Agenda and minutes

Contact: Eilish McGoldrick, Democratic Services Officer 

Items
No. Item

1a

Apologies

Minutes:

            Apologies for the inability to attend was reported on behalf of the Deputy Chair, Councillor Murphy, and Councillors Ferguson and Whyte.

 

1b

Minutes

Minutes:

            The minutes of the meeting of 14th 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 4th May.

 

1c

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

            In relation to item 5.a) Department for Communities (DfC) COVID19 Revitalisation Programme Update, Councillor Donnelly declared an interest in that he was an employee of the Upper Springfield Development Trust, and Councillor T. Kelly declared that her husband was an employee of the Greater Village Regeneration Trust, as both organisations had been in receipt of Business Cluster grants.

 

 

2.

Matters Referred Back from Council

3.

Motion - Extension of the Belfast Bikes Scheme pdf icon PDF 229 KB

Minutes:

            The Committee was reminded that, at the Council meeting on 4th May, the following motion on Extension of the Belfast Bikes Scheme, had been proposed by Councillor Baker and seconded by Councillor McAteer:

 

“This Council:

 

Acknowledges the record-breaking month for the use of Belfast Bikes, with 30k journeys made in March this year, and commends once again the scheme and our officials working on it.

 

Recognises that it must continue to promote and invest in the positive environmental, economic and social benefits of cycling and pedestrianisation throughout our city.

 

Calls on Council officers to carry out a scoping exercise to examine the further extension of Belfast bikes, beyond the city core and further out into communities across the city.

 

Agrees to write to the Infrastructure Minister Nicola Mallon to reiterate the need for working in support of investment into the required protected cycle lane network in our city and communities, to support the further rollout of the Belfast Bikes Scheme extending its reach and accessibility throughout the city.”

 

            In accordance with Standing Order 13(f), the Motion had been referred without discussion to the City Growth and Regeneration Committee.

 

            The Director of Economic Development highlighted that a report on the Strategic Review of Bikes would be submitted to Committee in June and the item to be considered later on the agenda “DfC Covid-19 Revitalisation Programme Update –

Reimagining the Public Realm and Connectivity/ Active Travel”, also considered project funding within the DfI Sustainable and Active Travel element of the Revitalisation Programme.

 

            During discussion, Members debated concerns regarding the amount of cycle lanes in North and West Belfast, in comparison to the rest of the city and discussed the   safe cycling provision and supporting infrastructure that should be brought forward as a priority for the city.

 

            After discussion, the Members of the Committee recommended that, in accordance with the Council decision of 4th May, the Chief Executive exercise her delegated authority to:

 

·        agree that a report on how this motion would be facilitated, resourced and managed would be submitted to a future meeting when resources became available and write a letter to the Minister for Infrastructure as outlined, to include consultation with communities before implementing further infrastructure; and

·        Note that the Strategic Review of Belfast Bikes Scheme would be submitted to the Committee in June.

 

4.

Presentation

5.

Supporting Business start up and growth in Belfast pdf icon PDF 417 KB

Minutes:

            The Director of Economic Development reminded the Committee that the Council had the statutory responsibility for a range of business support activities since 2015, principally focusing on business start and support for key target groups. He advised that the Council also provided a wider range of support services to businesses, working closely with Invest NI and other partners to focus activities in line with the ambitions set out in the Belfast Agenda, particularly around job creation, new business starts and business growth.

 

            The Chairperson introduced Dr. K. Bonner, Senior Economist, Ulster University Economic Policy Centre, and Prof. M. Hart, Deputy Director, Enterprise Research Centre and Aston Business School, to the Committee and they were admitted to the meeting.

 

            Mr. Hart provided background to the ‘entrepreneurial deficit’ in Northern Ireland, as measured by enterprise and business start-up activity. He stated that, whilst recent years had seen record levels of start-up in the UK in an international context, levels had remained static in Northern Ireland, accompanied by low business birth rates – Belfast being the exception. 

 

            He provided an overview of the project, and advised that, in light of the evidence-base review, the findings sought to set indicative ambitious ‘stretch’ targets based on the comparative data; make recommendations for a potential re-boot in light of revised targets; and develop a budget and highlight all resources needed for revised business start-up support in Northern Ireland.

 

            Mr Hart explained the current model for business start-ups and suggested that a more tailored approach for businesses may be more appropriate. He illustrated a fragmented landscape, and described current start up support in Belfast, together with the following need for the development of new targets which included, within 3-5 years:

 

·        An additional 5,200 individuals engaged in the very early stages of setting up their own business (self-employment and registered businesses);

·        Increased survival rates – 80% after two years compared to 45-50% currently; and

·        More start-ups that survive and scale - 4-fold increase – ~2% currently to 10%.

 

            He explained the resources required to make this happen and concluded that, with the current annual budget and existing infrastructure, the pre-start to business plan stage support could continue to be provided in an efficient manner but would not be sufficient to achieve the recommended targets.

 

            He suggested that additional funding would be required and resources to: develop access to a benchmarking tool; specialist post-start workshops on digital and new technologies; employee engagement; intellectual property; exporting; supply chain support and innovation; and building networks of businesses at a similar stage.

 

            He highlighted that, in light of the targets and required resources for an enhanced NI start-up programme, it was estimated that the cost would be £5,000 per individual or business entering the programme. He pointed out that mentoring was a key requirement and the new ‘Help to Grow’ government scheme to support businesses would help the gap for intermediate business assistance.

 

            During discussion, the representative’s answered a range of questions in relation to help for the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Request to Present

7.

Department for Infrastructure and Translink pdf icon PDF 239 KB

Minutes:

            It was reported that a request had been received from the Department for Infrastructure (Roads) to seek a date in which it could present its Spring 2021 update to Members, and correspondence had also been received from Translink to update Members on its low and zero emission buses which they intend to roll out across the city over the course of the coming months and years.

 

            The Special Meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, 23rd June, had been provisionally set for the Committee to receive these two presentations.

 

            The Members of the Committee recommend that, in accordance with the Council decision of 4th May, the Chief Executive exercise her delegated authority to:

 

·        Agree to receive presentations form the Department for Infrastructure (Roads) and Translink at its Special Meeting on 23rd June.

·        Agree to request that presentations are provided in advance on the meeting; and

·        Request that DfI provide an update on the Safe Cycle Network in the City, segregated cycle infrastructure, removal of parking bays, and the reallocation of roads, and that Ms. L. Loughran and Mr. A. Grieve also be invited to attend.

 

8.

Restricted Items

9.

DfC Covid-19 Revitalisation Programme Update - Reimagining the Public Realm & Connectivity/Active Travel

Minutes:

            The Director of City Regeneration and Development provided an update on the progress of the physical elements of the DfC Covid-19 Revitalisation Programme, which included propositions on how to proceed with the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) Sustainable and Active Travel elements of the fund.

 

            She provided an update under the following headings:

 

·        Re-Imagining the Public Realm – City Centre Interventions;

·        DfI Sustainable and Active Travel Fund - E-cargo bike pilot, Active/Sustainable Travel Hubs, City-wide covered cycle stands, Belfast Bikes; and

·        DfI Response to Questions on Segregated and Pop-Up Cycle Lanes.

 

            The Strategic Director reminded Members that the report was restricted, however, he advised that the restriction would be lifted in relation to the section on the Belfast Bikes, once the decisions had been ratified by the Council, at its meeting in June.  

 

            During discussion, Members raised concerns in relation to the location of Belfast Bikes and the lack of provision in some areas of the city, together with the impact of health inequality. It was highlighted by a number of Members that the level of cycling infrastructure investment in North and West Belfast was disproportionate to that of the other parts of the city and that cycling provision should be brought forward to address the greatest need and not allocated geographically. It was also highlighted that, although some quadrants of the city had large elements of cycling infrastructure, this was not representative of the coverage of the total geographical area with significant areas with little to no infrastructure.

 

            The Directors answered a range of questions in relation to the locations of the proposed new bike stations, the need to link active travel sites across city, secured city centre cycle cage and city wide cycle stands, active travel hubs, pavement café licences and the impact on accessibility together with the reporting of issues, eCargo bike trial and eScooter legislation. The Director for City Regeneration and Development highlighted that further information would be brought into the Committee following the completion of the proposed procurement activities relating to covered cycle stands including type and locations of the covered cycle stands including the secure cycle unit option. 

 

            The Strategic Director advised that feedback would be provided to the Customer Hub Team regarding the signposting of how the public could report issues in relation to pavement café licenses.

 

            In relation to the response from DfI regarding the linear meters of segregated and pop-up cycle lanes that had been developed in the city since 2016, at the request of a Member, it was suggested that the Committee write to the Department to express the Council’s disappointment in the Departments lack of ambition and ability to prioritise the provision of segregated or pop cycle lanes, cycle infrastructure and road reallocation, extended pavements and pedestrianisation access in the past year, in comparison to the progress and work undertaken by other cities. Further suggestions for inclusion in the letter included the importance to progress such works in consultation with local communities and businesses directly impacted by the interventions, and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Regenerating Places & Improving Infrastructure

11.

Department for Communities' Access and Inclusion Programme 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 167 KB

Minutes:

            The Director of Economic Development informed Members that the Council had been invited to apply for and administer the Department for Communities’ (DfC) Access and Inclusion Programme 2021/22 on behalf of Belfast based arts, culture (including leisure) or heritage organisations.

 

            He advised that the deadline to submit an application for funding to the Department was 18th June and DfC intended to formally launch the programme as a competitive process on 24th May.

 

            He highlighted that the Department for Communities’ Access and Inclusion Programme aimed to:

 

·        Improve access to arts, culture (including leisure and active recreation) and heritage venues across NI for people with disabilities; and

·        Increase participation in arts, culture (including leisure), heritage, and active recreation activities by people with disabilities.

 

            He outlined that the Council oversaw the assessment and recommendation of projects via a competitive open call internally and externally and was responsible for delivery of all projects in receipt of funding.

 

            He advised that the Tourism, Culture Heritage and Arts Unit managed the 18/19 and 19/20 Access and Inclusion Programme within Belfast and received support for 24 projects with total value of £412,554, of which five were Council projects. In 2020/21, they administered 11 grants, total value £185,443.

 

            He pointed out that Capital works and equipment costs were eligible under this programme and maximum grant remained at £30,000, and projects must be completed on or before 31st March, 2022. He highlighted that the two new requirements proposed for this year were:

 

·        Applications for Council owned venues must be supported by an accessibility audit either completed by a qualified Council official or an accredited body. Applications for third party owned venues must have the endorsement of the Council; and

·        Applicants must commit their own financial resources, minimum 10% of project cost.

 

The Members of the Committee recommended that, in accordance with the Council decision of 4th May, the Chief Executive exercise her delegated authority to grant permission for Council to apply for, promote, assess and manage DfC’s Access and Inclusion Programme 2021/22.

 

12.

Sustainable Travel - Notice of Motion Update pdf icon PDF 355 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

            The Committee considered the following report and associated appendices:

 

“1.0     Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues

 

1.1            The purpose of this report is to provide an update to Members on the status of the Notice of Motion regarding taxis in bus lanes since the previous reports to this committee in February 2020 and May 2020. In May 2020 it was agreed that a further report would be brought before this Committee in respect of the Notice of Motion to agree the Council position.        

 

2.0       Recommendations

 

2.1       The Members of the Committee are asked to recommend that, in accordance with the Council decision of 4th May, the Chief Executive exercise her delegated authority to:

 

·        Note the background to the Notice of Motion in relation to Sustainable Transport: Taxis in Bus Lanes and previous Committee decisions; and

·        Agree the Council’s position in respect of the Notice of Motion and the proposed letter to the Minister of Infrastructure as set out below.

 

3.0       Main report

 

            Background

 

3.1       At the Council meeting on 3rd February 2020, the motion as below was proposed by Councillor Groogan and seconded by Councillor O’Hara.  In accordance with Standing Order 13(f), this was referred to the City Growth and Regeneration Committee for consideration: 

 

           This Council supports the promotion and expansion of sustainable transport in Belfast as a critical step in addressing the dangerous levels of air pollution and congestion across the City and in the context of our climate emergency.

 

            With the appointment of a new Minister for Infrastructure, the Council should ensure that the Minister is clear about our commitment to sustainable transport options and the need for urgent action on climate.

 

            Therefore, the Council agrees to write to the Minister to state that the Experimental Traffic Control Scheme Permitted (Taxis in Bus Lanes), which was proposed by her Department, does not have the Council’s support and to urge her to not progress this further, instead focusing efforts on further measures to enhance the provision of public transport, cycle infrastructure and pedestrian priority in the City.’

 

3.2       At the meeting of the City Growth and Regeneration Committee on 4th March 2020 after discussion, it was moved by Councillor McLaughlin and seconded by Councillor Donnelly:

 

            ‘That the Committee agrees to defer consideration of the motion to enable a report to be submitted to its next monthly meeting providing details of any research/data available on the impact on air quality, traffic congestion etc. of permitting all taxis to operate in bus lanes.’

 

3.3       At the May 2020 CG&R Committee meeting, a report was provided to Members outlining the findings of a report commissioned to provide research and data from other cities in their approach to permitting, or not permitting taxi’s in bus lanes. Under the Chief Executive Delegated Authority procedure that was in place at that time for Committee reports, it was agreed, that in line with Members comments on the Committee paper, that a further report should be brought back into the CG&R Committee  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.

13.

Future of the City and the Role of the City Centre pdf icon PDF 248 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

            The Committee was reminded that, at its meeting in December 2020, it had agreed that a workshop would be held for Committee Members and Party Group Leaders to consider the Future of the City in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated social, economic and environmental challenges.

 

            The Strategic Director advised that there were a number of priority areas of focus for the Council, as set out in the Council’s Recovery Framework, including, for example, City Deal, Housing Led Regeneration, Resilience, Digital and Innovation, Connectivity and Active Travel, and Economic Led Programmes.

 

            He highlighted that the workshop would provide the opportunity to discuss these priorities and to consider the future role of the city centre and arterial route areas in creating investment, jobs and opportunities for the city and its communities.

 

            The Members of the Committee recommended that, in accordance with the Council decision of 4th May, the Chief Executive exercise her delegated authority to note the proposed Members Future of the City Workshop scheduled for Tuesday, 25th May 2021, and agree the proposed agenda outline as outlined at Appendix 1.

 

14.

DfI Traffic Management Proposals pdf icon PDF 263 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

            Members of the Committee were informed of the following Department for Infrastructure (DfI) consultations relating to local traffic management proposals within the city:

 

Henry Place Proposed Accessible Parking Bays

DfI proposed to provide an accessible parking bay in Henry Place. Waiting would be limited in the proposed bay, ‘Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm, 2hours, no return within 1 hour’. This accessible parking bay would provide an additional facility for motorists with limited mobility in the vicinity of Clifton Street Doctors Surgery and Towerview Sheltered Housing.

 

DfI also proposed to introduce two limited waiting parking bays in Henry Place. The restriction would limit parking to ‘Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm, 2 hours, no return within 1 hour’. This proposal would deter all day parking and create a turnover of available spaces that would benefit local businesses and patients attending the doctors’ surgery.

 

Gardiner Place Proposed Double Yellow Lines

DfI proposed to introduce double yellow lines in Gardiner Place which would prohibit waiting at all times. This proposal would improve traffic progression at this location.

 

Holywood Road Proposed Limited Waiting Restrictions

DfI proposed to amend the limited waiting restrictions in Holywood Road. The proposed restriction would limit parking to ‘Monday to Saturday, 8am to 6pm, 1 hour, no return within 1 hour’. This would create a greater turnover of available spaces that would benefit local businesses.

 

Lockview Road and Lucerne Parade Proposed Waiting Restrictions

DfI proposed to amend the limited waiting restrictions in Lockview Road and Lucerne Parade. It was proposed to amend a section of the existing single yellow line waiting restriction outside the shops in Lockview Road to a limited waiting restriction. The proposed restriction would limit waiting, ‘Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm, 1 hour, no return within 1 hour’. This proposal would create a greater turnover of available spaces that would benefit local businesses. DfI also proposed to extend the existing 15m double yellow line corner restriction by 11m in Lucerne Parade. This proposal would improve traffic progression and road safety at this location.

 

Stranmillis Embankment Proposed Limited Waiting Restrictions

DfI proposed to introduce limited waiting restrictions in Stranmillis Embankment. The restriction would limit parking to ‘Monday to Saturday, 8am to 6pm, 4 hours, no return within 2 hours’. This would deter all day parking and create a turnover of available spaces that would benefit local businesses.

 

            It was reported that the proposals had been developed in response to requests from members, residents or businesses and when implemented should deliver benefits including traffic progression, road safety, improved accessibility for motorists with limited mobility and improved customer access to local businesses.

 

            The Members of the Committee recommended that, in accordance with the Council decision of 4th May, the Chief Executive exercise her delegated authority to note the five proposed schemes.

 

15.

Growing Business & the Economy

16.

Employability NI Update and ESF support pdf icon PDF 475 KB

Minutes:

            Members of the Committee considered the following report:

 

“1.0     Purpose of Report

 

1.1            The purpose of this report is to:

 

·        Update members on progress in regard to the Belfast Inclusive Labour Market Partnership (LMP) and the emerging priorities to be considered as part of the action plan for 2021/22

·        Update members on performance of the five ESF projects in receipt of council match funding and request continuation of council support for the remaining two years of the projects, subject to relevant assurances. 

 

2.0       Recommendations

 

2.1       The Members of the Committee are asked to recommend that, in accordance with the Council decision of 4th May, the Chief Executive exercise her delegated authority to:

 

·        Note the update on Employability NI and the Belfast Labour Market Partnership;

·        Agree to consider the draft Action Plan at the June 2021 meeting of the City Growth and Regeneration Committee; and

·        Note and approve the match funding requests of £240,000 for the European Social Fund projects for the financial year 2021/22 and agree, in principle, to committing the £240,000 allocation for the final year of project delivery (2022/23), subject to satisfactory monitoring and formal confirmation of the funding from DfE, as well as budget availability within the core budget agreed through the 2022/23 revenue estimates process.

 

3.0       Main report

 

3.1       Employability NI

 

            Members will be aware that Employability NI is the new approach to helping unemployed individuals to get back into work.  It is led by the Department for Communities but is intended to be a cross governmental approach to co-designing a sustainable future strategic employment offer,  providing a tailored level of support proportionate to need. It has been designed in order to:

 

·        Deliver a reduction in economic inactivity and long-term unemployment to bring NI closer in line with UK rates

·        Provide increased support for those further from the labour market such as those with health conditions (esp. mental health) and disabilities

·        Create a mechanism for government to collaborate with councils and other Departments to offer local solutions.

 

3.2       The governance of the Employability NI Programme includes 11 Labour Market Partnerships – one in each council area.  These partnerships are responsible for:

 

·        Providing leadership and leading on the integration of services

·        Developing local area plans including setting targets for performance

·        Managing devolved funding and its delivery

·        Managing arrangements for the evaluation of local interventions.

 

3.3       DfC has encouraged local councils to make progress on the establishment of the Labour Market Partnerships in their respective areas, based on a suggested range of representatives.  The Partnerships will be responsible for the development and oversight of a local action plan: initially this will be a one-year plan but, following this initial year, the Department will welcome three year action plans.   The Belfast Labour Market Partnership has now been established and has met on two occasions.  It is chaired by the council and includes senior representation from the following organisations:

 

·        Department for Communities

·        Department for Economy

·        Invest NI

·        Advice Sector

·        VCSE Panel

·        Belfast H&SC Trust

·        Belfast Metropolitan College

·        Belfast Chamber  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.

17.

Strategic & Operational Issues

18.

Review of Belfast Agenda and maintaining focus on delivery pdf icon PDF 297 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Members of the Committee considered the undernoted report:

 

“1.0     Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues

 

1.1            The purpose of this report is update the committee on the recent reconfiguration of the Belfast Agenda Delivery Boards and the proposed approach and timeline for refreshing the city’s community plan and the role of Members in helping shape this.  

 

2.0       Recommendations

 

2.1       The Members of the Committee are asked to recommend that, in accordance with the Council decision of 4th May, the Chief Executive exercise her delegated authority to:

 

                                          (i)      Note the reconfiguration of the Belfast Agenda Delivery Boards as set out within this report;

                                        (ii)      Note the clear alignment and synergies between the Boards and work of the Committee;

                                       (iii)      Note the role of Elected Members in inputting and shaping the refresh of the Belfast Agenda over coming months; and

                                       (iv)      Note the role that Elected Members will play in refreshing the community plan detailed in section 3.9.

 

3.0       Main report

 

3.1       Reconfiguration of Belfast Agenda Delivery Boards

 

            Members will be aware, that in order to ensure that the vision and ambitions set out within the Belfast Agenda (community plan for the city) are translated into action and mobilised city partners to support delivery, four cross-sectoral delivery Boards had been formed (i.e. Growing the Economy and City Development | Working and Learning | Living Here | Resilience and Sustainability). The Committee will have received regular updates on the programmes and achievements being released through the BA Delivery Boards, particularly from a Working and Learning and Growing Economy & City Development Boards.

 

3.2       As theeffects of theCovid-19pandemic havebegunto emerge,thereisa need to understand howour city economyandcommunitiesarelikelytobeimpactedbyCOVID-19,andwhatweneedtofocusontorebuild inthecomingmonthsandyears.Clearly,thepandemicisnotoverandtherewillneedtobesustainedefforts toprotectthesafetyandhealthofourcitizens,whileatthesametimebalancingtheneedtostabiliseand rebuildoureconomyandcity.Inthiscontext,andaspartofthereviewoftheBelfastAgenda,thereisa need totakestockandreassessthefocusofCommunityPlanningandtheworkoftheBoardsoverthecomingweeksandmonths.ThisisnottosaythattheambitionsandcommitmentssetoutwithintheBelfastAgendashouldnotremainatthecoreofourwork.However,inordertoaddresschallengesthatwillcontinuetoemergeasa resultofthepandemicwemayneedtopivotourcollectivefocusandseektoprioritiseandacceleratekeyinterventions andprogrammes.

 

3.3       The Community Planning Partnership agreed that there is greater alignmentand fitbetweenthefocusof theWorkingandLearningBoard(e.g.Skillsdevelopmenteducationalattainment),and economicfocusoftheexitingGrowingtheEconomyandCityDevelopmentBoard.Thisapproachprovidestheopportunityforthedevelopment ofpoliciesandinterventionstocreatea  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.

9.

UNRESTRICTED paragraphs re Belfast Bikes under item 5a) DfC Covid-19 Revitalisation Programme Update pdf icon PDF 164 KB