S.Atlantic : Executive Council Report for March 2006
Submitted by SARTMA.com (Juanita Brock) 06.04.2006 (Article Archived on 20.04.2006)
Harriet Hall tells what happened during this meeting.
Executive Council : March 2006
ExCo was held on Wednesday this week to allow plenty of time for the important Standing Finance Committee meetings to look at budgetary issues on Thursday and Friday.
It looked at first as though we were going to have a short agenda, but discussion flowed freely on many topics and we ended up having plenty to talk about. There were also a couple of papers which will be published and on which the views of the public would be welcome so listeners and readers should look out for those.
Turning first to Camp, members considered a paper which was drawn up following meetings with Councillors to consider ways of improving the Camp Economy Ė primarily by offering direct tangible financial benefits to those living in Camp. It has been, and continues to be, the policy of Government to support the continuance of life in Camp as this is an important facet of the Falklands life. There were no final decisions taken on specific measures, as the impact will need to be discussed by Standing Finance Committee, but issues under consideration included mortgage interest holidays, subsidising local wool shipping costs, subsidising fuel, or the transport of fuel to Camp. One issue also touched upon was the need to develop exit strategies for farmers currently living in Camp who want to move out of farming and need to realise the value of their assets to enable them to move into Stanley. The paper, which goes into more detail on all the options, will be available and I am sure comments would be welcome.
Turning now to Stanley, Councillors considered plans for the development of a Historic Dockyard area. This has been discussed before at ExCo and Councillors have always been broadly supportive of the Museum and National Trustís plans to develop the area. The paper under consideration today was one which tasks the Design Office of PWD to assist the Museum and National Trust with preparing surveys to assess what might be needed for future development. Itís particularly important to get a project such as this right, as there are several historic buildings in the area and we need to establish the condition of these buildings and what steps might be necessary to conserve them as well has converting their use. Several surveys will have to be done Ė some by outside experts Ė but this is a first step in this exciting project.
For those interested in development on a rather smaller scale, Members approved the publication of a Guidance Note on planning for new buildings in Stanley. The Note has been developed by the Buildings Adviser and agreed by the Planning Committee and sets out some guidelines to follow when designing a new house and preparing a planning application. It takes into account issues such as location, elevation, orientation of a house as well as design of the exterior. Consideration for other people in surrounding buildings or in the neighbourhood is also an important factor when designing a house. Iím sure people will find it a useful guide.
Members agreed to refer to Standing Finance Committee a request for capital investment in the dairy. Councillors had had a briefing from the new managers of the dairy and had a chance to taste some of the new products which they had appreciated. Many Stanley-based readers/listeners will already have seen the Diddle Dee yoghurt in the shops and I gather that there are several other new products on the cards. The capital investment enable the dairy to continue developing and marketing new products, and importantly includes provision for the purchase of pasteurising equipment so that in future they can offer pasteurised milk.
There were two major discussions on fisheries matters. The first was to set the loligo fees for the second season. Most fishing licence fees are set in advance of 1 January but because there are two separate seasons for loligo the fees are set separately. Councillors considered the arguments set forward in the paper and decided that the overall policy they should be following was to reach a fee/revenue ratio of 10%, as is the case for other fisheries. This means that roughly 10% of the companiesí revenue from the catch should go in license fee. At the moment the ratio is not at that level and so Councillors concluded that in order to work towards this figure an increase of 30% in the licence fee should be adopted for the next season.
Councillors also considered a paper on the administration of the new fisheries policy with regard to eligibility for loligo and toothfish quota. This led to a wider discussion on the new fisheries policy to which all Councillors were invited together with the Director of Fisheries. We had this wider discussion because there were a number of issues raised by new Councillors who had not participated in the detailed discussions of the previous Council on the new policy and who had a number of concerns about how the new policy was going to maximise benefit for the Falkland Islands as a whole. So we had a useful discussion of the role of Executive Council in monitoring the implementation of the fisheries policy and the ways in which the legislation allowed for changes both to ensure conservation of the stock, in the event that scientific assessment showed a need for reduced fishing effort and also, if the opposite is true, how changes can be made to increase the fishing effort if stocks increase.
There have been a number of applications for licences to hold land from non-residents recently and ExCo has decided that, in conformity with individual decisions it has taken, in future it will only authorise non-Residents to purchase building plots in Stanley but they will be allowed to purchase houses in Camp. This is in line with their desire to increase the housing stock available in Stanley to residents and also to help boost the Camp economy.
Finally, members considered a paper from the Police Committee proposing a change to the current firearms policy. The changes were proposed following a visit some time ago by an adviser from the UK on firearms and have been discussed on several occasions by the Police Committee. The paper addresses a concern that firearms and ammunition should be kept in such a way as to minimise the risk they pose to the public Ė both with regard to the way they are handled and the way they are stored, to prevent unauthorised access. The paper is to go out to public consultation so I hope that both gun owners and interested members of the public Ė especially if they feel the current controls are inadequate and cause them concern Ė should express their views.
The next meeting of ExCo will be on 27 April.