COMMITTEE FOR REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
WEDNESDAY 9 SEPTEMBER 2009
ROOM 21, PARLIAMENT BUILDINGS
Michelle McIlveen, MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Cathal Boylan, MLA
Allan Bresland, MLA
Willie Clarke, MLA
Tommy Gallagher, MLA
Danny Kinahan, MLA
Raymond McCartney, MLA
Alastair Ross, MLA
Brian Wilson, MLA
Roisin Kelly (Assembly Clerk)
Colin Jones (Assistant Assembly Clerk)
Andrew Larmour (Clerical Supervisor)
Alison Ferguson (Clerical Officer)
Dr Kevin Pelan (Assembly Research)
Fred Cobain, MLA (Chairperson).
George Robinson, MLA.
Members decided to commence the meeting at 10.35 a.m. in open session.
Apologies are detailed above.
Members noted papers which had been tabled for consideration later in the meeting.
Members decided to write to both Mr Wells and Mr Dallat to recognise their respective contributions to the work of the Committee.
2. Draft Minutes of Meeting held on 2 July 2009.
The minutes of the meeting held on 2 July 2009 were agreed for publication on the Assembly website.
3. Matters Arising.
Members noted a response fromthe Minister of the Environment to the Committee’s request for a summary of the road safety issues discussed at the North-South Ministerial Council Transport Sectoral meeting in Larne on 3 April 2009. Members also noted that a further Ministerial statement to the Assembly is expected after procedural details have been completed.
Members noted the Department for Regional Development’s(DRD) response to the Committee’s concerns over the apparent lack of attention and investment given to accessibility in Translink’s Corporate and Business Plan. Members decided that they would return in the coming weeks to consider this issue in conjunction with the report of the Committee’s engagement event on accessibility and transport held in June 2009.
Members noted confirmation from DRDthat the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’ submission to the DRD consultation on the Guidance on Port Master Plans, which had been forwarded to DRD by the Committee, had been passed to the relevant officials for consideration.
Members noted correspondence from DRDon the Utility Regulator’s Social Action Plan 2009-2014. Members noted that the Committee had forwarded a copy of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment’s assessment of the Plan to DRD and noted thatthe Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation intends to publish its response to the information and views gathered during the consultation process, in September 2009.
Members noted DRD’s response to the points raised in the Consumer Council’s submission to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency’s consultation on draft river basin management plans. Members noted that the Committee had previously written to DRD, highlighting in particular, the points raised by the Consumer Council in relation to costs and public participation in formulating and implementing the draft river basin management plans. Members decided to forward the response to the Committee for the Environment for information.
Members noted DRD’s Section 75 Annual Progress Report (2008 – 2009) to the Equality Commission.
Members noted further information from DRDon its consultation on the Accessible Transport Strategy Draft Action Plan 2009 – 2012. Members noted DRD’s intention to examine the consultation responses, before finalising the Action Plan and that DRD will brief the Committee in the coming weeks on the issues raised.
Members decided that, following a further briefingfrom DRD, the Committee will consider this information, together with the report on the accessibility and transport engagement event, in formulating a response to DRD on its Accessible Transport Strategy Action Plan.
Members noted a response from DRD to the Committee’s request for information on the timeline for the introduction of revised fares for the Strangford Lough Ferry service.
Members noted DRD’s submission to the September 2009 Monitoring Round, which had been classified as restricted by DRD and the Department’s request that consideration of the submission should therefore be held in closed session.
The meeting continued in closed session from 10.46 am.
Members agreed a response to DRD on the Department’s September 2009 Monitoring Round position.
Members decided that the reasons for DRD’s decision to restrict the submission and its discussion should be clarified.
Members decided that a briefing from DRD on its policy in relation to blight notices will be scheduled in the Committee’s work programme.
The meeting continued in open session from 11.03 am.
4. Outline Business Case for Public Transport Reform.
i) Briefing from Assembly Research
The Committee was briefed by Assembly Research on a paper entitled: A Critical Overview and Evaluation of the Outline Business Case for Public Transport Reform.
ii) Briefing from Department for Regional Development
The Committee was briefed by Doreen Brown, Brian White and Sean Johnson from DRD on developments in relation to the proposed consultation on Public Transport Reform.
Members noted DRD’s intention to complete the consultation in February 2010 and to introduce the subsequent Bill to the Assembly by June 2010.
Members noted that further evidence sessions on this issue had been scheduled for next week’s meeting and decided that the Committee will subsequently consider a response to DRD at its meeting on 30 September 2009. Members decided that the possibility of further research on the Business Case will be considered as the policy develops.
5. Briefing from Department for Regional Development on Certification of Train Drivers
The Committee was briefed by Brian White and Ciaran Crilly from DRD.
Members decided that the Committee will request further briefing from DRD officials on the outcome of the public consultation on the proposed policy, prior to proposals for subsequent legislation being finalised.
6. Subordinate Legislation
Members noted the following proposals to make subordinate legislation from DRD:
- The Footpath to Rear of Ballyronan Park, Rathcoole, Newtownabbey (Abandonment) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2009;
- The River Bann Navigation Order ( Northern Ireland) 2009;
- The Waiting Restrictions (Holywood) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2009;
- The Waiting Restrictions (Randalstown) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2009;
- The Waiting Restrictions (Maghera) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2009;
- The Disabled Persons (Badges for Motor Vehicles) (Amendment No.2) Regulations ( Northern Ireland) 2009;
- The Carrick Road (Route U1080), Portadown (Abandonment) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2009;
- The Cusher Road (U8048) and Glenanne Road (C313), Loughgilly (Abandonment) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2009;
- The Belfast Road (A3), Dollingstown (Abandonment) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2009;
- The Sunninghill Gardens, Belfast (Stopping-Up) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2009;
- The Roads (Speed Limit) (No. 4) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2009; and
- The Waiting Restrictions (Newry) (Amendment No. 6) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2009.
Members decided that they were content with the policy merits of these proposals at this stage.
Members noted the following statutory rules which had been received from DRD but were not subject to Assembly procedure:
- 2009/235 The Lylehill Road, Templepatrick (Part-Time 20mph Speed Limit) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2009;
- 2009/259 The Road Races (Eagles Rock Hill Climb) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2009;
- 2009/270 The Parking and Waiting Restrictions (Armagh) (Amendment) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2009; and
- 2009/268 The Parking Places on Roads (Medical Practitioners) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2009.
Members noted the following statutory rules which had been laid in the Assembly’s Business Office by DRD and were subject to the negative resolution procedure:
- 2009/277 The Main Street, Castledawson (Footway) (Abandonment) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2009;
- 2009/269 The Tullynacross Road, Lisburn (Footway) (Abandonment) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2009; and
- 2009/278 The Clifton Street and Glenravel Street, Belfast (Footpath) (Abandonment) Order ( Northern Ireland) 2009.
Members noted that t he Report from the Examiner of Statutory Rules on the above rules will be published before the end of the statutory period on 13 October 2009.
Members noted correspondence from the Committee for the Environment on environmental damage caused by contractors appointed by government departments. Members decided to forward the correspondence to DRD for comment.
Members noted an invitation from David McIlhatton, for the Chairperson to partake in doctoral research on population, settlement patterns, housing, employment and transportation. Members decided that a response will issue to Mr McIlhatton referring him to DRD as a more suitable respondent on this issue.
Members noted correspondence from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister (COFMDFM), seeking a response on the Progress Report on Implementing the Gender Equality Strategy by 1 October 2009. Members decided to forward the correspondence to DRD for comment, in advance of formulating a Committee response to COFMDFM by the deadline of 1 October 2009. Members decided to determine whether a generic Assembly Research paper had been prepared on the Report and agreed to consider the possibility of further research when the response from DRD was received.
Members noted correspondence from the Minister for Regional Development on a baseline report on greenhouse gas emissions from road transport. Members decided to schedule an oral briefing from DRD on this report as part of the Committee’s inquiry into sustainable transport and to forward the report to the Committee for the Environment and COFMDFM.
Members noted correspondence from Ms Alison Tracey, on her perception of the decline of the East Belfast area. Members decided that the issues raised were within the remit of Belfast City Council and that the correspondence will therefore be forwarded to the Council for a response.
Members noted information from the Committee for Finance and Personnel on a consultation on the Northern Ireland Multiple Deprivation Measure 2009. Members noted that the Committee for Finance and Personnel will co-ordinate any views the Assembly committees may have, for submission to the Department for Finance and Personnel by the closing date of 6 November 2009. Members decided to forward the report to DRD for comment and to request a critical evaluation of the report from the Assembly Research Service.
Members noted information from Mr Lee Wilson, on the usage of the half fare smart scheme in Northern Ireland. Members decided to forward the issues raised by Mr Wilson to DRD for comment and to schedule a briefing on this issue for future consideration.
Members noted information from NI Environment Link on the proposals to reform the planning system in Northern Ireland. Members decided to forward the information to the Committee for the Environment.
Members noted an invitation from bmf business services for the Chairperson to address a seminar on Exploring the Future of Public Transport.’ Members decided to consider this issue when considering the Committee’s work programme.
Members noted receipt of the following reports and decided to schedule these items for more detailed consideration at a future meeting:
- Northern Ireland Water, Drinking Water Quality, Annual Report 2008;
- Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company NITHC, Annual Review and Future Plan 2008 / 2009;
- The Consumer Council, Public Transport - on the right track?; and
- Northern Ireland Environmental Link, Sustainable Transport Report, June 2009.
- Members noted receipt of a report from DRD on ‘Public Perceptions on Car Emissions, January 2009’ and decided that it may be of use for the Committee’s Inquiry into sustainable transport.
Members noted receipt of the following reports:
- Londonderry Port and Harbour Commissioners Annual Repor;
- Northern Ireland Ombudsman, Annual report of the Assembly Ombudsman for Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Complaints 2008 – 2009;
- West Belfast and Greater Shankill Enterprise Council, ‘Think Enterprise a new approach’ – outline of an enterprise regeneration programme;
- Belfast Harbour Commissioners, Annual Report and Accounts 2008;
- University of Ulster , Real Estate Initiative, Residential Property: Valuation Practice in a Thin Market; and
- University of Ulster , Real Estate Initiative, Residential Property: Contractual Obligation in the Market Downturn.
Members noted receipt of the following press releases:
- DRD News Release – Minister cuts first sod on the A2 Maydown to city of Derry Airport dual carriageway;
- DRD News Release – Roads Minister views progress on A26 Ballee road east to Ballymena bypass scheme;
- DRD News Release –Transport Minister Endorses ‘Access to air travel’ leaflet for people with disabilities;
- DRD News Release, Transport Minister announces the preferred route for A5 Western Transport Corridor;
- Citizens Advice - £5.7m in unclaimed benefits identified and paid. Over the past 12 months the Citizens Advice Bureau has helped vulnerable people to identify and claim £5.7 million in benefits; and
- Carson McDowell, Regional Law Firm of the Year. Carson McDowell has been placed in the top three regional law firms by ‘The Lawyer’ magazine.
- Members noted receipt of the following invitations:
- Geoff Nuttall, Head of the World Wildlife Fund Northern Ireland to an energy round table event on Wednesday 9 September 2009 at the Agri - Food and Biosciences Institute, Hillsborough;
- Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, inviting the Chairperson to the Northern Ireland Chairman’s Reception, on Friday 4 September 2009, in the function room of Direct Wine Shipments, Belfast;
- Jeanette Thornton, from the European Commission Office in Northern Ireland, inviting the Chairperson and up to two Members to participate in a visit to the European Commission and European Parliament in Brussels, focussing on enviromnetal issues; and .
- Rathlin Island Ferry Ltd, for the Chairperson of the Committee for Regional Development to attend the naming ceremony of the ‘Rathlin Express’ – a new passenger only vessel joining the ‘Canna’ on the Rathlin to Ballycastle ferry route.
- Members noted receipt of the following newsletters:
- Edinburgh Napier University , update from the Transport Technology and Climate Change Conference, Building a Greener Scotland;
- Sustrans, Comber Greenway Vision, the Comber Greenway, a vision for sustainable travel within East Belfast;
- Sustainable Development Commission Northern Ireland. Newsletter July 2009;
- Northern Ireland Water, Waterline, the staff magazine for Northern Ireland Water, August 2009;
- Northern Ireland Water, Belfast Sewers Project News, issue 09, summer 2009;
- Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, Latest News – June 2009;
- Northern Ireland Community Relations Council, CRC News Issue 52, June 2009; and
- Advice NI, Advice Matters, Quarterly News Sheet from Advice NI, Summer 2009.
- Members noted receipt of information on the following conferences, which were outside the Committee’s remit:
- How do we best Enable Children and Adults with Autism to lead full lives? CPP Seminars, Wednesday 23 September 2009 – Royal Armouries, Leeds. Received 15 July 2009. Cost per Member will be £345 plus VAT;
- How best can we effectively tackle the waste crisis? CPP Seminars, Monday 21 September 2009 – Royal Commonwealth society, London. Received 16 July 2009. Cost per Member will be £345 plus VAT; and
- 14 th Annual Northern Ireland Economic Conference, bmf services, Wednesday 30 September 2009 – Culloden Hotel, Belfast. Received 2 September 2009. Cost per member will be £255 plus VAT.
8. Forward Work Programme
Members decided to consider the Committee’s forward work programme in closed session.
The meeting continued in closed session at 12.23 pm.
Members decided to visit Rathlin Island on the morning of Wednesday 23 September 2009 and that the options for holding a formal meeting on the island and staying on Rathlin on the Tuesday evening will be investigated.
The following members confirmed their attendance: Mr Boylan; Mr Bresland; Mr Clarke; Mr Kinahan; Mr McCartney; and Ms McIlveen. Mr Gallagher agreed to confirm his attendance at a later date. Mr Ross and Mr Wilson indicated that they were not available.
Members decided that the Committee will participate in a ‘travel to work’ event, where Members would travel to the Committee meeting on 7 October 2009 by public transport.
The following members confirmed their attendance: Mr Boylan; Mr Bresland; Mr Clarke; Mr Kinahan; Mr McCartney; Ms McIlveen and Mr Wilson. Mr Gallagher agreed to confirm his attendance at a later date.
The meeting continued in open session at 12.54 pm.
9. Any Other Business
Members decided that further clarification should be sought from the Public Hire Coalition as to whether their concerns in relation to taxis in Belfast were within the Committee’s remit and that the issue will be considered at next week’s meeting.
Members decided that a briefing from Translink on their recent programme of voluntary redundancies should be included on the Committee’s work programme for further consideration.
Members noted information from the Central Committee Office on members’ attendance at Committee meetings. Members noted the Assembly’s intention to publish this information and agreed to consider and verify the information at next week’s meeting.
Members noted correspondence from the Minister of Regional Development on possible legislation and that briefing on this issue had been scheduled for 16 September 2009.
10. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting.
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, 16 September 2009 at 13.00 am in Room 21, Parliament Buildings.The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12.58pm.