Belfast Telegraph

December meeting of Belfast City Council

By Brian Lovett

Belfast City Council online — a motion was put forward by Councillor Niall Kelly to consider the constraints, benefits and costs of live streaming and archiving of council proceedings on the internet.

“I believe that all meetings should be online. I believe that ratepayers have the right to see what goes on in this chamber,” said Councillor Kelly.

It was agreed by the council to refer the motion to the strategic resources committee for consideration.

Council staff absenteeism — Absenteeism in the council from July to September this year has shown an average of 3.26 days lost per employee, representing an increase of 0.47 days per employee compared to the same period the previous year.

This also represented an increase of 0.54 days over Quarter 1 in the current year, which meant the council was not on target to reduce overall sickness absence to 10.50 days by 2010/2011.

Councillor David Browne said: “We need to look at initiatives to reward those who go to work and penalise those who don't.”

Councillors agreed an audit panel should scrutinise absence management to see where improvements can be made.

Safety of sports grounds legislation — Councillors expressed concerns over new legislation to come in force by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure that would mean eight designated Belfast sports grounds would be required to apply to the council for a safety certificate.

The legislation makes it illegal for them to permit spectators to enter their grounds to view games until an application has been made.

The grounds will have eight months — from January 2010 until August 2010 — to reach the necessary standard for the certificates to be issued.

Councillor Jim Rodgers said: “This is a major task — make no mistake about it. Some grounds could be closed down through this.”

Councillor William Humphry said: “We are going to have big decisions to make and we will take tremendous amounts of flak over this.”

But Councillor Nelson McCauseland said: “I think there is a danger of getting over-concerned about the implications.”

The council has referred the issue back to committee to discuss whether an extension to the eight months time-frame should be requested.

Belfast Telegraph


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