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Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment he has undertaken of the need for safety barriers on roads adjacent to railway embankments. 
Mr. Spellar: General guidance on the provision and location of safety barriers is centrally reviewed in the light of accident statistics and the safety performance of the road network. A special review was carried out after the incident at Selby of nearside safety barriers. It is the responsibility of the highway authority regularly to review the safety of the road network in general and at specific locations such as roads adjacent to railways.
Mr. Mark Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many homes in (a) the City of Westminster and (b) the City of London were valued in each of the council tax bands in 1991; and if he will estimate the numbers that would be in each band based on current market valuations. 
Dr. Whitehead: Ever since the introduction of the council tax in 1993, dwellings have been allocated to council tax bands on the basis of their estimated values as at 1 April 1991. The following table gives figures for the City of Westminster and the City of London, as used for the first and most recent years of operation of the council tax. There are likely to have been several reasons for the changes between 1992 and 2001. These include the demolition or construction of dwellings, movements to lower bands as a result of successful appeals, the splitting or merging of dwellings, and the conversion of domestic dwellings into non-domestic properties, and vice versa.
|Number as at:|
|Band||December 1992||16 October 2001|
|City of Westminster|
|City of London|
6 Feb 2002 : Column 1002W
Mr. Mark Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will estimate for (a) the City of Westminster and (b) the City of London the change in council tax yield if domestic properties were assigned council tax properties on the basis of current market value rather than 1991 values. 
Dr. Whitehead: We have no information on which to make an accurate estimation of the change in council tax yield should domestic properties in Westminster and the City of London be re-valued at current market prices.
Matthew Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list the councils that have by-laws which restrict the use of skateboards in (a) town or city centres and (b) other areas; if he will list the councils that have skateboard parks; and how many prosecutions have taken place of skateboarders by local councils. 
Ms Keeble [holding answer 1 February 2002]: The Baldock bypass was originally proposed by Hertfordshire county council to be funded through the private finance initiative. However, in re-evaluating the scheme Hertfordshire decided that conventional funding would be the best method of procurement and agreed to provide a revised estimate of costs involved.
In order to ensure the most cost effective method of procurement and value for money for public resources we are currently discussing with Hertfordshire the details of the funding package for the scheme. We hope to be able to reach agreement on this in the very near future.
6 Feb 2002 : Column 1003W
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list the retirement ages that apply to the employees of his Department and its agencies, including how many and which categories of employees are affected by each; and if he will make a statement on his Department's policy on flexible retirement. 
Dr. Whitehead: Following the Performance and Innovation Unit report on active ageing, "Winning the Generation Game", DTLR is currently considering its retirement policy. Information on the current retirement ages for my Department and for the executive agencies are as follows:
Bands 3 up to 7 (and equivalents) and those not covered by the previous Grades (ie EO, HEO, SEO, G7, G6 and equivalents) (11,520 to 11,600 members of staff)normal retirement age of 60.
Senior Civil Servants (195 to 215 members of staff)normal retirement age of 60.
The Department may also invite staff to stay beyond the normal retirement age but not beyond age 70. Variations within the agencies
The Fire Service College: Industrial staff have a retirement age of 65 (30 staff).
The Planning Inspectorate: Planning Inspectors re-employed on flexible short-term contracts up to a maximum age of 65 (30 staff).
The QEII Conference Centre: Normal retirement age of 60 for all staff (49 staff).
The Rent Service: Those staff transferred under TUPE protection from their local Government employer have remained within the Local Government Pension Scheme. They may retire at age 65, although the scheme does allow them to retire at 60 should they so wish.
Vehicle Inspectorate: Industrial employees Band 1 (Tester/Handy Person) in post by 1 May 1994 and over 50 can remain until 65. In other cases the retirement age is 60, with the exception of a short service concession for Band 1 Testers and Band 2 A VEs provided they were in post prior to 31 March 1997 (169 staff).
6 Feb 2002 : Column 1004W
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