Looking for information about a council service?
8th March 2011
Minutes of the Meeting of Strabane District Council held in the Council Chamber, Council Offices, 47 Derry Road, Strabane on Tuesday 8 March 2011 at 7.30p.m.
Present: - In the Chair: Councillor M Boyle
Other Members: Councillors J Donnell, G Foley, D Hussey, T Kerrigan, T McBride, K McGuire, R McHugh, B McMahon, E McMenamin, J McNulty, J O’Kane.
Total = 12
Clerk & Chief Executive
Head of Culture, Arts & Leisure
Apologies: Councillors A Bresland, C McGill.
Notice of Motion: Education and Maintenance Allowance (EMA)
On the proposal of Councillor McMahon, seconded by Councillor McGuire, it was agreed to withdraw the notice of motion calling for the retention of the EMA within Northern Ireland, as outlined on the agenda, given that the Minister for Employment and Learning and the NI Assembly had since agreed to retain same.
The non-confidential section of the Minutes of the Special Meeting of the Council held on Tuesday 1 February 2011 were adopted as a true record of the meeting on the proposal of Councillor McMenamin seconded by Councillor O’Kane and signed by the Chairperson.
Matters Arising from Minutes
Page 2: X-rays at Altnagelvin Hospital
In response to Councillor Donnell, the Chief Executive (CE) advised that a response had been received from the Western Health and Social Care Trust and had been previously distributed for Members’ information.
The non-confidential section of the Minutes of the Special Meeting of the Council held on Thursday 3 February 2011 were adopted as a true record of the meeting on the proposal of Councillor McMahon seconded by Councillor O’Kane and signed by the Chairman.
The non-confidential section of the Minutes of the Meeting of the Council held on Tuesday 8 February 2011 were adopted as a true record of the meeting on the proposal of Councillor O’Kane seconded by Councillor McMenamin and signed by the Chairman.
The non-confidential section of the Minutes of the Special Meeting of the Council held on Monday 14 February 2011 were adopted as a true record of the meeting on the proposal of Councillor McMenamin seconded by Councillor O’Kane and signed by the Chairman.
Matters Arising from Minutes
Pages 1-4: Striking the Rate
In response to a query from Councillor McGuire, the CE confirmed that Council had struck the lowest rate out of all 26 Councils.
The Minutes of the Economic Development Committee Meeting held on Monday 14 February 2011 were adopted as a true record of the meeting on the proposal of Councillor O’Kane seconded by Councillor McNulty subject to the following amendment:
Page 2, Insert prior to first sentence – ‘Councillor McMenamin requested that a letter be sent to the…..’
Matters Arising from Minutes
Pages 1-2: Cork Air Disaster
Councillor McBride expressed his gratitude to Council for the condolences following his cousin’s death.
Page 3: Peace III
Councillor McNulty wished to clarify his remarks made at a recent meeting. He noted that his comments related to the level of bureaucracy and length of application forms for groups to apply for funding, which he felt was a daunting process. He noted that his remarks were not about the Peace programmes, which he felt had positive impacts in terms of infrastructure.
Councillor Hussey noted that he also had issues around the bureaucracy of funding applications, where many smaller groups felt the need to bring in expertise to help progress same.
Page 3: The 4 E’s Project
In response to Councillor McNulty, the CE said that he would check out if a presentation from the group could be arranged before the Local Government Elections.
Page 6: River Links
Councillor McGuire referred to recent press coverage which had referred solely to community input. He noted however that cross border Councillors and Officers had a significant input in the process.
Page 6: River Links (Clady) [Roads Service]
On a tangent from the above, Councillor McNulty referred to the heavy traffic flow through Clady village and asked that a letter be sent to Roads Service seeking a review of same.
Councillor Donnell asked that a review also be sought on the use of Art/Station Road, Artigarvan by HGV lorries. He noted the concerns expressed by local residents regarding general safety issues in this regard and specific safety issues regarding the weight capacity of a bridge on Station Road.
It was agreed to send a letter to Roads Service on the above issues.
Page 5: Strabane Bridge Project
In response to Councillor McNulty, the CE said that the project was due to go out to consultants this week from DSD. He noted that all the relevant documentation had been provided to them. He said that he was unclear whether a formal announcement would be made.
The non-confidential section of the Minutes of the Corporate and Regulatory Services Committee held on Tuesday 15 February 2011 were adopted as a true record of the meeting on the proposal of Councillor O’Kane seconded by Councillor McMenamin.
The Minutes of the Culture, Arts & Leisure Committee held on Monday 21 February 2011 were adopted as a true record of the meeting on the proposal of Councillor McMahon seconded by Councillor McMenamin.
Matters Arising from Minutes
Pages 1-2: Death of Councillor O’Kane’s wife
Councillor O’Kane, on behalf of himself and his family, extended his genuine and sincere thanks to Council officials, Councillors and employees for their show of strength and support following his wife’s passing. He said that it had been heartening to see the level of support shown to him and his family.
The Chairperson said that it was good to have Councillor O’Kane back in the Chamber and that the support would continue for him if needed.
The non-confidential section of the Minutes of the Environment Committee held on Tuesday 22 February 2011 were adopted as a true record of the meeting on the proposal of Councillor McHugh seconded by Councillor Hussey subject to the following amendment:
Page 9, 3rd paragraph, last line – insert ‘duster’ after ‘indoor.
Councillor Foley attended the meeting at 7.50pm.
Matters Arising from Minutes
Page 8: Roads Service
Councillor McNulty referred to a previous site meeting held with Roads Service at Casement Place, Strabane which had led to car parking spaces being marked out. He noted the usefulness of such meetings on site.
It was agreed to seek a site meeting with Roads Service (Street Lighting Section) regarding the provision of street lighting at Fountain Park, Strabane.
The non-confidential section of the Minutes of the Reconvened Culture, Arts & Leisure Committee held on Wednesday 23 February 2011 were adopted as a true record of the meeting on the proposal of Councillor McGuire seconded by Councillor McMenamin subject to the following amendment:
Page 1, Apologies – Add Councillor McHugh’s name to the apologies received.
Matters Arising from Minutes
Presentations to Meetings
Councillor McGuire referred to the level of presentations heard by the Committee and also the DCAL Working Group and he felt that consideration should be given to same.
Councillor McMenamin noted the comprehensive work undertaken by the DCAL Working Group and felt that this was necessary to alleviate the time taken at subsequent Committee meetings.
Page 1: Hospitalisation of former Councillor Ann Bell
The CE noted that Ann Bell had sent her thanks for Council’s get well wishes.
Page 7: NITB Event Funding Programme
Councillor Hussey referred to the NITB conference he had attended the previous week and noted that much emphasis was placed on the major events undertaken and those planned for the future. He was mindful that many of these events would be centred on L/Derry City of Culture and felt that there was a need for Council to be proactive in terms of satellite activities and funding for same for the district arising from these major events.
Councillor McMenamin referred to the lack of infrastructure within the district in terms of accommodation.
Councillor Kerrigan felt that there were a number of events planned for Belfast but very little for the Sperrins area. He felt that there should be a better geographic spread of activities.
Page 7: Allotments – Mountcastle
In response to Councillor Donnell, the Head of Culture, Arts & Leisure (HCAL) said that a date was yet to be finalised and consideration was being given to specific costs, which would be presented to the DCAL Working Group. She noted that it was subject to resources being available whether the project would happen this year.
Councillor Donnell noted that the planting season for this year had already begun.
Page 8: Strabane 10km Walk/Run
In response to the Chairperson, the HCAL said that she would confirm the date of the above with her.
Page 8: Alley – Alcohol Licence
In response to Councillor Hussey, the HCAL confirmed that the Alley had licences for designated areas but that an extension was required for the auditorium.
Page 10: Clady Hall
Councillor Foley declared an interest as a member of the Clady Community Association.
He said that it had been the wish of the Community Association to have no club signage displayed on the exterior of the hall, so that the hall did not favour one karate club over the other. He noted that there was a board inside the facility for use by the clubs. He said that a letter with that recommendation had been given to the Community Support Officer.
Councillor McGuire felt that the facility should be neutral. He noted that the minutes reflected that no additional signage was to be displayed.
The HCAL said that the issue was still open for discussion and if a local solution could be found with agreement from the 2 karate clubs, she felt that Council could agree to the proposal.
Councillor McNulty left the meeting at 8.05pm.
Burial Rights Grants
On the proposal of Councillor McMenamin, seconded by Councillor McBride, forms of grant in respect of the following were signed and sealed on behalf of Council: -
1C Coolaghy Road
Ardstraw - 2 plots
38 Garvetagh Road
Castlederg - 3 plots
Councillor Hussey declared an interest in the above purchase of burial plots.
35 Castletown Court
Strabane - 1 plot
90 Linen Green
Sion Mills - 1 plot
52 Urney Road
Strabane - 1 plot
10 Bearney Road
Strabane - 1 plot
On the proposal of Councillor McGuire seconded by Councillor O’Kane approval was given to open the following tenders:
• Improvements to Entry Road, Carparking & Riverside Footpath at Castle Site, Castlederg.
• Refuse Lorry & Bin Lifting Gear.
• Ride On Mower & Grass Collector.
• Ride On Cylinder Mower.
• Hydraulic Power Packs.
On the proposal of Councillor McMahon seconded by Councillor McGuire, approval was given for the Audit Committee to sign the annual accounts.
Confidentiality of Tender/Contract Details
The Business Manager (BM) referred to guidance notes which had been distributed in advance for Members’ attention and which included information on Council’s procurement procedures, the tender assessment process and the role of Officers in dealing with tendering activities and liaising with tenderers. She clarified the role of Members in assessing an Officer’s tender recommendation and the subsequent Council decision on the award of the contract. It was noted that all tender reports were provided to Council in confidential papers and were only disclosable after ratification of decisions. Following ratification all parties were then duly notified. The obligations of Members in abiding by the NI Code of Local Government Conduct were outlined, in addition to the legal implications of releasing tender information prematurely.
In response to a query from Councillor McMahon, the BM said that in terms of commercial sensitivity, the only price which was disclosable was that of the winning contract. The disclosure of prices for unsuccessful tenders could be challenged by the respective contractor through prejudice to commercial sensitivity.
Local Government Election 2011
The BM referred to documents distributed for Members’ attention including:
• A Guide for Candidates, providing practical advice on all pertinent aspects of the election process.
• A Candidate Nomination Paper and notes for completion of same.
• A Declaration of Appointment of Election Agent.
• A list of Polling Places and Polling Stations for NI Assembly Elections, Referendum and Local Government Elections. A response from the Electoral Office regarding arrangements for polling day had also been tabled for Members’ information.
• Instructions for creating labels from a CD Rom for each District Electoral Area, which would be available from each Council.
She noted that the nomination period would run from 28 March to 7 April 2011, where candidates would be required to attend the Council office and submit their nomination papers to the CE. It was felt that for the purposes of managing accessibility of the CE, it would be beneficial to make an appointment. She noted that the electoral registers should not be released until the nomination submission had been made and the Electoral Office was encouraging candidates to use the registers in CD format.
Nilga - NI Charter for Elected Member Development
The BM noted a previous report given to Members in December 2010 regarding a new charter being developed by Nilga for an accreditation/award, which was aimed at promoting best practice in Members development. She referred to a letter from Nilga which had been distributed in advance for Members’ attention which indicated that Council had been chosen as one of the four pilot charters which would be supported by Nilga to the amount of £3,250. She said that the first meeting would be held on 24 March 2011 and it was hoped that as many Members as possible could attend this session to gain an overview on what was involved and what input would be required from Councillors. A designated Working Group would then be nominated which would remain permanently until the charter was achieved and Members were asked to indicate a willingness to dedicate their time to the charter.
Councillor Hussey noted that given the forthcoming local government elections, any names provided at this stage would be on an interim basis.
Councillor McMenamin said that Nilga’s lead on the charter had been queried at a meeting of the National Association of Councillors (NAC) and a letter on the issue was to be sent to all Council Chief Executives.
The Members nominated to the Charter Working Group were Councillors McGuire, Kerrigan, McMenamin, Hussey and Foley.
SIPTU – Motion on Community Sector Cuts
The BM advised that following a presentation from SIPTU at a Special Meeting of Council on 1 March 2011, it had been agreed that Members would further discuss the generic motion and seek to revise the wording.
The CE said that it was important to get the wording right to ensure that there was no future implications for Council funding to community groups.
Members’ views included the following:
• Concern about the omission of any reference to voluntary groups.
• Deletion of last line regarding a call for all community sector workers to join a trade union.
• Replacement of ‘rejects’ with ‘considers’.
It was agreed that a revised motion would be tabled at the forthcoming Economic Development Committee to seek acceptance from Members and confirmation of a Member to propose it for a future Full Council meeting, in line with Standing Orders.
Planning Service – Consultation on Windfarm Application
Consultation had been received via the online Electronic Planning Information for Consultees service (ePIC) regarding application J/2010/0481/F from Bord Gais Energy for a windfarm at Craignagapple. Members had been provided with the consultation letter and guidelines on how to view and navigate applications via the Public Access Website. The BM referred to the electronic consultation process and advised that any response made by Members was done independently from Council’s Environmental Health Department.
She said that if no Member expressed a view with regard to the proposals, Council would confirm that, as a corporate body, it had no comment to make which was done on a without prejudice basis.
Applications for single/multiple wind turbines
Councillor McBride felt that it would be useful if a report could be provided on the environmental and economic impact of single and multiple turbines in terms of the global environmental impact and the rent that was paid to landowners. He felt that there was an issue as to whether there was a valid reason for turbines.
The CE said that he would refer the matter to the Chief Environmental Health Officer for his attention.
Any Other Business
At the request of Councillor McMenamin, it was agreed to write to the Environment Minister expressing concern about the increasing levels of graffiti throughout the district and indeed throughout Northern Ireland. He said that currently the removal of same fell to either the private landowner or the appropriate public authority who owned the land but he felt that a dedicated agency should be allocated responsibility for the removal of all graffiti whether on private or public land and that further legislative steps should be taken to prohibit such desecration of land/property.
It was agreed that the Chief Technical Services Officer be asked to contact the organisations currently fly posting within the district.
Letters of Sympathy
On the proposal of Councillor O’Kane seconded by Councillor McMenamin it was agreed in line with policy, to send a letter of condolence to employee, John Barr on the recent death of his mother.
It was further agreed that subject to policy, the following letters of sympathy should be considered:
• Employee Joanne Roulston who was currently on a career break, on the recent death of her uncle-in-law.
• The family of former employee, John McElhill.
The CE advised Members that the July Full Council meeting had been previously scheduled for 5 July 2011 to accommodate the 12 July holiday and the subsequent start of Council recess. This would mean however that the June minutes of the Culture, Arts & Leisure and Environment meetings could not be distributed in advance with the agenda for ratification. They could however be emailed to Members in advance and tabled on the pen drives on the evening of the Full Council meeting. He noted that another option would be to reschedule the Full Council meeting for 19 July which would delay the ratification of June’s minutes and perhaps impact on Officers waiting for same, in order to proceed with projects etc.
It was agreed to proceed with the meeting on 5 July 2011 and table the minutes on pen drives.
ICE Draft Consultation Response
On the proposal of Councillor McMenamin, seconded by Councillor Hussey, it was agreed to approve the tabled draft consultation response on the Improvement, Collaboration & Efficiency (ICE) ‘Case for Change’ and ‘Regional Governance Arrangements’ reports.
Roads Service: Off-Street Parking Charges
Correspondence had been tabled for Members’ attention relating to approved increases to current DRD car parking charges from 30p to 40p an hour and the introduction of similar charges to the Upper Main Street car park.
In response to a query from Councillor Hussey, the CE said that there would be similar increases in neighbouring towns.
The CE referred to tabled information relating to an event to discuss proposals for the outputs from the Census. He noted that if any Member wished to attend, registration was on a first come first served basis and advance registration was necessary. Members were asked to contact Administration to confirm their attendance.
On the proposal of Councillor Hussey seconded by Councillor McMenamin the meeting went “into Committee”.
The meeting concluded at 9.00p.m.
DATED this 8th day of MARCH 2011
Clerk & Chief Executive
DATED this 5th day of APRIL 2011
Chairperson of the Council