Andrew Percy: My hon. Friend makes an important point. Last week, I chaired my first future high streets forum, where we heard about the excellent work undertaken in the digital pilots across Gloucester, Cheltenham and Stroud. That is an important tool through which we can attract people back to our high streets. We will be doing further work through the forum on these digital roll-outs.
Andrew Percy: I would be more than happy to welcome the right hon. Gentleman to North Lincolnshire Council, where, when we took control from the Labour party, we scrapped parking charges, introduced two hours of free parking and all-day free parking on Saturdays and Sundays. It had a wonderful effect: it brought people back to the high street. I would be delighted to see him in Brigg and Goole any time...
Andrew Percy: I am more than happy to congratulate North Devon Council on its announcement on free parking. As I have said, free parking has made a huge difference in my area in bringing people back to our town centres. I reiterate that I hope that Members will get out and support Small Business Saturday throughout the country.
Andrew Percy: We are working through the future high streets forum on the issue of connecting people better to their high streets through digital media, including social media. I point to the example of Bishy Road, York, which last year won the Great British High Street award and used its winnings to develop an app with Newcastle University to do just that. A lot of work is going on in that regard.
Andrew Percy: I welcome the hon. Gentleman’s comments. It is important that we have a mix of different outlets on our high streets and I know that there are concerns about this in many town centres. It is of course for local councils to make appropriate use of the powers available to them, but I am happy to look into the issue further and discuss this with the hon. Gentleman if required.
Andrew Percy: There can be no better place for such a venue and I congratulate Rugby on that development and my hon. Friend on his support for it. It is true that we need our town centre spaces to include a mix of different uses to attract people back into our towns, to support the retail offer there too.
Andrew Percy: I note my hon. Friend’s interest as chairman of the all-party beer group. I am happy to work with local authorities to develop community pubs. Listing a pub as an asset of community value gives communities time to bid to buy it should the owner decide to sell. We have supported community buying through the £3.6 million “More than a Pub” programme.
Andrew Percy: We are permanently doubling the level of small business rate relief from next year, meaning that 600,000 small businesses will pay no business rates at all. In addition, 17,000 pubs may be eligible for small business rate relief from 1 April next year, depending on their rateable value. Around 13,000 are potentially eligible for 100% relief, compared with some 4,000 now.
Andrew Percy: Before the review, we agreed a methodology with the industry through which the revaluations would take place, so that is why that mechanism is used.
Andrew Percy: This is an independent process and it would not be appropriate for Ministers to intervene in it. We have, of course, provided £3.6 billion of transitional relief for those businesses affected by the revaluation, but I refer back to the statistics I gave in an answer a moment ago about the number of businesses that could now qualify for 100% relief.
Andrew Percy: Any individual or organisation can make representations on planning applications for infrastructure projects, and it is of course for the decision maker to decide what weight, if any, should be given to those representations.
Andrew Percy: I am aware of this issue and my hon. Friend’s advocacy on behalf of his constituency. Clearly, legislation does require Highways England to have regard to the AONB’s purpose to conserve and enhance that natural beauty. I am more than happy to meet him or to pass his concerns on to the appropriate Department with regard to this issue.
Andrew Percy: It is absolutely appropriate that AONBs receive the protection they do in the planning process. I am more than happy to pass on my right hon. Friend’s question and concerns about the tunnel and the Chilterns to the Secretary of State for Transport.
Andrew Percy: We have provided a long-term funding settlement to North East Lincolnshire Council, which will have £592 million to spend over this Parliament. In addition, the two local enterprise partnerships serving the hon. Lady’s area—the Humber LEP and the Greater Lincolnshire LEP—have received £114 million and £126 million respectively, and we will be making further...
Andrew Percy: I would be delighted to do so. The situation is deeply disappointing. I met Councillor Steve Brady, the Labour leader of Hull City Council, only on Friday, when we discussed devolution. The hon. Lady can of course turn up at this afternoon’s meeting of the all-party parliamentary group on Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, where she will see a devolution double whammy with the Secretary...
Andrew Percy: I absolutely congratulate local leaders in the west of England on their grown-up approach, and my hon. Friend on his work on this deal, which will bring an additional £1 billion of investment in infrastructure, as well as devolving powers from this place to the local community on transport, adult skills, and housing and planning.
Andrew Percy: We have only announced regional allocations, so it is not correct to say at this point that the South East LEP will receive £55 million. The final figures will be announced in the coming weeks, and the initial funding allocations given to LEPs for discussion may change somewhat.
Andrew Percy: We all want to see our high streets succeed and thrive and that is why we have introduced the biggest cut in business rates, worth £6.7 billion. We have launched the high street pledge, we have introduced digital high street pilots, and we are celebrating our high streets through the Great British High Street award, the finalists of which we announced last week.
Andrew Percy: I know from my constituency how important the high street is in attracting people in. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for the work he is doing in his constituency. We saw an increase in footfall in August of 1.1%. We are working closely across government with our colleagues in DCMS on funds such as the Discover England Fund and, of course, the Coastal Communities Fund, which is funding a...
Andrew Percy: Of course, the business rate cut is helping 600,000 of the smallest businesses, which do not pay any business rates at all. It is fiscally neutral, and three quarters of businesses will see a cut. I would have thought that that would be something the hon. Gentleman would welcome.