Agenda and minutes

Contact: Mr Jim Hanna, Senior Democratic Services Officer  028 9027 0549

No. Item




No apologies were reported.




            The minutes of the meeting of 19th March were taken as read and signed as correct.  It was reported that those minutes had been adopted by the Council at its meeting on 1st April, subject to the omission of those matters in respect of which the Council had delegated its powers to the Committee.



Declarations of Interest


Councillor Walsh declared an interest in respect of items 5c – Heritage Trail Sign Policy – City Hall and item 5d - James Connolly Heritage Trail Sign, on the basis that he was involved in the James Connolly Heritage Trail initiative, and left the meeting whilst those items were being discussed.



Restricted Items


            The information contained in the reports associated with the following five items is restricted in accordance with Part 1 of Schedule 6 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014.


      Resolved – That the Committee agrees to exclude the members of the Press and public from the meeting during discussion of these items as, due to the nature of the items, there would be a disclosure of exempt information as described in Section 42(4) and Section 6 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014.



Medium Term Financial Plan


            The Director of Finance and Resources submitted for the Committee’s consideration a report providing an update on the Medium Term Financial Plan and seeking approval to adopt the Council’s first Commercial Plan.


            He explained that the Medium Term Financial Plan needed to be based on a fair and honest appraisal of the Council’s financial position and of its capacity to release resources internally and generate additional external income. The Financial Plan needed also to reflect the funding environment within which the Council operated and reference was made to the Covid-19 pandemic and earlier Primark fire as being examples of how the financial demands placed on the Council could, without warning, increase in severity.


            The Director reported that, following the completion of the rate setting process for 2021/22, the Council had a good understanding of the current financial position, although this could be impacted by any Covid-19 funding decisions made by the Department for Communities. He drew the Members’ attention to revenue estimate movements for the period from 2016/17 to 2021/22 and pointed out that the Council’s financial strategy over that period could be summarised by, amongst other things, keeping the annual rates increase below 2%, maximising external funding and using growth in the rate base to support recurrent funding of new priorities such as regeneration and the Belfast Region City Deal.


            He highlighted the fact that Members were ambitious for both the City and its residents and referred to new emerging priorities such as climate mitigation and adaptation, economic recovery and inclusive growth. Officers would, over the coming months, be working to develop detailed plans around those priorities, including the revenue and capital implications for the Council. Further reports would be submitted to the Committee outlining ways in which the Council could generate additional income, support the growth in the rate base, maximise external funding opportunities and deliver additional efficiencies.


            The Director went on to draw the Committee’s attention to the Commercial Plan, which would play a key role in maximising the use of existing resources and income generation moving forward. The Plan, which had been revised to reflect the feedback received from each of the Political Parties, would seek primarily to contribute to the Council’s investment plans and efficiency programme and to recover and rebuild in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. In order to support that work, the following six strategic aims had been identified:


                             i          to maximise opportunities to deliver more for our citizens, including those which are most vulnerable;


                            ii          to make better use of our assets for our citizens by achieving positive outcomes and superior value;


                           iii          to ensure the delivery of our services in the most cost-effective way;


                          iv          to contribute towards meeting the significant financial challenges faced by the Council by ensuring that we achieve value-for-money;


                            v          to adopt a commercial culture, whilst retaining strong public, community and social values; and


                          vi          to work with partners who share our vision and ambitions and continue to put the best interests of Belfast’s residents at  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Malone House - Options Paper


            The Director of Finance and Resources reminded the Committee that it had, earlier in the meeting, approved the Council’s first Commercial Plan.


            With that in mind, he submitted for the Committee’s consideration a report which presented a number of options around the future uses and management arrangements/operating models for Malone House, which was situated within Barnett Demesne.


            He explained that, since 1983, Malone House had become a venue for weddings, conferences, social functions, private dining and other events, with catering operations currently being provided by an external catering company, which operated under an agreed contract with the Council. However, it was recognised that there was now a need to examine future uses and management arrangements/operating models, with a view to addressing both the current and potential future needs of local residents and visitors.


Accordingly, he drew the Members’ attention to the following options:


Option 1 - ‘Do Nothing’/Status Quo;


Option 2 - ‘Do Minimum’ – catering operation is insourced i.e. delivered

                                         by the Council;


Option 3 - A suitably experienced and dynamic individual(s)/   

                 business(es) is identified to operate Malone House;


Option 4 - Alternative use or management/operating model for Malone

                 House; and


Option 5 - Dispose of Malone House (included for illustrative purposes



            The Director reviewed each option in turn and stated that, on balance, it was considered that Option 3 offered the greatest potential to make better use of this important physical asset, in terms of fulfilling the needs of local residents and visitors, and he recommended that the Committee adopt that option.


After discussion, it was


Moved by Councillor McLaughlin,

Seconded by Councillor Beattie,


      That the Committee agrees to adopt Option 4.




            Moved by Councillor McAllister,

            Seconded by Councillor Lyons,


      That the Committee agrees to adopt Option 3, as recommended within the report.


            On a recorded vote, twelve Members voted for the amendment and eight against and it was declared carried.


For 12


Against 8

The High Sheriff (Councillor Long);

Aldermen Dorrian, Haire, Kingston and Sandford; and Councillors Bunting, Heading, Lyons, McAllister,

McDonough-Brown, McReynolds and Pankhurst.


Councillor Black (Chairperson); and

Councillors Beattie, Carson, Garrett, Groogan, McLaughlin, Murphy and Walsh.


            The amendment was thereupon put to the meeting as the substantive motion and passed.



Good and Harmonious Working Environment


            In response to an issue which had been raised by a Member in relation to background images being displayed by another Member during this and previous remote meetings, in the context of promoting a good and harmonious working environment, the Committee agreed to refer the matter to the Party Group Leaders for consideration.



Appointment of Climate Commissioner


            The Committee noted that, following recent recruitment exercises, Ms. Debbie Caldwell and Ms. Catherine Matthews had been appointed to the posts of Climate Commissioner and Operational Director of City and Neighbourhood Services (Waste Control), respectively.



Update on Organisational Recovery and Covid Management


            The Committee noted the contents of a report which provided information on:


                             i.          the opening of Council services and facilities, as part of a series of relaxations which had been announced by the Northern Ireland Executive under its Pathway out of Restrictions; and


                            ii.          the Council’s ongoing work around organisational recovery and Covid-19 management. 



Belfast Destination Hub – Acquisition of Site 10


            The Committee:


                             i          noted the update on the site acquisition process for the Belfast Destination Hub, following the Committee’s decision of 18th September, 2020 to authorise officers to examine options for the acquisition of the Corporately endorsed preferred site at Royal Avenue/North Street (Site 10), including seeking legal advice and real estate valuation;


                            ii          noted the position regarding the City Deal Outline Business Case timeline and the criticality of a decision on the acquisition of a site;


                           iii          agreed that a site visit be undertaken to Site 10 and that a further briefing session be organised, to which an external expert valuation specialist and economist would be invited;


                          iv          agreed that the leaders of those Political Parties who were not represented on the Committee be invited to the site visit and briefing session; and


                            v          noted that a report requiring a decision on the acquisition of the site would be submitted to its meeting in May.



Matters referred back from Council/Motions


            Apologies were reported on behalf of Councillors Beattie, Keenan and Kennedy.



Motion – Funding for the Citywide Tribunal Service pdf icon PDF 401 KB


            The Committee was reminded that, at the Council meeting on 1st April, the following motion on Funding for the Citywide Tribunal Service had been proposed by Councillor Ferguson and seconded by Councillor Matt Collins:


“This Council notes with alarm that the Belfast Citywide Tribunal Service once again faces closure due to a lack of funding.


The Council is deeply concerned with the lack of core funding offered to this service over the past year and notes that the recent Department for Communities budget did not include a necessary funding package to retain this vital service.


The Council, therefore, calls on the Minister for Communities to immediately release core funding for the Citywide Tribunal Service of £256,769 per annum, in order to meet the growing need and pressure which the service faces and calls for an urgent meeting with the Minister, with a view to securing its long term future.


Until then, the Council will provide £128,500 through its reserves, if necessary and refers the matter to the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee for consideration.”


            The Director of Finance and Resources reported that the Council had, in the previous year, provided funding of £75,000 to the Citywide Tribunal Service, following the completion of a due diligence exercise. The Department for Communities had contributed £70,400 over the same period but it was his understanding that it had yet to allocate funding for this year. He confirmed that, should the Committee be minded to provide funding of £128,500, as called for in the motion, £75,000 could be made available immediately from the Council’s reserves. The Council would, however, be required to undertake additional due diligence to justify the allocation of the remaining £53,500. He added that the City and Neighbourhood Services Department had provided the Service with £15,000 of grant funding towards the development of a sustainable financial model, moving forward, and that work on that was continuing but would be unlikely to be completed within the current year.   


            With the permission of the Chairperson, Councillor Ferguson highlighted the importance of the Citywide Tribunal Service and pointed out that it had been forced to operate year-on-year without a clear core funding commitment. She explained that the Service could provide Council officers with valid reasons for the increase in its costs and referred also to the increased workload which staff were facing, particularly around the Personal Independent Payment tribunal process, and the uncertain operating conditions in which they were working.  She urged the Committee to support her request for £128,500 to be allocated to the Service to allow it to remain open for the period ahead and concluded by stressing the need to meet with the Minister for Communities at the earliest opportunity to discuss its long-term future.    


            After discussion, the Committee:


i.        agreed to allocate funding of £75,000 from the Council’s reserves to the Citywide Tribunal Service for this year; and


ii.      agreed, in principle, to allocate the remaining £53,500 to the Citywide Tribunal Service, subject to all due diligence requirements being met,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.


Motion- Uplift on Universal Credit - Response from Minister for Welfare Delivery pdf icon PDF 404 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee was reminded that the Council, at its meeting on 7th January, had passed the following motion, which had been proposed by Councillor Heading and seconded by Councillor Lyons:


“This Council recognises the positive impact of the £20 uplift on Universal Credit implemented in April 2020.


The Council also recognises that, since March 2020, the unemployment claimant count has doubled to at least 60,000 in Northern Ireland and with a recession expected in the spring only to worsen the situation for many households.  The Chancellor of the Exchequer has failed to provide certainty that the £20 uplift on UC will remain beyond March 2021 meaning many families are potentially facing a loss of £1,040 a year to their incomes overnight. Charity Action for Children has warned that more than one in 10 families in the north are already having to choose between paying bills and eating meals.


The Council calls on the UK government to put a protective shield around struggling families by ensuring that March's Budget makes clear that Universal Credit will not be cut by £20 a week in the spring. Finally, the Council agrees to write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer requesting he maintain the £20 uplift on Universal Credit in April 2021 and extending the £20 uplift to all legacy benefits.”


            The City Solicitor reminded the Committee that, at its meeting on 19th February, it had noted a response from HM Treasury, on behalf of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and had agreed that a further letter be forwarded to the Chancellor highlighting the importance of the uplift payment, given the high levels of poverty in Northern Ireland, and urging him to extend it beyond March, 2021.


            He reported that Will Quince MP, Minister for Welfare Delivery, had, within his response to that letter, pointed out that, since the start of the pandemic, the Government's priority had been to protect lives and people's livelihoods. With that in mind, the Chancellor had announced in the recent Budget that the Government would be extending the temporary £20 a week increase in Universal Credit for a further six months, until the end of September, taking it well beyond the end of this national lockdown. Eligible Working Tax Credit claimants would receive a one-off payment of £500. The Minister had concluded by stating that it was right that the Government should now shift its focus to supporting people back into work and that it had a comprehensive Plan for Jobs which the Budget would built upon.


            The Committee noted the information which had been provided.





Freedom of the City – Frontline Workers and Covid-19 Response pdf icon PDF 436 KB


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report


1.1             The purpose of this report is to set out the options available to deliver a public facing programme to recognise the work of the city’s frontline during the Covid-19 pandemic.


The options are set out to safely deliver a programme in the context of ongoing Covid-19 and inclusive of budget implications.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to note the proposal within this report and to agree the recommended option for a programme of events from May – October, 2021.


3.0       Main Report


3.1       At the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee meeting on 22nd May 2020, it was agreed to award the Freedom of the City to healthcare workers and all those working tirelessly on the frontline to care for vulnerable citizens during the Covid-19 pandemic, with Members agreeing that a report outlining proposed arrangements for this to be submitted in due course. Therefore, this report sets out a proposed programme to include both a reflective event of commemoration as well as a citywide recognition event with community participation.


            Frontline Workers Freedom of the City


3.2       The Council has agreed to stage an event to recognise the contribution of all frontline workers during the Covid-19 crisis.  Following consideration of the likely timeline for the return of live events in line with the roll out of the vaccination programme, this report sets out a recommended way forward. 


            PROGRAMME OF EVENTS aligned to City Recovery and UNESCO City of Music bid


3.3       The concept would be to deliver a programme that would run from May 2021 through to autumn 2021. The beginning and end of the programme would be symbolically marked with an event. The final event would include the Freedom of the City ceremony.


            Strand One: Reflection through the Symbolism of Planting Trees


3.4       May 2021: Announcement/ launch of the programme with an appropriately reflective event to recognise the challenges the city has faced, including the loss of lives. It is proposed that this should be a tree planting event.


3.5       This element of the concept would entail symbolically marking the Freedom of the City with tree planting which would run alongside the wider programme of events, allowing for a physical memorial to the shared experience of the pandemic. Our public spaces have seen considerably higher usage and have been critical in supporting physical and mental wellbeing. This concept also ties in with ongoing Council strategies such as One Million Trees.


3.6       This strand of the programme would support the planting of a memorial tree in the grounds of Belfast City Hall, subject to appropriate planning considerations. It is proposed that a distinct evergreen variety be selected to provide a year round memorial. The planting of the tree in May this year would launch the Freedom of the City programme.


            Strand Two: Honouring the Contribution of City’s Frontline Workers and Communities


3.7       The second strand of the programme will be developed around the theme of music. Music has played  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.


Council/Committee Meetings - Post 6th May, 2021 pdf icon PDF 241 KB


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to propose arrangements for holding Council/Committee meetings following the expiry of the legislation permitting the hosting of remote meetings. 


2.0       Recommendation


2.1       The Committee is requested to agree to changes to Standing Orders, as set out in the report, to enable the current arrangements for the hosting of remote meetings to continue.


3.0       Main Report


3.1       Background


3.1.1     As Members will be aware, the Council has had to alter its normal decision-making processes during the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure that it is following Public Health Agency guidance on social distancing and essential travel, while maintaining continuity of critical services, and is currently holding Council and Committee meetings remotely via Microsoft Teams.


3.1.2     The authority to meet remotely is governed by Section 78 of the Coronavirus Act 2020.  The aim of this provision is allow local authority meetings to be held remotely, including remote access by members of the public, subject to the relevant national authority making the appropriate regulations.


3.1.3     The relevant legislation was made by the Northern Ireland Assembly - The Local Government (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of District Council Meetings) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 – and came into effect from 1st May, 2020.


3.2       Key Issues


3.2.1     The key issue is that, whilst regulations are currently in place, these expire on 6th May, 2021, meaning that, without steps being taken, the Council and its Committees can no longer meet remotely to make decisions after that date and would be required to be physically ‘present’  to make decisions.


3.2.2     There is currently no provision to allow the Assembly to extend the regulations as they were enacted in exercise of the powers conferred by section 78 (3) of the Coronavirus Act 2020 – ‘The regulations may make provision only in relation to local authority meetings required to be held, or held, before 7th May, 2021.’


3.2.3     This is a UK-wide issue and a number of organisations [the Association of Democratic Services Officers (ADSO) and Lawyers in Local Government (LLG) have been lobbying the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to change primary legislation to enable local authority remote meetings to take place beyond the current statutory deadline of 6th May 2021.  The Secretary of State has indicated that he has no plans to extend the date, as it requires primary legislation and there is no vehicle to do that in time for May.


3.2.4     Accordingly ADSO and LLG, in conjunction with Hertfordshire County Council, have commenced legal proceedings in the High Court to allow for the continuation of local authority meetings beyond 6th May (as of 27/3/21 the claim has been issued in the High Court and they are awaited for the case to be listed for hearing).


3.2.5     However, that challenge is to the Local Government Act 1972 which applies to local authorities in England, so even, if successful, the Department of Communities  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.


Standards and Business Committee - Draft Terms of Reference pdf icon PDF 609 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to update the Committee on the development of draft Terms of Reference for a new Standards and Business Committee.


2.0       Recommendation


2.1       The Committee is recommended to note the report.


3.0       Main Report


3.1       Background


3.1.1     The Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, at its meeting on 18th September 2020, agreed to introduce additional arrangements to ensure that the Council, its officers and Elected Members maintain the highest standards of conduct in all that they do.  It was agreed that the Council establish a Standards Committee whose main functions would be to promote, sustain and safeguard the conduct of Councillors within the Council and the probity of all the Council’s proceedings. 


3.1.2     The role of the Committee will include the promotion and maintenance of high standards of conduct by Members and officers, a commitment to joint working across political groups and between officer and Members, oversight of any training required on all matters relating to standards and conduct, advising the Council on the Code of Conduct for Councillors and oversight of the Members’ Register and Declaration of Interests and associated procedures. 


3.1.3     The Committee will seek to enhance Member/Officer relations and promote a shared understanding of roles and responsibilities when working collectively in a political environment.


3.1.4     In response to discussions at subsequent Committee meetings and with Party Groups it has been proposed that the new committee may also incorporate responsibility for specific roles in relation to managing some of the business of the Council, including reviewing Standing Orders and a delegated power to receive Notices of Motion.  The Committee will operate on the basis of all Party membership but Members will note that this will require a facilitative arrangement with mutual agreement from all parties.


3.2       Standards and Business Committee – Proposed Terms of Reference


3.2.1     The main functions of the proposed Standards and Business Committee would be to promote, sustain and safeguard the conduct of Councillors within the Council; to promote a collaborative working relationship between senior officers and Members; to ensure the probity of all the Council’s proceedings; and to review and improve processes in relation to bringing business before the Council, including any review of Standing Orders. 


3.2.2     The Committee will have oversight of a Local Resolution Protocol which will deal with ‘low level disputes’ between Members alleging breaches of the Code of Conduct for Councillors and will aim to restore positive working relationships through mediation. 


3.2.3     The Committee will have delegated authority to consider any recommendation by the Monitoring Officer to refer any Councillor to the Local Government Commissioner for Standards in respect of any potential breach of the Code of Conduct for Councillors, particularly where the alleged breach relates to a matter which would potentially have a reputational consequence for the Council.  In such cases the Monitoring Officer will retain a residual right to refer any matter to the Commissioner for Standards regardless of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.


Belfast Agenda/Strategic Issues


Review of the Belfast Agenda pdf icon PDF 553 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0     Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues


1.1            The purpose of this report is update the Committee on the suggested approach and indicative timeline for a range of consultation and engagement activities to review the Belfast Agenda, where Members will have an opportunity to shape the refreshed Community Plan.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


·        provide feedback on the stages and proposed consultation and engagement milestones to review the Belfast Agenda; and


·        note the role that Elected Members will play in refreshing the community plan detailed in section 3.14.


3.0       Main Report


            Duty to Review Community Plan 


3.1       Sections 69 and 70 of the Local Government Act 2014 set out the statutory requirements for the review of community plans which must be completed before the fourth anniversary of the date on which the Plan was published. This means that the first review of the Belfast Agenda is required by November 2021. 


3.2       Current events and the disruption to normal working arrangements have understandably created a difficulty for community planning partnerships to meet these requirements in the manner initially envisaged. The Department for Communities have therefore written to the Chairs of community planning partnerships, recognising that as part of the ongoing response to COVID-19, actions to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, will inform a very large element of any review. The Department considers that this will be sufficient to meet the legislative requirements for Partnerships to formally confirm that a review of the community plan has been conducted. 


3.3       While not statutory, the link between community plans and the Programme for Government creates practical difficulties as community plans will naturally wish to reflect any substantial change to the PfG Outcomes which may be decided by the Executive. The attached letter also includes a recommendation that Partnerships should therefore consider committing to carrying out a further review before April 2022, to facilitate the timetabling around the PfG. 


            Additional Drivers for Change 


3.4       In addition to the legislative requirement to review the community plan, there is an imperative need to revise the areas the city will focus on in the short term to drive recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic. As the true effects emerge, we need to ensure our city economy and communities are able to rebuild in the coming months and years.


3.5       The Belfast Agenda was influenced by a set of shared values that have shaped its design. As part of its first formal review, we wish to reflect on lessons learned to date. We are driven by values of innovation and a focus on outcomes for people and we will identify what we need to do differently to make the next 4 years a success.  


3.6       There is a growing literature providing recommendations for community planning including Dr Johann Gallagher’s SIB report, ‘Towards a Programme of Support for Community Planning in Northern Ireland’ and Carnegie UK Trust’s recommendation (endorsed by committee in March 2021) following the ‘Embedding a Wellbeing Framework in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.


Update on Smart Belfast pdf icon PDF 166 KB


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0     Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues


1.1       The development of a world class ‘Smart District’ is about harnessing place-based digital innovation to support the city centre’s recovery and the transformation of the wider city.  


            In particular, the importance of advanced wireless connectivity has been identified to support Belfast’s economic ambition and will form the backbone of the ‘Belfast Smart District’.


1.2       The Council has been working with city partners and industry experts to consider how best to prepare a significant proposal to the Belfast Region City Deal’s Infrastructure Enabling Fund that will stimulate investment and the rapid deployment of advanced wireless connectivity.


1.3       Following positive responses from key partners, it is proposed that the Council now proceeds to a detailed feasibility study to determine the optimal model for investment.


1.4       The paper also provides short updates on two Smart Belfast initiatives:


            A request by the Northern Ireland Trusted Research Environment (NITRE) for the Council to participate in a proposed Northern Ireland pilot project to establish a citizen’s panel which will consider issues associated with unlocking health data for innovation; and


            Belfast’s success in being selected by the Intelligent Communities Forum as one of 21 ‘Smart Communities of 2021’.



2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


1.     note the work to date on advanced wireless infrastructure and its importance to the Belfast’s economic and transformation/recovery ambitions;


2.     approve a feasibility study to determine the optimal model for investment in support of advanced wireless connectivity;


3.     approve the Council’s role, working with government partners, in the design of a proposed NI citizen’s panel to consider issues associated with unlocking health data for innovation; and


4.     note Belfast’s award of ‘Smart 21 Communities’ by the Intelligent Communities Forum and its progress to the final of ‘Intelligent Community of the Year’.


3.0       Main Report


3.1       The Smart Belfast programme was established by the Council to foster collaborative innovation between the public sector, universities, business and the wider community. Over the past three years it has worked with partners to exploit the opportunities of emerging digital technologies such as AI and 5G for positive economic and societal impact. The approach has proven successful and has subsequently informed the content of the Digital pillar of the Belfast Region City Deal and its proposals for a world class Smart District and testbeds programme and Infrastructure Enabling Fund.


3.2       The underlying premise for the Smart District is that the powerful combination of digital technologies, collaborative innovation and place-based development can have a transformative impact on a city’s wider economy and future services. A Smart District will not only attract businesses and investment, it can also act as a testbed for innovative solutions to major urban challenges such as mobility, energy, and sustainable neighbourhoods. A well-curated district provides a rich testing ground from planners, policymakers, researchers and innovators. Once proven, successful solutions can then be adopted at scale across a city.


3.3       The proposals for the ‘Belfast Smart District’  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.


Heritage Trail Sign Policy – City Hall pdf icon PDF 310 KB


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1             The Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on 19th March considered a request to permit the installation of an interpretative interactive sign on a bollard facing the North West lawn at the City Hall. 


1.2             There is currently no policy to cover this type of request.  Given that there are a number of cultural heritage type projects in development and a focus on community tourism, it was considered that there are likely to be further requests of this nature in the future.  Members expressed some concern given the sensitivity of the City Hall as a listed building and were anxious to ensure that its setting and appearance would not be detrimentally impacted, notwithstanding the fact that no listed building consent is required for the installation of such signs.   Some concern was expressed in relation to the installation of these signs against the front façade of City Hall, even though they are not attached to the building. 


1.3             The purpose of this report is to establish a potential policy regulating the installation of these signs at City Hall and within the curtilage of the grounds.


2.0       Recommendation


2.1       The Committee is asked to consider the proposed policy and/or make recommendations as it sees fit. 


3.0       Main Report


3.1       Against the context of the City Hall being a listed building, it is clearly important to ensure that appropriate restrictions are put in place.  Multiple signs placed on the bollards would be unlikely to enhance the appearance of the building.  If Members were minded to permit the installation of these signs in City Hall grounds, it is recommended that no more than four could be placed on the bollards within the ground to the front of City Hall.  It is recommended that they would be all uniform in size and shape, in the case of the current application 300mm and round.  Under no circumstances would such a sign be permitted to be attached to the building.  In respect of the east and west sides of the City Hall, it is recommended that no signs would be permitted.  However, exceptionally, if an application were to be received related to the content of either of those sides of City Hall, that is the Cenotaph or the Titanic Memorial Gardens, then such an application could be considered but only one at each location.


3.2       All other applications for interactive signage, subject to approval, would be accommodated by the provision of an interactive screen at the entrance to the exhibition.  In keeping with the EQIA carried out independently for the City Hall grounds, the ambition would be to ensure balanced content and inclusivity.  Subject to the content promoted by interactive signage it is a potential means by which some element of rebalancing can be achieved in which a more contemporary image of the City can be portrayed.  The content promoted by the interactive signage should have some relationship with the material and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.


James Connolly Heritage Trail Sign pdf icon PDF 142 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee was reminded that it had, earlier in the meeting, in approving a Heritage Trail Sign Policy, agreed to initiate a four-week expression of interest exercise to provide any organisation wishing to develop a heritage trail involving the City Hall with an opportunity to apply to have their sign erected.


            On that basis, the Committee agreed to defer a request from Redhead Exhibition to install an interpretative interactive sign on a bollard facing the North West lawn in the grounds of the City Hall until such time as the expression of interest exercise had concluded.



Peace Plus 2021-2027 Consultation (Content/Administration) pdf icon PDF 247 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0     Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues


1.1       Members will be aware of the development of Peace Plus, which is a new cross-border programme that will contribute to a more prosperous and stable society in Northern Ireland and the border region of Ireland. It will succeed of both the current 2014 -2020 PEACEIV and INTERREG VA Programmes.


1.2       The Council provided a formal response in February 2020 to the consultation on the Peace Plus policy objectives and the Special European Union Programmes Body (SEUPB) is currently consulting further on the content and administrative arrangements for the future Peace Plus programme.


1.1            The purpose of this report is to submit for the Committee’s consideration the draft Council response to the current consultation being undertaken by SEUPB on the Peace Plus Programme 2021 – 2027.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to consider/approve:


-       The draft consultation response; and


-       The draft cover letter providing further information to SEUPB on the opportunities for closer alignment of the Peace Plus Programme with Council and Belfast Agenda strategic ambitions.


3.0       Main Report




3.1       SEUPB has recently opened the public consultation phase of the PEACE PLUS Programme (value €1 billion) to seek views on the content and administrative arrangements of the overall PEACE PLUS Programme. The public consultation document published by SEUPB can be accessed here


3.2       The public consultation opened on 10th March 2021 and the deadline for responses is 12th May 2021.  The consultation document has been prepared on the basis of extensive cross Council engagement to ensure the collective strategic ambitions of the Council and the Belfast Agenda have been reflected. 


3.3       The PEACE PLUS Programme policy objectives were developed through extensive stakeholder engagement, which took place between December 2019 and February 2020. A total of 16 public events were held across the programme area, with over 1,000 people in attendance. Over 300 survey responses were submitted.  


3.4       The overall Peace Plus Programme strategic policy objectives are summarised below (indicative regional budgets have been provided against each theme for information:


Theme 1 – Building Peaceful and Thriving Communities (210m)

Theme 2 – Delivering Economic Regeneration and Transformation (143m)

Theme 3 – Empowering and Investing in Our Young People (110m)

Theme 4 – Healthy and Inclusive Communities (155m)

Theme 5 – Supporting a Sustainable and Better Connected Futures (265m)

Theme 6 – Building and Embedding Partnership and Collaboration (47m)


3.5       Belfast City Council’s history of excellence in delivery of peace and reconciliation programmes, as well as economic and regional development programmes means that the council is uniquely placed to continue to successfully deliver both capital and revenue projects for citizens of Belfast and the region under this forthcoming Peace Plus Programme.


3.6       This is further amplified with the opportunities provided by Community Planning to bring statutory partners and communities together as we collectively work towards those ambitions, and in particular, the next stage  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.


Physical Programme and Asset Management


Update on Physical Programme pdf icon PDF 332 KB


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0     Purpose of Report or Summary of Main Issues


1.1            The Council’s Physical Programme covers 170 current capital projects under a range of internal and external funding streams, together with projects which the Council delivers on behalf of external agencies. The Council’s Capital Programme forms part of the Physical Programme and is a rolling programme of investment which either improves existing Council facilities or provides new facilities. The purpose of this report is to seek approval for Stage movements on the Capital Programme.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to agree the following movements under the Capital Programme:


·        Boodles Dam project (Stage 3 – Committed) proceed to contract award, with a maximum £560,000 budget allocated; and


·        Waterfront Hall Escalators project moves to Stage 3 – Committed under the Capital Programme, with a maximum £1.1m budget allocated, subject to contract.


3.0       Main Report


3.1       Members will be aware that the Council runs a substantial physical programme under a range of funding streams including the capital programme, BIF and LIF together with the projects which it is delivering on behalf of other agencies including the Executive Office, the Department for Communities and Department for Infrastructure. There are currently 170 live projects worth in excess of £120m, as well as 100+ early stage uncommitted projects and £300m+ of completed projects which still receive dedicated resourcing effort.


Proposed Movements - Capital Programme


3.2       Members agreed that all capital projects must go through a three stage process where decisions on which capital projects progress are taken by the Committee. This provides assurance as to the level of financial control and will allow Members to properly consider the opportunity costs of approving one capital project over another capital project. Members are asked to agree to the following movements on the Capital Programme:






Boodles Dam

Abandonment and



To safely decommission Boodles Dam and

develop the site for amenity use (located at Ligoniel Park – off the Ligoniel Road)


Stage 3 – Committed:

Proceed to contractor

appointment with a maximum budget of £560,000


Waterfront Hall Escalators


Upgrade of the Waterfront Escalators due to operational requirements


Move to Stage 3 – Committed

with a maximum budget of £1.1m



Boodles Dam Abandonment and Redevelopment

3.3       Members will be aware that in September 2019 the Committee agreed to move Boodles Dam to Stage 3 – Committed. It was held at pre-tender stage pending tender return and Planning approval. Members are asked to note that a satisfactory tender return has now been achieved and it is recommended that a maximum of £560,000 is now allocated to this project, subject contract. The Director of Finance and Resources has confirmed that this is within the affordability limits of the Council. Members are also asked to note that Council officers are working closely with the Living With Water Team on project including discussions on a wider project on the Mill Race within the Park.

Waterfront Hall Escalators

3.4  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.


Assets Management pdf icon PDF 239 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee approved the following:


                                     i.          Land at Village Green


-        the granting of a licence to the Greater Village Regeneration Trust for the installation of planters and benches at Village Green and their ongoing maintenance for a period of two years;


                                   ii.          Sally Gardens


-        the acquisition of c.0.053 acres of land from the Department for Communities; and



                                  iii.          Old Golf Course Road


-        the acquisition of c.0.0064 acres of land from the Department for Infrastructure.



Update on Area Working Groups pdf icon PDF 391 KB

Additional documents:


Subject to the declaration which had been made by Councillor T. Kelly being amended to reflect that her husband was on the Board of Belfast South Community Resources, rather than an employee, the Committee approved and adopted the minutes of the meeting of the South Belfast Area Working Group of 25th March, including the following recommendations:


i.            Lagan Gateway Project – to approve the recommendation on operation and management of the lock and associated areas by the Lagan Navigation Trust and note that recommendations which were made to the People and Communities Committee in April regarding a naming competition for the new bridge and an art piece in partnership with UK Youth for Nature;


ii.           Sandy Row Tourism Signage Project – to approve the recommendation that the Council acts as the delivery agent for the Belfast South Community Resources – Sandy Row Tourism signage SOF04 project;


iii.          Community Capacity Building and Community Infrastructure Needs in Balmoral DEA – that a mapping exercise on the current provision of community capacity and infrastructure in the Balmoral District Electoral Area, its core functions and gaps in provision, be incorporated into the mapping exercise which had already commenced around community and physical infrastructure provision in South Belfast overall; and


iv.         that a letter be forwarded to the Minister for Justice requesting that the Council be given additional enforcement powers around the seizure of alcohol and noise control, in the context of the opening of the night time economy once the Covid-19 restrictions had been lifted.



Finance, Procurement and Performance


Update on Contracts pdf icon PDF 44 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee approved the public advertisement of tenders, in line with Standing Order 37a, as detailed in table the below:


Competitive Tenders


Title of Tender











Short description of goods /




Management and

coordination/referrals of

service provision for the

Traveller Communities. (fully funded)



Up to 1

year and 5






S Toland /

R Black


To develop and enhance

infrastructure that enables a

coordinated approach in

accessing services and service

delivery for the Travelling

Community in Belfast.



Design and programme

management support for

each of the key stages of the Belfast Agenda refresh as agreed by the Belfast

Community Planning




Up to 2






J Tully



Sections 69 and 70 of the Local

Government Act 2014 set out the

statutory requirements for the review of community plans which must be completed before the fourth anniversary of the date on

which the Plan was published.



2023 Creative Development


Up to 2.5






A Reid



Seeking external expertise and

leadership in the hosting of a

large-scale cultural programme in

Belfast in 2023.



Telephony software

assurance and support



Up to 1






R Cregan



The corporate telephony solution

requires that all devices and

users have licensing support in the form of software assurance.

This not only provides ongoing

support, but also functionality.



T2085 (b) Provision of a

Shared Spaces and Services Volunteer Training PEACE IV Programme Services



Up to 24





S Toland /

R Black



Delivery of volunteer training as part of the Peace IV programme

of work - Seeking re approved as

duration has increased.


            The Committee agreed that a request to approve the public advertisement of tenders for the hire of minibuses/coaches for Council events and for the provision of taxi services be deferred until its next meeting to enable further information to be provided. 




Equality and Good Relations


Revised Dual Language Street Signs Policy pdf icon PDF 201 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0     Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to seek Committee approval for the revised Dual Language Street Signs Policy to reflect the approach agreed by Members which was ratified by the Council in January 2021 for the purposes of issuing for public consultation.


2.0       Recommendation


2.1       The Committee is asked to approve the draft policy, as attached.


3.0       Main Report


3.1       Background


            Legislative basis


            Article 11 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Northern Ireland) Order 1995, provides for street naming, street numbering and the provision of street signs. It also gives Councils the discretionary power to erect dual language street signs or secondary nameplates in a language other than English. Article 11(4) requires the Council in deciding whether to exercise its discretion in relation to the erection of a second nameplate, to have regard to any views on the matter expressed by the occupiers of premises in a street.



3.2       Background to the Dual Language Street Signs Policy


            The Council first agreed a Dual Language Street Sign Policy in 1995 but deferred implementation of it to enable resource implications to be agreed. In 1998, the Council agreed to implement the policy which provides that only applications supported by a petition of one third of residents of the street will trigger a formal consultation of residents on the street. If two-thirds of the residents of the street respond positively to the consultation, the threshold is deemed to be met for the erection of a second language street sign.


3.3       In 2007, the Council agreed a one-year pilot whereby any application submitted through local Elected Representatives be progressed directly to survey stage. In 2008 Council agreed to revert to the original policy.


3.4       The policy was incorporated into a new wider Policy on Naming of Streets and Numbering of Buildings which had been drafted to provide clear guidance on the naming of street and numbering of buildings in 2009. In 2012, the Council reaffirmed the existing policy after considering a number of proposed amendments. 


3.5       The policy was subject to a judicial review in 2014 which was successfully defended by the Council (the results of which were reported to committee in 2015). In summary, Mr Justice Horner found that the Council’s decision making process was lawful; as a general proposition, international treaties or agreements which have not been incorporated into national laws are not enforceable; and that the Council had a residual discretion within the policy to allow due consideration being given to the particular circumstances of each application.


3.6       Key Issues


            New agreed approach


            On 7th January 2021, the Council ratified a decision taken by the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on 23rd October to adopt a new policy position, following a Notice of Motion which was raised in February 2020. Different approaches were proposed. Legal advice was given setting out the need to include certain parameters otherwise some of the proposed approaches  ...  view the full minutes text for item 31.


Language Strategy - Proposed Strategic Approach pdf icon PDF 435 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0     Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues


1.1            The purpose of this report is to request approval for a proposed strategic approach for the implementation of the Language Strategy.



2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to approve the establishment of:

i.    a cross-party, bi-annual / quarterly Member Language Strategy Working Group;


ii.   a new external Irish Language Forum and a new external Ulster-Scots Forum to add to the existing Council stakeholder fora for the other language communities; and


iii.  an internal Language Strategy officer working group.


3.0       Main Report


3.1       Background


The Council launched its Language Strategy in April 2018, which has two key purposes:


1.     Indigenous languages: to protect and promote awareness of our indigenous languages: Irish and Ulster-Scots; and


2.     Other languages: to promote access to, inclusion of and awareness of other languages: sign languages, the languages of new communities who live in Belfast, and languages and communication for disabled people.


3.2       The Language Strategy was introduced to reflect:


1.     To protect and promote awareness of our two indigenous languages:


·        historical international frameworks aimed at protecting and promoting regional and  minority languages[1] which, while not legally binding until enshrined into domestic  law, the UK is a signatory state;


·        commitments under the Belfast / Good Friday Agreement 1998 and the St Andrews Agreement 2006;


·        regional strategies and frameworks such as DCAL’s Irish Language and Ulster-Scots Strategies in 2015;


·        developments in approach to language issues in Belfast City Council and other councils in NI


2. To promote access to, inclusion of and awareness of other languages


·          changing demographics in the city population and the need to promote access to Council services in languages other than English


·          national laws promoting diversity and inclusion.


3.3       Background to the Development of the Language Strategy


The Council first considered the issue of language and the implications of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in 2002. In 2006, the Council agreed a Language Policy to address legislative obligations based on the needs and priorities of linguistic groups and to act as a guide for Council officers. This policy was subsequently extended in 2007 to cover signage in all Council facilities that “the signs inside Council properties be either pictorial, tactile or in English or a combination of these, but that a multi-lingual Welcome sign be provided where there is appropriate demand”.


3.4       The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission was critical of this decision in its 2010 Briefing Paper on Minority Language Rights, noting that because it stipulates that the name of the facility can be in English only that it “in effect, prohibits the use of Irish in signage on all of the Council facilities”. Their view was that the policy generally conflicts with the spirit of and is also incompatible with several articles of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) in particular Article 10 which applies to Administrative authorities and public services.


3.5       The Council agreed to review the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 32.


Minutes of the Meeting of the Shared City Partnership pdf icon PDF 176 KB

Additional documents:


The Committee approved and adopted the minutes of the meeting of the Shared City Partnership held on 12th April, including the following recommendations:


                                     i.          to approve the proposed recruitment process for a Community and Voluntary Representative for East Belfast and agree that the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Shared City Partnership, together with the Good Relations Manager, conduct the shortlisting process and subsequent interviews;


                                    ii.          to note that the Committee would be required to endorse the successful applicant, prior to them being appointed;


                                   iii.          noted the indicative timetable for the recruitment process and that interviews might have to be conducted virtually, depending upon the public health regulations in place at that time; and


                                  iv.          noted that the meeting of the Shared City Partnership in May would take the form of a facilitated discussion on addressing sectarianism in the City, with an external facilitator being invited to facilitate the meeting, and that other agenda items would be kept to a minimum.



Operational Issues


Minutes of the Meeting of the Party Group Leaders’ Consultative Forum pdf icon PDF 384 KB


The Committee approved and adopted the minutes of the meeting of the Party Group Leaders’ Consultative Forum of 15th April.



Minutes of the Meeting of the Social Value Working Group pdf icon PDF 230 KB


            The Committee approved and adopted the minutes of the meeting of the Social Value Working Group of 30th March.



Requests for Use of the City Hall and the Provision of Hospitality pdf icon PDF 145 KB

Additional documents:


The Committee approved the recommendations made in respect of applications received up to 9th April, 2021, as set out below:











Belfast Law Society

September 2021


Dependent on City Hall recovery and COVID guidelines 

Centenary Year Celebration


to celebrate achievements and successes and to thank those who have contributed (very largely on a voluntary basis) to the Society’s work.


Numbers attending – 200


* Numbers and room layout will be reviewed and revised in line with COVID19 social distancing guidelines at the time of this event.


C & D

Yes - £825

No hospitality


Charge £825

No hospitality

Ulster University Business School

April 2022


Dependent on City Hall recovery and COVID guidelines 

Gastronomy Summit 2022Dinner as part of a 3-day conference in Ulster University Belfast Campus.


Numbers attending – 130


* Numbers and room layout will be reviewed and revised in line with COVID19 social distancing guidelines at the time of this event.



No – charity

No hospitality


No charge

No hospitality