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13 Feb 2006 : Column 1625W—continued

Local Elections

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister which local authorities (a) are in the process of changing and (b) have formally requested a change to a whole council election cycle. [47870]

Mr. Woolas: The changes since the information given in answers of 30 November 2005, Official Report, column 581W, and 1 December 2005, Official Report, column 681W, are that Hart district council are now considering whether to move to whole council elections and Broadland's request has been agreed. The local authorities listed have either expressed an interest or made inquiries regarding the process of change. Whether that means a formal request will be made in the future is a matter for the local authority concerned.

Mr. Walker: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to postpone the 2007 local elections; and if he will make a statement. [51367]

Mr. Woolas: We expect and intend the 2007 elections to go ahead.

Local Government Finance

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what access private sector firms have to the council tax banding list for individual domestic properties; and what the costs are for such access. [47868]

Mr. Woolas: The council tax valuation list is compiled and maintained by listing officers and can be accessed free of charge through the Valuation Office Agency website (www.voa.gov.uk) or through the relevant billing authority.

Local Government Reform

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether the creation of new unitary local authorities in England would require (a) primary and (b) secondary legislation; and if he will make a statement. [47872]

Mr. Woolas: No decisions have been taken about creating new unitary local authorities. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister intends to finalise our position around the middle of the year at about the same time as the publication of the proposed White Paper. Intentions would be to seek new local government legislation to effect any proposed structural changes.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to the recent article by the Minister for Local Government and Communities in the Local
 
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Government Chronicle, what estimate the Government have made of the transitional costs of introducing unitary local government. [47874]

Mr. Woolas: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member on 30 November 2005, Official Report, column 584W.

Management Consultants

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how often his Department has used management consultants in the last year for which figures are available; and at what cost. [48204]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister does not hold information centrally on the number of times consultants including management consultants have been used centrally, and could provide it only at disproportionate cost. Information on the cost for consultants which includes the cost of management consultants. For 2005–06 to date the cost is £39.661 million.

Millennium Dome (Redevelopment)

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what progress has been made on the redevelopment of (a) the millennium dome and (b) the surrounding land, including the millennium village; and if he will make a statement. [49712]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Inside the dome the construction of the arena and the first phase of the entertainment district are in progress. Outside the dome, the building of millennium square has begun, and work on the housing development is due to follow later in the year.

On the adjoining land, the David Beckham Football Academy has been opened since October 2005, and the current phase of Greenwich millennium village comprising of 198 homes is due for completion in September 2006. Of these, 30 homes were completed in December 2005.

Planning consent for phases 3 & 4 of Greenwich millennium village was recently granted by London borough of Greenwich.

Mobile Telephone Masts

Anne Main: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many refusals of planning permission for mobile telephone phone masts by local authorities have been overturned by the Planning Inspectorate in each year since 1997. [45650]


 
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Yvette Cooper: The Planning Inspectorate does not hold information about mobile phone masts specifically, and it could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost.

Northern Way Strategy

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the timetable is for the implementation of the Northern Way strategy; and which bodies are responsible for the strategy. [49714]

Yvette Cooper: The Northern Way Steering Group produced and launched 'Moving Forward: The Northern Way First Growth Strategy Report' in September 2004. The Northern Way Steering Group is independently chaired and Regional Development Agency led. It contains representatives from business, the housing sector, higher education and northern cities as well as the three northern Regional Assemblies, English Partnerships and Government

It is a long-term strategy to establish the North of England as an area of exceptional opportunity, combining a world-class economy with a high quality of life by 2025. The Northern Way published a business plan in June 2005 setting out how they would take the strategy forward until 2008. Both this and the growth strategy can be found on the Northern Way's website at: http://www.thenorthernway.co.uk/documents.html

Open Market Homebuy Option

Michael Gove: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions he has had with (a) the Council of Mortgage Lenders, (b) the Financial Services Authority and (c) the three lenders expected by the Department to be offering the Open Market Homebuy (OMH) product on progress with OMH. [48902]

Yvette Cooper: My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister met with the Council of Mortgage Lenders and two of the Lenders expected to joint fund the expanded Open Market HomeBuy product on 26 October, 2005. Since the Chancellor's announcement of 5 December, officials have been involved in regular progress discussions with the Council of Mortgage Lenders, the Financial Services Authority, and lenders.

Michael Gove: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether the Open Market Homebuy option will be available by October. [48908]

Yvette Cooper: The Open Market HomeBuy Product will be available from April. The Government are working with three lenders, Yorkshire Building Society, Nationwide and HBoS, to joint fund an expanded Open Market HomeBuy product from October.

Ordnance Survey

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether (a) aerial and (b) satellite photography are used to help provide information for the Ordnance Survey's (i) MasterMap and (ii) Land-Line. [51106]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Ordnance Survey uses aerial photography for the revision of the National Geospatial Database. Both Land-Line and the OS MasterMap Topographic Layer are generated from the database.
 
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The potential for using satellite photography for a similar purpose in the future is kept under regular review. At the moment it is not considered suitable for maintaining the largest scale of data that is used in Land-Line and OS MasterMap, but there is scope for it to be used as a source of intelligence about change that will be collected by other survey techniques.

Planning

Norman Baker: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what his policy is in respect of (a) accepting hospitality from and (b) meeting an applicant of a live planning application where the application might be referred to him for decision. [45979]

Yvette Cooper: My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister follows the policy on live planning cases set out in Guidance on Propriety Issues in the Handling of Planning Applications in ODPM", copies of which have been made available in the Library of the House and a copy of which I am sending to the hon. Member.

Once a decision has been made, my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister has no further role. Even if my right hon. Friend's decision is challenged, it is not live before him unless and until the decision is quashed by the court and returned to him for redetermination.


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