Agenda and minutes

Venue: Lavery Room - City Hall

Contact: Henry Downey, Democratic Services Officer  x6311

No. Item




            Apologies for inability to attend were reported on behalf of Councillors Lyons and McAllister.





            The minutes of the meetings of 27th November and 4th December were taken as read and signed as correct.  It was reported that those minutes had been adopted by the Council at its meeting on 6th January.



Declarations of Interest


            No declarations of interest were reported.



Schedule of Special Meetings 2020 pdf icon PDF 58 KB


            The Committee approved the following schedule of special meetings for 2020 and agreed that they should commence at 5.15 p.m.:


     Wednesday, 26th February;


     Monday, 30th March;


     Wednesday, 22nd April;


     Tuesday, 30th June;


     Tuesday, 29th September; and


     Wednesday, 21st October.





St. George's Market Development Plan


            The Committee was reminded that, at its meeting on 4th December, it had agreed to receive at this meeting a presentation on the Development Plan for St. George’s Market.


            The Committee was informed that Mr. M. Williamson, ASM Chartered Accountants, and Prof. T. Stevens, Stevens and Associates, were in attendance for that purpose and they were welcomed to the meeting.


            Mr. Williamson informed the Members that the award winning St. George’s Market had opened in 1896 and that it was one of Belfast’s most iconic buildings. The Market, which had been refurbished in 1999 at a cost of £5 million, now operated on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday and attracted around one million visitors annually. Approximately £1 million had been invested in the Market in 2019/20 and the introduction of live music at weekends and of a high profile restauranteur had had a positive impact. 


            He explained that there was now a need to build upon the Market’s success to date, with an emphasis to be placed, in line with all public markets, upon bringing diverse people together, creating active spaces, linking urban and rural communities, promoting public health, providing economic opportunity and acting as a catalyst for regeneration and supporting cultural opportunities.


He drew the Members’ attention to a list of recommendations which had been formulated, with a view to improving the efficiency, utilisation, quality of experience and profile/positioning of the Market, and to the associated short/medium term investment needs, and stressed that local market traders would be consulted throughout the development process.  


After discussion, the Committee:


                            i.          noted the presentation on the future development of St. George’s Market;


                          ii.          noted that a report would be submitted to its next monthly meeting setting out detailed proposals for the development of the Market and the associated operational and financial implications; and


                         iii.          agreed that a report on the current operation and potential development of  Smithfield Market be submitted to a future meeting.



Restricted Items


            The information contained in the report associated with the following item 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 following item as, due to the nature of the item, there would be a disclosure of exempt information as described in Section 42(4) and Section 6 of the Local Government Act (NI) 2014.



Revenue Estimates and District Rate 2020/21


            (Mr. R. Cregan, Director of Finance and Resources, attended in connection with this item.)


            The Director of Finance and Resources submitted for the Committee’s consideration a report in relation to the establishment of the District Rate and the Estimates of Revenue Expenditure for the year 2020/2021.


            He outlined the budgetary pressures which the Council would face over the course of that period, together with the efficiency and growth proposals, and confirmed that the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee had, on 17th December, agreed that the cash limit for the City Growth and Regeneration Committee should be £17,267,724. He pointed out that the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee would, on 24th January, be required to agree the cash limits for the various Standing Committees, along with the District Rate, and that the process was required to be completed before the legislative deadline of 15th February.


            Accordingly, he recommended that the Committee:


                             i.     approve a cash limit for the City Growth and Regeneration Committee of £17,267,724 for 2020/21, together with the individual service limits set out within the report;


                            ii.    note the next steps in the rate-setting process; and


                          iii.    agree that the aforementioned decisions should not be subject to call-in, on the basis that it would cause an unreasonable delay which would be prejudicial to the Council’s and the public’s interests in striking the rate by the legislative deadline.


            After discussion, the Committee adopted the recommendations.



Tourism, Events and International Relations


Update on City Tourism Performance pdf icon PDF 262 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 update the Committee on city tourism performance and to provide details of Visit Belfast’s marketing, sales and visitor servicing activity to date.


1.2       The report also seeks authority for Visit Belfast to attend the monthly Committee meeting in March to present its business plan and a request for financial support for the financial year 2020/21.


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is asked to:


                                              i.          note the contents of the report and the progress to date; and


                                             ii.          agree to receive a presentation on Visit Belfast’s 2020-21 Business Plan the monthly meeting in March, including a request for Council support towards the work programme for the coming financial year.


3.0       Main Report


            Key Issues


3.1       Members will be aware that Visit Belfast is the city’s Destination Marketing Management Organisation (DMMO) dedicated to marketing Belfast as a city break, conference, day-trip and cruise ship destination. It also, in its visitor servicing role, manages the operation of three gateway Visitor Information Centres (VICs) including Visit Belfast Welcome Centre, the Arrivals Desk at George Best Belfast City Airport and the Arrivals Desk at Belfast International Airport and a range of visitor servicing initiatives on behalf of Belfast City Council.


3.2       Visit Belfast represents over 500 tourism businesses and services across the tourism industry and its core purpose is to welcome and service visitors for Belfast and Northern Ireland in order to generate an economic benefit for the city, creating jobs and wealth.


3.3       The role of Visit Belfast is to drive visitor numbers and increase visitor spend. As a public-private partnership, it provides a singular delivery mechanism for co-ordinating marketing investment and market engagement for the city. The organisation has a portfolio of marketing, sales and visitor servicing activity across both leisure and business tourism.


3.4       2020-21 is the third year of Visit Belfast’s four-year operational strategy (2018-22).  Over the course of the four year plan, the ambition is to deliver a cumulative 1.6m bed nights, welcome 953,000 cruise visitors, service 3.7m enquiries and attract £546m into the local economy. Visit Belfast is on target to achieve the key performance indicators set at this stage of the four-year strategy.


3.5       Visit Belfast’s strategy is a key part of our commitment to grow the visitor economy in Belfast and Northern Ireland and, in particular, in achieving the Belfast Agenda commitment to increase the value of out-of-state tourism to £500million and welcome 1.9m overnight stays by 2021.


3.6       City tourism continues to drive tourism on a global basis and Belfast continues to increasingly lift Northern Ireland tourism, contributing up to half of the NI visitor economy. Belfast continues to receive positive media and travel industry feedback – Conference and Incentive Travel Magazine voted Belfast their Best Events Destination for 2019 whilst Cruise Critic UK Editors’ Picks Awards named Belfast as their Best UK  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Growing Businesses and the Economy


Social Enterprise and Co-operative Support pdf icon PDF 372 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 a range of issues discussed at the meeting of the City Growth and Regeneration Committee on 11th September.


The specific request included:


·        an update on the motion on Small and Medium Enterprises which had been referred to the Committee by the Council on 4th July 2016;


·        exploring the feasibility of establishing in the next financial year a co-operative development fund for Belfast;


·        providing details of the work of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) around regeneration and community development, of officers’ work with CLES to date and how the Council’s membership of CLES could add value to the Council’s work in this area; and


·        providing information on the Council’s engagement with Preston City Council and with the city of Cleveland, Ohio, which had each developed successful co-operative initiatives, and learning from these initiatives.  


2.0       Recommendations


2.1       The Committee is requested to:


                                              i.          note the progress to date to support the social enterprise and cooperative sector;


                                             ii.          agree the proposed activities to take forward the key issues raised at the meeting on 11th September 2019; and


                                           iii.          approve an additional allocation of £15,000 to enhance the support available to support the growth of the co-operative sector in Belfast, building upon the existing delivery.  It is recommended also that the budget to support the social enterprise and co-operative sector is uplifted in the next financial year, which will be brought to Committee for approval in March 2020.  


3.0       Main Report


3.1       As Members will be aware, the commitments within the Belfast Agenda are based on a fundamental principle of enabling inclusive economic growth.  To deliver on this commitment, the Council has developed a Draft Inclusive Growth Strategy, currently out to public consultation, which aims to ensure that the success of the city reaches every citizen.  The consultation closes on 24th January and an updated and final Inclusive Growth Strategy will be presented to the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee following this.


3.2       In order to deliver on this commitment, there is a need to focus on a review of internal processes and practices, as well as considering how we directly support and influence other stakeholders to support our inclusive growth commitments. Key levers at the Council’s disposal to deliver on this strategy include its procurement, human resources, planning and wider decision-powers through which inclusive growth can be embedded as part of service delivery. We can develop targeted employability and skills interventions, utilise the planning system to generate developer contributions and support the growth of key sectors including social enterprises and co-operatives. Recognising that inclusive growth is not the job of a few but of the many, a key area of focus within the draft strategy involves working with others (including the private sector, anchor institutions, wider public sector and community and voluntary sector) to create an inclusive city, through the establishment  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.


Issues Raised in Advance by Members


York Street Interchange Project

(Councillor O'Hara to raise)


            The Committee agreed, at the request of Councillor O’Hara, that a letter be forwarded to the Minister for Infrastructure seeking an update on the York Street Interchange project and clarification on how it fitted with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report of October 2018 on the impact of global warming and the need to transition to a carbon neutral society, based on more sustainable transport infrastructure.



Dogs on Public Transport - Response from Translink pdf icon PDF 141 KB

Additional documents:


            The Committee was reminded that, at its meeting on 11th September, it had agreed, at the request of the Deputy Lord Mayor (Councillor McReynolds), that a letter be forwarded to Translink, recommending that it review and amend its policy for the carriage of dogs on buses and trains, to allow for more dog owners to avail of public transport.  


            The Democratic Services Officer drew the Members’ attention to a response which had been received from Mr. C. Conway, Group Chief Executive of Translink. Mr. Conway had explained that Translink had benchmarked its policy against those of other public transport companies in Ireland and Great Britain. That had found that its policy of allowing assistance dogs on all of its services at all times was in line with those companies, as was its policy of permitting all dogs to be carried on its services. However, in the latter instance, Translink provided staff and drivers with discretion to refuse entry in circumstances, for example, where dogs were unclean or poorly behaved or where other passengers had legitimate grounds for objecting, on account of allergies, phobias etc.  


            Mr. Conway had concluded by pointing out that Translink was of the view that its current policy balanced the aspiration for open access with the requirement for some mechanism to assess what was appropriate in protecting the needs of other passengers.  


            The Deputy Lord Mayor (Councillor McReynolds) explained that Translink’s response was at odds with paragraph 18.1 of its Conditions of Carriage policy, as publicised on the company’s website, which had stated that “only small dogs or inoffensive animals” may be carried on its services. Since raising the issue, he had been contacted by numerous passengers outlining their negative experiences of travelling with their dogs on public transport, which had reinforced his concerns around the current policy. He pointed out that bars, cafés, hotels and other venues in the City were becoming increasingly dog-friendly and that Translink had an important role to play in that regard. He concluded by inviting the Committee to agree to seek a meeting with Translink representatives to discuss how the policy on the carriage of dogs could be enhanced, in light of the issues which he had raised.