Agenda item


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 skillspipelinethatisintrinsicallylinkedtoeconomicdevelopmentpolicyaswellas demandand labourmarketintelligence.It alsoprovidestheopportunityforthe developmentof afocusedCityDevelopmentBoardthatwouldexaminethekeyprioritiesneededtodrivecity wide regeneration and development.


3.4       In summary, it was agreed thatthe Workingand LearningBoardandtheGrowingtheEconomystrandsoftheBelfastAgendaare broughttogetherintoa singleboard(i.e.Jobs,Skills and EducationBoard)alongsidethe creationof a standalone City Development Board.


            Focus of Boards


3.5       The keyareasof focusfortheBoards, as agreed by the Community Planning Partnership are set out below and clearly align with the work of the City Growth and Regeneration Committee. The Boards provide a platform to create enhanced collaboration and provide a focus on action and delivery.   Eachof theBoardsare examining and defining the specific deliverables that will be progressed inthecontextof communityplanning,enhancingthepotentialfor collaborativegain,andthedevelopmentof an 18-24 months+action plan.


3.6       Jobs, Skills and Education Board


1.     Enterprise& BusinessGrowth -We areaware ofthe devastatingimpact ofCOVID-19 onmanyof ourlocal businesses,social enterprises,co-operatives, andemployees. Importantthat westrengthen thecurrent systemand bringforward anintegrated approachto supportingbusinesses, sustainingjobs andcreating newemployment opportunitieswithin thecity includingthe arterialroutes andkeyneighbourhood economichubs. Wewill seekto adoptan inclusiveapproachto innovationandbroaden the participation inand benefits from an innovativeeconomy.

2.     Supportingtourism, culture,arts, entertainmentand hospitality-The prolongedand uncertainnature ofthe pandemicand therange ofmeasures andrestrictions broughtforward hashada devastatingimpact upon thevitality andfunctionalityof these sectors– keyeconomic andemployment driversfor thecity andwider region.It willbe importantthat weseek toprotect andrebuild these importantsectors (like manyother sectors) during and emerging from thepandemic.

3.     Skillsand Employability–Working acrosspartners toensure localpeople gainthe necessaryskills toremain inor enterthe localworkforce. Wewill alsowork withemployers tobetter matchthe demandfor andsupply ofskills andprovide aresponsive andtargeted approachedto providingemployability supportfor thosefurthest removedfrom thelabour market.We willalso seektoidentify andmaximise digital pathwayopportunities to increase skills developmentand accessto employment.

4.     EducationalUnderachievementThereis nodoubt thatthe Covid-19pandemichas furtherwidened manyof theinequalities whichalready existedacrossthe cityandhas adverselyimpacted upon vulnerable people and families. Seekingto alleviate educational inequalities andunderachievement withinthe citywill continueto shapeour plansand deliveryover thecoming years.



3.7       City DevelopmentBoard


1.     CityRegeneration andInvestment–We willworkin partnershipto identifyand unlockmajorregeneration schemesfor thecity andmaximise theassociated benefitsof suchinvestment forlocalpeople andcommunities.

2.     Housing LedRegeneration–Maximising the opportunities to continue to work with partners to  explore andidentifyopportunities forthe strategicuse ofpublic andprivate landassets andfunding mechanismstoaccelerate housingdevelopment, includingcitycentre livingand delivermixed-tenure homesacross thecity. Significanthousing stressexists acrossthe cityand thereis anopportunity toconsider howwe canbring forwardschemes whichcontribute tothegrowth ambitionsset outwithin theBelfast Agendaand createsustainable communities(mixed-use developmentsproviding communityinfrastructure, amenities, and open/greenspaces).

3.     Access,Connectivity &Active Travel–Alongside theneed tobring forwarda long-termtransportation planfor thecity, thereis aneed tofocuson joint objectives and a targeted delivery approachacross partnerstoaccelerate opportunitiesto enhanceaccessibility, connectivityand activetravel acrossthecity. Thisis notonly importantto connectpeople toemployment opportunitiesand investmenthubs, but is important from a climate resilience perspective and will alsocreatehealthy, shared,vibrant andsustainable environments thatpromote health and emotionalwellbeing.

4.     FutureCity CentreProgramme–The scale of the impact ofthe Covid-19pandemicon the future viability of the city centre is clearly challenging, with retail and hospitality industries in particular suffering. A thriving city centre is critical in terms of jobs and economic recovery for the city as whole, and for the wider region. It is clear that Belfast, in line with other cities need to consider the purpose of the city centre and how it can adapt to becoming a multi-purpose location, combining retail and hospitality with business, residential, cultural, community and other facilities, alongside new ways of working and embracing innovation and digital technology. TheNI Executivehaveestablished anew HighStreet TaskForce andit willbe importantthatthe Boardconsider thekeychallenges andopportunities.


3.8       Belfast Agenda Review


            Members will note that there is a legislative requirement and timescale for review of the city’s community plan (Belfast Agenda) which is required by November 2021.  The COVID-19 pandemic and the disruption on normal working arrangements have understandably impacted upon the timescales for the review of community plans across local government.  A detailed report outlining the planned process, including significant engagement and co-design with communities, city partners and elected Members. Attached at Appendix 1 is the copy of the detailed report considered and agreed by Strategic Policy and Resources Committee. In summary, the co-design approach we adopt needs to be flexible to reflect the outcome of prior engagement ensuring we listen to and reflect the specific needs of each area of the city.












3.9       Role of Elected Members


            Elected Members will be engaged at each stage of the review process through the All Party Working Group on Community Planning. In addition, it is recommended that all Elected Members will have the opportunity to shape the priority framework and plans for the new 4 year period through Party Group briefings.  In addition, Elected Members will also be supported by our Marketing and Communications team who will be provide ongoing support via a communications toolkit to enable them to engage their constituents to make their voices heard.


3.10     While the specifics regarding engagement events will be finalised with partners, it is expected that there will be a series of thematic and/or local-area virtual workshops. This will provide a further role for Elected Members to provide a leading role within their communities to shaping the city’s future plans.


3.11     Financial & Resource Implications


            Any financial implications arising from this report will be covered from existing budgets. The review process will involve the participation of all community planning partners, who will need to commit their resources to the review process and the agreed action plans.


3.12     Equality or Good Relations Implications / Rural Needs Assessment


            There are no equality, good relations or rural need implications in this report.”


            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 reconfiguration of the Belfast Agenda Delivery Boards as set out within this report;

·        Note the clear alignment and synergies between the Boards and work of the Committee;

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

·        Note the role that Elected Members will play in refreshing the community plan detailed in section 3.9 of the report.


Supporting documents: