Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary memorandum by the Secretary of State (AP 04)

When Sir Richard Mottram and I appeared before the Committee on 16 January 2002, I promised additional information on a number of points. These included:

    —  DTI's evidence of the impact of planning regulations on cluster developments;

    —  Cost of the local government boundary revisions;

    —  Impact of car design on casualty targets;

    —  Effect of the 10 year plan on walking;

    —  National annual vehicle mileage indicators;

    —  Percentage of bus usage;

    —  London Underground board meeting date;

    —  Timetable for introduction of automatic train protection.

  A note on these is now attached. I will be happy to provide any further information the Committee requires.

1.  Evidence of the impact of the current planning strategy on development of business cluster development (Question 653)

  Some work on mapping business clusters was undertaken by the Department of Trade and Industry and a report—"Planning for Clusters" was published by DETR in 2000.

  The research was based on six case studies of different industries in different geographical areas. It found that planning had not been an impediment to the development of business clusters. The research was inconclusive about whether planning had done anything to encourage the development of business clusters.

  The purpose of the proposed business planning zones is to promote business development without the need to go through the full planning process if relevant criteria are met. Such criteria would include the nature of the development, such as the type of land use and its scale. Development would need to be low impact, which means that it would not require special environmental precautions to be made, and is of a scale and nature not to require major new provision of housing or services in the area. As the Planning Green Paper states, business zones would be especially suitable for high-tech research businesses where the ability to exploit leading edge research quickly is important.

  The details of business planning zones will be further worked out in the light of consultation responses.

2.  What is the cost of the local government boundary review? (Question 705)

  The Local Government Commission for England (LGC)—an independent, corporate public body, the members of which are appointed by the Secretary of State—was established under the Local Government Act 1992. That Act places a duty on the LGC to undertake periodic electoral reviews of each principal area in England without direction from the Secretary of State. At present the LGC are in the middle of a programme of periodic electoral reviews of all local authorities in England; most have not been reviewed since the 1970s. So far over 250 reviews have been completed, mostly of district councils. The programme ends in 2004.

  Responsibility for reviewing and implementing electoral arrangements—the number and boundaries of electoral areas and the number of councillors—will become the responsibility of the Electoral Commission with effect from 1 April 2002. They are to complete the periodic electoral review programme.

  The periodic electoral review programme began in March 1996. With the exception of eight directed electoral reviews completed in December 1996 and a structural review of Sefton completed in November 1997, the Local Government Commission's workload has consisted entirely of the periodic electoral review programme. Grant-in-Aid for the years in question was:—

1996-97
1997-98
1998-99
1999-2000
2000-01
2001-02*
£2,099 k
£2,480 k
£2,608 k
£2,608 k
£2,608 k
£2,711 k


  * Estimate (which omits one off costs associated with the transfer of the LGC of the Electoral Commission).

3.  Who will be responsible for approving the wording of the referendum on the Euro? (Question 702)

  The wording of the referendum on the Euro will be decided by Parliament and will be set out in the legislation that provides for the holding of that referendum. The role of the Electoral Commission in relation to the question is set out in section 104(2) of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. It is that the Electoral Commission shall consider the wording of the referendum question and publish a statement of any views of the Commission on the intelligibility of that question as soon as reasonably practicable after the referendum Bill has been introduced.

4.  What percentage of the reduction in road casualty target relates to implementation of European agreements on new car design measures which promote safety? (Question 707)

  The targets calculations assumed that if all measures in the pipeline were implemented by 2010 the KSI casualty savings would be 8.6 per cent from improved secondary safety in cars, and 4.6 per cent from other vehicle safety improvements.

5.  How will the 10-Year Plan affect walking? (Question 716)

  The Government is delivering on its 10 Year Plan promise of sustained investment to deliver a reliable, efficient and safe transport system that meets the needs of local communities. An expansion of walking schemes was identified as an important element of achieving such a system. Most of these schemes are being provided through the local transport plan mechanism. £1.5 billion is being distributed to local authorities in England to implement their Local Transport Plans in 2002-03. This is the second instalment of the five-year, £8.4 billion funding package for local transport announced last December. We expect a significant amount of this funding to be spent on walking schemes.

  DTLR is developing a research strategy in support of the Integrated Transport Strategy and the 10-Year Plan. Research on aspects of walking will be included in the programme as appropriate.

  The latest school travel trends up to July 2001 show an increase in the number of children walking to school. Between the mid 1980s and the late 1990s the proportion of journeys to school by car nearly doubled, from 16 per cent to 30 per cent, with 18 per cent of cars on urban roads at 8.50 in the morning in term time taking children to school. Over the same period, the average length of the journey to school for secondary pupils went up by a third, to 3.3 miles, with even more pupils living too far away to walk to school.

  The latest National Travel Survey (NTS) figures (1998-2000), set out below, show encouraging signs of a possible turn around in these rising trends. It does however need to be borne in mind that the NTS is designed to pick up long-term trends and is not suitable for monitoring short-term trends on account of the relatively small sample size. And as roads become more congested they will continue to be perceived to be more dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists with the likelihood that more children will be driven to school.

AGE 5-10
  
1985-86
1989-91
1992-94
1995-97
1997-99
1998-2000
Walk
67
62
61
54
53
56
Bicycle
1
1
1
-
-
-
Car/van
22
27
30
37
38
36
Private bus
5
4
4
3
3
3
Local bus
4
4
4
4
4
4
Rail
-
-
-
-
-
-
Other
2
1
1
2
2
1
Average length miles
1.1
1.3
1.2
1.3
1.3
1.5
AGE 11-16
  
1985-86
1989-91
1992-94
1995-97
1997-99
1998-2000
Walk
52
48
44
42
42
43
Bicycle
6
5
4
2
2
2
Car/van
10
14
16
21
21
19
Private bus
9
10
8
7
7
8
Local bus
20
20
24
25
25
24
Rail
1
1
1
1
1
2
Other
1
3
2
2
3
2
Average length miles
2.3
2.8
3.1
3.1
3.3
3.0


6.  The CflT report said national annual vehicle mileage was not a suitable indicator. Why is it used as a headline indicator in the annual report? (Question 723)

  The annual report includes traffic volume by mode, which is one of the Government's 15 headline indicators of sustainable development, originally published in 1998. The indicators were established with the view that they would generally remain unchanged for a number of years, unless it was necessary to alter them in response to important new issues or where the indicators can be improved.

  While the road traffic indicator does help to illustrate the proportions of mileage travelled by car and by other forms of transport, including public transport, it is only a partial reflection of the impacts of traffic, and of the success of transport policies. Following publication of the 10-Year Plan in July 2000, the department's key PSA target in relation to road traffic is to reduce congestion on the inter-urban trunk road network and in large urban areas below current levels by 2010. The department is developing new arrangements for measuring and monitoring congestion to reflect this target and will be giving consideration as to whether the existing headline sustainable development indicator should be replaced.

7.  What percentage of the public use buses? How does this compare with the 8 per cent who use rail? (Question 748)

  From the National Travel Survey, 28 per cent of people use the bus at least once per week, and 41 per cent at least once per month. This compares with 5 per cent who use surface rail at least once per week, and 15 per cent at least once per month.

8.  Date of London Transport Board meeting where the "in-principle" decision on PPP value for money will be taken. (Question 775)

  The London Transport Board considered the results of its value-for-money evaluation at its meeting on 7 February.

9.  Note of the cost of ATP and possible timetable. (Question 809)

  A steering group jointly chaired by the Strategic Rail Authority and Railway Safety is presently evaluating the options for the extension of automatic train protection, including the timetable and costs.

Stephen Byers

7 February 2002


 
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