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Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which countries have opposed the discussion of the political situation in Zimbabwe at the UN Security Council; and what reasons they have given for that opposition. 
David Miliband: The UN Security Council (UNSC) discussed the political situation in Zimbabwe on 23 June, when it issued a presidential statement. This required agreement from all members. It is important that the UNSC continues to remain seized of the need to improve the political situation in Zimbabwe.
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many allotments there are in each Lancashire local authority area; and how many should be provided for the population of each such area. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Planning Policy Guidance note 17 Planning for Open Space, Sport and Recreation, 2002 (PPG17) and Planning Policy Statement 3 Housing provide a framework for the protection and provision of all types of open space including allotments. There is no fixed figure for how many allotments should be provided by local authorities per head of population. Section 23 of the Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908 places a duty on local authorities to provide allotments where they perceive a demand for them in their area.
Information on the number of allotment sites is not held centrally by Department for Communities and Local Government. However information provided by local authorities in Lancashire advises the following number of allotments:
|Local authority||Number of allotment plots|
|(1) The figure is in respect of Colne in Pendle. All other allotments have fallen under the ownership and management of respective town and parish councils within Pendle. Allotments in Colne and Skipton are also to be transferred to their respective new town councils shortly.|
(2) The figure is in respect of plots held by Clitheroe town council. All other sites have been transferred to various town and parish councils in the Ribble Valley area.
It should be noted that the management of sites differs between local authorities and in some cases the ownership, management and sometimes land has been transferred to parish and town councils and allotment associations.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the Building Disaster Assessment Group; what reports the group has produced in the last 12 months; what projects it has managed in that time; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Dhanda: No formal assessment of the effectiveness of the BDAG has been carried out by the Department. The work of the group, has, however, been instrumental in bringing about revisions to Building Regulations Approved Document B, several British Standards, and Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) operational procedures and guidance. Work continues to inform a number of British Standards Reviews and amendments to FRS Generic Risk Assessments and operational practice and guidance.
The work also informed the evaluation procedures used by the Integrated Clothing Project Garment Trials Working Group. Beyond the FRS the work of the group was, and continues to be, used to inform other emergency service responders equipment, personal protective equipment (PPE) and operational practice decisions. The BDAG work has also been used in setting up Home Office funded research programmes evaluating improved monitoring and cooling equipment for all emergency service responders. Using BDAG as a starting point at least one FRS has engaged with university researchers to carry out a programme to identify cooling and post-incident recovery best practice for FRS personnel.
Within the last 12 months three reports have been finalised which are in process of being published on the Department website. These reports cover two further studies on the physiological impact on firefighters of operational activities and a review of the incident ground communication provision of fire and rescue services. Draft reports have been received on the modelling of fires in under-ventilated compartments and it is intended that these reports be consolidated and published on the Department website once finalised. A further internal report has been prepared into an assessment of alternative methods of advancing hose from a bridgehead during high-rise firefighting. This report has been used to inform preparation of a revision to the generic risk assessment for high-rise firefighting.
FR11.24 a review of the provision of firefighting shafts using FRD1 data;
FR11.25 the interaction between security measures, fire safety strategies and fire service intervention;
FR23.25 firefighting in under-ventilated compartments;
FR23.28 revised guidance on high-rise firefighting;
FR31.07 fire service communication needs within the built environment;
FR35.19 development of physiological performance criteria for firefighting;
FR35.21 the provision of human factors expertise.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Bromley of 4 June 2008, Official Report, column 981W, on carbon emissions, what changes have been made successfully to the definition of zero carbon with regard to domestic development. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Government have not made any changes to the definition of zero carbon for domestic development as set out in the Building a Greener Future Policy statement since that document was published. The Government have, however, issued revised technical guidance for the Code for Sustainable Homes to ensure that definitions used in the code align both with the policy statement and the definition used for stamp duty land tax relief. The Government have committed to keeping the definition under review and that is the purpose of the forthcoming consultation exercise.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance (a) her Department and (b) the Planning Inspectorate have provided to local planning authorities on whether catering outlets can open in former retail premises without obtaining a change in use classification. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Neither the Department nor the Planning Inspectorate has issued any specific guidance on this matter. However, local planning authorities can refer to ODPM Circular 03/2005Changes of Use of Buildings and Land for guidance in relation to the interpretation of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987, as amended.
In general, sandwich bars would be able to open in retail premises without the need for planning permission as both of these uses fall within Class Al: Shops of the Use Classes Order. Most other types of catering outlets, such as cafes, restaurants and hot food take-away premises fall into different use classes, and are likely to require planning permission to open in premises which have been in Class Al use.
It is for local planning authorities to determine in the first instance whether a material change of use has occurred or would occur, and also whether planning permission is required. These decisions need to be made on a case-by-case basis taking into account individual circumstances.
Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she plans to publish the risk management toolkit for asset transfer referred to on page 49 of the report entitled, The Government's Response to the Commission on Integration and Cohesion, published in February 2008. 
Mr. Dhanda: One of the recommendations of the Quirk review was the publication of a risk management toolkit for asset transfer, in order to advise local authorities on how to identify and manage the risks that are involved in asset transfer. The toolkit, Managing risks in asset transfer: a guide will be published before the summer recess.
Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will publish the research on bridging activities that bring people from different backgrounds together, referred to in her letter of 6 October 2007 to the Chairman of the Commission on Integration and Cohesion. 
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether military service personnel are obliged to pay council tax (a) if they return from a tour of duty early due to injury and (b) while they are convalescing in hospital after incurring an injury on a tour of duty; and if she will make a statement. 
John Healey: Council tax is a devolved matter. In England council tax liability falls on the resident of a dwelling which is considered to be, by the local authority, the residents sole or main residence. Military service personnel who would otherwise be liable for council tax are not relieved of that liability by virtue of returning early from a tour of duty due to injury. Where any person is in hospital for such a long period that the hospital in which they are receiving care or treatment has become their sole or main residence, a dwelling that they have left empty is exempt from council tax if it was previously their sole or main residence.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many and what proportion of people paid council tax in each local authority in each year since 1997; and if she will make a statement. 
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the Valuation Office Agency's automated valuation model is used to assist with council tax valuations of domestic properties in England. 
John Healey: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Jane Kennedy) to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) on 21 April 2008, Official Report, column 1669W.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment (a) the Valuation Office Agency and (b) her Department have made of the number of dwellings in (i) England and (ii) Wales which are over-valued for council tax banding purposes. 
John Healey: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) on 18 March 2008, Official Report, column 964W, which outlined the position in England. Council tax in Wales is a devolved matter.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many (a) new builds and (b) major refurbishments were completed by her Department for a cost in excess of £0.5 million in (i) 2005-06, (ii) 2006-07 and (iii) 2007-08 to which the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method or equivalent was applied; how many such buildings were assessed as (A) pass, (B) good, (C) very good and (D) excellent; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Dhanda: While the Department undertook various major refurbishment projects in excess of £0.5 million during this period, it was not considered appropriate to apply the BREEAM assessment method to these. This was due largely to projects consisting of repairs to and replacements of existing assets. Where opportunities existed, sustainability considerations were rigorously applied. For example, a project involving re-planning office floors and trialling flexible desking included the procurement of chairs manufactured from materials which were 47 per cent. recycled and 98 per cent. recyclable.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many (a) new builds and (b) major refurbishments for a cost in excess of £0.5 million were completed by her Department in (i) 2005-06, (ii) 2006-07 and (iii) 2007-08. 
|Number of projects|
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the (a) scheduled date and (b) title was of each conference proposed to be hosted by her Department and its agencies which was cancelled before taking place in each of the last 10 years; and what costs were incurred in respect of each. 
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Tonbridge Wells of 7 May 2008, Official Report, column 1034W, on Connect Public Affairs, for what reasons it was decided that such activities should be carried out by a commercial consultancy. 
Mr. Dhanda: Following a review of its communications strategy in 2004, the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit decided to seek proposals to manage a series of events ranging from small study tours to major national conferences. By procuring a single organisation to manage an integrated programme of events, NRU were able to ensure a consistent and joined-up approach that encouraged sharing of best practice across programmes.
Mr. Dhanda: The information on consultancy fees for 2007-08 can be found in the Department's annual report for that year, a copy of which is in the Library of the House. The figures for 2008-09 will be published in the 2009 report.
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