Agenda and minutes

Venue: Lavery Room - City Hall

Contact: Eilish McGoldrick, Democratic Services Officer 

No. Item




An apology was reported on behalf of Councillor Ferguson.




            The minutes of the meeting of the 8th and 22nd February were taken as read and signed as correct.  It was reported that those minutes had been adopted by the Council at its meeting on 1st March, subject to the following amendments (22nd February minutes):


·        Under the heading “Strategic Planning and Performance Group – GP Services”, the Council agreed that the following questions be added to the letter the Permanent Secretary to request an update on the work being undertaken to resolve GP indemnity in Northern Ireland:


o   What mitigation measures were being taken to try and address the number of GPs leaving the Health Services; and

o   What measures were being taken to try and increase the number of medical students year on year. 


·        Under the heading “York Street Interchange (YSI) Placemaking  and Active Travel Review (PATR)”, the Council agreed that the decision be amended to provide that the Council will only reconsider corporately supporting the York Street Interchange project when confirmation is given by the Department for Infrastructure that they will proceed with the option that ensures safety of current residents, delivers the best place making and regeneration outcomes including plans for the bridges across the Lagan and a commitment from the Department that they will co-ordinate efforts to work collaboratively with all relevant stake holders including Belfast City Council, Department for Communities, Housing Executive, Belfast Harbour, The Ashton Centre and Sailortown Regeneration as part of the overall scheme. To include Community Stakeholders, the Stella Maris Hostel and Ulster University as relevant stakeholders and state that the project needed to address both the air quality needs and housing objectives in the city.



Declarations of Interest


            In relation to item 5.b) Work Plan - 23-24 Employability and Skills, Councillor Duffy declared an interest in that he was employed by the organisation which managed the GCSE programme and fibre academy and left the room whilst the item was being considered.



Schedule of Meetings Update pdf icon PDF 144 KB


            The Committee was reminded that it had previously agreed that the June monthly meeting of the Committee would be held on Wednesday, 7th June, and the Special meeting would be held on Wednesday, 21st June. However, due to a change in the date of the Local Government Elections it had been necessary to move the meetings to later in the month.


            The Committee approved the following changes to the dates of the Committee



·        Monthly meeting from Wednesday, 7th June to Wednesday, 14th June: and

·        Special meeting from Wednesday, 21st June to Wednesday, 28th June.





Visit Belfast Business Plan 23-24 pdf icon PDF 422 KB

Additional documents:


The Chairperson welcomed Ms. K. Thomson, Chair of Visit Belfast and Chief Executive, National Museums NI, Mr. G. Lennon, CEO Visit Belfast, and Mr. R. Rana, Board member and Director, Andras House Ltd, to the Committee and they were admitted to the meeting.


            Ms. Thomson explained the importance of the Visit Belfast Business Plan to rebuild the city’s tourism. She advised that it included a new direction of travel for marketing and destination management and for the first-time placed sustainability and community at the heart of Belfast City tourism recovery. As a result, Visit Belfast had a renewed purpose and core values. She highlighted that the need to work together and collaborate and coordinate the city’s tourism effort had never been greater.


            Mr. Lennon provided an overview of the Visit Belfast Business Plan 23-24 which had been submitted in advance of the Committee for consideration. He advised that Belfast Tourism had delivered £417m tourism spend in 2019 and 22k jobs, together with community regeneration and strategic investment across the city. He informed the Committee that Visit Belfast had had to rethink tourism as a result of Covid, with more of a holistic view on making the city a better place to live. He explained the overall economic impact of tourism and the expected outturns to be achieved for 2022/23, together with the targets up to 2024/2025.


            He highlighted the progress to date and the cultural change to input sustainability at its core to deliver on the wider city objective’s. He pointed out that an example of this was the ‘Changing the menu. For good’ launch which was a pioneering project by Visit Belfast and the industry to raise funds and supplies for those experiencing food poverty in Belfast.


            Mr. Lennon described the green tourism initiative where 69% of city hotels were Green Certified and Belfast was ranked 8th in the most sustainable destination in the world. He provided an overview of the 2023 outlook, which included the booking of 57 conferences and 170 cruise calls, and the growth of the staycation market. He summarised the policy framework and its links to the Belfast Agenda and the 10x Economy Strategy. He described the challenges that tourism was facing and the impact of reduced disposable incomes.  He stated that opportunities included the new Frankfurt Service, Belfast being a value for money proposition for city breaks and the pending Air Passenger Duty reduction.


            He advised the Committee of the Visit Belfast Strategy for 2023/24; Visitor serving targets and outputs; Travel trade targets and approach; Sustainability impact and interventions; Marketing and communication targets and outputs.He concluded that Visit Belfast would continue its transition to a Destination Marketing Management Organisation by selling and managing the destination for the benefit of its citizens.


            During discussion, the representatives answered a range of questions in relation to the Christmas events, the impact of the lack of cycle infrastructure on tourism, Sunday trading hours, city centre waste management and hygiene, the need to become a family friendly  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3a


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.



Financial Reporting - Quarter 3 2022/23

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the Quarter 3 financial position for the Committee which included a forecast of the year end outturn, a summary of the financial indicators and an executive summary.


            The Committee noted the report and the associated financial reporting pack.



Future City Centre - Vacant to Vibrant

Additional documents:


            The Senior Development Manager provided an update on the Vacant to Vibrant Grant Programme and the recommendations from the Vacant to Vibrant assessment panel.


            After discussion, the Committee:


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

                    ii        Approved the recommendations of the Assessment Panel as outlined within Section 3.11 of the report; and

                   iii        Noted the update on the award value to V2V105 Skull and Bones as included within Section 3.12 of the report.



Belfast Zoo - Fees and Charges


The Director of Economic Development provided an update on the Zoo scale of charges increase for financial year 2023-24.


The Committee noted the price increases for the existing categories.



Regenerating Places & Improving Infrastructure


Responses from the Department for Infrastructure pdf icon PDF 337 KB

Additional documents:


Response from DfI Roads Autumn Report        


            The Committee was reminded that, at its meeting in November, it had received a presentation for the Department for Infrastructure Roads in relation to its Autumn Report 2022. During the meeting, Members had requested information on a number of additional matters, which DfI advised would be investigated. A response had been received for consideration (Copy available here). 


            During discussion, the Committee expressed its disappointment in the lack of detail and up to date information in the response and highlighted that they had found it difficult to contact DfI to obtain updates on their individual issues and agreed that the Council write to DfI Roads to request a further update on the issues raised.


Response from the Permanent Secretary Belfast Cycle Network


            The Committee was reminded that, at its meeting in December, the Committee agreed to write to the Department for Infrastructure to request confirmation of the budget allocation for the delivery of the Belfast Cycle Network in the financial year 2022/23. A response had been received for consideration (Copy available here).


            During discussion, one Member requested further detail in relation to the budget allocation and an update on the delivery of the Cavehill/Limestone Road Cycle Lane.


Accordingly, the Committee:


·        Noted the correspondence as set out in the report;

·        Agreed to write to the Department for Infrastructure Roads, in response to its reply, to request a further update and more in-depth detail regarding the issues which had been raised by the Committee; and

·        Agreed to write to the Permanent Secretary to request information on what the estimated £490K expenditure for the delivery of the Belfast Cycle Network had been spent on, to include details of what schemes, infrastructure, consultants. The Committee also agreed to request a timescale for the delivery of the Cavehill/Limestone Road Cycle Lane.



Belfast City Centre Regeneration Tracker pdf icon PDF 248 KB


            The Committee was provided with an update on the Belfast City Regeneration Tracker which captured regeneration and development activity which had taken place in the City during 2022, as aligned to the Belfast Agenda and the eight core policies of the Belfast City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy (BCCRIS). 


            The Senior Development Manager provided a presentation of the Regeneration Tracker with an overview of major regeneration and development activity which has taken place across Belfast during 2022 (1st January – 31st December).


            It was reported that the Belfast Agenda sets out the growth aspirations for the city, including increasing the city population, supporting inclusive economic growth, improving health and well-being for all our citizens and addressing the Climate Emergency. This was further reflected in the Belfast City Centre Regeneration and Investment Strategy (BCCRIS) which sets out our collective ambition for the continued growth and regeneration of the city core and its surrounding areas to 2030. It contained a road map of policies to guide city centre decision-making and key projects that translated those policies into action, aligned to the overarching ambitions outlined within the Belfast Agenda. BCCRIS sought to address the universal elements of a thriving city centre as well as challenges and conditions that were unique to Belfast.


            The Senior Development Manager presented examples of regeneration underway across the city under the following eight core principles, identifying the progress that continues to be seen through the city in relation to delivering the Belfast Agenda, as well as key areas that further work is required and the measures that Council are implementing with delivery partners to address these:


1.      Increase the Employment Population - such as The Ewart, Olympic House, the Shipmaker’s House, CreateLab and Kainos;

2.      Increase the Residential Population – City Centre based – such as Belfast Waterside, Weavers Cross, Pilot Street, McClure Street and College Square North; Housing Led Regeneration – such as the Inner North West and Dunbar Street; Student Accommodation – such as Aster House and Alma Place; Outside City Centre – such as Brookfield Mill, Glenmona and Beersbridge Road;

3.      Manage the Retail Offer – City Centre – such as Primark, the Keep, the Avenue, Titanic Distillers; Outside City Centre – such as Giant’s Park, Portview Trade Centrea and Cityside Retail;

4.      Maximise the Tourism Opportunity; City Centre – such as Belfast Stories, the Dean, War Memorial Building; Outside City Centre – such as Mountainview Hotel Eastside Hotel, St. Comgall’s and Belfast City Airport;

5.      Create Regional Learning and Innovation Centres; such as Ulster University, Global Innovation Institute, Loop Studios, iReach and W5 LIFE;

6.      Create a Green, Walkable, Cyclable Centre - such as Adelaide Street, Little Patrick Street, Cathedral Gardens and City Quay Gardens;

7.      Connect to the City Around - such as Belfast Grand Central, Glider Phase 2 and Belfast Bikes; and

8.      Shared space and social impact - such as Loft lines, the Ewart and 2 Royal Avenue. 


            To facilitate the implementation of the eight policies for the city centre, BCCRIS  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.


Horizon Europe Urban Planning 2030 Update pdf icon PDF 302 KB


            The Committee was reminded that, it had been reported in November 2022, that the Climate Unit and City Regeneration and Development Division were working together to ensure an integrated approach between urban planning, achieving net zero and aspects of resilience such as supporting play and environmental sustainability through engagement with key stakeholders such as young people, families, and businesses, and the Council had been invited at short notice to participate in a Horizon Europe funding application from the UP2030 (Urban Planning 2030) fund. Belfast had been selected as one of the pilot cities and had received a Letter of Intent from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to participate as an associate member of the project. This letter provided €204,250 of revenue funding to support research, training and policy development and officers were working with UKRI to finalise the funding agreement.


            The Senior Development Manager advised that, through the UP2030 funding, the Council would seek to create a scalable framework that would be applied to cross-cutting projects that integrated tree planting, green infrastructure, play and co-design with young people and supported the integration of play and environmental sustainability into city design. Strategically, this connected A Bolder Vision and the Net Zero Roadmap and would test adaptation and mitigation measures to support the emerging Climate Plan.


            He reminded the Committee that, at its meeting in November, the Linen Quarter District was the proposed pilot area, however, the Committee had sought further clarification as to the rationale for choosing the proposed area, and whether it was something that could be further applied to other areas. Following further engagement and participation in the project launch event, approval is sought to enable the project work to commence in the proposed pilot area. He highlighted that, while this work would be undertaken within a defined boundary, the purpose was to produce a framework that could be adapted and used within all communities and districts to set forward net zero approaches, attract funding and deliver climate adaption plans tailored for the issues of that specific district.


            To maintain alignment with A Bolder Vision, the Resilience Strategy and, following dialogue with the project organiser, UP2030, the optimal location was one that combined a mix of core city functions and uses. It was proposed to locate the project in a mixed-use environment that contained residential, hospitality, tourism, commercial, public transport corridors and large transport hubs to ensure adequate capture of a holistic concentration of issues to form a framework that can be easily adapted into any area within the city. The proposed pilot area included mixed functions and land uses, including residential and commercial areas with a focus on those communities that bound the city centre. This area encapsulated an area bounded by May Street and Shaftesbury Square, and the Gasworks and Great Victoria Street, and adjacent city centre communities in the Market, Donegall Pass and Sandy Row, providing a total approximate base of 9,000 residents. This would enable the Council to consider inter-related issues such as the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.


Update on DfI Blue and Green Infrastructure Fund pdf icon PDF 190 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered 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 elements of the Council’s capital funding applications via the DfI Green & Blue Infrastructure Fund and DfC Revitalisation Scheme.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


·        Note the response from the DfI Permanent Secretary in relation to the Green & Blue Infrastructure Fund and longer-term strategic funding

·        Note the update on the DfI 2022/23 Blue and Green Infrastructure Fund, DfC Revitalisation Fund and the South-West Quarter / Shaftsbury Square project.


3.0       Main report


3.1       In June 2022, Council submitted proposals to the DfI for greenway and active travel projects that could potentially receive capital grant funding this financial year under the DfI Blue and Green Infrastructure Fund 2022/23 and Active Travel Projects. Subsequent to this a Letter of Intent to fund was received from the DfI Minister in September 2022 and the CG&R Committee provided approval for the business case applications to the 2022/23 DfI Blue and Green Infrastructure Fund (BGIF), and the DfC Revitalisation fund. The projects approved at the October CG&R Committee included Active Travel Enablers, Grey to Green and the South-West Quarter/Shaftsbury Square projects under the DfI BGIF, and the South-West Qtr / Shaftsbury Square project under the DfC Revitalisation Fund.


3.2       At the October meeting the Committee agreed to write to the Department for Infrastructure to outline concerns in relation to the short timeframe for the delivery of the greenway and active travel projects under the DfI Blue and Green Infrastructure Fund 2022/23 and suggest the potential for multi - year funding in the future, so that opportunities for strategic alignment of such projects could be achieved. A copy of the letter issued to DfI is attached in Appendix A of this report, and the subsequent response from DfI Permanent secretary attached in Appendix B of this report. The response outlines the intention to issue Letters of Offer shortly subject to final approval of business cases, and a willingness to further discuss potential longer term funding opportunities subject to compliance with the parameters of public expenditure.


            Capital Funding Application Updates


3.3       Further to this Officers have had ongoing engagement with DfI officials to proceed with these applications, and while a Letter of Offer is still pending it is expected to close these out prior to the middle of March. DfI officials have also conveyed that the funding will be required to be committed by the end of March 2023, however, spend will be carried over until March 2024. These Letters of Offer will be subject to review on receipt and subsequent SP&R approval. As outlined to the CG&R Committee in October 2022 Expressions of Interest for the Active Travel Enablers and Grey to Green projects were completed to establish deliver partners in advance of the Letter of Offer, however given the time lapse between that exercise and potential Letter of Offer it is intended  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.


Lobbying/Advocacy Paper and Regeneration Framework pdf icon PDF 264 KB


            It was reported that it had been recognised that NI/Belfast did not benefit from the same regeneration and place based funding abilities as other UK Cities, for example Stronger Towns Fund; Future High Streets Fund; Homes England funding etc. which arguably placed Belfast at a disadvantage from a regeneration and economic growth perspective. Work was currently underway with Avison Young (strategic regeneration, finance and business consultancy) to consider this in more detail and explore the case for advocating that Belfast received the equivalent investment and funding powers available elsewhere.


            In addition, in order to help bring forward regeneration schemes at scale and given the number of potential opportunities across the city, it had been agreed that there was a need to develop a Regeneration Framework and Prioritisation Process aligned to regeneration, economic, social and environmental outcomes. Other UK cities had deployed similar Regeneration Frameworks to help inform city priorities aligned to growth propositions and to prioritise funding bids.


            In relation to the Lobby and Advocacy Paper, the Director of City Regeneration and Development advised that it centred around the case for devolving aspects of place based regeneration and funding to the Council. To include exploring the case for ensuring Belfast received the equivalent investment, funding powers and freedoms that were available in England. The focus should be on place based regeneration and include measures that might promote housing led regeneration (including city centre living), city centre and wider city regeneration and development and alignment with other strategic priorities. To include the socio and economic impact /outputs from such investment and regeneration aligned to our growth ambitions.


She advised that, subject to further engagement, it was envisaged that the work would have three main outputs:


1.      An outward facing proposition for the NI executive focusing on the strategic, economic and financial case for amended place-based and regeneration funding abilities for Belfast;

2.      An inward facing brief for Belfast stakeholders focusing on the specific benefits to wider communities and geographies derived from programmes and structures designed to regenerate the city; and

3.      A wider public facing document providing the case for Place Based Regeneration in Belfast and the economic impact and social value of potential initiatives.


            The Director of City Regeneration and Development provided an overview of the development of a Regeneration Framework, A ‘Regeneration Scheme Prioritisation and Audit Exercise’ and ‘Regeneration Scheme / Programme Level Business Case’. She highlighted that part of the Lobby and Advocacy work involved strategic consultation and engagement with relevant public and private sector stakeholders and a programme of engagement would be progressed, with initial engagement to include the following meetings, together with further engagement with a number of other stakeholders:


·        21st March Meeting Permanent Secretaries of DfI, DoF, DfC, DfE (Avison Young and the Chief Executive)

·        30th March Party Group Leaders Consultative Forum


            In relation to the Project Pipeline and Funding Opportunities, the Director of City Regeneration and Development advised that work was underway via the City and Organisational Services to collate a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.


Growing Business & the Economy


Work Plan - 23-24 Enterprise & Business Growth pdf icon PDF 212 KB


            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 provide Members with an update on activity undertaken by the Enterprise and Business Growth team in 2022/2023 to support the development of new and existing businesses across the city. The report sets out key priority areas of work for the 2023/24 financial year, seeking approval areas of activity to support the delivery of the targets under the Our Economy pillar of the Belfast Agenda. 



2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


·        Agree the priority work areas presented for the 2023/24 financial year and approve the allocations from the existing 2023/2024 Enterprise and Business Growth budget as set out in section 3.8

·        Note and agree a financial commitment of £140,000 to Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council (LCCC) towards the Go for It programme

·        Note and endorse the proposal to invest in the Way to Scale programme and extended support to innovation-focused businesses up to a maximum of £90,000 (work to be coordinated through Catalyst)

·        Note and endorse the contribution to support the ongoing development of the Dublin Belfast Economic Corridor (work to be coordinated through Newry, Mourne and Down District Council) up to a maximum of £35,000

·        Note and agree a financial contribution of £5,000 towards the New York, New Belfast event and agree the attendance of Lord Mayor, Chief Executive and Economic Development Director or their nominees at the event (budget set aside within existing International Relations budget).


3.0       Main report


3.1       Members will be aware that within the 2022/23 period, the Enterprise and Business Growth team has been working to develop and deliver a range of activity to support the growth and development of new and existing businesses across the city, aligned with the Our Economy pillar of the Belfast Agenda.  This range of activity was approved at the meeting of the City Growth and Regeneration Committee on the 6 April 2022.


3.2       As well as aligning with the Belfast Agenda, the actions also support and add value to work underway through the Belfast Region City Deal, Innovation City Belfast, Smart Belfast and the Innovation and Inclusive Growth Commission as well as the draft Economic Strategy for Belfast.  The consultation on the draft Economic Strategy closed at the end of January 2023.  Officers are currently analysing the responses in order to ensure that the revised version reflects key elements of commentary.  This will be brought back to a future meeting of the Committee for endorsement.  In the interim, the work plan will take account of the likely priority action areas within the strategy.


3.3       Officers have been engaging with councils across the region to progress the enhanced approach to business start-up and growth support set out to this Committee in October 2022.  Since the last update, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has made a commitment to support an 11-council Entrepreneurship Support Service (ESS), valued at up to £17million  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.


Work Plan - 23-24 Employability & Skills pdf icon PDF 474 KB


            The Committee considered the undernoted report:


“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 2022/23 to support skills development, economic engagement and job outcomes for key target groups and to set out the proposed workplan for the 2023/24 financial year.


1.2       The work programme supports the inclusive growth ambitions of the Council by targeting interventions on key cohorts, including:


·        Residents out of work and experiencing barriers to employment/self-employment, including those who are long-term unemployed and economically inactive

·        Residents with low skills levels

·        Young people who do not have a baseline Level 2 equivalent qualification and/or at risk of dropping out of (or not in) education, employment or training.

·        In work, low earning residents.

·        Those living in areas of highest multiple deprivation.


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 priority interventions for the 2023/2024 financial year.


3.0       Main Report


3.1       Labour market context


            Having emerged from a period of significant volatility within the labour market due to the pandemic, ongoing challenges remain as a result of macroeconomic incidents and the associated cost of living crisis. Demand is hugely outstripping supply across a range of sectors such as tech and digital, logistics, business services as well as health and social care.  On a more positive note, employers are now demonstrating a willingness to consider innovative and inclusive pathways to employment, particularly in strong growth sectors.


3.2       In terms of the wider employability and skills ecosystem in the city, Council interventions – particularly Employment Academies – are largely reliant on localised provision that can engage, support and prepare people to become ready for the final step into work that an Employment Academy can offer.  The impending withdrawal of ESF funds will have a significant impact on the provision in this space, potentially reducing the ‘pipeline’ of candidates coming through. 


3.3       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 better 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).


3.4       Given the volatility in the labour market – and the limited financial resources available to undertake the work – our recommendations around the priority work plan have been driven by a number of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.


Positioning the City to Compete


Christmas Evaluation 2022 pdf icon PDF 765 KB


            The Committee was reminded that, in 2021, officers had adopted a different approach to the Christmas 2021 programme which replaced the traditional switch - on ceremony. In the context of Covid, the challenge for officers was to design a programme that continued to be cognisant of safety considerations and have the ability to respond to a changing environment, whilst meeting the needs of city stakeholders including those businesses impacted by the pandemic.


            The Director of Economic Development advised that feedback from city centre traders on the traditional light switch was not entirely positive, with many highlighting traffic, parking congestion and the event itself acting as a barrier to normal trading at a crucial time of year.


            He informed the Committee that, as well as responding to the pandemic, the Christmas programme also aimed to meet the development objectives set out in the ten-year Cultural Strategy. As a consequence, in 2021, the Christmas programme consisted of a combination of creative initiatives such as street performance, projections, music, window dressing and lighting installations all inspired by the theme Once Upon a Time in Belfast, utilising local artists, creatives and designers to create an authentic and engaging experience for all throughout the festive season.


            In 2022, the 2021 model of Christmas animation and event delivery was further consolidated through a programme of seasonal animation in the city centre, which supported economic recovery in the city post pandemic and uplifted the city and visitors in the context of the current economic climate.


Benefits of the new approach included:


·        Improving the cultural vibrancy of the city;

·        Fostering civic pride;

·        Positioning the Belfast brand;

·        Supporting the local culture, arts and events sectors;

·        Delivering direct economic benefits; and

·        Supporting businesses.


            The Director of Economic Development provided an overview of the Christmas Programme 2022. He pointed out that the Belfast’s Christmas celebrations officially began on Saturday, 19th November with the ‘Christmas in Belfast’’ opening day event, which took place from 6pm to 9pm. In 2022, the opening weekend activity was reduced from two nights to one and focused on Saturday night only. This decision was taken based on the findings of the independent evaluation and feedback from 2021, which evidenced that the opening evening (Saturday) was much better attended than the Sunday. By reprofiling the event and animation budget into the Saturday activity only, the programme was uplifted to enhance the visitor experience and increase impact. The event schedule consisted of a range of elements including:


·        Christmas lighting scheme;

·        Lighting projections;

·        Music programme;

·        Procession;

·        Window animation;

·        Street animation;

·        2 Royal Avenue;

·        Christmas Market;

·        Lord Mayor Role; and

·        Marketing and Communications Activity.


            He highlighted that the Christmas Lighting Scheme in 2022 was year 3 of the existing Christmas Lighting Scheme which also began on the 19th November and ran until the 4th January. The scheme was identical to the 2021 programme, with the addition of icicles on Ann Street and the positioning and lighting on 12 additional trees on Donegall place. He advised that feedback on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.


Issues Raised in Advance by Members


Lifelong Learning Alliance (Cllr Spratt to raise)


            Councillor Spratt outlined his request for the Committee to receive a presentation from the Lifelong Learning Alliance at a future meeting. He highlighted the importance of adults engaging with education as 34 per cent of adults in Northern Ireland had not engaged with education since leaving school.


The Committee acceded to the request.