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Replacement Windows

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions in relation

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to statutory instrument No. 440, regulation 16A, what assessment he has made of the direct cost to individual house owners when they install replacement windows; what consultation has taken place over the introduction of this regulation; what requirements there will be to demonstrate compliance on the sale of a house; how home owners will be able to prove that windows were installed before commencement of the instrument on 1 April; what steps he will take to publicise these regulations widely; and whether notices will be sent to relevant (a) retailers, (b) builders and (c) merchants. [53250]

Dr. Whitehead: From the figures in the regulatory impact analysis we undertook prior to making statutory instrument No. 440, we estimate that the average saving per window installation contract would be around £117 compared to using local authority building control. In relation to consultation I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on Tuesday 23 April 2002, to my hon. Friend the Member for Crosby (Mrs. Curtis-Thomas), Official Report, columns 179W-80W.

There will be no requirement to demonstrate compliance with these regulations prior to the sale of a house. However, prior to the sale of a property, a search may reveal that the installation of a window has taken place without either the issue of a certificate from a person registered with the Fenestration Self-Assessment Scheme (FENSA), or evidence of a building notice given to a local authority. This though is highly unlikely to prevent the sale of a house, although in some circumstances it could delay the process. Householders would be advised in any event to keep receipts and other such records necessary to ensure a smooth transition during the sale of any property. In relation to publicity, I am pleased with the level of public awareness in relation to the changes so far. However, I will keep the situation under review and if there is evidence that more publicity is required, we shall provide it. I do not, at this stage, see any need for direct mailing of merchants, builders or retailers.

Millennium Dome

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what stage negotiations have reached with Meridian Delta on the sale of the Millennium Dome; when negotiations will be completed; and if he will make a statement. [52614]

Ms Keeble: The negotiations with Meridian Delta Ltd are on course to reach a conclusion in May.

Playing Fields

Mr. Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to require local planning authorities to inform (a) his Department and (b) the DCMS monitoring group on playing field sales of the outcome of all applications to build on playing fields. [51918]

Ms Keeble [holding answer 23 April 2002]: All local planning authority decisions are currently placed on the planning register and are open to public inspection. The Minister for Sport and I propose to invite Sport England to conduct a periodic survey of the outcome of those planning applications for development affecting playing fields to establish the outcome in those cases where Sport England has objected to the planning application.

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Low Demand Housing

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions which wards of the city of Newcastle upon Tyne are included in the pathfinders study of housing in low demand. [52126]

Ms Keeble: The proposed intervention area for the Tyneside pathfinder project has not yet been confirmed but is being discussed with the local authorities concerned. I would also expect the local authorities concerned to consult the relevant Members of this House.

Local Authority Debt

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how much residual debt has been written off in each of the local authorities where housing stock transfers have taken place. [53526]

Ms Keeble: The overhanging debt payments made to date are £21 million in respect of Burnley borough council, £78.9 million in respect of Blackburn with Darwen borough council, £64.59 million in respect of Calderdale metropolitan borough council and £111.68 million in respect of Coventry city council.

Local Council Elections

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he expects to lay regulations enabling local authorities to switch to alternative year elections where they have reduced the number of councillors representing wards from three to two. [53266]

Dr. Whitehead [holding answer 29 April 2002]: In the White Paper, "Strong Local Leadership—Quality Public Services" the Government said that they would invite the

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Electoral Commission to propose options to simplify the current cycle of local elections. Meanwhile, we will, before the summer recess make regulations under Part IV of the Local Government Act 2000 to introduce elections by halves in a number of authorities that following periodic electoral reviews have two-member wards, and have requested such a change.

Local Government Finance

Virginia Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what steps he will take to ensure that the new finance system for local authorities provides an effective framework within which councils can initiate new and innovative ways of delivering customer-focused services and lead their communities. [53639]

Mr. Raynsford: Our comprehensive agenda for reform of the local government finance system was set out in last December's White Paper "Strong Local leadership—Quality Public Services". Our finance reforms will give councils more space to innovate and respond in ways that are appropriate to local circumstances by providing local authorities with greater freedom to borrow, invest, trade, charge and set spending priorities. Our White Paper implementation plan is available on the DTLR website at index.htm.

Virginia Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what total external support is received in 2002–03 by (a) local authorities covering the Waverley area and (b) the unitary authority of Bracknell. [53519]

Mr. Raynsford: Local authorities have reported the following information.

Total external support, 2002–03
£ million

Waverley Area Bracknell Forest UA area
WaverleySurrey County CouncilSurrey Police Authority(9)Bracknell Forest Unitary AuthorityThames Valley Police Authority(10)
Revenue support grant0.579143.9211.52522.78424.425
Redistributed non-domestic rates4.866287.01926.91634.18052.997
Ring-fenced grants inside AEF(11)0.174102.0805.2579.139n/a
Police grant0054.4430122.387
Total revenue support5.619533.02088.14166.103n/a
Basic credit approvals035.60400.1160
Supplementary credit approvals011.614 n/a11.6143.152
Grants from central Government0.2999.479n/a2.5220
National lottery00n/a0.0710
Total capital support0.29956.697n/a14.3233.152
Total external support5.918589.717n/a80.426n/a

n/a = not available

(9) Surrey Police Authority have not yet returned their capital estimates return form.

(10) Thames Valley Police Authority have not yet returned their general fund revenue account form.

(11) Aggregate external finance (AEF) is central Government support towards total standard spending. It comprises revenue support grant, redistributed non-domestic rates, and certain ring-fenced grants.


2002–03 General Fund Revenue Account and Capital Estimates returns

Local Government Finance Final Settlement

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Disability Facilities

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the reports he receives from local councils on the use of the financial support which he gives for disability facilities grants. [53313]

Ms Keeble: Local authorities provide returns to the Department on their total annual expenditure on Disabled Facilities Grant. The Department pays a grant to each local authority to cover 60 per cent. of their expenditure. Figures showing the Government's grant allocations and local authorities' expenditure over the last five years were placed in the Libraries of the House in January.

Local authorities do not provide detailed information to the Department on the type of housing adaptations supported by the programme but as part of the annual Housing Investment Programme Review, Government offices for the regions will review local authorities' performance in managing the DFG programme.

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