(Ms. N. Largey, Divisional Solicitor, and Mr. I. Harper, Building Control Manager, attended in connection with this item.)
The Members considered the following report:
“1.0 Purpose of Report or Summary of main Issues
To consider the dual language street sign application for Clifton Street.
2.1 Members are asked to:
1. Reconsider the application for a dual language street sign for Clifton Street given the decision of Council on 1st November 2021;
2. Consider the request for a survey form to be sent to the secretary of the Belfast Orange Hall and agree that one be provided; and
3. Note that, having reviewed the process for this survey, two further properties are to be surveyed and a further report will be brought back to Committee for final determination.
3.0 Main report
3.1 At Council on 1st November Members asked for a report on the dual language street sign application for Clifton Street to be brought back to committee for consideration
3.2 The Clifton Street application was considered under the current policy.
3.3 In the introduction section of the policy it states:
The legislation requires the Council, in deciding whether and how to exercise its discretion to erect a street name in a language other than English, to take account of the views of the occupiers of premises in the street.
For the purposes of this policy occupiers shall be taken to be any person whose name appears in the current Electoral Register plus the owners or tenants in actual possession of commercial premises, but not employees in such premises.’
3.4 The procedure within the policy states:
The procedures for seeking and assessing the views of occupiers and the criteria to be applied in deciding whether to erect a street sign in a language other than English are as follows:
(i) Only applications supported by a petition representing not less than one third of the people appearing on the Electoral Register of the street for which the application is made will be progressed.
(ii) Where the foregoing requirements have been met the Council will canvass by post all people appearing on the Electoral Register of that street and seek their views on the request to erect a street sign in a second specified language. This letter is designed so as to make the expression of views as simple as possible. Reply will be by way of a pre-paid envelope and should be returned within one month of receipt.
(iii) Where two thirds or more of the occupiers appearing on the Electoral Register have indicated that they are in favour of the erection of a second language street sign, then such a sign will be erected. People not returning a reply will be deemed not to be in favour of the application.’
3.5 The practice is to consider all residential properties within a street, checking for those residents who are on the electoral register, and checking for commercial properties. In addition, a site visit is carried out to check all the properties on the street during the survey Commercial properties are included in the survey, with one survey form being provided. The policy states that the method of consultation is to canvas by post. The practice is to hand deliver surveys where possible or post them using Royal Mail where this is not possible.
3.6 For the Clifton Street application, based on the information taken from the electoral register, and site checks of commercial properties, 12 surveys were issued, to both residential and commercial properties. Most of these were hand delivered. 2 survey forms were posted through Royal Mail as they could not be hand delivered due to no letter box or no one present.
3.7 On review of the processing of this application, it was noted that two properties that had signed the initial petition had not been surveyed as they were deemed to be vacant at the time Officers carried out their physical inspection of the street. However it now appears that they are in fact occupied and therefore will be surveyed and the updated results will be subsequently reported back to Committee.
3.8 In relation to Clifton Street Orange Hall, a survey was posted to the occupier of 82-84 Clifton Street, the address for Clifton Street Orange Hall, as there was no letter box, and no one present at the time of visit. The Service did not receive any communication from the Royal Mail that this has not been delivered.
3.9 This address was included in the results provided for the survey. We did not receive a response from this address therefore, as required by the current policy, this was not considered to be in favour of the dual language street sign.
3.10 Members are asked to note that a formal request has been made by Alderman Kingston for a survey form to be sent to the secretary of Belfast Orange Hall on Clifton Street.
3.11 Application details:
Between Carrick Hill, BT1 and Carlisle Circus BT14
Carrick Hill Residents Association
3.12 The translation was authenticated by Queens University, the approved translator for Belfast City Council.
3.13 Results for survey carried out for Clifton Street
In accordance with the Council’s policy for the erection of dual language street signs surveys of all persons appearing on the Electoral Register plus owners or tenants in actual possession of commercial premises carried out and the following responses were received.
12 surveys were issued, 10 hand delivered, 2 posted using Royal Mail. The results were:
· 9 people (75%) were in favour of the erection of a second street nameplate
· 1 person (8%) was not in favour of the erection of a second nameplate
· 2 people (17%) did not respond to the survey
3.14 The Council’s policy on the erection of a second street nameplate requires that at least two thirds (66.6%) of the people surveyed must be in favour of the proposal to erect a second street sign in a language other than English.
Provision of street signs.
3.15 The practice on siting the street signs is to identify those that exist on the street, and these are either added to or replaced to reflect the street name in a second language, as approved. The position of the street signs on Clifton Street are as follows:
· Junction with North Queen Street – on metal railings
· Junction of Westlink on-slip (north) – wall mounted to bridge
· Junction of Westlink on-slip (south) – wall mounted to bridge
· A sign on railings at the junction with Carlisle Circus was damaged and is not currently in place.
Financial and Resource Implications
3.16 There is a cost of approximately £450 to cover the cost of the manufacturing and erection of the dual language street signs in the current locations. The cost for these street signs has been allowed for in the current budget.
Equality or Good Relations Implications/
Rural Needs Assessment
3.17 There are no direct equality/rural needs implications.”
The Committee reconsidered the application for a dual language street sign for Clifton Street, given the decision of the Council on 1st November 2021.
A Member stated that it was his understanding that the agenda item had been referred back to the Committee as there had been a query regarding the specific location as to where the sign would be erected.
Discussion ensued, during which the Building Control Manage and Divisional Solicitor addressed several queries, following which it was agreed:
· that a survey form be sent to the secretary of the Belfast Orange Hall;
· that two further properties be surveyed; and
· that an update report be submitted to a future meeting of the Committee for final determination.
It was further agreed that, if possible, the report would be submitted to the December meeting and the Members noted that that this would be subject to legal advice from the City Solicitor in terms of the timeframe for the consultation and Council ratification.