Looking for information about a council service?
21st March 2005
Minutes of Meeting of the Culture, Arts & Leisure Committee held on Monday 21st March 2005 at 7.30pm in the Council Chamber, Council Offices, 47 Derry Road, Strabane.
Present:- In the Chair:- Councillor T. Kerrigan
Other Members:- Councillor’s I. Barr, A. Bell, A. Bresland, J. Donnell, J. Emery, T. McBride, C. McGill, C. McHugh, B. McMahon, J. McNulty
Total = 11
Apologies:- Councillor’s D. Breslin, D. Hussey,
E. McGarvey, E. McMenamin, B. McNamee
In Attendance:- Clerk & Chief Executive, Head of Culture, Arts & Leisure, Countryside Access Officer, Committee Clerk, Mr D. Anderson - Chief Executive Loughs Agency
PRESENTATION BY CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF THE LOUGH’S AGENCY
The Chairman welcomed Mr Derick Anderson, Chief Executive of the Lough’s Agency to the Meeting and invited him to make his presentation, following which Members would be given the opportunity to seek any points of clarification.
Mr Anderson thanked Members for giving him the opportunity to make his presentation. With the aid of multi-media projection Mr Anderson proceeded to briefly outline the work of the Loughs Agency, (a hard copy of the presentation was circulated together with an information pack to Members).
Mr Anderson in his introduction referred to the following mission statement of the Loughs Agency:-
‘The Loughs Agency aims to provide sustainable social, economic and environmental benefits through the effective and environmental benefits through the effective conservation, management, promotion and development of the fisheries and marine resources of the Foyle and Carlingford Areas’.
He outlined the functions of the Loughs Agency as follows:-
Ø The promotion of development of Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough for commercial and recreational purposes in respect of marine, fishery and aquaculture matters.
Ø The management, conservation, protection, improvement and development of the inland fisheries of the Foyle and Carlingford Areas.
Ø The development and licensing of aquaculture.
Ø The development of marine tourism.
Ø Water Quality
Ø Habitat Protection
Mr Anderson reported that the Agency’s long-term aim continues to be to manage the salmon and inland fisheries towards maximum sustainable exploitation for commercial and recreational purposes. The Agency aims to continue to identify negative impacts on the in-stream environment or the water quality and ensure any damage to the systems is minimised, through reinstatement or compensatory measures. It will cooperate and participate with other agencies and organisations in the implementation of the EU Water Frameworks Directive, Nitrates Directive and Freshwater Fish Directive.
Ø Public Awareness
Mr Anderson reported that a number of education projects involving various Primary Schools in the Strabane District Council area were organised which included field trips to the Derg River to view returning salmon preparing redds and an electrofishing display. Visits to Riverwatch and Alevin Release Project also took place.
Since the opening of Riverwatch many primary and post primary schools, youth clubs and summer schemes have visited the centre.
Mr Anderson continued to report that the Loughs Agency aims to increase use and enjoyment of the rivers and the fishery by the local population through the Angling Fair and Youth Angling events.
Ø 5 Year Development Plan
Mr Anderson referred to the 5-year development plan, which is to identify, through an extensive consultation process, the main opportunities for development of the waterways for this purpose over the next five years.
He outlined the following objectives of the plan:-
1. Describe the Agency’s remit, objectives and goals.
2. Review the resources and their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
3. Describe a vision for a better future for the recreational fisheries of the Foyle and Carlingford Areas.
4. Identify the main opportunities for the promotion of fisheries-based tourism and ways of realizing them that will enable all partners to maximise the value of their contributions.
5. Propose objectives and targets for the first two years that will develop the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the waterways.
6. Detail how the plan will be monitored and evaluated, including specific targets.
7. Examine an evaluation of the risks, which may influence the achievement of the delivery of the Plan.
He commented that a total of 19 issues were raised from the consultation process and from that a number of themes, objectives and actions for the development of the fisheries based resource were identified as outlined below:-
Ø Develop a joint approach to stock improvement between commercial and recreational fisheries.
Ø Maintain and enhance the level of stock in the waterways.
Ø Promote a longer fishing season in the waterways through the provision of a variety of stock such as sea trout
Role of the Loughs Agency
Ø Raise awareness of the strategic and operational role of the Agency with key stakeholders and the public.
Ø Develop a co-ordinated and complimentary approach to the development of the Loughs for fishing and recreational purposes.
Ø Provide a co-ordinated approach to the implementation of this project
Ø Develop an infrastructure that supports the promotion of inland fisheries
Ø Develop the opportunities for private boat hire to support the development of deep sea fishing in the Loughs.
Ø Examine existing products into new markets
Ø Develop a proactive approach to new product development
Ø Develop associated products to support ‘activities based tourism’.
Ø Develop an educational awareness programme for schools on the recreational opportunities offered on the rivers.
Ø Establish an education working group to examine the opportunities for increasing the profile of fisheries based recreation within the local school system.
Ø Developing Angling Programme for Young People particularly during school holidays.
Marketing & Implementation
Ø Professionally establish and run a physical and virtual one stop shop for information on angling tourism and associated products/activities for the Loughs area
Ø Increase angling visitors to the Loughs area by 8% in the next two years in line with targets set by Tourism Ireland
Ø Develop a strategic and proactive approach to the promotion of Game, Coarse and Deep See Fishing
In conclusion Mr Anderson referred to the following Expenditure by Salmon and Sea Trout - Angling per day in Scotland and commented that the domestic spend in the South of Ireland was 58.9 (euro):-
Drumfries Borders Highland
Local 36.89 74.19 121.96
Visitor 66.62 113.52 131.66
Tourist 108.18 166.25 221.85
Mr Anderson thanked Members for their attentiveness throughout his presentation and invited them to ask questions.
Councillor Barr referred to Leases granted by the Loughs Agency, which are short-term and therefore give no stability for development grant applications. He enquired if the Loughs Agency would consider long-term leases and what justification can the Agency give for the introduction of a lease agreement at Strabane Old Bridge which prior to SLA development was not fishable and unleasable. He further queried if the SLA/Loughs Agency agreement at Greenbrae Fishery still existed and if so why has the development remained idle for so long. SLA’s attitude is that the local Anglers should have priority to fish the local waters what is the Lough’s Agencies opinion with regard to such freedom.
Mr Anderson in response to Councillors Barr’s query regarding the lease agreement between the Strabane Bridges confirmed that this was the original purchase of fishing rights and the Loughs Agency are offering a lease on an annual basis. A similar arrangement is offered to the Faughan Anglers on an annual basis, the Valuation Office set the rental charge.
Mr Anderson further referred to the development of Greenbrae’s Fishery. He indicated that under the current primary legislation the development of the fishery as originally proposed was not possible, however amendments to this legislation to overcome these difficulties were currently being drafted and were likely to be enacted later this year.
Mr Anderson further agreed that the development of new opportunities for local and visiting anglers could only be achieved through partnerships with local angling interests.
Councillor Barr also referred to the recent national press reports which categorise Atlantic Salmon close to the endangered species list if this is correct will the Loughs Agency halt culling on inland waterways as a precautionary measure or what alternative action will be considered.
Mr Anderson indicated that he was aware of the press reports but that the management regime in the Foyle Area continued to ensure that the conservation limits were being attained but that the Agency continually reviewed the regulations to ensure that adequate protection of the salmon stocks was maintained.
Councillor Barr queried what action the Loughs Agency was taking with regard to over-poaching at the Finn River. Mr Anderson indicated that the introduction of carcass tagging in 2001 had greatly reduced poaching in the area, but it was proposed to close the final loop hole for the disposal of illegally caught fish by banning the sale of rod caught fish when the amendments to the Agency’s primary legislation was enacted.
Councillor McMahon referred to climate changes and global warming and queried if this would have any impact on fish reproduction. In response Mr Anderson commented that research has shown that there is a reduction in fish although the Loughs Agency is not sure what is happening at sea, global warming may be responsible for the reduction of fish in the rivers. The Loughs Agency is monitoring the problem closely and have initiated tagging in some of the rivers as part of their investigations.
Councillor Donnell expressed concern that the agriculture sector is blamed for discharge into the rivers and not the industrial plants.
Mr Anderson in response to Councillor Donnell referred to his presentation when he had mentioned that the Loughs Agency are doing everything within their power to work with the Agricultural Sector and the Community to improve the monitoring of discharge from plants to reinstate the rivers.
Mr Anderson in response to Councillor McHugh’s query regarding the relationship between the Derg Angling Club and the Derg Angling Association, agreed to check this out and report back to Councillor McHugh.
Mr Anderson in response to Councillor Emery’s query regarding how often Moorlough River* was restocked with fish, clarified that this was operated by the DCAL Section, he agreed to report back with figures.
Councillor McBride referred to the expenditure of angling in Scotland as outlined by Mr Anderson in his presentation and queried how close the Loughs Agency were in realising what the locals want in terms of Angling.
Mr Anderson in response to Councillor McBride agreed that the Loughs Agency have a lot of work to do to deliver what is outlined in the 5-year development plan. Although they are optimistic that it is deliverable if funding is granted through Interreg.
Mr Anderson left the Meeting at this point.
REPORT BY THE HEAD OF CULTURE, ARTS & LEISURE
The Head of Culture, Arts & Leisure (HCAL) presented her report for the month of March 2005 previously circulated to Members. Discussion ensued with particular reference to the following:-
Regional Tourism Partnerships
The HCAL reported that the draft terms of reference for the establishment of a regional tourism partnership have now been published by NITB, following consultation with the seven Western Councils. Council approval is sought to contribute to the consultancy costs of £30,000 in partnership with NITB and the other local Authority interests with the anticipated contribution approximating £2,000 per Local Authority. Council approval in principle was sought towards this initiative subject to the agreed levels of funding becoming available from other partner interests.
Councillor McNulty expressed some reservation with regard to yet another layer of tourism as he believes there should be one overall tourism strategy. In response the HCAL said that the national tourism strategy would be driven by the Regional Tourism Partnership.
Councillor McGill also expressed some concern regarding the consultancy and commented that she would be dubious as to what work the NITB actually do alone.
In response the HCAL commented that this is an extensive project and therefore consultancy expertise at this level is required. She outlined that the framework was identified in the NITB Strategy approved by DETI to maximise funding for the region as well as development opportunity, the approach was recommended.
Following further discussion the recommendation for Council to contribute £2000.00 towards the consultancy costs for the Regional Tourism Partnerships was approved on the proposal of Councillor McBride, seconded by Councillor Donnell with Councillor’s McNulty, McGill and McHugh abstaining from the vote.
Councillor McNulty left the Meeting at this point.
Sperrins Tourism Ltd.
The HCAL sought approval from Council for the core grant aid awarded to Sperrins Tourism in respect of its marketing and tourist development programmes. An allocation of £16,500 has been made within the estimates to support these costs and is payable based on agreed terms and conditions of grant aid. A performance report in respect of the activity of Sperrins Tourism has previously been circulated for members’ information. The request for an increase to this level of funding will be tabled following the group’s presentation to Council at the April Meeting.
The Chief Executive at this point informed those present that an emergency meeting of the Chief Executives has been called by Sperrin Tourism Ltd to be held this Friday 25th March 2005 and he would suggest that a decision on funding was deferred until Council is updated on the outcome of the meeting. This was agreed on the proposal of Councillor Emery, seconded by Councillor Barr.
It was agreed on the proposal of Councillor McGill, seconded by Councillor McBride that the following discussion be held ‘In Committee’.
It was agreed on the proposal of Councillor Emery, seconded by Councillor Bell to go ‘Out of Committee’.
Glebe Football Club
The HCAL reported that a request has been received from Glebe FC in respect of the football pitch at Bellspark Road. The club plan to develop the facilities on a partnership basis and upgrade the playing surface and provide changing room facilities. Council approval was sought in principle to develop a leasing arrangement based on similar approach to that in place with Spamount Community Association.
The request from Glebe Football Club as outlined was agreed on the proposal of Councillor McHugh, seconded by Councillor Bell.
Strabane Citizens Advice Bureau
The HCAL reported that that the Citizens Advice Bureau under the service level agreement with Council had been undertaking work to develop a 3-year business plan and agreed performance indicators. In the presentation given to Council by the organisation in January, the organisational objectives, management approach and operational arrangements were outlined. At this meeting the Bureau outlined the rationale for the anticipated level of Council support, £59,000, indicating that a 3 year funding commitment was necessary to support the delivery of a comprehensive information service. Based on the level of Council support awarded to the Bureau for 2004/05 an allocation of £58,000 has been made within the estimates for the 2005/06 financial year. The agreed performance indicators for the Bureau during the 2005/06 and details of proposed opportunities for service expansion were outlined for members’ information. Based on the assessment of this information it is proposed that Council formally agree the allocation of £58,000, and that payments be released at 6-monthly intervals subject to a review of performance and ongoing monitoring through the management committee structure.
Councillor Barr declared an interest and pointed out that there is a problem with staff shortages in terms of volunteers, which has impacted on the service. Councillor Bell concurred with these remarks and said that she believed this to be the case also.
It was agreed that the recommendation be approved on the proposal of Councillor McHugh, seconded by Councillor McMahon. Councillor Barr abstained from voting. It was further agreed that those Members represented on the CAB Board would feedback the views and concerns of fellow Members.
The HCAL in response to Councillor McBride’s comments, indicated that CAB have operated currently with a reduced staff level and as part of the monitoring and evaluation process she will request for an independent audit of customer satisfaction to be completed.
It was agreed on the proposal of Councillor McHugh, seconded by Councillor McBride to renew the leasing arrangement between Council and Easilift the community transport provider for the Strabane District. A contribution of £2,000 was agreed towards insurance costs as detailed in the agreement.
Community Information Event
It was agreed on the proposal of Councillor McHugh, seconded by Councillor McMahon that an allocation of £300 is made towards the above event to be hosted in Strabane Community Library. The event aims to provide information on the services offered by the key voluntary groups operating or with a service remit for the Strabane District.
ARTS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME
Approval was granted on the following Arts Development Programmes:-
· Fair Day Carnival = £25,000
· Sonic DJ Academy
Approval was granted on the following Sports Development Programmes:-
· Sports West = £2,000
· Gateway to Sport
· Gold Card Scheme
· Supporting Sport Grant Aid Programme
Councillor McHugh declared an interest in the supporting Sport Grant Aid Programme.
LETTER OF SUPPORT
It was agreed to defer a decision with regard to the request received from Mr James Elliott seeking a formal letter of support from Council in respect of his proposals to provide self catering accommodation at Lifford Road. It was agreed this item would be tabled for discussion at the Environment Meeting the next night when Planners would be present to answer any concerns Members may have on the issue.
It was agreed that future minutes of the Community Safety Partnership are ratified by the Committee prior to being tabled for information to Council.
It was agreed on the proposal of Councillor McGill, seconded by Councillor McMahon that the meeting go ‘Into Committee’.
The Meeting went ‘Out of Committee’.
Councillor Emery requested the provision of Post Cards for purchase by the public at Gray’s Museum. This was noted.
It was agreed that Riversdale Otters employ the service from an existing staff member and co-ordinate an independent financial arrangement.
SOLACE – Pride of Place Competition 2005
The CE agreed to table the above for discussion at the Environment Meeting the next night when Members would be given the opportunity to peruse the associated information.
It was agreed on the proposal of Councillor McBride, seconded by Councillor Bell that retrospective approval is given for the use of Melvin Hall on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th March 2005 between 11.00an – 1.00 pm for a Karate Course and Seminar.
NOTICE OF ELECTION
The CE advised that the Business Manager has distributed a copy of the Notice of Election for all Councillors. The nomination packs will not be available until Friday 1st April 2005. This was noted.
OPENING OF TENDERS – REFURBISHMENT WORK AT STRULE LODGE
The Tenders for the Refurbishment work at Strule Lodge were opened and signed by the Chairman and the Chief Executive at the Meeting.
The Meeting ended at 9.30pm.
The following does not form part of the Minutes recorded above but is included hereon in the interests of clarity:
At a meeting of Strabane District Council held on the day of 12 April 2005 the Minutes of the above Meeting were adopted as a true record on the proposal of Councillor McBride, seconded by Councillor Emery, subject to the following amendment:-
* delete ‘River’