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Volume 490: debated on Monday 23 March 2009


Monday 23 March 2009


Communities and Local Government

Fire and Rescue Services (York)

The Petition of Kevin Booth, Editor of “The Press” York and the people of York,

Declares that the Petitioners note with concern the proposed increase in Government funding for the North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service of only 0.5 per cent. in 2009-10 and again in 2010-11.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to provide a fairer grant settlement to ensure firefighters can continue to respond to fires and other emergencies, and also deliver a comprehensive fire prevention service across York and North Yorkshire

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Hugh Bayley, Official Report, 15 December 2008; Vol. 485, c. 934.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:

The Secretary of State acknowledges the concerns of the petitioners regarding the funding increase of 0.5 per cent. in 2009-10 and 2010-11.

The distribution of formula grant takes into account the relative needs and relative resources of each authority relative to all other authorities providing the same services. Relative needs reflect socio-economic and demographic characteristics, and relative resources reflect the potential to raise income through council tax. There is also a central allocation and a floor damping mechanism. The floor damping mechanism ensures that authorities receive at least the minimum percentage change from year-to-year on a like-for-like basis.

In setting floor levels over this period, we have had to strike a balance between providing an increase for all authorities and allowing changes from the underlying distribution to come through. The cost of the floor is paid for by scaling back grant increases above the floor.

This minimum (“floor”) was set at 1%, 0.5% and 0.5% for Fire and Rescue Authorities over the 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 settlement period. Due to this floor damping mechanism, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authorities have been given £1.7 million, £1.5 million and £1.3 million more, in each respective year, than they would have received had there been no grant floor.

During the course of the Comprehensive Spending Review the Government considered all the pressures on the Fire and Rescue Service along with the amount of efficiencies that authorities could continue to make. This is a sustainable settlement for the Service that allows authorities to move forward with modernisation.

Formula Grant is provided to North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority as an unhypothecated block grant to support revenue expenditure. This means that it is for the Authority to decide how they allocate this grant to the services that they provide.

Planning and Development (Northamptonshire)

The Humble Petition of residents of Redhill Grange in the Wellingborough constituency and the surrounding area,


That major concern is expressed about the overdevelopment of Wellingborough and in particular, the development north of Wellingborough towards the constituency of Kettering, and concern over the lack of sufficient green space around existing rural developments and villages.

Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your Honourable House urges the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to liaise with the Borough Council of Wellingborough and Northamptonshire County Council to find a solution to the overdevelopment.

And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.—[Presented by Mr. Peter Bone, Official Report, 10 December 2008; Vol. 485, c. 648.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is aware that a planning application was submitted to the Borough Council of Wellingborough for a major urban extension to the north of Wellingborough.

Decisions on planning applications are required to be in accordance with the adopted development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. The Government’s statements of national planning policy, such as Planning Policy Guidance 3 “Housing”, are material considerations which must be taken into account, where relevant, in planning decisions, but it is the responsibility of the local planning authority to identify and weigh up all the different issues, in the context of the specific local circumstances, having regard to the views of local residents and other interested parties.

The Secretary of State is advised that while this application was refused by the Council’s Planning Committee on 4 February 2009, the applicant has also lodged an appeal with The Planning Inspectorate in relation to the Council’s non-determination of an identical planning application. A public inquiry into this is likely to take place in June.

As the appeal application is now within her jurisdiction, it would be inappropriate for the Secretary of State to comment on the specific matter raised in the petition.