The Committee considered the undernoted report:
“1.0 Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues
1.1 This report provides Members with the proposed final draft of the Belfast Agenda and includes a summary of the changes made following the public consultation held earlier this year. This report also proposes a launch of the final Belfast Agenda and briefly updates Members on the next steps in the implementation the Belfast Agenda.
2.1 The Committee is asked to:
· approve the final Belfast Agenda document and note the summary of changes from the draft;
· agree a launch of the Belfast Agenda in October; and
· agree the next steps in taking forward the implementation of the Belfast Agenda including 4 workshops proposed for the late Autumn.
3.0 Main Report
3.1 As Members will be aware the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 2014, Part 10, placed a statutory duty on councils in relation to community planning. The legislation states that as lead partner, the council (once consensus has been reached with community planning partners), must publish a community plan that sets out long term objectives for improving economic, social and environment wellbeing of its district, together with the actions and functions to be delivered to achieve these objectives.
3.2 Following significant engagement with Members, partners and the general public (through The Belfast Conversation) Members agreed in November 2016 to a draft Belfast Agenda to go to public consultation in December 2016.
3.3 The public consultation on the draft Belfast Agenda, Belfast’s Community Plan, was undertaken over an 18 week period, from 15th December 2016 to 20th April 2017. During the consultation period, a range of engagement activities were undertaken including public briefings, stakeholder workshops and meetings, an online questionnaire and social media activity.
3.4 Nearly 300 responses from a broad range of individuals, organisations and stakeholders were received to the consultation. Some of these responses represented the findings of workshops that stakeholders had undertaken with their own groups.
3.5 Overall the response to the consultation indicated a significant endorsement for the Belfast Agenda – there was general support (over 80% of respondents) for the long term vision, outcomes and ambitions, and for the 4 year (to 2021) priorities of Growing the Economy, Living Here, City Development and Working and Learning.
3.6 Analysis of the feedback has been ongoing over recent months and findings have been discussed with community planning partners (including Party Group Leaders).
3.7 Some respondents suggested improvements to the plan or highlighted concerns, identifying themes that could be strengthened (for example, culture and arts, housing, good relations, environment, health, lifelong learning, among others) and these have been considered in producing the final version. Additionally, since the draft plan was published, more recent data and evidence has become available and this has also been considered, particularly in relation to the ‘Belfast Now’ section, the population indicators and Stretch goals. Greater alignment to the Local Development Plan was raised and this has been strengthened within the Belfast Agenda to reflect the LDP’s role as the spatial representation of the community plan. Key changes to the draft Belfast Agenda and the basis upon which these were made are outlined in Appendix 2 to the report.
3.8 Many organisations, groups and individuals, also provided feedback on how ‘work streams’, programmes or projects should be taken forward in the delivery of the Belfast Agenda. Some highlighted how certain groups or stakeholders might contribute to the implementation. Whilst this feedback did not specifically relate to the content of the document, it is being analysed further and collated to enable it to be considered and inform and shape the on-going development of work programmes and action plans within the Belfast Agenda priorities.
3.9 The Community Planning Partners Forum discussed a revised draft of the Belfast Agenda at their recent meeting on 11th August 2017. Partners were asked to agree the final draft and statutory Community Planning Partners were asked to provide written endorsement from their organisations. The main elements of the Belfast Agenda and structure of the document remain largely constant in the revision. The content of the document includes the following:
- Separate forewords from Party Group Leaders and Statutory Community Planning partners, demonstrating the partnership commitment to the city agenda.
- The Belfast opportunity – a brief overview of Belfast now and the opportunity afforded by the Belfast Agenda.
- Impact summary – this new section provides a Belfast Agenda ‘plan on a page’ highlighting the key features and ambitions of the Belfast Agenda.
- A vision for 2035 – An aspirational description of what we want Belfast to be in 2035.
- A set of outcomes for 2035 – these five statements describe the detail of the vision - specifically what we want for the people who live and work in Belfast.
- Population indicators - measures that will give a strong sense of the city’s ‘wellbeing’ over the coming years and provide Members and partners with a powerful tool to measure the positive impact of the Belfast Agenda.
- Our ambitions – four goals to be the focus to drive growth and reduce inequalities over the long term in Belfast.
- Belfast Now – key statistics giving a current view of the city
- Inclusive growth and medium term priorities (2017-21) – outlining the overarching aspiration of inclusive growth and the four priority areas being taken forward immediately: Growing the economy; Living here; City Development; and Working and Learning. Each of these priority areas includes:
o Stretch goals: challenging targets to help quantify what the city needs to achieve for each priority over the next four years.
o Work-streams: These are the ‘game-changing’ programmes of work to be delivered by city partners over the next four years.
3.10 Members are asked to consider and approve the revised Belfast Agenda.
Belfast Agenda Launch
3.11 The legislation requires the council to formally publish the community plan once consensus has been reached with partners. It is proposed, therefore, that the formal launch of the Belfast Agenda takes place once the revised Belfast Agenda has been endorsed by all partners (statutory partners have been asked to endorse the Belfast agenda by mid-Sept and it is hoped the council will ratify in October).
3.12 It is proposed that a press launch with Party Group Leaders, Chair of SP&R and key community planning partners be arranged in City Hall in October.
3.13 In addition to the revised Belfast Agenda the following supporting documents are also being produced and will be published at the same time:
- A technical document defining all the measures referred to in the Belfast Agenda
- Equality Impact Assessment – revised following the consultation;
- Strategic Environmental Assessment – revised following the consultation
- Habitats Regulations Assessment
- Rural Needs Assessment
- Consultation feedback summary report
3.14 Members are asked to consider and agree a press launch of the final Belfast Agenda in October, involving the Party Group Leaders, Chair of SP&R Committee, the Chief Executive and other statutory partners.
Next Steps – Towards delivery
3.15 As a final Belfast Agenda document is agreed and published over the coming weeks, it is important that focus now turns to delivery. As Members recognise the Belfast Agenda is a strategic framework; its priorities contain a range of workstreams, programmes and projects, some of which are already underway or in planning phases, and others have yet to begin; some with existing partnership arrangements, others may require new arrangements. As a result arrangements for delivery, monitoring and oversight of each of the Belfast Agenda priorities will need to be tailored to be effective.
3.16 In moving forward, it is proposed that a series of workshops is planned for this autumn, convening initially around each of the 4 Belfast Agenda priorities, to consider how collaboration in action planning and delivery can best be taken forward across a range of city partners. These will provide opportunities for wider engagement as part of this process, including existing partnerships and the community and voluntary sector. It is also anticipated that this initial work will build foundations for further consideration of governance requirements for delivery and oversight of the Belfast Agenda.
3.17 Financial & Resource Implications
This next programme phase of the Belfast Agenda is included within current Council resources. Given the significant workload associated with supporting delivery of the Belfast Agenda consideration is being given, as part of the ongoing organisational development programme to the necessary alignment and organisation of staff to ensure effective delivery.
3.18 Equality or Good Relations Implications
Equality and good relations have been central to the development of the Belfast Agenda to date and equality and good relations implications will continue to be considered throughout the implementation process.”
The Committee adopted the recommendations.