Council working with contractors to promote social clauses

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Derry City and Strabane District Council have been working with developers to develop social clauses aimed at promoting the inclusion of local people in building contracts.

Sinn Fein Councillor Tony Hassan had raised the issue at the January meeting of the Council’s Planning Committee.

Colr. Hassan had questioned whether there was any legislation in place or pending or any other measures which would ensure local tradespeople such as builders and joiners would be looked upon favourably for employment when contracted works are undertaken. Speaking about social clauses, he asked: “Have we a policy on that, that it should happen?”

Head of Planning at Derry & Strabane District Council Maura Fox said that in terms of the construction of housing, she was not aware of potential changes in legislation.

She also added that such social clauses would not be an issue directly handled by the Planning team.

The committee was also told by a planning officer at the meeting that through the Council’s Business and Culture Department, the council has a policy to promote social clauses in any of its own capital projects throughout the city and district.

She added that the Business and Culture Team have done “an awful lot of work” with developers locally on this issue and that this has resulted in a toolkit developed with input from the Strategic Investment Board which is being used across Northern Ireland.

The planning officer said that the wider potential for Planning officers to add to that was something that could be raised at a regional level.

She said a report on these issues will be compiled in conjunction with the Business and Culture team and brought before the committee at a later date.

Ulster Unionist Party Councillor Derek Hussey said: “I totally concur and support the remarks reference to the social clause.”

He added that the former Strabane District Council had produced a paper of such social clauses prior to the merger of the two councils.

Councillor Hassan spoke on the same issue several days ago. he said he hoped more local trades people will be given opportunities to work on building projects during 2017.

The Sinn Féin Housing spokesperson welcomed the amount of new builds of social and private housing planned in the city for 2017 from various Housing Associations and building contractors.

He commented: “Lots of new building work in the private and social sector will happen this year in Derry, so I feel it’s very important to ask will there be enough social clauses used by the developers in all of the building work.

“This would take people in the building trade off the dole and give them work.

“One of the complaints I would receive as a councillor is that developers are not using the social clauses as much as they should be.

“I hope it’s something that building contractors will take on board,” he concluded.