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According to local authority salt audit returns at 10 am on 14 January, both Coventry and the West Midlands region estimate that they have between
six and seven days of salt stocks without replenishment, assuming the economies requested by the Secretary of State in his statement of 12 January are implemented.
Mr. Khan: Following close monitoring of the situation, the Department for Transport convened on 6 January, a joint working body (the Salt Cell) with representatives from central Government, local government and the devolved administrations to provide an agreed approach to road salt prioritisation. Data is now being regularly gathered on UK local authority and Highways Agency salt stocks and predicted use based on weather forecasts. With this regular flow of information, the Salt Cell currently meets twice weekly to decide what advice should be given to salt suppliers regarding the prioritisation of salt deliveries to local highways authorities and the Highways Agency. It therefore ensures the salt suppliers have the best possible advice from the information available about where salt is needed most. The Department has also re-circulated County Surveyors Society advice which included consideration about where and when to use grit only rather that salt.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what his most recent assessment is of the damage caused to roads and highways in the West Midlands as a result of cold weather; and what his estimate is of the cost of repairing such damage. 
The Department for Transport will consider any requests for financial assistance that local authorities may make, in line with its established criteria; and it will provide engineering consultancy support to local authorities formulating bids. It will be for each bidding authority to demonstrate that the damage is exceptional.
Geraldine Smith: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what guidance his Department issues to local authorities on responsibility for clearing pavements which are unsafe as a consequence of adverse weather conditions. 
Mr. Khan [holding answer 18 January 2010]: Local highway authorities have a duty, under s41 of the Highways Act 1980, to maintain the roads in their charge, including footways. This duty specifically includes
"a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that safe passage along a highway is not endangered by snow or ice".
The Department for Transport has not issued guidance on responsibility for clearing footways in adverse weather conditions, but it does endorse the UK Roads Liaison Group's code of practice, "Well-maintained Highways" (available from the House Libraries, or from the following website which contains guidance on winter service:
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what (a) forces and (b) equipment the UK has contributed to the security arrangements for the Kajiki dam in Afghanistan; what the expected duration of UK involvement in this operation is; and on what date the UK will hand over responsibility to other coalition forces. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: A detachment from 3rd Battalion, the Rifles which is part of Battle Group (North) is currently based at Kajaki, along with elements of the Royal Engineers and other support groups. I am unable to give specific details of the number of forces and type of equipment contributed by the UK to this area as its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces.
We anticipate that ISAF commanders will wish to review the disposition of forces across Helmand to make best use of the significant increase in ISAF and Afghan troops in the province. No decisions have yet been taken.
Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the 50 most expensive substitute (a) service family and (b) single living accommodation properties rented out in Scotland were in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Kevan Jones: Substitute service family accommodation (SSFA) and substitute service single accommodation (SSSA) are only ever used as a last resort in cases where service accommodation either does not exist or is not available. SSSA properties may accommodate more than one entitled Service person of the same gender and of an equivalent rank. As part of the value for money programme that I chair, the entitlements of all MOD employees are being considered.
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|Location||Monthly rent (£)|
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