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9 Feb 2009 : Column 1236

I am pleased to say that such an approach is already being used in Millfield and New England by Conservative Peterborough city council, through its neighbourhood approach across the city. I understand that that city council has led with a restructure of its services and that the new neighbourhood management model that is being implemented includes multi-agency delivery teams, which will be tasked with responding to local priorities identified by neighbourhood partnerships. That is an example of Government devolving power with additional funding devolved to communities, turning subjects into citizens and citizens into active citizens.

Millfield and New England will form part of the central and east neighbourhood management area of Peterborough, which I think is a good thing. I would not want you to think, Mr. Speaker, that it has become a habit of mine to defend Conservative councils, but Peterborough city council is using the tools that we have given it and is working with appropriate partners to try to help neighbourhoods such as those identified by the hon. Gentleman, including Millfield. The scope of the work is also being expanded to cover New England.

I am afraid that there is no time left for me to deal with all the housing issues referred to by the hon. Gentleman, but there are now city-wide grants available for assistance with repairs and to disabled residents. We are working to address the issues about houses in multiple occupation. The council has a city-wide tenancy relations officer and a private landlord accreditation scheme. The city council has submitted an application for additional licensing for houses in multiple occupation, too.

The council is using the tools provided by the Government, and it is using the extremely generous record levels of investment that the Government have given it. I look forward to a bright future for Peterborough. Legislation based on the community empowerment White Paper will soon be considered in this House, after leaving the other place. There will soon be a joint inspectorate comprehensive area assessment, which will hold local authorities and, more widely, public sector partners to account on the delivery of local priorities.

To summarise, let me reiterate the benefits of collaboration, alignment, and the targeting of resources by key partners in a way that engages local residents in making a difference to their areas. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will wish to join me in congratulating the local authority and the many other partners and people who are working hard to improve the quality of life for those who live in Peterborough. I am sure that you, Mr. Speaker, will agree that the Government are supporting partners with a range of policies and initiatives geared towards greater flexibility, which will enhance delivery and enable Peterborough to realise its ambitions. Never in the history of this country have a Government done more during a recession or economic downturn than this Government. I hope that the people of Millfield and New England will see the fruit of that soon.

Question put and agreed to.

10.29 pm

House adjourned.

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