Agenda and minutes

Special Meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council
Wednesday 19 May 2021 4.00 pm

Venue: remotely - Remotely. View directions

Media

Items
No. Item

SC55/21

Notice and Summons of Meeting

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Minutes:

The Chief Executive read the Notice and Summons for the Meeting.

 

SC56/21

Member Attendance and Apologies

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Minutes:

The Chief Executive completed the roll call. Apologies were noted for Councillors Burke and McKinney.

 

 

SC57/21

Statement from Chief Executive

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Minutes:

The Chief Executive read the following statement to Members;

 

Members, you will recall that last year, the Local Government (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of District Council meetings) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 were introduced to provide certainty that Councils could hold meetings remotely.  These Regulations expired on 7 May 2021. The Department for Communities had advised that there will be a short delay between 7 May 2021 and the extension to these Regulations which is likely to be towards the end of June/start of July. The Local Government Act (NI) 2014 does not expressly allow for remote meetings and in light of a recent court case in England, to avoid risk of challenge, decisions taken by the Council at remote meetings will be implemented by the Chief Executive under delegated authority until the new regulations come into force.

 

The Mayor advised that Members could contact Officers with their queries once they had received correspondence detailing the arrangements for the Planning Committee Meeting and Annual General Meeting.

 

Councillor O’Neill and Fleming joined the meeting at this point.

 

SC58/21

Statement for Remote Meetings

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Minutes:

The Mayor read the statement of remote meetings.

           

Councillor Reilly joined the meeting at this point.

 

SC59/21

Declarations of Members' Interests

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Minutes:

Members made declarations as follows;

                       

Agenda Item 6- Mr Darrin Jones, District Commander, PSNI to address Members concerns on policing tactics utilised by the PSNI in areas of the City and District (Council Motion- Minute Ref. C130/21)

           

The following Members declared that they were Members of the PCSP; Aldermen Devenney, McClintock and Warke; Councillors J Barr, J Boyle, M Boyle, Duffy, Fleming and Tierney.

 

Open for Decision

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SC60/21

Chairperson's Business

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Minutes:

There was no Chairperson’s Business.

SC61/21

Mr Darrin Jones, District Commander, PSNI to address Members concerns on policing tactics utilised by the PSNI in areas of the City and District (Council Motion- Minute Ref. C130/21)

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Minutes:

The Mayor advised that the District Commander had declined the invitation to address the Council and invited the Chief Executive to read his letter. The content was as follows:

 

“Thank you for your letter of 16th April requesting me to attend a special sitting of Derry City and Strabane District Council.

 

As the local police commander, I am always keen to engage formally and informally with stakeholders and especially local elected representatives to discuss local policing and have made real efforts in this regard since my arrival.

 

Of course the forum for formal discussion of local policing matters is with the Derry City and Strabane District Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) Policing Committee. The PCSP Policing Committee has the relevant statutory powers for oversight of local policing, and gaining the co-operation of the public with the police in preventing crime and enhancing community safety of the District in partnership with other agencies. I personally attend the Committee on a regular basis to discuss policing issues and am conscious that the issues currently under consideration have been raised in previous meetings.  Therefore, having reflected on this and out of respect for the Committee, It is my view that the questions that were to be put before the Council meeting tomorrow, should, in the first instance, be brought before the Policing Committee of the PCSP. If, after that, the matters in hand cannot be resolved, we can consider what other steps might be required.

 

I must therefore decline the invitation to tomorrow’s meeting and apologise for any inconvenience.”

 

Alderman Hussey raised a point of order under Standing Order 4 Section 3 and asked if the meeting should proceed, given that the District Commander’s non-attendance meant that the item referred to within the summons could not be discussed.

 

After seeking advice from the Lead Legal Services Officer, the Mayor decided that the meeting should continue as he felt that Members’ responses to the District Commander’s correspondence were in line with current Standing Orders.

 

The Mayor explained that after receiving the correspondence, he had telephoned to express his disappointment, for a variety of reasons to the District Commander’s decision. He stated that whilst the District Commander had taken this comments on board, the decision remained the same. He further advised that he had explained the importance of the District Commander’s attendance and that whilst he respected the integrity of the PCSP he had highlighted that accountability was not limited to these structures. He concurred with the disappointment of Members that the District Commander would not reconsider and welcomed Members comments.

 

Councillor R Barr stated that this last-minute decision by the District Commander had shown contempt for the public and for the Council. He also stated that this displayed an unwillingness to address the real problems within the community. He highlighted the harassment of innocent peaceful protestors and the ignoring of serious crime. He stressed the need for Members of the PSCP to re-evaluate their presence on these boards, as he felt  ...  view the full minutes text for item SC61/21

Open for Information

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Further to Council Motion (Minute Ref. SC54/21), the following responses have been received:

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SC62/21

Superintendent for Chief Constable, PSNI on behalf of the Chief Constable pdf icon PDF 44 KB

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Minutes:

Members noted the content of the letter which was received from the Superintendent.

 

Councillor Doyle commented that whilst the Chief Constable agreed to meet persons who represent paramilitaries in the Loyalist Communities Council, he would not agree to meet Elected Representatives who were against violence. He outlined that this lack of accountability would incite further unrest within the community and that the role of Elected representatives had been made more difficult, as communities would think them ineffective in dealing with the PSNI. He acknowledged that that Councillor Reilly, the Chair of the PCSP had proposed a motion to bring the Chief Constable, the Chair of the Policing Board and Human Rights Advisors to address Council and stated that this was an admission that an extra layer of accountability was needed.

 

Councillor Reilly informed Members that he had previously raised these issues both within the Council Chamber and at PSCP meetings. He stated he had relayed at the PCSP meeting that he felt a wider involvement from all Members of all parties and Independent Members was needed during a virtual Council meeting, as this would be an open and public forum.

 

In response to a request from Councillor Carr, the Chief Executive clarified that the request for Members questions to be submitted a week in advance had been received via email from the District Commander on Tuesday 4 May. He advised that Officers had relayed this request to Members via email on Tuesday 4 May.

 

Alderman McCready joined the meeting at this point.

 

Alderman Hussey commented that the request for questions in advance was not unusual.  He explained that this was practise in Stormont, where an opportunity to ask a subsidiary question would also have been provided which he stated he would use to tease out further issues.

 

SC63/21

Chief Executive, NI Policing Board on behalf of the Policing Board Chair pdf icon PDF 142 KB

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Minutes:

Members noted the content of the letter which had been received from the NI Policing Board.