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Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what effect she estimates the FiReControl project will have on the council tax precept on individual fire and rescue authorities over the next three years; [207525]

(2) what funding has been set aside by her Department to finance any new burden costs associated with the implementation of regional control centres; [207527]

(3) what liability or financial burden fire and rescue authorities will bear for any cost overruns in delivery of the FiReControl project; [207532]

(4) what changes will be made to the funding of fire and rescue authorities as a consequence of the FiReControl project. [207533]

Mr. Dhanda: The FiReControl Project should have no impact on council tax precepts for Fire and Rescue Authorities. In line with the Government's commitment on new burdens, a specific grant of £92,200,000 has been allocated to cover the net additional cost to Fire and Rescue Authorities of the FiReControl Project over the period of the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007. Any cost overruns in the delivery of the project will be met by Communities and Local Government.


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Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment has been made of the cost of ensuring that planned accommodation moves as part of the FiReControl project comply with critical national infrastructure requirements. [207530]

Mr. Dhanda: The new FiReControl network will be part of the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI). This includes buildings, facilities management arrangements, IT and people. This has always been a requirement of the project and no separate assessment has been made of the cost of meeting requirements for individual components.

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when the FiReControl business case will next be updated. [207531]

Mr. Dhanda: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Jackson), on 14 May 2008, Official Report, column 1631W.

Fire Services: Mentally Ill

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many fire fighters were diagnosed with mental health problems in each year since 1997. [208066]

Mr. Dhanda: Information on the number of firefighters diagnosed with mental health problems is not held centrally. Available information is for ill-health retirements on grounds of mental health, from 2001-02, and is set out in the following table. Figures for 1999-2000 and 2000-01 are for all Fire and Rescue Service staff and relate to ill-health retirements on psychological grounds.

Ill-health retirements in England on psychological( 1 ) and mental health( 2) grounds

All staff

1999-2000

134

2000-01

137

Firefighters

2001-02

140

2002-03

127

2003-04

114

2004-05

79

2005-06

53

2006-07

27

Notes: 1. 1999-2000 and 2000-01. Figures relate to all staff, separate figures for firefighters are not available. 2. 2001-02 to 2006-07.

Floods: Planning

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will consider introducing changes to planning regulations and guidance to tackle levels of flood risk in the East Thames corridor; and if she will make a statement. [206038]


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John Healey: Sir Michael Pitt's interim conclusion from his inquiry into the lessons learned from the floods last summer, is that the new Planning Policy Statement 25 ‘Development and Flood Risk’ (PPS25) is sound but should be rigorously applied by local authorities. Work on achieving this is already well in hand. The Practice Guide to PPS25, which will provide practical advice to local authorities on implementing the policy, is due to be published shortly.

Green Belt: East of England

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what changes or reviews of Green Belt designation the East of England Regional Spatial Strategy proposes; and in which locations. [207564]

Mr. Dhanda: The East of England Plan proposes green belt reviews to provide for essential housing and business growth focussed on the new towns to the north of London. The reviews will take place at Harlow, Hemel Hempstead, Stevenage and Welwyn/Hatfield. The East of England Plan will, however, result in a net increase in green belt since it also proposes compensating green belt extensions north of Harlow and west of Stevenage.

Housing: Sustainable Development

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when registered social landlords will be required to build to (a) Level 4, (b) Level 5 and (c) Level 6 of the Code for Sustainable Homes. [207445]

Mr. Dhanda: The Housing Corporation set out in their Design and Quality Strategy that new build schemes funded through their National Affordable Housing Programme for the three years 2008-09 to 2010-11 would meet level 3 of the Code for Sustainable Homes. They have committed to increasing the minimum requirement to Code level 4 for their next programme starting in 2011-12, with a view to achieving Code level 6 by 2015, if the technology needed to achieve this cost effectively is available.

Improvement and Development Agency: Freedom of Information

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the Improvement and Development Agency is subject to the provisions of (a) the Environmental Information Regulations and (b) the Freedom of Information Act 2000. [207526]

Mr. Dhanda: The Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) is not subject to the provisions of either the Environmental Information Regulations or the Freedom of Information Act (FoI), but they comply with requests made under the legislation as if they were.


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Local Government

Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether joint committees created between local authorities under sections 101 and 102 of the Local Government Act 1972 may (a) impose stipulations on the use of whole council elections in each partner local authority, (b) impose stipulations on the number of councillors per ward in each partner local authority and (c) place additional statutory obligations on the elected members of each partner local authority. [206811]

John Healey: Such joint committees cannot impose stipulations on the use of whole council elections or on the number of councillors per ward in each partner local authority: nor can they place additional statutory obligations on the elected members of each partner local authority.

Local Government Finance: Recreation Spaces

Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what funding her Department is providing to local authorities for (a) improvements to park facilities and (b) floodlighting and artificial sports pitches in parks in 2008-09. [207070]

Mr. Dhanda: Local authority expenditure on these facilities can be funded from unhypothecated grant, council taxes or fees and charges.

In addition, the funding we are providing for the Thames Gateway provides support for a range of public realm projects, often through local authorities, which may include park facilities, floodlighting and artificial sports pitches in parks. This includes £35 million to the Thames Gateway Parklands programme, to celebrate and enhance the gateway’s character and some of this funding may be allocated to local authorities to provide such facilities. Decisions on the allocation of funding under this programme to particular projects have yet to be taken.

Local Government: Greater Manchester

Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the negotiations on the multi-area agreement for Greater Manchester will address (a) the number of councillors per ward, (b) additional statutory obligations on the elected members of and (c) the use of whole council elections in each local authority in Greater Manchester. [206747]

John Healey: The Greater Manchester authorities have not proposed, as part of the Multi Area Agreement they are negotiating with Government, any changes to the number of councillors per ward, additional statutory obligations on the elected members of and the use of whole council elections in each local authority in Greater Manchester.

Parking: Valuation

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the number
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of parking spaces within the curtilage of a retail development is taken into account by the Valuation Office Agency and contributes as a value significant or site positive feature towards its rateable value. [207565]

John Healey: The presence and number of car parking spaces within the curtilage of a retail development is a factor likely to contribute to its rental value, and—to the extent that it does—therefore to be taken into account in arriving at rateable value.

Planning: Dorset

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what discussions her Department has had on planning issues with landowners in (a) Lytchett Minster and (b) Lytchett Maltravers in Mid Dorset and North Poole constituency in the last 12 months. [207847]

Mr. Dhanda: The Department has not held any discussions on planning issues with landowners in Lytchett Minster and Lytchett Matravers in the last 12 months.

Playgrounds: Vandalism

Stephen Hesford: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many public playgrounds have been closed due to vandalism and anti-social behaviour in the last four years; and what steps her Department is taking to address this matter. [204943]

Mr. Dhanda: Information on the number of public playgrounds that have been closed in the past four years due to vandalism and antisocial behaviour is not held centrally.

There are a range of measures available to local agencies to deal with antisocial behaviour committed in and around playgrounds or any other public place. Antisocial behaviour tools and powers are normally used in an incremental way and should always be used in a way that is proportionate to the behaviour committed. Warnings, acceptable behaviour contracts (ABCs), dispersal orders, parenting contracts and orders are normally used to tackle low-level antisocial behaviour. For more serious cases of antisocial behaviour, antisocial behaviour orders (ASBOs) may be used.

Post Offices: Non-domestic Rates

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many post offices were recorded on the Valuation Office Agency’s ratings list in England in the most recent period for which figures are available. [203039]

John Healey: The number of properties with a description of ‘post office and premises’ appearing in the rating lists for England as at 31 March 2008 was 3,211. This does not include many post office facilities in premises primarily used for other purposes, such as shops.


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Children, Schools and Families

Academies: Energy

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families which city academies in each region are most energy efficient. [206190]

Jim Knight: The Department does not collect this information.

Academies: Halifax

Mrs. Riordan: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families whether Peter Clarke played a role in the process by which the Ridings School in Halifax was considered for academy status; whether Peter Clarke is employed by his Department; and if he will make a statement. [206210]

Jim Knight: The Ridings School has not been considered for academy status. A decision to close The Ridings School was made by Calderdale Council on 29 October 2007. I can confirm that Peter Clark is employed by the Department of Children, Schools and Families as a Senior Education Adviser.

Advanced Extension Awards

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what plans he has for the future of advanced extension awards; and if he will make a statement. [207119]

Jim Knight: We set out our plans for the future of Advanced Extension Awards in the consultation document, “Promoting achievement, valuing success: a strategy for 14-19 qualifications”, published in March 2008. Advanced Extension Awards (AEAs) overlap in purpose with the stretch and challenge being introduced into A level from September 2008. Our 14-19 Expert Group advised that, as part of moves to simplify the qualification offer, we should work with the awarding bodies to withdraw AEAs as new A levels are introduced. We are doing this and expect the last AEAs to be taken in 2009.

Children: Armed Forces

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (1) what assessment he has made of the educational performance of children who have one or both parents in the armed forces; and if he will make a statement; [207157]

(2) how many and what proportion of 15-year-olds with parents in the armed forces achieved five GCSEs at grades A* to C including English and mathematics in each year since 2001; and if he will make a statement. [207166]

Jim Knight: In January 2008, the School Census collected a services children indicator for the first time. No analysis has yet been carried out on prior academic attainment of the children flagged as being service children. To carry out this analysis would go over the disproportionate cost threshold. Analysis on GCSE attainment in 2007/08 is not yet possible.


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Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps he is taking to improve the educational outcomes of children with parents in the armed forces; and if he will make a statement. [207165]

Jim Knight: We are working closely with the Ministry of Defence on the Service Personnel Command Paper and have regular contact with them on educational issues facing children of service personnel. This year, as part of the Annual School Census, the Department has begun collecting details on these children and this will allow us to look at their attainment over time.

Children: Asthma

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what guidance his Department has provided to (a) local education authorities and (b) schools on the management in schools of (i) asthma and (ii) other long-term medical conditions of children. [206535]

Jim Knight: This Department has issued guidance, available to local authorities and schools, entitled “Managing Medicines in Schools and Early Years Settings”.

The guidance was published in 2005 jointly with the Department of Health, and specifically addresses what schools can do to help children with asthma and other medical conditions.

In the same year we also produced, with the Council for Disabled Children, a handbook entitled “Including me: managing complex health needs in schools and early years settings”. This handbook is a practical guide to help local authorities, schools, early years settings and health providers develop policies and procedures to support children with medical needs.


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