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The petition in the name of the said Gareth Dadd and others shows that they fear that the proposed police funding formula will result in cuts. They wish to see their entitlement to fair and equitable funding for North Yorkshire.
Following is the full text of the petition:
[The Humble Petition of Mr G. Dadd of North Yorkshire County Council and Black Bull Inn, Thormanby, York, North Yorkshire and others of like disposition,
That they fear the proposed Police Funding Formula review will result in cuts of £10m, £16m, and £19m in years 1, 2, and 3 respectively will mean cuts of 300 Officers or a massive change to local Council Tax payers. We wish to see our entitlement to fair and equitable funding for North Yorkshire.
Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House urges the Government to withdraw the proposed Police Funding Formula review.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c. ]
Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con): On behalf of my constituents, I present a petition about their concern about the proposed closure of post offices in their local area. I support the petition wholeheartedly, and I pay tribute to my constituent Andrew Rowley, who virtually single-handedly collected in Shipley constituency the almost 3,000 signatures on the petition.
The Petition of the residents of the Shipley constituency and the surrounding area,
Declares that the Petitioners are extremely concerned at the threat of closures and the removal of public services to the post offices in the Shipley constituency and believe that this is a pressing public service priority within the Bradford district.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons calls upon the Government to recognise the importance of the post office to the local community and to other businesses in the Shipley constituency and to ensure that the Post Office honour their promise to maintain sufficient post offices and services in the Shipley constituency.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.
Ms Sally Keeble (Northampton, North) (Lab): I present this petition on behalf of my constituents and those of the hon. Member for Northampton, South (Mr. Binley). It is about the train timetable changes in Northampton, which result in our losing our most important train of the daythe 7.12 am fast train bringing commuters to London.
The Petition of residents of Northampton and people who use the local rail services,
Declares that there is serious concern about the proposal in the draft 2008 timetable to end the 7.12 fast train to London which is the main train service used by commuters who work in London.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Transport to reinstate the fast train service from Northampton to London at 7.12 am.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.
Daniel Kawczynski (Shrewsbury and Atcham) (Con): I present to the House a petition with 16,000 signatures of my constituents who are concerned about the proposed closure of the ambulance control centre in Shrewsbury. One of my constituents, Mr. Steve Jetley, has worked tirelessly and feels so strongly on this issue that he has resigned his job to focus on the campaign. Many people have been trying to get as many signatures as possible, feeling passionately that Shrewsbury and Shropshire should retain our ambulance control centre.
The Petition of those concerned about the proposed closure of the ambulance emergency operations centre in Shrewsbury,
Declares that the Petitioners condemn the proposed closure of the ambulance emergency operations centre in Shrewsbury, and are also deeply concerned about the possible loss of 16 fully trained ambulance control centre staff jobs.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Department of Health to instruct the west midlands ambulance service to guarantee the continuation of control services in Shropshire.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.
Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn. [Mr. Watson.]
Sir George Young (North-West Hampshire) (Con): I welcome this opportunity to raise in the House my constituents concern about proposals for a new flight path into Southampton and Bournemouth airports. NATSNational Air Traffic Serviceshas proposed additional controlled airspace from Newbury to Romsey, where aircraft may fly as low as 5,500 ft. Flights would be permitted between 5.30 in the evening and 9.30 in the morning. At this stage, the proposal would only affect inbound flights from next April, but if approved it could be extended to outgoing and therefore noisier flights. Indeed, the document says:
Bournemouth outbounds may also be positioned in this space.
There seems to be no scope for limiting the number of movements using controlled airspace once it has been designated. The proposals have been opposed by Hampshire county council, Basingstoke and Deane district council, 18 parish councils, the council of partners of the North Wessex Downs area of outstanding natural beauty, New Forest national park authority and the Campaign to Protect Rural England. I am grateful to Professor Johnnie Johnson and Alan Cox of Ashmansworth parish council and to councillors Horace Mitchell and Clive Sanders for their work in challenging these proposals.
Despite those powerful objectionsmore than 500 were madeNATS has asked the Civil Aviation Authority to accept the proposals without amendment later this month. In a letter dated 2 October, the Minister, whom I welcome to the Dispatch Box, told me:
the change sponsor must submit a report to the CAA who will consider the proposal against regulatory requirements. As appropriate, this might include seeking the views of the Secretary of State for transport on environmental matters.
I will show that those regulatory requirements have not been kept to. This evenings debate is apt because at the end of this month the CAA is due to take a decision, in which the Minister has a role, and today the Prime Minister sought to underline his Governments environmental credentials.
There are two questions. First, was the consultation process fit for purpose? Secondly, has the case for change been made? First, on process, what NATS did might have been appropriate some 20 years ago, when concern about environmental issues was lower, there was less commitment to consulting and getting feedback, and parish councils were less engaged in the planning process. We lived then in a less participatory society. But today, when there is a proposal such as this, that process is no longer fit for purpose. MPs should be offered a briefing in the House, NATS should write directly to parish and town councils, the document should be intelligible and conform to recent guidelines, and NATS should be prepared to put on roadshows for those who want them.
Mr. Michael Ancram (Devizes) (Con):
I congratulate my right hon. Friend on securing this debate on a matter that affects large parts of his constituency and only a small part of mine, around the villages of Ham
and Shalbourne, although the people there are very concerned. Does he agree that the real outrage about what is happening is that whereas a local planning authority can, as has happened in such cases, stop noise pollution in areas such as Ham and Shalbourne in relation to glider launches or motocross, when something of this sort is proposed there is no local control at all over what happens?
Sir George Young: My right hon. and learned Friend is absolutely right. There is less protection for what may be a noisier development than there is for the developments that he has just described. Indeed, he has put his finger on a point that was in the Governments White Paper, A better quality of lifestrategy for sustainable development in the UK. That proposed more openness, transparency and accountability in the decision-making process. I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend.
In May, a document landed on my desk, entitled Terminal control south west airspace development, which I nearly binned because I do not regard North-West Hampshire as being in the south-west. It came with a letter dated 4 May, containing a list of organisations that the CAA had identified for consultation, which included MPs. It said:
Identified organisations are requested to cascade this information to related groups as deemed necessary.
In other words, responsibility for consulting the parish councils was subcontracted by NATS to local MPs. Although local authorities also had that obligation, none of my parish councils were notified by them, and NATS made no attempt to see if the cascade they asked for had taken place. Indeed, one parish councillor e-mailed me on 8 August, two days before the consultation was formally ended, saying:
It was only by chance, nearly two weeks ago, that a local resident, on browsing the web, discovered that consultation was taking place. On investigation, it was clear that no Parish or Town Councils, local residents, or even Borough or County Councillors in the area north of Ashmansworth had heard of the proposals.
The document flies in the face of the January 2002 Department for Transport guidance to the CAA, CAP725, which states that the formal proposal must include
the options that have been considered, including the do nothing option.
But there was no assessment in the document of other options. That point was well made by Basingstoke and Deane borough council, which said:
It would also aid our consideration of these proposals if you will please provide details of the alternative options that were considered by NATS. The CAA Guidance states that this information should have formed part of the original Consultation document. It would also be helpful to have further detail regarding the pattern and nature of the delays (current and anticipated) that are intended to be alleviated or mitigated by the proposed extension.
That was written on 10 August and it got no answer, so it wrote again, saying:
it is disappointing that we have received either no further information at all (as regards the pattern and nature of delays that are intended to be alleviated or mitigated by the Consultation) or inadequate information (as regards alternative optionsyour response dated 17 August 2007 lists five other options that were dismissedbut there is no reasoning as to why they were dismissed.
On process, Hampshire county council was equally dismissive:
We would also recommend an improved consultation process which sets out the alternatives and their implications for the matters of concern set out above. Until that time, the County Council is registering an objection to the proposed airspace extension.
There is no appeal against CAA decisionsunlike the other planning matters to which my right hon. and learned Friend referredso it is particularly important that guidance be adhered to.
The document was not only incomplete; it was rather difficult to follow. Hampshire county council, a beacon authority, said this about it:
The County Council and its local government partners are not resourced to determine specialist technical impacts in areas such as aircraft noise impacts, and this is a deficiency in the consultation documents. Equally the local community has been provided with little notice of the consultation and we believe that this is also a serious deficiency of the process.
Basingstoke and Deane council agreed:
As mentioned in our 10 August letter, there is a very significant groundswell of local concern about NATS failure to properly consult all Stakeholders and to produce a Consultation document written in plain English and readily understandable to those being consulted.
There is a map on page 5 of the document, in the section on noise impact, which implies that the land between Minstead and East Woodhay is flat, whereas some communities are 800 ft up, and are therefore closer to the source of noise from aircraft flying overhead.
The language used by NATS is at times impenetrable. Finally on the subject of process, the document is based on a rough estimate of the number of aircraft that might be directed down the new flight path, and on the current limited usage of Southampton and Bournemouth airports. However, both airports are scheduled for major expansion, and that fact is not reflected in the NATS assessment. Both airports currently have restricted night flying hours, which could easily change; in other words, flights might not stop in the new corridor at midnight.
Dr. Julian Lewis (New Forest, East) (Con): May I bring my right hon. Friends attention to a point that concerns my neighbour, my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest, West (Mr. Swayne), and myself? The national park authoritys briefing note on the issue says:
NATS have repeatedly claimed that the proposed airspace is not associated with...expansion of services at any of the regional airports. This is contrary to their presentations to local authorities and the aviation industry.
one of the drivers for the airspace development is the anticipated growth at all the airports located in the South East region.
There seems to be a certain amount of dissembling going on.
Sir George Young: I am glad that I gave my hon. Friend a slot, so that his intervention could land safely. It was well made, and underlines the point that the new flight path, once granted, could cope with a greater volume of traffic than the one on which the consultation paper was based.
Those failures of process would be enough in themselves to invalidate the proposal for a new flight path. The Minister should make that clear tonight. However, when that is coupled with the second and substantive pointthat the case for extending the airspace has not been madethe case for rejection becomes unanswerable. The consultation paper could not have been clearer:
This airspace change aims to reduce the level of flight delays caused by an area of complex traffic interaction in the vicinity of the Compton VOR (a navigation beacon near Newbury).
This situation causes the...airspace to be responsible for a high level of delay which in turn causes inconvenience... inefficiency...and...a negative environmental impact.
Later on we are told that the delay attributable to that is 15,000 minutes. The consultation paper says:
It is NATS duty under the terms of its operating licence to address this situation and prevent excess delays being generated in the future.
That is the case for change, but all attempts to get behind those figures were rebuffed. Ashmansworth parish council pounced on that weakness:
The Consultation document claimed that the primary reason for the proposed changes was to minimise delay. We have requested a breakdown of these delays (such as extent and timing) to judge their significance, but have received no reply on this.
In a telephone conversation with NATS, one of my constituents was told that NATS was concerned with delays in flights going to Heathrow and Gatwick, as well as in those going to Southampton and Bournemouth. Fifteen thousand minutes sounds a lot; but it is the total delay for the whole year spread over every flight, which equates to about 10 seconds per flight. The proposals impact on such delays might be even less, as the new flight path would operate for only part of the day.
That raises other questions. Could such delays be reduced in other ways, by altering the timing or sequence of flights? NATS has made no mention of technological developments that might well impact on aircraft spacing, allowing a higher density without changing the flight paths. Then there are some weasel words in the document. The proposals will not reduce the delay; they will
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