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14 Oct 2005 : Column 614W—continued

National Sports Foundation

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what progress has been made on decisions on the (a) location, (b) size and (c) organisation of the National Sports Foundation. [15631]

Mr. Caborn [holding answer 10 October 2005]: The Government, along with Sport England and the national governing bodies for Football, Cricket, Tennis, Rugby Union and Rugby League, are currently examining options on how most effectively to deliver the National Sports Foundation. A further announcement will be made in due course.


Core Cities Plan

John Mann: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what timescale has been set on consultation on the core cities plan by the cities themselves. [17811]

Yvette Cooper: The city summits currently taking place in England's core cities are intended to forge a dialogue between central government and localities to realise their full potential and put them in the premier league of cities across Europe. These summits have involved a wide range of stakeholders from the public, private and voluntary sectors. Consultation on the business plans individual cities are being invited to prepare is a matter for the cities themselves and we are not aware that any specific timescale has been set for this. Most business plans are likely to draw on existing plans and programmes at city and city-region level which have already been subject to consultation, so further consultation may not be required.

Departmental Working Groups

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list each departmental working group within his Department. [17228]

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Jim Fitzpatrick: To facilitate cross-departmental working there are a number of standing and ad hoc departmental working groups. However, there is no centrally held list of these and to compile one could be done only at disproportionate cost.

Empty Properties

Mr. Forth: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many vacant domestic properties there are in England in the (a) public and (b) private sectors. [16399]

Yvette Cooper: The total number of vacant domestic properties by tenure in England at 1 April 2004 is given in the table.
Vacant dwellings by tenure at 1 April 2004, England

'Other" public sector7,400
Private sector (non-RSL)585,600

The total figure has fallen by around 10 per cent. since 1997.

Fire Service

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister which functions carried out by local fire control centres will not be carried out by the proposed South East Regional Fire Control Centre; and if he will make a statement. [16874]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Currently, highly trained and experienced control staff spend a considerable proportion of their day on administrative duties rather than taking calls and dealing with incidents. This is an inefficient use of resources. Under the new system, these activities will be handled by administrative staff outside the regional control centres. The activities essential to the running of the control centres are included in a comprehensive document on scope that has already been widely reviewed within the Fire and Rescue Service. A questionnaire on out-of scope activities is currently on circulation to individual fire and rescue services. Analysis of the responses when completed will fully define those activities which are not in the scope of the control centres. It will identify those which are related to the running of the fire and rescue service but not to the control centres, and those which are not related to FRS activity at all.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what (a) anticipated costs, (b) estimated savings and (c) changes in response times he expects following the introduction of a South East Regional Fire Control Centre; and if he will make a statement. [16875]

Jim Fitzpatrick: No detailed costs and savings for the South East are available at present as the FiReControl business case exists at national level only. Nationally, over a 15 year period (2004–05 to 2018–19) running the control service and implementing the FiReControl project will cost £988 million at 2005 prices. Leaving the control service in the existing 46 controls would cost £1,090 million. After the final control centre goes live, there will be annual savings of over £20 million (30 per cent. reduction in annual running costs) which will be
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available for spending on other local initiatives such as community fire safety. The criteria for the project include ensuring that response times will be as good as or better than those achieved at present, and the project includes features that will help to reduce response times. These include the creation of a national network and dynamic mobilising of appliances i.e. mobilising direct to the vehicles which are closest to the incident, wherever these may be.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will place a copy of the full business case for a South East Regional Fire Control Centre in the Library. [16876]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The business case for the FiReControl Project has been drawn up on a national basis. The Outline Business Case for the project, which is detailed enough to allow an assessment of the strength and structure of the case for the project, is available on the project website at The full national business case can only be produced after completion of the infrastructure services procurement, as it needs to include the actual costs arising from that procurement rather than estimates. Information from the business case as it is updated is being shared with representatives of Fire and Rescue Authority treasurers, including a representative from the South East, in the FiReControl Finance Working Group.

John McDonnell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether the costs of the (a) Global Positioning System and (b) providing a secondary high data bearer for use by FireControl will be attributed to (i) the FireControl Project and (ii) the FireLink Project. [16877]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The cost of the Global Positioning System will be met by the FireLink Project. The provision of a secondary high speed data bearer (for England only) will be provided under the FiReControl Project.

John McDonnell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether either of the remaining bidders for the FireLink Project have met the original user requirements for the project. [16878]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The outcome of the FireLink procurement will be announced shortly.

John McDonnell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the provisional timetable is for the FireLink Project. [16879]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The ODPM currently expects to award the FireLink contract in November 2005 with roll-out completed in Great Britain by 2009.

Green Belt

Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many acres of undeveloped green belt there have been in (a) the County of Bedfordshire and (b) the parliamentary constituency of Mid-Bedfordshire in each year since 1997. [16621]

Yvette Cooper: The ODPM holds insufficient data to provide yearly estimates of the extent of undeveloped green belt in Bedfordshire or in the parliamentary constituency of Mid-Bedfordshire. In 1997 the extent of green belt in Bedfordshire amounted to 28,240 hectares
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of which 630 hectares are estimated to be built-up land. Therefore undeveloped green belt land in Bedfordshire in 1997 was around 27,610 hectares. The extent of green belt in 2003 remained the same as in 1997.

Growth Areas (Public Utilities)

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the state of readiness of public utilities to provide service to the planned growth areas in southern England and the South Midlands. [16527]

Yvette Cooper: Depending on its scale and pace, growth will require potentially major upgrades to utilities infrastructure with significant lead-in times (often three to five years). Our objective is to encourage adequate long-term planning by the utilities to avoid delivery of growth being constrained or prevented by the late programming of investment. The role of the public sector is principally to help ensure that the utility companies are properly equipped with the information needed to plan for growth, as well as providing maximum certainty around the magnitude, timing, and location of growth.

Public consultation and examination of growth plans for the Milton Keynes/South Midlands sub region involved a number of the major utilities or their representatives and the sub regional growth strategy was published in March this year. To follow this up local authorities and delivery agencies in the growth areas liaise with the utility companies to ensure that, as sub regional plans and Local Development Framework information becomes available, the utility companies can update their plans for investment.

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