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Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions he has had at EU level on the compliance with EU law of hunting and trapping of wild birds in Cyprus and Malta. 
Within the European Union, the EC Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds (the Birds Directive) affords protection to all wild birds. Responsibility for ensuring that member states comply with the Birds Directive is a matter for the European Commission. The UK Government support the role of the Commission in taking justified and proportionate action to ensure that the common rules for the protection of wild birds laid down in the Birds Directive are followed by member states.
The Commission does take action against countries which fail to fully comply with the directive. In June 2007 the Commission sent a warning letter to Cypriot authorities, regarding a two-day exemption which permitted the hunting of turtle doves in spring, and warned that any future exemptions from the directive could lead to legal action being taken. The Cypriot authorities agreed not to renew this exemption. The Commission has also taken action to prevent spring hunting of certain birds in Malta, which it believes is contrary to the provisions of the Birds Directive. This action resulted in a ruling from the European Court of Justice preventing Malta from authorising the hunting of quails and turtle doves outside the period of hunting for these species permitted under the Birds Directive.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what assessment she has made of any regulatory limitations on the powers of the Office of the Local Government Ombudsman to fulfil its functions; 
Mr. Dhanda: Our 2006 local government White Paper Strong and Prosperous communities, proposed a number of reforms to modernise the role of the Local Government Ombudsman, including extending their jurisdiction, which we have implemented from April 2008.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the contribution made by the Local Government Ombudsman to (a) good practice, (b) increasing professional standards, (c) probity, (d) improving quality decision taking and (e) striving for improvement in local government. 
Mr. Dhanda: Decisions and recommendations of the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) in response to allegations of maladministration in local authorities are made wholly independently of Government. However, to ensure their public accountability, the LGO publishes a comprehensive annual review, showing performance against business goals for the year. They also submit an annual detailed business statement to my Department, which we assess carefully before deciding the level of their annual grant, which is subject to the approval of the House. From these documents we are satisfied that the LGO continues to provide a valuable and efficient means of redress for citizens facing maladministration by local authorities.
Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when each of her Department's and its agencies' green transport plans were introduced; and if she will place in the Library a copy of each such plan. 
Mr. Dhanda: Communities and Local Government and its agencies do not currently have green transport plans in place. However, guidance on sustainable travel practices, a sustainable travel hierarchy and associated reduction targets are contained within the Department's sustainable operations policy. A copy of this policy has been deposited in the Library of the House.
Mr. Dhanda: The Department will continue to support the Fire Service College to be the national training provider of choice for the Fire and Rescue Service, providing high quality training which meets FRS needs at affordable cost. The Department has invested over £14 million in the development of new training facilities and student accommodation at the Moreton-in-Marsh site since 2003 and is working with the college to ensure that it can deliver training and fulfil its obligations as a trading fund.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what reports her Department has commissioned from consultants into the running of the Fire Service College; and if she will publish them. 
Mr. Dhanda: In August 2005 the Department commissioned Ernst and Young to carry out a feasibility study into investment in the infrastructure and facilities of the Fire Service College. This study reported in February 2006. In November 2006 the Department commissioned Mouchel Parkman Services Ltd. to follow up the feasibility study by producing a business case on the options for securing investment in the Moreton-in- Marsh site and highlighting the most appropriate method of optimising the Colleges financial performance. This study reported in June 2007. College management was closely involved in both studies.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her Department's policy is on a merger of the Fire Service College and the Emergency Planning College. 
Mr. Dhanda: The roles of the Fire Service College and Emergency Planning College are complementary but different. The Fire Service College focuses on specialist training at the operational (Bronze), tactical (Silver) and strategic (Gold) levels with around 90 per cent. of its students coming from the Fire and Rescue Service. The Emergency Planning College brings together the emergency services and the many organisations involved in multi-agency working at the Gold level in large scale emergencies, including non-blue light scenarios such as influenza. Fire and Rescue Service students comprise less than 10 per cent. of the Emergency Planning College's intake.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent representations have been made to her Department by the Chief Fire Officers' Association on fire and rescue training at the Fire Service College. 
Mr. Dhanda: I meet regularly with the Chief Fire Officers' Association (CFOA) presidential team to receive representations and to discuss issues of concern, as do officials from the Department's Fire and Resilience Directorate.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for what reasons her Department did not agree to the Fire Service Colleges request for a loan for a new residential block; and if she will publish the business case on which the request was based. 
Mr. Dhanda: The Fire Service Colleges business case for a new accommodation block providing 100 en-suite bedrooms was approved by the Department in October 2006. This costed the project at £4.2 million and a completion date of April 2008. The Department agreed to fund the project via a loan from its 2007-08 capital provision.
In November 2007, by which time only preparatory works had been completed, the college asked the Department to increase the proposed loan to £5 million, the total cost of the project having increased by 25 per cent. to £5.5 million. Completion had also slipped to 2009, taking the bulk of project costs into 2008-09, for which the Department had not made financial provision. Proceeding with the project would consequently have impacted on other high priority fire and resilience projects and agreement to provide loan funding was withdrawn. The college has been reimbursed for the costs it incurred on the project prior to this decision.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assistance the Fire Service College gave to the community in its area during the flooding in summer 2007. 
Mr. Dhanda: The Fire Service College and its staff played a significant role in coming to the aid of hundreds of people affected by the floods on 20 and 21 July in the north Cotswolds. At the request of Gloucestershire FRS, three of the college's fire appliances supported the rescue efforts of the emergency services. They were crewed by 20 staff and secondees and rescued about 100 people from their homes and stranded vehicles in the area around Moreton. Firefighters working at the college helped with several rescues from the local town using vehicles, a boat and a tractor.
The college provided overnight shelter for over 320 members of the public, many of them elderly and infirm, who had been left homeless or were unable to complete their journeys. They were accommodated in the college's residential blocks over the course of the weekend, and provided with dry clothes, beds, hot food and drinks.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the (a) income, (b) expenditure and (c) staff numbers of the Fire Service College were in (i) 2006-07 and (ii) 2007-08. 
Mr. Dhanda: Details of Fire Service College income and expenditure for the financial years 2006-07 and 2007-08 together with staff numbers for those periods are set out in the following table. Figures for 2007-08 remain subject to final agreement by the National Audit Office.
|(i) 2006/07||(ii) 2007/08|
|(1) Planned deficits of £700,000 in each of the two years to support implementation of the UKFRS Learning and Development Strategy were approved by Ministers. The Department waived dividend payments from the college to CLG in both years.|
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many incidents attended by the Fire and Rescue Service in each fire authority area in each year since 1994 required standby or precautionary measures to be implemented because of a potentially hazardous situation. 
Mr. Dhanda: Information on the number of non-fire incidents attended, by each Fire and Rescue Service, that required standby or precautionary measures is available for the period 1995 to 2007 and has been deposited in the Library of the House.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many special service incidents, including those not specified, were attended by the fire service in each year since 1994. 
Mr. Dhanda: Information on the total number of special service incidents attended, by each Fire and Rescue Service, is available for the period 1995 to 2007. This information has been placed in the Library of the House.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what representations she has received on the Environment Agencys requirements for flood risk assessments prior to development on Canvey Island; and if she will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint: Communities and local Government invited representations earlier this year from local delivery partners on barriers to regeneration in the Thames Gateway. In April the Department received a representation from Essex county council which included concerns about the Environment Agencys requirements for flood risk assessments prior to development on Canvey Island.
Following this, discussions have recently taken place between the Department and other interested parties, including the authorities in Essex, to explore ways in which the requirement for flood risk assessments could be better tailored to Canvey Islands circumstances, including the need for regeneration.
Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance she has given on the operation of question-times or regular meetings at which local government Cabinet or Executive members give an account of their stewardship. 
Mr. Dhanda: The guidance, New Councils Constitution: guidance to English Local Authorities, which we issued following the Local Government Act 2000, highlights the importance of councils encouraging public participation in their meetings for example through taking questions or comments on the leaders report and offering opportunities for public interactive sessions.
Rob Marris: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of planning decisions by (a) Wolverhampton City Council, (b) Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, (c) Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council, (d) Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, (e) Birmingham City Council and (f) local authorities in England were (i) appealed to and (ii) successful following appeal to the Planning Inspectorate in (A) 2003, (B) 2004, (C) 2005, (D) 2006 and (E) 2007. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Planning Inspectorate does not record the proportion of planning decisions that come to the Inspectorate on appeal. However, the Inspectorate calculates that between 3 and 4 per cent. of council decisions result in an appeal.
|(1) Only first three quarters of 2007-08 data are available.|
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