Agenda and minutes

Venue: Lavery Room, City Hall

Contact: Mr Jim Hanna, Senior Democratic Services Officer 

No. Item




            Apologies were reported from Councillors de Faoite, M. Donnelly, McDonough-Brown and I. McLaughlin.






Declarations of Interest


            Councillors Beattie, Bunting, Duffy, Groogan and Garrett declared an interest in item 5c – Update on Hardship Programme in that they worked for or were associated with organisations which received Social Supermarket Funding and left the meeting whilst the item was under discussion.



Restricted Items


            The information contained in the reports associated with the following three 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 three items as, due to the nature of the items, there would be a disclosure of exempt information as described in Section 42(4) and Schedule 6 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014.


            The Members were also reminded that the content of ‘restricted’ reports and any discussion which took place during closed session must be treated as ‘confidential information’ and that no such information should be disclosed to the public as per Paragraph 4.15 of the Code of Conduct.  



2023-24 Year End Finance Report

Additional documents:


            The Director of Finance submitted for the Committee’s consideration a report on the year-end financial position for 2023/24, together with the Quarter 4 finance report and year-end treasury position.


            The Committee:


·        noted the report and agreed the year end position;


·        agreed the creation of a specified reserve for the Leisure VAT claims repayment;


·        agreed to a facilitated workshop on financial context setting; and


·        noted the Year-End Treasury Management Report 2023/24.



Area Working Groups Update June2024 East NRF

Additional documents:


            The Committee approved and adopted the minutes of the special meeting of the East AWG of 28th May, including the recommendations of the AWG which were:


                         i.             To note the update on the Neighbourhood Regeneration Fund;


                       ii.             To note the information on the Stage 2 projects;


                      iii.             To recommend to the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee that the following projects be progressed to Stage 3 - Delivery in East, with the allocations as outlined:


·             EastSide Property Belfast Ltd. - Eastside Container Hotel, £950,000

·             Belfast Unemployed Resource Centre - Portview Exchange, £600,000

·             East Belfast Mission – Hosford Community Homes, 335 Newtownards Road, £300,000

·             Dundela FC – Development of Sporting Hub at Wilgar Park, £500,000


                        iv.          To note the Stage 3 process; and,


                          v.          To note the approach regarding feedback and support to those groups that are not progressing to Stage 3 – Delivery.


            It was agreed also that a report on a review of the funding allocations be submitted to the Committee in March, 2025.



City Centre Regeneration Scheme


            The Committee considered a report which sought approval for the targeted acquisition of a strategic property in Belfast city centre and provided an update on the Assembly Rooms.


            The Committee:


                            i.          Agreed that a conditional offer be made to acquire the city centre property referenced in the report on the basis as outlined and, subject to the offer being accepted by the vendor, to acquire the property on terms to be agreed by the City Solicitor and the Director City Regeneration and Development; and noted that completion of any acquisition would be subject to title/legal due diligence.  


                          ii.          Noted that, if the Council acquired the property, a further detailed report would be brought back on the future use proposals for the property.


                         iii.          Noted the update in relation to the Assembly Rooms and that a without prejudice /conditional offer for acquisition is being made to the owners based on a valuation undertaken by LPS.



Matters referred back from Council/Motions


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



Report - Response received from DfC re Remote Meetings Regulations pdf icon PDF 307 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee was reminded that, at its meeting held on 19th April, 2024, it had agreed to write to the Minister for Communities requesting that the Local Government (Remote Meetings) Regulations (NI) 2024 be brought forward as quickly as possible.


            The Committee was advised that a response had been received from Mr. Anthony Carleton, Director Local Government and Housing Regulation, Department for Communities.


            In his response he advises “the Minister is committed to bringing forward these regulations, within as short a timeframe as possible, using enabling powers in the Local Government (Meetings and Performance) Act (NI) 2021.


            These regulations will be subject to the draft affirmative procedure in the Assembly which means that, once they are finalised and laid in the Assembly, a motion to approve them must be tabled, and considered in plenary session of the Assembly.


            It is the intention of the Minister to have these regulations made, subject to Assembly approval, before the Assembly summer recess.”






Local Government Commissioner for Standards Annual Report 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 403 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee noted the Local Government Commissioner for Standards Annual Report for 2022/23.



Member Development Proposed Changes June 2024 pdf icon PDF 174 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to present and seek approval of the proposed changes to the current approach to elected member development.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The committee is requested to:


·        Approve the implementation of the proposed changes as set out below at 3.4.


3.0       Main report


3.1       The current approach to elected member development was developed by a ‘task and finish’ Elected Member Development Working Group and was agreed by the SP&R committee on 24 March 2017.


3.2       At its meeting on 22 September 2023, the committee agreed that the current approach should be reviewed via engagement with party group leaders. The Corporate HR team carried out a desk top review of the framework documents and presented the following proposed changes to Party Group Leaders Consultative Forum for further engagement and consideration within their parties. 


3.3       In addition, all members were invited to attend a briefing on the changes on 24 April 2024.


3.4       Summary of proposed changes


            The proposed changes to the Member Development process are summarised as follows:-


1.      A new Elected Member Development Strategic Framework document bringing together all the processes involved.

2.      Reformatted Members Role Profiles (content remains unchanged)

3.      Reformatted Members Knowledge & Skills Framework now including a contents page and two new additional political skills to align with LGA/NILGA frameworks: Digital Technology and Resilience & Wellbeing

4.      The revised Personal Development Planning (PDP) process proposes that carrying out a self-assessment against the Knowledge and Skills Framework and Role Profiles becomes a recommended element of the process, rather than mandatory element.


·        All members will now automatically be invited to a PDP meeting with Corporate HR to help encourage take up of the PDP process, with review meetings also scheduled on a regular basis once the PDP has been completed.  Assistance from an external facilitator remains optional.


5.      New PDP Template


·        Personal reflection section has been removed.

·        Now includes a summary of learning and development received to date (Corporate HR will pre-populate with any previous BCC learning and development activity)

·        Self-assessment is aligned directly to Knowledge & Skills Framework, descriptors have been removed to shorten document (asking members to refer to full Framework and Role Profiles for full descriptor detail.)


6.      Change to the Personal Member Development Budget


·        Annual amount  for the PDP budget to remain at £730 however going forward members will be able to  access the full four  years of PDP budget (£2920) at any time over the four year Council term - or part thereof.  Members should note that if a member leaves the council and has used all or part of their 4 year budget, any co-opted member will only have access to the remaining allocation of the leaving member.


·        It is proposed that degree type qualifications now be included as an option given that the full four-year budget allocation can be used at any time during the council term.


3.5       Further detail on the proposed changes  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4b


Belfast Agenda/Strategic Issues


Draft Performance Improvement Plan 2024-25 pdf icon PDF 268 KB

Additional documents:


            The Director of Dity and Organisational Strategy submitted for the Committee’s consideration the undernoted report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to update members on the findings of the public consultation on the draft performance improvement objectives and to present the draft Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) 2024-25 for Committee approval and publication.   


2.0       Recommendations


2.1         The Committee is asked to:


i.       approve the draft Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) 2024-25 attached in Appendix 1 and authorise its publication on the council’s website by the statutory deadline of 30 June 2024, subject to formal ratification by council on the 1 July 2024.


3.0       Main report




3.1       Members will be aware that the council has a statutory duty to consult residents on proposed improvement objectives and to develop an annual PIP, which must be published by the 30 June each year. The PIP identifies the agreed improvement objectives for the year ahead and the actions to be undertaken to achieve them. The PIP doesn’t represent everything that the council plans to do, but focuses on a set of key improvement objectives, as informed by the evidence base and consultation and engagement feedback.


3.2       The performance improvement objectives are aligned to the key themes and priorities identified within the new refresh of the Belfast Agenda and the emerging draft Corporate Plan.  This provides a balanced approach to identifying improvement objectives that contribute to improving services, council functions and the quality of life for residents and communities. Members should also note that the council’s strategic and collective partnership commitments to deliver shared city outcomes for the citizens of Belfast and the continuous improvement of internal organisational priorities will continue to be delivered and enhanced as part of the Corporate Plan and the Belfast Agenda.


            Consultation exercise and findings


3.3       In March, Members approved six draft improvement objectives, which were issued for public consultation. In April 2024, we commenced a public consultation process over an 8 - week period and received 92 responses, more than double the responses from last year.  In assessing the findings of the consultation, it should be noted that:


·        broad consensus across a majority of respondents supporting the improvement objectives.

·        the highest level of 89% was received from respondents who strongly agreed or agreed with ‘Our people and communities’ improvement objective based on supporting our residents to become healthier and engaged.

·        the lowest of level of 76% was received from respondents who strong agreed or agreed with ‘Our economy’ improvement objective based on helping business start-ups and growth and creating opportunities for more and better jobs and employment and encouraging inclusive growth. 


3.4       In seeking feedback on other improvement suggestions for the consideration of council, 55 qualitative comments were received. Appendix 2 sets out a high-level assessment of the consultation findings including a recommended council response and action on how the proposed changes will be taken forward. 


3.5       In response to feedback received in relation to the need to provide more  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5a


City Innovation update pdf icon PDF 257 KB


The Committee considered the following report which had been submitted by the Deputy Chief Executive/Director of Corporate Services:


“1.0      Purpose of Report


1.1       To update Members on City Innovation initiatives and to seek approval on a number of key projects developing over the next few months.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


1.      Note Belfast City Council’s participation in the Ulster University’s ‘Digital Healthcare Technology Accelerator’ bid to EPSRC, and to approve officer involvement in the design phase, (subject to a successful bid). And note that a further update on a successful bid would be presented in September.

2.      To note the success of the Lord Mayor’s Innovation Twins mission to South Korea and to approve the issuing of an invitation to the mayor of Sejong to visit Belfast in May 2025.

3.      Members are asked to approve acceptance of a further £50,000 from Connected Places Catapult to support work on the Innovation Twins programme including preparation for the Mayor’s visit through to March 2026.

4.      To note Innovation City Belfast’s participation at the Smart Cities World Congress in November 2024. Members are asked to approve attendance by a small number of officers to support work on the Sejong Innovation Twins, ICB, engagement on City Deal opportunities, and the current Belfast 5G Innovation regions programme.


3.0       Main report


3.1       The Smart Belfast urban innovation programme encourages collaboration on digital innovation projects between government, industry, SMEs, academia and communities. The aim is to harness innovation to address public policy challenges, while at the same time encouraging greater investment in innovation to stimulate economic growth. The following initiatives seek to contribute to both these aims:



3.2       (1) Belfast Digital Healthcare Technology Accelerator


            Ulster University and University College London have submitted a £2 million bid to the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to establish a Belfast-based ‘Digital Healthcare Technology Accelerator’ that will build capacity amongst the city’s digital health tech companies by encouraging more collaboration with university researchers, clinicians and industry. The accelerator is also committed to a place-based approach that seeks to have positive health outcomes for local communities.


3.3       The Life and Health Science sector is important to the local economy, contributing 25% to the region’s entire economic output. The sector grew by 75% between 2019 and 2022 and now has 170 companies employing over 20,000 people. It’s a sector dominated by Innovation Driven Enterprises (IDEs) and is responsible for 75% of all of the region’s university spin-out companies. The Accelerator aims to build on this success by meeting the innovation needs of these IDEs and spin-outs.


3.4       Members had previously approved an in-principle Council commitment to the programme in the form of in-kind staff time to the value of £100,000 over four years. There is also potential for Belfast Region City Deal partners to develop a complementary funding proposal to encourage the wider participation of start-ups and IDEs.


3.5       The Ulster University bid has now been shortlisted by EPSRC for final consideration, with a decision on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5b


Hardship Programme Update pdf icon PDF 302 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the following report which provided an update on the Hardship Programme 2023/24:


“1.0      Purpose of Report


1.1       The purpose of this report is to update Members on the implementation of the 2023/24 Hardship Programme, which seeks to help alleviate the impact of poverty and the cost-of-living on vulnerable people across the city, and to provide an update on the budget position for a 2024/25 programme.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


i.       note the contents of this report including the update on the implementation and impact of the 2023/24 Hardship Programme;

ii.      consider the current budget position in relation to the development and delivery of a Hardship Programme in 2024/25, which seeks to support those most impacted by poverty and the cost-of-living crisis; and

iii.    consider and agree the proposed funding framework to be adopted to support the implementation of a Hardship Programme in 2024/25 (subject to the availability of funding).


3.0       Main Report


3.1       Members will be aware that the Council agreed, at its meeting in December 2023, the implementation of a £1,018,790 hardship scheme for the 2023/2024 financial year. The programme was funded through £724,600 provided by the Department for Communities, and £294,190 from Covid Support Grant underspends.


3.2       Members agreed that the hardship scheme would provide support and assistance to a range of cohorts including children and families, vulnerable individuals and families in emergency need and to enhancing the capacity of existing and high-impact support programmes. The design of the programme was based on the lessons learnt from previous schemes as well as discussions with the Members’ Cost of Living Working Group and service providers in relation to potential areas of greatest need and impact from any such funding.


            Implementing 2023/24 Hardship Programme


3.3       The delivery of the hardship programme ended on 31 March 2024. Appendix 1 provides a high-level progress update and what has been achieved through the intensive work by our delivery partners.  It should be noted that the delivery partners attended and presented to a recent meeting of the Members’ Cost-of-Living Working Group to provide members with an insight into the demand for and impact of the funding. A copy of the slide-deck is attached at Appendix 2 for information. In summary, key delivery highlights include:  


·        121 schools supported across the city have designed projects to support children through food projects, help with uniform/stationary costs or period poverty initiatives, with over 21,000 children supported (28 schools still to provide returns – so this number will increase)

·        23 community day care providers delivered 16,042 hot nutritious meals to 1,187 children

·        Save the Children provided support to 913 individuals through their early years grants programme

·        Family support hubs have supported 1,271 families

·        St. Vincent de Paul have supported 3,398 people in emergency need

·        Trussell Trust have supported 4,514 people through 3 food banks

·        Fareshare have distributed over 37 tonnes of food to their network of community food banks

·        NEA have supported 625 households through the Warm & Well programme

·        Age NI  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5c


Apprenticeship Report pdf icon PDF 433 KB


            The Committee was reminded that initial proposals on an apprenticeship programme had been presented for its consideration in February and it was agreed agreed that a further report be submitted detailing how the proposals could be financed. Subsequently, at its meeting in March 2024, the Committee approved funding for two apprentices 2024/25 from realignment of specified reserves, with the costs for future years to be incorporated into the medium-term financial plan.


            Two apprenticeship opportunities had been approved: one in Fleet Services and one in Digital Services. The report detailed approximate salary and training costs for the two posts of £77,000 per full year (around £45,000 for 24/25 by the time the posts are recruited).


            The proposed costings were based on a higher-level Digital Services apprenticeship (level 4 – 7).  Having had detailed engagement with Belfast Met, the Head of Digital Services has determined that a Level 3 apprenticeship better meets the needs of the service. Accordingly, the revised indicative salary costs are set out below, which shows the reduction in annual salary costs of around £10,000.




Skill area

Level required

Approximate BCC Salary Grade

Approximate Annual Salary Costs per apprentice

Approximate Annual Training costs per apprentice

Fleet  Technician

Apprentice level 2 or 3

Scale 2



Digital services

Apprentice level 3  

Scale 2






Total indicative costs per annum



            Following further discussion with City and Neighbourhood Services, the department had advised that, based on previous experience, recruiting 2 apprentices to work alongside each other, increases learning and the support provided by a “buddy” to each other, and can also increase the chances of an apprentice completing the training programme. Peer support for the Digital Services apprenticeship will be provided by the service’s two industrial placement students.


            The revised annual cost of 2 Fleet Technician and one Digital Service’s apprentice was approximately £99,000, that was around £61,000 for the 2024/25 financial year. The Director of Finance had confirmed that an additional cost of £16,000 could be funded from, firstly, in year underspends, if available, or re-alignment of specified reserves.  As proposed previously, costs for future years would be incorporated into the medium-term financial plan.  Therefore, the Committee was being asked to approve the recruitment of an additional Fleet Technician apprentice.


            The Committee noted the update provided and approved a third apprenticeship opportunity.



Diversity Summit Sponsorship pdf icon PDF 254 KB



            The Committee considered a report which sought approval to sponsor the Diversity Mark Summit 2024 which was taking place at Titanic Belfast on 8th October, 2024.


            The Council was one of the founding signatory organisations to the Gender Diversity Charter in 2017.  Now known as “Diversity Mark”, this membership organisation provides support to employers to make and demonstrate progressive improvement in creating an inclusive and diverse workplace. The Council currently holds Silver Accreditation and works closely with Diversity Mark on a number of initiatives and forums aimed at sharing and promoting equality, diversity and inclusion best practice.


            The Committee agreed to provide sponsorship in the sum of £2000 which would be met from the existing Organisational Development budget.



Physical Programme and Asset Management


Physical Programme Update pdf icon PDF 932 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the undernoted report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of Main Issues


1.1       The Council’s Physical Programme currently includes over 200 capital projects with investment of £150m+ via 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. This report includes a review of recently completed and underway physical projects, along with requests for approvals relating to the Capital Programme.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


·        Physical Programme Half Year Update - note the overall update on projects that have been completed recently and projects currently under construction at 3.1 to 3.5 below and in Appendix 1; and that the Property & Projects Department is happy to arrange a site visit to any projects that have been completed or are underway.

·        RICS Awards – note that two Council projects recently won prestigious NI RICS Awards  in the Heritage category for Templemore Baths and also for St. Comgall’s in the Refurbishment category and will now go on to compete in the National Finals in London in October.  Approval is sought for the Chair of the SP&R Committee or their nominee along with a senior officer to attend the awards in October.


·        Capital Programme –


o   HWRCs & Civic Amenity Sites – Containers (Skips and Compactors) – Note that a satisfactory tender return has been received and that the Director of Finance has confirmed that this project is within the affordability limits of the Council and agree that a maximum of £675,000 be allocated.

o   IT Programme – C&NS Case Management Solution – Agree that the project is moved to Stage 3 – Committed and held at Tier 0 – Scheme at Risk pending further development of the project and a satisfactory tender return; and that necessary procurement processes (including the invitation of tenders and/or the use of appropriate ‘framework’ arrangements) be initiated with contract to be awarded on the basis of most economically advantageous tenders received and full commitment to deliver.


3.0       Main report


            Key Issues


3.1       Physical Programme Half Year Update


            Members are aware of the scale of the Council’s Physical Programme via a range of internal and external funding streams. Members are advised that the Property & Projects Department is happy to arrange a site visit to any projects that have been completed or are underway. Below is a brief summary of projects completed since February, as well as a sample of projects currently underway.


3.2       Awards and recognition


            Two of the Council’s recently completed capital projects have been successful at the prestigious Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Awards held on 21 May – winning in the Heritage category for Templemore Baths and also for St. Comgall’s in the Refurbishment category. The awards recognise and celebrate the most inspirational initiatives and developments across the UK and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6a


Assets Management pdf icon PDF 282 KB

Additional documents:


The Committee:


i)                 Land at Orchardville Crescent – Disposal


            approved the disposal of lands at the rear of houses 20 to 56 Orchardville Crescent to the adjoining homeowners.


ii)               Land at Ladybrook Park – Disposal


            approved the disposal of lands at the rear of houses 26 to 40 Ladybrook Park to the adjoining homeowners.


iii)             Retail Unit at Belfast Castle – New Lease


            approved a new 6-year lease of the vacant basement level retail unit.


iv)             Benview Community Centre – New Licence


            approved a new 1-year licence agreement for the use of a portion of Benview Community Centre as a play centre and for use of storage container.  


v)               Cregagh Youth and Community Centre – New Licence


            approved a new licence to Irish Rugby Football Union (Ulster Branch) for their occasional use of the overflow parking area adjacent to Cregagh Youth and Community Centre.


vi)             Cliftonville Playing Fields – Disposal of land to rear of 13 Glenard Brook


            approved the assignment of BCC’s long leasehold interest in a portion of land that has been encroached on to the rear of 13 Glenard Brook.


vii)            North Foreshore – Financial Provisions


            noted that the Council would enter into a performance deed with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency to document revised financial provisions required under North Foreshore Waste Management Licence.


viii)          North Foreshore – Licence to Occupy


            approved the Council entering into a licence to occupy with Renewable Power Systems and Dargan Road Biogas Limited.


ix)             Brook Leisure Centre – Licence Agreement


            approved a licence agreement with Colin Gaels Gaelic Athletic Club to install and position a storage container at Brook Leisure Centre.



Area Working Groups Update pdf icon PDF 412 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee approved and adopted the minutes of the meetings of the West AWG - 22 May, North AWG - 28 May, West AWG (special) - 5 June, East AWG of 6 June and South AWG (special) - 10 June 2024, including the following:


Members of the West AWG agreed to recommend the following allocations for the additional £93,878 for West Belfast under NRF:


-        £37,058 to Michael Davitt's GAC - Michael Davitt's Community Heritage Centre

-        £37,058 to Glór na Móna - Croí na Carraige - 'The Heart of the Rock' Phase 1; and;

-        £19,762 (Shankill) to be retained as a contingency for the Shankill projects.


            #In considering the minutes of the South Area Working Group of 20th May, it was


            Moved by Councillor Beattie,

            Seconded by Councillor RM Donnelly,



            That the minutes be approved and adopted, subject to the amendment of the minute under the heading Physical Programme Update to provide that the additional Neighbourhood Regeneration Funding of £53,893 be allocated to the Solas New Build Project.


            On a recorded vote, ten Members voted for the proposal and four against and it was declared carried:


For 10

Against 4


Councillors Murphy, Beattie, Black, Bunting, Cobain, R-M Donnelly, Duffy, Ferguson, Garrett and R McLaughlin.


Councillors Groogan, Maghie, Nelson and Whyte.




Update on Sporting Pitches Investment pdf icon PDF 258 KB


            The Strategic Director of City and Neighbourhood Services reminded the Members that work was ongoing to progress the Belfast Pitches Strategy. A report outlining the background to the need for development of the Strategy, an indicative timeline for commissioning and an overview of the Terms of Reference had been presented to People and Communities Committee in August 2023.  It was expected that a draft strategy would be presented to Committee in March 2025.


            As part of that work and in the interim period of producing the Pitches Strategy, officers were committed to continuing to work on an area-by-area basis to identify, agree and secure quick wins at our existing sites.


            Following confirmation of a recurring budget of £500,000 for pitch improvements, officers had identified the following facilities and associated works for immediate progression in the 24/25 financial year:


·        North - Mallusk Playing Fields


      The creation of an additional two full-size GAA pitches to include all relevant GAA posts, ball stops, nets and including the conversion of a shale area to grass.  This would create a total of four full size GAA pitches at that site.  A planning application had been submitted and it was expected that this work would be completed by February 2025;


·        East - Henry Jones Playing Fields


      Work was underway to install ball stops and spectator fencing at this GAA pitch.  A planning application had been submitted and work was expected to be completed by February 2025;


·        West - Falls Park


      Installation of ball stop netting for the GAA pitch. Recommended for approval by planning on 18th June with work expected to be completed by September 2024;


·        South - Strangford Ave Playing Fields


      Work was underway to convert one full-size soccer pitch into three small-sized soccer pitches and to reinstate a second disused full-size soccer pitch. This would maximise soccer provision at this site and cater for the displacement of SBYL soccer from Mallusk Playing Fields. This work would be completed by September 2024.


            Further scoping work was underway at all existing sites to create a stand-by list of ready to go projects as and when budget becomes available. Further details would be brought to committee in due course.


            In addition to these infrastructure improvements at Council facilities, officers were also working to identify partnership opportunities to secure community access to facilities owned by the Education Authority or by other sporting clubs. Work was ongoing in this regard, with a number of exploratory conversations and site visits underway.


            As part of that work, an opportunity to secure the continued use of Ashfield Boys’ High School as an intermediate soccer pitch for St Matthew’s FC had arisen at a cost of £30,000 per annum.  The Committee was therefore asked to consider this funding request which would be met from the pitches budget.


            The Committee noted the update on improvements to pitches across the city, granted approval of £30,000 to be met from the pitches budget to secure the use of Ashfield Boys’ High School as an intermediate soccer  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6d


Finance, Procurement and Performance


Audit and Risk Panel Annual Report to Strategic Policy and Resources Committee including Draft Annual Governance Statement pdf icon PDF 626 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the undernoted report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1       The Audit and Risk Panel is constituted as a working group of the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee.  The purpose of the Panel is to provide an independent assurance on the adequacy of the Council’s risk management framework and associated control environment.  The Panel also oversees the Council’s financial reporting process. 


1.2       The purpose of this report is twofold:


·        To provide a summary to Committee of the key issues that have been considered and discussed by the Panel during the 2023/24 financial year, the assurances received and the areas requiring attention. 


·        To present the Annual Governance Statement for 23/24 for consideration and inclusion in the unaudited statement of accounts which will be certified by the Chief Finance Officer by 30th June 2024 and then subject to NIAO audit.  The Statement has been considered by the Audit and Risk Panel and must be approved by the Chair of Strategic Policy and Resources Committee and the Chief Executive.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


·        Note the summary of the work of the Panel during 2023/24 as set out at Section 3.

·        Review and approve the draft Annual Governance Statement for 2023/24 at Appendix A and, in particular, the disclosure of the significant governance issues contained in the statement.

·        Note the minutes of the meeting of the Audit and Risk Panel on 4 June 2024 at Appendix B.


3.0       Main report


            Key Issues


            Summary of the work of the Audit and Risk Panel in 2023/24


3.1       In March 2023 the Panel approved the internal audit strategy and plan for the 2023/24 year.  The plan was designed to allow AGRS to provide independent assurance over the following areas:


·        Key financial systems / income generating activity

·        Key programmes / projects

·        Corporate priorities

·        Management of key corporate risks

·        Meeting external grant funding requirements

·        Governance arrangements


3.2       During 2023/24, the Panel met four times on a hybrid basis.  At these meetings the Panel  considered progress reports on delivery of audit plan and issues arising from audit activity, including the findings, assurance levels and recommendations arising from audit work and the progress being made to implement audit recommendations.  It also received regular updates on:


·        the Council’s financial position, as set out in its financial statements

·        reports from the Council’s external auditors

·        risk management

·        business continuity

·        fraud, financial irregularity and whistleblowing / raising concerns investigations

·        governance related matters

·        financial control

·        health and safety

·        performance management

·        staff attendance.



3.3       The key assurances that the Panel received are as follows:


·        the Council’s financial statements and annual governance statement, as prepared by the Director of Finance and their team; this provided a management assurance on the Council’s financial position

·        the audited accounts and the associated external audit annual letters for 2022/23 (providing an opinion on the accounts) and report to those charged with governance (setting out control issues arising from the annual external audit), as prepared and presented by the Northern Ireland Audit  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7a


Tri-Cities Golf Event pdf icon PDF 597 KB


            The Committee was advised that the Council had, since 2002, participated in the Tri-Cities Golf Event between Belfast, Dublin and Edinburgh.   The event rotated around each of the three cities on an annual basis, with the 2024 event set to take place in Belfast.


            The Tri-Cities Golf Event originated from a city network named “Cities of the Isles”.  The Golf Event was developed to establish strong social capital networks across the cities alongside opportunities for networking, collaboration and engagement on a range of shared challenges.


            The golf competition was between representatives of each Council’s Senior Management Teams, or their deputies, and elected members from each of the city councils.  The teams all travel at their own expense and meet their own accommodation costs.  No subsequent allowance or expenses of any kind are paid to any of the participants.  Each year the host city meets the costs of the green fees for the visitors and a meal in the clubhouse after the match.  The anticipated costs of hosting the event were approximately £4,500 provided from existing revenue budgets.


            The event dates are 5th – 6th September, with the first day of the tournament taking place at Belvoir Park Golf Club and the second at Dunmurry Golf Club.


            The Committee agreed to host the event to include Hospitality by the Lord Mayor.



Contracts pdf icon PDF 265 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 in line with Standing Order 55 exceptions as detailed in Appendix 1 (Table 2);

·        approved the modification of the contract as per Standing Order 37a detailed in Appendix 1 (Table 3); and

·        approved Contracts awarded by Arc 21 on behalf of the Council (Table 3):


Table 1: Competitive Tenders


Title of Tender

Proposed Contract Duration

Est. Max Contract Value


Short description of goods / services

Procurement of a contractor to provide tours and operate the visitor centre in City Cemetery

Up to 3 years


S Toland


To fulfil objectives and outcomes set by the Heritage funded restoration project for City Cemetery

Commvault Cloud Backup & Recovery for Microsoft 365 Enterprise

Up to 3 years


P Gribben


To provide backup and recovery capabilities for the council’s Microsoft 365 data

Provision of colourful floats, professional performers, costume hire and design, musicians and community engagement workshops in the St Patrick’s Day Parade 2025

Up to 3 years


J Greer


To successfully curate and deliver the 2025 St Patrick’s Day parade in Belfast with option to extend the contract up to a further 2 years if 2025 proves successful. 

Provision of a city centre music festival / programme over the St Patrick’s Celebrations period.

Up to 3 years


J Greer


There is a requirement of a city centre music festival / programme over the St Patrick’s Celebrations period 2025 to increase dwell time during the festivities beyond the Parade element. Option to extend up to a further 2 years if 2025 proves successful. 



Table 2: Single Tender Actions




Est. Max Contract Value




STA Reason Code

Art of Reconciliation for Belfast 2024

Up to 4 months


J Greer


BCC is delivering a number of direct commissions that align key strategic objectives and programme delivery.  Féile an Phobail, in partnership with Belfast International Arts Festival and East Side Arts presents an International story of art and reconciliation, exploring locally international experiences of the transformative role of the arts in dealing with complex issues around legacy, conflict and reconciliation.

Feile an Phobail










Table 3: Modification to Contract


Title of Contract






T1939 - Routine inspection, maintenance and repairs of roll-on/roll-off containers and static compactors

Lot 1 - Inspection, Repair and Maintenance of Roll-on/Roll-off Containers

Lot 2 – Inspection, Repair and Maintenance of Static Compactors

Up to 4 years

Additional 4 month and £30,000

D Sales


Currently finalising a procurement for the purchase of new skips and compactors and the outcome of that procurement will have an impact on the specification and requirements for this tender process depending on the type of equipment that is purchased.

Lot 1 - MacNabb Bros Waste Management

Lot 2 - Benagh Engineering and Motor Works Ltd



Table 4: Contracts awarded by Arc 21 on behalf of the Council  


Title of Contract  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7c


Funding requests pdf icon PDF 260 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to advise Committee of two requests for support as follows:


1.      A request from the Belfast Hills Partnership for an increase in the level of funding support from Council


2.      A request for support for the provision of toilet facilities at Fullerton Park on 12th July from the County Antrim Grand Orange Lodge  


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       Committee is asked to consider the requests as detailed below.


3.0       Main report


3.1       Belfast Hills Partnership


            Members may be aware that a report was presented to the June 2024 meeting of People and Communities Committee outlining a request for additional funding support from Belfast Hills Partnership (attached at Appendix 1). Given the associated financial implications, it was agreed that the request would be presented to Strategic Policy and Resources Committee for decision.


3.2       Since its inception in 2005, Belfast City Council has been a key partner within the Belfast Hills Partnership.  This funding has enabled the organisation to grow and develop from a small team of three individuals to today’s team which consists of 6 full time members of staff and 9 part time staff bodies which allows the partnership to deliver a wide range of programmes within the Belfast City Council area including:


·        Habitat & species surveys & improvements

·        Environment education for young people

·        Volunteering opportunities

·        Addressing anti-social behaviour including fly tipping and wildfires

·        Tree propagation & planting

·        Community support & engagement

·        Information provision

·        Health walks


3.3       The April 2011 meeting of the former Parks and Leisure Committee approved an annual funding allocation to the Belfast Hills Partnership of £36,900 which has since been included in revenue budgets.


3.4       The Belfast Hills Partnership have highlighted consistent rising costs, which they advise they have tried to absorb internally by seeking to cut costs where possible – however, they are now in a position of seeking support from funding partners to continue delivering their services.  Whilst NIEA have confirmed that they will increase their funding to BHP by 37%, the Partnership is approaching their Council partners to seek additional funding.


3.5       Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council have confirmed that they have agreed an increase of 30% on current funding.  It should be noted that each council provides funding in proportion to the land area owned by each Council within the Belfast Hill’s Area and this arrangement will continue with these latest funding revisions.


3.6       The Belfast Hills Partnership currently receives £36,900 from Belfast City Council and have requested an increase of 30% (£11,070) to £47,970.


            Request from Co Antrim Grand Orange Lodge


3.7       A request has been received from the County Antrim Grand Orange Lodge for support in providing portable toilets at Fullerton Park at the annual Twelfth of July event. Following discussion at the Party Leaders’ Consultative Forum meeting held on 13 June 2024, it was agreed that the request would be presented to Strategic Policy and Resources Committee  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7d


Equality and Good Relations


Shared City Partnership pdf icon PDF 422 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee approved and adopted the minutes and recommendations from the Shared City Partnership Meeting held on 10th June 2024, including:


Presentation from Forward South Partnership –

Roma Hub and Feasibility Study - for notation


·        Copy of the presentation is included in Appendix 2 for members information.


Good Relations Verbal Update


·        The Good Relations Manager advised that officers were still not in receipt of a Letter of Offer from The Executive Office, also the Good Relations Manager informed members that Mears and the Home Office would not agree to present to SCP.  The Good Relation Manager suggested a meeting be convened with himself, the Director and relevant Senior Officials in The Executive Office.  Members agreed this approach.


Shared City Partnership – Terms of Reference


·        The Partnership agreed to recommend to the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee the updated Terms of Reference for the Shared City Partnership. 


PEACEPLUS – Theme 1.1 - Local Action Plan Update


·        The Partnership agreed to recommend to the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee that they note the contents of the report.



Consultation on Equality Impact Assessment of Department for Communities Budget Allocation pdf icon PDF 254 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee noted that a draft response would be submitted to the August meeting.



Operational Issues


Minutes of the Party Group Leaders Consultative Forum pdf icon PDF 288 KB



Requests for use of the City Hall and the provision of Hospitality pdf icon PDF 255 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee approved the recommendations as set out below:











British Heart Foundation NI

17 September 2024

British Heart Foundation NI Supporters’ Day to acknowledge supporters of BHF and update them in future plans.


Numbers attending – 100

C & D



Current rate free

 as charity 



No hospitality


Northern Ireland Tenpin Bowling Federation

22 September 2024

Adult Triple Crown Presentation Evening - Drinks Reception, Dinner, Speeches, and entertainment and Trophy presentation

with the nations competing to win the Triple Crown shields and overall trophy, along with the All-Events medal winners individually.


Numbers attending – 100

C & D



Current rate free

 as voluntary organisation



No hospitality


Community Relations in Schools 

25 September 2024

Buddy Up! Celebration Event

of 5-year projectabout peacebuilding with schools’ pupils.


Numbers attending – 80




Current rate free

as charity



Tea and Coffee Reception

The Open University

25 November 2024

Celebration Event of British Academy funded research project - exploring the important role that theatre has played in establishing peace in Northern Ireland and in helping our communities to move forward.


Numbers attending – 70




Current rate £300



No hospitality


British Psychological Society

3 December 2024 

‘Cultivating Connections’ drinks reception for Sport & Exercise Psychologists

attending their 3-day conference taking place in Hilton Hotel.


Numbers attending – 100 - 120

A &B

Commercial charge to be negotiated by City Solicitor



No hospitality


Confucius Institute at Ulster University

5 February 2025

Chinese Year celebration – Year of the Snake – cultural event of

speeches, prize giving and a range of musical / dance performances.


Numbers attending - 200


B & C


Current rate £300

as not charity or voluntary  


No hospitality




Minutes of the Meeting of the City Hall/City Hall Grounds Installations Working Grouo pdf icon PDF 144 KB


            The Committee approved and adopted the minutes of the meeting of the City Hall/City Hall Grounds Installations Working Group of 22nd May.



Minutes of the Cost of Living Working Group 06.06.24 pdf icon PDF 416 KB


            The Committee approved and adopted the minutes of the meeting of the Cost-of-Living Working Group of 6th June.



All-Party Working Group on the City Centre 07.06.24 pdf icon PDF 130 KB


            The Committee approved and adopted the minutes of the meeting of the All-Party Working Group on the City Centre of 7th June.