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Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library a full copy of the recent Planning Inspectorate ruling in relation to the retrospective planning application for a traveller site in Minety, Wiltshire. 
Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her Department's policy is on small groups of local authorities working together to produce a joint strategy to make provision for Travellers on (a) a temporary and (b) a permanent basis; what guidance her Department has issued to local authorities on the matter; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Iain Wright [holding answer 27 October 2008]: The Housing Act 2004 requires local authorities to assess the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers living in and resorting to their area and to act strategically to prepare a strategy in respect of the meeting of such accommodation needs.
The Department welcomes joint working between local authorities in planning for the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers across local authority and regional boundaries. Many local authorities have already produced their Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Needs Assessments in partnership with neighbouring areas. Planning policy on Gypsy and Traveller sites is contained within ODPM Circular 01/2006 "Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Caravan Sites". This confirms that joint Development Plan Documents can be prepared on a sub-regional basis to identify the location of Gypsy and Traveller sites, so long as there is agreement by all of the local planning authorities involved.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the period of time is that the Valuation Office Agency uses to determine whether a traveller caravan is too transient for occupation of the caravan to be rated for council tax purposes. 
John Healey: It is the transience of the site or pitch that is relevant, not the transience of the occupation. Where a Travellers caravan occupies a non-established site or pitch for a period materially less than 12 months, with no sign of likely future use, this will generally be regarded as too transient to establish the pitch as a dwelling. For established sites or pitches, even if the occupier changes often, a banding will apply and liability to council tax will remain.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the effect of prices for town centre parking on town centre regeneration and town centre economies. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Secretary of State has made no such assessment. Our expectation is that local authorities will, where appropriate, develop car parking strategies, which address issues like pricing, as part of their preparation of local transport plans and broader regeneration and economic development activities.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Solicitor-General how many civil servants in the Attorney-Generals Office were seconded to work for (a) trade unions and (b) the Trades Union Congress in each year since 2003. 
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Solicitor-General what the target response time is for answering calls to CPS Direct; what the average response time was for calls in each of the last five years; and how many calls were made in each year. 
The Solicitor-General: CPS Direct has collated data on response times to the police since September 2004. From April 2005, a target was set to answer 90 per cent. of calls within 15 seconds. The number of calls answered, charging advices given and response times since that date have been as follows:
|Total calls received||Total charging advices||Successful call rate (percentage)||Percentage calls answered in under 15 seconds (target 90 per cent.)||Average response time for all calls answered (seconds)|
|(1 )Seven months from September 2004.|
(2 )Six months to September 2008
(3 )The projected full year totals for 2008-09 are:
Total calls received: 177-178,000;
Total charging advices: 146-147,000
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Solicitor-General what the annual running costs of CPS Direct are; how many staff CPS Direct employs, including duty prosecutors; and what the annual expenditure on staff was in each of the last five years. 
|Total budget (£)|
|Duty prosecutors||Central support team||Total|
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Solicitor-General in how many and what percentage of cases (a) a guilty plea was registered and (b) a conviction resulted in (i) Crown Courts and (ii) magistrates courts in each of the last 10 years; and if she will make a statement. 
The Solicitor-General: The following tables show, for each of the last 10 years, the number of defendants whose case was completed in magistrates courts and in the Crown court, together with the number and proportion which resulted in a conviction and in an unsuccessful outcome.
Convictions are divided into those cases in which the defendant pleaded guilty, and those convicted after trial. Additionally, convictions in magistrates courts include those proceedings, mostly minor motoring matters, which were proved in the absence of the defendant. Unsuccessful outcomes comprise all outcomes other than a conviction.
Against a background of falling crime, and hence of falling case loads, convictions in magistrates courts rose from. 76.8 per cent. of completed cases in 1998-99 to 85.7 per cent. in 2007-08. In the Crown court, convictions rose over the same period from 77.8 per cent. to 79.3 per cent. These figures illustrate the growing success of the CPS in ensuring that offenders are brought to justice. In particular, the decisive trend towards rising conviction rates over the last five years underlines the positive benefits of Statutory Charging, under which the CPS is responsible for determining the charges in all more serious, complex, and contested cases, particularly those in which the liberty of the individual is at risk.
|Guilty pleas||%||Conviction after trial||%||Total convictions||%||Unsuccessful outcomes||%||Total prosecutions|
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