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Compulsory Purchase Orders

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement regarding proposed changes to compulsory purchase orders. [5946]

Ms Keeble: I refer the hon. Member to my reply on 18 July 2001, Official Report, column 202W.

Road Fuel Gases

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many HGV vehicles have converted to road fuel gases since May 1997. [5943]

Mr. Jamieson: DVLA figures show that from December 1997 to the end of December 2000 the number of goods vehicles (over 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight) running on gas was 269. These figures do not distinguish between the road fuel gases LPG and CNG.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many public transport buses have converted to road fuel gases since May 1997. [5944]

Mr. Jamieson: DVLA figures show that from December 1997 to the end of December 2000 the number of buses running on gas was 81. These figures do not differentiate between the road fuel gases LPG and CNG.

Ministerial Visits

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the purpose was of his recent visit to India; what his itinerary was; what the cost to public funds was; and which officials accompanied him. [5945]

Dr. Whitehead: My right hon. Friend has not visited India in his capacity as Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions.

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Partnership Investment Programme

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what progress has been made with replacing partnership investment programme funding ended under European state aid laws. [5942]

Ms Keeble: Substantial progress has been made on the replacement of the Partnership Investment Programme (PIP). The European Commission have approved five new land and property regeneration schemes which partially replace PIP. The schemes cover speculative and non-speculative gap funding, community regeneration, direct development, and environmental regeneration. Regional Development Agencies and English Partnerships are now able to support a wide range of land and property regeneration projects, including projects which can be taken forward in partnership with the private sector.

Negotiations are continuing with the European Commission over the possibility of a new regeneration framework under which state aid would be permitted for the regeneration of derelict, disused and contaminated land suffering from market failure throughout the European Community. In addition, we are liaising with other member states who are also interested in this subject.

Public Transport (Disabled Access)

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what steps he (a) has taken and (b) plans to take to ensure that people with disabilities have full access to public transport. [6315]

Ms Keeble: We are committed to providing an accessible public transport system in which disabled people will have the same opportunities to travel as everyone else.

We have made regulations under Part V of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) to require new trains and trams (since January 1999) and new buses and coaches with capacity for more than 22 passengers, used on local or scheduled services (since January 2001) to be accessible to disabled people, including wheelchair users.

Access to transport infrastructure, such as rail stations and bus stops, is subject to Part III of the DDA, which covers access to goods, facilities and services. Since 1 October 1999, service providers have been required to take steps to change practices, policies or procedures that make it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled people to use a service. From 2004, service providers will have to take steps to remove, alter, or provide means of avoiding physical features that make it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled people to use a service.

In addition, the 10-year transport plan includes a commitment to making access for disabled people a condition of public investment in transport.

Planning Applications (Tewkesbury)

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if she will call in the application for change of use of the

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Elizabethan Pine Shop in Church Street, Tewkesbury to a fast food establishment; and if she will make a statement. [5993]

Ms Keeble: A decision not to intervene in an associated listed building application was issued on behalf of the Secretary of State on 4 July, this allowed the council to determine the application at its discretion. Permission was I understand granted for the application for change of use by Tewkesbury borough council alongside the listed building consent on 11 July.

SSA (Havering)

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list the (a) methodology changes made since 1997 to the formulae for calculating the standing spending assessment and aggregate external finance figures for the London borough of Havering and (b) net financial effect of these changes. [6293]

Dr. Whitehead: There were 15 changes in the method of determining standard spending assessments (SSAs) for the 1998–99 Local Government Finance Settlement; and 20 changes for the 1999–2000 Local Government Finance Settlement.

In 1999–2000 the Government introduced a new damping grant, central support protection grant (CSPG), to ensure that no authority received less grant than the year before, and that authorities which had education and personal social services responsibilities received at least 1.5 per cent. more than the year before.

The July 1998 Local Government White Paper announced a three year review of Revenue Grant Distribution. It said that the Government did not expect to make fresh changes to the method of calculation of SSAs except where there are changes in the functions of councils, or the funding of particular services.

In 2000–01 there were therefore only limited adjustments to SSAs to accommodate the establishment of the Greater London authority and related changes, most notably those arising from the alterations to the boundary of the Metropolitan Police District and the Essex, Hertfordshire and Surrey police areas. CSPG was retained in 2000–01.

In 2001–02 there was only one change in the method of determining SSAs to reflect the transfer of funding for Nursery Education for four-year-olds. CSPG was replaced for those authorities with education and personal social services responsibilities by floors and ceilings, which guaranteed that no authority would receive less than a 3.2 per cent. increase and that no authority could get more than a 6.5 per cent. increase.

Changes in the method of determining SSAs are contained in circular letters to local authorities, dated 2 December 1997, 2 December 1998, 25 November 1999 and 27 November 2000, copies of which are in the Library. For convenience, copies of the relevant extracts have been placed in the Library.

The table shows the net percentage change in SSAs against adjusted SSAs for the previous year for the London Borough of Havering over the period, together with the percentage change due to changes in methodology. It is inappropriate to compare actual SSA

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between years because of changes to the services financed by grants allocated using SSAs. Adjusted SSAs enable a like-for-like comparison between years.

Havering
Year % change against adjusted SSAsof which: % change due to methodology
1998–994.11.0
1999–20004.50.4
2000–014.20.0
2001–026.40.0

It is not possible to perform a similar analysis for aggregate external finance.

Train Services (Romford)

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what were the (a) punctuality and (b) reliability figures for trains running between Romford and central London in the last 12 months. [6274]

Mr. Jamieson: This service is provided by First Great Eastern railways. Performance statistics are not available at route level. The punctuality and reliability statistics for the last year (to 27 May 2001) for all First Great Eastern services are shown in the table. Services are deemed punctual if they arrived at their destination within five minutes of timetable.

Percentage

PeriodPunctualReliable
28 May 2000 to 24 June 200091.299.7
25 June 2000 to 22 July 200092.899.3
23 July 2000 to 19 August 200090.999.5
20 August 2000 to 16 September 200089.899.2
17 September 2000 to 14 October 200087.999.3
15 October 2000 to 11 November 200036.591.9
12 November 2000 to 9 December 200060.099.2
10 December 2000 to 6 January 200184.699.4
7 January 2001 to 3 February 200174.298.7
4 February 2001 to 3 March 200169.397.5
4 March 2001 to 31 March 200180.099.3
1 April 2001 to 29 April 200187.599.4
30 April 2001 to 27 May 200179.499.4

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what recent assessment he has made of the number of, and the demand for, seats on trains travelling between Romford and central London during peak hours; and if he will make a statement. [6275]

Mr. Jamieson: A survey is undertaken every year by the Strategic Rail Authority of the number of passengers travelling on peak services into London. The survey is used to monitor overcrowding by identifying the number of 'Passengers in Excess of Capacity' (PIXC) on specific groups of commuter services. The allowable combined morning and evening peak percentage above capacity is 3.0 per cent. The PIXC survey results issued by the Strategic Rail Authority on 13 July show that the First Great Eastern suburban services morning figure was 5.5 per cent and the evening figure was 1.3 per cent. The combined peaks PIXC figure was 3.5 per cent.

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