Agenda and minutes

Contact: Mr Henry Downey, Democratic Services Officer  028 9027 0550

No. Item




An apology was recorded on behalf of Councillor McMullan.




            The minutes of the meeting of 13th and 20th May 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 June, subject to the omission of those matters in respect of which the Council had delegated its powers to the Committee.



Declarations of Interest


            Councillor Long declared an interest in respect of item 7b - Requests for the use of the City Hall, in that he was a member of the British Dental Association.  However, as the item did not become a matter of debate, he was not required to leave the meeting.



Restricted Items


            The information contained in the reports associated with the following twelve 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 the following twelve 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.



Year-End Finance Report 2021-22

Additional documents:


            The Director of Finance and Resources submitted for the Committee’s consideration a report on the year-end financial position for 2021/22. He provided financial performance of the council in the context of the agreed finance strategy which was put in place to manage the financial impact of Covid-19. He also highlighted those balances which would be available for re-allocation on a non-recurrent basis.


            Accordingly, he recommended that the Committee:


·        note the report and agree the 2021/22 balances;

·        agree to the year-end surplus of £10.6m being made available for re-allocation for non-recurrent purposes; and

·        note the Year-End Treasury Management Report 2021-22.


The Committee adopted the recommendations.



Non-Recurrent Re-allocations

Additional documents:


            The Director of Finance and Resources reminded the Committee that it had, during discussion on the previous item, agreed that the year-end surplus of £10.6m for 2021/22 be made available for re-allocation, to progress emerging projects and essential projects which did not have a recurring budget.


            Accordingly, he submitted for the Members’ approval the following proposals and confirmed that, if approved, specified reserves would be set aside to ensure that the funds were available for each proposal and would be managed by the relevant Responsible Officer:




Off Street Car Parking Pay and Display upgrade


Kerbside Collection


Full Shift Cover project


Planning consultants


Tribunal Service


Sanitary Waste Product


Waste Strategy


Port Health risk


CNS Department


Vacancy Grants Programme


Temporary Use of 2 Royal Avenue


Establish regeneration programme of work


Continuation of the Business Cluster & Community Grant Scheme


PE Department


Recruitment backlog and BSC recruitment


Local Area Energy Plan


Programme Coordinator for the Belfast Business Promise / City Charter


COS Department


Support for the roll-out of the Asset Management System


NRF Programme and project resourcing


Roll forward Non-Recurrent Capital


Capital contract construction cost rise risk


PP Department


Insurance reserve


Cyber Security Reserve


PSTN lines


Fin Res Department





            The Director advised that the City and Neighbourhood Services Department was undergoing significant change and permission was also being requested to set up a transformation reserve.  He explained that the departmental underspends in 2022/23 could be transferred to that reserve, subject to approval by the Director of Finance and Resources. This would enable the realignment of existing resources to fund service transformation across the department.           


            After discussion, the Committee


·        agreed to reallocate £6.3m of the year end surplus to Departmental proposals as set out above;

·        agreed to reallocate £2m of the remaining balance of £4.3m to the Neighbourhood Regeneration Fund and to distribute it within the Fund on the same basis as was used for the original allocation;

·        agreed to defer the allocation of the remaining £2.3m until a future date; and

·        agreed to the establishment of a Transformation and Improvement Reserve in City and Neighbourhood Services Department.



Kerbside Recycling Economic appraisal and next steps

Additional documents:


            The Committee was reminded that it had requested, preciously, the commissioning of an independent, economic appraisal on the future of kerbside recycling collections for Belfast.  The economic appraisal was completed by the consultants (Jettora) in October 2021. Subsequently, the findings of the report had been presented to the Waste Programme Board (November 2021), at Party Group Briefings (February 2022) and at the Party Group Leaders Forum (May 2022).


            The Operations Director Resources and Fleet outlined that the recommendations of the economic appraisal were a two-phased approach to outsourcing the implementation of the Wheelie-box model across the city. This approach was deemed as the most economically advantageous and least risk option for the Council and would be as follows


Phase 1: Implement Option 2 in the Inner City


·        Council acquisition and delivery of new containers (Wheelie-boxes and 180 litre residual bins) to inner city households.

·        Procurement of a new collection service contract for the inner city (includes new Resource Recovery Vehicles).

·        Close monitoring of contract performance against objectives.


Phase 2: Extend the above approach to the Outer City


·        Formal review of phase 1 against objectives, prior to contract expiry.

·        If formal review is positive, acquisition of Wheelie-boxes and 180 litre residual bins for the outer city.

·        Procurement of a contract to deliver services across the city.


            Feedback from Member briefings indicated there was a general desire by Members to work towards the in-housing of the service and a more bold and ambitious approach in delivering recycling services across the city.


            Accordingly, following the presentation of the findings to the Members, the Committee was being asked to adopt the following recommendations:


·        agree the commencement of a procurement exercise for external expertise to assist in producing a report on the potential “in-housing” of the inner-city kerbside sort recycling contract;

·        agree the commencement of a procurement exercise as outlined, for the provision of an interim, kerbside sort recycling service in the inner-city, in order to ensure service continuity upon current contract expiry in August 2023; and

·        note the potential to implement glass collection to the remainder of Belfast as an interim measure and in advance of the full Kerbside Collection deployment. This would be subject to agreed funding by the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee through the rate setting process.


            The Committee adopted the recommendations.



City Hall: Proposed recovery plan - update on progress


            The Committee noted a report which provided an update in relation to the progress on the City Hall reopening and recovery.



Dual Language Street Signs Policy Public Consultation and EQIA pdf icon PDF 613 KB

(Restriction removed 15/7/2022)

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered a report which provided an update on the results of the public consultation to the proposed changes to the council’s Dual Language Street Signs Policy and the conclusions reached in the accompanying Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA).  A report on the consultation and the EQIA final decision report had been appended to the report.


            The Chief Executive reported that the public consultation had opened online on the Your Say Belfast platform on 22nd November 2021 and had closed on 28th February 2022. The survey was available in both the English and Irish languages.


            There was a total of 4.4k visits to the consultation page and 1,078 written responses (785 in the English language version and 293 in the Irish language version).  Officers had arranged four online public information sessions, which had a total of 4 attendees and each political party on the Council had been offered a briefing session.  Information sessions had also been held for stakeholder groups, which included Irish language groups and academia, the Ulster Scots Agency and the Council’s Equality Forum, Migrant Forum and Disability Advisory Panel.


            The consultation survey had focused on five proposed changes to the Dual Language Street Signs policy.  For four of the five questions, respondents had been asked to indicate the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with the proposed changes, and they could comment if they wished.  For the remaining proposed change relating to the operation of the Council’s residual discretion, respondents were asked to comment. Respondents were also asked to comment on any aspect of the proposed policy that had not been addressed by the preceding questions.


            The survey also gave respondents the option to comment on the draft Equality Impact Assessment running concurrently with the consultation and on the draft Rural Needs Impact Assessment.


            After discussion, the Committee:


(i)     noted the results of the public consultation and the EQIA; and


(ii)    agreed that the revised Dual Language Streets Signs Policy be implemented following ratification by the Council at its meeting on 4th July.



Cyber Update

Additional documents:


            The Committee was reminded that, at its meeting on 20th August 2021, it had considered a cyber security update.  At that meeting, Digital Services had been asked to provide further information on 3 key areas of cyber incident response:


1.      The decision to pay a ransom (or not) in the event of a Ransomware attack.

2.      Cyber insurance.

3.      The order in which critical services will be recovered after an attack.


            The Director Finance and Resources reported that the requested information had now been provided in the report.   In addition, Digital Services had also been working closely with colleagues in Audit, Governance and Risk Services and Emergency Planning to seek updates to the business continuity plans of the Council’s critical services. The report also contained a recommendation from that work.


            The Committee approved the recommendations as set out below:


·        The Council should not pay a ransom following a cyber-attack;

·        To the procurement of an Incident Response Retainer service as an alternative to Cyber insurance;

·        Approval of a cyber security reserve of £550,000.

·        Sign-off of a prioritised list for service recovery as set outlined Appendix 1 to the report; and

·        That delegated authority be granted to the Director of Finance and Resources to permit the use of personal equipment and email/messaging accounts (with consent) in the event of a significant cyber-attack.



Employees on Temporary Contracts


            The Committee noted a report which provided an update on the number of employees on temporary contacts, outlined the steps taken to reduce the reliance on temporary contracts and also provided information on agency assignees engaged by the Council.



Update on the New Regional Planning IT System

Additional documents:


            The Committee noted the contents of a report which provided information on the progress of the implementation of the new regional Planning IT System to be shared by Belfast City Council, 9 other councils and the Department for Infrastructure.  The report also included an update on the “Intelligent Client Function”, which was the contract management of the new system to be undertaken by Council on behalf of the 11 participating Planning Authorities.



Asset Management

Additional documents:


            The Committee –


i)       Beechvale Farm– Disposal of c108 acres of agricultural land – in line with the Committee decision of October 2021, approved the disposal of c108 acres of agricultural land.


ii)     Dunbar Link Depot – Proposed licence to Carlisle Inns Ltd for emergency escape - Approved a licence to Carlisle Inns Ltd for a period of 18 months for use of Council lands at Dunbar Link Depot to facilitate an emergency escape.



Levelling Up Fund Round 2 - BCC application update and requests for support and endorsement, Shared Island Funding and Community Ownership Funding updates

Additional documents:


            The Chief Executive submitted a report which provided an update on the proposal to develop an application for Levelling Up Round 2 Funding (LUF) in respect of 2 Royal Avenue.  The report also set out requests received from local organisations for the Council to act as a lead applicant and/or delivery agent, or to provide a letter of support, for LUF Round 2 applications.


            Subsequently, information had been received on 14 June 2022 from DLUHC providing clarification on the issue of public bodies taking on the role of a lead applicant and delivery agent for applications by a non-public sector organisation that do not have experience of delivering two capital projects of similar scale in the previous five years.


            The report also provided an update on Shared Island Funding and applications for the recently closed Local Authority Development Funding programme in which the Council was partnered in several projects.


            The Committee;


·        noted the further information provided on the LUF Round 2 application being developed by officers in relation to the future use of 2 Royal Avenue, including the planned consultation approach;

·        agreed that correspondence be sent from the Chief Executive to all Belfast MPs and MLAs requesting their endorsement for the 2 Royal Avenue application;

·        Requests for Council to act as delivery agent – noted the requests which had received and that, given the resource impact and lack of clarity on the financial implications for the Council, agreed that it is does not accede to any requests at this time in terms of becoming delivery agent/lead partner for projects, with the exception being where the Council was already significantly funding a project and had already agreed to be the delivery agent and on that basis agreed to support the request by the Stand Arts Centre; but agreed to provide a letter of support in event that the Groups still wish to pursue their own application;

·        Letters of support – considered the requests received from organisations as outlined in 3.17 and Table 2 of the report and agreed to endorse those through a Letter of Support;

·        noted the update in relation to the Shared Island Local Authority Development Funding Scheme and the applications submitted to which Belfast City Council was a project partner;

·        provided retrospective approval for a funding contribution agreed at meeting of the Corporate Management Team on 31st May 2022, on the basis that the timeframe did not permit this to be brought before this Committee;

·        agreed that a future report on the wider opportunities from the Shared Island Initiative be presented to a future meeting as part of the wider report on funding opportunities which the Committee has previously agreed to receive; and

·        noted the update in relation to the Community Ownership Fund.



Review of Bonfires in 2021 - presentation


            The Committee received from Mr. Jonny Byrne a presentation in relation to the review of bonfires in 2021.  He outlined the review of the governance framework; discussions with officers and statutory partners; feedback from communities; observations; and potential actions.


            The Committee noted the presentation.


            Use of the Council’s Contractor


            Arising out of discussion, the Chief Executive advised the Committee that a request had been received from the Department of Communities to use the Council’s contractor to remove bonfire materials from a bonfire site in Derry/Londonderry.


            The Committee agreed to accede to the request.



Minutes of Castle, Cavehill, Zoo and North Foreshore Working Group


            The Committee approved and adopted the minutes of the meeting of the Castle, Cavehill, Zoo and North Foreshore Working Group of 23rd May.



Belfast Agenda/Strategic Issues


City Region Growth Deal – update pdf icon PDF 523 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1       This report is to provide an update to Committee on the progress of the Belfast Region City Deal (BRCD).  Including an update on the Funding & Governance arrangements for Belfast City Council as the Lead Authority and Accountable Body for the Deal.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


·        Note the update on the role for Belfast City Council as the Accountable body and approve the creation of a post of  Project Accountant to support the financial and budget management arrangements and processes at no additional cost to the Council.

·        Note the update in relation to the key financial arrangements for the next phase of the deal, including the Financial Agreement (Appendix 2) with the Treasury and Department of Finance.

·        Approve the Memorandum of Understanding (attached at Appendix 1).

·        Note the programme overview.


3.0       Main report


3.1       Members will be aware that following the signing of the deal, Belfast City Council (BCC) took on the role of the Accountable Body ensuring that the partnership makes decisions in accordance with all legal, financial, and administrative requirements This includes the need to put in place the financial and budget management arrangements and processes to ensure the BRCD funding is managed and accounted for appropriately. The Programme Management Office (PMO) have therefore been working with partners to formalise permanent structures and resources for the delivery of the deal and to allow BCC to carry out its role as lead authority and accountable body.


3.2       In addition, the PMO has been finalising key documents with government departments which underpin the overarching signed deal document, including the development of Contracts for Funding which will be required for each of the capital projects delivered through the Deal.  An update on the development of these key funding and governance arrangements is set out below.


            Memorandum of Understanding


3.3       Members were previously updated on the development of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which was developed to reflect partners’ commitments to invest collectively and work collaboratively to achieve the ambitions for inclusive growth through delivery of the Deal.


3.4       Importantly the MoU commits each partner that will be a recipient of the capital funding provided through the deal to jointly fund the central team in BCC to carry out the functions required of the accountable body and lead authority, as well as additional external expertise that may be required to deliver the programme. 


3.5       It also details how the partners will work collaboratively to identify and respond to the skills needs that city deal investment will create and to address the barriers to employment that might hinder ambitions for greater inclusion.


3.5       The final Memorandum of Understanding, which will sit alongside the formal deal documentation is attached at Appendix 1 for approval. 


            Contracts for Funding


3.7       Before funding can flow directly to projects Contracts for Funding (previously referred to as Letters of Offer) need to be agreed between departments and the Accountable  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.


Employability Update pdf icon PDF 278 KB


            The Committee considered the undernoted report:


“1.0    Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1      The Council’s commitments to Inclusive Growth were published in March 2020. The document contained actions that Belfast City Council would progress over the next two years, including actions relating to the role of the Council as an employer.  We recognise that as a civic leader and large employer in Belfast we can and should set a strong example for others in driving best practice around employment.


1.2      Through the Inclusive Growth Strategy, the Council is committed to providing inclusive recruitment opportunities and to improving participation in employment for under-represented groups by breaking down barriers to employment. This report provides an update on progress to date to support the Inclusive Growth Strategy.


2.0      Recommendations


2.1      The Committee is asked to:


·        Note the progress to date in relation to the employment commitments in the Inclusive Growth Strategy.


3.0      Main report


           To meet our employment commitments in the Inclusive Growth Strategy we have completed the following key actions.


·        We have reviewed our employability and skills community outreach and engagement work in conjunction with key partner organisations and made recommendations to focus resources on agreed inclusive growth cohorts;


Ø  Residents not in employment

Ø  Residents with low skills levels

Ø  Young people not in education, employment or training,

Ø  In work low earning individuals


·        We have identified a number of planned recruitment campaigns which support our Inclusive Growth aims.

·        We have committed to ring fencing suitable entry level positions, to the four inclusive growth cohorts and providing additional support through pre-recruitment training programmes.


           Job Start Scheme


3.2      At its meeting on 5 October 2021, CMT agreed the Council’s participation in the DfC funded Job Start Scheme. The scheme is designed to support young people facing additional employment challenges due to the impact of Covid-19. It has helped to create job opportunities for 16–24-year-olds by funding positions with employers across all sectors, for a period of six months, increasing to nine months for those who meet additional criteria (i.e., young people facing multiple barriers).


3.3      Corporate HR along with colleagues in Employability and Skills worked together on this project to recruit and appoint nine young people to temporary roles on 28 March 2022 across the following Council departments:


·        City and Organisational Strategy

·        The Office of the Chief Executive

·        Place and Economy Department

·        Legal and Civic Services.


3.4      Four of the young people face multiple barriers to employment and secured a 9-month placement.  All are progressing well and while there have been some ‘settling in’ issues, line managers, Corporate HR and the Employability and Skills team continue to work with these young people to ensure ongoing support, encouragement and skills development. One young person has already gone on to secure permanent employment.  Staff and residents will be able to read about the success of this project in the June edition of City Matters.


3.5      It has been agreed with DfC that four more young people who were reserve candidates can  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.


Delivering the Smart Belfast urban innovation framework pdf icon PDF 302 KB


            The Director of Finance and Resources submitted for the Committee’s consideration the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1       To provide Members with feedback on the public consultation on the new Smart Belfast urban innovation framework (2022 to 2025); and to set out the key actions in the first year delivery plan 2022/2023.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked:


1.      Note the consultation feedback on the Smart Belfast urban innovation framework.

2.      Note the main actions for Year 1 (2022 to 2023).

3.      Approve the procurement of the pilot citizen capacity building programme (CODI).

4.      Agree the development of the ‘Augment the City’ challenge programme

5.      Note the ongoing Advanced Wireless Innovation programme

6.      Note progress on the Belfast Region Innovation Challenge Fund programme

7.      Note progress on the Urban Data programme


3.0       Main report


            Consulting on the Smart Belfast urban innovation framework


3.1       Following approval by Members at December’s SPR committee meeting, the City Innovation Team have been publicly consulting on the draft ‘Smart Belfast’ urban innovation framework.


3.2       The framework sets out a number of actions, enablers and activities which together are designed to make it easier for the city to exploit digital technologies to better address major urban challenges while at the same time supporting innovation by our SME community. The framework also seeks to maximise forthcoming funding opportunities, including the Belfast Region City Deal investments.


3.3       The framework identifies the Belfast ‘Smart District’ (covering the city centre area) as key to this approach. It will act as a place where the Council and its partners can directly develop and test real-world innovative policies, interventions and new commercial models in a supportive environment.


3.4       The public consultation ran from 18 January to 15 March 2022. It included presentations to over 150 people across sectors, and an online survey on the Council’s Your Say’ platform promoted via the media and other communication channels. The consultation web page received 837 visitors and 37 people completed the survey. 78% of responses were submitted by individuals and 22% by organisations.


3.5       The majority of responses supported the core elements of the framework:


·        65% definitely agreed or somewhat agreed with the eight supporting pillars of Belfast’s urban innovation ecosystem.

·        60% definitely agreed or somewhat agreed with the seven key enablers for the successful delivery of the Belfast Smart District.

·        60% definitely agreed or somewhat agreed with the Smart District project criteria.

·        63% definitely agreed or somewhat agreed with the seven challenge focus areas in the Smart District.


3.6       A significant minority of respondents disagreed with the use of digital technology in general in the city and view it as intrusive. They have concerns around data privacy, surveillance, cybersecurity and whether digital infrastructure in general is safe. This may reflect a lack of knowledge and an uncertainty in wider society about the speed and ubiquity of new technologies impacting our lives and our city. As a civic leader this is something the Council and its partners need  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.


Council Improvement Plan for 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 636 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee was reminded that the Council had a statutory duty to agree improvement objectives and produce an annual improvement plan by 30th June each year  The Improvement Plan did not include everything that the Council plans to do that year, but instead focused on a smaller set of key improvement priorities, as informed by resident priorities and evidenced by need.  In February, the Committee had approved draft improvementobjectives, which were then issued for public consultation:


·        Our services - We will continue to adapt and improve our services;

·        Our communities - We will work to support our communities, helping them to become stronger, healthier and more resilient;

·        Our economy - We will work collaboratively to support businesses, jobs and inclusive growth;

·        Our environment - We will champion climate action; protect the environment and improve the sustainability of Belfast; and 

·        Our city - We will continue to support our city to recover and innovate in a safe, inclusive and sustainable way


            The consultation had ran for a period of 10 weeks and was hosted on our Your say Belfast engagement platform and promoted through the council’s social media channels.  A total of 35 responses were received, with the majority of those responding to the consultation supporting the proposed improvement objectives.


            Respondents were also given the opportunity to make comments, provide ideas or to suggest other areas that they felt should be included as improvement objectives.  Around half of all respondents submitted comments, which related in general to:


·     Revitalising the city centre;

·     Climate change and the environment;

·     Improving public transport, cycling provision and parking;

·     Enhancing green spaces and improving safety and wellbeing;

·     Improving cleanliness and addressing dog fouling; and

·     Internal council processes (including comments about the survey)


            The final improvement plan included actions that reflect the commentary above, such as the city centre ‘Vacant to Vibrant’ scheme, digital enhancements to improve customer interactions, improvements to pest control and various environmental enhancements to our parks and open spaces, which should help the Council deliver the broad improvements that respondents wished to see.  The written comments from the consultation had been forwarded to the relevant services for information and, where applicable, had been fed into the ongoing review of the Belfast Agenda.  Some of the issues raised are not the responsibility of Council. 


            Given the high levels of support, as evidenced by the consultation, it was not felt necessary to make changes to the proposed improvement objectives.  However, feedback from the consultation was shared with services to help them develop their improvement tasks and milestones.  As required by the legislation, a detailed Improvement Plan has been drafted that sets out our improvement actions and targets.


            The Committee approved the draft 2022-23 Council Improvement Plan attached at appendix 1 to the report.  As the Council was legally required to publish its improvement plan by 30th June, the Committee also authorised its publication on the Council’s website, subject to formal ratification by Council on 1st July.



Access to Council Leisure Facilities for Asylum Seekers pdf icon PDF 431 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the undernoted report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1       To present proposals for asylum seekers in Belfast to access Council leisure facilities.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The committee is requested to consider:


·        The proposal below to grant registered asylum seekers access to Council leisure facilities free of charge or at a substantially reduced rate.

·        The rationale presented in support of the unique restrictions and hardships associated with living under asylum seeker status.


3.0       Main report


3.1       Background


            In recent years, resulting from conflicts around the world, we have experienced an increase in the number of asylum seekers arriving in Belfast.  The relatively small but steady stream has accelerated during high profile conflicts/migrations in for example, Syria, Afghanistan and more recently Ukraine.


            Asylum seekers experience a unique set of hardships while waiting for government determinations on their asylum seeker status.


            City and Neighbourhood Services has received a number of requests seeking free of charge or substantially reduced rates for asylum seekers to access our leisure facilities.


3.2       Offering concessions solely to asylum seekers does present equity dilemmas, however it should be acknowledged that the situation for asylum seekers is slightly different for the following reasons.


            Asylum seekers experience a greater level of hardship as:


a)     they cannot access the labour market.

b)     they cannot open a bank account.

c)     many do not have a residential address (as most are accommodated in hotels).

d)     their allowance of £39 per week is about half of what others on benefits would receive.

e)     they are extremely isolated and many are suffering from the trauma of the refugee journey.

f)       mental ill-health is particularly high.

g)     they are not able to work and don’t have established family networks here, leading to extreme isolation which hampers their sense of integration and inclusion in Belfast.


            The Home Office does not produce exact figures for asylum seekers.  However, the total for Northern Ireland is believed to be circa 2,500.  The proposal below would only apply to asylum seekers housed in Belfast accommodation.


3.3       Most asylum seekers are assessed within a few months but unfortunately in some cases there are long delays and in extreme cases they can remain as asylum seekers for in excess of twelve months.


            Following assessment asylum seekers are either deported, where their application is rejected, or granted ‘refugee’ status, if their application is upheld.  When an asylum seeker is reclassified as a refugee, they immediately have access to housing, the labour market, banking services, health care and income support.  Essentially the same rights as any other citizen.


3.4       Leisure provision can be key to asylum seekers’ long-term integration but moreover, in the short term, an essential means of alleviating isolation, mental health issues and the trauma associated with the refugee experience. 


            £39 per week is already a struggle for people paying for food, mobile data to communicate with family, buying clothes to suit local weather conditions, toiletries, bus passes, etc. plus children’s essentials from nappies to schooling items.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.


Freedom of the City – Frontline Workers and COVID Response pdf icon PDF 431 KB


            The Chief Executive submitted for the Committee’s consideration the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report


1.1       The purpose of this report is to set out: 


-       An update for Members on a public facing event to recognise the work of the city’s frontline during the COVID19 pandemic.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


-       Note the contents of the report including the outline of the event to take place on 25th August 2022.


3.0       Main report


3.1       At the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on the 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 pandemic, with Members agreeing that a report outlining proposed arrangements for this to be submitted in due course. A further report was submitted to committee on 23 April 2021 which agreed a proposed programme, to include both a reflective event of commemoration as well as a citywide recognition event with community participation.


            Participative Programme aligned to UNESCO City of Music -



3.2       From September 2021 to March 2022 Council delivered a participative music programme with a variety of groups across Belfast to explore their experiences of pandemic via musicians in residence programme. This programme has resulted in each of the groups working with a local musician to compose a new piece of music.  The creative outputs of this programme will now be showcased through:


-       Celebratory event at 2 Royal Avenue

-       An exhibition of the project to be toured to locations across the city including local festivals

-       A documentary capturing personal stories of life through the pandemic

-       An album of the music recordings


3.3       There will also be an opportunity for some of these elements to form part of the Belfast Stories project.


            Honouring the contribution of city’s frontline workers and communities Waterfront Hall, 25 August 2022


3.4       A concert will take place at the Belfast Waterfront on Thursday, 25 August 2022 to include a ceremonial element marking Freedom of the City.  Council officers have been working in partnership with BBC NI on this project. Music has played an important part in people overcoming the challenges of COVID-19 and creatively it is the ideal artform to signal the city’s ongoing recovery. This also celebrates Belfast achievement in becoming a UNESCO City of Music in November 2021.


3.5       The official Freedom of the City ceremony will take place as part of this music event commemorating this unique project. This main stage event will include profiled acts, breakthrough artists, the Ulster Orchestra and live performance of the songs produced with the participants of the musician in residence programme. There will also be involvement from the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust choir. The full artist line-up for the event is being finalised and will be released in due course.


3.6       The concept for the evening is to focus on songs that have a particular meaning to the city  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.


Physical Programme and Asset Management


Area Working Update pdf icon PDF 313 KB

Additional documents:


The Committee:


·        Approved and adopted the most recent Area Working Group minutes (South – 23 May, North – 25 May, West – 26 May and East – 31 May) attached at appendix 1 to the report.

·        Physical Programme – Agreed the recommendations in respect of Local Investment Fund (LIF) projects and reallocations from the East Area Working Group as set below:


-         £70,000 to Cycling Ireland towards the Henry Jones BMX/ cycle track project (ELIF29);

-        £70,000 to the Cregagh Sports Club (ELIF30);

-        £30,000 to provide storage facilities for Bloomfield Football Club, Clonduff Football Club, East Belfast Football Club and Glentoran Academy (ELIF31); and  that the remainder of the funding be ringfenced for the Bloomfield

-        Community Association (approx. £60,009).  



Finance, Procurement and Performance


Procurement Policy pdf icon PDF 244 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of report or summary of main issues


1.1       The Commercial & Procurement Service (CPS) presented its 3 year Transformational Strategy to Chief Officers in September 2020.


1.2       To support this, the Procurement Development Team within the CPS has developed a corporate-wide Procurement Policy to establish the legal authority of the procurement function within the Council and to simplify, clarify and reflect legislation governing procurement. 


1.3       The Procurement Policy is important as it sets out the method and the governance arrangements (i.e. approvals required) associated with any money spent by the Council on the goods, services and works that are required to enable it to deliver its services. It details what the Council expects from its officers in terms of behaviour, actions taken, and the processes to be followed for all procurement activity.


1.4       This Policy will apply to all Council Officers involved in the execution of works, supply of products or the provision of service contracts. We recognise that procurement is cross-cutting throughout the organisation and therefore, the policy has been designed to also act as a critical link to other relevant existing (and any future) Council policies and procedures that involve procurement activities e.g. those relating to social value and sustainability.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


1.     Approve the Procurement Policy; and

2.      Approve the approach to adopting and implementing the Policy.



3.0       Main report


3.1       The overarching aim of the Procurement Policy is to establish the delegated authority of the procurement function within the Council and to simplify, clarify and reflect legislation governing procurement. Primarily, the Policy brings together existing legislative and policy requirements, as set out in the Council’s constitution, and introduces best practice relating to procurement activity e.g. new mandatory training and a revised documented approach for all officers to adhere to when evaluating tenders.


3.2       This Policy will be important for Council Officers and suppliers as it sets out the method and the governance arrangements (i.e. approvals required) associated with any money spent by the Council on the goods, services and works that are required to enable it to deliver its services. It will act as a ‘golden thread’ between the Transformation Strategy and day-to-day procurement operations. It details what the Council expects from its officers in terms of behaviour, actions taken, and processes followed for all procurement activity.


3.3       This Policy will apply to all Council Officers involved in the execution of works, supply of products or the provision of service contracts. We recognise that procurement is cross-cutting throughout the organisation and therefore, the policy has been designed to also act as a critical link to other relevant existing (and any future) Council policies and procedures that involve procurement activities e.g. those relating to social value and sustainability.


3.4       To support the implementation of our Procurement Policy, we have taken a ‘bottom-up’ approach which involved the following initial steps:


1.      Developing, implementing, and monitoring processes and procedures for end-to-end procurement activity at all values  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.


Contracts Update pdf icon PDF 157 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee:


·        approved the public advertisement of tenders as per Standing Order 37a detailed in appendix 1 (Table 1);

·        approved the award of Single Tender Actions (STAs) in line with Standing Order 55 exceptions as detailed in appendix 1 (Table 2);

·         noted the award of retrospective STAs in line with Standing Order 55 exceptions as detailed in appendix 1 (Table 3);

·        noted the award of contracts by Arc 21 on behalf the Council (Table 4); and

·        approved the verbal request by the Director of Finance and Resources to tender for the supply of natural gas should the Council’s current supplier, Go Power, be unwilling/unable to continue to offer the Council suitable terms to extend the contract:


Appendix 1


Table 1: Competitive Tenders

Title of Tender

Proposed Contract Duration

Estimated Total Contract Value


Short description of goods / services

Home safety equipment – supplied to families following a home safety assessment.

Funded by Public Health Agency

Up to 4 years


S Toland

A new regional tender for home safety equipment is being set up by AND Borough Council – BCC is named on this tender.

CPD Contract for Procurement cards for use throughout the organisation 

Up to 3 years


R Cregan

Used for expenditure that cannot be procured through SRM ordering processes.

Contract generates 1% payback on expenditure. Utilising CPDs contract (BCC contract ref T2088).

Procurement of an operator for the two-year temporary Active Travel Hub at Cathedral Gardens

Fully Funded

Up to 2 years


C Reynolds

BCC has received an offer of funding from PHA and Ulster University to fund an operator for the Active Travel Hub in Cathedral Gardens, that will be responsible for providing active travel information, programming and training from the Hub.

Collection and Treatment/Recycling of Mixed Materials from Recycling Centres

Up to 4 years


C Matthews

Current contract is ending and a new procurement process is required. Supports the Council with its waste management operations.

Provision of Kitchen Canopy Assessment /Cleaning for Cooking Protection at various Council Properties

Up to 4 years


S Grimes

Service required to ensure than all kitchen canopies in Council property have an assessment and clean carried out by a competent contractor.

A grants management system providing online application and management of grants streams

Up to 4 years


R Cregan

Current contract expires August 2022. Continuity of service required to support grant applications process.

Develop and pilot a bespoke capacity building programme and toolkit that will enable citizens and communities to fully engage and collaborate in digital innovation

Up to 7 months


J Tully

There is currently no provision in place to support the participation of citizens and communities in digital innovation.  Support is needed to enhance public understanding of data and digital technologies in the public realm.

Procurement of consultancy team to develop an Outline Business Case for the Innovation for Societal Impact Challenge Fund under the Belfast Region City Deal’s Digital Pillar

Up to 6 months


J Tully

An  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26.


Audit Risk Panel Annual Report including Annual Governance Statement pdf icon PDF 636 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee:


·        noted the summary of the work of the Audit and Risk Panel during 2021/22;

·        approved the draft Annual Governance Statement for 2021/22 at appendix A to the report and, in particular, the disclosure of the significant governance issues contained in the statement; and

·        approved and adopted the minutes of the meeting of the Audit and Risk Panel on 7th June 2022 at appendix B to the report.



Equality and Good Relations


Minutes of the Meeting of the Shared City Partnership pdf icon PDF 255 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee approved and adopted the minutes of the meeting of the Shared City Partnership of 6th June, including the recommendations set out below:




Shared Spaces & Services


·        To agree in principle the FMCG Governance Model Interim Report (April 2022);

·        To agree the procurement of a suitable contractor to implement the Governance model; and

·        To agree the Narratives for the Information Panels on Section 3 (Whiterock/Falls).


Building Positive Relations


BPR 3 Transform for Change

·        Agree the allocation of the £1500 available per project to engage local communities on the project concept is realigned to enable post evaluation and showcase the project.


BPR 4 Centenaries

·        Agree the request for a direct award payment to BATW providers, Corrymeela to take forward facilitation of the EU/NI study visits.


BPR6 St. Comgall’s

·        To note approval of the modification to amend a case study trip from NI to ROI (Monaghan) and an external best practice visit from Wolverhampton to Bellaghy.



Good Relations


BCC7 Interfaces


·        Belfast Interface Project to be awarded £3,407 towards the Shared Futures Project taking place between July 2022 and March 2023.

·        TAMHI to be awarded £3,900 towards the Golf for Wellbeing project taking place between July and October 2022.

·        Intercomm/ DCP to be awarded £15,000 towards Peace in the Park event, Alexandra Park on 10th September 2022.

·        Westland Shared Space Project - £1,500 to be awarded towards good relations workshops and signage to promote and encourage shared use of space.

·        Blackmountain Shared Space Project to be awarded funding of £2,000 towards a Youth Leadership Development Programme to take place later in the financial year

·        Cliftonville Community Regeneration Forum to be awarded £5,626 to work in partnership with Limestone United to deliver facilitated cross community training/educational sessions for young people in the Manor Street/Cliftonpark and the Oldpark areas.


Update on Action Plan Activities to support Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Inclusion


·        To grant authority for the funding of £12,000, as identified in the action plan, to be used to support the Roma Community to provide outreach through the Roma Hub and engagement activities over the Summer and Autumn months

·        To agree that, following the lack of submissions for the  Leadership Development of Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Other Young people Programme, the funding assigned to this programme be reassigned to the Ukraine Advice Hub initiative.



Diversity Action Plans pdf icon PDF 265 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1       To agree the budget and appropriate resources for the implementation of the Gender Action Plan (GAP) and LGBT+ Action Plan Year 2 activities.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to


·        Agree the proposed diversity action plans and associated year 2 costs.



3.0       Main report


3.1       Our Equality and Diversity Framework outlines how we will tackle inequalities and promote diversity in our city. It is built around four key priorities:


A.     Leadership, partnership and organisational commitment

B.     Understanding our communities through data and consultation

C.     Delivering services accessible to all

D.     Developing a skilled and diverse workforce


3.2       The Framework includes a series of actions to be delivered to help achieve these priorities and under Priority A, Leadership, Partnership and Organisational Commitment, the Council has committed to developing and delivering a Gender Action Plan, LGBT+ Action Plan and a Race Action Plan. 


3.3       At its meeting on 10 May 2021, Women’s Steering Group agreed a three-year GAP for delivery between April 2021 to March 2024. Year 2 of the current GAP has been costed and is being presented to Committee for approval.   In addition, HR has developed a three-year LGBT+ Action Plan for 2021-24, in collaboration with the LGBT+ staff network and this is also being presented, with costs for year 2, for approval.  


            Gender Action Plan (GAP)


3.4       Gender inequalities are deeply embedded in our social, economic and cultural systems.  There is overwhelming evidence that women disproportionately experience disadvantage and discrimination, a reflection of historical unaddressed inequality, but also that inequalities have been exacerbated by austerity, welfare reform and by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Statistics affirm the persistence of gendered inequalities, which continue to inhibit women’s life opportunities in Northern Ireland. Men will benefit from gender equality as they too face gender-specific issues such as lower life expectancy, bad health, lower education levels and are impacted negatively by rigid gender norms.


3.5       The GAP (21-24) was agreed by the Council in July 21 following consultation with Women’s Steering Group (WSG) the Women’s Network and the wider group of staff that attended a Gender Inequalities workshop in January 2021.


3.6       Year 1 achievements / projects delivered include:


·        Delivering of various virtual development and awareness raising events and workshops to mark and celebrate International Women’s Day 

·        Funding provided for external International Women’s Day event in city centre

·        Participation in the NI Gender Diversity Charter assessment- first public sector organisation in NI to achieve Silver level accreditation 

·        Gender Identity and Expression Guidance developed and implemented

·        Developed a Menopause Policy and Guidance

·        Onus Domestic Violence Charter (employer award) – retained Platinum level

·        Onus Safe City Accreditation - retained

·        Ongoing support for the Raise Your Voice Project to help address misogyny, sexual harassment and violence


3.7       Our joint elected member and senior officer Women Leaders’ Programme is also due to commence in June, continuing to October 2022.


            LGBT+ Action Plan


3.8       The LGBT+ Action Plan (21-24)  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30.


Request made by Councillor McMullan at Council Meeting on 1 June 2021 – Sign Language pdf icon PDF 256 KB

Additional documents:


The Committee was reminded that, at the request of Councillor McMullan, the Council on 1st June 2020 had agreed that a report be submitted to a future meeting of the Committee to provide an update on the potential to work with deaf people and the Department for Communities to promote and roll out classes or training to local community and voluntary groups. However, due to an administrative error, this was only passed to the Equality and Diversity Unit in December.


The Chief Executive reported that the Council had launched its Language Strategy in April 2018. The Strategy committed to establishing a transparent set of principles for promoting, protecting and enhancing the linguistic diversity of the city. There were five language strands within the Strategy, including Sign Languages.  The Council also had a Disability Action Plan (2019-2022) which consisted of action measures related to Sign Languages.


Work to date in relation to Sign Languages


British Sign Language and Irish Sign Language Charter


In March 2019, the Council signed up to the British Deaf Association’s British Sign Language and Irish Sign Language Charter and one of the pledges which was made was to ensure Council staff working with Deaf people could communicate effectively using British Sign Language and/or Irish Sign Language.


Sign Language Users’ Forum


A Sign Language Users’ Forum consisting of local Sign Language users was established in June 2019 and meets twice a year to advise, guide and support the Council to respond better to the needs of Sign Language Users in Belfast.


Staff training


In the current Language Strategy Action Plan and the Disability Action Plan, a number of action measures were listed to support Sign Language users, including the delivery of Sign Language courses for Council staff and providing guidance on how to communicate with a Sign Language user.


A pilot Sign Language course for a pool of front-line Council staff was completed in October 2019.  Additional courses were put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic and feedback indicated that the course was best delivered in a face-to-face setting.


Department for Communities


The Department for Communities (DfC) provides funding to a number of Deaf organisations who are members of their Sign Language Partnership Group to deliver Sign Language projects, including classes and courses for local communities. Further information on this can be found at Sign language | Department for Communities (


Council officers had recently met with the Head of Sign Language Policy at the DfC Language Branch. The Language Branch was currently reviewing membership of its Sign Language Partnership Group and a new sub-group consisting of public authorities, including local Councils was being considered. This would enable Belfast City Council and the Department for Communities to potentially work together to identify initiatives, including funding to support voluntary groups and businesses to provide Sign Language courses. Any related actions would be considered by the Language Strategy Working Group and members would be kept updated.


The Committee noted the information which had been provided.



Operational Issues


Minutes of Party Group Leaders Consultative Forum pdf icon PDF 292 KB


            The Committee approved and adopted the minutes of the meeting of the Party Group Leaders’ Consultative Forum of 9th June.



Requests for use of the City Hall and the provision of Hospitality pdf icon PDF 244 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee agreed to adopt the recommendations in respect of those applications received up to 3rd June, as set out below:












British Council

16 Nov 2022

Mock COP27

The debate engages students (aged 16-18) from approx. 30  schools in Northern Ireland to debate live and topical COP27 issues through a climate negotiation simulation.


Numbers attending; 130





No (Reg. Charity) 


No hospitality



No Charge

No hospitality



JoinHer Network CIC

3 March 2023

International Women’s Day 2023 Dinner Event –

A event to encourage women to celebrate diversity, inclusion, equity and equality in a safe environment to share and support, network and raise awareness of topical issues.


Numbers attending; 80



No (Not For Profit) 


No hospitality



No Charge

No hospitality


British Dental Association NI Branch

7 October 2023

British Dental Association NI Branch Centenary Dinner – Gala Dinner with speeches and after dinner entertainment.


Numbers attending; 300




No (Not For Profit) 



Wine Reception as significant anniversary            



No charge

Wine Reception or £500 given to their chosen caterer for wine on tables



Minutes of the Meeting of the Active Belfast Board Limited pdf icon PDF 383 KB


            The Committee noted the minutes of the Active Belfast Board Limited of 6th June.



Minutes of Meeting of the City Hall/City Hall Grounds Installations Working Group pdf icon PDF 202 KB



Minutes of the Language Strategy Working Group pdf icon PDF 284 KB


            The Committee approved and adopted the minutes of the meeting of the Language Strategy Working Group of 10th June, subject to the amendment of the minute in relation to the ‘Proposals in the draft action plan, to provide that, rather than a report on the potential to create a sign language forum, the Committee agrees to establish a Sign Language Forum.



Issues Raised i Advance by Membrs


City Cemetery - Bi-lingual Signage - Councillor Beattie to raise


            In accordance with notice on the agenda, Councillor Beattie raised the issue of the lack of bi-lingual signage at the new visitor centre at and throughout the City Cemetery, with English only and no Irish having been used at a site located within the Gaeltacht Quarter.  Accordingly, he requested that this be rectified, with interim measures being put in place prior to something more permanent.


            The Committee agreed that, in the interim, the use of bi-lingual signage at new developments be brought to the Committee for consideration until a policy had been established and, in addition, agreed that dual language signage be installed at the City Cemetery and interim measures be adopted to facilitate this for the opening.