St Helena : St Helena EXCO Report: 5 March 2013
Submitted by Saint Helena Herald (Public Relations Information Office) 09.03.2013 (Article Archived on 06.04.2013)
Before we began our formal EXCO meeting this morning, all Elected Members were invited to join their EXCO colleagues to meet with Dr Peter Hayes, Director of the Overseas Territories Department of the Foreign Office.
EXCO Report: 5 March 2013
Before we began our formal EXCO meeting this morning, all Elected Members were invited to join their EXCO colleagues to meet with Dr Peter Hayes, Director of the Overseas Territories Department of the Foreign Office. Dr Hayes, here on his first visit to St Helena, spoke about the serious economic problems troubling the UK and many other countries around the world. He commented that this was causing real hardship for many, including young people, with over a million people in the UK under the age of 25 now unemployed. Against that background, HMG’s financial commitment to St Helena in funding the airport project, the biggest single investment ever in a UK Overseas Territory, represented a tremendous vote of confidence in St Helena. Councillors and Dr Hayes then discussed several topical issues.
Visiting architect Matthew Woodthorpe and Housing Executive Andy Crowe then attended EXCO to give Council a brief update on Comprehensive Development Areas with specific reference to the Half Tree Hollow district, identified as a priority for further residential development.
We then resumed discussion of the papers on Electricity Tariffs and Water and Drainage charges, deferred from our last meeting to allow for checking of a few details. Satisfied that the data was correct Councillors approved the proposed 10% increase on tariffs on both electricity and water and drainage charges with effect from 31 March. Full details of the new rates will be published shortly.
Our next paper sought approval for adjustments to the fees levied for a wide range of licences, too many to list here, but including for vehicles, driving licences, dog and cats, firearms, passports and entry permits – all to take effect from 1 April 2013. Councillors approved the proposed changes. Most licence fees are increased but I should draw attention to a reduction in the cost from 1 April of a BOTC passport for a child, from £30 to £20. Full details of changes to the assorted licence fees will be published shortly.
The Attorney General presented the next paper seeking approval for the ‘Law Officers Bill 2013’ to be presented to the next meeting of Legislative Council as Government Business. This was a straightforward matter which provided for the Solicitor General to deputise for the Attorney General without a formal appointment as ‘Acting Attorney General’. This mirrors equivalent provisions in England and Wales. The Bill also confirms that the Chief Magistrate should have supervisory responsibility for the Companies Registry.
The next paper asked Council to approve that the Motor Vehicles (Third Party Insurance) (Amendment) Bill should be presented as Government Business at the next meeting of Legislative Council. As it currently stands the Motor Vehicles Act requires Magistrates to disqualify from driving any person who commits the offence of driving without insurance. Being unable to exercise discretion in the matter, Magistrates are often bound to impose a sentence which is disproportionate to the circumstances of a particular case. The amendment removes that condition and allows Magistrates to consider whether a person should be disqualified. Councillors agreed that the Bill should go forward.
The last paper today invited Council to approve that the Land Planning and Development Control Bill 2013 and the Building Control Bill 2013 should be put to the next meeting of Legislative Council as Government Business. The Bills support the spirit of the Airport Access MoU which requires SHG to achieve a more development friendly, non-discretionary planning regime with appropriate environmental safeguards. Preparation of the Bills followed successive consultations between officials, the Land Planning and Development Control Board, and the relevant Council Committee, the NRDEC. The two draft Bills were then published on the SHG website on 5 February. Council agreed that the Bills should go forward to the next sitting of Legislative Council.
And finally today, we recalled that at the last meeting of EXCO on 26 February EXCO discussed the Employment Rights Ordinance (Commencement) (No 2) Order 2013 and the Labour Regulating Authority Regulations 2013, approving them in principle pending the checking of a few small details. Today EXCO was able to confirm that decision and agreed that the minimum wage should be introduced by July 2013.
Having begun at 9 o’clock, our meeting today ended just before 1pm.