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Agenda and minutes

Strategic Policy and Resources Committee
Friday, 11th December, 2009 10.00 am

Venue: Lavery Room (Room G05), City Hall

Contact: Mr Jim Hanna, Senior Committee Administrator 

Items
No. Item

1a

Apology

Minutes:

            An apology for inability to attend was reported from Councillor Adamson.

 

1b

Minutes

Minutes:

            The minutes of the meetings of 4th and 20th November were taken as read and signed as correct.  It was reported that those minutes had been adopted by the Council at its meeting on 1st December, subject to the omission of the minute of the meeting of 20th November under the heading “Minutes of Memorabilia Working Group” in so far as it related to exhibitions in the City Hall which, at the request of Councillor Hendron, had been taken back to the Committee for further consideration.

 

1c

Memorabilia Working Group - Exhibitions in the City Hall pdf icon PDF 38 KB

To consider further the minute of the meeting of 20th November under the heading Memorabilia Working Group which, at the request of Councillor Hendron, was referred back to the Committee by the Council at its meeting on 1st December (extracts herewith)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

            The Committee considered further the minute of the meeting of 20th November under the heading “Memorabilia Working Group – Exhibitions in the City Hall” and agreed that the matter be referred back to the Working Group for further consideration.

 

2.

Transition Committee Business pdf icon PDF 243 KB

2a

Review of Public Administration Update pdf icon PDF 243 KB

Minutes:

            The Chief Executive reminded the Committee that discussions were ongoing within the Northern Ireland Executive with regard to the progressing of the Review of Public Administration process and the associated reform of Local Government.  He advised that the Environment Minister, Mr. Edwin Poots, MLA, was in negotiation with Ministerial colleagues within the Executive regarding proposed modifications to the Local Government Boundaries Commissioner’s recommendations for the new Belfast City Council Boundary.  He pointed out that if there were no political agreement secured around these critical issues within the coming weeks, then the already tight legislative timetable would be unachievable and the local reform programme could be at significant risk.

 

            The Chief Executive reported that, notwithstanding that a final decision had yet to be taken on the boundaries, discussions were ongoing between Council officers and their counterparts in Lisburn City and Castlereagh Borough Councils to scope out the transition-related issues which needed to be addressed and moved forward and to collate the relevant baseline information necessary to inform future political discussions.  An initial joint project plan had been agreed previously between the three Councils.  However, officials from Lisburn and Castlereagh had requested, given the added complexity which they faced in relation to engagement with each other as well as with Belfast, that the timetable for the initial outputs, that is, baseline reports on assets and liabilities and service harmonisation issues, be extended by a month from January to February, 2010.

 

            The Chief Executive reported further that during recent weeks there had been an upsurge in the number of stakeholders from across the City who had approached the Council to seek initial views with regard to community planning.  As agreed by the Committee at its meeting on 20th November, a series of briefing sessions were to be scheduled during December, 2009 and January, 2010 with the Party Groupings in order to seek Members’ views on how the Council should move forward the issue of community planning and to agree the key principles and process for supporting this.

 

Noted.

 

3.

Democratic Services and Governance pdf icon PDF 77 KB

Additional documents:

3a

Requests for the Use of the City Hall and the Provision of Hospitality pdf icon PDF 64 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

            The Committee was informed that the undernoted requests for the use of the City Hall and the provision of hospitality had been received:

 

Organisation/ Body

 

Event/Date – Number of Delegates/Guests

 

Request

 

Comments

 

Recommendation

 

Northern Ireland Tourist Board

Meet the Buyer Workshop Dinner

21st April, 2010

Approximately 260 attending

The use of the City Hall and the  provision of hospitality in the form of a pre?dinner drinks reception.

Delegates will be staying in accommodation in Belfast and the workshop will take place within the city.

This event would contribute to the Council’s Key Themes of ‘City Leadership – Strong, Fair, Together’ and ‘Better opportunities for success across the city’.

The use of the City Hall and the provision of hospitality in the form of red/white wine and soft drinks.

Approximate cost £1,040

 

Organisation/ Body

 

Event/Date – Number of Delegates/Guests

 

Request

 

Comments

 

Recommendation

 

Queen’s University Belfast

‘Geographies of Orthodoxy’ International Conference Dinner

10th June, 2010

Approximately 60 attending

The use of the City Hall and the  provision of hospitality in the form of a pre-dinner drinks reception.

Delegates will be staying in accommodation in Belfast and the conference will take place within the city.

This event would contribute to the Council’s Key Theme of ‘City Leadership – Strong, Fair, Together’.

 

The use of the City Hall and the provision of hospitality in the form of red/white wine and soft drinks.

Approximate cost £240

Queen’s University Belfast

17th Australasian Irish Studies Conference Reception

4th July, 2010

Approximately 100 attending

The use of the City Hall and the  provision of hospitality in the form of a drinks reception.

Delegates will be staying in accommodation in Belfast and the conference will take place within the city.

This event would contribute to the Council’s Key Theme of ‘City Leadership – Strong, Fair, Together’.

 

The use of the City Hall and the provision of hospitality in the form of red/white wine and soft drinks.

Approximate cost £400

British Psychological Society Division

Conference Reception

15th September, 2010

Approximately 250 attending

The use of the City Hall and the  provision of hospitality in the form of a drinks reception.

Delegates will be staying in accommodation in Belfast and the conference will take place within the city.

This event would contribute to the Council’s Key Themes of ‘City Leadership – Strong, Fair, Together’ and ‘Better Support for People and Communities’.

The use of the City Hall and the provision of hospitality in the form of red/white wine and soft drinks.

Approximate cost £1,000

 

Organisation/ Body

 

Event/Date – Number of Delegates/Guests

 

Request

 

Comments

 

Recommendation

 

Belfast Media Group

Belfast’s Top 40 under 40

4th March, 2010

Approximately 150 attending

The use of the City Hall and the  provision of hospitality in the form of tea/coffee and biscuits.

This event seeks to acknowledge the achievements of the emerging leaders of Belfast.  by recognising the top 40 individuals from across the City who are under the age of 40.

The event will actively  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3a

3b

Northern Ireland Local Government Association - Annual Conference pdf icon PDF 74 KB

Minutes:

            The Committee was advised that the Northern Ireland Local Government Association was holding its Annual Conference in the Slieve Donard Hotel, Newcastle on Thursday, 18th and Friday, 19th February, 2010.  The theme of the Conference was “Delivering Change – A Local Government for Tomorrow”, with the main focus on the progress achieved in implementing the reform of Local Government and the major hurdles which remained to be overcome in order to ensure that the 2011 deadline was met.  Attendance at the Conference would provide an opportunity for Councillors to network with other Elected Members and consider how the vision for a modern Local Government system could be achieved within the designated timeframe.  In addition, Members would be able to participate in the Northern Ireland Local Government Awards Ceremony, which aimed to recognise exceptional performance and achievement by both officers and Members, which would be held on the Thursday evening.

 

            The Committee authorised the attendance at the Northern Ireland Local Government Association Annual Conference of the Chairman, the Deputy Chairman and the Head of Committee and Members’ Services (or their nominees), as well as the Council’s representatives on the Association.

 

3c

Developing Elected Members 2010 Conference and Workshop pdf icon PDF 75 KB

Minutes:

            The Committee was advised that the Local Government Chronicle, supported by the IDeA, was organising an Elected Member Development Conference and Workshop on 26th and 27th January.  The Conference, which would be held in the America Square Conference Centre, London, would focus on how Members could best be supported and developed, particularly as their roles and responsibilities evolved.

 

            The benefits to be gained from Members’ attendance at the event included:

 

·         a better understanding of the importance of Member development in the context of community leadership;

·         learning from best practice in a wide range of Local Authorities;

·         accessing networking opportunities with Member peers from across England, Scotland and Wales; and

·         learning what Members felt they needed from Induction Training.

 

            The Conference would be addressed by a number of expert speakers who had specialised knowledge of Member development issues and would examine specifically the area of Member Induction Training.  It would involve case studies, discussion sessions and small group work.

 

            The Committee authorised the attendance at the Elected Member Development Conference and Workshop 2010 of the Chairman and the Deputy Chairman and the Head of Committee and Members’ Services (or their nominees), together with a Member from each of the Party Groupings not represented by the aforementioned Members.

 

3d

Transitional Governance Arrangements for the Education Sector pdf icon PDF 77 KB

Minutes:

            The Committee considered the undernoted report:

 

“Purpose of Report

 

      To determine a response to correspondence received from the Minister for Education regarding the transitional governance arrangements for the education sector.

 

Background

 

      Correspondence has been received from the Minister for Education explaining that the Education Bill provides for the replacement of the five Education and Library Boards with a new Education and Skills Authority.  However, the legislation has not yet been passed by the Assembly and accordingly the commencement date of 1st January 2010 which had been agreed by the Executive for the establishment of the new body is not achievable and interim governance and management arrangements will have to be put in place.

 

      The Minister has decided to reduce the size of the Education and Library Boards and under the transitional arrangements the Council has been allocated four places on the Belfast Board.

 

      However, in order to comply with the Code of Practice of the Commissioner for Public Appointments, which states that at least two nominees should be sought for each vacancy, the Minister has invited the Council to put forward at least eight Councillors who would be willing to sit on the Board during the transitional period.  Each Councillor would be required to complete an application form detailing how he or she would meet the key requirements for appointment to the posts.  The application forms would be subject to eligibility sift followed by ‘conversations with a purpose’ with candidates to confirm and validate suitability.  The final decision on appointment would be made by the Minister with a view to achieving a balance in terms of diversity of skills and experience.  All appointments made would be for the transitional period prior to the establishment of the new Education and Skills Authority.

 

      The Minister is seeking a response from the Council by 16th December. 

 

Key Issues

 

      The Council currently has 14 representatives on the Belfast Education and Library Board.  These are:

 

      Sinn Féin

 

      Councillor Breige Brownlee

      Councillor Tierna Cunningham

      Councillor Tom Hartley

      Councillor Danny Lavery

 

      DUP

 

      Councillor Diane Dodds

      Councillor Nelson McCausland

      Councillor David Rodway

 

      UUP

 

      Councillor David Browne

      Councillor Jim Rodgers

      Councillor Bob Stoker

 

      SDLP

 

      Councillor Tim Attwood

      Councillor Patrick Convery

      Councillor Cathal Mullaghan

 

      All

 

      Councillor Máire Hendron

 

      These Party Group appointments were determined using the Council’s d’Hondt process immediately following the Local Government Elections in May, 2005 and were approved by the Council at its Annual meeting on 1st June, 2005 for the period to end on the date of the Local Government Elections, then anticipated to be held in May, 2009, though obviously, for a variety of reasons, the names of the Council’s representatives have changed from time to time.  The Committee, in January of this year, agreed that, as a consequence of the extension of the existing Council term, all appointments to outside Bodies should be extended to the date of the next Local Government Elections in May, 2011.

 

      The original d’Hondt process involved appointments being made to a wide range of organisations and involved more  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3d

4.

Finance pdf icon PDF 99 KB

Additional documents:

4a

Budget Monitoring Report pdf icon PDF 97 KB

Minutes:

            The Director of Finance and Resources submitted for the Committee’s consideration the undernoted report:

 

“Relevant Background Information

 

      The Strategic Policy and Resources Committee has requested that it receive regular updates on budgetary performance throughout the year and the most recent report on the 2009/10 position was presented on 23 October 2009. This report updates Members on the current year’s position at period 7, the forecast outturn for the financial year and highlights budget risk areas.

 

Key Issues

 

      Revenue Budget Position to October 2009

 

      BCC has a net departmental budget of £70.2m for the period to October. The outturn for the year to date is £67.9m giving an under?spend of £2.3m. The reasons for this under-spend are explained below.

 

      Forecast Revenue Outturn 2009/10

 

      The forecast outturn for 2009/10 is an under-spend of £3.9m. There have been several factors which have contributed to this forecast:

 

1.   Increased rate income has been forecast by Land and Property Services of some £834k - this is an area which BelfastCity Council officers have been focusing on in recent years, particularly in relation to vacant properties.

2.   The pay rise for 2009/10 was settled at a lower amount than previously budgeted (original budget was for 2.5% compared to base settlement of 1%).

3.   There have been a number of adjustments within Departmental Budgets to reflect the up to date financial position.

4.   A comprehensive review of capital financing has been carried out in preparation for the 2010/11 rates setting process.

 

      This forecast includes the voluntary redundancy exercise for ISB (which has a net impact of some £700k in 2009/10 after in year savings) but excludes the remainder of the potential voluntary redundancy costs which are the subject of a separate SP&R report and are discussed further below.

 

Budgetary Risks / Pressures

 

      The register of all the budget risk areas, their financial implications and the action required to manage the risks is updated monthly.

 

      A number of the key risks that have been included in the overall financial forecast above and are putting pressure on the current year’s budget are:

 

1.   If the current low level in interest rates prevail to the end of the year, this is likely to cause a £460,000 loss of income in terms of interest on Council reserves.

 

2.   Building Control show a loss of income due to the downturn in the housing market. This has resulted in a loss of external income of £234,670 for the year to date.

 

3.   ISB has experienced a loss of external income of £145,500 at Period 7.

 

Impact on Reserves

 

      As reported at the SP&R Committee of 20 November, the planned reserves at the end of 2009/10 were some £2.7m (after planned contributions from reserves to the 2009/10 rate of £2.4m). If the forecast under-spend of £3.9m above is achieved, this would lead to reserves at 31 March 2010 of £6.6m.

 

      However, a paper on the voluntary redundancy exercise is being separately presented to the SP&R Committee today.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4a

4b

Update on Financial Estimates and District Rate 2010/2011 pdf icon PDF 141 KB

Minutes:

            The Committee considered the undernoted report:

 

“Relevant Background Information and Purpose of Report

 

      Members will recall that, at the last meeting of the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, the following process was agreed for setting the district rate and agreeing the estimates for 2010/11.

 

 

      The purpose of this report is to:

 

·         update Members on progress; and

·         discuss a number of options for further consideration.

 

Key Issues

 

1.   Objectives

 

It is proposed that the overall strategy for setting the district rate for 2010/11 should be to achieve the following objectives:

 

·         To agree a district rate which is acceptable to Members

·         Strengthen the Council’s financial position, most notably the district reserves

·         Establish cash limits for department estimates and deliver efficiency savings

·         Provide affordable and sustainable financial arrangements to deliver Members’ capital programme and City Investment Strategy aspirations.

 

In this context, Members will need to consider the following before finalising the district rate and estimates for 2010/11:

 

·         The reserves position of the Council

·         How the capital programme and City Investment Strategy will be financed

·         Department estimates and efficiency savings

·         Thematic Budget

·         The EPP position

 

2.   Summary of Current Position for 2010/11

 

      The table below summarises the current position in terms of the key factors which will influence the rate setting decision for 2010/11. As can be seen from the table, the current overall impact on the district rate is a 7.81% increase which equates to a 3.28% increase to the ratepayer. For the average capital domestic value this will mean a £24.38 increase in the ratepayer’s annual rate bill. Of the 7.81% increase on the rate, some 5.73% relates to investment in the capital programme or in reserves and just over 2% of the increase relates to Departmental Estimates.

 

Each main element of the table is discussed in more detail below.

 

(a)  Department Estimates

 

      This is money required by departments to deliver services and typically covers expenditure on headings such as salaries, supplies and services. All departments have prepared estimates for 2010/11. As a consequence net expenditure is budgeted to rise by £2.9m which equates to a 2.17% increase on the rate. This has been mainly driven by increased utility costs (£786k), superannuation contributions (£700k) and landfill tax (£542k) along with the loss of external income (£1.3m). Despite these uncontrollable cost increases, the proposed departmental increase is the lowest for some time and this has been achieved by reducing costs in areas such as consultancy, use of external facilities and office equipment. Details of department’s estimates will be brought to the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee in January prior to submission to the individual Departmental Committees.

 

The department increase of 2.17% compares to the latest government inflation figure of 1.5%. However, this figure reflects prices at October 2009 and does not include a forecast element for 2010/11.  The HM Treasury, “Forecast for the UK economy” forecasts that inflation by 2011 will be in the range of 1.6% to 2.7%.

 

(b)City Investment Strategy

 

      This was developed by the Council to help deliver  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4b

4c

Minutes of the Meeting of the Budget and Transformation Panel pdf icon PDF 82 KB

Minutes:

            The Committee approved and adopted the minutes of the meeting of the Budget and Transformation Panel of 4th December.

 

4d

Minutes of the Meeting of the Audit Panel pdf icon PDF 99 KB

Minutes:

            The Committee approved and adopted the minutes of the meeting of the Audit Panel of 25th November.

 

5.

Human Resources pdf icon PDF 72 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

            (Ms. J. Minne, Head of Human Resources, attended in connection with these items.)

 

5a

Appointment of Director of Property and Projects pdf icon PDF 75 KB

Minutes:

            The Committee was reminded that, at its meeting on 23rd October, it had agreed that, in the interest of making an early appointment to the post of Director of Property and Projects, authority be delegated to the Chief Executive, in consultation with the selection panel, to offer the post to the recommended candidate with the outcome of the process being reported back to the Committee for noting.  The Chief Executive advised the Members that the post had been trawled within the Council on 26th October for two weeks, with a closing date of 6th November.  Two applications had been received and, following short-listing, both applicants had been invited to attend an assessment centre, after which one candidate had been invited to attend for final interview.  As a result of the final interview, the selection panel had recommended unanimously the appointment of Mr. Gerry Millar on the appropriate point of the salary band for Chief Officers.

 

Noted.

 

5b

Rightsizing Exercise pdf icon PDF 100 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

            The Committee considered the undernoted report:

 

“Relevant Background Information

 

      Members will recall that in preparation for the 2010/11 budget setting process, Members authorised the carrying out of a mini budget review to:

 

·         Identify the likely year end (2009/10) financial position; and

·         Identify options for political consideration for reducing expenditure.

 

      In this context, Members further authorised a trawl for voluntary redundancy directed towards the identification of efficiency savings taking into account the significant downturn in certain areas of business caused by the recession, ongoing structural reviews within departments and the review of central support units.

 

      The Committee was advised in November, 2009 that 64 formal applications had been received for VR and that these were being evaluated against the criteria/principles previously agreed by Committee.

 

      It was agreed that a further report would be brought back in December, in the context of the rate setting process, setting out the cost of the VR exercise; options for how it might be funded and the savings that such an exercise would realise.

 

      These issues are addressed below.

 

Key Issues

 

1.   In the first instance the 64 applications were individually assessed against a payback period of 3.25 years, this being a best practice payback period. 

 

2.   Of the 64 applications, 9 employees do not meet the 3.25 payback period and will therefore be declined, leaving 55 applications for evaluation by departments as to whether or not the posts in which these staff are employed may be declared redundant. 

 

3.   Following assessment of these 55 applications against the agreed criteria and principles, departments have indicated that there is potential for 25 employees to be released on the grounds of VR. Further work continues to be undertaken on the remaining 30 applications to establish whether or not these posts could represent a saving through, for example, a transferred redundancy to manage a supernumerary employee.

 

4.   The one off cost to the Council of releasing the 25 staff would be some £2.3 million. It is estimated that this initial investment will lead to staff savings of some £1 million each and every year (i.e. leading to £5m after 5 years), after making the structural changes needed to facilitate the release of some staff.

 

5.   If Members agree that this exercise should proceed, the estimated costs of implementing the VR exercise can be accommodated within the financial position for 2009/10, as set out in today’s report to the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on the Financial Position for 2009/10.

 

6.   If the savings are to be secured for the 2010/11 rate setting process, then the staff will need to be released by 1 April 2010 (with most needing a three month notice period).

 

7.   In order to achieve this, we would need to move quickly to review the organisation structures in relation to each of the relevant areas and therefore ensure that all the financial and HR implications of releasing the staff are fully identified. This work has already been completed for Building Control. Members can be assured  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5b

5c

Standing Order 55 - Employment of Relatives pdf icon PDF 72 KB

Minutes:

            It was reported that, in accordance with Standing Order 55 and the authority delegated to her, the Director of Finance and Resources had authorised the appointment of a number of members of staff who were related to existing officers of the Council.

 

6.

Asset Management pdf icon PDF 73 KB

Additional documents:

6a

Disposal of Beechmount Leisure Centre Site pdf icon PDF 84 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

            In accordance with Standing Order 60, the Committee was advised that the Parks and Leisure Committee, at its meeting on 10th December, had agreed to the disposal to the Trustees of Coláiste Feirste of approximately 9.567 acres of the Beechmount Leisure Centre site in return for the sum of £2.325 million, subject to the completion of an appropriate agreement to be prepared by the Director of Legal Services.

 

6b

Connswater Community Greenway pdf icon PDF 73 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

            The Committee was reminded that the Council, as part of the City Investment Strategy, had agreed to co-ordinate the acquisition of land to enable the Connswater Community Greenway programme to proceed.  The Council would secure rights over the land needed for the Greenway and would be responsible for the management and maintenance of that land and any assets on it.  The Greenway would have to be accessible for forty years to comply with the Big Lottery Fund letter of offer, although the intention was to secure rights for longer if possible.

 

            It was reported that two areas of land had been identified as being required to help complete the Greenway route and associated landscaping.  The first was an area of 0.67 acres of land located off Ladas Drive and Council officers had agreed, subject to the Committee’s approval, to purchase from the Northern Ireland Policing Board a 99?year lease for £10,000 and subject to a peppercorn rent.  The second was an area of 32.5 square metres of land on either side of the ConnswaterRiver, adjacent to the Airport Road.  Subject to Committee approval, Council officers had agreed to purchase from the Belfast Harbour Commissioners a 99-year lease on the land, with an annual rent of 5 pence, if demanded.

 

            The Committee granted approval for the purchase of the two areas of land as outlined.

 

7.

Good Relations and Equality pdf icon PDF 71 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

            (Mrs. H. Francey, Good Relations Manager, attended in connection with these items.)

 

7a

Minutes of Good Relations Partnership pdf icon PDF 125 KB

Minutes:

            The Committee approved the minutes of the meeting of the Good Relations Partnership of 4th December, including:

 

            Minority Integration

 

            Approval to invite tenders for a suitable organisation to develop and deliver a training programme to support the integration of new communities in Belfast at a cost of approximately £29,500.

 

            St. Patrick’s Day 2010 – Small Grants Scheme

 

            The award of up to £1,000 to those groups which met the criteria for funding under the St. Patrick’s Day Small Grants Scheme.

 

7b

Minutes of Memorabilia Working Group pdf icon PDF 71 KB

Minutes:

            Plaques in the City Hall

 

            In considering the minutes of the meeting of the Memorabilia Working Group of 3rd December, a Member expressed concern that the various plaques which had been located on the East Staircase of the City Hall had again been removed despite the Council having decided that they be replaced on a temporary basis until the Working Group had given consideration to their location on a permanent basis.

 

            In response, the Chairman of the Working Group (Councillor Hendron) advised the Committee that, prior to the removal, she had consulted with Council officers and agreed that they be removed since their location had been agreed only as a temporary measure.  She explained that it had been her understanding, given the debate which had taken place at the Committee’s meeting on 23rd October, that the Members had wanted the plaques to be displayed only during the month of November whilst the various commemorative wreath-laying services took place during that period.  She pointed out that research had commenced regarding the various plaques which had been donated to the Council over the years and it was anticipated that a report would be submitted to the Memorabilia Working Group at an early date outlining which plaques should be replaced.  At that stage the Group would then determine the permanent location for the siting of the plaques.

 

Moved by Councillor D. Browne,

Seconded by Councillor Rodgers,

 

      That the various plaques which had been located previously on the East Staircase of the City Hall be replaced until the process in relation to which plaques would be reinstated had been completed.

 

            On a vote by show of hands five Members voted for the proposal and seven against and it was accordingly declared lost.

 

Further Proposal

 

Moved by Councillor D. Browne,

Seconded by Councillor Rodgers,

 

      That the exercise in relation to the plaques to be reinstated in the City Hall be completed and a report thereon be submitted to the Committee before the end of January, 2010.

 

            On a vote by show of hands five Members voted for the proposal and seven against and it was accordingly declared lost.

 

            Somme Resolution

 

            The Committee agreed that the question of revised wording for the Somme Resolution for use from 1st July, 2010 onwards be deferred to enable an opinion to be sought from the Somme Association and a report thereon to be submitted to a future meeting of the Committee.

 

Adoption of Minutes

 

            Subject to the foregoing omission in relation to the Somme Resolution, the minutes of the meeting of the Memorabilia Working Group of 3rd December were approved and adopted.

 

8.

Cross-Cutting Issues pdf icon PDF 507 KB

Additional documents:

8a

Assault in the City Hall Grounds pdf icon PDF 198 KB

Minutes:

            (Mr. G. Wright, Head of Facilities Management, attended in connection with this item.)

 

            The Committee noted the contents of a report in relation to an assault on Mr. Jim McDowell, Northern Editor of the Sunday World newspaper, which had taken place in the grounds of the City Hall on 25th November.  The Committee noted also that two persons had been arrested in relation to the assault but had been released on police bail.

 

8b

City Centre Policing

Minutes:

            Arising out of discussion in the aforementioned item, the Committee agreed that a report in relation to policing in the City centre be submitted to a future meeting of the Committee.

 

8c

New Regional Hospital for Women and Children Working Group pdf icon PDF 83 KB

Minutes:

            The Committee considered the undernoted report:

 

“Relevant Background Information

 

      Members of the working group will recall that the Council, at its meeting on 1st July, 2009, passed unanimously the following Notice of Motion:

 

      ‘Belfast City Council calls on the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety and the Northern Ireland Executive to make the completion of the new regional hospital for children and women, on the site of the Royal Group of Hospitals, a matter of top priority in the next comprehensive spending review.

 

      The Council calls on the Minister of Health and the Executive to secure the resources now for clearing the site, which is an essential first step in progressing the new hospital for children and women. The Council agrees to work in partnership with the Royal Maternity Hospital Liaison Group to lobby the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly to secure the capital funds necessary to build the new regional hospital for children and women.’

 

      A series of discussion followed leading up to a meeting of the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on 12th December, 2008, at which the following was agreed, and ratified at the full council meeting in January 2009:

 

(a)             expenditure, up to a maximum of £20,000, in respect of the above-mentioned campaign to be approved under Section 115 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972, it being the opinion of the Committee that the expenditure would be in the interest of, and would bring direct benefit to, the District and the inhabitants of the District, with the Committee being satisfied that the direct benefit so accruing would be commensurate with the payment to be made;

 

(b) a fixed-term Working Group, comprising one Member from each of the Political Parties represented on the Council, be appointed to consider the most appropriate means of taking forward the campaign; and

 

(c)             a report on the recommendations of the Working Group in this regard be submitted in due course for the consideration of the Committee.

 

      On 19th May the Members of the Working Group undertook a visit to the Royal Maternity Hospital and received a presentation from representatives of the Belfast Trust which had been attended also by Maternity staff and a representative of the Royal Jubilee Maternity Liaison Committee.  In addition, the Chairman (Councillor Attwood) and other Member of the Working Group had, on 24th August met with the Health Minister, Mr. Michael McGimpsey, in order to outline the Council’s support for the provision of a new regional hospital.  The Minister had indicated that, due to funding constraints, the Department could not progress the development at the Royal Group of Hospitals site earlier than 2015.  However, the Department was actively seeking the Executive’s support to accelerate the process.

 

      The working group asked the Head of Corporate Communication to develop a potential action plan and consider how best to utilise the small budget of £20,000 to promote a campaign aimed at bringing the date forward for the building of the hospital. This paper offers  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8c

8d

European Union Funded Senior Volunteering Programme pdf icon PDF 222 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

            (Mrs. S. Wylie, Head of Environmental Health, attended in connection with this item.)

 

            The Committee considered the undernoted report:

 

“Relevant Background Information

 

      One of the Council’s current priorities is improving services to older people.  To ensure that this priority is given due regard across all Council services, an All Party Reference Group on Older People was set up a number of years ago, reporting to the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee.   A cross-departmental officer group has also developed an action plan for improving these services and as part of this action plan an opportunity was identified for involving older people in a European volunteering exchange initiative.

 

      The ‘GIVE’ (Grundtvig Initiative on Volunteering in Europe for Seniors) is a European initiative which was introduced in 2009. It consists of a scheme of grants to support senior volunteering projects between local organisations located in two countries participating in the European Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP).

 

      The Lifelong Learning Programme offers educational opportunities to people of all ages, to facilitate formal and informal learning. Volunteering is increasingly recognised in Europe as a very valuable learning experience for people of all ages but in particular for older people as it can promote the process of active ageing and the contribution of seniors to societies.

 

      This project offers a new European opportunity for older people and will allow them to learn, share knowledge and experience - and to ‘give’ - in a EuropeanMemberState other than their own.

 

      The initiative is a new form of co-operation within the Grundtvig Programme, fostering collaboration between the organisations sending and hosting volunteers. It allows organisations which join the programme to enrich their work through the exchange of good practice and create sustainable European collaboration between them.

 

      The Programme has a number of objectives:

 

1.   To enable senior citizens to volunteer in another European country for any kind of non-profit activity as a form of informal (and mutual) learning activity.

 

2.   To create lasting cooperation between the host and sending organisations around a specific topic or target group.

 

3.   To enable the local communities involved in the exchange of volunteers to draw on the potential of senior citizens as a source of knowledge, competence and experience.

 

      Anticipated outputs are as follows:

 

      For the volunteers:

 

1.   Increase of personal, linguistic, social and intercultural skills and competences.

2.   Contribution to the development and implementation of non-profit activities and to the community as an active citizen.

3.   Acquisition / development / transmission of specific task-related skills.

 

For the sending and hosting organisations and the local communities in which the volunteers spend their mobility period abroad:

 

4.   Exchange and mutual acquisition of experience, knowledge and good practice.

5.   Development of European collaboration around a particular theme,

6.   Intensified European outlook.

 

      The partnership must be between 2 organisations from 2 different Member States. Each organisation will be expected to send between 2-6 volunteers and to host 2-6 volunteers during the project period. Volunteers may travel and volunteer in a group or  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8d

8e

Consultation Response to Draft Sustainable Development Strategy pdf icon PDF 138 KB

Minutes:

            (Mr. W. Francey, Director of Health and Environmental Services, attended in connection with this item.)

 

            The Committee considered the undernoted report:

 

“Relevant Background Information

 

      The United Kingdom government published its most recent Sustainable Development Strategy entitled ‘Securing the future - delivering UK sustainable development strategy’ in March 2005 and augmented the Strategy with a framework for sustainable development until 2020 in order to provide a consistent approach and focus across the United Kingdom. This approach was agreed by the UK Government and the devolved administrations. In its commitment to the strategic framework, the Northern Ireland Office committed to the development of a Northern Ireland Sustainable Development Strategy, which would establish a long-term regional vision of sustainable development, together with a series of high-level objectives. The Strategy was to be underpinned by an Implementation Plan, which would set out the detailed actions to be undertaken to deliver both high and lower-level objectives and targets, based upon Northern Ireland priorities.

 

      Accordingly, on 9th May 2006, the then Secretary of State, Peter Hain launched the first Sustainable Development Strategy for Northern Ireland entitled ‘First Steps Towards Sustainability’. The Strategy identified six priority action areas for Northern Ireland including sustainable consumption and production; natural resource protection and environmental enhancement; climate change and energy; learning and communication for sustainable development; sustainable communities; and governance and sustainable development. These six priority action areas each had their own strategic objectives and associated targets and their delivery was to be progressed through a series of Implementation Plans.

 

      The Strategy recognised the crucial role of district councils in delivering sustainable development, highlighting that, following the Review of Public Administration, new councils would be at the centre of service delivery and civic life. The Strategy also stated that councils would be key to the planning and delivery of services within their areas and to engagement with communities. Such was the perceived importance of the local authority contribution towards sustainable development, government committed to the introduction of a new power of community planning, with a statutory duty on councils to initiate, maintain and facilitate a community planning process. The local authority contribution towards sustainable development was to be reinforced further via the introduction of a statutory duty on relevant public bodies to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development.

 

      In November 2006, the Northern Ireland government published its Sustainable Development Implementation Plan, which transferred responsibility for sustainable development from DoENI to the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM). The Implementation Plan was however restricted to only three spotlight themes from the Strategy’s six action areas and actions were confined to government Departments, although OFMDFM indicated that a full Implementation Plan would be developed to cover the period from April 2008. This commitment was not fulfilled and, to date, no further Sustainable Development Implementation Plans have been published. The Implementation Plan did highlight however, the commencement of the statutory duty requiring public authorities to act to promote sustainable development in the exercise of their functions. The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8e

8f

World Wildlife Fund Earth Hour 2010 pdf icon PDF 93 KB

Minutes:

            The Committee considered a request which had been received regarding the participation of the Council in the 2010 World Wildlife Fund Earth Hour.  This was a global awareness campaign which had taken place over the previous three years whereby individuals, businesses, companies, schools and iconic buildings had been invited to turn off their lights for a period of one hour on a designated day as a means of demonstrating support for tackling climate change.  It was recommended that the Council extinguish the lights at the City Hall on 27th March, 2010 commencing at 8.30 p.m. for a period of one hour in order to provide support for the campaign.

 

            The Committee adopted the recommendation and agreed that authority be delegated to the Director of Property and Projects to determine any future requests to participate in the event.

 

8g

Communications Update

Minutes:

            The Committee noted the contents of a report which provided information in relation to the work which had been undertaken by the Corporate Communications Section and which provided also details of awards received by the Council in the area of communications.

 

 

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