Agenda and minutes

Contact: Mrs Sara Steele, Democratic Services Officer  90320202 x6301

No. Item




An apology for inability to attend was reported on behalf of Councillor Cobain.




            The minutes of the meeting of 8th September were taken as read and signed as correct.



Declarations of Interest


Councillors Black, Bunting, Mulholland, Newton and Verner declared an interest in agenda item 5a – Support to Community Partners 2020 Update, in so far as they either worked for or were associated with Groups which had previously applied for micro grant funding.  As this was only an update and no decision was being taken it regard to funding, there was no requirement for the Members to leave the meeting.





            The information contained in the reports associated with the following 2 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 on the following 2 items as, due to their nature, 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.



Finance Update


            The Committee was reminded that the Strategic Policy and Resources, at its meeting on 31st July, had received an update on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Council’s financial position and a strategy to address the forecast deficit and the mitigation measures, which had and would be taken as the situation evolved.  It had agreed to continue to provide Members with a monthly update on the financial position and that the same report would be presented to the subsequent standing Committees for noting and to provide further information on ongoing work.


            The Committee noted the September 2020 financial update.



Fresher's Operations in the Holylands and Wider University Area

Additional documents:


The Committee considered a report which provided an update on Fresher’s operations in the Holylands and Wider university area.


            The Committee was reminded that over the last number of years the Council had worked in a co-ordinated manner with key partners to try and manage the issues that regularly arose over Fresher, for example, noise/Anti-Social Behavior/criminal damage. This year there was obviously the added pressure within the context of the Covid 19 pandemic.


            The Committee was advised that Members of the Holylands Strategic Interagency groups had raised a number of concerns and priorities regarding the return of students to the Holylands and the Council had agreed that Council officers would look at the challenges identified and engage with the partners to collectively address the issues of concern. As a result, an operational brief had been prepared.  This detailed services to be delivered over the period 13th September to 1st October.  The Council was also facilitating a weekly Holyland tasking group (established on 7th September), this included representation from a number of partner agencies.  The aim of the weekly meetings was to bring all frontline officers together to discuss issues and concerns, new and emerging trends as well as resource pressures. The Director explained that the meetings were being used to agree priorities and to pool resources to try and address problem premises and behaviours.  This group continued to meet and the partners were working to join up messaging and to consider the most effective way to carry the relevant public health messaging.  Partner organisations continued to apply and deploy additional resources to the area.  The on the ground operation was due to be completed on Friday 25th September but the Committee was advised that resources would continue to be provided in the area until required, especially whilst the impact of Covid continued to give rise for concern.


            The Committee also noted that officers had been engaging with The Executive Office (TEO) since the 8th September to discuss some fundamental concerns raised around:-

·         patterns of living within HMO’s. / Social distancing /bubbles /Quarantining;

·         patterns of Mobility/ Student traveling to the area and returning to their home town, households and sport clubs;

·         behaviours and;/ the need to reinforce direct messaging to students and the implications of their actions should guidelines not be adhered too

·         enforcement/ who would enforce and managing expectations.

            Further meetings with Junior Ministers had taken place and there was a request of TEO, from the Council via the Chief Executive, to co-ordinate consideration of current legislation to deal with issues attached to students living in HMOS.


            With the permission of the Chairperson, Councillor Gormley addressed the Committee.  He welcomed the coordinated approach being taken by the various partner agencies and also outlined his concerns in regard to the problems associated with HMOs.


            The Committee noted and welcomed the updated position in relation to ongoing work with partner organisations in respect of the Holylands and wider university area.



Matters referred back from the Council/Motions


Motion - Management of Bird Population at Victoria Park pdf icon PDF 304 KB


            The Committee was reminded that, at the Council meeting on 1st October, the following motion, which had been proposed by Councillor Flynn and seconded by Councillor Kelly, had, in accordance with Standing Order 13(f), been referred to the Committee for consideration:


“The Council notes that the decision to grant Belfast City Airport permission to enter Victoria Park and carry out the management of the bird population, such as pricking and oiling of un-hatched eggs, has significantly reduced the greylag goose population in the park.


The Council further notes that as the decision to grant permission for this activity was taken a number of years ago, technology and practices pertaining to managing bird populations in the vicinity of an aerodrome may have moved on.


As such, this Council requests officers to carry out a review of this decision, engage with relevant environmental and wildlife organisations and produce a report for Councillors to consider options before the next confirmation of the permission is granted to the airport to carry out this activity in Victoria Park.”


            Both the proposer of the motion Councillor Flynn and seconder of the motion Councillor Kelly addressed the Committee and outlined the context of the motion.


            The Committee agreed that Council officers would carry out a review of the decision which had previously been granted to Belfast City Airport for it to enter Victoria Park to carry out the management of the bird population and agreed that officers would liaise with the relevant organisations and submit a report to a future meeting of the Committee which would enable the Committee to consider if alternative options were available.



Committee/Strategic Issues


Update on Environmental Health Services during Covid pdf icon PDF 476 KB


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report


1.1       This report provides an update on the operational recovery of City Protection Services following national lock down as a result of the ongoing pandemic. It provides a snapshot of the current status and information on second wave planning.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to


·         note the current position regarding service recovery within City Protection


3.0       Main report


3.1       Background:


3.2       During the national lockdown which resulted from the Covid 19 Pandemic, there were a number of City Protection services that were able to make agile changes to their processes to allow some services to continue to function. The work to provide critical services during that time was based on City Protection’s Business Continuity Plan and the following services remained operational to some extent to provide emergency response services:


·         Emergency Planning – the Council’s Emergency Plan was activated and resources put in place.

·         Houses in Multiple Occupation – emergency response arrangements put in place and agreed with Department for Communities.  Licensing applications continued to be received and processed.  From 23rd March 2020 to 1st July 2020, approximately 238 HMO licenses were issued.

·         Planning Consultation – work continued to support the Council’s Planning Service

·         Port Health – certain mandatory checks were still required and the office was staffed on a rota basis under strict controls.

·         Sewer Baiting – a service using available members of staff was established early on to endeavour to keep the rat population under control and to provide advice and support on pest control where possible.

·         Scientific Services – an emergency service in relation to the gas extraction systems were maintained.

·         Animal Welfare and Dog Control - services continued in response to stray dogs, dangerous dogs and animal cruelty.

·         Air Quality – air quality monitoring services were established in the early stages of lockdown under direction from DAERA

·         Public Health and Housing, Environmental Protection, Workplace Health and Safety, Food and Consumer Safety services were reconfigured during lockdown to deliver the critical aspects of those services identified in the Business Continuity Plan.


3.3       Because of the restrictions that were put in place during lockdown a number of less critical services or higher risk were temporarily suspended. These included postal Dog Licensing applications, Radiation Monitoring, Industrial Pollution Control, Off Street Car Parking, Night time Noise Services, Home Safety, Customer Advice, Tobacco Control, Enforcement in relation to dumping/littering and the Pest Control home treatment service.


3.4       While there were many services within City Protection that were able to continue providing certain functions, the restoration of these services and those suspended has presented significant challenges and required considerable modifications of service processes to allow all functions to be carried out in a new controlled operational model that takes into account the risks associated with Covid-19.


3.5       These controls are likely to be with us for a considerable time and will be continuously monitored to ensure that we operate in a safe way that protects both our staff and the public.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Potential Restructure of Intermediate Football pdf icon PDF 233 KB

Additional documents:


The Committee considered a detailed report in relation to the planned restructure of Intermediate Football and noted that correspondence had recently been received from the Irish Football Association (IFA) advising that the proposed restructure was to be discontinued at this time.  The correspondence highlighted the financial impact that the ongoing Covid -19 pandemic was having on both local clubs and local Councils and advised that the IFA had taken the decision to act responsibly in an attempt to safeguard the immediate financial viability and sustainability of current intermediate clubs.  It stated that it remained the intention of the IFA Board to proceed with the proposed restructure of the football pyramid in due course to provide a clear an equitable pathway for ambitious clubs.


            A number of Members welcomed the delay in the proposed restructure given its potential impact for the Council and clubs but noted that it was the IFA’s intention to proceed with the proposals in due course.


            It was also noted that it was unclear if the proposed changes to the ground criteria, as part of the restructure plans, were to be discontinued indefinitely and the impact that this might have on current or new pitchdevelopments.  


            The Committee:


·         welcomed the delay as it still had a number of concerns in relation to the proposals, including the lack of consultation with football clubs; and

  • agreed to invite the IFA’s Chief Executive and Chairman to a future meeting to discuss how the Association planned to proceed with the re-structure of the football pyramid and to consider the potential impact of any restructure for the Council and clubs.



Residents' Parking Scheme Update pdf icon PDF 233 KB


The Committee was reminded that, at its meeting held on 8th September, it had agreed that the Council would write to the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) inviting representatives to attend a future meeting of the People and Communities Committee to discuss the advancement of residents’ parking schemes in urban affected communities.


            The Director of Neighbourhood Services advised that the DfI had been contacted and they had advised that they were scheduled to attend a special meeting of the City Growth and Regeneration Committee in the near future to provide their bi-annual update on DfI Roads reports and to discuss any associated highways and transportation issues. Subject the Committee’s approval, it had been agreed that the update in respect of residents’ parking schemes would be considered at this meeting and that Members of the People and Communities Committee be invited to attend, rather than DfI officials attending two separate meetings.


            The Committee agreed that Members of the People and Communities Committee be invited to attend a special meeting of City Growth and Regeneration Committee, where representatives from the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) would be presenting the department’s bi-annual update, which would include consideration of residents’ parking schemes.



Finance, Procurement and Performance


Support to Community Partners 2020 Update pdf icon PDF 395 KB


            The Committee considered the undernoted report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1       To update Members on the progress of the funding allocated to support community needs over the summer months and to ask Members for consideration as to how that support can be extended to meet ongoing needs up to end March 2021.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to approve the following;


-         Note the update on financial investment in communities as part of the summer funding 2020 and the lessons learned

-         Note the additional external funding secured from DfC, Shared City Partnership and Policing and Community Safety Partnerships (in progress) to further support communities

-         Agree the continuing grant funding approach for financial investment in communities for the remainder of 20/21

-         Delegate authority to the Director (Operational) City & Neighbourhood Services to make operational decisions relating to the running of the remainder of the 20/21 grant funding approach to include making awards, assessing demand for each strand of the overall fund, allocating additional funding should it become available and temporarily pausing a strand/s should demand exceed available budget

-         Delegate authority to the Director (Operational) City & Neighbourhood Services to accept new offers of funding in support of communities from external funders e.g. DfC Access to Food and Financial Inclusion Funds with retrospective reporting to Committee

-         Agree to extend the existing 20/21 Community Capacity and Revenue Buildings Grant Programmes for a further year until end March 2022 with final funding allocations subject to Committee consideration when final budget allocation is known from DfC

-         To authorise Officers to develop the 21/22 Community Provision Grant Programme as detailed at point 3.21


3.0       Main report


            Community Provision Summer Funding Update


3.1       Members will recall in July 2020 a further financial investment of £636,057 (comprised of funding from BCC, DfC, TEO/SCP and DoJ/NIPB/PCSP’s) was agreed to support recovery at a community level, which was in addition to the £939K financial investment in communities as part of the COVID-19 emergency response.


3.2       This investment took into account the lessons learned from the COVID-19 emergency response, in particular feedback from community partners and the revised grant process replaced the previous individual grant programmes delivered by the Council.


3.3       The new approach was comprised of two strands (detailed below) and an update is provided on the progress to date on each of these elements:


3.4       Strand 1 – Strategic Funding of Key Area Based Organisations


            Proposed Budget: £486,000


            Of the 9 lead partners across the city for this fund the position is as follows:


-         Proposals received, due diligence completed and delivery commenced – 6 lead partners

-         Proposals received, due diligence in progress – 2 lead partners

-         Proposal not received – 1 lead partner


            The development of proposals and due diligence process has been supported throughout the summer by staff from within our Area Support Teams working closely with lead partners. 


3.5       Strand 2 - Micro Grants


            Initial Budget: £150,000 (but with delegated authority given to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.


Operational Issues


Partner Agreement - Ulidia Playing Fields pdf icon PDF 248 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee considered the following report:


“1.0      Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues


1.1       To advise committee of delays in progressing discussions on an alternative management model in the form of a long-term lease at the site and a request from the Agreement holder for additional support until a decision is made on the management model.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       Committee is asked to consider the requested additional support by Rosario YC and:


·         to agree to provide a maximum financial payment of up to £2,000 per month for staff costs, subject to vouching of fully evidenced expenditure from November 2020 to March 2021


3.0       Main report


3.1       Ulidia Playing Fields is subject to a Partner Agreement with Rosario YC. The Agreement is for a term of five years to the last day of August 2020 with an option to extend for a further two years. The Partner Agreement requires the Club to deliver sports development outcomes based on the Club’s annual plan and to assume responsibility for day to day operation of the site including key holding, cleaning, security, health and safety duties etc. Council supports the Club in the form of four quarterly payments of £5,000 based on satisfactory delivery of the sports development plan and compliance with operational requirements.


3.2       During the term of the Agreement Council developed the site and installed a floodlit synthetic pitch.


3.3       A meeting was held at the beginning of December 2018, attended by political representatives, club representatives and officers. Rosario YC made a presentation highlighting the scale and scope of the Club’s activities, how their activities support the Belfast Agenda and other relevant strategies, their vision for further development of the site in the future and their ambition to assume full responsibility for running the site.


3.4       The club has since presented a sports development plan which details their ambition to extend their programming by developing the site further, this would be based on them holding a long term lease.


3.5       Departmental Officers have been working with the club to further progress discussions around their plans and aspiration for a potential Community Asset Transfer, with the club looking at providing detail information demonstrating clear community benefit from their plans.   Due to difficulties arising from the Covid19 outbreak progress has been stalled.  Officers intend to make contact Rosario in the near future to ascertain how this is progressing.


3.6       At the December 2018 meeting the Club highlighted their concerns that the development of the site to include the synthetic floodlit pitch will now require them to operate well beyond their original commitment due to the intensified hourly use, extended opening hours and the move from seasonal to yearlong programming. They further identified additional risks to site users in particular control of parking due to higher volumes of traffic with concurrent bookings at evenings, weekends and outside daylight hours. They requested that Council provide an additional monthly amount of £2,000 to support them in creating part-time posts to operate the site to Council’s  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.


Fixed Penalty Charges pdf icon PDF 233 KB

Additional documents:


            The Director of City Services drew the Members’ attention to correspondence which had been received from Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC) seeking Belfast City Council’s support in respect of a proposal that it had submitted to the DAERA Minister.  The Director detailed that NMDDC had requesting that the maximum amount payable under a fixed penalty notice in respect of littering and dog fouling offences be increased from the current limit of £80.00 to £250.00, it had also asked the Minister to consider the possibility of devolving powers for the setting of fixed penalty rates to local councils.


            A number of the Members stated that they felt that the proposal to raise the maximum fine payable from £80 to £250 was excessive, although there was general agreement from the Committee in respect of the request and also in respect of the suggestion that the powers for the setting of fixed penalty rates be devolved to local councils.


            During discussion, several of the Members advised that it would be helpful to receive a report at a future meeting detailing the current enforcement measures in place, to included detail in respect of the actual number of fixed penalty fines issued in respect of dog fouling and littering, staff resources and education prevention measures.


            The Committee:


·         noted the correspondence from Newry Mourne and Down District Council and agreed that, whilst it felt that the proposal to raise the maximum fine payable for Fixed Penalty Notices in regard to littering and dog fouling offences from £80 to £250 was an excessive rise, it did support, in principle, the devolution of powers for setting Fixed Penalty rates to local councils; and 

·         agreed that a letter be forwarded to the DAERA Minister outlining support for this proposal with a caveat that the proposed increase in fee might be excessive; and

·         agreed that an update report be submitted to a future meeting respect of dog fouling and littering.



Request from Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum NI (WISHNI) pdf icon PDF 249 KB


The Committee was advised that a request had been received from the Chair of the Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum NI (WISHNI) seeking to appoint Belfast City Council’s Waste Officer, Ms. Jennifer Stephens, to the role of Deputy Chair of WISHNI for the foreseeable future.


            The Director of City Services advised that the role of the Deputy Chair was to continue to support the work of WISHNI, to help deliver on its strategy and to deputise for the Chair in their absence.


            The time commitment involved in carrying out this role was estimated at approximately a half day per month. Any additional time commitments would be made in the officer’s own time. Fulfilment of the role had been requested for the foreseeable future, with no set timeframe or end date stated. However, should the request be granted, the officer would seek to review the position after two years from the date of appointment.


            The Committee approved the request from WISHNI for Jennifer Stephens, Waste Officer, to accept the role as Deputy Chair for WISHNI.



Issues Raised in Advance by Members


Roselawn Crematorium - Alderman Rodgers


            Alderman Rodgers commended and thanked the Council’s cemetery and crematorium staff for their hard work and dedication in maintaining the service during the ongoing pandemic and sought clarity as to whether any of the current health and safety measures could be relaxed. The Member also highlighted that the gates at the entrance to the facility were in need of being repainted. 


            In response, the Director of City Service acknowledged that, whilst the current restrictions on the numbers attending funerals at the crematorium was an extremely sensitive matter, it was necessary to ensure that Covid secure measures were in place for the safety of all staff and users of the facility and to ensure that the service remained operational, given that it was the only facility in Northern Ireland.  She provided an assurance that this would continue to be monitored and reviewed on a regular basis in line with government guidelines.


            The Director advised that Roselawn Crematorium was a listed building, therefore, permission was required from the Historic Environment Division (HED) to undertake maintenance to the gates.  This had been applied for and once received the necessary works would be undertaken.


            In addition, the Member also suggested that the Council should look at implementing a rolling maintenance programme throughout the city’s cemeteries as many of them were falling into a state of disrepair.


            The Committee noted the suggestion and the comments of the Director.