The City Solicitor drew the Members’ attention to a report which provided an update on discussions which had taken place on 11th November at the meeting of the Brexit Committee on extending the remit of that Committee to include responsibility for the oversight of climate and resilience strategies for the City.
He reviewed the draft purpose which had been presented to the Committee at that meeting and pointed out that the following Terms of Reference had been presented for consideration:
i. Political oversight of the Resilience Strategy for Belfast including liaising with Belfast Resilience and Sustainability Board
ii. influencing and contributing to regional considerations of the implications of climate change on both the work of the Council and on the city;
iii. understanding the economic risks to the city associated with climate change –including how it might impact the ability of Belfast to continue to attract and retain investment and grow the rate base;
iv. monitoring the particular implications of climate change for vulnerable and disadvantaged communities across the city and to actively plan with them under the principles of a Just Transition;
v. to consider public campaigns/public education programmes which the Council may wish to deliver to change behaviour among residents and businesses;
vi. to take account of the Council’s statutory responsibilities on sustainable development and relevant Programme for Government commitments; and to hear evidence from other parties;
vii. to consider good practice from other cities and local authorities from the UK, Ireland and internationally;
viii. The continuous monitoring of progress and announcements around Brexit;
ix. Influencing and contributing to regional considerations of the implications of Brexit on both the work of the Council and on the district;
x. to foster and maintain positive relations and cultural links with the European Union, post Brexit;
xi. Identifying any actions the Council may take to mitigate any adverse impacts arising and capitalising on any opportunities as a result of Brexit;
xii. establishing links and collaborating with relevant authorities and organisations on a North/South and East/West basis and connections with Europe; and
xiii. to work collaboratively with the Shared Island Unit to avail of funding opportunities and deal with strategic issues and challenges to the benefit of our citizens.
The City Solicitor reported that the Brexit Committee had broadly welcomed the proposal to extend the remit of the Committee and had made a number of additional suggestions around the Terms of Reference, such as building in oversight of environmental issues and adding organisational carbon neutrality, elements of inclusive growth and wider economic considerations. It was suggested also that the work of the Working Group on the Climate Crisis be subsumed into the new Committee, that additional resources be allocated and that discussions be held around the name of the Committee and the potential for all-Party representation.
After discussion, it was
Moved by Alderman Kingston,
Seconded by Councillor Pankhurst,
That the Committee agrees to remove point xiii. from the Terms of Reference and include it within point xii., on the basis that working with the Shared Island Unit was covered under North/South collaboration.
On a vote, five Members voted for the proposal and fourteen against and it was declared lost.
At the request of a Member, the Committee then agreed to amend point xii. to read as follows:
· establishing links and collaborating with relevant authorities and organisations on a European Union, North/South and East/West basis.
The Committee noted that further discussions would take place at the next meeting of the Brexit Committee around the role and responsibilities of that Committee, following which a report would be presented to the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee seeking approval for the reconfigured Committee to proceed on the basis of the new Terms of Reference.