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15th December 2004
Minutes of Corporate and Regulatory Services Committee Meeting held in the Council Chamber, Council Offices, 47 Derry Road, Strabane on Wednesday 15th December 2004 at 7.30pm.
Present – In the Chair:- Councillor C. McHugh
Other Members:- Councillors I. Barr, A. Bell, A. Bresland, J. Donnell, J. Emery, T. Kerrigan, E. McGarvey, C. McGill, B. McMahon, J. McNulty.
Total = 11
Apologies:- Councillors D. Hussey, T McBride, E McMenamin
In Attendance:- Head of Finance, Chief Building Control Officer, Chief Environmental Health Officer, Administrative Assistant.
The Chief Environmental Health Officer (CEHO) informed Members that the Chief Executive (CE) had sent his apologies as he was unable to attend tonight’s meeting. He added that the CE wished all Councillors a very happy Christmas and a happy New Year.
On the proposal of Councillor McGill, seconded by Councillor Bell the meeting went “into committee”.
On the proposal of Councillor McGill, seconded by Councillor Bell the meeting went “out of committee”.
The HF presented the payment of accounts and reported on the following items.
Payment of Accounts
Cheque No. 103462 – Sperrins Tourism Ltd
In response to Councillor McGill, the HF advised that the Head of Culture, Arts and Leisure had got approval to make this payment. She added that it related to quarters 3 and 4, as payment of quarter 3 had been delayed.
Cheque No. 103493 – Mrs Christine McNulty
Councillor McNulty declared an interest in this payment.
General Revenue Account
No. 14 – Janet Beck
In response to Councillor Barr, the HF advised that this payment related to interpretation fees for deaf people.
No. 92 – Charles Khang & Co
In response to Councillor Barr, the HF advised that this payment related to translation services from English to Chinese.
The CEHO advised Members that these costs were not recovered. He added that Chinese people may understand spoken English, however they may not understand written English, therefore Council was obliged under its Equality Policy to provide translation to their language.
Councillor Barr expressed concern that Council would incur translation costs. He added that this would become a financial burden on the ratepayers of the District.
Councillor McNulty stated that the Linguistic Diversity Policy stated that Council would converse with members of the public in a language of their choice.
After much discussion, it was agreed that written clarification would be sought from the Corporate Policy Officer regarding Council’s obligation to provide translation to any language at the request of outside bodies or members of the public.
No. 198 – Teanga Ltd
In response to Councillor Barr, the HF advised that this payment related to translation into Irish of Council’s complaints procedure and a Foras na Gaeilge letter. She added that this was a requirement of the Linguistic Diversity Policy.
No. 44 – Devine Memorials
In response to Councillor Donnell, the HF advised that this payment related to a settlement agreed with two families regarding a dispute over burials at Mountcastle Cemetery. She added that Council had agreed to cover the cost of two headstones. She further added that the invoice for this had been forwarded to Council’s insurance company to be reimbursed.
No. 46 – D K Fencing
In response to Councillor Donnell, the HF advised that this payment related to gates and fencing for skip sites at Donemana and Newtownstewart.
No. 54 – Easilift
In response to Councillor Emery, the HF advised that as part of the agreement with Easilift, Council had to pay for hire of a minibus, even though Council had given their bus to them. She added that this payment related to hire of the minibus by the Access Officer and for Arts Development.
No. 59 – Fir Trees Hotel
In response to Councillor Barr, the HF advised that this payment related to room hire and refreshments for a Sports Development function on 26th November 2004.
No. 63 – Fountain Street Community Development Association
Councillors Bell and McNulty declared an interest in this payment.
No. 68 – Garvetagh Apprentice Boys of Derry
Councillor Kerrigan declared an interest in this payment.
No. 88 – Irish Arms Historical Reproductions
In response to Councillor McNulty, the HF advised that this payment was in relation to fighting knives and other memorabilia, which had been purchased with funding money received from Natural Resource Rural Tourism Initiative.
The HF agreed to provide clarification whether or not these items would be displayed at different venues throughout the district.
No. 108 – Lease for Lands at William Street, Castlederg
In response to the Chairman, the Chief Building Control Officer (CBCO) stated that this related to land to the rear of Churchtown Community Centre that had been leased for a number of years. He added that this was the fifth year of the lease and that Council would have to lease it for a few more years until they had their own centre.
No. 164 – The Royal British Legion
In response to Councillor Barr, the HF stated that this payment related to one wreath.
In response to Councillor Donnell, the HF stated that the excess on Council’s insurance policy was £2000, therefore it was not worth insuring.
In response to Councillor McHugh, the HF stated that this wreath had been laid at Castlederg and that this was the only wreath that Council paid for.
No. 189 – Strabane Sure Start Centre
In response to Councillor Barr, the HF stated that this payment related to the provision of crèche facilities for a training programme undertaken by the Arts Development Programme.
No. 190 – Straightforward Research and Development
In response to Councillor McGill, the HF advised that this payment related to Strabane Local Strategy Partnership, for an evaluation of the Community Hubs Programme. She added that this money would be recovered.
No. 201 – Travellers Rest
In response to Councillor McNulty, the HF advised that Council currently purchased diesel at Lifford and that they also held a supply of diesel at the Council yard. She added that Council purchased petrol as and when required at the Travellers Rest Filling Station.
On the proposal of Councillor Bell, seconded by Councillor Barr the meeting went “into committee”.
On the proposal of Councillor Bell, seconded by Councillor Barr the meeting went “out of committee”.
It was agreed that the CBCO would present his report at this stage.
Chief Building Control Officer’s Report
The CBCO presented his report, a copy of which had been previously circulated to Members. Arising out of the report the following was discussed.
The CBCO reported that there were 64 applications approved which complied with the requirements of the Building Regulations (NI) 2000.
Councillor McMahon declared an interest in application BN/2004/0185
Councillor McNulty declared an interest in application BN/2004/0386.
On the proposal of Councillor McMahon, seconded by Councillor Bell the meeting went “into committee”.
On the proposal of Councillor Bell, seconded by Councillor McMahon the meeting went “out of committee”.
Chief Environmental Health Officer’s Report
Mr Patrick Cosgrove, CEHO presented his report, a copy of which had been previously circulated to Members. Arising out of the report the following was discussed.
Smoke Free Policies
Councillor Barr stated that even though employees throughout Northern Ireland were allowed to smoke at work, they were restricted as to where they could smoke and at what times. He added that by introducing a smoke free policy, employers would make cost savings in terms of increased production, therefore if this was applied employees should receive a financial incentive to produce more goods.
Councillor Bell concurred with Councillor Barr’s remarks. She added that employees should be allowed to smoke during their tea break, even if this meant going outside, otherwise this would be discriminatory towards smokers.
In response to the Chairman, the CEHO stated that he had referred to the Civil Service Policy in his report as an example. He added that the Civil Service policy prevented people from leaving the premises to smoke outside of the lunch time period when they would have to use flexi-time and ‘swipe out’ when they left work and ‘swipe in’ on their return to work.
Councillor Barr stated that this went beyond health considerations. He added that this was penalising smokers.
Councillor McNulty left the meeting at this point.
In response to the Chairman, the CEHO stated that he was now seeking agreement from Members in principle for Council to draw up a similar policy. He added that this would result in Council having a smoke free building, with no smoke room provision for employees.
On the proposal of Councillor Barr, seconded by Councillor McGarvey it was agreed that Council should work towards the objective of having a smoke free policy, however staff consultation must take place. It was also agreed that the CEHO should bring back a report to Council at a later date.
A vote was taken with the following outcome: 7 For; 1 Against; 2 Abstentions.
Greenbrae Travellers Site
On the proposal of Councillor Barr, seconded by Councillor Bresland, it was agreed to follow the proposals outlined in the CEHO’s report.
Councillor Kerrigan commended the CEHO for his work regarding this issue.
Local Government Partnership on Traveller Issues
On the proposal of Councillor Kerrigan, seconded by Councillor McMahon, it was agreed that Council would endorse this submission.
Air Quality Action Plan
In response to the Chairman, the CEHO advised that funding was still available within Strabane District Council area for ‘Warm Homes’, however he could not confirm if this scheme applied to Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) homes.
Councillor Barr stated that the NIHE had provided a draught proofing facility in previous years, however this had ceased, probably due to ‘cowboy’ operators who had not completed jobs allocated to them. He added that NIHE houses were not eligible for grants, therefore occupiers could not have this work completed through other agencies.
Councillor Kerrigan stated that if evidence could be provided regarding ‘cowboy’ operators, he would raise these concerns with the Housing Council. He asked that this information be given to him before 10th February 2005. He added that the NIHE had appointed one firm to cover the North West area, however they must maintain a high standard of work specified by the NIHE.
In response to Councillor Emery, the CEHO stated that Council proposed that single fuel systems would be replaced with oil fired central heating systems. He added that within Air Quality Management areas smokeless fuel systems would contribute to PM10s, which would result in Strabane failing the air quality test.
The CEHO stated that the scheme was aimed at owner occupiers and private sector housing. He added that if Council declared a smoke control zone there would be approved costs currently estimated at £3,500, with Council meeting 30%, DoE meeting 40% and the owner meeting 30% of total costs. He further added that a ‘Warm Home’ Scheme could be rolled out, which would be 100% grant aided, however the owner would have to pay 30%.
The CEHO advised Members that the cost to Council for 100 houses would be approximately £295,000. He added that he would expect income of £140,000 from DoE, leaving total expenditure of £155,000, including provision for staff costs. He further added that there would be income from Building Control fees.
In response to Councillor Emery, the CEHO advised that Strabane District Council would monitor this scheme.
On the proposal of the Chairman, seconded by Councillor Barr, it was agreed that a Special Meeting would be arranged to further discuss the implications of endorsing the Air Quality Action Plan, especially in relation to the installation of oil fired central heating systems when oil prices had increased. One abstention was noted.
Voluntary Contributions Grant Aid Applications
Race Against Multiple Sclerosis
On the proposal of Councillor Barr, seconded by Councillor McGill, approval was granted for a voluntary contribution of £100 to be paid to this group.
Gaelscoil Ui Dhochartaigh
On the proposal of Councillor McGill, seconded by Councillor McGarvey, approval was granted for a voluntary contribution of £300 to be paid to this group.
Any Other Business
The CEHO informed Members that a query regarding the use of laptops during an electrical storm had been raised at the Audit and Staff Meeting. He stated that he had spoken to the IT Officer, who had advised that Members should disconnect their laptops from the telephone line during an electrical storm to prevent damage to the modem and modem card.
IS9001 Quality Award
The CEHO advised Members that the Strabane Environmental Health Department, along with three other Environmental Health Departments within the Western Group had recently attained the IS9001 quality award for operating systems. He congratulated all staff involved in attaining this standard and particularly to Mr Clement Kennedy who had co-ordinated this achievement.
Councillors McGill, McHugh and Donnell passed on their congratulations to the Department.
It was agreed that a Chairman’s reception should be organised in recognition of this award.
NILGA Annual Conference 2004 ‘Local Government: Making Choices’, Radisson SAS Roe Park Resort, Limavady, 16th and 17th February 2005. On the proposal of Councillor Bresland, seconded by Councillor Emery, it was agreed that Councillor Kerrigan should attend this conference.
West Tyrone Rural
Approval was granted for West Tyrone Rural to use the Council Chamber on Thursday 27th January 2005 from 10.30 am to lunchtime for their Board Meeting.
Chairman’s Reception – Clive & Ryan McFarland
It was agreed that a reception with the Chairman should be arranged for Clive and Ryan McFarland who, during 2004 had been awarded 63 awards between them at both National and Northern Ireland level within the Pipe Band field.
The meeting closed at 9.20 pm.