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Council Housing: Greater London

Emily Thornberry: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many leaseholders in (a) arms length management organisation, (b) council and (c) housing association managed properties there are in London in each borough. [126490]

Yvette Cooper: The Department does not hold this information. A survey undertaken by the former Association of London Government (now London Councils) indicates that the number of leaseholders—i.e. owners of flats that were once owned by the local authority—in the following 19 boroughs is:

Borough Number of leaseholders (approximate)





















Kensington and Chelsea*










Tower Hamlets**


Waltham Forest*








Those LAs marked * have some or all their stock currently managed by an ALMO; those marked ** plan to have some or all of their stock managed by an ALMO.

Council Tax

Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment her Department has made of the causes of changes in the average level of council tax in England between 1997-08 and 2006-07. [128605]

Mr. Woolas: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Benyon) on 27 February 2007, Official Report column 1272.

Council Tax: Valuation

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many photographs of domestic properties in (a) England and (b) Wales the Valuation Office Agency holds on its photograph database. [120819]

Mr. Woolas: I refer the hon. Member to the VOA website:

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Councillors: Disciplinary Proceedings

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what the longest period of time is for which the Standards Board can suspend a councillor; and how many cases have involved this penalty; [126287]

(2) what powers (a) a local authority and (b) the Standards Board has to suspend a councillor who is subject to criminal charges not connected to their work as a councillor. [126288]

Mr. Woolas: The Standards Board has no remit to impose sanctions on local councillors; this is a matter for either local standards committees or, in the most serious cases, the Adjudication Panel. Local standards committees are empowered to impose suspensions of up to three months; the Adjudication Panel may impose suspensions of up to one year and disqualifications of up to five years.

From 2003-04 to date, the Adjudication Panel has imposed a sanction of five years disqualification in three cases, and a sanction of one year's suspension in 12 cases. For the same period, local standards committees imposed a sanction of three months suspension in 82 cases.

Following the High Court judgment in the case of the London Mayor last October, doubt has been cast on the extent to which the remit of the code of conduct can extend to behaviour by a councillor which is not directly related to his or her role as a member. We are therefore seeking, in the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill, to amend the Local Government Act 2000 to allow the remit of the model code of conduct to include the behaviour of members in their private capacity, if it involves criminal activity, as well as official capacity.

Departments: Conferences

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which conferences were funded (a) in whole and (b) in part by (i) her Department and (ii) its predecessor Department in the last 12 months; how many people attended each; and what the cost was of each conference to her Department. [127056]

Ruth Kelly: The figures requested are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departments: Postal Services

Mr. Fraser: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which postal companies handle mail dispatched by her Department and its agencies. [128248]

Angela E. Smith: Communities and Local Government and its agencies currently use Royal Mail and Royale Research Ltd. who are licensed by Postcomm for the distribution of mail. The Department also uses the Government Mail service provided by the Government Car and Dispatch Agency.

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Electronic Government

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what assessment has been made of the reasons for the levels of take-up of Government Connect by local authorities; [127044]

(2) if she will place in the Library a copy of the business case model for Government Connect provided to local authorities; [127045]

(3) what the timetable is for the rollout of Government Connect to local authorities. [127046]

Ruth Kelly: Copies of the business case have today been placed in the Libraries to the House.

Government Connect has been collecting information on the willingness to adopt the solutions being provided by the programme. This research indicated that around 200 local authorities may be ready to sign up to Government Connect by the end of 2007. Currently 198 councils have signed a pre-contractual notice with Government Connect. We aim to have connected all local authorities by March 2008.

Research indicates that councils are signing up to Government Connect as they recognise that the programme has the potential to offer the wide range of service transformation possibilities around secure working with other local authorities and central Government Departments which they see as supporting efficiency and improved customer service.

Empty Property: Calderdale

Mrs. Riordan: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how the estimate for the number of empty properties in Calderdale was calculated; and how many of these properties are (a) flats and (b) houses. [124635]

Yvette Cooper: Estimates for the total number of empty dwellings are based on council tax returns. Information is reported by local authorities to Communities and Local Government through the Council Tax Base (CTB1) return.

Estimates for empty dwellings by tenure are based on two further returns:

Information on the vacancy split by flats and houses is not available centrally.

Greenbelt: M25

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent representations she has received on the creation of a green arc around the M25 motorway; and if she will make a statement. [124694]

Yvette Cooper: At present, we are not aware of any specific recent representations on this matter as public consultation is still under way on the Secretary of State’s Proposed Changes to the Draft East of England
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Plan. But this is an issue where we would expect the public to express an interest in.

The Proposed Changes are that “areas and networks of green infrastructure should be identified, created, protected and managed to ensure that an improved and healthy environment is available for the benefit of present and future communities”. Assets of particular regional significance proposed for the retention, provision and enhancement of green infrastructure include green infrastructure projects around the fringes of Greater London.

Public consultation on the Proposed Changes ran until 9 March. The Secretary of State will then consider the representations received.

Home Information Packs

Natascha Engel: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the likely effect of the introduction of Home Information Packs on the operation of the housing market. [126553]

Yvette Cooper: The home buying and selling process is slow, expensive and uncertain, as housing market research carried out over a number of years has consistently found. By making key information available to both buyers and sellers early in the transaction process it is expected that HIPs will lead to reduced transaction times, a reduction in wasted costs and more certain and transparent transactions. It is also anticipated that HIPs will pave the way for further, market-led changes that will bring substantial further benefits to consumers.

Housing: Disabled

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department is taking to provide accessible housing mobility services for social housing tenants; and if she will make a statement. [123519]

Yvette Cooper: Mobility was identified as one of the key issues in the Hills review of Social Housing. The Government are currently looking at these issue as part of responding to the review. The social housing pages on the Directgov website (, provide information on the recent changes to social housing mobility and easy access to information and services; and signposts facilities for tenants to approach and apply to social housing landlords directly.

Other services providers offer access to services to exchange social housing and we have also listed 10 of these direct access “homeswap” services and are reviewing the market in order to add to the schemes listed to offer the widest choice to tenants.

The new social housing pages on Directgov also link to other Government services such as the “Looking for Work” facility which links to the Jobcentre Plus database with job vacancies throughout the UK; a variety of pages relating to local information i.e. schools, hospitals and care services; and information on benefits. Users can also access the full range of other Government services available on Directgov.

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We are in discussions with London councils on providing a transitional service for the seaside and country homes (SSCH) and the LAWN mobility schemes, on a medium term basis under grant agreement. These arrangements are currently being developed. In the meantime, London councils are providing an information service to customers as arrangements are put in place.

The Department has also funded 26 local and sub-regional choice based lettings schemes, as well as one regional scheme for London, which will provide additional mobility services and the facility for social housing tenants to move home within areas and regions. Once operational, these will also be accessible through the social housing pages on Directgov. The first of these schemes (High Peak and Derbyshire Dales) is due to go-live next month.

Housing: Durham

Dr. Blackman-Woods: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many homes in the City of Durham have reached the decent homes standard. [123653]

Yvette Cooper: At 1 April 2006 Durham city council reported that 2,486 of the 6,334 homes they owned were up to a decent standard.

Registered social landlords operating within the city reported that they had 1,498 homes of which 1,414 were decent. We do not hold data on private sector housing decency at a local authority level.

Housing: Energy

Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Meriden of 7 March 2007, Official Report, column 2040W, on housing: energy, if she will place in the Library a copy of the summary of overall benefits published in April 2003. [128538]

Ruth Kelly: The summary of overall benefits expected to arise from EU Directive 2002/91/EC, the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, is contained within the “Second European Climate Change Programme Report: Can we meet our Kyoto targets” published in April 2003. This is a European Commission report that can be found on the European Commission website.

Local Authority Housing

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many local authority houses were (a) demolished, (b) built and (c) sold under Right to Buy in 2006. [116942]

Yvette Cooper: During the financial year 2005-06 an estimated 6,245 local authority houses were demolished, and 26,654 were sold through the right-to-buy scheme. Information on local authority stock is reported by the local authorities. The aforementioned figures include estimates where individual local authorities have not provided any data.

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In 2005-06 around 299 homes were built by local authorities. Increasingly social rent housing units are provided by registered social landlords who can lever in additional borrowing. By 2007-08 the annual provision of new social rent homes is set to reach 30,000 of which 28,000 will be delivered through Housing Corporation funding to RSLs and other developers.

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