Good Afternoon,

Executive Council met today, Tuesday 8 October to discuss a full agenda.

The first item on the open agenda was the information paper on revised fuel prices. The purpose of this item was to provide a background to the recent changes in fuel prices, including a 5p customs duty on diesel in line with the agreed policy of eventually making diesel and petrol the same price. These revised prices were implemented from 17 September 2013.

The second item was the Wharfage, Warehousing and Customs Miscellaneous fees amendment proposal. These fees had not been reviewed for a number of years. It was agreed that the fees be raised to reflect the increased costs of providing wharf operations and customs services. This increase will come into effect on 1 November 2013. ExCo did not agree that fees should rise automatically by the rate of inflation but that a recommendation will be presented for approval by ExCo.

Next on the open agenda was the SHG Financial Statements for 2011-12. This was the first year of accruals accounting and financial statements. 2012-2013 financial statements will be published within the next financial year. This is the first time that the Financial Statements had come before ExCo before being laid on the table at Formal Legislative Council. The Chief Auditor and Finance Officials were in attendance to explain these documents. The Financial Secretary stated that these statements are the most important government financial documents to be published and show a commitment to open and transparent financial reporting. It was therefore disappointing that there were not any members of the public or the media present to witness this. ExCo noted the request of the Chief Auditor in his Management Letter on the audit of the 2011/12 Financial Statements and also noted the Financial Secretary’s explanation for the misstatements.

The Financial Statement and the Auditors Management Letter will now become public records and uploaded onto the SHG website.

In the closed session there was a long discussion about the Sainsbury Report and the introduction of a Minimum Income Standard for the setting and uprating of Income Related Benefits and Basic Island Pension. All elected members had been involved previously in discussing this very important issue. ExCo were supportive of a raise in the benefits but recognises that further work is required to determine the full financial implications.

As has been previously stated ExCo will operate on a presumption of openness. What had not been determined was the process by which the agenda items are classed as open or closed. It was agreed that all members of ExCo would have an input into the decision making procedure and that the Governor as the Chairman of ExCo would take advice but make the final decision.

On 3 September ExCo did not approve the RMS slow steaming proposal. This decision was referred back to DfID who agreed to the views of ExCo and approved that the slow steaming proposal should be declined.
This was the longest meeting of ExCo so far, finishing at 12.30pm.

Thank you for listening.

ExCo
8 October 2013

Victoria Stapleton
Victoria Stapleton

Primary Advisor for Primary Education, Victoria Stapleton, has been on Island for the last three months.
Victoria’s role as a Primary Advisor on Island is to work closely with the three Primary School Head Teachers on raising attainment and ensuring children achieve the right amount of progress.

Victoria said about her role:

“What is quite specific about my role is that I am here improving practice in the classroom. As I have just come out of the classroom in my previous job working in an International school in Egypt, I am able to refer back to my experience, where I have led on curriculum reviews and research projects by modelling lessons and also teaching alongside class teachers.”
Over the past three months, Victoria has familiarised herself with practices within the classrooms, working closely with teachers and getting to know the children. Currently focusing on improving development in English and Maths, the Reading Champions scheme has been implemented across the primary schools. Children are encouraged to do reading at home and are praised and rewarded for their efforts in school. St Pauls and Pilling have also done reading day initiatives with Harford Primary School soon to follow.
Maths is also an area of focus and, in particular, problem solving skills. Pilling Primary recently conducted a Maths workshop where parents were invited to learn calculations and strategies to aid in children’s homework.

Victoria commented:

“I am pleased to witness how proactive teachers are in the classroom. During the school holidays they all were in working and are dedicated in doing everything to improve the children’s learning and experience. I have really enjoyed my time on the Island, getting to know the teachers and the children are great fun. I was lucky enough to teach in year groups 3/4 in St Pauls. I hope that during my time here I can fully support the schools, improving the confidence within classrooms so teachers can lead future development.”

Director of Education, & Employment Colin Moore said:

“Victoria has already rolled up her sleeves and taught in the classroom. It is very important that our Advisors lead by example and Victoria has brought lots of fresh insight and imagination to her work as well as restating the importance of some of the basic principles of good Primary School teaching. I have no doubt that her time on the Island will be both positive and beneficial for all concerned.”

SHG
8 October 2013

“Useful and informative, good to learn about the different strategies”, “Knowing what my child is learning about and how we can help him at home”, “Learning about the strategies used – different to what we are used to”, “The enthusiasm of the teachers” – were just a few of the comments from parents when asked what they enjoyed at the Maths Workshop held at Pilling Primary School on Tuesday, 1 October 2013.

With just over 30 parents in attendance, the workshop was led by Mrs Carol Youde and was the result of enquiries from some parents who found they did not always understand the Maths strategies their children were doing in their homework exercises.

The aim of the workshop was:

• To make parents aware of the different methods/ strategies taught in each year group for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, and,
• To show parents how they could give support with Maths at home.

The evening started with a fun but stimulating, group ‘Number Challenge’ activity. All groups were under pressure to score the most points in only a few minutes. Competition was fierce and there was much laughter, with a few rather surprising but questionable Maths skills coming through.

Parents then moved into the different year groups, where Class Teachers and Teacher Assistants demonstrated methods/strategies of the four basic rules of number for their specific year group. Parents were shown the practical activities that were linked to the written methods so that children would have a better understanding as to why they were doing the different strategies. Children are taught various strategies for each rule of number so that they have a choice and can then use the strategy that they are most confident with.

The evening was rounded off with a discussion and examples on the fact that ‘Maths is Everywhere.’ Parents were encouraged to use the many opportunities to teach and reinforce Maths with their child/children.

Carol Youde, Advanced Skills Teacher
Education and Employment Directorate
8 October 2013

Open to the Public from 9.30am Executive Council will meet on Tuesday 8 October 2013 in the Council Chamber.

Commencing at 9.30am, the meeting will be open to the public for the first three agenda items; Revised Fuel Prices (Information Paper), Wharfage, Warehousing and Customs Miscellaneous Fees Amendment proposal and SHG Financial Statements 2011 – 2012. Executive Council

Members are: Lawson Henry, Ian Rummery, Cyril George and Christine Scipio O’Dean.

SHG

7 October 2013

In May of this year Connect Saint Helena Ltd and St Helena Government (SHG) declared an Island-wide sprinkler and hosepipe ban. With dry weather forecast for the months ahead domestic water levels on St Helena, especially in the Redhill area, had reached exceptionally low levels. Residents in the affected areas were then urged to exercise great care and restraint when using domestic water.

A Contingency Planning Group (CPG) comprising members from Connect Saint Helena, Health and Social Welfare, Environment and Natural Resources, the Police and other senior SHG officials was formed to lead on handling the water situation.

The public were kept abreast of the water situation and reminded of the water restrictions to prolong the available supply for as long as possible.

Fortunately contingency plans for a partial water shutdown were not activated as substantive rainfall significantly maximised reservoir levels at Redhill– following this, Island-wide water restrictions were lifted on 23 August 2013.

It was also announced last week (24 September 2013) that the boil water notice, previously issued for the Redhill treatment area, had been lifted as water for domestic purposes was declared good quality.
Across the Island Connect Saint Helena has now resumed a ‘business as usual’ status and there are no restrictions currently in place.

CEO of Connect Saint Helena, Barry Hubbard reported:

“The shortages in water within the first few months of Connect Saint Helena trading prompted us to very quickly establish monitoring programs and contingency plans for the business. With the support of the multi-agency contingency group the whole water supply situation was put under a great deal of scrutiny and as we emerge from this difficult period we are in a significantly stronger position to identify and deal more swiftly with any similar situation that may arise in the future.”

For the longer term SHG and Connect Saint Helena now have in place a practical and workable contingency plan to provide advance warning should an event like this occur in the near future.
An analysis and early warning system has been put in place to better optimise water already in the system and Connect Saint Helena will also procure equipment which will enable better monitoring of water flows.

Interim Water Operations Manager for Connect Saint Helena, Leon De Wet commented:

“The recent water crisis on St Helena has been a lesson learning experience for everyone and we have now managed to put things right that should have been right in the first place.

“We now have a fully documented Contingency Plan and better reporting system to account for changing weather patterns in the event that something similar occurs in the near future.

“We will continuously maximise spring intakes into water treatment works and we now have pumping solutions to draw on should this ever happen again. Our new reporting system will be used as a basis for any decision going forward.”

SHG and Connect Saint Helena would once again like to thank water consumers both in the affected areas and Island-wide for their reduced consumption which helped to ease the water situation.

SHG
1 October 2013

Councillor Cyril George recently returned from the 59th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Conference in Johannesburg, which took place from 28 August – 6 September 2013.

Councillor George, the first Councillor from our newly elected Council to attend a CPA conference, commented that the Conference presented him with vast knowledge on how some political systems are carried out in other Commonwealth countries and allowed him to meet and discuss with Ministers from other countries how their ministerial systems work. Councillor George said that attending the Conference provided him with a valuable opportunity to represent St Helena while at the same time enhance his knowledge and skills in his role as a Councillor.

Plenary sessions involving small branches commenced at the beginning of the Conference. Several delegates gave presentations following which the floor was opened for questions. Opportunities were also given to allow attendees to speak with presenters on a one-to-one basis after formal sessions came to a close.

Workshops held included topics on:
•Land Access and Ownership, Progress and Challenges Experienced by Rural Communities in Accessing Land. What could be the Role and Intervention of Parliamentarians?
•Should there be Parliamentary Intervention in the Informal Economy and Entrepreneurship Sectors?
•The Challenges of Attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015; and
•Inequitable Resource-Sharing: A Threat to Democratic Governance

A total of seven workshops were run simultaneously. Councillor George said:

“I decided to dedicate my time to three workshops from which I felt I could gain the most knowledge and experience as time constraints in the programme unfortunately could not allow me to attend them all. Workshops that I attended involved Agriculture, Land Access and the Millennium Development Goals. As I am the Chairman of the Environmental and Natural Resources Committee it was of use to learn how other countries operate, how they differ and how they are similar in terms of the systems we use. Discussion with delegates provided me with an understanding of what we are successfully doing on St Helena along with possible ideas for improvement.

“During the workshop on agriculture, discussions were based on large holdings and their sub-division into numerous small units that may lead to a drop in productivity and loss of export markets, whilst at the same time with effective support, smallholders can become successful in the agricultural economy.

“The workshop on land access was based on the need for Parliamentarians to increase their outreach activities among poor rural communities. The most in need of land are landless and poor communities which included vulnerable groups such as female headed households. In this regard the responsible departments should provide the necessary expertise. We are fortunate on St Helena not to have these problems as there is a well established Lands Section within SHG who control all Crown land.

“The final work shop I attended was the challenges of attaining the Millennium Development Goals. From the discussions it was highlighted that some Commonwealth countries are finding it very difficult to meet the millennium goals due to their resources and financial constraints. We are fortunate that we are able to monitor the goals and hopefully achieve them by 2015.”

While overseas Councillor George also spent some time in the UK where he was able to visit the office of the UK SHG Representative and meet with FCO Officers, Martin Longden, Head of Falklands & Southern Oceans Department and Hannah Chadwick, Desk Officer for St Helena and Ascension.
In South Africa Councillor George also visited the office of John Scipio, Enterprise St Helena’s Project Administration Manager, witnessing discussions with potential investors and tourists.

Councillor George commented:

“I would encourage Councillors to attend similar conferences as it provides the opportunity to network with the many delegates from different Commonwealth countries. This in itself adds to one’s confidence, knowledge and experience and gives us an excellent opportunity to raise the Island’s profile especially during this period of immense change.”

SHG
2 October 2013

Arriving to the Island on 22 September 2013 was Socio-Economist, Thomas Holvey.

Based in the Project Management Unit at the Castle, Thomas has been contracted by St Helena Government for two years with the primary aim to help improve the decision making around project management. To do this Thomas will be providing socio-economic appraisal for separate projects in support of the Island’s Capital Spend Programme. This will be extended to appraisal and analysis of other tasks and strategies.

The role of Socio-Economist is a new one for St Helena and Thomas will be working on various projects within the Capital Programme as well as other Government policies that will have social or economic impacts on the Island.

Thomas commented on his new role:

“I’m very excited by the new role at a very important time for the Island. Moving to St Helena is something I’ve wanted to do for some time and I’m delighted to be able to fulfill this ambition whilst hopefully being able to contribute to Island life in a positive manner. St Helena has lived up to all my expectations so far, in terms of the beauty of the Island and the warmth of the local people.”

Prior to taking up his role on St Helena, Thomas worked as the Economic Policy Manager for Leeds City Council where he led on economic strategy and information for the City, and also delivered major projects such as Superfast Broadband. Thomas has also worked for the UK Government and other Councils in social and economic policy roles. He was also a local Councillor in York for 8 years.

Thomas is originally from Lincoln and moved to York 12 years ago before moving to St Helena. He is a keen cricketer and sports fan as well as being interested in political issues. Thomas’ partner, Hannah, a nurse, will be arriving in 5 weeks.

SHG
1 October 2013

Nominations are being sought for the 2014 Birthday Honours.

Persons wishing to submit nominations are reminded that the overriding principle is that honours are awarded on merit for exceptional achievement or any service recently carried out over and above what normally is expected. Where possible, nominations should place emphasis on voluntary services. It should also be noted that age is not a factor in awarding honours and younger members of the community who have made an outstanding contribution or have given exceptional service, should not be overlooked.

Nomination forms are available from Corporate Support, Corporate Services and completed forms should be returned to Mrs Carol George, Executive Secretary, Honours Committee, in a sealed envelope, marked ‘confidential’, by close of play on Friday, 8 November 2013.

Corporate Support
Corporate Services
The Castle

1 October 2013

Q:What work will be done on this road?
A:There will be road maintenance works to: walls, railings, road structure and surfacing. Improvements are limited to road drainage.

Q:Why is the road closed all the time?
A:We are aiming to work extended hours, 7am to dusk, and at weekends. To work safely the road has to be closed.

Q:Why can’t the Roads Section work half and half?
A:At its widest the road is 6m wide, generally the wider section varies between 5.5 and 6m. To have a safe lane for traffic requires a 3m width which then only allows a 2.5 to 3m working area. This would also be limited to a 200m maximum length for control by our traffic signals. Below Captain Wrights Turning the width is mainly less than 5.5m which is too narrow for half and half working. The aim is to work in the wider section, allowing residents past, with a second site blocking the road lower down.

Q:Why isn’t the road open when work isn’t happening?
A:To make the work area safe for normal traffic would take up to an hour each afternoon and then a further period the following morning to return the road to a construction site. This equates to about an extra 2-3 weeks on the duration of the whole job.
With road structure and surfacing work the critical period to the quality is the first few hours after the work is carried out. Previously we have attempted to reopen both The Briars to 5-bar Gate, and Ladder Hill shortly after completing work and have experienced problems with both roads because it was reopened too early.

Q:How can I get to my friend’s house, or to the shop?
A:If you are visiting someone within the road closure you will be allowed access from one end. The link to the map below shows the initial arrangements for access to properties. Somerville Store is remaining open and customers will initially have access from the Gordons Post end of the road closure.

Q:If residents are allowed access why not everyone?
A:Residents will be allowed access to their homes from one end only; they will not have through access past the main work area.

Q:If emergency services are allowed access why not everyone?
A:Emergency Services are a special case. We accept that in an emergency we will have to move everything to the side to make way. For a 1 minute journey through the site we may lose an hour’s work putting things right and costing a few hundred pounds. This is nothing compared to someone’s life, but we can’t do this for every vehicle.

Q:What about Busses?
A:Busses will not be allowed through, but can come in to collect or drop off passengers. We have spoken with many of the bus operators explaining what they will and will not be able to do. If you are unsure how your bus will get you to work during the closure please speak to the operator. If you are an operator and are unsure what is going to happen please speak to Dave Malpas, Roads Manager (Contact details are below).

Q:Why is this work being done now?
A:We considered doing this work last summer; however co-ordinating with the logistics of the Airport Project during construction of the Haul Road would have been impractical. We therefore agreed to carry out this work this summer. It is my technical opinion that the road surface is at the end of its life and may well not survive another winter period. It is therefore most cost effective to make the repairs now before complete failure than to delay.

Q:I’m still unsure, how can I…?
A:Please email roads.manager@helanta.co.sh or call Dave on telephone number 23765.


The Roads Section apologises for the inconvenience caused, and thanks everyone who is working to make arrangements to cope with the disruption.

Dave Malpas, Roads Manager, 1 October 2013

Map – Road Closure from the Briars to Gordons Post