Executive Council met today Tuesday 16 September 2014 with five items on the Open Agenda.

The first item was a request for Executive Council to endorse the refreshed Sustainable Development Plan 2014-17 (SDP).  The original SDP was published in 2012, and since then the Island has seen significant development which the refreshed SDP now reflects.

This SDP is a slimmer and more focussed version, primarily reflecting the Island’s commitment to deliver increased economic growth. Executive Council was pleased to endorse the plan and thanked all who worked hard to produce this new version. It is now available on the SHG website at http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/publications/

The second item on the Open Agenda was the relocation and rationalisation of SHG office accommodation. In summary, the agreed relocations were:

  • The Police Service would move from the Grand Parade to the Adult & Vocational Education Centre (AVEC). The AVEC building will be adapted and refurbished for the Police. There will also be a Police reception and an Out of Hours office located at the Castle.
  • The AVEC IT Training Room will move to Carnarvon Court.
  • Councillors’ offices will move from No 3 Main Street to within the Castle, below the Council Chamber.

There was a related submission from the Information Technology department to move towards a ‘Thin Client’ computer service. This will allow each SHG member of staff to log on at any connected terminal and have all of their work saved to a central server.  While this new system is quite expensive to set up, it will thereafter improve efficiencies and save operational costs.  Executive Council agreed the funding for this project.

The next item was an Information Paper on the revised fuel prices.  Fuel prices are now determined by a formula based on the cost of the fuel, the cost of transport and the tax imposed on the fuel.  SHG is committed to a policy of equalising the tax imposed on petrol and diesel, but it is important to note that equalising the rate of tax could still lead to a price differential between the two fuels.

There was also an Information Paper on the Undertakings and Resolutions made at the last formal meeting of Legislative Council.  It is important that decisions made at formal Legislative Council are monitored to ensure that they are properly implemented in a timely manner.  There is now a tracker document as part of the monitoring process.

The recent outbreak of Newcastle Disease amongst chickens on St Helena has made necessary a temporary regulation to prohibit the export of poultry (whether live or in the form of meat products) and eggs from St Helena to Ascension Island. This was agreed, as it minimises the risk of this disease being transmitted to chickens on Ascension. The regulation will remain effective until ANRD gives St Helena the all clear of the disease.

In the Closed Session, the substantive item was a discussion on the disposal of the ex-PWD store. A decision was taken and further information will be released in due course once contract negotiations have been concluded.

A discussion then followed on forthcoming Airport Legislation needed for Certification. This detailed and technical legislation will be presented to formal Legislative Council in December 2014.

Finally, the Governor announced that a DFID team will be coming to St Helena at the end of October 2014 to engage in budget discussions. This mission may not announce an agreed final budget figure on Island at the end of their visit. This may require further detailed work before it is announced. This annual DFID visit was previously known as the Development Aid Planning Mission (DAPM) and will now be known as the Budgetary Aid Mission (BAM).

The meeting concluded at 11.50am.

ExCo

16 September 2014

Councillor Christine Scipio-O’Dean will depart St Helena this week to attend the 60th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference and 34th Small Branches Conference in Cameroon, which will run from 2 – 10 October 2014.

During the course of the conference several workshops will be held, including ‘Unity and Diversity’, ‘Joining Hands for Womens’ Rights’, ‘Parliamentarian in Gender Empowerment’, ‘Development Agenda against the Standards set out in the Commonwealth Charter’ and ‘Good Governance for the 21st Century: (Transparency and Accountability’).  As some of these workshops will be held at the same time Councillor Scipio-O’Dean has chosen to attend ‘Joining Hands for Womens’ Rights’ and one entitled ‘How Can Parliament Ensure that Young People are Placed at the Centre of Sustainable Development’.

Councillor Scipio-O’Dean said:

“I am delighted to attend the 60th Commonwealth Parliamentary and Small Branches Conferences in Cameroon which will allow me to engage with parliamentarians across the British Islands & Mediterranean Regions and beyond, to share experiences, knowledge, ideas and observations.” 

Christine will be taking a lead role by attending the Executive Committee Meeting, and during the Small Branches Conference, Councillor Scipio-O’Dean will lead the discussion on the Challenge of Small States’ Vulnerabilities in relation to Social and Economic Development.

Assistant Chief Secretary (Support), Gillian Francis commented:

“This is an opportunity for Councillor Scipio-O’Dean to network and build relationships with members of the CPA.  Attendance at the conference will also provide opportunity to promote St Helena as a tourist and investment destination in the run-up to the Airport opening.” 

SHG

16 September 2014

A new school year has begun and the Island schools are planning for an exciting year ahead.  There has never been a more important time to make sure that your children make the most of the opportunities a good education gives them.

One of the easiest ways to help your children succeed in school is to make sure that they do attend school regularly. Councillor Christine Scipio-O’Dean said:

“It is the parents’ responsibility to ensure that children attend school from the age 5-16. The majority of the children have strong attendance and hardly ever miss school, but unfortunately some children do not have such a good record and sometimes miss school for trivial reasons.”

The Education Directorate will now be monitoring attendance more robustly and senior officers within the Directorate will not be slow to contact parents if it looks like a child’s attendance record is a cause for concern.

Director of Education Colin Moore concluded:

“We want all our children to enjoy learning and to take part in all the activities their school has to offer. I urge parents to help their children and young people to attend school regularly.  Don’t miss out by missing school!”

SHG

15 September 2014

INITIAL FINDINGS

With the cooperation of the RMS St Helena, the conservation team on Ascension Island and the RAF, the poultry samples taken from St Helena – consisting of sera, multiple organs, and swabs taken from eight severely affected chickens – arrived in excellent condition at the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations reference laboratory in London.

The laboratory, a world centre of excellence, has now diagnosed Newcastle Disease, also known as Fowl Plague. The laboratory will now grow and isolate the virus, with the intention of identifying the specific strain and potential source.

There is no threat to general public health on St Helena. However, those in direct contact with infected birdsmay develop a very short-term eye infection (conjunctivitis), which passes without treatment. Poultry keepers on St Helena are advised of the possibility of eye infections.

No human cases of Newcastle Disease have occurred through eating any poultry products.

In terms of preventative measures, ANRD has already deployed a vaccine from South Africa to protect the Island’s parent stock and other large flocks around the two initial sites of outbreak. This is called ring vaccination, and if another outbreak occurs outside this ring, it may be necessary to vaccinate other flocks of domestic chickens on the Island. These measures will mitigate risk of spread to wild birds too. ANRD will monitor the situation. The public will be kept informed of any other outbreaks and of the final laboratory findings.

This disease is not confined to poultry. The disease rarely has a fatal outcome for wild birds, but as virulence varies between viral strains and bird species, the potential effect on St Helena’s wild birds cannot be accurately predicted, until the strain is identified.

More will be known about the specific strain and the potential source once the laboratory has completed its investigations.

Measures are also now being put in place to prevent the movement of local eggs and poultry products from St Helena to other destinations.

Vaccination has already been applied to poultry at susceptible sites and application of the simple hygiene measures detailed below will help to reduce the potential spread of the disease.

Any enquiries relating to Newcastle Disease can be made to the Head of ANRD on tel. 24724 or email. darren-duncan@enrd.gov.sh

The public are encouraged to report any unusual bird deaths.

STOP THE SPREAD

 

  • Set up a footbath such as a bucket or washing up bowl filled with disinfectant or bleach at the entrance to the coop. Dip your feet on the way in and on the way out to create a barrier to germs
  • Wherever practical, keep your poultry inside the coop
  • Even if your set-up means you are unable to do this, keep all feed and water inside the coop
  • Do your best to exclude wild birds by blocking holes and using netting, and remove any spilled feed that could attract wild birds
  • Have a dedicated set of boots and overalls for your poultry coop which never leaves your property
  • Wash your hands after visiting the chickens
  • Discourage visitors to your coop and avoid visiting birds at other premises
  • Protective eyewear is advisable during actual outbreaks

Please report any unusual poultry deaths or symptoms to the Veterinary Service at ANRD on tel. 24724. 

Symptoms in chickens may include all or some of thefollowing:

o   Open mouth breathing

o   Coughing and sneezing

o   Discharge from the eyes and nostrils

o   Blackening of combs and wattles

o   Severe yellow and watery diarrhoea

o   Sudden egg drop, combined with paper-thin eggshells

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Newcastle Disease virus?

Newcastle Disease virus is a virus that can cause a deadly infection in many kinds of birds.  There are many different strains and not all are pathogenic.

  • What animals can contract Newcastle Disease?  

Both domestic and wild birds can be affected by Newcastle Disease (ND). Chickens are particularly susceptible. Turkeys, ducks, geese and pigeons are also known to be potentially affected.  ND in wild birds is rarely fatal and susceptibility is highly variable between different species of birds.

  • How can my poultry catch Newcastle Disease?

Newcastle Disease is spread by direct contact with the droppings, body fluids or respiratory discharges of infected birds. The virus can live for a long time in the environment and can also be spread by shoes, clothing, and equipment.

  • How does Newcastle Disease affect my poultry?

Newcastle Disease in birds can vary from no signs of illness to sudden death. Affected birds may have coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge and diarrhoea. Chicken flocks often show a sudden decrease in egg production or produce thin-shelled eggs.

  • Can humans catch Newcastle Disease?

Newcastle Disease is not considered a general public health threat. Infection in humans is very rare and very mild.

People regularly in direct contact with poultry should watch for signs of conjunctivitis (swelling and reddening of the tissues around the eyes). Poultry crews and laboratory workers are at the greatest risk of potential exposure to the virus.

Most medical authorities state that the disease poses no health risk to consumers of eggs or poultry meat. No human cases of Newcastle Disease have occurred from eating poultry products.

Chickens with the disease will be destroyed and will not enter the food chain, and the virus is destroyed by cooking.

  • How can I protect myself from Newcastle Disease?

When working directly with birds or poultry, especially when they are ill, wear gloves and safety glasses. Wash your hands after all contact. Avoid touching your eyes until your hands have been washed.

Please refer also to the preventative measures outlined in the above press release.

SHG

12 September 2014

 

 

Open to the Public from 9.30 am

Executive Council will meet next Tuesday morning, 16 September 2014, in the Council Chamber.

The meeting will be open to the public from 9.30am for the following Open Agenda items:

 

  • Sustainable Development Plan
  • Capital Programme 2014/15 – Relocation and Rationalisation of SHG Office Accommodation
  • Information Paper on Revised Fuel Prices
  • Information Paper of Undertakings And Resolutions Made at the Formal Meeting of Legislative Council Held on 11 August 2014

Executive Council Members are: Ian Rummery, Christine Scipio-O’Dean, Lawson Henry, Wilson Duncan and Leslie Baldwin.

SHG

12 September 2014

 

Police Service - Confirmation in Rank Ceremony
Police Service – Confirmation in Rank Ceremony

Five St Helena Police Constables were officially Confirmed in Rank during a special ceremony in the Council Chamber on Wednesday 10 September 2014.

PCs Julianne Benjamin, Jane John, Brianna Yon, Clayton Crowie and Craig Crowie all passed their two year probationary period and initial police training and were recognised for their achievements in the presence of invited family and friends.

The ceremony was opened with prayers from Bishop Richard Fenwick, followed by opening remarks from Chief of Police, Trevor Botting, who said:

“It is my privilege to be the Chief of Police for St Helena and Ascension Island and no more so than today – when I have the pleasure of recognising the achievements of Officers setting out on a career with the Police Service.

“Sir Robert Peel, who founded the Metropolitan Police in 1829, is reported to have said ‘The Police are the public and the public are the Police’. These words stay true for today’s modern policing where I believe it is crucial to have local people policing their local community. The officers receiving their certificates today, to recognise their confirmation in the rank of Constable, are just that – Saints proudly serving their local community.

“This is my opportunity to say thank you to you, the families who support their loved ones in their chosen career and all that this entails. To you my officers I would say this: Congratulations on your achievements during your first two years and in your Confirmation in Rank. You epitomise what the Police Service stands for through our values – Professionalism, Respect & Dignity, Honesty & Integrity, Courage, Supportiveness and Compassion.”

Inspector Jonathan Thomas echoed the Chief’s words and commented on the day as being one of many milestones in a Police Officer’s career and one they should all be proud of. He went on to say that to pass their probationary period, Police Constables had to carry out various tasks including control of the beat, making arrests, attending court, detaining, interview planning, conducting interviews and accident procedures. All Constables carried out these operational duties to a high standard, and were recognised today.

Certificates were presented to the five Constables by Head of the Governor’s Office Sean Burns, who also recognised not only the achievement of each of those present, but the St Helena Police Service as a whole. He remarked on the continuous evolvement of the service and its strive towards excellence and gaining public confidence. He paid tribute to each member of the Police Service for the work they do which can be difficult in a small community but appreciated by all whom they serve.

This was the first time a ceremony has been held to confirm officers in rank and it is planned this will become a normal occurrence in future.

A group photo is attached.

SHG

12 September 2014

Further to the press release issued yesterday (Tuesday 9 September 2014) regarding Outpatient Clinics, the Health & Social Services Directorate would like to remind the public of the dates and times of the Pharmacy Bus facility in the districts:

  • Half Tree Hollow Clinic – Every Monday from 10am
  • Longwood Clinic – Alternate Wednesdays (from today, 10 September 2014)
  • Levelwood Clinic – Once every 4 weeks ( the next visit to Levelwood will be on Thursday 25 September 2014)

The Directorate thanks the public in advance for its understanding and cooperation.

SHG

10 September 2014

On 12 August 2014,ExCo agreed to the allocation of £1m of extra funding to build a newsolar farm for electricity generation on St Helena.The new funding has been identified specifically to support only renewable energy projects, and must be spent in this financial year, 2014/15. ExCo was very supportive of this proposal as solar generated electricity reduces the Island’s reliance on diesel imports for power generation.

This new project will place St Helena at the forefront of renewable energy technology, and work to identify the most suitable site on the Island has now been completed.

Currently, approximately 20% of St Helena’s energy comes from wind power, with the remaining 80% from diesel.Decreasing the use of diesel and increasing the use of natural sources of energy benefits St Helena’s economy and reduces our dependency on imports.The first phase of the solar farm will increase renewable energy capacity on the Island to close to 30%, putting St Helena way ahead of the UK with regards to clean energy. Producing solar energy also aligns generation with peak day time demand.

Connect SaintHelenaLtd is now submitting a Planning Application for  a large solar farm around the current site of the rifle range at HalfTreeHollow.This siteis earmarked for commercial development and has been initially identified from a number of possible locations. A replacement rifle range is also under consideration.

The normal consultation process has now begun,with all stakeholders,including local businesses and the Rifle Association to be fully consulted. Public meetings are also planned.

Trevor Graham,Director of the Environment& Natural Resources Directorate,said:

While many countries around the world talk about the need to increase renewable energy, few are making actual and major progress. Global leaders on renewable energy are often cities and islands,such as the Marshall Islands in the Pacific and Samso off the coast of Denmark. We intend to learn from these and others.

This is an exciting opportunity for St Helena and a major step towards becoming self- sufficient in energy.’

Further details will be provided in due course.

SHG & Connect Saint Helena Ltd

10 September 2014