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14th January 2008
Minutes of the Economic Development Committee Meeting held on Monday 14 January 2008 at 7.30pm in the Council Chamber, Strabane District Council Offices, 47 Derry Road, Strabane.
Present: In the Chair: Councillor I Barr
Other Members: Councillors: A Bresland, J Donnell, J Emery, D Hussey, T Kerrigan, C McHugh, E McMenamin, J McNulty, J O’Kane
Total = 10
In Attendance: Chief Executive (CE), Economic Development Manager (EDM), Administrative Assistant
Apologies: Councillor B McMahon
Letter of Sympathy
It was agreed that a letter of sympathy be sent to Ms Aileen Browne, ex-employee of the Environmental Health Department, on the recent death of her father.
Economic Development Manager’s Report
A report from the EDM had been circulated for Members’ attention. Arising out of the Report the following was discussed –
Strabane Economic Development Strategy 2007 – 2012
The EDM advised Members that the final draft of the above document was being discussed with the consultants and would be ready for circulation shortly. She confirmed that she would forward the draft to Members for their consideration, before circulation to consultees.
Clustering for Future EU Funding Programmes
The CE referred to the Peace III Priority 1.1 report which the EDM circulated to Members at the meeting. He advised that the report gave a summary of a small planning team meeting with Officers from Derry, Omagh and Strabane Councils, who had met to discuss the formal arrangements required for the establishment of an Interim Steering Group and development of a Peace & Reconciliation Action Plan for Priority 1.1 of the Peace III Programme. The EDM advised Members that the Group would be meeting again next week to consider the final draft paper for Members’ consideration and that they would also agree an indicative time frame for the completion of these matters.
After discussion, the composition of the Interim Steering Group and the design of the Peace & Reconciliation Action Plan were agreed in principle as outlined in the report distributed by the EDM
Study Tour to Maine, USA – April 2008
The EDM advised Members that PSM Consulting had developed a tour to Maine, USA to take place from the 5 – 12 April 2008. The purpose of the tour was to learn how Maine had benefited from State government, local government and community commitment to the creative industries approach; utilised the ACE Model, using a mix of assets, connectors and enhancers as the ten building blocks of success; created almost 5,500 new jobs in the local economy in just 4 years – a 9% growth rate, and harnessed the private sector as a key supporter of the new business opportunities. The EDM also advised Members that it was likely that the Programme would qualify for 50% grant aid under the new DETI European Programme – under a regional partnership approach.
Councillor McNulty was concerned as to how the economics of Maine could relate to Strabane town but the EDM advised that models from Maine would transfer to Northern Ireland as a whole and not individual towns.
After further discussion it was agreed that the EDM would take a more in depth look into the Study Tour and report back to Members at an early date, as the tour was scheduled for April 2008.
Donegal/Strabane HEART Programme
A report from the Programme Manager (PM) for the Donegal/Strabane HEART Programme had been circulated for Members’ information. Arising out of the report the following was discussed.
Environment Improvement Scheme
Environment Improvement Works were on schedule for the towns in the Strabane area and orders had been placed for the required items of street furniture. When the items were received they would be installed around the district.
In Plumbridge the ground work at the Fair Green had been completed with the fencing due to be finished early in the new year.
The Riverside Walk at Vaughan’s Holm, Newtownstewart was now complete, despite adverse weather conditions.
The Tree Survey for Sion Mills had now been completed and the Chief Technical Services Officer (CTSO) was meeting with the landowners concerned to discuss what work would be carried out in relation to the trees. Stumps had to be removed and a replanting scheme carried out. The bitmacing at Mourneside Walk in Sion Mills was now finished and the work to the bus lay-by in the Main Street was ongoing. The matter of the failure of some buses to stop in the village as scheduled, which was raised at a community consultation meeting recently, had been passed to the Community Support Officer for investigation.
The surface works at the Castle area and walk at Derg View, Castlederg have been completed. Members asked for consideration to be given for the installation of bollards at the Castle site as young drivers are using this area as a turning circle.
Councillor Hussey also requested that the PM be complimented on the improvement scheme works carried out in Castlederg.
Community Consultations in relation to the E.I Schemes and Public Artwork had taken place in Donemana, Castlederg, Sion Mills and Newtownstewart. Further consultations were due in February in towns where surplus monies existed, to identify additional enhancement works.
Members asked if the PM would agree a timetable of office meetings in advance as often meetings clashed with other events and Members were unable to attend.
A meeting took place in Ramelton on the 29 November to discuss the new Town Park and Artwork proposal. An overview of the HEART Programme was presented and the context of the proposals in relation to the Council’s priorities for the town were discussed. Mr Sweeney, from Donegal County Council, clarified that the final decision on the future of the park area would lie with the Council as landowners and also the co-funders. Designs were presented for the park and discussion ensued in relation to the name and ethos of the park. The need for community consensus before the Council would commit to progressing the park was stressed and it was also agreed that the issue of naming the park would be deferred until later next year.
It was also pointed out that the cost of replacing the toilets was much greater than anticipated by the Dave Gallagher Society and that it was unlikely that sufficient funding would be available to carry out that contract at the present time.
The PM had met with Ciara Joyce, Archivist with Donegal County Council to agree a format for the information to be presented in each of the town’s interpretive panels. Work was ongoing on the research for the Donegal panels and the PM had agreed to work with the Strabane District Council Tourism Officer and Countryside Officer in relation to the information for the Northern Towns.
It was stressed that it was vital that the Council push forward all proposals to ensure that lost time was made up and that the projects could be delivered, and monies drawn down, before the programme deadline of June 2008.
Shop Front Scheme
All shop front applications had been assessed and letters of offer had gone out. It was advised that a surplus of monies existed in a number of towns where applicant numbers were low, and it was agreed to transfer monies to towns in which the programme was oversubscribed and retain the balance in the remaining towns. It was further agreed that those monies could transfer to those towns’ E.I. Schemes.
As soon as the Donegal Planning Officer was available, the pending appeal from the John Dory Café in Stranorlar would be heard and any outstanding deferred applications assessed.
Public Art Scheme
Artist Locky Morris had signed his contract for Castlederg and has had a number of meetings with the schools involved.
The PM had carried out a number of site visits with an Officer from Strabane District Council Technical Services Department to obtain detailed site measurements for the formal planning applications for the Northern Artworks. It was proposed to submit those applications to the DOE Planning Office to allow for the installation of Artworks scheduled for April/May 2008.
The PM would now be seeking prices from suitably qualified engineering companies to check the artists’ structural specifications, ground conditions and to oversee the installation of the works. The PM would also be placing Tender advertisments for the installation of the Artworks and the provision of small Environmental Improvement works such as natural stone benches and galvanised railings.
A draft schedule for launching the Artworks was being prepared and suggestions were welcome for dates that suited the Councils involved. The PM would welcome proposals as to who should officiate at these events so that key people could be booked well in advance.
Publicity for the coming months would be centered on the Public art Scheme with the E.I. Scheme due to feature in the early Spring as works become more visible. The Marketing Officer had been asked to step up publicity in line with comments made at a previous meeting in relation to the poor media coverage of these works. New signage had arrived to promote the scheme and highlight the proposed new artworks and this would be erected shortly.
The Project Officer (PO) prepared a report on Strabane 2000, which was previously circulated for Members’ information. Arising out of the report the following was discussed.
Handrails in Main Street
A price was still awaited from Pat Doherty, Scott Wilson, for purchasing and erecting handrails in the Main Street and also for the repair and erection of the decorative light that was knocked over by a lorry. The lorry driver had been contacted by letter but had not responded as yet.
Strabane Bridge Project
The application made under Peace III 2.1 Creating Shared Public Spaces had been progressed for an economic appraisal and a consultant had now been appointed by SEUPB to carry out that study.
Another application was made to the Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership for technical costs for topographical surveys, etc, to progress the bridges project. That application was also at appraisal stage with the possibility of a Letter of Offer being issued by DSD shortly.
The Minister for Regional Development, Conor Murphy MLA, had agreed to meet with Strabane 2000 members in relation to the Bridge Project but a date had not been set as yet.
Strabane 2000 was holding a launch of the next phase of development and a celebration of achievements to date.
Margaret Ritchie MLA, Minister for Social Development, would be performing the ceremony on 23 January 2008. Time was yet to be confirmed.
Mitchell~Kane Associates was designing the brochure for the event.
The cost of indemnity insurance was being investigated.
The Strabane 2000 bank account was to be opened to accommodate the grant aid from the Neighbourhood Renewal Partnership.
Waterwall Planting & Lighting
A letter had been received from ASDA’s Head Office following correspondence sent to both the Strabane store and Head Office in relation to the Waterwall Planting Scheme. The reply was that “ASDA tends to add donations to the funds raised by colleagues for projects in the local communities rather than making donations to individual projects”.
Sustrans won its Connect2 bid to the Big Lottery, which meant that Strabane would receive £650,000 towards the pedestrian bridge at Melvin.
On the proposal of Councillor McMenamin, seconded by Councillor Kerrigan, the EDM’s Report was adopted.
Councillor McNulty left the meeting at 8.15pm.
Depedestrianisation of Strabane Town Centre
It was agreed that a further meeting be held with the Chamber of Commerce, after the Audit & Staff meeting, to discuss the matter, in order for decisions to be made to have the matter moved forward.
Any Other Business
On and Off Street Parking – Upper Main Street Car Park
The CE referred to correspondence from the Roads Service that had been tabled for Members’ information and advised that the Health Centre Practice Manager had confirmed that they were satisfied with the revised proposal to introduce 39 free spaces and 53 pay & display spaces. However, they wished the Council to ask Roads Service for confirmation that the number of pay and display spaces would not be further increased in future years.
Killeter Road, Castlederg
Councillor Hussey, supported by Councillor McHugh, expressed concern at the substantial amount of patching work carried out on the road between Ferguson Crescent and St. Eugene’s school.
Councillor Hussey declared an interest as his in-laws lived in Ferguson Crescent.
Councillor Hussey advised Members that on a wet day residents and school children could not use that road due to passing cars splashing them from surface water. He advised that substantial infrastructure improvement works needed to be carried out, not patching,
It was agreed that a further meeting should be arranged with the Roads Service to address the above issues.
Special Meeting of Council
It was agreed that a Special Meeting of Council be arranged for Tuesday 29 January 2008 at 7.30pm to further discuss the Council Estimates.
The meeting ended at 8.30pm.