Looking for information about a council service?
9th July 2003
Minutes of Economic Development Committee Meeting held in the Council Chamber, Council Offices, 47 Derry Road, Strabane, on Wednesday 9 July 2003 at 7.30 pm.
Present: -In the Chair: -Councillor E McMenamin, MLA Other Members:- Councillors: I Barr, A Bell, A Bresland, D Breslin, J Emery, T Kerrigan, T McBride,C McGill, B McMahon, B McNamee, J McNulty Total = 12 In Attendance:- Economic Development Officer, Administrative Assistant Apologies:-Councillors: J Donnell, D Hussey, MLA, E McGarvey & C McHugh,P Faithfull, Chief Executive, SDC
The Chairman thanked the Members for their attendance at the meeting and invited the Economic Development Officer (EDO) to make her report.
Economic Development Officer's Report
Invest NI Broadband Launch
The EDO referred to a previously circulated press release in which businesses were urged to witness the benefit of Broadband (Attachment Number 1). She explained that Invest NI had launched a grant programme of up to £5000 per business to assist in the installation of Broadband.
Building Sustainable Prosperity Funding
The EDO advised that Venture International had been assigned by the Head of Culture, Arts & Leisure (HCAL) to revisit the Business Plan for the Arts, Cultural & Exhibition Building. She informed the Members that a copy of the draft plan had been submitted to the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Industry (DETI) European Programmes. She further informed the members that she had received confirmation of approval in principle for Council to transfer up to £300,000 EU Programmes funds from the Building Sustainable Prosperity Programme to this project, subject to match funding from the Council and the comments from the DETI economists.
Councillor McNulty asked if the funding had originally been earmarked for any specific purpose. The EDO confirmed that it had originally been intended for the Workspace Programme. She further explained that Council would now be empowered to continue to fund the Workspace Programme, with a 50% reduction, and would also be in a position to contribute 'clean funding' to various groups whilst enabling delivery of the action plan and the opportunity to lever in further funds for the Strabane District Council area.
Innovation West Programmes
The EDO informed the Members that a photo call of the five Councils of Tyrone and Fermanagh had taken place in Omagh that morning, in order to publicise the launch of the suite of programmes. She referred the Members to the agreed 'Evaluation Framework' which had been previously circulated (Attachment Number 2)
Strabane Chamber of Commerce & Industry
The EDO advised that Invest NI has agreed to fund the Strabane Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCI) in order for them to organise companies from Strabane/NI to attend the Trade Fair in Malmo, Sweden, in October 2003. She said that Invest NI had agreed to pay 50% of the overall cost of setting up a stand, airfares, and hotel accommodation for 2 people per company. The EDO advised that an Officer from SCCI had suggested that Strabane District Council could set up a stand at the Fair to advertise the District from a tourism perspective and could also assist the Chamber with marketing costs for the programme. The EDO said that there would be further discussion of this issue.
Councillor Barr commented that the suggestion of setting up a tourism promotion stand could be a worthwhile venture but advised caution in committing to any other contribution at this stage. Councillor McMenamin pointed out that it was important to reinforce the connections which had been forged during the visit from the Malmo delegation earlier in the year.
The EDO referred the members to a report (Attachment Number 3) compiled by Heather Torrens, Project Officer (PO) of Strabane 2000, which gave brief details on the following topics:
Development of Cattle Market Site
The PO reported that she was awaiting a response from the Department of Finance & Personnel in relation to the proposed office accommodation in the Cattle Market Site.
John Wesley Street
Members were advised that land acquisition had been agreed with the Post Office and that accommodation costs were being dealt with by the Department of Social Development (DSD).
Waterwall Planting and Lighting
The PO reported that DSD had confirmed that it had increased its contribution from £5,000 to £10,000 to enable the pilot scheme for the waterwall planting and lighting to proceed. She advised that written confirmation was required from Strabane District Council to demonstrate that it would be willing, if necessary, to accept responsibility for maintenance, insurances and all aspects of health and safety connected with the project.
Councillor Barr suggested that Technical Services should be approached in relation to accepting responsibility for maintenance of the waterwall pilot scheme and proposed that the Chief Technical Officer should be asked to prepare a report. All Members agreed with the proposal.
Councillor McNulty pointed out that Strabane Lifford Anglers Association had also received funding with regards to waterwall improvements. The EDO assured him that there would be co-ordination between Strabane 2000 and the Strabane Lifford Anglers Association in order to prevent overlapping of projects.
Town Centre Re-Invigoration
The PO reported that an assessment panel had been established in relation to the 'Shop Front Improvement Scheme' and advised that guidelines and assessment criteria were currently being finalised by the panel. She drew attention to the closing date of 18th July 2003 for applications and advised that calls for applications within the defined area of Castle Street, Main Street and Lower Main Street had appeared in the local press on Thursday 26th June 2003.
Members were further informed that an advertisement for the appointment of a consultant to design and manage the implementation of the Town Centre Reinvigoration Programme had appeared in the press on 19th June 2003 and that tenders would be opened and assessed by the Selection Panel on 11th July 2003 in the hope that 3 teams would be interviewed on 21st July 2003, with the successful firm being appointed by the end of July 2003.
Members were referred to an attached report by 'Venture' on the recent brainstorming event. Members were asked to forward their comments on the report to the PO.
Arts and Cultural Centre
The PO reported that DSD had made a further application for funding of £434,000 under the auspices of the Executive Programme Fund and advised that a response would be expected by September 2003.
This concluded the Strabane 2000 Project Officer's report.
West Tyrone Rural
The EDO reported that West Tyrone Rural (WTR) had launched the 'Leader + Programme' at an event in the Newtownstewart Centre on 23rd June 2003. She referred Members to the previously circulated brochure of the programme (Attachment Number 4), which detailed the criteria for supporting companies in the rural areas of Strabane and Omagh, but not in the towns.
North West Region Cross Border Group (NWRCBG) Job Losses/Public Sector Lobby
Members were advised that a delegation from Strabane District Council would be meeting with Mr Ian Pearson, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, in Belfast on Friday 18th July 2003. The EDO said that an all-party delegation would attend, along with the Council Chairman, the Chair of the Economic Development Committee, and the Economic Development Officer. She added that the Chief Executive had requested that the meeting should go ahead in his absence.
Northwest Gateway Conference
The EDO reported that the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) had hosted a one-day conference in the Everglades Hotel, Derry, on Friday 20th June 2003. She explained that the purpose of the conference had been to challenge the Government on the development of the North West and Derry as the Gateway to the North West. She said that the conference and workshops had been in receipt of reports from the Senior Officers of each department and debate had ensued about the needs and aspirations of the North West region and who should represent it.
The EDO informed the Members that Councillor Emery, Chairman of Strabane District Council, had hosted a small Civic Reception for a visitor from the Freeman Courier Newspaper in South Dakota, USA. She explained that the visit had arisen as a result of an invitation issued to Mr Tim Waltner and his wife, Mary, from Mr Pat O'Neill whose son has established a Quarry Screen business in Freeman. The EDO pointed out that Mr Waltner had been made aware of the twinning arrangement between Strabane and Sioux Falls and had been anxious to visit Strabane, as Freeman is a small community which lies just outside Sioux Falls.
She reported that Mr Waltner had presented the Council Chairman with a book on Sioux Falls and 2 music CDs, compiled by a group who may be visiting Strabane in July 2004, along with a children's book on the Sioux Community which he presented to the Deputy Director of Library Services.
The EDO pointed out that the success of 'Pat O'Neill and Son', who previously received business assistance from the Tyrone Economic Development Initiative (TEDI), was an example of the reverse benefits to be derived from the existence of the twinning arrangement with Sioux Falls.
Proposed Visit by Group from Sioux Falls in July 2004
The EDO informed the Members that Mr Jerry Foy was planning to bring a delegation from Sioux Falls to Strabane in July 2004. She said that the Mayor of Sioux Falls, Mr Munsen, would be part of this delegation along with a group of 10-13 musicians who would be seeking a small number of paying concerts but would provide a free one-hour concert for Strabane District Council. She advised that some members of the group would be staying with friends and acquaintances in Strabane whilst others would be accommodated in the Fir Trees Hotel and various Bed & Breakfasts in the District.
Rural Development Council (RDC) Review of Baseline 27th June 2003
The EDO reported that the Rural Development Council's Launch of the 'Review of Baseline Data' had taken place in Stormont on Friday 27th June 2003. She explained that the objective of the Baseline was the representation of secondary data, the provision of new perspectives on regional data, the identification of local differences and patterns, and the stimulation of opinions and ideas amongst policy developers. She advised that the structure of the report included such factors as Economic Activity; Natural Capital and Farming; Population and Settlement Patterns; Status of Rural Society; Rural Typologies; and the RDC Evaluation Framework. She said that the Baseline factors were particularly useful to Strabane District in relation to providing assistance in making the case for special treatment for Strabane and the North West.
She commented that Mr Nigel Flynn, the Director of Policy and Regional Development for the RDC, had given a particularly interesting overview of the Baseline Review and referred Members to the previously circulated copy of the slides for their information (Attachment Number 5).
The EDO apprised the Members that a copy of the complete Baseline Review for the RDC had been placed in the Members Library for information and perusal.
Into the West
The EDO advised that an update on Into the West was unavailable due to the unavoidable absence (caused by a family bereavement) of the Chief Executive.
Councillor Emery suggested that Councillors could contribute to the NI Alzheimers Association by having money deducted from their remunerations by the Finance Department. The proposal was unanimously agreed.
The EDO's report was adopted on a proposal by Councillor McBride, seconded by Councillor Bell.
The meeting finished at 8.05 PM.