Official Report (Hansard)

Session: 2008/2009

Date: Thursday, 18 June 2009

Safety of Sports Grounds

18 June 2009

Members present for all or part of the proceedings:

Mr Barry McElduff (Chairperson)
Mr Francie Brolly
Lord Browne
Mr Kieran McCarthy
Mr Raymond McCartney
Mr Nelson McCausland
Mr Pat Ramsey
Mr Ken Robinson
Mr Jim Shannon

Witnesses:

Mr Paul Scott, Sport Northern Ireland
Mr Colin Watson, Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure

The Chairperson (Mr McElduff):

I welcome Colin Watson, head of the sports branch in the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL), and Paul Scott, from the Sport NI overseeing body. I will hand over to Colin and/or Paul to make an opening statement.

Mr Colin Watson (Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure):

I thank the Committee for the opportunity to brief members on the progress that has been made jointly by DCAL and Sport NI on the safe sports grounds legislation since our last presentation on 19 February 2009. At that time, the Department was represented by Hazel Campbell, who may have explained that Jack Palmer was about to retire, which is why I am here, as I have replaced Jack as head of sport. I am happy to be joined by Paul Scott, who is on Sport NI’s safe sports grounds overseeing body.

At the meeting in February, DCAL and Sport NI advised members of the actions that still had to take place to enable the remaining articles of the Safety of Sports Grounds (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 to be brought into force. In particular, they explained the initial work that had begun to identify grounds that may be designated as requiring a safety certificate from their district council.

The Committee was also advised that Sport NI was carrying out the necessary designation inspections, and expected to conclude that initial work and provide recommendations to DCAL on the designation by May 2009. The Department also indicated that it hoped to lay the relevant subordinate legislation before the Assembly as soon as possible thereafter to enable the remaining provisions of the Safety of Sports Grounds (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 to be made. The Minister also indicated that he hoped to bring a list of grounds for designation to the Committee, together with the proposals for subordinate legislation, in June.

I can confirm that Sport NI has now inspected 76 sports grounds in Northern Ireland for the purpose of designation. Of those, 59 were found to have a capacity in excess of 5,000, and therefore could, under the Order, be designated by the Department as requiring a safety certificate from their district councils. Of the grounds inspected, the Department and Sport NI identified 32 that it would be prudent, from a public-safety perspective, to consider for immediate designation. A list of those has been forwarded to the Committee for its information.

The Minister has agreed to consider the designation of the remaining venues that Sport NI has found to have a capacity in excess of 5,000 as part of the second phase designation process. The Department plans to begin that process after the remainder of the legislation has commenced. In the meantime, and in accordance with the requirements of article 27 of the Safety of Sports Grounds (Northern Ireland) Order 2006, the Department wrote to the relevant parties, ground owners, district councils, sports governing bodies, and so on to seek their comments on the proposals to designate the 32 suggested priority grounds.

We received one formal response about the grounds that were identified for designation. That response came from the GAA, which confirmed that it is generally content for the Department to proceed to designate the Gaelic grounds that are considered to be a priority. However, the association advised that it currently has no plans to bring larger games or crowds to two of the grounds, namely Glen GAC in Maghera and Ballinascreen GAC. The GAA went on to suggest that, on that basis, we might wish to reconsider the need for immediate designation of those two grounds. Following discussions with Sport Northern Ireland, we decided to include Glen and Ballinascreen in the planned second phase designation process.

No other issues have been raised by the relevant parties about the remaining list of venues that are proposed for designation. Consequently, we have prepared a draft Order to designate 30 priority grounds that have a capacity in excess of 5,000. Of those, 15 are football grounds, 14 are GAA grounds and one is a rugby ground. We propose to lay that draft Order before the Assembly in due course. As the Minister promised, the Department has submitted the necessary SL1 to the Committee confirming our intention to make a statutory rule on the designation of grounds. The designation Order, as with all other Orders and regulations that are made under the Safety of Sports Grounds (Northern Ireland) Order 2006, will be subject to negative resolution.

The Committee will be aware that we must also lay a commencement Order with the Assembly in order to commence the remaining provisions of the legislation and to enable designation. An SL1 on commencement has, therefore, been submitted to the Committee for designation. Once the subordinate legislation has been laid and approved by the Assembly, we will issue district councils and stakeholders with further guidance on a range of procedural matters. That will cover issues such as the criteria and enforcement of safety certificates, procedures for appeals, information on fees, dates of commencement etc.

Sport NI’s overseeing body is preparing the further guidance on the Department’s behalf. It will be based on similar information that is made available to the local authorities in GB. We intend to issue the guidance to councils in advance of commencing the final elements of the legislation. Therefore, the draft Order proposes that the legislation commences on 31 December 2009. The final date of commencement will be subject to all the normal statutory processes.

Following further consideration, the Department has also decided that it would be prudent to use its powers under the legislation to lay regulations in respect of two other matters. Those are the time within which clubs may bring appeals against the district council safety determination to court and the maximum fees that district councils may charge clubs for the issue, amendment, replacement and transfer of safety certificates.

We propose time frames for the issuing of appeals that mirror those that operate in GB. General safety certificates for regulated stands should be issued not later than 28 days after the date of receipt; special safety certificates not later than seven days after the date of receipt; and prohibition notices not later than 21 days after the date of notification.

The Department considers that fees that councils may charge clubs for issuing safety certificates should not exceed certain maximum limits. We have prepared a draft regulation, which sets limits in that regard. The fee for a safety certificate for a designated ground must not exceed £100; the fee for amending, replacing a safety certificate for a designated ground must not exceed £50; the fee for a safety certificate for a regulated stand must not exceed £50; and the fee for amending, replacing a certificate for a regulated stand must not exceed £25. An SL1 on appeals and fees has also been submitted to the Committee.

The Department consulted with the relevant parties on the proposals for appeals and fees. Larne Borough Council suggested that schemes should be fully cost recoverable in the long term. It indicated that it supports the proposals but suggested that we review the fees after a two-year period. We just received a late response from Derry City Council, which states that there should be a mechanism for reimbursing councils for work that has been taken forward. The Minister has undertaken to have a review after the first two years of the process. Therefore, we will look at that again.

At our last meeting, we advised that we had made a bid to the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP) to reallocate resources from other initiatives that could otherwise have been used for the multi-sports stadium. The Committee will be well aware from previous briefings on where that issue stands. We have been working to determine the allocation across the various programmes, and, as a result of the process, Sport NI has profiled an indicative spend of about £18 million across a four-year period for safety of sports grounds.

The Department is aware of the Committee’s continuing interest in progress with bringing forward proposals for public order legislation to complement the Department’s safe sports grounds initiative. That is a reserved matter, and, therefore, it is the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Office. Members will know from previous briefings that the Minister has been in ongoing discussion with Paul Goggins MP, the NIO Minister with responsibility for criminal justice, about moving the matter forward. I can confirm that, following recent correspondence, Paul Goggins has written to the Minister agreeing to publish for consultation proposals for public order legislation. He has further indicated to the Minister that he hopes to publish a paper around the end of June 2009, with consultation ending around October 2009. That is the time frame to which we are working. The Minister has since written to Paul Goggins to thank him for agreeing to take the consultation forward.

Mr McCarthy:

Thank you for your presentation, Colin. I am glad to hear that Paul Goggins will be taking the consultation forward because I have been chasing that matter.

Why have only 32 of the 59 grounds identified been recommended for designation under the Safety of Sports Grounds (Northern Ireland) Order 2006?

Mr Watson:

We did not want councils to have an onerous burden, so we have divided it into two phases. The first phase will tackle those grounds that we perceive to be the greatest risk; those with the largest numbers of spectators who attend on a regular basis. Therefore, rather than trying to do everything at once, the priority cases are being looked at initially. Once those are done, we will move on to the second phase grounds.

Mr P Ramsey:

You are welcome, and I wish you good luck in your new post as head of sports.

I have been very critical of the Department in the past, but, I want to acknowledge the amount of proactive work that is now taking place. When do you envisage that the guidance notes and training packages will be sent to district councils, which will have the overall responsibility for licensing and certifying, and to other stakeholders?

The finance that is involved is most important. You have indicated that Sport Northern Ireland expects to spend £6·5 million on safety through to 2011. Will that amount be enough to enable work on the 32 grounds that are named to reach a level appropriate for designation? In my constituency, I have seen the effectiveness that safety can bring to grounds. I was at Celtic Park recently and a good job has been done at that stadium. However, other grounds leave a lot to be desired. The Brandywell is one of those, and works are ongoing to rectify that.

The safety of spectators is important to clubs. We know the difficulty of compromises to safety. Clubs are depending on modernisation programmes to ensure that not only the safety but the comfort of spectators is improved. The Brandywell, for example, will probably benefit from the funding. However, physically, you would not see £1 million if it were to be spent on the Brandywell. Therefore, fans who attend matches there will not be able to see where the money has been spent, and they will wonder what, in the name of God, it was spent on, because, ultimately, they will not benefit from that investment. Are there any funding opportunities in the Programme for Government to modernise spectator accommodation at the Brandywell as well? Every member could name sports grounds in their constituencies that need that sort of work.

Mr Watson:

I shall deal with funding issues, and I will leave it to Paul to give guidance on the timeline. As members will be aware, this is not a brand new programme. We have spent a substantial amount of money — approximately £12 million — on an interim safe sports grounds scheme, and we are expecting to spend a further £18 million in the next two or three years, so quite a bit of money has been earmarked for the programme. It is a safety of sports grounds programme, so we must ensure that grounds are safe and in a fit state for people to attend.

Aside from that, Sport NI runs a number of other funding programmes to facilitate ground improvements in clubs, such as the Places for Sports: Surfaces programme. So, there are a number of other programmes, as well as the safe sports grounds scheme, to which clubs can apply for funding. Even under the safe sports grounds programme, we recognise that bringing grounds up to meet certain health and safety standards involves carrying out ground improvements as well as safety work; they come hand in hand.

Mr P Ramsey:

That is relevant because, if public money is to be spent on sports grounds, the opportunity to modernise and improve them must be maximised. Will Sport Northern Ireland and the Department proactively ensure that those funding opportunities are maximised as well?

Mr Watson:

That is not a problem; we will maximise all the funding opportunities that we have. However, in these circumstances, we are primarily concerned with spectator safety. Therefore, under the stadia safety programme, our first priority must be to make sports grounds safe.

Mr Paul Scott (Sport Northern Ireland):

We are carrying out quite a bit of work, involving a number of stakeholder groups, on guidance materials. We are preparing training packages for district councils, clubs and their governing bodies, and statutory consultees, including the PSNI and the Fire and Rescue Service. Some of those training packages will probably be delivered next August. The police and the Fire and Rescue Service have asked for their training to take place in September 2009, and we will facilitate that request.

In addition, we are working to provide templates for safety certificates, which will not just consist of an A4 page, but are likely to be 80 to 90 pages long, covering all aspects of safety, including structural safety and safety management. We are also undertaking work on other templates, such as appeal forms, to make the system user friendly for all concerned. Furthermore, we are working with SkillsActive and two colleges of further and higher education to prepare and deliver training packages for grounds personnel, including safety officers and stewards.

Mr McCartney:

Given that other funding is available for buildings and services and that ground owners can also provide funds, when you meet those owners to present a safety package, do you advise them that it might be wiser for them to wait? Rather than spending £1 million to upgrade the safety without changing any physical attributes of the ground, would you advise them to wait until they get three or four applications together, and then make the applications at once?

Mr Scott:

Given that the programmes are operated separately, and have different assessment criteria, we do give advice, but we generally do not ask people to hold back, particularly on safety upgrades, because it is important that the safety issues are addressed as soon as possible. However, we do give advice on other schemes or programmes that may assist in the delivery of the sport to the local communities.

Mr McCartney:

If the owner of a ground is tendering for a £5 million package, which is split over four segments, they might get better value than if there were four separate tenders. To bring a JCB to the ground for each of the four elements of the project will cost four times as much.

Mr Scott:

I appreciate what you are saying, but there are different assessment criteria and scoring methods. As club A may find that there is a big safety need for spectators, its pitch need may be trumped by a club down the road or in another part of the Province. Given the profile of spending, it is important that we encourage clubs and ground owners to take the opportunities as they arise, but safety must be a priority. There is no point in waiting two or three years so that the pitch can be sorted out as well while a wall is sitting at a faulty angle.

Mr McCartney:

If, for example, they apply for £800,000 for safety upgrades, does Sport NI stand in the way of the owner contributing another £1 million to carry out other projects, and to co-ordinate the work?

Mr Scott:

Absolutely not.

Mr McCausland:

It is a minor point, but Larne Borough Council raised the possibility of costs eventually being recoverable. I appreciate the fact that there will be variation, and that some council areas probably contain more grounds than others, but is there any sense of what the cost might possibly be to councils? I would have thought it would be fairly minimal.

Mr Scott:

As there will be a need for some officer training, it is likely to cost a few thousand pounds. However, at present, Belfast City Council, for example, is carrying out inspections at Windsor Park, Casement Park and Ravenhill on a regular basis under health and safety and building control legislation. The reason the Safety of Sports Grounds (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 was introduced was because of the ineffectiveness of that process. The huge resource implications of trying to improve safety using the existing legislation will more than offset the costs involved in issuing a safety certificate. In many ways, some councils ought to be using fewer resources, certainly in the long term.

Mr Watson:

A couple of thousand pounds is minimal compared to the overall budget of a council, especially when used for spectator safety and the safety of the public. It should also be taken into account that it will be used to train officials, who will need to be trained only once, and they can then go on to train others.

Mr McCausland:

I appreciate that. I thought that for most councils there would be a limited number of grounds, and it would involve a limited amount of officers’ time and so on.

Mr Scott:

In addition, Sport Northern Ireland is a resource for the councils. We will be there to assist and carry out joint inspections with the council officials to try to get the safety right.

Mr Watson:

In any event, the Minister has offered to consider the issue again in a couple of years when the process gets underway. There is no point in setting such things in stone. We should wait until the process is embedded and we can see how it is working. Then we will have a better view of the impact.

Mr K Robinson:

Two issues concern me. The first is the standardisation of training across the Province. Perhaps in the greater Belfast area it might be easier to get staff from the council and the other bodies trained. That could perhaps be carried out by one or two agencies. However, if it is spread throughout the Province, how can the level of training be standardised? Before you answer that, the other issue that concerns me is that there is a framework emerging, which is necessary. We are involving the councils and other agencies, but the one missing link is the spectator. How aware is the spectator of their own safety, and of their responsibility for the safety of others in the ground. Those of us who have been in a ground have experienced the great rush out at the end of a match or the great flurry at half-time. The stewards are effective in many cases, but how can spectators in an enjoyable situation be made more aware that they have a contribution to make towards their own safety and others around them? Is an element of that built into the programme?

Mr Scott:

We are working with the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, which has officers in the 26 councils, to deliver training to all areas. We are also working with the Chartered Institute of Building.

Mr K Robinson:

Will that ensure that standardisation, because consistency is very important?

Mr Scott:

Yes; that will ensure consistency. Again, one of the purposes of Sport Northern Ireland’s overseeing function is to ensure a level playing field across Northern Ireland.

With regard to spectator involvement in safety, when certificates are issued a safety advisory group will be in place for each venue. Those groups will be chaired by the district council and will involve the PSNI, the Fire and Rescue Service, the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, voluntary agencies, but also spectator groups. In addition, Sport Northern Ireland delivered a presentation last Saturday to supporter groups at an IFA function at Grosvenor House. We are trying to work through the governing bodies to address safety and to spread the message right down to spectators.

Mr K Robinson:

One problem at present is that if there is, for example, a “big two” football match in Belfast, and there is a media announcement that there will be a limit on spectator numbers, there is then a panic over tickets and ticket arrangements, with people not being bothered to queue for tickets. On some occasions, just a bald announcement by the PSNI or whoever of a spectator limit causes people to groan and decide not to go to the game. Instead of encouraging sport and ensuring safety, people are being driven away.

Mr Scott:

Generally, information is given to the media, but the media are sometimes selective in what they print. However, one of Sport Northern Ireland’s overseeing functions will be to promote an ethos of safety. When this legislation was introduced in GB, many said that it would be the death knell for spectator sports. However, attendances have actually increased by 87%.

Mr K Robinson:

Do you think that we will see a similar uplift here?

Mr Scott:

We really should.

Mr K Robinson:

I hope so.

Mr Scott:

When a ground in GB is refurbished, an increase of between 28% and 40% in spectator numbers would be expected over five years. In addition, based on population size, in comparison with GB, about only 20% of people in Northern Ireland go to watch professional soccer. We hope to engage the armchair fans and get them out to enjoy live sport rather than watch it from the comfort of their own home.

Mr K Robinson:

That is very helpful, because sometimes the “them-and-us” syndrome exists: there is officialdom and then there is the supporter who pays his money at the turnstile. If the two can be married, it will be is a win-win situation for everyone.

Mr Scott:

Absolutely. I could give you a multitude of statistics, but —

Mr K Robinson:

No, thank you.

Mr P Ramsey:

You are very good at that. [Laughter.]

Mr Brolly:

We are now very familiar with the term “safety of sports grounds”, but what constantly emerges is the issue of spectator safety. What other potential risks do you look for when you examine a sports ground?

Mr Scott:

We look at two issues. The first is the “p” factor — the physical layout of the ground, the condition and layout of the viewing decks, and how they fit into the operation of the ground. We also look at safety management issues, which includes the quality of the stewarding and safety officers. Each has an equally important part to play in delivering safety and ensuring that fixtures are conducted safely.

Mr Brolly:

That still refers to general spectator safety. What about the players, their facilities, the grounds, and so on?

Mr Scott:

The Safety of Sports Grounds (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 really only deals with spectator safety. However, there is a variety of other initiatives by Sports NI, including the Places for Sports: Surfaces programme, which will look at the changing accommodation and playing arrangements. That is a different programme, but we talk to each other.

Mr Watson:

It is fair to say that traditionally, the safety of the people participating has been a higher priority for clubs than for the spectators. Arrangements for the safety of the participants are usually much better, and are not really a problem.

Mr Shannon:

Thank you for your presentation. I apologise for being late, I was filling in a disability living allowance form this morning, which took a little longer than I had expected.

Mr P Ramsey:

What time did you start that?

Mr Shannon:

I started that very early this morning. It was not for me; it was for one of my constituents.

I have asked this question before, Paul, but I will revisit it. It is about the fact that so much money was handed back in the June monitoring round. A figure of £2 million was handed back, and £272,000 was unable to be allocated towards safety of sports grounds. Why can schemes not be put in place to take advantage of that money, rather than handing it back?

I do not know how other people run their businesses, but in my business, if there was some money that had to be spent, I would make sure that it was spent in that year. I know that criteria and conditions have to be met, but you must know at an early stage that the money is not going to be used. In that case, can you not upgrade your scheme or business plan, or do whatever is necessary to take advantage of that, rather than handing the money back and losing it? That is what is happening.

Mr Watson:

It has to be borne in mind that there is a departmental pot for capital programmes. The Department considers how much money has been obtained through the various monitoring and bidding rounds, and considers the total pot of money that it can spend across all the capital programmes. We have to ensure due process and accountability for the public funding that we spend, and try to ensure that we are getting best value for money from that public funding. Occasionally, some programmes slip. Some are accelerated, and we do our best to use the money from the programmes that are slipping to put in to the programmes that can be accelerated. The Department has done that. Some £2 million was released back into the system, and £272,000 of additional money was redirected to the safety of sports grounds budget, but that was simply because of the current state of play, and what stage those various programmes are at.

The Department wants to put the money in over the comprehensive spending review period and beyond. We want to maximise the use of that funding, and spend what needs to be spent on the safety programme. We may not spend it this year; however, we will spend some next year and some the year after that, but the money that goes into these various schemes is phased.

Mr Shannon:

If you hand £2 million back to DFP, you do not get it back.

Mr Watson:

I think that it has been stated that some of the money that we gave back had been taken out of the money that had been allocated for a stadium at the Maze. Some £16 million of the money that was initially available for the stadium was reallocated into sport. That will have to be paid back in future years. We handed £2 million back because we could not spend all of the money.

Mr Shannon:

With respect, I am not entirely convinced. Is it not humanly possible to get our minds around this? Halfway through the year, you must know that some of your capital projects are not going to go ahead. If the willpower is there, you should be able to manage that. I am a great believer in positive thinking. If you have that, you will make things happen. If you decide that a project is not going to happen, you must try to get another scheme in its place. In the past that has not happened; in the future we would like it to happen. Can you tell us, and convince us, that this will not happen again?

Mr Watson:

We have actually brought forward an additional £16 million this year.

Mr Shannon:

Yes, because the stadium at the Maze has not gone ahead.

Mr Watson:

That is the point. A project has not gone ahead, so we reallocated £16 million. There is only so much that can be used for the programmes that have been planned and in place over a two or three year period.

Mr Shannon:

We have a list of schemes that are not going ahead, and I want to know why that is.

The Chairperson:

Are you concerned about a culture of underspend in the Department?

Mr Shannon:

That is exactly the point that I am making. With respect to the officers, they can play around with it whatever way they want. They can play ping-pong with it, but it does not take away from the issue.

Mr Scott:

Sport Northern Ireland works with a number of clubs at present to work up schemes so that, when funding becomes available, they are ready to roll. We are working with those clubs at present so that when money becomes available, we can put it to good use.

Mr McCartney:

My question is about something that Paul said earlier. You said that the number of spectators had increased from between 28% and 40%.

Mr Scott:

In England, when a new ground has been built or a ground has been substantially refurbished, over a five-year period, an increase in spectator attendance of between 28% and 40% can be expected.

Mr McCartney:

Is that across all sports?

Mr Scott:

The work in England has been with soccer and, to a lesser extent, rugby and cricket. Gaelic is not a big spectator sport in Great Britain.

Mr McCartney:

Were those figures based on grounds of soccer clubs in the Premiership?

Mr Scott:

No. It applies right down to the feeder leagues. You may ask where the increase has come from. Prior to the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, ladies were only 1% or 2% of those attending fixtures. That figure has now increased to more than 34%. The percentage of children attending has also increased, because parents perceive the grounds to be safe and family friendly environments.

I imagine that such increases will apply to all sports across Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, we have no statistics for Gaelic sports. However, we can see no reason why it should not apply to them.

Lord Browne:

At the beginning of the year, Committee members had the opportunity to visit three of the major sporting stadia in Belfast: Windsor Park, Casement Park and Ravenhill. I was shocked at some of the health and safety aspects that were not being addressed. At Windsor, there are still wooden stands with electrics below, which is a possible fire hazard. At Casement Park, turnstiles still open onto a busy road. A huge crowd could come out of the stadium and get knocked down. At Ravenhill, the stand is allegedly still full of asbestos. That was some time ago. Have any of those shortcomings been addressed or are they likely to be addressed in the near future? I do not want to sit around this table in nine months’ time talking about the same issues, such as health and safety at major sports grounds in Belfast. What progress has been made on health and safety at our sporting stadia over the past few years? I want to see those issues addressed quickly.

Mr Watson:

Some remedial work will be undertaken at Windsor Park this year, I hope. I am not sure that the wooden stands will be tackled. However, other issues have a bearing on Windsor Park and the future of international football in Northern Ireland, as members are aware. Decisions on the future provision of stadia for the three sports — football, rugby and Gaelic — will be taken this year. The outcome of that will suggest what needs to be done at Windsor Park. In the interim, we are considering the minimum amount of the real high-priority improvements that need to be made at Windsor Park. From the press, members will be aware that Casement Park is one of the options that the GAA have put forward for a major stadium in Northern Ireland. We hope to know by the end of the year what will happen with that and what stadium will be produced for Gaelic games. As members know, refurbishment work is being undertaken at Ravenhill, which will address the majority of the safety issues there.

Lord Browne:

Along with Jim, I am worried that the money to do that will not be released.

The legislation applies to grounds that have capacities of 5,000 or more. Some smaller grounds have stands that I might consider to be in a dangerous condition and which could lead to injuries to members of the public. Do councils inspect smaller grounds and stands? I am concerned about the health-and-safety issues relating to such grounds.

Mr Scott:

Some smaller grounds fall outside the 5,000 capacity net. A stand that has a capacity of 500 or more is termed a “regulated stand”. The operators of that venue must apply for a safety certificate from the district council for that stand and the related access and egress arrangements to it. Therefore, that is covered by legislation. In addition, district councils have had the power for some time to issue a prohibition notice that limits the capacity at any structure or part of the ground where there is a serious risk. That can apply to any sporting venue, whether it is golf, motorbike racing or anything else.

Mr P Ramsey:

Was the briefing paper prepared by the Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure or was it prepared by Committee staff?

The Committee Clerk:

It was prepared by the Department and Sport NI.

Mr P Ramsey:

I do not usually get hot and bothered about names, but I thought that procedures and protocols were supposed to be followed on names. I notice that the Department has changed the name of Derry City Council to “City Council of Londonderry”. I do not mind the use of “ Londonderry” in the context of, for example, Londonderry Chamber of Commerce. However, it is quite wrong for the Department to change the name in this instance. I understand that, I if I were to address a letter to the Department and gave the address as Londonderry, it should be respected. Why did the Department change the name of the council in the briefing paper?

Mr Watson:

Sorry, I thought that City Council of Londonderry was a proper name for the council.

Mr McCartney:

No, it is Derry City Council.

Mr Watson:

I will take that back and note that with the Department.

Mr P Ramsey:

I am not getting hot and bothered, but that has also happened in the Department’s response to questions for written answer.

The Chairperson:

OK. That point has been noted.

I thank Colin Watson and Paul Scott for their engagement.

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