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Volume 566: debated on Tuesday 16 July 2013


Tuesday 16 July 2013

Presented Petition

Petition presented to the House but not read on the Floor

Abolishment of the Probation Service

The Petition of Residents of the UK,

Declares that the Petitioners oppose the Government’s plan to abolish the Probation Service in its current form and to privatise up to 70% of work currently undertaken by it. The Petitioners believe that those convicted by a Criminal Court should be supervised by those employed by a publicly accountable Probation Service such as currently exists; further that the Petitioners oppose the Government’s plan to abolish the 35 public sector Probation Trusts replacing them with one Probation Service that only supervises those deemed to be of a high risk of harm to the public. It is envisaged under the current plan 70% of probation work will be subject to a competitive process which excludes the Probation Service. We believe that such a plan is “high risk” in that it could place the public at a greater risk of harm.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to stop the planned changes to the Probation Service.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.



Communities and Local Government

Objections to Incinerator for Huntington (South Staffordshire)

The Petition of a resident in the UK,

Declares that the Petitioner objects to planning permission for a renewable energy facility on Cocksparrow Lane, Huntington, which has the potential to devalue surrounding properties and businesses; further that a renewable energy facility could cause problems like smell pollution and noise pollution and could cause increased traffic congestion in the area; further notes that this could cause increased risk to Littleton Primary School foot traffic, due to increased large vehicular traffic, and could have a negative effect on local business and trade, be detrimental for local wildlife and become an eyesore within the local natural green belt.

The Petitioner therefore requests that the House of Commons urges the Government to take all possible steps to ensure that their objections to this planning application are noted by Staffordshire County Council.

And the Petitioner remains, etc.—[Presented by Gavin Williamson, Official Report, 25 April 2013; Vol. 561, c. 1067.]


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 has been submitted to Staffordshire County Council in respect of the above development.

Local authorities have the statutory responsibility for considering proposals for development in their areas. Planning law requires that applications for planning permission must be determined in accordance with the statutory development plan for the area unless material considerations indicate otherwise. These material considerations include national planning policy. Local authorities will also take into account representations from the local community on the planning merits of the proposal.

National waste planning policy is contained in Planning Policy Statement 10: Planning for Sustainable Waste Management. This states that when considering planning applications for waste management facilities, waste planning authorities should take into consideration criteria including the physical and environmental constraints on development, existing and proposed neighbouring land uses, and any significant adverse impacts on environmental quality. This approach will continue under the Department for Communities and Local Government’s forthcoming update of waste planning policy.

Alongside this, the National Planning Policy Framework makes it clear that an application for renewable or low carbon energy development should only be approved if the impact is (or can be made) acceptable. To help implement the Framework, the Department for Communities and Local Government will publish new practice guidance shortly, setting out clearly that the need for renewable energy does not automatically override environmental protections and the planning concerns of local communities.

Through a series of reforms the Government are making the planning process more accessible to local communities because planning works best when communities themselves have the opportunity to influence the decisions that affect their lives. As this planning application is still being considered by Staffordshire County Council, it would not be appropriate for the Secretary of State to comment further.


School Uniform Supply Regulations

The Petition of residents of Feltham and Heston,

Declares that the Petitioners believe that Central Government should amend regulations in regard to school academy’s powers to make decisions on appointing school uniform suppliers without formally opening tendering opportunities to local enterprise suppliers and believe that the London Borough of Hounslow should formally join this application for amendment.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to make amendments to school uniform supply regulations to allow opportunities for local enterprise suppliers.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Seema Malhotra, Official Report, 25 April 2013; Vol. 561, c. 1066.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Education:

Ministers are clear that school uniform should not act as a barrier to parents when choosing a school. The School Admissions Code (2012) paragraph 1.8 states that,

“admission authorities must ensure [...] policies around school uniform or school trips do not discourage parents from applying for a place for their child”.

This is supported by the Department’s non-statutory school uniform guidance which states that,

“governing bodies (and academy trusts) should be able to demonstrate how best value has been achieved and keep the cost of supplying uniform under review”.

A link to the guidance can be found here:

The sourcing of school uniform is a local decision, taken by the governing body of a school, or in the case of academies (including free schools), the academy trust. There are no regulatory obstacles in the way of a school opening tendering opportunities to local suppliers.

Where parents have concerns about the procurement of school uniform they should speak directly to the school concerned. Issues should be taken up with the head teacher in the first instance, then the Chair of the governing body or academy trust. In law, governing bodies must have procedures in place which would deal with issues such as a complaint about school uniform. Governors should aim to work with parents to arrive at a mutually acceptable outcome. If parents are unsatisfied with the outcome of their discussion with the school they can contact the Department with their complaint.


Aircraft Noise Pollution (Holywell)

The Petition of residents of Pen Y Maes Road, Holwell, Flintshire,

Declares that the petitioners are opposed to noise pollution from low flying commercial jet planes, especially Easyjet, going to and from John Lennon Airport, Liverpool. John Lennon Airport changed their flight paths without consultation with any authorities in North Wales, and this has had a big impact on the environment in Holywell. Holywell has a population of over 6,000. It is the Lourdes of Wales with its Holy waters and attracts over 30,000 visitors a year. Holywell also has a large Community Hospital with elderly inpatients, and the aircraft noise can be heard from within the hospital.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons examines changing the flight paths to avoid Holywell, and so resume our peace and quiet.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr David Hanson, Official Report, 18 June 2013; Vol. 564, c. 863 .]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport:

The Aviation Policy Framework published in March 2013 sets out the Government’s overall policy on aviation noise which is,

“to limit and where possible, reduce the number of people in the UK significantly affected by aircraft noise”.

The Government recognise that noise is the primary concern of local communities near airports and that the routes used by the aircraft and the height at which they fly are two significant factors that affect the noise experienced by people on the ground. While the Government set the noise controls at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, other airports have powers to set noise controls, which should be agreed locally.

Liverpool John Lennon Airport has confirmed that there have been no significant changes to the arrival or departure routes in the last 10 years. Holywell is primarily overflown by aircraft approaching Liverpool John Lennon Airport from the west, which occurs approximately 30% of the time. For safety reasons aircraft are required to land into the wind, which in the UK is predominately from the west. One reason for an increase in over flight experienced by residents in Holywell recently could have been as a consequence of the usually long period of easterly winds earlier this year.

Changes to the UK airspace structure are overseen by the independent airspace regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which has responsibility for UK airspace as directed by Parliament in the Transport Act 2000 and the Civil Aviation (Air Navigation) Directions. When considering airspace change proposals the CAA takes into account guidance on environmental objectives issued to it by the Government and this includes the requirement to ensure adequate consultation is carried out when considering changes to UK airspace. The Department for Transport is currently carrying out a consultation on this guidance; the updated guidance reaffirms the need for local engagement when carrying out airspace changes.

The Government expect all airports to communicate openly and effectively with their local communities about the impact of their operations. The Department for Transport encourages the residents of Holywell to continue to engage with Liverpool John Lennon Airport on this issue, either directly or through the airport’s consultative committee.