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Mr. Woolas: , My right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Miliband) announced a comprehensive programme of engagement on local government re-organisation on 2 February. As part of this programme my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Miliband) met with councillors, chief executives, public sector partners, the business sector and other key stakeholders from Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin and Herefordshire on 7 February in Shrewsbury.
Members of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister have held meetings with chief executives of county and district councils to discuss local government restructuring on six separate occasions since December 2005.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the average increase in local government employee wages was in each year since 199697; and what the cost of the local government wage bill was in each year since 199697. 
Mr. Woolas: Information on local government wages is not held centrally. However, the increase in the local government employee pay bill and the cost of the local government employee expenditure in each year as reported by local authorities, are shown in the following table for the years available:
|Police Support Staff||£ billion||0.875||0.906||0.949||0.945||1.169||1.331||1.547|
|Other Local Government Staff (21)||£ billion||10.768||11.841||12.713||13.694||14.713||16.365||17.990|
|Total pay 1, 2||£ billion||25.904||28.531||30.571||33.083||35.769||38.662||41.235|
|Sir Bob Reid||Independent||Yes|
|Cllr Isobel McCall||Milton Keynes Council||Yes|
|Cllr Euan Henderson||Milton Keynes Council||Yes|
|Cllr Roger Bristow||Milton Keynes Council||Yes|
|Wendy Lehmann||Voluntary organisations||Yes|
|Malcolm Brighton||Health sector||Yes|
|Andrew Peck||Business community||Yes|
|Dr. Pauline Lane||English Partnerships||No|
|Dennis Hone||English Partnerships||No|
Mr. Amess: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) how many new mobile telephone masts have been erected under permitted development rights in (a) Southend-on-Sea, (b) Southend West constituency and (c) Essex in each of the last 48 months for which figures are available; 
(2) how many applications there have been to construct mobile telephone masts in (a) Southend-on-Sea, (b) Southend West constituency and (c) Essex in each year since 2000; how many of these applications have been (i) granted and (ii) refused; and what the reason for refusal was in each case. 
However, during September and October every year the mobile network operators write to every local authority with details of their network rollout for the year ahead. When they write to the local authority they also provide details of their existing sites within the local authority area. The hon. Member may want to contact the network operators for copies of their plans.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what power his Department has granted since 1997 to local authorities to refuse applications by mobile telephone companies to erect telephone masts; and if he will make a statement. 
All ground based masts are already subject to planning control so that if the local authority considers that the development will pose a serious threat to amenity, it is able to refuse approval. For masts over 15 metres in height a full planning application is required. For masts under 15 metres in height a prior approval application is required.
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Since 1997, the Government have strengthened the prior approval arrangements twice. Local planning authorities can decline a mast on planning grounds in prior approval applications in the same way as a normal planning application so long as they act within eight weeks. Eight weeks is also the performance target for dealing with most planning applications for telecommunications developments.
However, during September and October every year the mobile network operators write to every local authority with details of their network rollout for the year ahead. When they write to the local authority they also provide details of their existing sites within the local authority area. You may want to contact the network operators for copies of their plans.
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