Skip to main content
Equality and diversity

Equality screening outcome report: DfC COVID-19 Revitalisation Programme draft screening

Published in January 2021


Contents


Overview of screening template

The council has a statutory duty to screen. This includes our strategies, plans, policies, legislative developments; and new ways of working such as the introduction, change or end of an existing service, grant funding arrangement or facility. This screening template is designed to help departments consider the likely equality impacts of their proposed decisions on different groups of customers, service users, staff and visitors.    

Before carrying out an equality screening exercise it is important that you have received the necessary training first. To find out about the training needed or any other queries on screening, contact the Equality and Diversity Officer Lorraine Dennis on extension 6027 or or Lisa McKee on extension 6310 by email equality@belfastcity.gov.uk

The accompanying screening guidance note provides straightforward advice on how to carry out equality screening exercises. Detailed information about the Section 75 equality duties and what they mean in practice is available on the Equality Commission’s website[1]

The screening template has four sections to complete. These are:

  • Section A  provides details about the policy or decision that is being screened
  • Section B gives information on the consultation process, supporting evidence gathered and has four key questions outlining the likely impacts on all equality groups
  • Section C has four key questions in relation to obligations under the Disability Discrimination Order  
  • Section D is the formal record of the screening decision

Section A

Details about the policy or decision to be screened

1. Title of policy or decision to be screened

DfC COVID-19 Revitalisation Programme Draft Screening

2. Brief description of policy or decision to be screened
(Explain is this a new, revised or existing policy?  Are there financial, legislative or procurement implications?)

  • This is a new programme of work and is one element of a bigger project to aid city recovery and reopening. This project forms part of the City Recovery Programme endorsed by the Strategic Resources and Policy Committee (SP&R) on 19 June 2020.[2]  The Recovery Framework was agreed on 18 September 2020 by SP&R.[3] Officers from across the council have been working to develop a city recovery plan which is underpinned by a set of guiding principles.
  • This programme includes physical interventions, streetscape improvements and reimagining public spaces elements in the city in these areas:
    • Castle Place Hub
      Installation of a ‘hub’ for Castle Place. The proposed intervention includes extending existing pavements into on-street parking areas and a contraflow cycle route on the north side of the street in conjunction with the Department for Infrastructure, and the creation of a new kiosk pavilion with seating, greening and lighting.
    • Cathedral Quarter
      ​Priority interventions for this programme, as identified by the business community, includes pedestrianisation of Union Street, with local access provision, including lighting, canopy, planters and seating to provide an enhanced outdoor public space. This aligns with the council and Department for Communities' adopted Inner North West Masterplan and is seen as an early intervention towards a re-imagination and regeneration of this derelict and under-utilised area of the city.
    • Linen Quarter Parklet: It is proposed to have a 25m x 2.1m extended ‘parklet’ installed at Linenhall Street in proximity to the food and beverage outlets.  This will be installed in on-street parking bays, thereby creating extended pavements.  It consists of a raised high-quality decking area with planting and street furniture. The proposal also includes a customised parklet (covering two or three on-street parking spaces) including planting, street furniture and bike stands and close to the BBC building on Linenhall Street West.
    • Linen Quarter Boardwalk: It is proposed to have a 25m x 2.1m boardwalk installed at Linenhall Street in proximity to the hospitality outlets Coco, Urban Retreat and Snax in the City. It would be constructed on top of on-street parking bays thereby creating extended pavements that would allow for a livelier streetscape.
    • Installation of 5 x city-wide parklets:  Proposed within areas of on-street parking to provide additional civic space, enhanced connectivity and additional space for business communities to address the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on their businesses.  (Parklets within areas of on-street parking to provide additional civic space, enhanced connectivity and provision of additional space for business communities to address the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on their businesses).
    • Adelaide Street enhancement: As part of social distancing measures, DfI have extended the pavement area along the western side of Adelaide Street taking over the parking bays. BCC are now progressing an enhancement scheme for this area while also working with DfI to extend the area further at points along the street. This temporary scheme includes shelter structures, incidental play elements, seating, covered bike parking and lighting. It is being designed with various users in mind (businesses, residents, workers, visitors), with a view to trialling ways of enhancing the city centre as a safe, welcoming, liveable place and with accessibility as a focus.
    • Business Cluster and Community Grants scheme: a capital grant scheme launched to provide between £10,000 and £25,000 for business cluster and community organisations to deliver physical interventions /environmental improvements to support business operation and recovery, enhance physical spaces, increase civic participation and a sense of ownership, and encourage people to live, work, visit and invest in local areas.
  • The immediate focus of reopening the city is being taken forward in conjunction with key city statutory and business partners.  It is this collaboration and political will that is required to re-establish confidence in the city and support businesses to reopen and contribute to longer-term resilience and inclusive growth.
  • This outdoor space initiative fully incorporates the principles of “Pathway to Recovery”[4] issued by the NI Executive on 12 May 2020 - a five-step decision-making framework towards relieving all of restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  This framework covers a number of areas including retail, work, education, family and community, travel and sport, culture and leisure activities. 
  • The hospitality sector faces some of the biggest challenges in reopening their doors to customers in a way that meets COVID-19 social distancing regulations.  City partners have turned to the council for support.  The hospitality sector is a significant employer in the city and has been one of the most effected industries as a result of COVID-19. 
  • This project is financially supported by the Department for Communities (DfC). 
  • This project will comply with the council’s procurement policy. The council will appoint third party contractors to oversee and operate each of the spaces by a competitive process. 
  • The council is only one of a number of organisations that has a stake in recovery planning.  While we have a direct delivery role in some areas, we also have a significant place shaping and leadership role in ensuring that there is a resourced and coordinated response to the recovery plans.  In this context, we have been leading on an integrated approach to city recovery with the key government partners and wider statutory, community and business partners.  There are some areas outside the scope of this project, however, the council will use our civic role to guide and work with city partners including, businesses, statutory agencies and the communities in which we serve in proactively promoting equality duties.  

Legal

All relevant requirements stipulated in the UK and NI Government legislation in relation to COVID-19 (within the council's remit) will be implemented to enable the city to reopen and flourish in a safe and legally-compliant manner together with steps to encourage businesses and the public to do so too.

This is a separate project from the pavement café licensing and business grants elements but is complementary in aiding business recovery. 


3. Aims and objectives of the policy or decision to be screened

(What is the policy trying to achieve?)

Project aim

The council aims to create an imaginative use of open and civic spaces particularly those in public ownership to support retail and hospitality sectors and give consideration of a temporary use of public spaces in the short-term for cafes, restaurants and outdoor space to facilitate social distancing measures.  The council is working with the Department for Communities and the Department for Infrastructure to provide additional public spaces through the re-allocation of road and civic spaces to facilitate social distancing, queueing and for the provision of businesses to operate effectively outside their own footprint. 

Project objectives

Encourage footfall levels to key areas and encourage active travel. Engaging with city centre partners has identified key areas/streets for mitigation action and the council will also use frontline operational intelligence to identify hotspots and further investigate data to understand and monitor footfall patterns.

Signage, branding and dressing One of the key issues around reopening is about clearly illustrating effective management of social distancing requirements in order to improve management of queuing and pedestrian flows.  The correct signage, branding and dressing of social distancing measures and temporary interventions will enhance the look and feel of the city as well as delivering confidence to the city users.

Physical Interventions, streetscape improvements an reimagining public spaces

Given the level of temporary interventions to promote active and sustainable travel, and the additional support required to enable business to trade effectively, it is essential that the city centre remains an attractive, green and safe location to promote economic recovery.  These areas will require enhanced interventions to improve the visual appearance of the city, to introduce green infrastructure and enhanced areas of public space and enjoyment to support the business community. Measures to address this include:

  • Enhanced cleansing to ensure high standards are maintained throughout the city
  • Expedite use of additional planting (planters, hanging baskets), with a focus on colour
  • Use of civic spaces and new temporary ‘pop-up public spaces’ in key areas for outdoor space incorporating street furniture, public realm, lighting interventions, pop-up parklets, assist businesses to facilitate social distancing measures and enhanced operation of local businesses
  • Temporary canopies and covered awnings
  • Enhanced trial pedestrianisation areas and areas of widened footpaths by providing complementary wrap around services and physical improvements along key routes enabling and supporting business use and active travel.
  • Ensure the continued consideration and delivery of infrastructure and measures to take account of equality for vulnerable users of the city.  It is important that measures taken to improve indoor and outdoor trading spaces in support of businesses do not result in detriment or inconvenience for consumers and visitors who may have specific requirements. The implementation of newly created spaces will mean that significant changes to access and layout will be made. 

Some customers may require additional support in moving around the city centre, whether that be as a result of visible or non-visible disabilities, medical condition, age or whether they need to navigate spaces pushing a buggy or operating a wheelchair.  The public realm will be actively monitored to make sure that safe, appropriate routes are maintained for all users.


4. Who will the policy or decision impact?

Consider the internal and external impacts (both actual or potential) and explain.

People Actual or potential impact
Staff There will be some impact on staff as Belfast City Council.  This project will be overseen by the City Regeneration and Development team.
Service users

There will be an impact on visitors using these areas to eat, drink and socialise in. Businesses will need to adhere to Government guidance on measures such as social distancing, handwashing, cleanliness and hygiene routines. 

Businesses

There will be an impact on retail and hospitality business-owners, managers and staff, delivery providers in loading and offloading goods, transport-providers and business representative groups.

Other public sector organisations

Department for the Economy, Department for Communities, Department for Infrastructure.  Emergency services in planning for evacuation, emergency and exit routes, paths, roads and where emergency gathering points are situated.

Pedestrians

All pedestrians, particularly disabled people and people with restricted mobility or people with sight loss or who are blind, older people and people with dependants may be impacted by the restriction of space and new hazards. 

Residents In particular, residents living in proximity to the public space areas.
Religious groups Where access is needed to places of worship safely and without restriction, in particular on a Sunday.

5. Are there linkages to other agencies or departments?

  • Public sector
    • Department for Infrastructure (DfI)
    • Department for the Economy (DfE)
    • Department for Communities (DfC)
    • Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI)
    • Invest NI
    • Tourism NI
    • Translink
  • Community and voluntary sector
    • Visit Belfast
    • Greater Shankill Partnership
    • Fáilte Fierste Thiar
    • Markets Development Association
    • Greater Shankill Council
    • Belfast Community Circus School
    • Belfast South Community Resource
    • RNIB
    • IMTAC
  • Business Representative Groups
    • Belfast Chamber
    •  BCCM
    • Belfast One BID
    •  Linen Quarter BID
    •  Destination CQ BID
    • Victoria Square
    • Castlecourt Shopping Centre
    • Hospitality Ulster
    • Retail NI
  • Trade unions
    • USDAW
    • UNITE
  • Council internal departments
    • Place and Economy Department
    • Planning and Building Control
    • Economic Development Division
    • City Regeneration and Development
    •  Civic and Legal Services
    • City and Organisational Strategy: Strategic Hub
    • City and Neighbourhood Services: refuse collection, Good Relations, Environmental Health
    • Finance and Resources: Procurement
    • Physical Programmes: Delivery and any relevant estate matters

Back to contents


Section B

Information on the consultation process, supporting evidence gathered and has four key questions outlining the likely impacts for equality and good relations

6.  Outline consultation process planned or achieved

Given the circumstances that COVID-19 presents, there is a need for measures to be developed and delivered quickly. We acknowledge that this project is evolving together with government guidance and the project is being implemented as a temporary pilot and thus subject to ongoing monitoring and review.  The council has adapted consultation and communication to meet guidelines set out by the government in response to the coronavirus pandemic.  Council officers continue to engage with the public through online discussions and Q&As, meetings, emails, phone calls where face to face is communication is not possible.  Experience and learning from the Primark fire response enables the council to respond and deliver projects swiftly. 

During early planning, we recognised that this project may affect people with disabilities, older people or their carers and those with dependants (for example people using a child’s buggy).  Not all disabilities are visible – some are not immediately obvious, such as learning difficulties or mental health, as well as mobility, speech, visual or hearing impairments.

The council has consulted the City Stakeholder group:  This comprises these groups:

  • Public sector
    • DfI
    • PSNI
    • HSNI (Health Survey Northern Ireland)
    • DfC
    • Invest NI
    • Tourism NI
    • Translink 
  • Community and voluntary sector
    • Visit Belfast
    • Greater Shankill Partnership
    • Fáilte Fierste Thiar
    • Markets Development Association
    • Greater Shankill Council
    • Belfast Community Circus School
    • Belfast South Community Resource
  • Business representative groups
    • BCCM
    • Belfast One BID
    • Linen Quarter BID
    • Destination CQ BID
    • Victoria Square
    • Castlecourt Shopping Centre
    • Hospitality Ulster
    • Retail NI
  • Trade unions
    • USDAW
    • UNITE

Political

This project continues to receive political oversight and endorsement of measures proposed by senior officers.  Regular reports are provided to the CG&R and SP&R Committee on progress.  Feedback received at CG&R and  SP&R committee meetings acted as part of the consultation process: 

  • June’s SP&R Committee[5]
  • June CG&R Committee[6]
  • July’s SP&R Committee[7]
  • September’s SP&R Committee[8]
  • September CG&R Committee[9]
  • October CG&R Committee[10]

Statutory

The council has consulted and worked in partnership with DfC. They have funded this programme.  The council has consulted and worked in partnership with DfI.  DfC, DAERA and DfI are core funders of this programme of work. They have outlined the strategic context of this programme and programme objectives.

Disability specialist groups

IMTAC was engaged and is providing ongoing guidance on physical requirements needed for people with disabilities to access public space areas.

Online presentations and a Q&A session were held with:

  • the council’s Older People's Forum on 10 September 2020

Online presentations and Q&A sessions were held with:

  • the council’s Disability Advisory Panel on 8 October 2020
  • Equality Consultative Forum on 18 November 2020
  • RNIB Policy and end-users on 18 November 2020

Planned consultation work

  • The council has invited Carers NI to engage in the consultation
  • Ongoing engagement with IMTAC
  • Future engagement with Guide Dogs Association
  • Ongoing engagement with the City Stakeholders' Group

7.  Available evidence

What evidence or information (both qualitative and quantitative) have you gathered to inform this policy?  Set out all evidence to help inform your screening assessment.

It is important to record information gathered from various sources such as:

  • monitoring information
  • complaints
  • research surveys
  • consultation exercises from other public authorities

Disability specialist group IMTAC provided basic guidelines and inclusive design guidance to the council.[11] IMTAC asserts it is essential that measures are accessible and inclusive, designed to reflect the requirements of everyone including disabled people and older people. Their main comments were:  

  • they acknowledge that the nature of measures (under COVID-19) makes full consultation difficult. However, DfI and local councils must still consider their statutory equality duties in undertaking these initiatives
  • they recommend consultation with IMTAC, disabled people, older people and carers should be undertaken during the design and implementation of each scheme
  • factor in inclusive design principles into all elements including requirements for access to broadened footways, access to parking, access to public transport and access to retail or other premises where queuing may be required.
  • remove obstacles and clutter from footways
  • extended footways must be designed to be accessible to all disabled people ensuring a safe, step free, accessible route from the existing footways to the extended footways for all including wheelchair-users. Surfaces on the extended footway should be level and even
  • designs also need to account for any additional space that may be required to ensure that social/ physical distancing is not compromised where specific measures are introduced to ensure the safety of boarding/alighting passengers at bus stops
  • proposals for re-opening of retail outlets having access from a street with the requirement to queue outside will create additional problems for social/ physical distancing.  This must be a factor when considering access along all footways and not just those where additional width is being proposed.

Key equality issues arising from meeting with Older People’s Forum on 10 September 2020.

  • need for toilet kiosk access
  • cyclists on footpaths, public space, pedestrianised areas create a hazard for pedestrians and this should be mitigated against in project design elements
  • parking spaces for Blue Badge-holders should not be displaced when creating parklets or new public space areas, seating areas should be clutter free and accommodate older people in using mobility equipment freely (such as rollators and wheelchairs) and emergency services should be able to access areas (Brunswick Street)

The group were complimentary on the new spaces proposed.

Key equality issues arising from meeting with members of the council’s Disability Forum on 8 October 2020.

  • Enquired if the Belfast Bike’s network was closed. A council officer confirmed it was open and there was an ambition to extend network in longer term plans. 
  • Enquired if decking proposed at Brunswick St was safe under foot. A council officer confirmed it was composite decking and a survey carried out by DfI engineers confirmed that skid resistant requirements had been met.
  • Enquired about the role of safety officers in the city centre, stressing the need for people with disabilities to feel safe.
  • Enquired if there was help for retailers around enforcement, for example, non-mask wearers and how that might affect people with hidden disabilities (wary in going into shops) and businesses that don’t conform to law.  Officers confirmed a cross section of government bodies and stakeholders were working together and the council was working within its remit.   
  • Enquired about parking arrangements at parklets on the Ormeau Road and displacement of parking spaces.  Officers confirmed the road network is heavily congested and the need for better and improved public transport to put sustainable travel measures in place and encourage walking and cycling and cited the bus system upgraded in recent years to accommodate travel. 

Equality Consultative Forum on 18 November 2020

Enquired what accessibility considerations had been incorporated within a café pavement environment. Officers confirmed that separate screening had been carried out for café pavement licensing work and that learning had been applied to this project.

RNIB on 18 November 2020

  • Suggested that cyclists do not mix with pedestrians in the same space at Castle Place.  Suggested educating cyclists about not cycling on footpaths or walkways.  (A separate cycle lane will be put in place along the side of the road)
  • Suggested that builders in the city centre should be made aware of the need to seal off construction areas properly.
  • Suggested that there is reasonable width left on footpaths to enable pedestrians to walk freely and comfortably, particularly when the area is busy or crowded.
  • Suggested that vendors around Castle Place make the area is clutter free, for example, advertising boards and bins 
  • Cluttered spaces are problematic for visually impaired and blind pedestrians. In areas where planters and seating areas are proposed, it was suggested that they are well thought out, wide enough and you can easily walk and navigate on both sides.  Suggested that space should be wide enough to wheel a double buggy or walk with a guide dog comfortably.  Officers assured that seating and planters would be placed in line to mitigate against clutter.
  • Suggested that decorative lines on paving should not be used other than to distinguish different surface heights, for example, steps as it is confusing and to keep surfaces as clear as possible.
  • Suggested that solid, simple bright lighting should be used in proposed lighting schemes as twinkling lights can be disorientating at night.
  • Solid one block colouring on the ground (proposed at Union Street) is good.
  • Suggested that council officers ask Guide Dogs NI for further information and advice.

The group welcomed the plans put forward.

Good practice guides

The council will use a wide range of good practice guides and embed in practice including third party agents. External links open in a new window.

Information in guidance Guidance title
This internal document is made available to council staff managing the project and third party delivery agents Belfast City Council's Inclusive Events for Disabled people Guide
Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 Guidance to accompany The Health Protection (Coronavirus restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland 2022)
Accessibility at outdoor events guide (published by the Department for Communities) Accessibility: Outdoor spaces
Guidance for urban centres and green spaces (published by the Department for Communities) Guidance for urban centres and green spaces (COVID-19)
The impact of COVID-19 on disabled customers – some recommendations for the retail sector (published by the Equality Commission) The impact of COVID-19 on disabled customers – some recommendations for the retail sector
The impact of COVID-19 on disabled customers – some recommendations for the hospitality sector (published by the Equality Commission )   The impact of COVID-19 on disabled customers – some recommendations for the hospitality sector
Working safely and restarting work (various guides) Health and Safety Executive   Coronavirus (COVID-19): Working safely
Guide aimed at raising awareness among the wider public and service providers and offers tips on how to support blind and partially sighted people, to resume their everyday activities, as society begins to emerge from lockdown.

Social distancing: How to support people who are blind or partially-sighted to participate in everyday life

Learning from other cities

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many towns and cities are adapting to new ways of working and creating outdoor spaces to help hospitality businesses trade.  To build on good practice, the council contacted Cork City Council.  They advised plans were still evolving shortly after opening. They identified a need for ramps to give wheelchair users access to footpaths, the need for adequate space on the footpaths to help people move around freely and the need to keep issues under ongoing review with engineers.

Minutes from July’s Executive Committee at Wrexham Borough Council states that it is important that measures taken to improve indoor and outdoor trading spaces in support of businesses do not result in detriment or inconvenience for consumers and visitors who may have relevant protected characteristics.[12] 

Oxford council’s opening plans provided guidance on their website to inform disabled people about changes before arriving in the city and encouraged others to share information among their networks by email. [13] It contains information on a one-way pedestrian flow system, temporary signs in place to support social distancing, designated rest areas, removal of obstructions to the pedestrian flow, and street trading sites and an upgraded cleaning regime. 

Research and surveys 

The Belfast Agenda reiterates the importance of the city centre for the wider city’s economy and prioritise key city strategies for investment in the city. Tourism, retail and hospitality are important sectors in providing employment in the city centre.

Council officers use frontline operational intelligence to identify hotspots and further investigate data to understand and monitor footfall patterns.  Footfall figures for the city centre [14] show that recovery is slow.  Compared against the same period last year, footfall is down 43.8 per cent on the previous year.[15] 

Council officers continue to use business research intelligence including Tourism NI (Consumer Sentiment Reports and Sectorial Surveys), NISRA (Economic Output on the services sector and Economic and Labour and Market Statistics as well as research from the Ulster University Economic Policy Centre (UUEPC) on the expected decline in output on the hospitality and retail sectors in NI.

The hospitality sector is a significant employer and has been one of the most effected industries as a result of COVID-19. [16] Thousands of jobs in city centre businesses depend on a mix of commuters, students, tourists and shoppers for their footfall. Provision of public spaces is one way of aiding recovery, boosting footfall and aiding the night time economy. 

The highest claimant count rates are in Derry City and Strabane district council (7.2 per cent) and Belfast (6.6 per cent) according to NISRA’s most recent statistics.[17]There were 1,000 confirmed redundancies made for Belfast from January to September 2020.[18] 

The case for supporting businesses in the city centre to aid recovery, boost revenues and retain jobs includes this research: 

  • Given that over half the city centre's businesses are independent, the council is doing all it can to retain jobs and help businesses increase their sales
  • Belfast Chamber’s survey[19] of members indicated fewer than half of businesses in Belfast (49 per cent) are open as normal and16 per cent closed due to the most recent restrictions in October.  Forty two per cent of members reported that turnover was down by more than half, 52 per cent stated they have less than three months' cash reserves in place with 18 per cent reporting they have none.  Forty seven per cent of businesses have already made redundancies and restrictions imposed on their ability to trade.

UUEPC report[20]

This report indicates:

  • Sales assistants and retail cashiers (predominately women) have been the most severely impacted in terms of absolute number of furloughed and laid off workers, accounting for over one tenth (13 per cent) of the total. This represents almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of people working in this occupation
  • The second most affected occupational group is other elementary services occupations (bar staff, kitchen staff, waitressing staff), accounting for six per cent of the total. However, this represents over six in every ten people employed in this occupation
  • Workers on temporary contracts are typically concentrated in sectors such as education and health and social work as well as retail and hospitality, many have been severely impacted by the restrictions, influencing the higher probability of being furloughed or laid off
  • Occupations towards the bottom of the earnings spectrum such as taxi drivers, retail assistants, security staff and hospitality workers are clearly more likely to be impacted than higher paid professional workers who are more easily able to work from home. The occupations with the highest percentage of workers furloughed or laid off are also amongst the lowest paid in the labour market.
  • The sectors most impacted by the current pandemic are: retail, accommodation (hospitality) and arts and entertainment, which collectively employed 220,000 people (nearly a quarter of all jobs) prior to lockdown. These sectors have been slow to see restrictions lifted and are also most susceptible to any future lockdowns. A key challenge for government is to minimise the number of job losses.  These sectors also tend to employ a lower age demographic and people with lower levels of qualifications, and consequently could find it more challenging to move into other higher skilled employment.[21]

Unemployment: age and gender

UUEPC research found that young people have been disproportionality impacted by COVID-19, 18 per cent of those furloughed are aged under 25 years old (45 per cent of total workers under 25 years old are furloughed or laid off).

UUEPC’s report [22] indicates there are significant gender differences when job-type is considered. For example, production sectors tend to comprise predominantly male and full-time workers, whereas adversely impacted service sectors such as retail and hospitality are weighted more towards part-time and female workers.

Section 75 category Details of evidence, information and engagement
Religious belief

The 2011 Census indicates that 48.8 per cent of Belfast residents are from a Catholic community background and 42.5 per cent are from a Protestant or other Christian community background. Compared to the NI level, there is a slightly higher proportion of residents stating that they are of no religious persuasion (7.1 per cent, compared to 5.6 per cent regionally).

Political opinion

In May 2019, 60 councillors, from eight political parties were elected to Belfast City Council:

  • Sinn Fein -18
  • DUP - 15
  • Alliance - 10
  • SDLP - 6
  • Green Party - 4
  • People Before Profit - 3
  • PUP - 2
  • UUP - 2
Racial group

The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) published data on language use for Northern Ireland as a whole which shows the most commonly spoken languages in Belfast (excluding English and Irish) are Polish (1.22 per cent), Chinese (0.30 per cent), Tagalog/Filipino (0.24 per cent) and Slovak (0.17 per cent). 

There are also variations in age group with over 50 per cent of those whose main language is not English aged between 25 and 44, compared with 28 per cent of those whose main language is English.

There are 7 per cent of working-age population in Belfast who are born outside UK and Republic of Ireland, around 18,400 people (Census 2011). The 2011 Census shows that there is a higher than average proportion of people from a black and minority ethnic background in the Belfast City Council area: 3.64 per cent compared with 1.79 per cent in Northern Ireland. The largest minority ethnic communities are the Chinese community (0.79 per cent) and the Indian community (0.78 per cent).  The Resolution Foundation’s study[23] found that younger people and BAME were the greatest affected after UK job support schemes ended.  
Age

The age profile of Belfast is similar to that of the wider region. Almost one in five residents (19.23 per cent) are aged under 16, slightly lower than the Northern Ireland average (20.95 per cent). The working-age population (aged 16 to 64 years) makes up two-thirds (66.32 per cent) of Belfast residents. Older people (aged 65 and over) currently account for 14.44 per cent of the Belfast population.

The population aged 65 and over is projected to increase by 74.4 per cent to 498,500 people from mid-2014 until mid-2039, with the result that one in four people (24.7 per cent) will be in this age category.

Older people make up an increasing proportion of the population, with falling birth rates, increased life expectancy and better health contributing to this trend. In line with this, it has to be equally acknowledged that certain aspects of quality of life may be adversely affected as people get older, one of which can be sight loss and mobility restrictions.  In light of such growing statistics, there is a real urgency to ensure that policy makers take action to tackle the barriers and mitigate the effects that blind and partially sighted people face when using the streetscape and public spaces.

Older people are hospitality and retail service users, pavement café users, pedestrians and potential public space users.  It is important that the public space areas accessible to use. Older Pedestrians, may be impacted upon by restriction unfamiliar layouts and new hazards.  Furthermore, older people particularly need to be made aware of the actual change to street scape taking place via communications planning.

The age profile of blind and people with sight loss in Northern Ireland differs from that of the resident population as a whole. In general terms, they tend to be older than the general population. For example, while 21 per cent of the resident population are aged between less than one year old and 15 years old, only 4.1 per cent of blind or partially-sighted persons are in this age category. In contrast, 59 per cent of the blind or partially sighted population are aged 65 or over, compared with 15 per cent of usual residents.

There does not appear to be any issues affecting younger people.

Marital status

The 2011 Census indicates that just over one third (35.6 per cent) of all usual residents in Belfast (16 years old and over) are married – a relatively low proportion when compared with the Northern Ireland average (47.6 per cent). Belfast has a higher percentage (45.3 per cent) of residents who are single compared with the Northern Ireland average (36.1 per cent). There is also a higher than average proportion of people in Belfast who are separated (5.4 per cent compared to 4 per cent NI average) and divorced or civil partnership dissolved (6.2 per cent to 5.5 per cent NI average). Belfast also has 353 residents (0.1 per cent) who are in a registered same-sex civil partnership, 7.5 per cent are widowed or a surviving partner.

Sexual orientation

ONS report that 1.2 per cent of the NI population identify themselves as LGBT[24].  The council currently has no data specific to Belfast. However, the Rainbow project estimates that, on the basis of national and international research, one in ten people in NI would not identify as being heterosexual.

Currently there is no monitoring of data on sexual orientation.
Men and women generally

Census 2011 figures indicate that Belfast has a higher female population (52 per cent of all residents), slightly higher than the Northern Ireland average of 51 per cent. The difference is largest in the over 65 population, where 59.3 per cent of all residents are female.

Disability

Census 2011 figures show that almost one quarter (23 per cent) of Belfast residents have a long-term health problem or disability which affects their day to day activities. This is a higher proportion than the Northern Ireland average (20.1 per cent).

Over one-third of Belfast residents reported that they had a long-term condition (defined as a condition which has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months). The most common conditions were mobility or dexterity difficulty (39 per cent of all those affected), pain or discomfort (34 per cent), shortness of breath or difficulty breathing (31 per cent) and emotional, psychological or a mental health condition (23 per cent).

A total of 40,177 usual residents in Northern Ireland were reported to have a “learning difficulty, an intellectual difficulty, or a social or behavioural difficulty” which had lasted, or was expected to last, at least 12 months. This figure accounts for 2.22 per cent of the resident population.

1,187 adults with a learning disability were registered with the Belfast Trust in 2012/2013 (GP Registers) according to the 2011 Census

18,261 (5.47 per cent) of Belfast residence population has a hearing loss, blindness or partial sight loss according to the 2011 Census

Sign Language Users Department for Communities – Sign Language Framework
Approximately 3,500 BSL users and 1,500 ISL users living in Northern Ireland according to the Department for Communities. Census 2011 does not provide statistics on Sign Language users living in Belfast.

The table provides information on blindness (or partial sight loss) and other communication difficulty. Belfast has a higher percentage of residents with blindness and sight loss and communication difficulty. 

Sight loss affects the ability to receive and use information, to get out and about and travel independently, to act effectively as an informed consumer and, generally, to participate in society.

The main issues facing people with sight loss when using the streetscape include: accessible crossing points; shared space schemes which remove kerbing and tactile paving; advertising boards left on the pavement; as well as street and café furniture.

Disabled people are both pavement café users, potential public space users and pedestrians as they go about accessing goods and services in the city centre. It is important that the public space areas are accessible to use.  Pedestrians, particularly disabled people, particularly people with restricted mobility or people with sight loss or who are blind, may be impacted upon by restriction of footpaths or new hazards.

Problems are caused when items are poorly placed and managed, overused, or when the obstacle itself is hard to see or detect properly with a white cane. In these cases, street furniture and tables can become a hazard and increase the risk of significant collisions that result in injury.

Disabled people need to be made aware of actual changes to city streetscapes through the council’s communications plan.

Dependants

The 2011 Census shows that 28.58 per cent of households in Belfast include dependent children, compared with the Northern Ireland average of 33.86 per cent.  

There are 34,464 households with at least one child. Also, 42 per cent of adult carers are in employment, 6 per cent are self-employed full time or part-time. We do not have statistics on how many carers are in Belfast. But we know that one in eight residents in NI is a carer, which implies around 40,826 people in Belfast.  

The Belfast City Council Residents' Survey 2014, reported that 32.3 per cent of the population have dependants or caring responsibilities.

There is no monitoring data on dependants. However, those with dependants may experience greater barriers to participation. People with dependants will be public space users and the space needs to be accessible. They will also be pavement café-users and pedestrians as they go about their businesses in accessing goods and services in the city centre. Pedestrians, with dependants either younger or older buggies may be impacted by restriction of footpath space and new hazards.  People with dependants need to be made aware of actual changes to city streets.

Blindness, sight loss or communication needs in Northern Ireland

The table provides information on blindness (or partial sight loss) and other communication difficulty. Belfast has a higher percentage of residents with blindness and sight loss and communication difficulty than other areas in Northern Ireland.

Blindness, sight or communication difficulty Belfast Northern Ireland
Number of people in Belfast % Number of people  %
People with blindness or partial sight loss 6,729 2.02 30,862 1.70
People with a communication difficulty 6,460 1.93 29,871 1.65

8. What is the likely impact (indicate if the policy impact is positive or negative) on equality of opportunity for those affected by this policy, for each of the Section 75 equality categories? What is the level of impact?

Section 75 category Details of impact Level of impact
Religious belief The creation of public spaces in all areas may have an impact on people accessing churches and places of worship particularly on a Sunday but will not likely impact the operation and access to services.  None
Political opinion 

Positive. Spaces promoted to bring together people from a wide range of backgrounds.

None
Racial group 

Positive. Spaces promoted to bring together people from a wide range of backgrounds and promote good relations in the city.

None

Age

Positive.  The needs of older people may have mobility restrictions or poor sight and this will need to be considered in light of best-practice design and management guidelines.

Outdoor seating, tables and planting should not obstruct access, be adequately spaced, adequately visible and limited to a defined area that is screened-off to prevent people, especially those with visual sight loss colliding without warning with groups of chairs or tables.  There will be a requirement to maintain a clear passage space to give access to road crossing points and access to adjoining businesses.

To help create an inclusive environment, seating, table and planters should be sufficient in number, located in accessible placeS not too distant apart and the public space surface should be non-slip.  Furniture and  fences will be suitably contrasted using paint or tape to mark them clearly.  Where there are different height levels, this should be clearly marked, to avoid trips and slips.  Pavements should be well-maintained free of obstructions and reserved for pedestrians around the perimeter of the public space areas. Outdoor safety should be promoted by good lighting. Special customer service arrangement should be provided for older people such as separate queues or counters and although the council will not have control over this area, the council can encourage business to incorporate the needs of older people in their customer care training. The space needs to incorporate signposting to toilets, railings support and maps to improve orientation.  The public realm will be actively monitored to make sure safe and appropriate routes are maintained for all users.

Disabled parking will not be disrupted, (spaces removed, reduced or inadequate access). A safe drop-off-pick-up site for disabled people near to the entrance of the public space, together with an area easily reached by public transport will be implemented and this will be included in the communications plan.

Orientation maps, signs and guides at the public space area will make everyone feel welcome and less anxious and will be incorporated into the communications plan and made available online as well as at the site.  It will mean that people can prepare in advance of visiting and create a positive customer experience.  Accessible parking, public transport and barrier-free routes into the public space areas will be marked.  Photographs or drawings of the main entrance will be incorporated and include written directions so that it is accessible for people using screen readers will be marked.  At the public space areas, a site map or floor plan will be made available in large version on display at the entrances and inform at key information points.  Signage will be made clear at emergency exit points, signage to accessible toilets.  Early engagement with disability specialist groups and their users enables a positive experience.

Minor
Marital status

No impact. Spaces promoted to bring together people from a wide range of backgrounds regardless of their marital status and therefore promote good relations in the city.

None
Sexual orientation Positive. Spaces promoted to bring together people from a wide range of backgrounds regardless of their sexual orientation and therefore promote good relations in the city None
Men and women generally  Positive. Spaces promoted to bring together people from a wide range of backgrounds among men and women in general and therefore promote good relations in the city. None
Disability

Positive.  As the project develops, it is important that measures taken to develop public space areas in support of businesses do not result in detriment or inconvenience for consumers and visitors who may have disabilities whether that be as a result of visible or non-visible disabilities, medical condition or age. Implementation of social distancing, one-way systems and ingress into pavement or pedestrianised spaces will result is some significant changes to access and layout in the city.

In keeping with the DDA, the space should not obstruct access. This will be achieved through the provision of suitable furniture, which is adequately spaced, adequately visible and limited to a defined area that is screened-off in order to prevent people, especially those with visual impairment colliding without warning with groups of chairs or tables.  Where there are different height levels, this should be clearly marked, so to avoid trips and slips. There will be a requirement to maintain a clear passage space on the footpath, and to maintain clear access to road crossing points and the access to adjoining businesses.

Consideration has been given to people who may require additional support in moving around the public space areas, the public realm will be actively monitored in this regard to ensure that safe and appropriate routes are maintained for all users.

Disabled parking will not be disrupted, (spaces removed, reduced or inadequate access). A safe drop-off-pick-up site for disabled people near to the entrance of the public space areas, together with an area easily reached by public transport will be implemented and this will be included in the communications plan.

Spaces will need to be big enough for assistance dogs to be safe, for wheelchair users to turn around, aisles uncluttered and have few hazards for people with visual or mobility impairments. Businesses will be responsible for their own toilet areas. Everyone working at the public space areas including third party contractors will be required to read the basic guidelines about interacting with deaf or disabled people in the council’s Inclusive Guide for Disabled People.  That will also include health and safety and emergency evacuation procedures include appropriate communication, direction and support for deaf and disabled people.     

Council staff and third-party contractors managing the public space areas will use the council’s Inclusive Events for Disabled People Guide. The council will assign a member of staff as an inclusion co-ordinator who will check that inclusion is built in.They will work with third party contractors managing the site. They will use the guide as a basis of good practice. The guide contains helpful planning checklists to ensure good customer service and inclusion in planning and managing the public space areas from the outset. This includes scheduling, budget, car parking, getting to the public space areas, main entrance, moving about, toilets, emergencies, quiet rooms and changing places checklists, customer access information checklist, marketing, welcome checklist, hearing support, assistance dogs checklist, enablers and PAs checklist, orientation and signage checklist.

Minor

 Dependants

Positive. Plans are being considered to take account of parents or guardians wheeling small children in buggies or prams. Consideration of the needs among this group include the provision of suitable furniture to the needs of younger children, which is adequately spaced, adequately visible and limited to a defined area that is screened-off.  There will be a requirement to maintain clear access to road crossing points and access to adjoining businesses.

The public realm will be actively monitored to ensure that safe and appropriate routes are maintained for all users. 
Minor

9.  Are there opportunities to better promote equality of opportunity for people within the Section 75 equalities categories?

Section 75 category If 'yes', provide details If 'no', provide reasons
Religious belief We will continue to review feedback from places of worship and monitoring information to consider opportunities to better promote equality of opportunity.

This is not applicable

Political opinion  We will continue to review feedback and monitoring information to consider opportunities to better promote equality of opportunity.

This is not applicable

Racial group  We will continue to review feedback and monitoring information and impacts on people from different racial groups to consider opportunities to better promote equality of opportunity.

This is not applicable

Age We will continue to review feedback and monitoring information and impacts on older people to consider opportunities to better promote equality of opportunity.

This is not applicable

Marital status We will continue to review feedback and monitoring information and impacts on people, regardless of marital status, to consider opportunities to better promote equality of opportunity.

This is not applicable

Sexual orientation We will continue to review feedback and monitoring information and impacts on people, regardless of sexual orientation, to consider opportunities to better promote equality of opportunity.

This is not applicable

Men and women generally  We will continue to review feedback and monitoring information and impacts on men and women generally to consider opportunities to better promote equality of opportunity.

This is not applicable

Disability We will continue to review feedback and monitoring information and impacts on disabled people to consider opportunities to better promote equality of opportunity.

This is not applicable

 Dependants We will continue to review feedback and monitoring information and impacts on dependants to consider opportunities to better promote equality of opportunity.

This is not applicable


10. To what extent is the policy likely to impact (positive or negatively) on good relations between people of different religious belief, political opinion or racial group? What is the level of impact? 

Good relations category Likely impact Level of impact
Religious belief

Positive

None
Political opinion  Positive None
Racial group Positive None

11.  Are there opportunities to better promote good relations between people of different religious belief, political opinion or racial group?  

Good relations category If 'yes', provide details If 'no', provide details
Religious belief This is not applicable

There are no opportunities to promote equality issues of this nature. 

Political opinion 

This is not applicable

There are no opportunities to promote equality issues of this nature. 

Racial group  This is not applicable

There are no opportunities to promote equality issues of this nature. 


Section C

Belfast City Council also has legislative obligations to meet under the Disability Discrimination Order. Questions 12 and 13 relate to these areas.

Consideration of Disability Duties

12. Does this proposed policy or decision provide an opportunity for the council to better promote positive attitudes towards disabled people?
Explain your assessment in full

Yes. While opportunities are limited, the needs of disabled people have been considered through consultation and through the policy of ongoing review of the spaces.  The council’s Inclusive Events for Disabled People Guide provides a resource to assist staff and third party delivery agents involved in the project to include the needs of disabled people and their carers in making the space accessible and enjoyable to all.  The project supports a positive attitude towards disabled people, by making sure facilities are accessible, suitably positioned and with appropriate visibility.

The policy will be reviewed and monitored to assess any issues which need reconsideration. 


13. Does this proposed policy or decision provide an opportunity to actively increase the participation by disabled people in public life?
Explain your assessment in full

Yes.  We will make sure that the needs of disabled people or their carers as customers and passers-by are met.  The policy will allow the spaces to be accessible to disabled people to enjoy and enable them to participate in café culture and city life.  This will be achieved through the provision of suitable furniture, which is adequately spaced, adequately visible and limited to a defined area that is screened-off to prevent people, especially those with visual impairment, colliding with groups of chairs or tables. There will be a requirement to maintain a clear passage space to maintain access to road crossing points and the access to adjoining businesses.

We will increase marketing activity targeted at individuals with a disability and there is potential to use individuals to feedback on proposals. 


14. Multiple identities. Provide details of data on the impact of the policy with multiple identities

People may also have a disability, be older and they may or may not be accompanied by a carer.  The needs of these groups have been detailed in earlier sections to ensure that best practice design and management guidelines are incorporated.  We will increase marketing activity targeted at individuals who have multiple identities.


15. Monitoring arrangements

Section 75 places a requirement the council to have equality monitoring arrangements in place:

  • to assess the impact of policies and services
  • to help identify barriers to fair participation
  • to better promote equality of opportunity

Outline what data you will collect in the future to monitor the impact of this policy or decision on equality, good relations and disability duties.

Equality Good Relations Disability Duties
  • Considerations to be incorporated within the design development
  • Log established to review progress or complaints
  • Social media feedback
  • Rota to check public space areas remain free of trip hazards, litter, spills, little bins or displays (third party contractors)
  • Council complaints process
  • Council press releases
  • Media feedback
  • General feedback by email, phone, letter, face-to-face or online
  • Feedback as part of consultation
  • Considerations to be incorporated within the design development
  • Log established to review progress or complaints.
  • Social media feedback
  • Rota to check public space areas remain free of trip hazards, litter, spills, little bins or displays (third party contractors)
  • Council complaints process
  • Council press releases
  • Media feedback
  • General feedback by email, phone, letter, face-to-face or online
  • Feedback as part of consultation
  • Considerations to be incorporated within the design development
  • Log established to review progress or complaints
  • Social media feedback
  • Rota to check public space areas remain free of trip hazards, litter, spills, little bins or displays (third party contractors)
  • Council complaints process
  • Council press releases
  • Media feedback
  • General feedback by email, phone, letter, face-to-face or online
  • Feedback as part of consultation

Section D

Formal record of screening decision.

Title of proposed policy or decision being screened 

DfC COVID-19 Revitalisation Programme 

I can confirm that the proposed policy or decision has been screened for:

  • equality of opportunity and good relations
  • disability duties

On the basis of the answers to the screening questions, I recommend that this policy or decision is:

On the basis of the answers to the screening questions, I recommend that this policy or decision is
Screened in 
It is necessary to conduct an equality impact assessment
Not applicable

Screened out
It is not necessary to conduct an equality impact assessment (no impacts)

Yes

 

Provide a brief note to explain how this decision was reached.

There is no adverse impact on any Section 75 group

Screened out
Mitigating actions (minor impacts)

  • Provide a brief note to explain how this decision was reached
  • Explain what mitigating actions or policy changes will now be introduced.

The council continues to learn from good practice being delivered as part of the pavement café Licensing initiative and the Primark Fire.  Learning from this project informs best practice impacting on a wide range of city centre uses, particularly for disabled people, older people, and people with dependants.  We acknowledge that disabled people, older people, their carers and people with dependants are hospitality-users, shoppers and pedestrians.


Screening assessment completed by

Name:    Sean Dolan
Date:       20 January 2021
Department:   Place and Economy


Screening decision approved by

Name: 
Date: 
Department:   

Please save the Word final version of the completed screening form and email to the Equality and Diversity Officer: equality@belfastcity.gov.uk  A link to this screening form will be provided to the council's Section 75 consultees.


For more information about equality screening, contact:

Lorraine Dennis or Lisa McKee
Equality and Diversity Unit
Belfast City Council
Belfast City Hall
Belfast
BT1 5GS
Telephone:  028 9027 0511
Email: equality@belfastcity.gov.uk

Back to contents


Footnotes

[1] Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (link opens in new window)
[2] Remote meeting of Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on Friday 19 June 2020 (link opens in new window)
[3] Remote meeting of Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on Friday 18 September 2020 (link opens in new window)
[4] Coronavirus: Exceutive approach to decision-making (PDF opens in new window)
[5] Remote meeting of Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on Friday 19 June 2020 (link opens in new window)
[6] Meeting of City Growth and Regeneration Committee on Wednesday 10 June 2020 (link opens in new window)
[7] Remote meeting of Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on Friday 31 July 2020 (link opens in new window)
[8] Remote meeting of Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on September 2020 (link opens in new window)
[9] Meeting of City Growth and Regeneration Committee on 9 September 2020 (link opens in new window)
[10] Meeting of City Growth and Regeneration Committee on 7 October 2020 (link opens in new window)
[11] Basic guidelines for the development of inclusive walking, wheeling and cycling infrastructure in response to COVID-19
[12] Wrexham Borough Council agenda document (PDF opens in new window)
[13] Oxford City Council coronavirus information (link opens in new window)
[14] BID One Retail Footfall
[15] Belfast BID One data in November 2020
[16] Pathways to recovery for the Northern Ireland economy after COVID-19 (link opens in new window)
[17] Northern Ireland Labour Market Report (PDF opens in new window)
[18] NISRA report: Redundanices (link opens in new window)
[19] Belfast Chamber survey reveals looming job crisis (link opens in new window)
[20] Labour market implications of COVID-19 - How have restrictions on work impacted different types of workers in Northern Ireland? published by UUEPC
[21] Pathways to economic recovery after COVID-19 in Northern Ireland COVID-19 Discussion Paper 3, 5 August 2020, published by UUEPC
[22] Labour market implications of COVID-19 - How have restrictions on work impacted different types of workers in Northern Ireland? published by UUEPC
[23] Resolution Foundation Jobs, Jobs, Jobs (link opens in new window)
[24] ONS (2019) Sexual identity, UK: 2017

Back to contents


 

Read aloud icon Read aloud