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Tristan : St Helena EXCO REPORT 76 – 26th July 2011
Submitted by Tristan Times (Sarah Glass) 30.07.2011 (Article Archived on 13.08.2011)

After the long LEGCO session yesterday, the EXCO Councillors were back at work this morning and were confronted by yet another agenda with some solid substance.

EXCO REPORT 76 – 26th July 2011


After the long LEGCO session yesterday, the EXCO Councillors were back at work this morning and were confronted by yet another agenda with some solid substance.

We began by approving the minutes of last week’s meeting and dealt with a number of Matters Arising. This included a slight clarification of the wording in my report of last week. It was to do with the issue of who will qualify for the 10% concession on the new RMS passenger tariff. In my report I left out an important reference to the long term partners of those qualifying. So I should have said that “The reduction will apply only to those with St. Helenian status who are ordinarily resident on St. Helena, and their long term partners.” My apologies for any inconvenience or misunderstanding caused.


We spent some time discussing the details of the renewed negotiations with Saint FM over the creation of Community Broadcasting and we have now reached the stage where commercial confidentiality forbids me to say any more.


Our first substantive item was an Information Paper on the subject of the DFID Funded Solid Waste Management Project, and specifically what our plans should be for the procurement and use of a Skip Truck. Solid waste can often end up as an eyesore and for some time we have been developing plans to tackle the problem. It has been a requirement of the project that anyone asking for the use of a skip should pay for that service. This very detailed report made clear recommendations with regard to the type of waste that should be charged for as against what would constitute a free public service. For example the collection of asbestos products or medical waste will be funded from the public purse, but unwanted equipment, rusting machines and all manner of household junk that is past its best, will be charged for on a full cost recovery basis.


It was pointed out in the Paper that the proposed divestment of utilities next year to a Government owned company would include the function of solid waste management.


The next Memorandum was seeking approval for a number of documents related to strategic planning. These have arisen as a result of the workshop held on 17th June and form the foundation for the new Sustainable Development Plan that will be prepared shortly. At the apex of this plan are the three high level goals, and they are supported by ten supporting strategic objectives with underlying sub-objectives. There was also a list of our “Top Ten Policy Priorities”, but our worthy Councillors were not to be fooled by this heading as one pointed out that there were eleven.


This kind of document can prove to be very difficult because on the one hand much of what we want to achieve is obvious and could be classified as “motherhood and apple pie”, yet on the other the choice of words to describe what we are trying to do can be the subject of robust debate. For example we all want to see “A more sustainable and vibrant economy” but under such a heading do we wish to improve, sustain, facilitate, develop, ensure, provide, deliver or foster such a worthwhile aspect as say private sector investment? More important in a way is does it actually matter what words we use – will it make any difference to the outcome?


The whole of this planning process is based on the assumption that a positive decision with regard to the airport will be taken within the next few months. The details of our plan will obviously be very different if that decision is negative. But whatever that decision may be, it does not alter our vision of what we wish this island to become, and so the high level goals are especially relevant. The policies adopted to achieve them are there for our guidance in decision making; they are our servants and not our masters. If it makes sense to change them at some point in the future – then we must be free to do so.


There was broad agreement with the detail of the Memorandum, but we had some ideas for slight textual amendments, and felt that the policy arising from a motion at the recent LEGCO that more attention should be paid to children and families should be captured to provide more balance.


Under Any Other Business I was able to confirm the recent appointment of Chris Duncan as our Financial Services Supervisor. This is a part-time UK-based function that was so well undertaken by Alan Savary who died last year. Chris has occupied some very senior positions in the banking world for many years, and has considerable international banking experience as well as expertise in financial regulation and risk management. It is hoped that Chris will be visiting the island early in the New Year.


Our Statistics Office has recently published a detailed report on Private Sector Employment and it makes very interesting reading. For instance could you have guessed that the 218 enterprises identified as recently as 2004 have now grown to 368? Or that 40% of our enterprises are under 5 years’ old? or that we have only 3 businesses employing 30 or more people? We have a proliferation of very small and relatively new family businesses, and there is nothing wrong with that. Some of them will have great potential for growth once that airport contract is signed.


This meeting turned out to be slightly shorter than the two previous ones by ending at 12.55 pm.

Andrew Gurr


26th July 2011


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