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Written Answers to Questions

The following answers were received between Friday 11 February and Friday 18 February 2005


Congestion Charge

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much has been spent on congestion (a) charges and (b) penalty charge notices by the Department since the commencement of the congestion charging scheme. [213822]

Mr. Caborn: The only cars used by the department are provided by the Government Car and Despatch Service, and it is that organisation that deals with such issues.

Departmental Policies (Essex)

Mr. Chris Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to Maldon and East Chelmsford constituency, the effects on Maldon and East Chelmsford of her Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [215974]

Mr. Caborn: The Department's aim is to improve the quality of life for everyone through cultural and sporting activities, to support the pursuit of excellence and to champion the tourism, creative and leisure industries. The Department's policies and actions have had a significant impact on Maldon and East Chelmsford since 2 May 1997.

In order to achieve our challenging targets for increased participation in sport and physical activity, we have invested in thousands of new and refurbished public sports facilities. In 2002 we launched the first ever comprehensive national physical education, school sport and club links strategy with an investment of £459 million. A school sport partnership involving four School Sport Co-ordinators and 23 primary Link teachers is based at great Baddow High School in Maldon and East Chelmsford. To achieve our challenging targets for increased participation in sport and physical activity, we have invested in thousands of new and refurbished public sports facilities. Sports facilities in Maldon and East Chelmsford have benefited from 13 Sport England lottery grants totalling £3,018,773, including two awards worth £504,000 in total from the £108 million investment in innovative sports facilities through the Active England programme.

We have increased our national funding to the arts in real terms by 60 per cent. from £199 million in 1998–99 to £367 million in 2004–05. Between 1998–99 and 2003–04 Arts Council England East grants increased
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from £4.7 million to £7.7 million. In 2005–06 the total Arts Council England investment in the East of England will be £8.3 million. Maldon and East Chelmsford has benefited from grants to arts projects, organisations andindividuals, including Aldeburgh productions and Essexdance.

Culture Online was launched in 2002 to increase access to, and participation in, arts and culture. Many of its projects are aimed at children of school age and at audiences that might not otherwise participate in arts and culture, including those who do not easily have access to arts and culture, people from deprived communities and people with particular educational or physical needs. People in Maldon and East Chelmsford will be among those who benefit from Culture Online. Between 2002 and 2004, £13 million was allocated to fund 20 Culture Online projects.

Maldon and East Chelmsford also benefits from museums initiatives such as Renaissance East of England whereby it's Hub partner Colchester Museums will provide expertise and fund 60 per cent. of a new initiative to improve access and build new local audiences.

Through our commitment to public service broadcasting we have helped to foster an environment in which a creative, commercially successful broadcasting industry provides a wide range of UK-made, high quality original programmes catering for all viewers and listeners. We have ensured a secure funding base for the BBC and Channel 4, while giving them the freedom to develop commercial operations which complement and support their public service remit. The Communications Act 2003 includes provisions to ensure that public service broadcasting will continue to have a key role to play in the digital future.

Our support for, and promotion of, the film and broadcasting industries have contributed to the general success of film-making and television activity in the Maldon and East Chelmsford area. The UK Film Council has supported a number of film-related enterprises in the Chelmsford area—including £20,000 for a new feature film production set and filmed in Essex; £8,000 funding to the Boreham Millennium Trust to support moving image education and £2,859 to Chelmsford Film Club to enable local audiences to view a wider choice of films.

The feature film 'The Lawless Heart' was set in and filmed in Maldon, directed by two local filmmakers. Thefilm, which received £200,000 from the UK Film Council's Interim Production Fund, was released in 2001 to international acclaim.

Many other productions have been filmed in and around Maldon and East Chelmsford, such as the BBC's 'The Murder Game'; Granada's 'Medieval Monarchs' and the feature film 'Rules of the Game'.

In November 2000 we introduced free television licences for people aged 75 or over. Information on the number of beneficiaries by constituency is not available. However, according to Department for Work and Pensions records, the number of households in Maldon
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and East Chelmsford with at least one person aged 75 or over claiming the winter fuel payment in 2003–04 was 5,205.

We have changed the licensing laws to allow people to hold and attend commercial dances on Sunday, to make it easier for restaurants to open an hour later, and to relax the alcohol licensing hours from 11 pm on new year's eve to 11 am on new year's day in all future years; and we have given the police greater powers to take action against under-age drinking and disorderly and noisy licensed premises. The Licensing Act 2003, when fully implemented, will introduce a streamlined, consistent and fair licensing regime for the provision of alcohol, public entertainment and late night refreshment. It will provide greater choice for consumers, bring regeneration and increased employment opportunities and protect local residents whose lives have been blighted by disturbance and antisocial behaviour.

The Gambling Bill will, when implemented, transfer responsibility for licensing gambling premises to local authorities. Local people and businesses will be able to make representations about applications for licenses and local authorities will be able to decide not to issue licenses for casino premises. These changes will give local communities, including those in Maldon and East Chelmsford, a greater say in the regulation of gambling in their area.

Tourism in Maldon and East Chelmsford has benefited from Government-funded marketing activity. In April 2003 we established VisitBritain with a new domestic marketing remit for England, and we gave strategic responsibility for tourism development to the Regional Development Agencies, including the East of England Development Agency. These changes, together with VisitBritain's successful marketing activities in promoting Britain abroad as an attractive tourist destination, benefit all parts of the country, including Maldon and East Chelmsford.

English Heritage has awarded grants worth £647,014 to buildings and organisations in Maldon and East Chelmsford since 2 May 1997, including:
Building/organisationAmount (£)
St. Mary's redundant Church, Mundon45,229
St. Leonard, Southminster4,113
St. Mary the Virgin, Woodham Ferrers8,000
St. Nicholas, Tillingham152,400
Creeksea Place, Burnham-on-Crouch23,272
St. Nicholas, Little Braxted53,000
Maldon District Council: Southminster Heritage
Regeneration scheme
Maldon District Council: Maldon Conservation
Area Partnership Scheme

In common with all of those in the United Kingdom, the public library branches in Maldon and East Chelmsford constituency are connected to the internet through the People's Network which was funded through a £120 million lottery grant. In addition, the Department is funding the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council with £5 million over three years to implement the Framework for the Future Action Plan and Library Improvement Programme, which is designed to encourage improvement across the public libraries sector in England.
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The Department has been an energetic advocate of the community and informal learning value of public libraries. Essex county council has recognised this value and has undertaken various initiatives such as the ASK CHRIS project to encourage reading and lending across the county's public libraries. The project received a £67,000 award from the DCMS/Wolfson Foundation Public Libraries Challenge Fund in 2000–01.

Information from the national lottery distributors indicates that since 2 May 1997 Maldon and East Chelmsford has benefited from 169 awards totalling over £8.9 million. Of these, 21 awards worth over £1.7 million were made by the New Opportunities Fund which was established by the Government in 1999. The New Opportunities Fund merged with the Community Fund in June 2004 to form the Big Lottery Fund.

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