Agenda and minutes

Venue: Lavery Room - City Hall

Contact: Eilish McGoldrick, Democratic Services Officer 

No. Item




            No apologies were reported.





            The minutes of the meeting of the Committee of 7th December were taken as read and signed as correct.  It was reported that those minutes had been adopted by the Council at its meeting on 9th January.



Declarations of Interest


            No Declarations of Interest were reported.



Restricted Items


            The information contained in the report associated with the following three items was 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 Section 6 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014.



Future City Centre Programme: Vacant to Vibrant


            The Committee was provided with an update on the Vacant to Vibrant Grant Programme and an overview of the applications which had been completed, together with the recommendation from the assessment panel.


            The Committee:


·        Noted the update in relation to the city centre Vacant to Vibrant pilot capital grant scheme; and

·        Agreed to the recommended grant awards as outlined within Section 3.12 of the report.



Business Cluster and Community Grant Programme


            The Committee was provided with an overview on the Business Cluster and Community Grant Programme Tranche 3 and the assessment of applications for consideration.


            The Committee:


·        Noted the current status of the Business Cluster and Community Grant Programme Tranche 3;

·        Approved the award of Business Cluster and Community Grants that had been assessed to date for Tranche 3 of the programme as outlined in Section 3.8 of the report; and

·        Agreed that the Business Cluster and Community Grant scheme would not be reopened to new applications, and that any realised underspend be referred to the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee for reallocation.



Cathedral Buildings - Business Support


            The Committee was provided with an update on the ongoing work to support the recovery effort following the recent fire at Cathedral Buildings.


The Committee:


·        Noted the update and the work which had been undertaken to support the recovery efforts following the fire at Cathedral Buildings; and

·        Approved funding for those tenants who were ineligible for the Department for Communities hardship support, a total of £50,000.



Positioning Belfast to Compete


Update on Dublin - Belfast Economic Corridor and Action Plan pdf icon PDF 259 KB


            The Committee was reminded that, at its meeting in August 2022, it had received an update on the progress to support the development of the Dublin-Belfast Economic Corridor (DBEC), including finalisation of the strategy and action plan. Since that meeting, the work had continued, and the strategy had now been completed and agreed by all DBEC partners. It aimed to articulate a vision for the partnership to enable sustainable economic growth across the region and to provide an evidence base for action, identifying areas of focus for the partnership to address future opportunities and seeking to address any gaps in existing provision.


            The Director of Economic Development reported that Members of the DBEC political advisory group had met in Dundalk on 14th October, 2022 to discuss the emerging findings and to consider the strategy and emerging action plan.


            The strategy had a vision of becoming a leading economic corridor in Europe, achieving sustainable growth through collaborative research and development, a highly skilled workforce and enabling infrastructure. This included an ambition to be world-renowned as a major international centre in growth sectors like Professional Services, Advanced Manufacturing, ICT, Life Sciences and Advanced Agriculture.


            The strategy articulated a number of strategic objectives for the partnership, including;


·        Increased skills and training to meet the labour requirements of the region, building on and expanding the existing workforce;

·        Advocated for cross-border infrastructure to strengthen connectivity and access to markets and labour;

·        Enhanced cross-border collaboration in Research and Development and Innovation, targeting investment in high growth sectors and the green economy;

·        Promoted sustainable and climate conscious growth along the corridor, aligned with councils’ development plans and wider policy objectives;

·        Align with and support economic development partners to increase trade and investment along the corridor; and

·        Market the region and elevate the DBEC brand so that the region becomes globally renowned as an attractive place to live and do business.


            The next steps for this work were to develop a detailed action plan in order to focus resources and bring forward priority interventions. The partnership recognised that this would require dedicated resources and had agreed, in principle, to the recruitment of two staff resources (as previously advised). The recruitment process for these posts was currently under way and staff would be housed within Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.

            The Director of Economic Development advised that, as with all elements of the work to date, the eight councils had been co-funding the research activities. The indicative budget for development work and resourcing in 2023 was 260k. In line with previous agreements, this would be resourced by the eight councils based on population share. The Belfast proportion was £35,805.83. The Committee were reminded that, at its meeting in April 2022, a budget of £15,000 had been agreed as an initial contribution. In order to progress the action plan, the Committee was asked to approve a further allocation of £21,000. The budget would be held by Newry Mourne and Down District Council through their role as  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Belfast Positioning - Tourism Ireland US City of Music Showcase & Fleadh Cheoil Showcase pdf icon PDF 792 KB


            The Committee considered the undernoted report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report


1.1       To update members on the international cultural showcase Council is delivering in partnership with Tourism Ireland taking place in two major US Cities, Boston, and New York in February 2023. This showcasing opportunity will highlight Belfast’s music, as well as our city’s wider contemporary cultural offering to a range of influencers, major tour operators, media, and other travel operators. This activity is part off our UNESCO City of Music commitments and provides an opportunity to showcase Belfast artists on an international stage.


1.2       Elected Members will be aware that in September 2022, Committee approved permission for Council to proceed for a bid for the Fleadh Cheoil in 2024. In March 2023 a vote takes place to confirm the location for the Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann for 2024. Several voting members are resident in the United States being part of the executive committee for the United States Comhaltas. As part of the bidding process, it is normal that bidding towns and cities visit the US Comhaltas as well as the Great Britain Comhaltas in conjunction with their bidding partners to discuss their bid with the voting members. To benefit from efficiencies, we are seeking members approval for the attendance of Ards CCE members and Council officers to organise and attend an event in New York to discuss our bid with US Comhaltas vote holders as part of the US Tourism Ireland Showcase schedule.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       Provide permission to financially support accommodation, event, and travel costs for the 8 Members of Ards CCE relating to Belfast City Councils bid to host the Fleadh. This will be funded from existing departmental budgets up to a value of £20,000


2.2       Approve the attendance at the US Showcase by the Lord Mayor (TBC) and the following Council Officers/Chief Officers,


-       John Walsh, Chief Executive (TBC)

-       John Greer, Director of Economic Development

-       Erika Clark, Creative Programme Manager 2024


3.0       Main report


3.1       Purpose & Context


            In May 2021 Council agreed for the submission of an application for Belfast to receive the UNESCO City of Music designation. This reflected our commitment within our ‘A City Imagining’ Cultural Strategy to bid for UNESCO City of Music status by 2021.


3.2       Our ‘City Imagining’ strategy commits to recognising the transformative power that music has to spark a new relationship with ourselves as individuals, within our communities and with the city


3.3       In developing our Music Strategy an economic impact assessment was completed by specialist consultancy, Sound Diplomacy. It found the Gross Value Added (GVA) for the cultural and creative industries in 2017 was £1,088 million in 2017, representing 2.7% of Northern Ireland´s total GVA, accounting for 25,000 jobs, representing 3.1% of total employment. The jobs created by the sector in Belfast in 2019 reached 7,376, representing 3.22% of total employment in the city.


3.4       The music sector in Belfast generated a direct output of £180 million and an estimated direct GVA of £84.3 million and it  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Strategic & Operational Issues


Notices of Motion Quarterly Update pdf icon PDF 330 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee was provided with a quarterly update on the Notices of Motion that it was responsible for, in line with the agreement of the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee that all standing committees receive regular updates.


            It was reported that there were currently 11 Notices of Motion and Issues Raised in Advance for which the Committee was responsible for and it was recommended that the Committee agree to close the following 3 motions and note the status updates for the remaining 8 motions which remained open:


Category 1 Recommended Closures


·        Cut in Student Places announced by Queen's University (ID = 252); and

·        Presentation: Community Finance Ireland (ID = 263)


Category 2 Recommended Closure


·        Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (ID = 293).


The Committee:


·        Noted the updates to all Notices of Motion that the Committee was responsible for as referenced in Appendix 1; and

·        Agreed to the closure of 3 Notices of Motion, as referenced in Appendix 1 and noted in paragraph 3.4 of the report.