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Planning Policy Statement 6

Brian Cotter: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the meetings that have taken place between (a) Ministers and (b) officials of his Department and representatives of (i) Tesco, (ii) Asda, (iii) Sainsburys and (iv) Morrisons about Planning Policy Statement 6 (Town Centres) over the last 12 months. [207037]

Keith Hill: I and officials of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister met the British Retail Consortium in May 2004. Among those present were representatives of Tesco and Asda. This meeting discussed a range of issues including draft Planning Policy Statement 6 (PPS6). In addition officials have met representatives of three of the companies to discuss PPS6, on the following dates: Asda—April 2004 and July 2004, Sainsburys—May 2004, Tesco—September 2004.

Officials of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister made a series of presentations to a range of stakeholder groups during the consultation period on PPS6. Representatives of Tesco, Asda and Sainsburys did attend a number of these group events. In addition, during the course of Government business Ministers and their officials regularly attend conferences, seminars and events on retail planning matters at which representatives of these companies are present and general matters of policy are discussed.

Staff Gyms

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many gyms are available to staff in the Department; and what the cost of providing them was in the last year for which figures are available. [204374]

Phil Hope: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has four gym facilities available for use by its staff within buildings managed by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, and access to six others in buildings managed by others.
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The net annual running cost of these in 2003–04 was £142,000. Of this £123,000 (87 per cent.) was for the operation of a fitness centre for firefighters and other trainees at the Fire Service College (FSC) that is also open to members of the public and FSC staff via a membership scheme. The balance was for fitness facilities in the Government Office for the South East and The Planning Inspectorate, which is an Agency of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

A one-off cost of £86,000 was incurred for moving the fitness centre in the Government Office for the South East, as part of a building refurbishment scheme. All figures exclude VAT.

Although the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has overall responsibility for the buildings occupied by Government Offices, they carry out functions on behalf of 10 Government Departments.

Sustainable Communities

Norman Baker: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make it a requirement for all new dwellings in his proposed sustainable communities to (a) be fitted with photovoltaic cells and (b) have separation of drinking water from grey water. [208351]

Phil Hope: Minimum performance requirements for dwellings are conveyed through the Building Regulations. These are functional rather than prescriptive to enable compliance in practical and cost-effective ways, and to leave open the possibilities for innovation. It would therefore be inappropriate to prescribe particular technologies such as grey water and photovoltaic cells.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is reviewing the Building Regulations energy efficiency requirements, and amendment proposals were published for consultation in July 2004. The proposals include setting minimum performance standards at levels much higher than at present and providing new technical guidance on low and zero carbon systems. The aim is to encourage builders to take more account of the benefits of low and zero carbon systems without being prescriptive. The responses to the consultation will be taken into account in developing the final amendment provisions which we aim to publish this summer.

Water conservation is being considered under a review of Part G of the Building Regulations which currently deals with hygiene matters. As in the case of energy, water conservation requirements are likely to be in functional terms. However, the supporting guidance is likely to include a suggestion that a separate water supply should be made to toilets. This will enable toilets to be supplied with grey water rather than use drinking water.

Norman Baker: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recent assessment he has made of the effects on flood risk elsewhere of the construction of sustainable communities east of London. [208354]

Keith Hill: Designing communities that minimise as far as possible the probability and consequences of flooding is an important part of building sustainable communities in the Thames Gateway.
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Planning Policy Guidance Note 25 (PPG25) applies in the Thames Gateway as elsewhere. It looks to regional and local planning authorities to ensure that flood risk is properly taken into account in regional spatial strategies, local development frameworks and plans for individual developments to reduce the risk of flooding and the damage which floods cause.

The Thames Gateway London Partnership is currently undertaking a strategic flood risk assessment that will help the 11 boroughs in the east London part of the Thames Gateway take account of flood risk as part of their planning processes.


Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy

Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the likely (a) set up costs and (b) annual administration costs of the proposed accreditation scheme under the Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy. [206553]

Ms Blears [holding answer 21 December 2004]: There are several examples of effective accreditation schemes already in existence. It may well be that we will be able to use an existing scheme rather than set up a new one. Issues around the costs of such as scheme will be discussed with the industry.

Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many members the Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy Industry Stakeholder Group is likely to comprise; and when he envisages that it will hold its first meeting. [206554]

Ms Blears [holding answer 21 December 2004]: We aim to establish stakeholder groups with particular areas of focus early in the new year, and will want to make sure that all sectors of the alcohol industry are represented.

Crime Statistics (Bedford and Kempston)

Mr. Patrick Hall: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many incidents of (a) domestic burglary, (b) criminal damage, (c) drug offences, (d) robbery, (e) vehicle theft and (f) violence against the person were recorded in Bedford and Kempston in (i) 1997 and (ii) 2003. [207225]

Ms Blears: The information requested is not available centrally.

Bedford is a Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP) area. Data at CDRP level has only been published from 1999/2000 onwards. The latest figures for six key offences for 2003/04 can be found at:

More detailed statistics at CDRP level are available for 2002–03 on the new Home Office website:

Custody Sergeants

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on
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plans to civilianise the post of custody sergeant; and what consultation his Department has conducted with interested parties. [206684]

Ms Blears [holding answer 21 December 2004]: Clauses 111 and 112 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill, currently before Parliament, proposes that chief officers of police may appoint a staff custody officer in the role of custody officer as set out in Part IV of the Police and Criminal evidence Act 1984.

The proposal to appoint staff custody officers was contained in the public consultation document "Policing: Modernising Police Powers to Meet Community Needs" published on 12 August 2004. Some 141 responses were received to the exercise, with a number of respondents commenting on the specific area of designated police staff carrying out the function of custody officer. There was strong support for the measure as well as concern about the ability of non-police officers being used in this post.

We intend to build on the successes already identified in the use of police staff through the workforce modernisation programme. Meetings have taken place with stakeholders at both ministerial and official level. Further meetings are planned early in the new year to discuss this and other areas of police powers contained in the Bill. We will use these meetings to consider how best to introduce the role of staff custody officer.

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