COMMITTEE FOR REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
WEDNESDAY 22 OCTOBER 2008
THE SENATE, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Fred Cobain, MLA (Chairperson).
Cathal Boylan, MLA.
Allan Bresland, MLA.
Willie Clarke, MLA
John Dallat, MLA.
John McCallister, MLA.
Raymond McCartney, MLA.
George Robinson, MLA.
Alastair Ross, MLA.
Jim Wells, MLA
Brian Wilson, MLA.
Roisin Kelly (Assembly Clerk)
Conor Coughlin (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Pauline Devlin (Clerical Supervisor)
Annette Page (Clerical Officer)
Stephanie Galbraith (Research Officer).
Members decided to commence the meeting at 10.54 a.m. in closed session.
No apologies were received.
2. The minutes of the meeting of 15 October 2008.
The minutes of the meeting held on 15 October 2008 were agreed.
3. Matters Arising.
Members noted that the Public Accounts Committee intends to consider the Northern Ireland Audit Office ‘Road Openings by Utilities’ report in January 2009. Members agreed to defer any exploration of this issue until the Public Accounts Committee has finished scrutinising this report.
Members noted receipt of a memo dated 2 October 2008 from the Department of Finance and Personnel concerning progress against PSA 20 target for NI Direct. Members agreed to return to this issue at a future Committee meeting on flood management and response.
Members noted receipt of the Department’s Section 75 Annual progress report to the Equality Commission 2007 – 2008. Members agreed to write to the Department to request briefing on the issues identified within the report.
Members noted receipt of a response from the Department concerning the Bain Report on the Location of Public Sector Jobs.
Members noted receipt of information from the Department concerning public transport reform. Members agreed to return to this issue when the Committee considers the emerging findings from the outline business case at a meeting later in this session.
4. Budget Strategic Stocktake.
Departmental officials Lian Patterson, Nigel McCormick and Roger Downey joined the meeting at 11.01 a.m.
Jim Wells left the meeting at 11.15 a.m.
John McCallister left the meeting at 11.15 a.m.
Jim Wells returned at 11.20 a.m.
The Committee received briefing from the Departmental officials. Following a question and answer session with officials, Members thanked the Departmental officials for their briefing.
Members decided on a Committee response reflecting Members’ views on the subject of the Budget Strategic Stocktake 2008, and Members agreed to forward the response to the Department to meet the DFP deadline of 24 October 2008.
Departmental officials Lian Patterson, Nigel McCormick and Roger Downey left the meeting at 12.00 pm.
John McCallister re-joined the meeting at 12.02 p.m.
5. Review of the Regional Development Strategy.
Members noted receipt of the written briefing submitted by the Department on the Review of the Regional Development Strategy.
6. Northern Ireland Water – Progress on the Strategic Business Plan and Business Improvement Programme and the emerging billing and income forecast issues.
Northern Ireland Water executives Chris Mellor, Eddie McGoldrick and William Duddy joined the meeting at 12.10 p.m.
George Robinson left the meeting at 12.35 p.m.
George Robinson re-joined the meeting at 12.37 p.m.
Raymond McCartney left the meeting at 1.20 p.m.
Fred Cobain left the meeting at 1.20 p.m, and Deputy Chairperson Jim Wells assumed the Chair.
John Dallat left the meeting at 1.29 p.m.
The Committee received briefing from Northern Ireland Water executives. Following a question and answer session with executives, Members thanked executives for their briefing.
Northern Ireland Water executives Chris Mellor, Eddie McGoldrick and William Duddy left the meeting at 1.30 pm.
Members noted receipt of the information and briefings supplied by Northern Ireland Water and Research Services. Members agreed to submit their outstanding questions for written answer and to request further briefing from Northern Ireland Water at a future Committee meeting.
7. Subordinate Legislation
Members noted the following new SL1s received in the Committee office this week.
- The Roads (Speed Limit) (No.6) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2008; and
- The Parking and Waiting Restrictions (Ballymena) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2009.
Members noted that in the SL1 memos for the above proposals, no reference is made to their having been the subject of a public inquiry nor does the Department indicate that it anticipates a public inquiry will be required and that the Department has confirmed that all relevant local councils affected by the above proposals have been informed. Members noted that the Committee office has not received any comments from the councils regarding the policy proposals.
Members also noted the following new SL1 received in the Committee office this week:
- The Gilpinstown Road, (U1401), Lurgan (Abandonment) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2008;
Members noted that an objection to this proposal has been submitted by Northern Ireland Electricity, andshould this objection not be withdrawn, a public inquiry will be necessary.
Members decided they were content with the policy merits of the SL1s listed below which were noted at the meeting of 15 October 2008:
- The Loading Bays (Amendment) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2009;
- The Ardnavalley Park, Comber (Abandonment) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2009;
- The One-Way Traffic ( Belfast) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2009;
- The Iveagh Street (Abandonment) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2009;
- The Road Races (Rally Ireland) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2009; and
- The Henry Street, Belfast (Stopping-Up) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2009.
Members agreed , with regard to the Henry Street, Belfast (Stopping Up) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2009, to write to the Department to urge officials to work with Northern Ireland Electricity to resolve this objection prior to making a statutory rule
Members noted receipt of an invitation from the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation to attend a seminar on ‘The Fuel Poor – Will they always be with us?’ Members decided that the Deputy Chairperson and the Committee Clerk will attend this seminar.
Members noted receipt of a letter dated 17 October 2008 from the Consumer Council to Translink, requesting answers in relation to fuel costs and fares, and a news article dated Monday 20 October 2008. Members decided to write to the Consumer Council requesting to be kept informed of the response to the letter.
Members noted receipt of a letter dated 20 October 2008 from the Chairperson of the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister seeing Committee’s views on various European issues. Members decided to respond to the letter noting the inquiry and reporting a nil return.
Members noted receipt of three letters from members of the public opposed to the use of rapid transit buses on the Comber Greenway. Following discussion of these letters, Members resolved to respond to these letters, setting out the Committee’s position and asking for members of the public to let the Committee know if their concerns persist at the detailed design stage.
Members noted receipt of an e-mail dated 15 October 2008 from the Institute of Directors, inviting the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson to attend a working lunch in January. Members agreed that the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson attend this meeting.
Members noted receipt of an invitation to the Chairperson to attend a Rural Safer Routes to School celebration event at St Colmcilles Primary School and Nursery Unit, Claudy, on 28 October 2008. Members decided that the invitation be extended to those Members of the Committee representing the local area.
Members noted receipt of a reminder invitation from Northern Ireland Water to attend the official opening of the Silent Valley Nature Trail.
9. Any other business.
Members agreed to check their attendance records at Committee meetings in the 2007/2008 session. Members also agreed that the Clerk forwards Members’ views to the Clerk to the Chairpersons’ Liaison Group.
Members agreed to write to the Minister expressing their disappointment that the Committee did not receive advance notification of the Minister’s decision not to charge for permits in the Residents’ Parking Schemes in Belfast.
10. Date, Time and Place of next meeting.
There is no Committee meeting on Wednesday 29 October as the Assembly is in recess. In place of the scheduled Committee meeting on Wednesday 5 November 2008, Members are scheduled to attend a conference on the Review of the Regional Development Strategy at the Stormont Hotel.
The Deputy Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 1.40 p.m.