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					      MINUTES OF REGENERATION AND TOURISM OVERVIEW AND
          SCRUTINY COMMITTEE MEETING – 20TH JULY 2006

Present:

Councillor Mrs Callow (in the Chair)

Councillors

Brown                Mrs Greenhalgh      Mrs Taylor
Dunne                Hardy


In attendance:

Mr S Weaver, Chief Executive
Mrs J Potter, Strategic Director for Tourism and Regeneration
Mrs J Seddon, Director of Tourism
Mr S Burd, Managing Director for Blackpool Transport Services Ltd.
Miss G Atkinson, Business Services Directorate



Also Present:

Councillor Collett, Cabinet Member for Tourism and Regeneration
Ms E Dupres, Service Manager, Housing and Social Services Directorate (observing)

1.   DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Councillor Hardy, as a member of the Blackpool Transport Board, expressed a personal
declaration of interest for Item 6 ’Blackpool Transport Services Ltd - Bus Services’ and
Item 7 ’Blackpool Transport Services Ltd - Tram Services’ and would therefore not
participate in discussions for those items.

2.   MINUTES 15th June 2006

Resolved: That the minutes of the meeting held on 15th June 2006 be signed by the
Chairman as a correct record.

3.   DECISIONS TAKEN BY THE EXECUTIVE AND CABINET MEMBER

The Committee considered the decisions taken since the last meeting of the Committee
by the Executive and Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Tourism.

Resolved: That the decisions be noted.

4.   FORWARD PLAN

The Committee considered the Forward Plan, Summary of Key Decisions, for the
Regeneration and Tourism Directorate.

Resolved: That the decisions be noted.
      MINUTES OF REGENERATION AND TOURISM OVERVIEW AND
          SCRUTINY COMMITTEE MEETING – 20TH JULY 2006

5.   MASTERPLAN UPDATE

Mr S. Weaver, Chief Executive, and Mrs J. Potter, Strategic Director for Tourism and
Regeneration, provided the Committee with an update on recent developments in
relation to the Blackpool Masterplan and a summary of each of the three main projects:
Talbot Gateway, Conference and Casino Quarter, and the Seafront.

Each individual project was undertaken by a designated project group consisting of both
ReBlackpool and Council employees, who would provide progress updates to the
ReBlackpool Programme Board on a monthly basis. The Seafront scheme, which
contained several separate complicated projects, would be allocated a Project Manager
in the near future.

With regard to the Talbot Gateway project, it was reported that significant progress had
been made with the scheme and that three developers for the redevelopment contract
had been short-listed to Amec, Carillion/Richardson Partnership and St Modwen. The
developers had received a planning brief on 14th July 2006, and were now required to
provide detailed proposals for the projects, in order for a preferred developer to be
selected by the end of December 2006.

A key consideration of the Talbot Gateway scheme concerned the costs associated with
the acquisition of properties in the area, which may result in gap funding. This would be
assessed more effectively in December 2006 upon negotiations with the selected
development partner. A correct amount of car parking spaces would also need to be
retained by the Council to ensure that it could service both the Talbot Gateway and the
town centre areas.

In addition, the Committee were informed that Northern Rail had agreed to meet with
ReBlackpool to discuss proposals for the Blackpool North Station.

In relation to the Conference and Casino Quarter, it was reported a planning brief would
be submitted by ReBlackpool in the week commencing 24th July 2006, with the Planning
application to follow in early August 2006. The Casino Advisory Panel (CAP) would be
making an unannounced visit to Blackpool in early August 2006 to assess the
redevelopment site, which would be followed by a Examination in Public (EiP) in early
September 2006.

Members were informed that the Seafront project consisted of several separate projects,
including reconstruction works to the sea defence wall, and improvements to the public
realm, tramway, and illuminations. The scheme had made significant progress,
particularly with the central coast protection works, which had become a visitor attraction
itself, and was working well in partnership with the contractors, Burse.

It had been recently confirmed that the Department for Transport (DfT) had committed
funding for the first two years of the tram track replacement bid, due to commence in
November 2006. Funding for the full ten-year bid had yet to be confirmed.

It was reported that the Social Inclusion project had been established as a
complimentary part of the Masterplan to ensure that the redevelopment provided a
significant benefit to the local community.
      MINUTES OF REGENERATION AND TOURISM OVERVIEW AND
          SCRUTINY COMMITTEE MEETING – 20TH JULY 2006

Following the presentation, a number of questions were raised by the Committee. With
regard to the need for gap funding for the Talbot Gateway project, it was reported that
this would be obtained from the Regional Development Agency (RDA) on a grant basis.

Concerning the land that would be acquired in the Conference and Casino Quarter,
Members were advised that the Council’s ownership and use of the land had yet to be
confirmed, and had a variety of options which would be negotiated with the selected
development partner.

With regard to the Casino Advisory Panel’s Examination in Public (EiP), it was reported
that the Panel had invited written submissions to be forwarded by 28th June 2006, which
would be considered for use at the public enquiry and determine who would be invited to
speak. All Councillors were welcome to attend the public enquiry.

In response to a query regarding Rigby Road, Members were informed that this project
fell within the Masterplan scheme, although it was envisaged that redevelopment would
commence in 7-8 years time. Companies with any expressions of interest in the area
had been invited to forward their ideas to the Council for consideration.

Concerns were raised regarding the impact of the redevelopment works on the
businesses within the vicinity of the Hounds Hill shopping centre, and Members were
informed that although disruptive, ReBlackpool would endeavour to minimise the effect
on local businesses. Retaining Blackpool’s tourism trade during redevelopment was a
major focus for ReBlackpool, and overcoming any challenges caused by disruption due
to construction works. A bid had been submitted to the Regional Development Agency
(RDA) to allow a number of festivals and events to take place in Blackpool, along with a
’Join the Party’ marketing campaign, to retain visitors until the completion of the
Masterplan. Car parking availability would be significantly affected by the redevelopment
of the Central station site, and it was important that temporary spaces were allocated for
visitors and town centre shoppers.

In addition, proposals regarding the Resort Casino aimed to create insufficient hotel
room availability on site for new and returning visitors, to encourage outward spending
and ensure that local hotels and guest houses would benefit and gain extra business
from the scheme.

Concerns were also raised regarding a recent influx of Eastern European workers who
had gained seasonal employment in the town, and whether employment vacancies
generated by the redevelopment would be granted to local residents. The Committee
was advised that a number of courses to improve the employability skills of local
residents would be available to ensure that they had a good level of competency to
therefore gain the future vacancies that would arise. ReBlackpool were also working with
local schools and colleges to raise employment aspirations and encourage
qualifications.

In addition, if successful with the Resort Casino licence, one of the criteria in the
selection of the Casino operator would be dependant on their proposals to ensure that
local residents would benefit from the job opportunities created.

It was hoped that a Resort Casino would encourage a different style of customer to the
      MINUTES OF REGENERATION AND TOURISM OVERVIEW AND
          SCRUTINY COMMITTEE MEETING – 20TH JULY 2006
town, other than the stag and hen parties, although the rationale behind establishing a
retail centre around the Talbot Gateway was to open up and increase the size of the
town centre, and therefore provide some space between stag and hen parties, visiting
families and local shoppers.

Resolved: That the update report be noted.

Background Papers: None

6.   BLACKPOOL TRANSPORT SERVICES LTD - BUS SERVICES

Mr S. Burd, Managing Director of Blackpool Transport Services Ltd, presented the report
on Bus Services that had been distributed prior to the meeting.

With regard to vehicle investment, it was reported that Blackpool Transport was currently
on track to achieve 100 per cent compliance prior to the government deadline for all
vehicles to be wheelchair accessible. In 2007, the company intended to purchase low-
floor mini buses for the Line 2 service and a number of single deck vehicles for the Line
11 service. Blackpool Transport had also introduced a number of discount fare initiatives
which had helped to increase bus patronage in the last few years, including the Metro
Saver day ticket, family tickets and the £2 maximum single fare.

The company had managed to restrict fare increases to one per annum, although these
had to be above the rate of inflation due to increased operating costs and the significant
rise in petrol prices.

The company had managed to reduce accidents and lower insurance premiums through
putting all drivers on a defensive driver training course, and undertaking a minimum of
one check per year on all driver’s driving standards, which was increased to three to four
check per year for new drivers. In addition, the company was putting all of its staff
through a driver National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) programme, and to date 30
drivers had achieved this qualification.

Resolved: That the report be noted.

Background Papers: None

7.   BLACKPOOL TRANSPORT SERVICES LTD - TRAM SERVICES

Mr S. Burd, Managing Director for Blackpool Transport Services Ltd, presented the
report on Tram Services that had been distributed prior to the meeting.

With regard to the high staff turnover during the summer of 2003, Members were
advised that many of the drivers had returned to their previous employment or moved to
other areas in the country, largely affected by Blackpool’s high transient population.

It was reported that recent legislation introduced by Her Majesty’s Railway Inspectorate
(HMRI) had significantly effected the company’s dual use of employees for bus and tram
driving. Due to a number of minor accidents, the Inspectorate had asked the company to
introduce a system where drivers needed to operate a tram shift at least every 2-4
weeks in order to maintain a standard of competency and awareness of action that
       MINUTES OF REGENERATION AND TOURISM OVERVIEW AND
           SCRUTINY COMMITTEE MEETING – 20TH JULY 2006
should be taken in unexpected situations. Blackpool Transport had introduced a scheme
whereby 120 drivers were competent to drive a tram, which had been increased to 150
during the summer season. If additional drivers were required, these would need to
attend a 2-3 day refresher course.

With regard to the speed limit between Waterloo Road and Manchester Square, the
Committee was informed that due to remedial works to the track, the northbound side
limit had now been raised to 12mph, and that the 4mph speed limit on the southbound
section was still in place. The normal tram speed limit was 16mph. In relation to this, the
company had recently received confirmation that the Department for Transport (DfT) had
granted £11.8m for the first two years of funding towards the emergency replacement of
tram track and electrical infrastructure.

Mr S. Burd informed the Committee that Blackpool Transport’s increased profit and
turnover were largely due to the introduction and expansion of the Metro Coastlines bus
network, and more effective matching of tram output with actual demand, particularly at
quieter times.

A question was raised regarding the Tramway Upgrade Bid that had been rejected. Mr
Burd reported that the Council was working closely with Lancashire County Council and
Blackpool Transport to explore other lower cost tram options that would be more suitable
for Blackpool. Although the low-floor Eastern European vehicles were a cheaper option,
costing approximately £1-1.2m each, they had a low number of seats allowing for
increased standing, which would be disadvantageous to visitors wishing to clearly see
the town during the day, and the illuminations during the evening.

Resolved: That the report be noted.

Background Papers: None

8.   DATE OF NEXT MEETING

The date of the next meeting was noted as Thursday 5th October 2006, commencing at
5.00 p.m. in Committee Room A.




Chairman

(The meeting ended at 4:30 pm)

Any queries regarding these minutes, please contact:
Georgina Atkinson, Scrutiny Officer
Tel: 01253 477016
E-mail: georgina.atkinson@blackpool.gov.uk

				
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