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Falklands : PUBLIC MEEETING 18/12/12 REPORT
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 22.12.2012 (Article Archived on 05.01.2013)

A public meeting took place in the Court and Assembly Chamber of the Town hall at 1700hrs on Monday, 17 December 2012. Present were approximately 30 members of the public and MLAs Elsby, Hansen, Edwards, Sawle, Cheek and Halford. MLA Halford chaired the meeting.

PUBLIC MEEETING 18/12/12 REPORT

 

By J Brock (FINN)

 

A public meeting took place in the Court and Assembly Chamber of the Town hall at 1700hrs on Monday, 17 December 2012.  Present were approximately 30 members of the public and MLAs Elsby, Hansen, Edwards, Sawle, Cheek and Halford.  MLA Halford chaired the meeting.

 

The first written question was from Phyl Rendell who wanted to know when the full Census Report would be made public.  She felt that the data was essential for the FIGís Hydrocarbons Socio-economic Impact study to ensure there were correct statistics at hand as the study begins in January.  Sharon Halford read out the answer: 

 

The full results of the census will be made available when the policy unit is sufficiently resourced to finalise the data tables with the necessary degree of completeness and accuracy.  The arrival of a full time Statistics Officer in January will expedite this process.

 

The data gathered by this process will indeed be a very important input to the socio-economic impact study that has been commissioned and the consultants will be provided with what is necessary to complete their work, notwithstanding the need for the publication of a full set of data tables by the Public Policy Unit in due course.

 

Mrs Halford had other questions but decided to have some questions from the floor prior to reading them out.

 

Marilyn Grimmer wanted to know how long the bottle bank in the Town Hall Car Park would be closed.  It had been boarded up with a sign it was closed indefinitely.  MLAs did not know it was closed or why it was closed.  No one knew the answer but Sharon Halford said she would find out and report back.

 

Mrs Grimmer also wanted to know if and when the new Director of the Department would arrive as David Jenkins would be leaving in January.  Jan Cheek confirmed that Mr Jenkins would leave at the end of January and that the vacancy was in the hands of a recruitment agency at the moment.  Assembly Members didnít have any answers as they do not deal with recruitment, only paying members of staff.  Mrs Grimmer said it would be better and cheaper to employ a locally qualified person but at the end of the day, no locally qualified person has applied for the post as yet.  Sharon Halford pointed out that even if a local person was qualified he or she might want more experience before taking on such a post.

 

Roger Spink mentioned that there were problems recruiting people and he mentioned the Statistician, the Deputy Director of Public Works and Education Department.  He wondered if there was any way to speed up the recruitment of key personnel as posts seemed to go unfilled for a significant amount of time at the moment.  Jan Cheek agreed and said there were incidences where it was not and we had to wait for the process to be completed.

 

Lidda Luxton asked if the lift would be installed in the Town Hall while the present work to replace the windows was going on.  Dick Sawle said that only the windows were being replaced now but the installation of the lift was on the list of things to be done.  He did not know exactly when this job would be started.  He believed the lift had been ordered but didnít know if it was here yet.  Sharon Halford mentioned that there were matters about the installation that needed to be resolved.  MLAs will get back to Mrs Luxton on the matter.

 

Mrs Grimmer said that there were areas of road outside of Stanley that had been graded but that pot holes had been seen on parts that were recently maintained.  She mentioned that the Sapper Hill Road had been graded and that new stone had been added.  However, no new stone had been added to areas further outside of Stanley and it was those areas where new pot holes occurred - and this only after one week.  Sharon Halford said that money was spent on areas where the need was greatest.  She had driven in to Stanley on Monday and felt the road was really good.  But she agreed that when conditions are wet the road deteriorates really quickly.  She added that all of the roads needed maintenance because of the way in which they were constructed. 

 

Mrs Grimmer said she looked for pot holes all the time but someone unused to the road might not miss them.  She went on to say that a comment was passed to her that the roads people would forget about maintenance in the summer.  Sharon Halford mentioned new black-topping on the road on the way in and that it already had pot holes in it.

 

Mrs Halford read out another written question about roads from Gerald Cheek.  He asked whether it would be better to Asphalt a section of the MPA Road instead of the one adjacent to Sapper Hill, which was 70% intact.  Mrs Halford read out the answer:

 

It is probably a matter of definition.  The writer appears to think that because not all the surface has pot holes it has not failed.  This is not the case.  Most of the surface is crazed and this can been seen best when the road has been wet and is drying off as the crazing is seen more clearly then and that means it has failed; although it may not have all come physically loose. Spot repairs have been done to this section over the last several years to an increasing level until it was simply a waste of time and money as it was becoming very clear that the majority of the surfacing on this section was going to fail spectacularly at some point, probably over a winter; hence the proposal to re-surface it.

 

Ian Hansen mentioned that when it was in the budget it was a priority of his to query this as it did not seem to make sense at the time.  Sharon Halford said that it looked very spongy.  She also mentioned the piece of road around the Island harbour area that looked as if it was fast breaking up.  Dick Sawle mentioned that the first time Sapper Hill Road was debated it was turned down as it looked pretty good to the un-trained eye.  MLAs were advised then that as it was asphalted the break-up and pot holes would be very severe and the need to repair the road was urgent.

 

He went on to say, in answer to a comment by Lynn Buckland, that he thought the figure was £800,000.00 in the budget for Stanley Roads but he would check that.

 

Lynn Buckland went on to say that she thought jan Cheek did very well on the BBC Hard Talk last Wednesday.  Mark Spruce said that permission has been obtained by FITV to re-broadcast the programme.

 

 

Phil Middleton asked about the new development in the area of the Fire Department and the Tax Office at Malvina Paddock.  Were there plans for the future development of the whole area?  Money had been spent on public presentations about the Harbour Front and the fact that the Fire Station is literally one street up.  Was there to be a development plan for the whole area?  Would the Fire Station be moved?  If so, are there plans with what would be developed in its place?  Ditto for the Tax Office? 

 

Dick Sawle said he hadnít seen any plans and there were no papers about this to the Assembly.  He was unsure about any Town Plan reference.  Sharon Halford mentioned that a new town plan was being constructed as the old town plan was out of date.  There would be public consultation as the whole Stanley area would be looked at again.

 

Mr Middleton presumed it then would be considered for development and Mrs Halford said yes.  Would FIG release the land or would people submit proposals for its use?  Mrs Halford said she, at this stage, had no idea what would come out of a town plan but hopefully it would take into account all government land around Stanley.  Jan Cheek said she was not aware of any money in the budget to move the facility in the near future.  Roger Edwards confirmed there were nothing more than Ďmutteringsí about this Ė nothing concrete.  Jan Cheek said that as it was Government land, it would be up to Government when the facility is moved.

 

Phil Middleton understands that if an individual or company wants some Government land he or she can put forward a proposal and negotiate with Government for the land.  Jan Cheek said that Planning permission would be needed for any development.  Sharon Halford said that it may or may not be approved depending on Governmentís future plans for the land.  People had been looking around town for Government land and working to the old town plan but the EPO is currently working on the new town plan.  However, Dick Sawle reminded those present that there is nothing to stop anyone from putting forward a proposal and Jan Cheek said you donít have to own the land to put in a planning proposal. 

 

Once planning permission is granted there would be negotiations with the owners.  Lynn Buckland said that planning permission could be a prerequisite for buying land.  She went on to ask if there was a complaints system in place for those who donít want a particular development.  She mentioned vehicles blocking access to her home.  Jan Cheek said that as a matter of policy neighbours of properties had been written for their views.  Lynn hadnít received any letters but Jan Cheek said that when planning applications are made there is a chance to make representations.

 

Sharon Halford said letters should go out after each application is received and before the application is discussed in committee.  She would check out Mrs Bucklandís case and get back to her.  Mrs Buckland added that sometimes it is inconvenient to check the notice board in the Secretariat as she is working and the Secretariat is only open during working hours.  Jan Cheek mentioned that while notice is given in the newspaper, papers associated with the plans needed to be researched.  She has taken this on-board. 

 

Lynn Buckland submitted a question about working credits for single parents.  Her point was that even though a child reached the age of 5 years and was going to school part of the day, there still was a need to subsidise childcare.  Though the credit scheme was an excellent start, the danger was that caring for young school children outside of school hours also caused a financial drain on single parents.

 

The answer Sharon Halford read out said that the aim of the scheme is to assist households where the single parent worked over 25hrs per week and earning a low income.  The amount of credit provided will be assessed on the household, not on an individualís total income.  The aim of the scheme was to provide further assistance for those households with children under the age of 5 with childcare costs e.g. nursery fees.  This is limited to children under the age of 5 at the moment because this is the age range where childcare costs are deemed to be most expensive; and thus where the scheme can have the most impact initially.  A child above this age will be in full time education thus limiting the amount spent on childcare.  The earnings threshold for claiming childcare credit is £14,000.00 and as such if both parents in the same household are working full time, including the school holidays, it is unlikely that they will be eligible to claim.

 

Mrs Buckland said that in the UK parents were eligible for benefit during school holidays but Sharon Halford said that we were not in the UK.  Roger Edwards said that parents used school for child care purposes and that this was a good start.  Mrs Buckland stressed that costs for children in school could make a parent quit work and return to social welfare.  Dick Sawle said this was a work in progress and we should discuss this.  Roger Edwards mentioned  It was never envisaged that it would cover the entire cost of childcare.

 

Care of War Cemeteries and Memorials:  According to Mrs Grimmer Glen Williams and Colin, his replacement had surveyed and measured memorial sites and a report had been submitted.  This was a responsibility of the Military.  Sharon Halford said she would check this out and that she had asked several times.  She had an e-mail saying something was being done.  Sharon Halford further said the e-mail asked about wheelchair access to all memorials.  San Carlos Cemetery used to be looked after by someone in the settlement but the Military had taken this over.

 

Lidda Luxton brought up the accidental spamming of an e-mail sent by the Court Administrator brought questions from all recipients.  Subsequent replies did not do the Courtís reputation any good.

 

Mark Spruce mentioned an abandoned vehicle near the Light House that had been there for a long time.  MLAs were against leaving abandoned vehicles but it was on private land it was the duty of the land owner to remove it if the owner could not be found.

 

 

 

 

This article is the Property and Copyright of Falkland Islands News Network.

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