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The Task Force has been established under the chairmanship of Sir Neville Simms and is charged with the task of developing a national action plan for sustainable procurement by April 2006.
12 Sept 2005 : Column 2446W
Mr. Betts: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many consultants have been employed to advise on the Best Practice Guidance for Tourism; who they are; what their brief was; what the cost of the contracts was; and for what reasons the contracts were terminated. 
Yvette Cooper: Land Use Consultants were awarded a contract in January 2004 to produce good practice guidance for planning and tourism. The contract comprised three core objectives: to identify and recommend the scope of good practice guidance; to identify and articulate good practice in a variety of contexts; and to draft the guidance. The fixed price for the contract, had all the work been undertaken by Land Use Consultants, was £93,255 excluding VAT. However, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Land Use Consultants agreed in early 2005 that it would be better, given the level of planning policy expertise resting within ODPM, for some of the work to be completed in-house. Around 40 per cent. of the total contract price was paid to Land Use Consultants.
Yvette Cooper: The specific information requested is not available. Since its introduction in 1980 there have been almost 1.660 million sales of council dwellings in England under the right to buy scheme up to the end of 200304.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister for what reason councils opting to retain council housing stock have to prepare a 30-year financial forecast; and what assistance the Government provides in preparation of such plans. 
Yvette Cooper: Local authorities have since April 2001 been required to produce a 30 year financial model at least every three years, as part of the HRA business planning process. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister provides a standard financial model for use in this process, which can also be used to help deliver a financial model for the stock options appraisal if it is required.
Housing is a long life asset. If optimum benefit is to be derived from housing properties it is therefore essential that management decisions are taken with due regard to their long-term implications. The true outcome of choices made in the short term can often only be properly assessed with reference to their impact in the long term. If resource allocation decisions are to be soundly based it is important to evaluate available options over a period that captures all the associated effects.
We would expect local authorities that retain ownership and management of their stock to put a business plan in place that takes a long term view and Government Offices may want to use such information to track progress in delivering decent homes.
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Mr. Amess: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister howmuch council tax was uncollected within the Southend local authority in each of the last five years for which figures are available, broken down by council tax band. 
Mr. Woolas: Details of how much council tax was uncollected within the Southend local authority in each of the last five years are published on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's website and can be found under the heading Information For TaxpayersCouncil Tax Collection Rates" at: http://www.local.odpm.gov.uk/finance/ct.htm.
Mr. Woolas: The terms of reference for the independent inquiry into local government funding by Sir Michael Lyons require him to make recommendations on how best to reform council tax, taking into account the forthcoming revaluation of domestic property. His report is due to be submitted by the end of the year to my right hon. Friends the Deputy Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Sir Michael's work will inform the Government's decisions on council tax bands.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Joined up working has significant benefits as part of the plural policing agenda in Lancashire. The wardens contribution towards this is typically assisting with environmental improvements, such as litter, graffiti, dog fouling and housing management; tackling antisocial behaviour, building community pride and cohesion and providing a link between local residents, and key agencies like local authorities and Fire & Rescue Services. This level of involvement frees up the police to concentrate on the more serious crimes.
The total number of vacant dwellings at 1 April 2004 in: (a) South Cambridgeshire is 1,884; and (b) East Cambridgeshire is 451. These are the latest figures available from a combination of the ODPM's Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix return and Housing Corporation's Regulatory and Statistical Return.
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Mr. Amess: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many attacks have been recorded on members of fire crews in (a) Essex and (b) the Metropolitan police area of London in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: Annual returns have been required from Fire and Rescue Authorities only since 2004. London have not reported any such incidents for this period. I refer the hon. Member to the reply to his previous question on 7 July 2005, Official Report, column 558W, with regards to Essex.
Jim Fitzpatrick: No formal trials of mobile data terminals are proposed, since many Fire and Rescue Services already use mobile data terminals. However, all the equipment required to operate the new control centres will be subject to a rigorous and extensive testing regime, which will be negotiated as part of the supply agreement.
Jim Fitzpatrick: The Government is encouraging and assisting Fire and Rescue Authorities to work together through Regional Management Boards in order to improve their efficiency effectiveness in maintaining and improving public safety. In the course of these discussions, some Fire and Rescue Authorities have sought advice on how they could undertake a voluntary merger, should they wish to do so.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how areas where there is no radio signal will be administered under the Government proposals to regionalise fire control centres; and what percentage of the total area is involved. 
Wide area radio coverage will be provided in accordance with the user requirement as defined in the Firelink contract. This has been agreed with the operational user community both at strategic and technical level.
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Jim Fitzpatrick: All the costs involved in setting up the new Fire Control Centres are set out in the FiReControl Outline Business Case, which is available on www.firecontrol.odpm.gsi.gov.uk. This business case is in the process of being updated and a new version will be available later in the year.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the role of the Fire Training College at Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire will be under the proposed regionalised fire control arrangements. 
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the training strategy will be under the proposed regionalisation of fire control centres; and whether this will involve developing more regional training structures. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The recent invitation to submit outline proposals (ISOP) for infrastructure services, including training, for the new control centres sought proposals from bidders to inform the development of the strategy. There are no proposals to develop additional regional training facilities. Regional Management Boards (RMBs) have a responsibility to promote better use of existing training facilities.
Jim Fitzpatrick: The available information from annual returns submitted by fire and rescue services in England shows that between 31 March 2000 and 31 March 2004, the following fire stations have either closed, or closed and merged to form new fire stations:
|Fire and Rescue Service||Stations|
|Fire and Rescue Service||Stations||New station|
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