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4 Mar 2008 : Column 2471W—continued


Eco-Towns

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her Department's definition of an eco-town is. [190514]

Caroline Flint: The definition of an eco-town is set out in the Eco-towns Prospectus, which was published alongside the Housing Green paper last July, and is available in the House Library.

Eco-Towns: Planning

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what consultation the Government have had with local planning authorities before potential sites for eco-towns are announced by developers; what planning procedures apply to eco-towns; what criteria she will use to ensure the sites chosen do not adversely affect the environment; and whether there will be a presumption against building eco-towns on (a) functional floodplains and (b) the green belt. [190512]

Caroline Flint: We are contacting local authorities in areas where schemes look to have good potential as part of an initial assessment of bids and expect to publish proposals shortly. We are aware that some developers have already publicised their bids and that is a decision for them.


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In terms of the planning process I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Banbury (Tony Baldry) on 16 January 2008, Official Report, column 1262W.

In relation to ensuring the environment is not adversely affected I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown) on 29 February 2006, Official Report, column 1991W. This will ensure that development on floodplains and the green belt are considered in the usual way as part of the planning process.

Female Genital Mutilation

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many local authority social services departments have reported evidence of female circumcision among their ethnic minority communities; and what steps she has taken to tackle the practice of female circumcision in ethnic minority communities. [184580]

Mr. Coaker: I have been asked to reply.

Data on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) are not collected or held centrally by the Department of Health (DH), the Department responsible for adult services, or the department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), the Department responsible for children’s services.

We are taking the following steps to tackle the practice of FGM:

Fire Services: Finance

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the cost to the public purse of leasing regional FireControl Project centres prior to them becoming fully operational; and if she will make a statement. [190920]

Mr. Dhanda: The rent and other accommodation costs (excluding business rates which have yet to be set) that will be met by Communities and Local Government
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before the Regional Control Centre network is fully operational is estimated to be £20,019,391. During this period EADS, the technology supplier, will install the new FireControl technology in the buildings. The buildings will also be occupied by the regional project teams overseeing the work required to prepare for cut-over to the new system.

Fire Services: Mergers

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether her Department plans to fund research into the potential for efficiencies from mergers of fire and rescue authorities; and if she will make a statement on her plans for further restructuring of fire authorities. [191643]

Mr. Dhanda: The Fire and Resilience research programme for 2008-09 is currently being considered and prioritised.

The Government have no plans for compulsory restructuring of Fire and Rescue Authorities (FRAs). The Government have long recognised that there are some challenges both organisational and operational for which FRAs working in isolation do not have the capacity to provide the most efficient, effective and economical response. Their approach has therefore been to encourage better joint working and co-operation between FRAs on a voluntary basis including, where there are clear efficiency and effectiveness benefits to be gained, the combination of two or more FRAs.

Fire Services: Recruitment

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the (a) target and (b) actual number of fire brigade officers recruited in England and Wales was in each of the last five years. [187855]

Mr. Dhanda: The number of successful firefighter applicants (whole-time and retained) are shown as follows:

Successful firefighter applicants: England and Wales 2001-02 to 2005-06
Number

2001-02

3,175

2002-03

2,977

2003-04

2,874

2004-05

2,239

2005-06

2,606


There is currently no national recruitment target for firefighters in England. Fire and Rescue Authorities may have their own local recruitment targets.

Government Offices for the Regions: Finance

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the capital budget for each of the Government Offices for the Regions is for (a) 2007-08, (b) 2008-09, (c) 2009-10 and (d) 2010-11. [190710]

Mr. Dhanda: The capital budgets in 2007-08 are as set out in the following table:


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GO Capital budget (£)

North East

0

Yorks and Humber

1,548,000

East Midlands

120,000

South East

70,000

London

0

North West

110,000

West Midlands

105,000

East

0

South West

0

Total

1,953,000


In addition the Regional Co-ordination Unit holds the balance of the total budget of £2,860,000 for any ICT or central infrastructure capital requirements.

The specific capital budgets for each region for 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 have yet to be set though the annual budget is £2,860,000.

Home Information Packs

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many voluntary home condition reports have been logged on the Home Condition Report Register to date. [176181]

Caroline Flint: The number of voluntary home condition reports which have been lodged on the home condition report register up to 27 February 2008 is 1,743.

Home Information Packs: Pilot Schemes

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the total cost of the home information pack area trials has been to date, broken down by main budget heading. [183258]

Caroline Flint: My Department has spent approximately £3.6 million to date on the area trials.

Homes and Communities Agency: Greater London

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how London boroughs will be represented on the London sub-committee of the Homes and Communities Agency. [189518]

Caroline Flint: I have agreed with the chief executive designate of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and the Mayor of London that we expect London boroughs to be actively involved through participation on the sub-committee of the HCA Board and involvement in the delivery of individual schemes on the ground, reflecting their key role in delivering housing in London.

Housing: Low Incomes

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 31 January 2008, Official Report, column 583W, on housing: low incomes, what the overall APRs would be in scenarios (b) and (c) of the answer, given the effect of interest being charged at three per cent. a year after the first five years on part two of the equity loan. [189242]


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Caroline Flint: The information requested is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make it her policy to deliver affordable housing equally in urban and rural areas. [191559]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Government expect to see increased delivery of housing supply, particularly in terms of affordable housing, to meet needs in all parts of the country. Delivery should be based on regional and local priorities with an assessment of the need for affordable housing after taking into account household growth projections and other socio-economic factors. In the next three years, for the purpose of setting targets, we have focussed on those smaller rural settlements where delivery is the most challenging. Our new national target commits the Housing Corporation to deliver 10,300 completed affordable housing units in settlements of less than 3,000 inhabitants over the period 2008-11.

Immigrants: Information Services

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many local authorities she expects to have produced information packs for newcomers to the UK by the end of (a) 2008 and (b) 2009; what guidance her Department plans to provide to local authorities on the information to be included in such packs; and what steps her Department plans to take to encourage production of such packs. [187404]

Mr. Dhanda: Communities and Local Government has worked with the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) to produce a Migrant Information Pack template which was published on the IDeA website on 4 February. Local authorities have been encouraged to use this new resource however are not obliged to do so. At the same time we published, on the Communities website, a note which explains the purpose of the template and encourages local authorities to produce information packs.

Local Authorities: Reorganisation

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 7 February 2008, Official Report, column 1297W, on local authorities: reorganisation, whether her Department will direct the Boundary Committee to take account of (a) the views of local residents and (b) local identities when deciding whether to restructure local authority areas across (i) traditional and (ii) existing shire and county boundaries. [189409]

John Healey: The Secretary of State has no such power of direction. I announced on 6 February 2008, Official Report, column 67WS that we have requested the Boundary Committee to advise on whether there are any alternative unitary proposals for Exeter, Ipswich and Norwich and surrounding areas that would deliver the outcomes specified by the five criteria
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specified in our request. The Boundary Committee is required to consult on any alternative proposals that it identifies.

Multiple Occupation: Foreign Workers

Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps the Government has taken to improve fire safety in multi-occupancy housing areas with large migrant worker populations. [187318]

Caroline Flint: As part of the “Fire Kills campaign” we have run a series of fire safety advertisements in some of the main Polish newspapers in England to promote smoke alarm ownership and maintenance messages. The Government have also implemented management regulations that apply to all houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). The management regulations impose a variety of duties on landlords of such properties, including requirements to keep means of escape from fire free from obstruction and in repair and to maintain fire fighting equipment and alarms. Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, ‘responsible persons’ are required to carry out and implement a fire risk assessment for the commons and shared parts of an HMO. The Government have also introduced mandatory HMO licensing of properties of three or more storeys, housing five or more persons who form two or more households. Landlords of licensable HMOs are required to install smoke alarms and to keep them in proper working order. Landlords who fail to comply with either the management regulations or licence conditions are subject to a fine of £5,000.

Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps the Government has taken to improve waste disposal services in multi-occupancy housing areas with large migrant worker populations. [187319]

Caroline Flint: The Government have implemented management regulations that apply to all houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). The management regulations impose a variety of duties on the managers of such properties, including the duty to provide waste disposal facilities and ensure arrangements are in place for the disposal of refuse and litter from the property using the waste disposal services provided by the local authority. A breach of a management regulation is subject to a fine of £5,000.


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