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Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many malicious fires and incidents of abandoned vehicles there were in (a) London Borough of Havering and (b) Romford in (i) 1997, (ii) 2000 and (iii) 2001; and what steps he is taking to effectively tackle these problems. 
Dr. Whitehead: Data on malicious fires are only available at Fire Brigade level. In 1997 the London Fire Brigade reported 6,388 malicious fires, of which 2,971 (47 per cent.) occurred in road vehicles. Provisional figures for 2000, the most recent year for which data are available, show there were 9,419 malicious fires of which 6,098 (65 per cent.) occurred in road vehicles.
The problem of abandoned cars is one part of a more general problemthe existence of a hard core of more than a million cars in the United Kingdom that are unlicensed and for which it is difficult to trace an owner. Not only are these vehicles at the heart of the problem of abandoned vehicles: they are untaxed, uninsured, have no MOT certificate, and in many cases it is not possible to trace their current owners when they are involved in accidents, parking and motoring offences and wider crime.
Regulations made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to reduce the notice periods after which local authorities can remove abandoned cars to 24 hours in many cases came into effect on 9 April. Furthermore, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced a package of related measures on 10 April which will enable local authorities, the police and Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency to tackle the problem of abandoned cars more effectively.
Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions which of his Department's projects have received sponsorship since 1997, including (a) details of the sponsor, (b) the nature of the project, (c) the date of the project, (d) the total cost of the project and (e) the amount of money involved in the sponsorship deal. 
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Mr. Raynsford: In line with the Government's commitment in its response to the Sixth Report from the Committee on Standards in Public Life, details of individual amounts of sponsorship valued at more than £5,000 will be disclosed in future Departmental Annual Reports.
Ms Keeble: The Government is providing increased levels of funding through local transport plans to enable authorities, in partnership with transport operators, schools and local people to improve children's safety on the journey to and from school.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the per capita aggregate external funding is for the Sedgefield District and Durham county councils for the most recent year for which information is available. 
|Durham County Council||Sedgefield Borough Council|
|Revenue Support Grant||163,866||3,447|
|Redistributed Non-Domestic Rates||126,543||3,400|
|Ring-fenced Grants inside AEF||30,375||303|
|Population figures (thousands)||506||89|
|AEF per capita (£'s)||634||80|
Revenue Summary return.
AEF is central government support towards total standard spending. It comprises of Revenue Support Grant, Redistributed Non-domestic rates, and certain Ring-fenced grants.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the per capita aggregate borrowing permission is to Sedgefield district and Durham county councils in the most recent year for which information is available. 
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Sedgefield district and Durham county councils in the most recent year for which information is available. 
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what Band D council tax is payable by householders in Sedgefield district to their district and county councils. 
The figure of £1,194 per Band D property in Sedgefield is equivalent to £784 per dwelling. The difference is due largely to the fact that almost 90 per cent. of dwellings in the area that are liable to pay council tax are in Bands A, B or C.
Mr. Pound: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he plans to publish a report on progress on adoption of area wide local plans and unitary development plans. 
Mr. Byers: Nine areas, where streets of boarded up and abandoned homes have led to a spiral of decline and misery for thousands of local residents, will get the opportunity to work with Government to establish pathfinder projects. Their aim will be to provide lasting solutions for communities blighted by derelict homes through investment and innovation. The lessons learnt can then be applied to other areas.
Pathfinders will be formed in Greater Manchester, Merseyside, East Lancashire, Oldham and Rochdale, South Yorkshire, Humberside (Hull), Tyneside, North Staffordshire (Stoke), and Birmingham and Sandwell. The size of the pathfinders will be significant ranging from 40,000 to 120,000 properties.
I am clear that the pathfinder projects will have to make some radical decisions in order to regenerate these areas. It is not sufficient to tackle the housing problem alone. Local authorities must work closely together with
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their partnersthe police, the health authority, the Regional Development Agency, Housing Corporation and private sectorto rejuvenate our towns and cities.
Low demand and abandoned housing is a major problem. But it also provides a unique opportunity to restructure and rebuild our cities for the twenty first century. We must now seize that opportunity. The Government will work with local people to deliver the change necessary and bring hope to those communities.
Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he expects to publish directions and guidance to the Strategic Rail Authority; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Byers: I have today published directions and guidance to the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA). Copies have been placed in the Libraries of the House and are available on my department's website at: www.railways.dtlr.gov.uk.
The directions and guidance set the SRA two main objectives: to work with the rail industry to achieve substantial lasting improvements in performance; and to work within its statutory framework to deliver the key targets for rail in our Ten Year Plan. The SRA also has other objectives, especially in relation to: leadership for the rail industry; driving up standards of punctuality, safety and comfort across all franchised services; and a much clearer and focussed approach to franchising.
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