Agenda and minutes

Venue: Lavery Room - City Hall

Contact: Henry Downey, Democratic Services Officer  x6311

No. Item




            The Chairperson welcomed the Members to the first meeting of the Committee since the recent Local Government Elections.





            Apologies for inability to attend were reported on behalf of Alderman Kingston and Councillor McLaughlin.



Expression of Sympathy


            The Chairperson reported that the death had occurred earlier in the day of the mother of Alderman Kingston and, on behalf of the Committee, extended her condolences to the Alderman and his family. 





            The minutes of the meetings of 3rd and 8th April were taken as read and signed as correct.  It was reported that those minutes had been adopted by the Council at its meeting on 21st May.



Declarations of Interest


            Councillor Flynn declared an interest in relation to item 3(b) – Update on Markets, in that he was a member of the National Market Traders Federation and had submitted an application to trade at St. George’s Market and in respect of item 8(a) – Update on Belfast Bikes Scheme, in that his employer had been mentioned within the Committee report, and left the meeting whilst these items were under discussion.  



Matters Referred Back from Council/Notices of Motion


Motion - Redevelopment and Regeneration of the City Centre pdf icon PDF 79 KB


            The Committee was reminded that the Council, at its meeting on 21st May, had, in accordance with Standing Order 13(f), referred the following motion, which had been proposed by Councillor Lyons and seconded by Councillor McKeown, to the Committee for consideration:


“This Council notes the challenges created by the fire in Bank Buildings and the ongoing Council-led effort to stimulate economic activity in the area using street animation, pop up play parks and other incentives.


The Council notes also that the redevelopment of our city centre as a shared and mixed use space offers traders, residents and visitors a range of economic, social and cultural opportunities.


Noting the Department for Infrastructure’s public consultation on the future use of the streets around Castle Place and Donegall Place, the Council calls for the pedestrianisation of this area.”


            The Committee noted that it would have the opportunity to consider the motion later in the meeting, as part of the report on Castle Place and City centre pedestrianisation. 



East Belfast Translink Depot - Response from Department for Infrastructure pdf icon PDF 83 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee was reminded that, at its meeting on 10th October, 2018, it had granted approval for officers to meet with Translink representatives to discuss the potential relocation of the East Belfast transport depot. The Committee was reminded further that, at its meeting on 13th February, it had noted that Translink had agreed, in principle, to work collaboratively with the Council, through a feasibility study, to identify potential sites that could deliver its operational and logistical needs. That decision had been amended by the Council to provide that representatives of the Department for Infrastructure be invited also to enter into discussions with officers, prior to proceeding with the study.


            The Democratic Services Officer reported that the Department for Infrastructure’s Director of Public Transport Division had, in response to the Council’s invitation, stated that Translink had no plans currently to relocate the East Belfast transport depot and that it continued to play a central role in delivering urban public transport, as it was ideally placed to keep operational costs to a minimum.  However, the Department would not rule out the relocation of the depot in the longer term but would need reassurance that an alternative site would offer a similar level of efficiency and cost effectiveness and could be achieved with no financial detriment to Translink. She added that she was aware that the Council had commissioned a study to examine alternative sites and that, should that identify realistic options, those would need to be given full consideration by Translink. She had concluded by stating that she would be content to meet with Council representatives to discuss the matter further.


            After discussion, the Committee noted the response from the Department for Infrastructure and agreed that a report be submitted to a future meeting, once the feasibility study had been completed.



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 Committee meeting during discussion of the 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 (NI) 2014.



Belfast Zoo – Performance Update 2018/19


            (Ms. J. Wilson, Business Manager, City and Neighbourhood Services Department, attended in connection with this item.)


            The Committee considered a report which outlined the performance of the Zoo for the period from January till March, 2018, under five key areas, namely, Animal Collection/Welfare, Education Services, Financial Performance, Marketing and Events and Visitor Services and provided an update on the Improvement Agenda.


            The Business Manager reported that, in terms of the Improvement Agenda, a review of arrangements for lock up, animal escapes and general health and safety requirements had resulted in new shift patterns being agreed. The review had highlighted a legacy issue involving contractual overtime and she provided details of a compromise agreement which had been drafted by the Legal Services Section to address the issue and been circulated to staff. The agreement had included a requirement to buy out contractual overtime, the cost of which would be repaid primarily through savings acquired from the implementation of the new shift patterns. It was hoped that agreements would be signed by staff over the coming weeks.


            She stressed that staff and Trades Unions continued to be engaged in the improvement process, through the Zoo Trades Union Forum and improvement group, on issues relating to the aforementioned five key areas, as well working patterns, cost reduction, procurement efficiencies and enhanced customer experiences.


            She concluded by recommending that the Committee note the contents of the report and approve the removal of contractual overtime, via the compromise agreement.


            In response to concerns which had been raised by the Members, the Business Manager confirmed that the Zoo Trades Union Forum had worked closely and positively with staff and the Council on the issue of contractual overtime and that the overspend in employee costs could be attributed primarily to the deployment of seasonal staff over the period from June till September and of casual staff covering holiday periods and some long-term sickness absence and did not involve zero hours contracts. 


            The Chief Executive provided an update on the ongoing Strategic Review of the Zoo and pointed out that decisions arising from it would, in light of their financial implications, be presented to the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee for approval and subsequently to the City Growth and Regeneration Committee for information. 


            After discussion, the Committee adopted the recommendations and agreed that, in future, all reports relating to staffing or changes to contracts should indicate clearly the extent of engagement with staff and the Trades Unions. 



Update on Markets


            The Committee considered a report which provided an update on a number of operational and enforcement issues relating to St. George’s Market, as well as details of an application for the grant of a Markets Licence.


            The Director of Economic Development explained that St. George’s Market was a popular tourist attraction and space for local residents, as well as being an ideal location for new business starts and providing a source of income for more than 200 traders. He reminded the Committee that, in 2014, it had commissioned consultants to undertake work around a development plan for the market, which had resulted in changes to staffing structures and some operating hours. Officers were currently examining ways in which the market could be enhanced to meet increasing tourist demand, whilst retaining an important role as an asset for the City, its residents and the businesses which operated within it. It was proposed that consultants again be commissioned to develop a Strategic Development Plan for the market.


            He reminded the Committee further that, at its meeting on 3rd April, it had been advised of a number of ongoing areas of work which would be progressed over the coming year and that it would be informed of any proposals which would impact significantly upon the market.


            Accordingly, he highlighted the deployment of new mobile ventilation units, with a view to minimising odours and vapour from the cooking of hot food, as well as the increased focus on ensuring compliance with various guidance documents and enforcement policies. The Council’s Food Safety Team had made a number of recommendations around the storage of food before and between market days and those would be implemented in the coming weeks. Given the operational implications of those changes, the Markets team would be working closely with other agencies and with traders around, for example, the loading/unloading of food.  All changes would be made in line with legislative requirements in order to protect and maintain the reputation of the market as a food destination and unique visitor experience.


            He reminded the Committee that anyone wishing to operate a market or car boot sale was required to apply to the Council for a Markets licence. He reported that an application had been received from the Cathedral Quarter Trust to hold a market within St. Anne’s Cathedral and the adjoining car park, on Friday, 20th and Saturday, 21st June, as part of Culture Night Belfast. He pointed out that the market would, in line with the aims of the Council’s Markets Development Strategy, assist in enhancing the area and would drive footfall into the Cathedral Quarter and the surrounding area.


            It was envisaged that there would be up to sixty stalls and operators would be required to submit in advance documentation such as public liability insurance and risk assessments. An operational plan covering, for example, security and stewarding, first aid provision and environmental health information would also be required. Inspections would also be undertaken over the course of the two  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Update on Strategic Sites Assessment


            The Director of City Regeneration and Development submitted for the Committee’s consideration a report which provided an update on the emerging findings of the draft Strategic Site Assessment which had been commissioned by the Council, in collaboration with the Department for Communities. The Assessment had examined the development and regeneration potential of the Council’s car parks and adjacent public sector land holdings within the City Centre.


Accordingly, she recommended that the Committee:


                      i.          note the update on the Strategic Sites Assessment work and the initial assessment of the regeneration potential of various Council surface car parks and other Council assets and adjacent public sector lands in the City centre and that there may be potential for synergies and aligned development with adjoining private sector owned lands;


                     ii.          note the strategic context within which this work is being progressed and the opportunity for the Council to maximise the use of its assets to deliver on its growth ambitions in terms of the Belfast Agenda, the priorities of the Belfast City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy and aligned Masterplans.  This includes the opportunity to use public sector lands to help address the desire for increased city centre living that meets various housing demands.   To note also that this work is being taken forward in collaboration with the Department for Communities, with further engagement taking place in terms of the regeneration potential for adjoining Council and Department for Communities’ lands;


                    iii.          note the alignment with the Council’s Car Parking Strategy recommendations that consideration be given to the optimal use of surface car parks to best support city centre regeneration and maximise valuable City centre land to deliver on wider regeneration outcomes; 


                   iv.          note that further work is to be undertaken on the emerging development proposals for the identified sites, including options for delivery and proposed next steps;


                     v.          agree to further engagement thereafter with Members, by way of a workshop, to discuss the emerging proposals and proposed next steps, following which reports will be brought back to this Committee and submitted also to the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee and the People and Communities Committee, as appropriate; and


                   vi.          agree to commission further work in respect of the impact on supply of off-street car parking taking into account recent and predicted future changes to supply, and including future development proposals and transportation schemes, as well as consideration of the financial implications for the Council.


            After discussion, the Committee adopted the recommendations and agreed:


                      i.          to undertake engagement with those communities bounding the City centre to discuss plans for the regeneration of the City centre and how that could impact on them in a positive way;


                     ii.          to invite representatives of the Markets Development Association to a future meeting to show its “We Must Dissent” video; and


                    iii.          that a report be submitted to a future meeting providing details of air quality levels across the City. 



Requests to Present


Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company/Pragma Consultants/Northern Ireland Water pdf icon PDF 88 KB


            The Committee agreed to receive at a future meeting a presentation from the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company on the Weavers Cross regeneration scheme, from Pragma Consultants on its retail analysis of the City centre and from Northern Ireland Water on its water and wastewater infrastructure and services.



Growing Businesses and the Economy


Employability and Skills: Strategic Engagement and Partnership Working pdf icon PDF 131 KB


            The Director of Economic Development submitted for the Committee’s consideration the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to:


                                          i.     update the Committee on the work being undertaken by the Council on employability and skills development activities, in conjunction with a number key strategic partners; and


                                         ii.     seek approval to refresh the Belfast Employability and Skills Framework in order to inform the areas of priority investment for future Council engagement in this area of work. 


2.0       Recommendations


            The Committee is requested to:


                                          i.     note the work being undertaken to engage with strategic employability and skills partners to develop and test new approaches to addressing key city challenges including educational attainment, economic inactivity and youth unemployment;


                                         ii.     approve the delivery and associated budgets for ‘test and learn’ pilots to be undertaken in partnership with the Department for Communities (DfC) and the Department for the Economy (DfE); and


                                       iii.     provide budgetary approval for the joint commissioning of independent expertise to refresh the Belfast Employability and Skills Framework and support the development of the BRCD.


3.0       Main Report


            Key Issues


3.1      At the City Growth and Regeneration Committee meeting on 6th March, approval was given for a series of activities under the Working and Learning pillar of the Belfast Agenda.  One of the thematic areas of this plan focused on strategic engagement, working in partnership with the government departments with statutory responsible for employability and skills.  The purpose of this activity is to develop joint areas of working to facilitate better alignment between regional employment interventions and the needs of the Belfast labour market and skills pipeline.


3.2       As reflected within the Working and Learning pillar of the Belfast Agenda, key areas of focus for the city include:


                                          i.     addressing economic inactivity: currently around 30% of the working age population is classified as economically inactive.  This has a significant impact on achieving the Council’s ambitions around inclusive growth.  Likewise – at a time of when the unemployment levels are at an all-time low, there are opportunities to consider how these individuals can create a talent pool to meet the growing demand from Belfast’s employers; and


                                         ii.     creating effective pathways for young people to progress into employment, education and/or training: while the city has a very youthful population, there is also worrying levels of unemployment and economic inactivity among this demographic.  Educational attainment levels are clearly one of the causal factors and recent research undertaken as part of the Belfast Skills Barometer has highlighted the fact that the low levels of educational attainment tend to be concentrated in the city’s more deprived neighbourhoods. 


3.3       To achieve any real impact on these priority areas highlighted, it is recognised that the Council must work in partnership in order to achieve the city’s ambitions.  Statutory responsibility and associated budgetary control for employability and skills remains within the remit of a number of government departments, principally the Departments for Communities, Economy and Education.  To this end, the Council is  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.


Regenerating Places and Improving Infrastructure


City Centre Recovery and Revitalisation Programme pdf icon PDF 164 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 activity to date to support the City Centre Revitalisation Programme.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committeeis asked to note:


                                          i.     the update on the City Revitalisation Programme, in terms of planned objectives and the key strands of activity to be taken forward; and


                                         ii.     that further updates will be brought back to the Committee as the overall programme and specific proposals are further developed, in the context of the budget envelopes previously agreed by the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on 22nd February 2019.


3.0       Main Report




3.1       The major fire at the Bank Buildings on 28th August 2018 resulted in the forced closure of 22 businesses inside a cordoned off area.  It also had a hugely negative impact on traders and businesses within the immediate vicinity of the cordon, with 95 businesses assisted through the Primark support fund.  Located on the intersection of four key shopping streets – Royal Avenue, Donegall Place, Castle Street and Castle Place, the cordon effectively cut the city centre in half.  To mitigate against this, the Council, working with a number of stakeholders put in place a significant city recovery programme aimed at assisting impacted traders and driving footfall into the city centre. 


      Impact of the City Recovery Programme Phase 1 Activity  (pre-Christmas)


3.2      Since the immediate aftermath of the fire and in the run up to Christmas, the Council working with a range of stakeholders (including Bid One, BCCM, BCTC, Visit Belfast, DfC, and retailers) put in place a City Recovery Programme to increase footfall and encourage shoppers and visitors back into the city centre.  This addressed issues around wayfinding and connectivity; physical and environmental improvements; large scale attractors and a supporting animation programme; all complimented by a bespoke marketing and communications campaign, #YourBelfast.


            Key Success Measures of the City Recovery Programme


3.3       Following the implementation of the City Recovery Programme, feedback and evaluations of these activities identified a number of key success measures:


                                          i.     Footfall: The key issue following the fire was the localised reduction in footfall, especially Royal Avenue and Donegall Place. However, overall footfall in the city centre generally increased each month in 2018 compared to the same month in the previous year. December ‘18 saw an increase in footfall of 17% on December ‘17, with January ‘18 up13% on the previous year. Royal Avenue was up over 20% in the week prior Christmas compared to the previous year, and Fountain Street and Ann Street were both up over 60% in the same week;


                                         ii.     Retail trading / Sales:  Information provided by BCCM showed retail sales in Dec 18 vs Dec17 indicated a small net growth overall; 61% experienced sales that were the same or higher than Dec 17.  The growth was largely driven by multiples whilst independent retailers experienced similar sales to last year.  Overall, the hospitality  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.


Castle Place and Pedestrianisation pdf icon PDF 153 KB


            The Director of City Regeneration and Development submitted for the Committee’s consideration the following report:


“1.0     Purpose of Report/Summary of main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to:


                                          i.     update Members on the removal of the Castle Place Pop Up Park;


                                        ii.     update Members on the emerging debate around city centre pedestrianisation and proposed next steps; and


                                       iii.     highlight Motions brought forward by Members in relation to pedestrianisation; problem parking and traffic calming.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is requested to:


                                               i.     note the update on the Castle Place pop up park and the public response to its subsequent removal;


                                             ii.     note the ambition of the City, as set out in the Belfast Agenda, to promote sustainable forms of transport including walking and cycling;


                                            iii.     note the ambition of the Council, as set out in the Belfast City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy, to create a green, walkable, cyclable City centre;


                                            iv.     note that the Department for Infrastructure is currently drafting the Belfast Metropolitian Transport Strategy, which will set the direction for transportation policy for the city, and will be a key stakeholder in bringing forward any discussions regarding the future use of the city infrastructure;


                                           v.        agree that the Council commission research to examine models of pedestrianisation and other initiatives in a way which facilitates the development of the city centre, enabling both pedestrian enjoyment and public transport access;


                                            vi.     note the ongoing engagement with wider civic and statutory partners to explore the issues of accessibility and use of the City centre;


                                          vii.     note that options are currently being considered for the provision of further temporary pop up parks in the city centre in the short-term and at the same time consideration of options for permanent green space, with a further report brought back to Committee  in the near future; and


                                        viii.     agree to invite relevant officials from DfI to discuss current Motions raised by Council.


3.0       Main Report




3.1       In the aftermath of the fire at the Bank Buildings, Castle Junction and the bottom of Castle Street were closed to both vehicular and pedestrian traffic and a number of interventions took place in the city centre to address the drop in footfall, support the economic recovery, animate spaces and create a buzz in the lead up to Christmas. This work was brought forward under the Revitalisation Programme as part of a multi-agency approach, led by Council but involved a number of stakeholders including retailers; BCCM, Chamber, DfC, DfI, Visit Belfast, the BIDS, Cathedral Quarter Trust and other cultural organisations.  These temporary measures were approved in the October SP&R Committee meeting and updated and approved through CG&R committee in subsequent meetings on 7th November and 5th December 2018 and 9th January, 13th February, 6th March and 3rd April 2019.


3.2       The Department for Infrastructure is the statutory authority for the provision of road infrastructure and public transportation. In order to facilitate the Revitalisation Programme the department granted licences to the Council to occupy specific  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.


Positioning Belfast to Compete


Update on International Relations pdf icon PDF 131 KB


The Director of Development submitted for the Committee’s consideration the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to seek Members’ approval for a number of activities including:


                                          i.     Friendship Four Ice Hockey initiative: this project was one of the earliest activities that came about through the Belfast-Boston Sister City agreement. The initiative is organised by The Odyssey Trust, who have requested financial support of £47,500 from the Council for this calendar year, out of a total project cost of around £250,000;


                                         ii.     facilitating an Inward Visit, including a welcome reception for the New York State Legislators from 21st-23rd September 2019, at a maximum cost of £2,000;


                                       iii.     attendance by the Chair of Committee (or nominee) plus one officer at the  EUROCITIES annual conference on 20-22 November 2019 in Prague, at a maximum cost of £2,000; and


                                       iv.     participation by the Director of Economic Development (or his nominee) in an Invest NI-led business and investment mission to Israel at the end of July 2019, at a cost not to exceed £2,500.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is requested to:


                                          i.     note the anticipated outputs of the Friendship Four event and approve the funding request of £47,500 for the current financial year;


                                         ii.     approve the facilitation and cost of welcoming the New York State Legislators from 21st-23rd September 2019 at a maximum cost of £2,000;


                                       iii.     approve the attendance of the Chair (or her nominee), plus one officer, at the EUROCITIES annual conference in Prague from 20th till 22nd November 2019, at a cost not exceeding £2,000;


                                       iv.     approve the participation of the Director of Economic Development (or his nominee) in an Invest NI-led business and investment mission to Israel at the end of July 2019, at a cost not exceeding £1,500; and


                                         v.     approve the participation of the Chair of the Committee and the Director of Economic Development (or their nominees), plus one additional officer, on the upcoming Sister Cities business missions to Boston, Nashville and Shenyang.


            All elements will be resourced from within the EU/International Unit and the Economic Development budgets which have already been approved by this Committee.


3.0       Main Report


            Friendship Four


3.1       The Friendship Four tournament was one of the first major outputs of the Belfast-Boston Sister City agreement signed in 2014. This competition remains the first and only National Collegiate Athletic Association of the USA (NCAA) Division 1 hockey tournament to be held outside of the United States. Taking place over the Thanksgiving period, four colleges, alumni and family supporters travel to Belfast for a week.  The games are televised live in the United States and Canada with the tournament also garnering a significant following on social media platforms locally, nationally and internationally.


3.2       In addition to the matches, the tournament encompasses a number of satellite events. The College students undertake visits to local schools whereby young people are able to learn about the American education system and scholarship opportunities and the visiting students are immersed in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.


Galway 2020 Music Collaboration Project pdf icon PDF 126 KB


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues


1.1       The purpose of this report is to update Members on discussions with Galway 2020 on delivering an international music collaboration project, as part of its European Capital of Culture programme.


2.0       Recommendation


2.1       The Committee is requested to note the contents of this report and approve an investment of £100,000 over two financial years in this project, subject to fundraising targets being reached.


3.0       Main Report




3.1      In June 2018, the Committee granted permission for officers to develop options for a collaboration with Galway 2020, as part of Galway holding the European Capital of Culture designation in that year.


3.2       The background to this proposal is the work undertaken as part of Belfast’s bid to become European Capital of Culture. This work revealed the opportunity for Belfast to increase local engagement in culture as well as maximising the role of culture in supporting Belfast as a global city through:


                                             i.      Increasing cohesion and permeability

                                           ii.     Building identity and confidence

                                          iii.     Attracting investment and visitors

                                          iv.     Retaining talent


3.3       In March 2019, the City Growth and Regeneration Committee approved the draft ten-year cultural strategy, A City Imagining, to go out to public consultation. This document proposes 16 key strategic priorities across 4 thematic areas. Following completion of the public consultation, a revised strategy will be presented to this Committee in August 2019 for consideration.


3.4       A number of the proposed strategic priorities across all the themes will be supported by this international collaboration project with Galway 2020, including:


                                          i.     protecting and promoting cultural heritage in all its dimensions, both tangible and intangible including the plurality of the city’s cultural narratives;


                                        ii.     supporting high quality cultural events that are accessible, diverse and inclusive;


                                       iii.     investing in a stronger and more sustainable cultural sector by supporting artists and producers to work beyond boundaries;


                                       iv.     strengthening our city, regional and international cultural networks; and


                                        v.     growing our sustainable cultural tourism product


3.5       In addition to the 16 priorities, the draft strategy also presents four major strategic projects over the ten year period including:


                                            i.      A new approach to events and festivals in the city

                                           ii.     Plans for a year-long programme of cultural activity provisionally proposed for 2023

                                          iii.     A bid for UNESCO City of Music designation in 2021

                                          iv.     A new visitor attraction, including the Belfast Story, as part of the Belfast Region City Deal


3.6       The success of all of these projects is dependent of the ability of the city to develop international cultural links and deliver projects of quality and scale. There is also a specific focus on music building on our existing strengths as a city and following extensive research and the decision by Council to pursue the UNESCO designation for music.


3.7       Key Issues


            Proposed project


            Following detailed discussions with the Galway 2020 team, a proposal has emerged that focuses on exploring the music links and heritage between the two cities and North America through  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.


Innovation and Growth Commission pdf icon PDF 95 KB

Additional documents:


            The Chief Executive reminded the Committee that the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, at its meeting on 22nd March, had approved the establishment, for one year, of a City Growth and Innovation Commission to integrate and join up major strategic projects facing the city of Belfast over the next 10-20 years.


            She reported that the Commission would inform the development of the next phase of growth required to meet the City’s ambitions in the Belfast Agenda, that is, 2021 and beyond, and would seek to ensure:


·        that major programmes were integrated and joined up, that is, economic growth must also be sustainable;


·        that resilience was built-in, so that the City was better able to withstand shocks and stresses and, by reducing risk, make it increasingly attractive to investment;


·        that economic growth was inclusive, with the benefits being experienced by all;


·        that opportunities to fund and accelerate this growth were identified and realised;


·        that NI Civil Service / NI Government / Invest NI / anchor institutions were aligned to the plans developed; and


·        that a strong relationship was built with the private sector.


            The Chief Executive outlined the key outcomes of the Commission’s work and confirmed that she would chair the Commission and lead its work and would be accountable to both the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee and the City Growth and Regeneration Committee for ensuring that it met its goals and worked within its terms of reference.  The Commission would engage regularly with the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee and would submit substantive progress reports on a regular basis.


            She pointed out that accountability for the day-to-day operation of the Commission would rest with the Commissioner for Resilience, who would be tasked with advising and supporting the Commission, identifying resources (including from 100 Resilient Cities) and producing final outputs, as part of her requirement to produce a Resilience Strategy for the City. 


            In addition, the Commissioner for Resilience would work alongside the Director of City and Organisational Strategy to ensure that effective support was in place to support the Commission and its work streams, provide research and ensure that it was linked to Community Planning and the City Deal.


            The Committee noted the information which had been provided.



Strategic and Operational Issues


Update on Belfast Bikes Scheme pdf icon PDF 132 KB

Additional documents:


            The Director of Economic Development submitted for the Committee’s consideration the following report:


“1.0     Purpose of Report/Summary of Main Issues


1.1       To update Members on the performance of the Belfast Bikes scheme in Year 4 of operation and provide details of the strategic review process and timetable.  


2.0       Recommendation


2.1       The Committee is requested to:


                                          i.     note the update on the Just East Belfast Bikes performance for Year 4;


                                        ii.     note the methodology for the strategic review, as agreed by the Committee in January 2019; and



                                       iii.     agree the proposed process for engagement with elected Members on the strategic review through the Area Working Groups in August and a presentation of draft findings and recommendations to Committee in September.


3.0       Main Report


            Key Issues 


3.1       A summary of the main issues is outlined below:


            Expansion of the Scheme


3.2       5 new stations have been installed in Year 4, as outlined below:


                                          i.     Skainos (operational from 27/08/2018),

                                        ii.     Fraser Pass (operational from 10/01/2019) and

                                       iii.     Connswater Shopping Centre (operational from 11/09/2018).

(Funded by the Inner East, Urban Villages programme, NI Executive Office)

                                       iv.     Carlisle Circus (operational from 18/12/18)

(Funded by the Department for Communities, Building Successful Communities programme). 

                                        v.     All State – (operational from 23/07/2018)

(Funded by planning agreement with All State).


            Relocation of 5 Stations


3.3       Members will be aware that, in September 2017, the Committee agreed new locations for 5 under utilised stations in the city centre. The stations were relocated to the areas outlined below:


                                            i.      Stranmillis Roundabout - (operational from 26/07/2018)

                                           ii.      Catalyst Inc Titanic Quarter - (operational from 30/08/2018)

                                         iii.      Rosetta Roundabout, Ormeau Road - (operational from 15/08/2018)

                                         iv.      Ormeau Bridge / Ormeau Park - (operational from 01/08/2018) and

                                           v.      Mid Ormeau, Ormeau Road – (installation expected May 2019).


3.4       This approach was to allow a better deployment of the existing resources to increase usage and membership income without increasing the management cost. The relocated stations have been performing well in terms of usage with all in the top 50% for usage. Ormeau Park station is now the most popular station in the network with nearly 1,000 rentals per month. It should be noted that there was difficulty in finding a suitable site for the mid-Ormeau Road station which resulted in the delay of installation to May 2019.




3.5       Annual membership subscriptions have increased by 10% in Year 4 with over 5,500 members. The uptake of casual membership has reduced, however there is a high uptake of the new ‘pay as you go’ option. There are currently over 17,000 active members registered to the Belfast Bikes scheme and further analysis of the payment options will be carried out as part of the strategic review.


            Journey Numbers


3.6       There have been 787,000 journeys since the scheme was launched and 211,052 journeys in Year 4. This is an increase of 14% from Year 3.




3.7      Members will be aware that vandalism was an ongoing problem in Year 2 and Year 3. Extensive work has been ongoing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.


City Growth and Regeneration Committee Priorities 2019-2020 pdf icon PDF 104 KB


            The Strategic Director of Place and Economy reminded the Committee that it was responsible for the development and implementation of strategies, policies, programmes and projects directed towards the regeneration of the City, in the context of outcomes agreed in the Belfast Agenda and corporate plans and other corporate strategy decisions. It was responsible also for the oversight of the exercise of Council functions in relation to economic development, urban development, tourism, culture and arts, European and international relations, car parks, city markets, city events, Belfast Castle, Belfast Zoo and Malone House.


            He drew the Committee’s attention to the following headline priorities for the Committee’s oversight in 2019/20 and confirmed that they would be shaped by emerging developments such as the City Deal proposals and the Inclusive Growth Framework:


Growing the Economy


·        Progress with the Belfast Dublin Economic Corridor;


·        Tourism development, including implementing the neighbourhood tourism strategy, and developing a leisure and business tourism strategy with partners;


·        Develop the Enterprise Framework action plan for the City to improve and join up provision of support;


·        Provide support to entrepreneurs to start a business and for existing businesses to grow, including oversight of the Innovation Factory; and


·        Promote and market the city internationally to position Belfast as a location of choice for business, tourism, education and investment


Living Here


·        Agree and deliver the Cultural Strategy ‘A City Imagining’, including the development of implementation and investment programmes.


City Development


·        Progress city regeneration and investment opportunities, including the Belfast City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy priorities, projects and initiatives to drive the growth and regeneration of the city core and surrounding areas. This includes:


·        Progressing key projects, initiatives and developments  such as the Destination Hub visitor attraction;


·        Enabling and influencing major city-wide developments to maximise regeneration potential and deliver on inclusive growth;


·        Maximising housing opportunities in the city through working directly with key stakeholders;


·        Engaging with and lobbying central government to prioritise and shape major infrastructure investment, such as Living with Water programme;


·        Progressing the Council-led infrastructure study, in conjunction with partners; and


·        Improving city connectivity; including progressing the Car Parking strategy, the strategic review of Belfast Bikes and opportunities to enhance pedestrian connectivity in the city centre.


            Working and Learning


·        Support residents to access employment and/or upskilling opportunities through our programme of employment academies, European Social Fund projects and working with our partners to establish effective pathways of support; and


·        Educational underachievement; including working with key partners to design and test new employability approaches targeted at those at risk of becoming NEETs and to identify and provide early intervention support to young people.


            The Strategic Director of Place and Economy confirmed that a workshop was planned for August in order to allow Members to discuss these priorities in greater detail. A more detailed Committee Plan would thereafter be submitted to the Committee for approval.


            The Committee approved its headline priorities for 2019/20, as outlined.



Appointment of Director (Operational) City Regeneration and Development pdf icon PDF 82 KB


            The Committee noted the contents of a report in relation to the recruitment process and the appointment of Mrs. Cathy Reynolds to the post of Director (Operational) of City Regeneration and Development and congratulated her on her success.



Schedule of Meetings pdf icon PDF 78 KB


            The Committee approved the following schedule of meetings for the period from August till December, 2019 and agreed that it should continue to meet at 5.15 p.m.:


·        Wednesday, 7th August (monthly meeting)


·        Wednesday, 28th August (special meeting)


·        Wednesday, 11th September (monthly meeting)


·        Wednesday, 25th September (special meeting)


·        Wednesday, 9th October (monthly meeting)


·        Wednesday, 23rd October (special meeting)


·        Wednesday, 6th November (monthly meeting)


·        Wednesday, 27th November (special meeting)


·        Wednesday, 4th December (monthly meeting)


·        Wednesday, 18th December (special meeting)



Issues Raised in Advance by Members


Supporting the Writers of Belfast

(Councillor Nicholl to raise)


            Councillor Nicholl highlighted the achievements in 2019 of two local authors, namely, Kelly McCaughrain, who had attained the CBI Book of the Year, the Eilís Dillon and the Children’s Choice Awards, and Jan Carson, who had secured the EU Prize for Literature Ireland. Those had followed the award in 2018 of the Man Booker Prize to Anna Burns.


            She explained that there had, for several years, been efforts to raise the profile of local writers and that the aforementioned awards could act as an inspiration to others wishing to pursue writing or acquire other artistic skills.


            Accordingly, she requested that a report be submitted to a future meeting outlining the support which the Council was providing currently to prospective writers and, in terms of other councils/regions, how that support might be enhanced. 


            The Committee acceded to the request.



Funding of PLACE NI

(Councillor Ferguson to raise)


            Councillor Ferguson informed the Committee that PLACE NI played a vital role in promoting the built heritage and environment and that it had delivered many valuable projects across the City. She reported that the organisation had been informed recently by the Arts Council that its application for funding for next year had been unsuccessful and that PLACE NI had raised concerns around the process which had led to that decision.  Therefore, the support of the Council was essential in ensuring that PLACE NI could continue to operate.


            Councillor O’Hara highlighted also the significant work which PLACE NI had delivered and confirmed that it had an important part to play, in the context of meeting the challenges faced by the City in relation to, for example, climate change and resilience. He too expressed concerns regarding the removal of funding by the Arts Council and stressed that the Council should examine ways in which to support PLACE NI. 


            The Committee was informed that a number of representatives of PLACE NI were in attendance and Ms. A. Neely, Acting Chief Executive, was invited to provide further details around its current funding issues.


            Ms. Neely informed the Committee that PLACE NI researched, designed and delivered creative projects which connected people to place and delivered a public programme of tours, talks, exhibitions and festivals. The Council had been instrumental in its establishment in 2004, by providing both a premises and officer support.


            She reported that PLACE NI had, for fifteen years, been core funded by the Arts Council which, in turn, had allowed it to lever financial support from other sources. She explained that it was the organisation’s view that the decision to refuse funding had been based upon inaccuracies and that it had requested a review of the Arts Council’s procedures and was appealing the decision through the Ombudsman’s Office. She stressed that the removal of funding was placing the organisation at immediate risk of closure and that, at this point, it would be unlikely to operate beyond 31st August. In terms of impact, its closure would lead to the loss of four jobs, numerous freelance contracts and volunteer opportunities, a resource for students and educators, significant tourism opportunities and contracts with artists and partner organisations. Ms. Neely concluded by inviting the Council to support PLACE NI by making available emergency financial support and by requesting the Arts Council to reconsider its decision to remove funding for next year.  


            In response to a question from a Member, Ms. Neely confirmed that the funding which PLACE NI had, in the past, received from the Arts Council represented approximately 50% of its overall budget and had been used primarily to cover salary costs. The amount requested from the Arts Council for next year had been £87,000.


            The Chief Executive informed the Committee that the budgets for Council Departments were established each February, as part of the rate-setting process, and that it was difficult for funding requests to be considered outside of that framework. She confirmed that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 28.