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Highways Agency

Mr. Syms: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how the extra funding under the Winter Supplementary Estimates to the Supply Estimates 2001–02 for the Highways Agency is to be spent. [22246]

Mr. Jamieson: The extra funding will be spent on local network management and technology schemes, the M42 active traffic management pilot, the system for managing project and on the civil service reform fund programme. The Winter Supplementary Estimates also include a reduction in funds that have been transferred to local authorities for roads that have been detrunked this year.

Housing Revenue Account Subsidy

Mr. Syms: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what research was commissioned prior to the decision to decrease the housing revenue account subsidy, as outlined on page 5 of the Winter Supplementary Estimates to the Supply Estimates 2001–02; and if he will publish this research. [22249]

Ms Keeble: The decision to decrease the housing revenue account subsidy provision for 2001–02 in the Winter Supplementary Estimates was informed by changes in the amounts claimed by local housing authorities for reimbursement of the rent rebate element on their second advance claim forms. These claims govern on-account payments for the second half of the financial year.

New Local Government Network

Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what recent meetings Government Ministers have had with representatives of the New Local Government Network. [21984]

Dr. Whitehead: Colleagues and I meet up with representatives of the New Local Government Network and many other groups interested in local government from time to time. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government and I met with representatives of the

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New Local Government Network on 20 June and on 18 July. The Minister for Local Government attended conferences held by the New Local Government Network on strategic partnering on 16 July and on procuring best value outcomes on 30 October. I spoke at an NLGN conference on best value on 3 December and met representatives of the NLGN at a conference on 29 October. Ministerial colleagues also hold meetings with NLGN representatives from time to time, the details of which are not recorded by this Department.

Lincolnshire County Council

Gillian Merron: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions whether the National Standards Board is investigating complaints on alleged breaches of the code of conduct by Lincolnshire county councillors; and if he will make a statement. [22217]

Dr. Whitehead [holding answer 11 December 2001]: The Standards Board is not able to investigate any complaints about breaches of the code of conduct until the council has adopted a code as required under section 50 of the Local Government Act 2000. I believe that Lincolnshire county council has yet to adopt such a code.


Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he will publish his Green Paper on Planning. [22729]

Mr. Byers: Following our review of the planning system, I am today publishing a Green Paper "Planning: delivering a fundamental change" setting out our proposals for reform.

A good planning system is vital to our quality of life. We need a system that fully engages people in shaping the future of their communities and local economies. The present planning system is too complicated, too slow and engages insufficiently with local communities. We need to make it more efficient and more accessible so that it better serves everybody with an interest in the growth and development of their community, whether individuals, businesses or representative organisations.

The Green Paper sets out our proposals for simplifying the complex hierarchy of regional, county, unitary and local plans. We propose to replace local plans with new Local Development Frameworks that will have two main components: a set of core criteria that will allow local authorities to express a vision for the future of their areas and a strategy for its delivery; and action plans for specific areas where detailed planning is required. These include, for example, neighbourhoods, villages, town centres and major development sites. We intend that action plans should be a particular focus for community participation in the planning of local areas.

The Green Paper proposes a much stronger emphasis on customer service, including delivery to business. New targets for processing planning applications by local authorities will distinguish business from householder applications in order that all applicants should have a clear and realistic expectation of the speed of decision. We propose that delivery contracts should be agreed between

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local authorities and business for the biggest planning applications that would include an agreed timetable for reaching planning decisions.

The Green Paper proposes the introduction of business planning zones in which planning consent will not be necessary for certain businesses so long as strict quality standards are met. We propose that each region should have at least one zone to promote technology companies.

The Green Paper seeks to put communities at the heart of the planning system. We propose better community participation in the preparation of our new Local Development Frameworks and action plans. A statement of community involvement will set standards for consultation on planning applications and plans. Master planning of major sites will help developers plan for higher quality development, in partnership with local people and local authorities. There will be a much clearer procedure for submitting planning applications and a new emphasis on openness and accountability within the planning process.

I also propose to speed up the handling of planning applications that have been called in and appeals that have been recovered for my determination. I give reasons where applications are called in but, up to now, they have not been given when I decide not to call in an application. In the interests of greater openness I shall, from today, give reasons in both circumstances.

Copies of the Green Paper are being sent to every Member representing an English constituency and they will be available in the Vote Office and in the Library. An electronic copy can be viewed at

Compulsory Purchase and Compensation

Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he will publish his consultation paper on Compulsory Purchase and Compensation. [22730]

Mr. Byers: Following the fundamental review of compulsory purchase procedures and compensation, I am publishing today a consultation paper setting out our proposals for major changes to the way that the compulsory purchase and compensation system operates. Our objective is to make the system simpler, fairer and quicker. We will:

Speed Cameras

Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what evidence he has collated on how speed cameras have contributed to reducing road accidents in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement. [22231]

Mr. Jamieson: A Home Office study published in 1996 showed that accidents fell by 28 per cent. and speeds were reduced by an average of 4.2 mph at speed camera sites. Eight police force areas have been trialling a new

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funding system for speed cameras. Monitoring of the first year's operation of the pilots has shown a 47 per cent. reduction in those killed and seriously injured at camera sites and an 18 per cent. reduction in KSIs in the areas as a whole. The new funding system is now available nationally and I fully expect that, as more areas join, the numbers of those killed or seriously injured will decrease still further.


Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) what representations he has received from the US Government on Spain's policy that the European Commission's proposal for a Regulation on Aviation Security should not apply to Gibraltar; [21654]

Mr. Jamieson: We have received no such representations.

Neighbourhood Wardens

Mr. Jack: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) if applications may be made for new neighbourhood wardens schemes starting in 2004; [22222]

Ms Keeble: Following discussions with officials I announced continued funding for existing neighbourhood warden schemes in England at the annual wardens conference on 19 November. Marketing expansion and funding opportunities for wardens schemes were discussed at that conference and continue to be reviewed.

There are 85 neighbourhood and 125 street warden schemes covering each of the government regions. The Government have commissioned a national evaluation of the neighbourhood warden programme which is due for completion by mid 2003. The evaluation is intended to provide an assessment of scheme impacts and to understand the processes of scheme implementation. It is not possible to consider each and every scheme in the same detail but care is taken to ensure that all regions receive roughly equal coverage that enables a picture of national-level impact to be established. In addition, schemes are encouraged to undertake local-level evaluations appropriate to their needs. Street warden schemes in England have yet to start and will be subject to a similarly rigorous evaluation process.

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Government funding for neighbourhood wardens is £5 million for 2001–02 and £4.5 million for 2002–03. For street wardens the figures are £5 million and £10 million respectively.

The continuation of funding for existing and future warden schemes will depend on the outcome of the 2002 Spending Review and at this stage it is too early to make applications for new schemes.

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