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 13th September were taken as read and signed as correct.  It was reported that those minutes had been adopted by the Council at its meeting on 4th October, subject to the following addition: The Chief Executive agreed to consider, in conjunction with the City Solicitor, any internal measures which could be taken in respect of Members posting restricted information on social media, particularly when there were commercial sensitivities.



Declarations of Interest


            The Chairperson declared an interest regarding item 3.a) Major Events Update, in that she was a Board Member of An tOireachtas and left the meeting whilst the item was being considered.


            In relation to item 5.a) Employability and Skills Workplan, Councillor Duffy declared an interest, in that he worked for an organisation that was represented on the Labour Market Partnership and was also associated with the Employment Academies and left the room whilst the item was being considered. 


            Councillor Flynn also declared an item in item 5.a) Employability and Skills Workplan, in that he worked for All-State but confirmed his interest was non-pecuniary.



Matters Referred Back from Council/ Motions


Street Art Walls pdf icon PDF 381 KB


            The Committee was advised that the Standards and Business Committee, at its meeting on 29th August, had referred the following motion which had been proposed by Councillor McKeown and seconded by Councillor Doherty to the Committee for consideration:


“The Council recognises the transformative benefits that street art can have on communities and welcomes the enhancement of spaces across the city through the creation of public artwork, such as in entries in Belfast City Centre, across the Holylands, and on utility boxes through the Belfast Canvas project. In many places, works have become tourist attractions and are creating a real sense of civic pride. However, the Council also acknowledges the concern and frustration that particular types of graffiti such as tagging can cause to communities, and the cost of its removal.


To encourage a vibrant street art culture in this city and help people to develop the skills required to realise this, the Council believes that it is important to facilitate the creation of such art in a safe, legal and positive way, enabling creative expression through this medium and reducing the proliferation of antisocial graffiti.


This Council will therefore work with the street art community to support the continuing development of a positive street art culture in this city and, in particular, will provide ‘street art walls’ which will allow people to create artwork legally. In addition to identifying Belfast City Council property to facilitate this, the Council will also work with public, private and third sector partners to identify locations across the city which can be used freely by people for ad hoc street art and collaborative projects.


The Council will also work with street artists and groups, youth providers and other partners to engage with people who could benefit from getting involved in street art and support mentoring and skills development to empower them to express themselves through this route. It will also consult and work with artists and groups to develop a better and evolving understanding of how it can support street art.


Taking this approach, the Council aims to support the vibrant street art scene in Belfast and help develop the next generation of street artists to enable it to continue to flourish, while reducing the impact and cost of negative graffiti by encouraging a positive alternative.”


            During discussion Members raised the importance of maintenance, assurance and process in the development of further street art, consultation with businesses and engagement of communities, together with the tangible benefits of street art.


Accordingly, the Committee adopted the Motion and agreed that a report on how this would be facilitated, resourced and managed would be submitted to the Committee for consideration, to include best practice examples, consultation with businesses and community engagement.



Restricted Items


            The information contained in the report associated with the following two items were 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 two 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.


(Councillor Duffy in the Chair.)



Major Events Update


            The Committee was provided with an update on the Major Events Programme.


            The Director of Economic Development pointed out that, since the report had been published, the UK and Ireland’s bid to host the tournament in five years’ time had been formally approved by UEFA.


            During discussion, the Director of Economic Development explained further the bidding process for the Oireachtas na Samhna Festival.




Proposed by Councillor McCormick,

Seconded by Councillor I. McLaughlin,


      That the Committee agrees not to proceed with the Oireachtas na Samhna Bid or consider the allocation of the required financial commitment as part of the 2024/25 rate setting process and that a report be submitted to a future meeting in relation to the tangible economic benefits the Festival would bring to the Council and its ratepayers.


            On a vote, five Members voted for the proposal and twelve against and it was declared lost.


            Accordingly, the Committee agreed to adopt the recommendations contained within the report:


·        Approved the request to proceed with the Oireachtas na Samhna Bid and consider the allocation of the required financial commitment as part of the 2024/25 rate setting process;


·        Noted the update on One Young World;


·        Noted the update on Christmas 2023 planning; and


·        Noted the update regarding the UK and Ireland bid to host the European Football Championships in 2028.


(Councillor Nic Bhranair in the Chair.)



Embracing the Belfast Waterfront - Belfast Waterfront Framework


            The Director of City Regeneration and Development introduced a report on the emerging Belfast Waterfront Framework as developed by the Waterfront Task Group.


            The Senior Development Manager presented an overview of the Promenade Framework Update.


            During discussion, in response to a Member’s question regarding community representation on the Taskforce, the officers advised that this would be considered as part of the next stage of the process. 


After discussion, the Committee:


·        Approved the Belfast Waterfront Framework as developed by the Waterfront Task Group and noted the information provided in the presentation on the Framework;


·        Noted the ongoing work on project prioritisation and development currently underway by a number of stakeholders within the Waterfront Task Group, recognising that this would remain an iterative process as other opportunities and projects came forward;


·        Noted the update on the Cork Belfast Shared Island Development Fund proposal as agreed by Strategic Policy and Resources Committee in August 2023; and


·        Agreed to the attendance of the Chairperson at the launch of the Waterfront Framework.



Regenerating Places & Improving Infrastructure


Eastern Transport Plan Consultation Response pdf icon PDF 429 KB

Additional documents:


The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to provide the Committee with an update on the Eastern Transport Plan (ETP) 2035 and to agree a draft Council response to the current public engagement exercise that commenced with the launch of the Plan on 4th September 2023.


2.0       Recommendation


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


·        Note the update on the ETP 2035; and

·        Agree the proposed Council response to the initial public engagement exercise that is currently underway.


3.0       Main Report


3.1       As members will be aware the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) is developing the Eastern Transport Plan 2035 (previously known as the Belfast Metropolitan Transport Plan (BMTP) for the city and four of the surrounding local authorities with the consultants Atkins assisting in the detailed work on what will be the statutory Transport Plan for the city.


            Plan renaming


3.2       Following consideration of stakeholder feedback and acknowledgement that the new Transport Plan will cover a greater geographical area than that of the previous 2004 version, the DfI Permanent Secretary took the decision to change the name of the Plan from the BMTP to the Eastern Transport Plan (ETP) 2035. The Council is disappointed that it was not consulted on this change nor was the Project Board on which the Council is represented. The Department is hoping that this renaming will result in increased levels of community engagement across the Plan Area.


3.3       The Committee received a presentation on the ETP from Mr A. Rafferty (DfI) and Mr D. Murray (Atkins) on 28th June 2023 which set out the background to the Plan; an overview of the approach; delivery timescales and phasing; and details of the draft Vision, Objectives and General Principles. Mr Rafferty agreed to receive further technical questions from the Committee to which DfI would provide a response. A letter was sent to Mr Rafferty from Democratic Services on 21st September 2023 which set out the queries raised at the Committee together with other technical questions concerning the relationship between the ETP and the Belfast Local Development Plan (see Appendix 1).


            ETP launch and public engagement exercise


3.4       On 4th September 2023 the Department publicly announced its intention to prepare the ETP, a ‘new transport plan that will set the framework for making transport policy and investment decisions up until 2035’ and ‘aims to ensure that the transport network meets the needs of the people and businesses living, working and visiting the ETP area, both now and into the future’. An 8-week public engagement exercise commenced with this announcement and seeks views of individuals and organisations on the draft Vision and Objectives for the Plan. This initial consultation exercise closes on 30th October 2023. 


3.5       At this early stage of the Plan’s development the Department is seeking to ascertain people’s views on:


·        The problems we need to solve (Challenges);

·        The end goal we want to achieve (Our Vision); and

·        How we will get there (Our  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Correspondence from the Department for Infrastructure pdf icon PDF 347 KB

Additional documents:


The Committee was informed that correspondence had been received from the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) in relation to matters which had been raised by the Council, including the provision of a controlled crossing at Knockbreda Road and the creation of Rosetta Way Quietway; and a letter from the DfI Deputy Secretary (Transport and Road Asset Management) which provided context in advance of the planned Divisional Road Managers Autumn Update to the Council.


The Committee:


·        Noted the responses which had been received from the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) in relation to a Motion from the Council;


·        Noted the draft Council response to the Eastern Transport Plan that had been presented to the Committee and the correlation it had with the Motion, and agreed to close the Motion; and


·        Noted the correspondence from DfI in advance of the DfI Roads presentation of the Autumn Statement.



Correspondence received from the Department for Communities pdf icon PDF 313 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee noted the correspondence which had been received from the Department for Communities, in response to its concerns in relation to the Access and Inclusion Fund timeframe (copy available here).



Growing Business & the Economy


Employability and Skills Workplan - mid-year update pdf icon PDF 226 KB


The Committee considered the undernoted report and associated appendices:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of Main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to advise members of a range of activity undertaken in since April 2023 to support skills development, economic engagement and job outcomes for key target groups.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


·        Note the work undertaken in the financial year to date and the positive employability and jobs outcomes associated with this work

·        Approve the allocation of Labour Market Partnership (LMP) resources for Bridges to Progression and note the proposals to seek proposals from delivery partners to provide targeted support that can improve outcomes for participants.


3.0       Main Report


3.1       Employment Academies


            Members will be aware that Employment Academies are one of the key instruments that the Council’s Employability and Skills team utilises to support residents to secure a new job or a better job.  While the content of Employment Academies varies from programme to programme, there are a number of consistent components, namely:


·        Pre-academy matching and selection to ensure all individuals who participate have a meaningful chance of securing employment after successful completion

·        Employer-led vocational skills, qualifications, licences and training related to the specific job role

·        In-situ work sampling/work placements

·        Provision of additional supports to undergo and complete the academy, from equipment and clothing through to childcare, travel and subsistence

·        Employability support particularly focused on the final employment interview (all candidates are guaranteed a job interview).


3.2       Given the volatility in the labour market – and the limited financial resources available to undertake the work – our work plan is driven by a range of factors including:


·        The opportunity presented by a number of growth sectors to support participants into roles with higher earning potential.  In recognition of the additional skills support work required, these interventions tend to have a higher per capita cost but offer a positive return on investment in terms of salary levels for those successful in finding work following programme completion

·        Ongoing need to work with employers to convince them of the value of alternative approaches to finding talent other than pre-existing qualifications and/or experience.  This is particularly the case for our work in new sectors – specifically those that have tended to think ‘degree first’ and have not considered alternative routes

·        Employers with entry level and lower paid jobs – particularly in sectors such as hospitality and social care – continue to experience significant challenges in finding workers.  Officers are working with these employers to consider issues such as terms and conditions and payment of the real living wage in order to attract and retain talent, aligned with the implementation of the Belfast Business Promise

·        Opportunities to support existing employees who are in low-paid work and/or underemployed through upskilling interventions – and thereby embedding a skills escalator by creating additional entry-level roles.


3.3       In the course of this financial year, we expect that the Employment Academies will engage around 500 participants with at least 70% expected  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.


Social Enterprise Call for Evidence - draft Belfast City Council response pdf icon PDF 343 KB

Additional documents:


The Director of Economic Development reported that a consultation exercise had recently been launched by the Department for the Economy (DfE) regarding support for the social enterprise sector.


He advised that Members would be aware that, similar to enterprise support, the policy responsibility for social enterprise remained with the DfE. Delivery responsibility for social enterprise support transferred to local authorities in 2015 as part of the wider transfer of entrepreneurship support. Since then, councils had supported social enterprises to start and grow both through the Go for It programme and through various ERDF-funded business growth programmes at an individual council level.


He explained that the new Northern Ireland Enterprise Support Service (NIESS) included a target of 10 per cent of businesses engaged or supported to be social enterprises. As a result, delivery partners were developing a programme of targeted support to increase the number of social enterprises accessing support.


He pointed out that, outside of council-funded activity, there had been very limited direct support provided to social enterprises from other government departments. DfE currently funded Social Enterprise NI (SENI) to undertake a range of networking and good practice support. He informed the Committee that the financial allocation to this work was very limited in scope and had not increased since LGR. He highlighted that SENI performed an important network and engagement function but it did not have the capacity for significant service delivery and relied on councils to play that role. He advised that their current three-year work programme would come to an end in March 2024.


The Director of Economic Development reported that, in early September 2023, DfE had issued a call for evidence and was seeking responses to a draft one-year action plan, which was to go live from April 2024. This action plan included a greater focus on the outcomes that the Department would like to see, particularly those aligned to the 10X economic vision. The deadline for responses was 31st October, 2023. The department had indicated that it then planned to commission the delivery of many of the services outlined in the consultation in November 2023.




He outlined that the proposed workplan included four themes:


·        Theme one: Promotion of social enterprises to promote individual business growth;


·        Theme two: Strategic sector growth;


·        Theme three: Cooperation and coordination; and


·        Theme four: Research.


He pointed out that an initial review of the work plan (Appendix 1) suggested significant overlap with the work planned as part of the Northern Ireland Enterprise Support Service.


The consultation was focused around four key questions, namely:


1.      What are your views on the overall approach of the work programme  – connecting a smaller number of objectives to the activities required and the outcomes that would demonstrate success?


2.      What are your views on the four proposed objectives?


3.      Do you have any comments on any of the objectives in the proposed work programme?


4.      Are there other measures of success you would like to propose for any of the activities?


The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.


Strategic & Operational Issues


Proposed Committee Workshops pdf icon PDF 313 KB


The Director of City Regeneration and Development provided an overview of forthcoming Committee Workshops:


NIHE Workshop


            The Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) presented an Annual Update on the Housing Investment Plan to a Special meeting of the People and Communities Committee on 6th September, 2023, at which the Committee had agreed that a Workshop would be convened with the NIHE to specifically discuss Housing Need and Demand. Given the synergy of this across to the City Growth and Regeneration Committee priorities and the Committee plan in relation to maximising housing development and regeneration opportunities, the Committee were asked to consider attendance at this forthcoming workshop.


Challenges and opportunities to regeneration and development workshop


            A joint City Growth and Regeneration Committee and Planning Committee Workshop was proposed to ensure alignment and consider challenges and opportunities from a development, planning and regeneration perspective that would ultimately benefit the city and its communities. 


Corporate Plan 2024 – 2028 Committee Workshop


            Following agreement by the Committee, at its meeting September 2023, to hold a Committee Workshop as part of the development of a new Corporate Plan, the Director of City Regeneration and Development advised that this had been schedule for 25th October and was intended to be an in-person workshop with further details to follow.


The Committee:


·        Noted the agreement of the People and Communities Committee to hold a workshop with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive on housing need and demand, and City Growth and Regeneration Committee attendance at this;


·        Agreed to hold a joint Committee workshop with the Planning Committee, with a focus on challenges and opportunities in relation to the regeneration and development of the city, date to be agreed; and


·        Noted the proposed Committee Workshop scheduled for Wednesday, 25th October in relation to the new Corporate Plan.



Notice of Motion Quarterly Update pdf icon PDF 332 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee was provided with a quarterly update on the Notices of Motion that it was responsible for and considered the information which had been reported.


            During discussion, in relation to Motion 289 - Translink - Night-time provision of services, one Member suggested the need to progress the issue and invite representatives from Translink to attend a future Committee to discuss the issue.


            During further discussion, in response to a Member’s request for an update on Motion 217 - Tourism Street Signage, the Director of Economic Development advised that the research was ongoing and a report would be submitted to the Committee in January for consideration.


            After discussion, the Committee:


·        Noted the updates to all the Motions that the Committee was responsible for as referenced in Appendix 1;


·        Agreed to the closure of 2 Motions, as referenced in Appendix 1 and noted in paragraph 3.4 of the report; and


·        Agreed to invite Translink to attend a future Committee to discuss its night-time provision of services, in relation to Motion 289.



Issues Raised in Advance by Members


Late Night Public Transport (Cllr Murray to raise)


Councillor Murray outlined his concerns in relation to the potential for night-time public transport services to be cancelled over the Christmas period.


Accordingly, the Committee agreed to write to Translink to encourage the night-time provision of services over the Christmas Period and to clarify its plans on for the Winter months.