St Helena : St Helena EXCO REPORT 45 – 16th March 2010
Submitted by Saint Helena Herald (Public Relations Information Office) 21.03.2010 (Article Archived on 04.04.2010)
At today’s EXCO Cllr .Isaac and Cllr .Cranfield stood in for Cllrs. Tara Thomas and Mervyn Yon who are both away on government business.
EXCO REPORT 45 – 16th March 2010
At today’s EXCO Cllr .Isaac and Cllr .Cranfield stood in for Cllrs. Tara Thomas and Mervyn Yon who are both away on government business. We began as ever with the Open Session and were joined by David Taylor the Physical and Urban Planner as we considered the passing of a Special Warrant related to the Tourism Development Plan. This plan will spend £100,000 of DFID money that is additional to the existing DAPM agreement and it is proving to be a very welcome addition to our funds enabling us to do many things that have been needed for some time. Among such things are: much improved facilites and help for yachties, substantial improvements to the Main Street, including a major tidying up of the Run, much improved signage and the opening up of High Knoll Fort at last. Although much of this work is intended to make the island a more attractive place for tourists, the benefit of these improvements will be enjoyed by all those who live here.
We next reviewed the Order Paper for the formal Legislative Council due to start this Friday.
Those of you who attend LEGCO as spectators, or listen on the radio, will remember that under the old constitution all questions used to be asked by the non EXCO Members. Now however there are eight Committee Chairmen and so LEGCO is no longer a confrontational exercise between the five of EXCO and the 7 remaining. Any Member may ask a question of any Committee so there will be a wider spread of questions and because our Committees now cover all aspects of government, there are many new subjects that can be addressed.
The annual budget session on Friday will begin with statements by all eight portfolio holders about their particular responsibilities. There are twelve motions for debate, and thirty three questions to be answered over the three days of the Council. In looking through the subjects that will be discussed it seems that there are few island issues left out!
Then I presented a paper on where we are up to with regard to the RMS in the light of ideas and comments made by Sue Wardell of DfID when she was with us recently. Sue proposed that we concentrate the ship on bringing more tourists to the island and in order to give more flexibility in doing so, she said that DfID felt that we should no longer regard the RMS as the only ship capable of transporting freight to the island. The offer she made was that even though this may cost DfID more in subsidy, as long as benefits and economic growth were being derived, then it could be a worthwhile step. As this is a Governor’s decision, I am particularly anxious to make the right one for the good of the island, and so after discussion with EXCO, I am making my paper public in order to inform everybody of the choices that we now have. That paper will be available tomorrow from my office and should be in the press this coming weekend.
However the paper is only the beginning. We will be organising radio programmes including discussions and phone-ins over the next two weeks or so prior to having a public meeting which will give everyone a chance to express their views.
Of course I realise that no solution will please everyone, but a good exposure of the proposals and some sensible discussion will prove to be very helpful. Indeed, by opening up the debate I have already had some very positive responses.
However, I must make it quite clear that at the end of it all I will have to decide what I feel is best and that may mean change, or it may not, some will be pleased and others disappointed. What I will promise you is that I have an open mind at present as to the best solution and the discussion will be as open and as wide as possible.
In Closed Session we confirmed the minutes of our last two meetings and reviewed the report of the Independent Commission for the Review of Remuneration, Allowances and Expenses for Councillors, the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker. The new constitution ensures that Councillors do not set their own rewards for their work. The Commission consisted of John Styles, Ann Dillon, Barbara George and Ethel Yon. This was a detailed piece of work that must now pass through LEGCO in order to be effective and it is a reflection on the workload tackled by the new Council that they haven’t got round to approving their own remuneration until over four months into the job.
Under Any Other Business we looked at the latest SHG accounts up until the end of February.
Once again they have been produced in very good time and were presented in a form that enabled Councillors to pose questions and make useful suggestions. In general your government is more or less on course as we approach the end of the financial year. It is only when the March accounts come out that we shall know the complete picture. There was not much else AOB and the meeting closed around 1.15 pm.