Currently on Island for an eight day visit is Education Adviser, Dr Don Taylor, from the Department for International Development (DfID).
The purpose of Dr Taylor’s visit is to monitor progress in education, training, and skills development on the Island. Dr Taylor has been visiting the four Island schools, meeting teachers, specialist staff, SHG officials and Councillors on the Education Committee. Dr Taylor will also be examining future financial and technical support needs for education on St Helena.
This is Dr Taylor’s second visit to the Island, having first visited in November 2012 for a similar length of time. About this visit Dr Taylor commented: “While it is good to see much improved GCSE exam results this year and all the efforts of the Adult and Vocational Education Service, Enterprise St Helena, and others in providing work-related skills and training, there is still room for improvement, especially in terms of raising literacy and numeracy levels amongst children in the primary schools.”
The DfID Education Adviser’s visits are an annual occurrence. DfID provides financial support for education on the Island through the recurrent budget of SHG and technical support through additional funding for teacher training, advisory teachers, and senior managers.
Previously DfID supported education on the Island through separate projects – but support for education is now provided directly to SHG, with some of the links and partnerships established under previous projects being maintained. Dr Taylor departs the Island on Thursday 7 November and will produce a short update report for DfID and SHG officials.
His Excellency, Governor Capes will depart the Island on Thursday 7 November for his first official visit to Tristan da Cunha.
During His Excellency’s three day visit to the Island (19-21 Nov) he will be meeting with the Administrator, Deputy Chief Islander, Tristan da Cunha Council, Heads of Departments and a selection of the Tristan community. Governor Capes will also visit St Joseph and St Mary’s Churches, the school and Hospital, as well as tour the Potato Patches, Lobster Factory and Volcano. During the tour of the Volcano, Governor Capes will lay a plaque commemorating 50 years since the Tristanians returned to the Island (1963), after evacuating in 1961.
During his time in South Africa, Governor Capes – along with Julian Morris the outgoing Chief Executive for Economic Development and Councillor Lawson Henry – will promote St Helena as a tourism destination showcasing the opportunities offered by the Island for select investors, especially in the hotel and accommodation industries.
Governor Capes will return to St Helena on Monday 25 November 2013.
From the day the Governor departs the Island on Thursday 7 November, up until he returns to the Island on Monday 25 November, the Chief Secretary, Owen O’Sullivan, will serve as Governor’s Deputy.
Also departing on Thursday for overseas business will be Councillor Lawson Henry and Assistant Financial Secretary, Dax Richards, to attend the annual Joint Ministerial Conference (JMC) in London from 25-28 November.
Councillor Henry and Dax will also form the St Helena delegation, along with the SHG UK Representative, Kedell Worboys MBE, to attend the 12th OCT-EU Forum in Brussels from 5-6 December 2013.
During the EU Forum, the St Helena delegation will be involved in discussions on the Overseas Countries Territories Association political resolution and territorial and regional programming for the 11th European Development Fund.
Following the Forum, Dax will stay on in Brussels to attend a two day training seminar in his capacity as the Deputy Territorial Authorising Officer.
Both Councillor Henry and Dax will return to the Island on Tuesday 17 December 2013.
ExCo met today, Monday 4 November, to discuss one item on the open agenda. There were no members of the public present at the open session.
The first item of business was the Introduction of a Minimum Income Standard (MIS) for the setting and up rating of Income Related Benefits and the Basic Island Pension.
Minimum Income Standards is the process where an average weekly shopping basket for basic items is determined. The level of benefit is then aligned to the Standard so that there is a link between benefits and the cost of living.
All Members agreed that a Minimum Income Standard should be introduced on the Island and as a result of this from 1 December 2013, Basic Island Pension will increase from £50.05 to £53.53 and Income Related Benefits will increase from £48.16 to £51.64.
The Minimum Income Standard will now be reviewed annually and benefits will be adjusted accordingly.
St Helena is believed to be the first Overseas Territory to implement a Minimum Income Standard and ExCo were very pleased to authorise this change.
The remainder of the meeting was closed to the public.
The first item of business on the closed agenda was an amendment to the Gaol’s Ordinance. Currently a person sentenced to imprisonment for more than 30 days can automatically apply for a 1/3 remission to their sentence. If a prisoner is released on remission they are subject to conditions, which if they do not comply with, they can be recalled to serve the remainder of their sentence. The amendments to the Gaols’ Ordinance will enable offenders to be recalled to jail should they be found breaching any of the conditions of their release, to serve the remainder of the sentence. ExCo agreed this change.
Following this, the recently appointed Chief of Police, Mr Trevor Botting, gave a presentation on his initial thoughts of the status of the Police Directorate.
Following this, members of the fishing industry gave a presentation regarding the current problems they are suffering as a result of a lack of product. They informed members that many fishermen of the full time fleet are being lured into shore side occupations, leaving just three full time boats operating. ExCo were very sympathetic to the current position.
Under Any Other Business, it was noted that both the Governor and Councillor Lawson Henry would be leaving St Helena on 7 November – the Governor on his official visit to Tristan da Cunha and Councillor Henry to attend the Joint Ministerial Council meeting in London and the OCT-EU Forum in Brussels.
There being no further business the meeting was closed at 11.35 am.
Frank Wastell (Solicitor General) was this morning sworn in as Acting Attorney General in the presence of H.E Governor Capes at the Castle. The substantive Attorney General, Mr Ken Baddon, is currently off Island.
Arriving on Wednesday 6 November 2013 will be Ben Samson, the new Head of the Environmental Management Division (EMD). Ben replaces Tara Pelembe (the previous Head of Environmental Management) who departed the Island in August. Ben will report directly to the interim Director of the Environment and Natural Resources Directorate (ENRD), Paul McGinnety.
Isabel Peters, Acting Head of EMD since Tara’s departure, will be working closely with Ben in the initial two weeks to conduct a smooth hand over. An induction programme to introduce Ben to EMD, ENRD, SHG and key stakeholders is also planned.
As the new Head of Environmental Management, Ben’s role is to consolidate plans, policies and processes that have been set during the establishment of EMD in 2012 and to ensure that the National Goal 3 (in the Sustainable Development Plan) – “Effective Management of the Environment” – is delivered.
Ben’s role before taking employment on Island was as a Water and Environment Team Leader for RPS Group Plc. Ben also has experience as a Regional Director and Resource Manager, and roles at QDS Environment Ltd and Knight Piesold Ltd as a Hydrogeolgist.
Throughout Ben’s two year contract he will aim to raise the profile of the environmental guidelines and ensure that appropriate enforcement and monitoring systems are in place. He will also work to strengthen implementation and adhere to the newly developed environmental policy and assessment processes as well as supporting the development of an evidence-based approach to environmental decision making across EMD, ENRD and St Helena Government.
This coming Sunday, 3 November 2013, will mark exactly two years since the signing of the airport contract between St Helena Government and Basil Read.
Two years on and the progress is evident in the remarkable amount of work that has taken place both at the airport site and in Rupert’s Valley. The filling of Dry Gut will reach the 50% mark in mid-November and work continues on constructing the combined and terminal buildings at Prosperous Bay, as well as continuing work on the Access Road and Bulk Fuel Installation at Rupert’s. Public consultation on the amendment to the Rupert’s Wharf Plan is also currently progressing.
Basil Read Island Director, Deon De Jager, commented:
“I am pleased to report that progress on the construction of the airport is on track and that all critical milestones have been met within a couple of days of the planned dates. Without distracting from the technical aspects of the project I believe this is an opportune time to congratulate and thank each and every person who has contributed to the project to date. It is only with careful planning, hard work and commitment that we as a team are able to reflect with pride on the progress that has been made.
“This focus needs to remain as we enter the second half of the project. We all look forward with optimism to the day that St Helena will have air access!”
Governor Capes added:
“I congratulate Basil Read, and all those engaged with the airport project, on the tremendous progress made over the past two years. Of course, much remains to be done to position St Helena to obtain maximum benefit from air access. That must be the focus of our attention over the next two years and I look forward to working with Councillors and the people of St Helena to help secure the foundations for a bright and prosperous future for all who live here.”
While the physical work on the ground must be recognised, so too should the ongoing ‘behind the scenes’ work within Government that strives towards preparing the Island for air access in 2016.
Director of Corporate Policy and Planning, Susan O’Bey commented:
“In 2010 we embarked upon an ambitious reform programme more commonly referred to as the ‘MOU’ which was designed to help St Helena and Saints gear up for the airport opening. As a result of the MOU and with the support of our Councillors, we have implemented more development friendly policies for Land Disposal and Land Development, Immigration and Investment. We have reviewed our Benefits system, introduced a Basic Island Pension and will shortly be introducing a Minimum Income Standard.
“Air access for St Helena will mean an end to physical isolation and the beginning of the real possibility of growing an economy, principally based on tourism. The opening of the airport will mark the start of a new era for St Helena – one that promises opportunities for growth across all sectors of the community.”
The Island now looks forward to further economic benefits and increased career opportunities for Saints in the run up to 2016, when air access for the Island will be realised.
Executive Council will meet on Monday 4 November 2013, in the Council Chamber.
Commencing at 9.30am, the meeting will be open to the public for the first agenda item, the Introduction of a Minimum Income Standard for the setting and up-rating of IRB and BIP; Social Security (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2013.
Executive Council Members are: Ian Rummery, Cyril George, Christine Scipio O’Dean, Leslie Baldwin and Derek Thomas (in Lawson Henry’s absence).
The formal opening of the St Helena Supreme Court took place yesterday at 10:30am.
His Lordship, the Chief Justice, Charles Ekins Esq accompanied by his wife, entered the Courthouse along with invited guests which included Lawyers, the media, Government officials and members of the public.
Frank Wastell, Acting Attorney General, welcomed the Chief Justice and his wife on this ninth visit to St Helena. The Acting Attorney General also acknowledged the attendance of several visiting skilled practitioners, and the return of Aldhelm Garner who has completed his professional studies in the United Kingdom and has now joined the Public Solicitor’s Office.
This speech was followed by the Chief Justice, who praised the work of Attorney General Ken Baddon (currently off Island), wishing him well for the future with his approaching retirement.
Noted during both speeches was the mention of the loss of two Lay Advocate positions on Island, and his Lordship thanked the work by Mr Bill Drabble and Mr Mikael Per Olsson before their resignations.
It is expected that this Supreme Court will be the busiest and most demanding in recent years.
Please see attached photographs accompanying this release.