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9 July 2007 : Column 1270W—continued


Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make a statement on the delivery of software and information systems for the regional fire control centres. [147507]

Mr. Dhanda: The contract for delivery of software and information systems was signed on 30 March 2007 with EADS Defence and Security Systems Ltd. The contractor is mobilising resources and working closely with the Department to ensure successful delivery of this important project. The contract has a series of delivery milestones; so far, the contractor has met all that are due. The first Regional Control Centre is planned to go live in October 2009 and the final Fire and Rescue Authority cuts over in September 2011.

Fire Services: Manpower

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many staff in full-time equivalent terms will be required for each Regional Fire Control Centre. [147508]

Mr. Dhanda: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew) on 20 June 2007, Official Report, columns 1858-59W.

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how she intends to resource those tasks currently undertaken by staff in existing fire control centres which will not be handled by new regional centres. [147509]

Mr. Dhanda: Some tasks which are currently performed in existing control rooms will lie outside the scope of the new regional control centres. It is for Fire and Rescue Authorities to decide whether these ‘out of scope’ tasks should continue to be performed under the new control arrangements, and how best to deliver them. The business case for the FiReControl project shows that the costs of delivering a control service under FiReControl should be substantially lower than at present. The business case takes into account the costs of continuing to deliver these ‘out of scope’ tasks.

Fire Services: Procurement

Andrew Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what total costs have been incurred by Firebuy since its launch as the procurement arm of the fire and rescue service in November 2005 in (a) salaries for its full-time staff,
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(b) expenses for its non-executive chair and board of directors and (c) on work on the Integrated Clothing Project. [146695]

Mr. Dhanda: The costs incurred by Firebuy Ltd. since it was established in April 2006 until the end of June 2007 are (a) £1,099,877 for salaries for the full-time staff, (b) £11,092 on expenses for the non-executive chair and board of directors and (c) £1,047,124 for the Integrated Clothing Project, including salary costs associated with the project.

Andrew Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the preferred bidder proposals for Firebuy's first 15-year Integrated Clothing Project contract; what steps she is taking to ensure continuous best value for the fire and rescue service from that contract; and if she will make a statement. [146696]

Mr. Dhanda: Detailed assessments have been undertaken by Firebuy Ltd. in the decision to award the contract for Integrated Clothing Project to a single service provider for 15 years. These included economic viability, service delivery, independent garment trials and best value.

Best value encompasses the principles of the Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT) and considers the whole life costs as well as the purchasing price. The kit offers improvements in firefighter safety as well as making a positive contribution towards reducing barriers to recruitment and achieving efficiencies as part of the overall Government agenda.

Fire Services: Trade Unions

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what representations she has received on the proposed regional fire and rescue control centre in the East of England; and what discussions she has had with the Fire Brigades Union on the matter. [146794]

Mr. Dhanda [holding answer 2 July 2007]: Since the publication of the White Paper “Our Fire and Rescue Service” in June 2003 the Department has had representations about the proposed regional fire and rescue control centres from a wide range of stakeholders, including all English Fire and Rescue Authorities, Regional Management Boards, the Local Government Association, the Chief Fire Officers’ Association, the Institute of Public Finance, the Practitioners’ Forum, the Business and Community Safety Forum, the Fire Brigades Union, Network of Women in the Fire and Rescue Service, the Retained Firefighters Union, Fire Officers Association, GMB and Unison. Responses to the various consultation exercises run by the Department can be found on the web at:

A number of very positive and useful meetings have taken place, at both ministerial and official level, with the Fire Brigades Union and other staff representation bodies to discuss the implications for staff of the Fire Control Project.


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Flood Control

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the effects of building houses on run off and flash flooding areas; and if she will make a statement. [146213]

Yvette Cooper: New planning policy (PPS25 Development and flood risk) published in December 2006 directs development away from areas at risk of flooding from all sources. Local planning authorities should undertake a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment in line with PPS25 policy to identify the risks from all forms of flooding (including surface water run-off). Where there are particular surface water drainage problems they should use the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment to inform the development of surface water management plans, as part of their Local Development Frameworks, to manage the risks through development opportunities and avoid inappropriate development in those areas. Some of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pilot studies on integrated urban drainage are examining the consequences of new development for surface water run-off and the options available for mitigating these effects.

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will consider making it a condition of section 106 planning agreements to improve drainage in order to reduce the effect of flash flooding in areas that have been affected; and if she will make a statement. [146214]

Yvette Cooper: New planning policy (PPS25 Development and flood risk) published in December 2006 promotes the use of sustainable drainage systems and development of surface water management plans. Planning obligations (or ‘s106 planning agreements’) are mechanisms to allow developers and local planning authorities to make acceptable development which would otherwise be unacceptable in planning terms. Where the need to improve drainage to reduce the risk of flooding is a material consideration, a planning obligation may be an appropriate mechanism to secure the agreement of the developer to undertake the necessary drainage improvements. The construction and maintenance costs of surface water drainage systems serving a development should be fully funded by the developer, and a planning obligation may be appropriate to secure this.

Floods: Chemicals

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) for what reasons Annex D of Planning Policy Statement 25: Development and Flood Risk included a list of substances classed as hazards under the Chemical Hazards Information and Packaging Regulations; and what related consultation was carried out; [148047]

(2) what estimate she has made of the number and percentage of storage facilities for materials classed as hazardous under the Chemical Hazards Information and Packaging Regulations located in Flood Risk Zone 3 areas. [148048]


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John Healey: Annex D of PPS25 does not list substances classed as hazards under the Chemical Hazards Information and Packaging Regulations. However it classifies installations requiring hazardous substances consent as ‘highly vulnerable’, potentially limiting their location in areas of high flood risk. This was set out to help planners match the vulnerability of development to the degree of flood risk to avoid inappropriate development in flood risk areas.

There was wide consultation in preparing PPS25, and the Department continues to work closely with stakeholders to implement the policy to avoid inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding and to direct development away from areas at highest risk, while recognising that where the need for development clearly outweighs the flood risk, it is safe.

No central estimate of the number and percentage of storage facilities for such materials in Flood Zone 3 areas is available.

Home Information Packs

Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether clients of property location agents will be required to put a home information pack in place; and if she will make a statement. [146663]

Yvette Cooper: The Housing Act 2004 makes it clear that the responsibility to obtain a home information pack is on the person responsible for marketing the property. Section 150 of the Housing Act 2005 states that a person, or business located in England or Wales, acts as an estate agent if he does anything in pursuance of marketing instructions from the seller to carry out activities designed to introduce a potential buyer to the seller or to sell the property by auction.

Housing Associations

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what Government affordable housing schemes administered by housing associations are in operation. [147968]

Yvette Cooper: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given today (UIN 147377).

Housing: Chelmsford

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many new dwellings were built in the Chelmsford local authority area in each year between 2000 and 2007. [146652]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 2 July 2007]: The numbers of new dwellings built in the Chelmsford local authority area in each financial year since 2000-01 are in the following table. Figures shown are as reported by local authorities.


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House building completions: Chelmsford
Dwellings

2000-01

542

2001-02

519

2002-03

838

2003-04

863

2004-05

764

2005-06

440

2006-07

533

Sources: P2m returns from local authorities, returns from National Housebuilding Council (NHBC)


Housing Construction: Eco-towns

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the contribution of the five planned eco-towns towards the Government's target of building 200,000 net additional homes per year by 2013. [146393]

Yvette Cooper: Eco-towns will be key to delivering the Government's target of building additional homes. Further decisions about the programme, including potential funding support, more detailed criteria, and potential locations will be taken following detailed assessment work, and the outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review. We hope to announce these later this year.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of the 10,000 to 20,000 new homes in each planned eco-town will be social homes. [146401]

Yvette Cooper: Eco-towns, as announced in the Government statement of 7 March 2007, should be sustainable communities, supporting a mix of housing types and tenure. Subject to the outcome of the comprehensive spending review decisions about the programme, including potential locations and the proportion of social housing will be taken following further assessment work. We hope to make an announcement about these later in the year.

Housing: Cornwall

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her estimate is of the number of dwellings sold in Cornwall, broken down into those sold (a) as second homes, (b) for buy-to-let, (c) to Cornish inhabitants and (d) to people moving into Cornwall in the last 12 months. [146645]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 29 June 2007]: The information requested is not held centrally.

Housing: Electricity and Water

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many households do not have access to (a) mains power and (b) piped water supply. [146167]

Yvette Cooper: The English House Condition Survey monitors the provision of basic amenities and services to homes. However the numbers of homes lacking mains power and piped water supply is too small to provide precise estimates from a sample survey. A
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residual number of mainly isolated rural homes may lack mains power or piped water supply, as do some vacant properties that are waiting or undergoing renovation at the time of the survey.

Housing: Energy

David Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of homes in England do not have any cavity walls. [146281]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 28 June 2007]: 31 per cent. according to the 2005 English House Condition Survey Annual Report (Table 4.1, page 28) published on 6 June 2007.

Housing: Low Incomes

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many dwellings built in Chelmsford between 2000 and 2007 were classified as affordable housing. [146653]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 2 July 2007]: Between 1 April 2000 and 31 March 2006, in Chelmsford, 850 units of affordable housing were built or acquired. Affordable housing includes both social rent and intermediate housing (e.g. low cost home ownership). Figures on affordable housing supply in 2006-07 are not yet available.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which Government-run affordable housing schemes, administered by housing associations, are in operation. [147377]

Yvette Cooper: The Housing Corporation provides Social Housing Grant under section 18 of the Housing Act 1996 and Section 27 of the Housing Act 2004 to housing associations and other bodies to provide affordable housing. This grant is used to provide both social rented homes and those for sale on low cost home ownership terms. Homes provided can be new build or acquired and refurbished.

The Government’ HomeBuy programme offers three low cost home ownership products based on equity sharing. All three are administered by HomeBuy Agents, who are Housing Associations that provide a one-stop shop for Low Cost Home Ownership products, with Government funding provided by the Housing Corporation.

Social HomeBuy enables tenants of local authorities and housing associations to buy a share in their current home at a discount. New Build HomeBuy (including the First Time Buyer’ Initiative) enables people to buy a share of a newly built property, while paying rent on the unowned share, and Open Market HomeBuy enables people to buy a property on the open market with the help of equity loans.

There is also an ‘intermediate rent’ option for eligible individuals that cannot sustain the costs of home ownership, even on our low cost schemes. People can rent a new build property on an assured shorthold tenancy and pay rent at a level between that charged by social and private landlords.


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Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has to create an Affordable Housing Strategy Group; and if she will make a statement. [147873]

Yvette Cooper: The Department already meets regularly with stakeholder groups which discuss affordable housing. We keep these arrangements under review.


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