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Fire and Civil Defence Authorities

Mr. Truswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to mitigate the reductions in the 2001–02 budgets of fire and civil defence authorities arising from the fire call element of the standard spending assessment. [13598]

Dr. Whitehead: All metropolitan fire authorities received an increase in grant in 2001–02 and will receive an increase in grant, as a result of the floor and ceiling mechanism, in the 2002–03 local government finance settlement.

We recognise that the fire calls element of the fire Standard Spending Assessment is a perverse incentive and are committed to removing this indicator as part of the current review of local government finance. That review, which is being undertaken in partnership with local government, is looking at a number of ways in which the fire calls indicator might be replaced from 2003–04.

Swimming Pools

Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what

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financial support he gives for the construction of swimming pools in partnership with local and regional authorities. [14040]

Dr. Whitehead: This Department makes no specific financial provision available for construction of swimming pools. However local authorities may use their non ring-fenced basic credit approvals, which are issued by this Department, to support borrowing for any capital projects. The majority of capital funding for sport is channelled through the sports councils. Sport England is the distributor for the Lottery Sports Fund, to which local authorities may apply, which provides funding for a range of community sports facilities, including swimming pools.

Access Road

(Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital)

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to provide a second access road to the new Norfolk and Norwich University hospital. [13863]

Mr. Jamieson: None. South Norfolk district council are currently considering an outline planning application for residential development at Cringleford together with a new link road between the A11 and Colney Lane. The new link road would have the potential to provide an alternative route to the new Norfolk and Norwich hospital.

It is for Norfolk county council, as the local highway authority, to consider the question of a second access for the hospital. The Highways Agency looked at the acceptability of allowing direct access to the hospital from the A47 and concluded that an additional junction between the B1108 Watton road and the A11 would affect the safe and efficient operation of this section of the A47. Subsequently a technical assessment of a direct link between the A47 and the hospital was commissioned by Norfolk county council and the Highways Agency is currently examining proposals received from the county council on 1 November.

Connex South Eastern

Dr. Ladyman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what subsidies have been paid to Connex South Eastern to assist them with the purchase of new trains; when these payments were made; what Connex is required to do as a consequence of accepting these payments; how many confirmed orders for new trains Connex has informed his Department it has made; and how many trains Connex has accepted. [13874]

Mr. Jamieson: Between 13 October 1996 and 31 March 2001, the following amounts of franchise support were paid to Connex South Eastern by the franchising director and, since 1 February 2001, by the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA).

YearCash price (£ million)

Franchise support for Connex South Eastern is the franchising director's and the SRA's contribution to funding all the company's expenditure under its franchise agreement, including expenditure on new trains. Under the agreement, the company is required to use all reasonable endeavours to introduce new trains on time. I understand that the company has ordered 210 vehicles, 16 of which are in passenger service.

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London Underground

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what are London Underground's estimated (a) passengers, (b) passenger kilometres operated, (c) gross operating costs, (d) total income from fares and (e) gross operating margin for 2001–02. [14606]

Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 13 November 2001]: The budgeted information for 2001–02 for London Underground Ltd. (including the InfraCos) is as follows:

The actual figures for 2001–02 will be published in due course as part of the London Transport Annual Report 2001–02.

Brownfield Development

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on targets for development on brownfield sites, with specific reference on how to prevent town cramming. [14841]

Ms Keeble [holding answer 14 November 2001]: Our national target is that by 2008, 60 per cent. of additional housing should be provided on previously developed land and through conversions of existing buildings.

Regional planning bodies should propose land recycling targets to be set in regional planning guidance, drawing on the urban housing capacity studies undertaken by their constituent local authorities. These targets should contribute to achieving the national target. Local planning authorities should adopt their own land recycling targets in development plans which will contribute to attaining the regional target and which are consistent with data from their urban housing capacity studies.

Good design and layout of new development can help to achieve the Government's objectives of making the best use of previously developed land and improving the quality and attractiveness of residential areas.

Gayton Level Crossing

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when work to replace the Gayton level crossing on the West Coast Main Line with a bridge will be (a) initiated and (b) completed. [15008]

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Mr. Jamieson: I am not aware of any proposal to replace this level crossing. This would be a matter for Railtrack in the first instance, who are responsible for maintaining the network infrastructure.


Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many people over retirement age were made homeless in (a) 1997 and (b) 2001 to date; and what proposals the Government have to counter this problem. [15199]

Ms Keeble: Homeless acceptances represent households in need who are helped by local authorities into accommodation. Information reported to the Department by local authorities for total acceptances and those where a member of the household is identified as vulnerable due to old age are as follows:

Of which vulnerable due to old age4,2204,050

The Government have introduced the Homelessness Bill whose provisions will

To support these provisions, investment in new affordable housing through the Housing Corporation will rise to over £1.2 billion by 2003–04—about double the current level.

Additionally, the Government have been consulting on their overall approach to tackling homelessness and are considering a number of constructive suggestions.

Fire Service Personnel

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the shortfall is in the number of Fire Service personnel in the UK; and what plans he has to encourage more people into the service. [12960]

Dr. Whitehead: Based on provisional figures taken from annual returns to HM Fire Service Inspectorate, the difference between establishment and actual strength of the fire service in England and Wales, as 31 March, was 3,582.

To help encourage people from all backgrounds to join the fire service, officials from my Department have been working in collaboration with stakeholders from all parts of the fire service to produce effective and informative national recruitment literature. This literature will be produced centrally for use by fire authorities in their recruitment activities. The production of this literature

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forms part of a strategic approach to recruitment across the fire service which aims to raise awareness among under-represented groups of the fire service as a career choice.

We will be launching the first of the recruitment publications shortly.

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