) the consequent revision of existing local strategies. [195384]

Keith Hill: In recognition of the initial additional cost of the introduction of regional spatial strategies and the consequent revision of existing local strategies, total funding for regional planning bodies (RPBs) was raised from £9,150,000 in 2003–04 to £12,987,000 in 2004–05. This significant increase was in recognition of the pivotal role that RPBs would play within the new planning system and the additional statutory responsibilities that would be placed on them by the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act.

Planning Delivery Grant was introduced in 2003–04 providing £350 million over three years, 2003–06, to help local authorities to improve and importantly move in to the new planning system of local development frameworks. 2004–05 is the second year of the grant and £130 million has been distributed to regional planning bodies and local authorities, in 2005–06 planning delivery grant will total £170 million. A further £255 million has been identified for the financial years 2006–07 and 2007–08.

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