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Terminal 5

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he intends to make a statement on Heathrow terminal 5. [7468]

Ms Keeble: The decision on terminal 5 will be issued as soon as possible, consistent with full and careful consideration of the inquiry inspector's report. I cannot comment on any issues relating to T5 or the inspector's report while the decision is going through the relevant statutory procedures.

The Secretary of State is currently consulting on BAA's revised proposals for diverting two rivers which flow across the site (the "Twin Rivers"). We anticipate that the Twin Rivers consultation exercise will be completed by around the middle of October.

General Election (Spoilt Ballot Papers)

Ms Bridget Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many spoilt ballot papers there were, and what percentage they represent of the total number issued, in each parliamentary constituency, at the general election held on 7 June. [6650]

Dr. Whitehead: This information is being collected by the Electoral Commission who will publish it as part of a further report on the 2001 general election. We understand the report will be published next spring.

Dunstable Bypass

Mr. Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will visit Dunstable in order to assess the need for a bypass. [6620]

Mr. Jamieson: The A5 Dunstable Eastern Bypass is one of three schemes that has specifically been remitted to the London to South Midlands Multi-Modal Study. The need for the bypass is being assessed by this study.

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Local Government Finance

Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he intends to publish his proposals on the reform of local government finance. [7539]

Dr. Whitehead [holding answer 15 October 2001]: The Local Government White Paper due to be published later this year will set our financial reforms in the context of the wider modernisation agenda and will include a Daughter Document detailing our financial proposals.

Birmingham Northern Relief Road

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what provision has been made for canal access in respect of the Birmingham northern relief road; and if he will make a statement. [6659]

Ms Keeble: The Birmingham northern relief road (BNRR) will go over the Birmingham Fazeley Canal at Curdworth and over the Wyrley Essington Canal at Burntwood and I can confirm that existing towpaths will be maintained alongside the canals through the bridges under BNRR.

Abandoned Cars

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on his proposal to reduce the number of abandoned cars. [7293]

Mr. Jamieson: My right hon. Friend expects to make an announcement shortly.

Housing Benefit

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many complaints about Housing Benefit have been received from each local authority area by the local government ombudsman in each year since 1997. [7906]

Dr. Whitehead: This information is not held centrally. However, the table provides a breakdown of the number of complaints received about Housing Benefit in each of the three local government ombudsman areas between 1 April 1997 and 31 March 2001.

YearArea AArea BArea CTotal
1997–987252062161,147
1998–999131712811,365
1999–20001,6692584262,353
2000–012,7043569684,028

To 31 March 2001, the local government ombudsman areas were: (A) incorporating local authorities in Greater London; (B) incorporating local authorities in southern England (except Greater London), East Anglia, the south-west and most of central England; (C) incorporating local authorities in Birmingham, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and the north of England.

Polling Stations (Disabled Access)

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what

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assessment he has made of the accessibility of polling stations to disabled people in the general and local elections in June. [6509]

Dr. Whitehead: We have considered carefully the SCOPE report "Polls Apart 3" about the June 2001 general election. That report concluded that there had been some improvements on polling station accessibility, but that more needs to be done. In the light of this we will continue to work, with the Electoral Commission, to secure further improvements in polling station accessibility.

Cambridge to Huntingdon Multi Modal Study

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what representations he has received from individuals and organisations in Cambridgeshire about the recommendations of the Cambridge to Huntingdon Multi-Modal Study. [6502]

Ms Keeble: Representations on the study report were invited by the regional planning body for the east of England, to whom the report was remitted. I understand that they received over 200 written representations and further views were elicited through stakeholder workshops. Some of the representations were copied to the Secretary of State.

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he expects to be able to make a decision on the recommendations of the Cambridge to Huntingdon Multi-Modal Study. [6503]

Ms Keeble: The regional planning body for the east of England are examining the study report in the light of the emerging regional transport strategy. Once they have advised my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on whether they support the recommendations in whole or in part, he will consider their advice and make an announcement.

Coach Services (Huntingdon/London)

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to encourage the restoration of a coach service from Huntingdon to London. [6167]

Ms Keeble: Long-distance coach services are provided on a commercial basis and decisions on which services to run are primarily for operators. While I am aware of the recent withdrawal of a service by another operator, I understand National Express continue to provide a daily direct coach service between Huntingdon and London.

Isle of Wight Council

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what grants have been paid to the Isle of Wight council for the years (a) 1999–2000, (b) 2000–01 and (c) 2001–02; and if he will indicate which are hypothecated for a particular purpose. [7957]

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Ms Keeble: The information requested is given in the table. Figures are taken from statistical returns sent to my Department by the Isle of Wight Council.

£000

1999–20002000–012001–02
General grant77,61483,13588,412
Grants ring fenced for a particular purpose: of which7,1078,36712,436
Education grants2,1814,2287,039
Social Services grants1,4601,7252,407
Environmental, Protective and Cultural Services grants1,8528641,502
Capital Finance grants1,6141,5501,488
Total84,72191,502100,848

English Partnerships

Lawrie Quinn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he proposes to review the future of English Partnerships. [8242]

Ms Keeble: I am today announcing a review to be undertaken by my Department, as to the future of English Partnerships. I have decided to bring forward the quinquennial review due in 2003 to ensure that the future of English Partnerships is given greater clarity and focus. The terms of reference for the whole review are set out as follows.

During the review we will be seeking the views of a wide range of interested organisations. We expect to complete the first stage of the review examining the role of English Partnerships by the end of this year. Subject to confirmation of their continued existence, we aim to complete the review of the structure and skills of the organisation by Easter, to ensure that English Partnerships can deliver their new role. I will publish the findings of the first stage of the review in the New Year.

The Terms of Reference for the review are as follows:



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