St Helena Government (SHG) already provides accurate and timely information to the public in many ways – including through routine publishing of public information and by interaction with the media – as part of open and transparent Government. 

Where information held by SHG is not already in the public domain, the general public can already, and does, make various requests to St Helena Government for information, and such requests are normally dealt with by the relevant Directorate.

From today, 1 September 2014, SHG streamlines that approach and offers a central point of enquiry – under its new Code of Practice for Public Access to SHG Information.  The Code of Practice can be viewed at:  http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/public-access-to-information/

The Code draws on access to information policies and legislation in the UK (e.g. FOI) and other island states.

The new Code deals with public requests for SHG information where that information is not already available by other means.  So, the code does not replace the handling of routine requests from the public or the media by telephone, by e-mail or face to face, etc. These routine day to day requests to Government will continue to be dealt with simply and quickly through the normal channels.

But where members of the public wish to see information held by SHG, where it is not already available by other means – then they can from today make a request under the new Code of Practice for Public Access to SHG Information.

Councillor Ian Rummery said:

‘Freedom of Information was a major topic of discussion during the Election campaign last year, and the new Code of Practice for Public Access to SHG Information is an important part of SHG’s openness and transparency agenda.  The Code will be kept under review and will be audited after six months to see how it has been used and what, if any, improvements can be made.  Some information cannot be released to the public but this Code does offer a sensible and workable framework for the public to make requests, and requires SHG to explain where information cannot be released.’

Councillors will provide advice and assistance where needed to help constituents who wish to make requests under this procedure.

St Helena Government’s presumption will be for disclosure, and information will be provided unless one or more of the Exceptions in the Code applies.  Again, these Exceptions draw on UK and international best practice, and they are important because St Helena Government, like all Governments, recognises that it does need to respect confidentiality between parties and has a duty to protect privacy and certain information. 

The Code applies to all information held with proprietary rights by SHG, regardless of who produced or supplied the information and subject to the Exceptions listed in the Code.  The Code requires all SHG employees dealing with requests to ensure that any request received from the public for information and made under the Code of Practice for Public Access to SHG Information, is dealt with in compliance with the Code. 

From today, all requests for SHG information made under the Code of Practice, should be sent, in writing, directly to the Executive Manager Corporate Services, SHG, at the Castle, or by e-mail to:  informationrequest@sainthelena.gov.sh

 SHG

1 September 2014

Councillors Constituency Surgeries conclude this Saturday, in Jamestown and Sandy Bay. Both surgeries will take place between 10am and 12noon.

If you would like to give Councillors advance notice of your concern before attending a surgery, you can do so by contacting the Secretary to Elected Members, Anita Legg, on Tel: 22590 or email: sec.em@helanta.co.sh

CONSTITUENCY SURGERIES
From 10am to 12noon
Venue Date Councillors Attending
No.3 Main Street, Jamestown 6  September Brian Isaac & Bernice Olsson
Sandy Bay Community Centre 6  September Dr Corinda Essex & Gavin Ellick

On behalf of St Helena Legislative Council

1 September 2014

Councillors Constituency Surgeries continue this Saturday at Half Tree Hollow, St Paul’s and Longwood.  All the surgeries take place between 10am and 12noon.

If you would like to give Councillors advance notice of your concern before attending a surgery, you can do so by contacting the Secretary to Elected Members, Anita Legg, on Tel: 22590 or email: sec.em@helanta.co.sh

Dates and locations of the surgeries are detailed below:

CONSTITUENCY SURGERIES
From 10am to 12noon
Venue Date Councillors Attending
Half Tree Hollow Clinic 30 August Nigel Dollery & Lawson Henry
Kingshurst Community Centre, St Paul’s 30 August Gavin Ellick & ChristineScipio-O’Dean
Harford Community Centre, Longwood 30 August Les Baldwin & Brian Isaac
No.3 Main Street, Jamestown 6  September Brian Isaac & Bernice Olsson
Sandy Bay Community Centre 6  September Dr Corinda Essex & Gavin Ellick

On behalf of St Helena Legislative Council

26 August 2014

Arriving on the RMS tomorrow, Wednesday 27 August 2014, are five new teachers to join the St Helena Education team.

Andy Parkinson and Jonathan Lambdon will be joining Prince Andrew School to teach Maths – both are experienced teachers arriving from successful schools in the UK.

Beverley Tyson will lead on Marine Science, teaching classes at Prince Andrew School but also working across the age ranges including within Lifelong Learning. Beverley’s appointment sees the re-introduction of Marine Studies to the school curriculum.

Beverley will be joined at Prince Andrew School by Alison Laycock, who will be teaching French at Prince Andrew School and across the wider Directorate.

Another new arrival, Christine Blake, will be joining the Directorate to lead on teacher training across all schools.

All five new members, who arrive on two year contracts to fill vacant posts, will also have important roles to play in supporting wider developments within Education, including reforming the curriculum and modernising professional development programmes.

Three of the new teachers are replacing staff who have completed contracts and two are new posts. Due to the specialist nature of these roles, they are all funded by DfID – representing a key stage in developing a 21st century curriculum for the young people of St Helena at a time of massive economic and social change.

Director of Education and Employment, Colin Moore, commented:

“I am very pleased to welcome our new specialist teachers. They join the Directorate at a very important time. We have rising achievement and ambition amongst our children and young people and our new staff will help us to turn these dreams and high ambitions into reality.”

Christine Scipio O’Dean, Chair of the Education Committee, added:

“The strong curriculum that we offer our students requires specialist skills and experience. Our new team of teachers will help us to develop local expertise and specialist teaching provision. We wish them a warm welcome to St Helena.”

SHG

26 August 2014

 

For young people and their parents, today represents the end of a period of waiting since exams took place a few months ago – today is the day that Prince Andrew School students receive their GCSE results – and they are the best ever recorded.

The 2014 results are the best ever achieved on the Island and are setting new records – with virtually half of Year 11 students achieving five GCSE A*- C grades, including English and Maths.

While detailed analysis of results is yet to be done, Councillor Christine Scipio-O’Dean, Chair of the Education Committee, said:

“I am delighted to offer my personal congratulations to the Year 11 students who have done so well this year. On behalf of the Education Committee, I would like to say ‘Well Done’ to all of the students and their families.”

Headteacher, Paul Starkie added:

“We at Prince Andrew School are extremely proud of our GCSE results this year. They reflect the hard work our students have put into preparing for these exams and also the dedication and commitment of our teachers.

“I hope the success achieved by our students this year will be an inspiration to their counterparts next year and prove to them that with effort and determination, they too can achieve the high results they are capable of.”

The small cohort of students who sat A & AS-level examinations received their results last week.  As in the UK, results were mixed with some students receiving their predicted grades and others missing out.

The Education Committee also met this week and heard from Primary Advisor, Zoe Robinson, on the progress being made in Primary schools. The assessments for St Helena Primary Schools this year were significantly different from those administered last year – because the UK Department for Education has ‘raised the bar.’

For example, Mathematics assessments this year did not allow the use of calculators and English tests did not include a separate writing exercise – instead writing was assessed within the recently introduced Spelling, Punctuation & Grammar test.

The challenging target for St Helena of 60% of all Primary School children achieving a level 4 or above was not met, but Harford School exceeded this target in English and Maths. Overall, the Primary Schools have shown improvements in Reading, Writing and Maths, compared to last year. And bearing in mind the changes in assessments and general raising of standards, this represents significant progress within Primary Schools.

But there is no room for complacency. Boys are still being out-performed by girls, and the next school year will see the Directorate putting in place new strategies to raise achievement, including:

 

  • A new Curriculum in line with changes taking place in the UK
  • The start in September of a Year of Mathematics on St Helena
  • A new approach to training of staff
  • Keeping the focus on teaching and learning

Finally, a word of caution. Percentages only tell a partial tale, particularly when we have such small cohorts of children. In one school for example, one child can represent over 3% of the cohort. We will of course continue to set challenging percentage targets, but our approach must also be to address the individual needs of each young person relative to their unique learning profile.

Next month, the Education Committee will receive a full report on this year’s results.

Colin Moore, Director of Education and Employment, commented:

“Schools have worked very hard over the past year to provide a really varied range of activities for our children and young people. At the heart of everything they do is the key priority of raising achievement. Only good teaching results in successful learning.

“Across all age ranges there is real progress being made.  We know there is a continuing job to be done in building on our previous best.  We will be introducing a ‘Year of Mathematics’ soon to stimulate interest and raise attainment in Maths.

“These record breaking results are the news that the Island has been waiting for. They show that we have young people with the talent and skills that St Helena needs.  We should all join together in saying well done and congratulations to our young people and their teachers.”

Finally giving his reaction to the results, Governor Capes concluded:

“This is really excellent news for St Helena. I offer warm congratulations to students, parents and teachers. The bar has now been raised. I hope that will encourage students taking these important exams next year to redouble their efforts over the months ahead so that they can match or surpass these results.”   

 

SHG

22 August 2014

 

As previously advised on 11 August, the Lower Wharf will be closed from 12.30pm tomorrow, Saturday 23 August 2014, until Monday morning 25 August (Bank Holiday Monday).  This will be a full closure of the Lower Wharf, with no pedestrian or vehicle access for the duration.

However, the Middle Steps and Upper Steps (Thompson’s Crane), and surrounding areas, will be open to pedestrians and vehicles all weekend, including Bank Holiday Monday.  Only the Lower Steps area will be closed.

This closure is necessary to allow new road markings to be painted around the area of the Cranes and the Life Boats, adjacent to the lower steps.  These areas will be cordoned off.

Additionally, there will be no Ferry Service from Jamestown Wharf this Sunday, 24 August.   However, the Ferry Service will operate as normal on Bank Holiday Monday, 25 August – once the work has been completed.

SHG

22 August 2014

An outbreak of a serious and highly contagious bird disease has been identified in two specific chicken flocks in Half Tree Hollow and New Ground.  ANRD Veterinary Service is working with a major UK laboratory to diagnose the disease. A broad range of samples has been taken, to leave on the next RMS voyage – world experts will be working on this case for St Helena.

An emergency Quarantine Order was put in place yesterday under the Animals (Diseases) Regulations.  It has now been necessary to extend Quarantine at both properties lasting for a total of eight weeks, dating from today.

Culling of poultry has now taken place at both premises as well as disinfection of affected areas.

Notices have been posted at the two premises and disinfectant points established.

ANRD believes there are no human health issues relating to this specific disease.  But the disease is highly contagious and can easily be spread from one bird to another. In order to help stop the spread of this deadly disease and save St Helena’s poultry stock, it is vital that poultry keepers follow the simple measures below:

STOP THE SPREAD

  •  Wherever practical, try to 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
  • 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
  • Have a dedicated set of boots and overalls for your poultry coop which never leave your premises
  • Wash your hands after visiting the chickens
  • Discourage visitors to your coop
  • And report any unusual deaths or symptoms to the Veterinary Service at ANRD on tel. 24724.  Symptoms in chickens may include all or some of:

o   Open mouth breathing

o   Coughing and sneezing

o   Discharge from the eyes and nostrils

o   Blackening of combs and wattles

o   Sudden egg drop, combined with pale, paper-thin egg shells

o   Severe yellow and watery diarrhoea

Any enquiries can be made to the Senior Veterinary Officer at ANRD on tel. 24724 or email: joe-hollins@enrd.gov.sh

SHG

22 August 2014

It was brought to the attention of SHG on Wednesday 20 August 2014 that a section of fuel line used for the movement of fuel from the tanker to the fuel tanks in Rupert’s – was damaged. The affected area is directly behind the beach area.

Ben Sansom from the Environment and Natural Resources Directorate reported:

“We have been on site since last night supporting all organisations who responded to the incident. The affected section of fuel line has been isolated and we are ensuring that fuel operations continue at Rupert’s.

“Last night we excavated an area of polluted soil which has been stockpiled at the landfill site for remediation. ENRD is providing technical support to Solomons and we are fully investigating any wider environmental impact. We will continue to monitor the situation with the contractor.”

Investigations are ongoing as to the volume of fuel which has been lost as a result of the leakage but the public are assured there is no impact on fuel supplies on the Island. The next delivery of fuel to the Island is scheduled in early November and there is plenty of fuel on the Island to cover this period.

St Helena Government, Basil Read and Solomons are working together to ensure public safety and resolve any outstanding environmental concerns. Lower Rupert’s and the Rupert’s Wharf area are already closed until further notice to rectify the situation and for offloading operations of the NP Glory 4 ship.

The public are reminded that if they see or are concerned about any pollution problem on the Island, they should immediately contact the Pollution hotline on tel: 22790 to make a report.

SHG

21 August 2014

Two representatives of the Lucy Faithfull Foundation (LFF) visited St Helena for two weeks in May 2013, primarily to review the way SHG handled child protection cases. Their visit was initiated, contracted and paid for by the UK Government.

Since the St Helena Independent newspaper drew attention to the draft LFF report being available online, some individuals on St Helena have sought to argue that it is right for the public to have access to it. Many others have taken an opposing view.  I thought it right that I, as Governor, should offer my view on this.

It was never intended that the LFF report should be made public, given the importance of protecting the identity of victims of abuse, as well as the identity of those who were asked to provide information to LFF on a strictly confidential basis.  A summary of the LFF’s principal findings, as contained in the final version of the report, was published on the SHG website in October 2013.

The summary, which protects personal and confidential details, provided the basis for public discussion of the main issues covered in the report. The media gave it constructive coverage and Councillors discussed the subject at Constituency meetings. It was acknowledged that, as in the UK and elsewhere, St Helena had problems to address. Drawing on recommendations made in the LFF report, SHG launched a work programme to improve management of this important area of work.

We all know that earlier this year an unnamed individual leaked a draft copy of the LFF report to a UK newspaper. This resulted in a series of headlines which outraged Saints and the many friends of St Helena around the world.  A few weeks ago, it became known that a draft version of the LFF report was leaked to a law firm in London which then published the entire draft report on its website. The St Helena Independent newspaper subsequently printed an ‘anonymous’ letter providing a link to the leaked report on the UK law firm’s website. SHG then took immediate steps to counsel and help protect victims and others identified in this draft LFF report.

It should be understood here that the leaked LFF draft report is just that – an early draft. The final version was produced much later after work to check and filter information gathered from many sources by the LFF representatives during their brief visit to St Helena.

Much of the work of your government, by far the bulk of it, is open and transparent; and so it should be.  I am pleased that over the past few years we have seen much more openness in government than hitherto.  But most people will readily agree that some information must, for important reasons, stay confidential, restricted only to those who need to know.

I have been asked by some in our community whether those who argue that the LFF draft report should be published would be happy if SHG were to publish their medical and social services records, police records, personal financial, tax and employment details and so on. I think not. Or would they agree to the Bank of St Helena publishing their personal expenditure and income statements?  I think not.

The work of Police and Social Service Officers can be seriously damaged and undermined by breaches of trust and confidentiality, even more so in such a small community as ours.  One might think this should be glaringly obvious to most people.  To support publication of a confidential report about child protection, knowing that it would be likely to damage efforts to improve performance in that area and cause grief to victims and families that have had to deal with abuse, is reprehensible.

Nonetheless, the callous attitude of the few will not deter those in SHG and in our community who are working hard to strengthen measures to protect children and the vulnerable from abuse of any sort. We are making steady progress and more expert resources are being allocated to help take forward this vital work.  I am sure that the community as a whole will welcome and support that.

 HE Governor Capes

20 August 2014

 

 

 

The Quarterly Statistical News Bulletin, published in August 2014, covers the period April to June 2014 and contains updates for the annual rate of inflation of the Retail Price Index, Income and Imports, Estimated Population, Migration and Vehicles on St Helena.

Annual inflation of the St Helena Retail Price Index (RPI) stood at 1.9 per cent in Quarter 2 2014 – up by approximately 1 per cent from the previous quarter. The major upwards pressure on annual inflation of the RPI was a result in the increased price of purchasing and importing a vehicle to St Helena. Other notable price increases included electricity tariffs, local fish and fizzy drinks – a result of the soda tax introduced in May 2014. The decrease in the cost of broadband internet services and the pump price of petrol compared to the same period last year continue to act as downwards pressures on the rate of annual inflation.

In the second quarter of 2014, the number of people on St Helena averaged 4,500 and the average St Helenian population stood a little over 4,000. This is an expected seasonal decline and both the resident population and the resident St Helenianpopulation both continue to grow in comparison to the same period in any year since the 2008 population Census.

In the second quarter of 2014, there were 40 fewer passenger arrivals than the same period in 2013, a reduction of 5.1 per cent.  An increase in the number of business and transit visitors partially offset reductions in the number of excursion visitors (the traditional St Helenian “tourist” base) and Saints retiring from overseas employment or visiting family and friends.  In the second quarter of 2014, there were 120 additional passenger departures from St Helena compared to the same period in 2013. The increase in passenger departures is a result of a more mobile St Helenian population with an increase in the number of Saints travelling overseas for both recreational and medical purposes.

Statistician, Dr Paula McLeod said:

“The data we are collecting continue to show a growing St Helenian population and economy. The consistent, steady growth in both of these indicators is positive – we are seeing gradual and persistent changes, rather than erratic variation.”

The Statistical News Bulletin, along with other statistical reports, is available for download from the SHG website www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics

If you have requested a copy of the Quarterly Statistical News Bulletin via email and have not yet received it, please contact the office on 22138 or by emailing statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh

SHG

19 August 2014