Agenda item


            The Director of Economic Development reported that, as Belfast City Council was a member of the Eurocities network, an invite had been received to the Eurocities Annual Conference which was scheduled to be held in Leipzig on 3rd and 4th November, 2021. 


            He informed the Members that the theme of conference was “The Power of Cities – Transforming Society” and that the focus would be on how the “Green New Deal” was being implemented at a local level and that it would explore additional mechanisms to push forward the role of cities as key conduits to move forward at pace in an volatile economic climate.


            The pointed out that the conference would provide the opportunity for elected representatives and senior city officials to input into the organisation’s workplan, discuss pertinent city issues and network, collaborate and debate with European officials and representatives from other cities.


            He advised the Committee that officers were recommending that it approve the attendance of the Chairperson or the Deputy Chairperson or nominee, plus one officer at the conference, at a maximum cost of £2,500.


            The Director reminded the Committee that over a five-year period, from 2015, the Council had supported the work of the Odyssey Trust in developing and delivering he Friendship Four Festival. 


            He reported that, based on the success of the Friendship Four Model, the Odyssey Trust was developing plans to host the Women’s Ice Hockey Teams that will represent both the USA and Russia a the 2022 Olympic Games.


            He advised the Committee that, as part of the engagement fixtures, officers were proposing that a civic reception for both teams would take place in City Hall on 10th November, with the costs associated with hosting the event, not to exceed £3,000.


            He reminded the Committee that the Confucius Institute in Northern Ireland had been established in partnership with Ulster University in Belfast, in 2011 and that its role was comparable to that of the British Council, in that it serves to promote Chinese culture, education and language across the world.


            He stated that he Institute had also been working closely with those NI councils that are engaged in activity within China, and had greatly assisted Belfast City Council in its work with Sister City Shenyang since 2016.    He added that Confucius Directors had engaged with the Council to explore the potential to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding in order to formalise the support services and agree an outline activity plan.  They considered that this approach would help them manage resources more effectively. 


            He reported that, based on the outline programme of activity, it was being proposed that a budget allocation of £5,000 be set aside for this work.  The outputs would be managed and reviewed by officers in order to ensure value for money and to inform future support.


            In response to a question from a Member, the Director of Economic Development agreed that he would explore the opportunity to attend the Eurocities Annual Conference remotely, and the costs associated with virtual attendance.


After further discussion, it was:


Moved by Councillor Lyons,

Seconded by Councillor Maskey,


That the Committee agrees to:



·        Approve the attendance of Committee Chairperson or the Deputy Chairperson or nominee and one officer at the Eurocities AGM, taking place from 3-5 November in Leipzig, at a maximum cost of £2500, subject to prevailing COVID restrictions, and to delegate authority to the Director of Economic Development to determine the networking and financial viability of attendance at the conference, against virtual attendance, if the option was available;

·        Facilitate a City Hall reception on the occasion of the visit to Belfast by the US and Russian Women’s Olympic Ice Hockey Teams, as part of their visit to Belfast from 7-12 November 2021, at a maximum cost of £3,000, depending on numbers attending; and

·        Refuse to provide financial support to the Confucius Institute on the basis that it is associated with the Chinese State/Government which has a select approach on how it conducts its business, therefore Belfast City Council should not deepen its relationship by developing a memorandum of understanding.


            On a recorded vote, eight Members voted for the proposal and three against, with four no-votes, and it was declared carried.


For 8


Against 3

No Vote 4

Councillor Murphy (Chairperson); and

Councillors Beattie, Donnelly, Ferguson, Heading, Lyons, Maskey and O’Hara.


Alderman Dorrian; and

Councillors Hussey and Spratt. 

The High Sheriff (Councillor Long); and

Councillors Hanvey, Howard and McMullan.


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