Previous Section Index Home Page

18 Nov 2008 : Column 371W—continued

Communities in Control White Paper

10. Jeff Ennis: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what progress has been made on the implementation of the Communities in Control White Paper, with particular reference to the introduction of new empowerment measures in the current economic climate. [236272]

Hazel Blears: Very good progress has been made in implementing the White Paper “Communities in Control” including developing an Asset Transfer Unit, publishing a Participatory Budgeting strategy and launching a review into redress for council services. We have consulted on a wide range of detailed propositions. Strengthening community influence and control is critical in times of economic downturn and can help deliver value for money public services. We continue to deliver our commitments and aim to bring forward legislation as soon as possible.

Regeneration Schemes: Employment Opportunities

11. Mr. Sharma: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department has taken through regeneration schemes to maintain employment opportunities. [236273]

John Healey: We are working on a number of fronts to ensure that our approach to regeneration supports employment opportunities, particularly for the most vulnerable.

Last year we launched the £1.5 billion Working Neighbourhoods Fund (WNF) to provide resources to local authorities that have the highest concentrations of worklessness.

Looking forward, we have recently completed the consultation period on the document ‘Transforming Places, Changing Lives’. This sets out new proposals to ensure that future regeneration activity acts to promote economic opportunity in our most deprived communities.

22. Mark Fisher: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department has taken through regeneration schemes to maintain employment opportunities. [236285]

Hazel Blears: We are working on a number of fronts to ensure that our approach to regeneration supports employment opportunities, particularly for the most vulnerable.


18 Nov 2008 : Column 372W

Last year we launched the £1.5 billion Working Neighbourhoods Fund (WNF) to provide resources to local authorities that have the highest concentrations of worklessness.

Looking forward, we have recently completed the consultation period on the document “Transforming Places, Changing Lives”. This sets out new proposals to ensure that future regeneration activity acts to promote economic opportunity in our most deprived communities.

Repossessions

12. Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps the Government is taking to help working families facing the prospect of home repossession. [236275]

Margaret Beckett: The Government are committed to taking action to prevent households facing repossession. We are working with a range of stakeholders including mortgage lenders, local authorities, the courts and third sector advice agencies to ensure that appropriate support is available for all households in financial difficulty. On 2 September we announced plans for a mortgage rescue scheme targeted at the most vulnerable households facing repossession.

Community Cohesion

13. Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department is taking to encourage community cohesion. [236276]

Mr. Khan: Last year we announced a renewed commitment to community cohesion with a £50 million investment over three years and a new public service agreement to build cohesive, active and empowered communities. We continue to support local authorities in delivering improvements in cohesion by providing a framework of guidance and targeted local support.

Fire Cover: Northamptonshire and England

14. Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent assessment she has made of the adequacy of provision of fire cover for (a) Northamptonshire and (b) England. [236277]

Mr. Khan: Fire and Rescue Authorities are required by the Fire and Rescue Service National Framework to have in place, and to maintain, Integrated Risk Management Plans which reflect local needs and set out plans to tackle effectively both existing and potential risks to communities.

It would not be appropriate for Ministers to comment on the contents of the IRMP drawn up by Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Authority or any other authority. That is the role of elected members of the authority.

Earlier this year Communities and Local Government commissioned a comprehensive research project to look at the adequacy and impact of IRMP on a nationwide basis. A report will be issued shortly.


18 Nov 2008 : Column 373W

Local Community Empowerment

15. John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what measures her Department has implemented to empower local communities to determine the future of their local areas. [236278]

Mr. Khan: Very good progress has been made in implementing the White Paper “Communities in Control” including developing an Asset Transfer Unit, publishing a Participatory Budgeting strategy and launching a review into redress of council services. We have also consulted in a wide range of detailed propositions. We continue to deliver key White Paper commitments to empower local communities and aim to bring forward legislation as soon as possible.

Local Authorities: Economy

16. Shona McIsaac: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assistance her Department is providing to local authorities to deal with the current economic situation; and if she will make a statement. [236279]

Mr. Khan: The Government are providing continued investment for local authorities to enable them to deliver effective services, with an additional £8.91 billion in Government grant from 2008-09 to 2010-11 as part of the first three-year settlement for councils. This increase in funding and greater predictability will allow councils to cope with the pressures they face as a result of the current economic climate.

Regional Development Agencies: Planning Powers

17. Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what representations she has received on proposals to grant regional planning powers to regional development agencies. [236280]

Mr. Iain Wright: We received over 500 responses to the formal consultation, from a wide range of interests, most of whom commented on our proposal to give RDAs responsibility for regional strategy. We have taken the range of views on our proposals into account in formulating our response which we intend to publish shortly.

Local Area Agreements and Local Strategic Partnerships

18. Tom Levitt To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the contribution which can be made by local area agreements and local strategic partnerships to local economies in the current economic climate. [236281]

John Healey: Local Area Agreements are key to bringing local partners together to focus on effective joint action in local areas. LAAs are already strongly focused on improving local economies. Nine in 10 local areas have a target on tackling worklessness and five out of six areas have a target on getting 16 to 18-year-olds
18 Nov 2008 : Column 374W
into education, training or employment. LAAs will help empower local areas to respond to the downturn in ways that best make sense locally.

Flood Plains: Planning Policy Guidance Note 25

19. Miss Anne McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent discussions she has had on the application of Planning Policy Guidance 25 to development on flood plains; and if she will make a statement. [236282]

Mr. Iain Wright: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State holds regular discussions with the Chairman of the Environment Agency on flood risk. A new Practice Guide was launched in June this year by the former Minister of State for Housing and Planning, my right hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley, to assist planners in implementing Planning Policy Statement 25. The Government are working closely with local authorities, the Environment Agency and other stakeholders to ensure that the policy is properly implemented and delivered on the ground, including holding conferences, presentations and workshops aimed at a range of audiences.

Affordable Housing: London

20. Siobhain McDonagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent discussions she has had with the Mayor of London on demand for affordable housing in London. [236283]

21. Martin Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent discussions she has had with the Mayor of London on demand for affordable housing in London. [236284]

Margaret Beckett: I met with Boris Johnson on 21 October. We both want more affordable housing. Government have agreed targets with some boroughs through local area agreements. We both agree we should be as joined-up as possible, to maximise targets and avoid confusion.

Airwave Service

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what organisations for which her Department is responsible (a) use and (b) are planning to use Airwave handsets. [234706]

Mr. Khan: Within CLG the Firelink project is providing Fire and Rescue Service with a new wide area radio system from Airwave Solutions Limited. Some New Dimension vehicles provided to the Fire and Rescue Service by CLG are equipped with Airwave radios, the remainder will be furnished with radios during the main Firelink roll-out. Information is not held by CLG in relation to local authority use of Airwave.

Arson

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent steps have been taken to reduce the incidence of arson. [235798]


18 Nov 2008 : Column 375W

Mr. Khan: Fire and rescue services have used £11.4 million pump-priming funding from my Department to develop schemes at a local level in partnership with others in the community to tackle arson. There a number of Local Strategic Partnerships, where fire and rescue services are now statutory partners, which have chosen to set local targets for reducing arson. In addition, the Arson Control Forum continues to bring together a wide range of partners from the public, private and third sector to consider arson reduction and develop strategies to assist in its continued reduction.

Community Relations: Students

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans her Department has to deal with the effects on local communities of large numbers of students taking up residence in their area. [235974]

Mr. Iain Wright: My Department has recently published research entitled ‘Evidence Gathering: Housing in Multiple Occupation and possible planning responses - Final Report'. This independent research sets out a series of cross cutting measures that could address the effects that concentrations of houses in multiple occupation (particularly those occupied by students) can have on local communities. These measures include new planning mechanisms and the widespread adoption of a number of the best common sense local solutions by local authorities and the universities. We are currently considering how best to take forward these recommendations.

Local authorities already have a range of powers to help them tackle the effects of concentrations of houses in multiple occupation and there is much evidence of good practice in this area. In January 2006 the Education Minister launched the Dfes funded Universities UK Guide ‘Studentification: a guide to opportunities, challenges and practice' which offered a toolkit for assessing and addressing the barriers to good community relationships between established residents and students in towns and cities. The guide stresses that the complex issues of ‘studentification' need joint working between all agencies and the community.

Departmental Assets

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 30 October 2008, Official Report, column 1260W, on departmental assets, what timetable she has set for her Department's information asset register to be made available on the Inforoute website. [236039]

Mr. Khan: The information asset register will be available via Inforoute in December 2008 with fuller content updated and migrated by the end of February 2009.

Departmental Contracts

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 30 October 2008, Official Report, column 1260W, on departmental contracts, what the names are of (a) the 111 tenders that have gone through the invitations to
18 Nov 2008 : Column 376W
tender system and (b) the projects with which the tenders were associated. [236038]

Mr. Khan: Please see the following table which links ITTs to projects or programmes.


Next Section Index Home Page