Executive Council will meet on Tuesday 3 December 2013, in the Council Chamber.
Commencing at 9.30am, the meeting will be open to the public for the first three agenda items: Liquor Fees, Gaming Machine Fees and Regulations and Orders under the Land Planning & Development Control Ordinance 2013.
Executive Council Members are: Ian Rummery, Cyril George, Christine Scipio O’Dean, Leslie Baldwin and Derek Thomas (in Lawson Henry’s absence).
John Bowker, DFID’s Infrastructure Adviser and Pauline Scott, DFID’s Deputy Programme Manager, arrived on Island on Monday 25 November.
Their purpose was to review the current infrastructure on St Helena and establish further work to be conducted within the programme. They also assessed previous recommendations and work to date – looking at progress and the challenges which have been met.
Pauline and John met with a range of stakeholders, including project managers, SHG officials, and Councillor Cyril George, Chair of the Environment & Natural Resources Committee. During the week they have examined specific projects, including divestment of water and electricity to Connect St Helena Ltd, the new prison and evaluating essential improvements needed at the General Hospital.
Shortly before the team departed St Helena this morning, John explained:
“We have met with key stakeholders and gained a clear view of the infrastructure needs of the Island. One of the key reasons for our visit is to gather information in order to write a business case for St Helena
“A lot of work still needs to be done but, for example, the work done at the power plant, the new generators, solar power and improvements to the drainage systems on the road network, are investments which will in future cut costs for St Helena Government.”
John plans to visit the Island on a yearly basis and to work closely with relevant stakeholders and help overcome any difficulties that arise in implementing projects.
DFID’s role – working closely with SHG – is to provide advice, support and funding to address priority needs on St Helena as the Airport approaches.
Councillor Lawson Henry and Assistant Financial Secretary, Dax Richards, this week represents St Helena at the annual Joint Ministerial Council (JMC) at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London.
The JMC brings together political leaders from the Overseas Territories, and this year takes place between 26-28 November – hosted by FCO Minister for the Overseas Territories, Mark Simmonds MP.
Discussions this year focuses on promoting economic growth in the Territories and creating jobs. Other topics include Economic Diversification, Employment and Education, the Overseas Territories’ Links with the Wider World, Green Energy and Environment and International Financial Services Regulation.
Commenting on his attendance at the Council, Councillor Henry said:“The first day of the JMC was a long but interesting session with all Territory leaders making a number of interventions in the subjects that were debated. I came away with the feeling that HMG do really want a partnership with all its Overseas Territories. I was supported by our very experienced UK Rep, Mrs Kedell Worboys MBE and Assistant Financial Secretary Dax Richards.”
The Plenary of the JMC concluded on 26 November with the agreement of a Communiqué. This can be seen on the SHG website at: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/publications/
Discussions will continue at official level on Health, Environment, Passports and Visas and Criminal Justice. Councillor Henry will attend the meeting with the Environmental Audit Committee this afternoon. The JMC will conclude tomorrow with the Overseas Territories Business Event.
The JMC is the principle forum for reviewing and implementing the shared strategy for promoting the security and good governance of the Territories and their sustainable economic and social development.
Councillor Henry and Dax will also form the St Helena Delegation, along with the SHG UK Representative, Kedell Worboys, to attend the 12th OCT-EU Forum in Brussels from 5-12 December 2013.
Councillor Henry and Dax will return to the Island on 17 December 2013.
On Friday 22 November Bank of St Helena Ltd (BOSH) launched its eighth sponsored Youth Games, which runs from 22 November to 18 December. Organised by New Horizons Youth Leader, Nicky Stevens, supported by his team and volunteers, the Bank of St Helena Youth Games encourage young people in the community from the ages of 11-18 to develop and show their sporting skills, engage in competition, and interact with their peers.
The Bank of St Helena actively contributes to the social development of St Helena by funding such community activities. Sponsorship by the Bank is used to purchase medals and arrange activities supporting the Games. The opening Jamestown Swimming Pool event will be followed by Pool Table Singles held at New Horizons and Shooting at the Jamestown Rifle Club.
Nicky Stevens, at the opening of the Swimming Pool event, thanked the Games volunteers and his staff for creating a successful opening event, commenting that: “In the past, those who have excelled at events in the BOSH Youth Games have gone on to represent St Helena at International levels.”
Lyn Thomas, Chairperson of the BOSH Board of Directors, opened the Games and commented on the importance of promoting life skills, teamwork, and competition, highlighting that all competitors should approach the Games “feisty, friendly and fairly.”
Supported by onlookers at the Pool, the Swimming Heats held on Friday 22 November saw the district of Jamestown winning the competition, with Longwood second, St Pauls third and Half Tree Hollow, fourth.
Mercia George, Marketing and Customs Manager of BOSH added:
“The Bank of St Helena is committed to the development of youth, culture and the community. Sports are a big part of St Helena’s culture and we try to maintain and encourage that as much as possible. In all of the scheduled events, we will aim to support New Horizons as much as we can.”
BOSH has previously funded the publication of a Marine Awareness Book by Pilling Primary School and most recently contributed funding for the School Spruce Project . It also provided sponsorship for Island Games Gold Medallist, Simon Henry.
On Monday evening, on 18 November, a Mathematics Workshop was held at St Paul’s Primary School.
Parents who attended were welcomed by Mrs Patricia Williams, the Head Teacher, followed by an introduction by Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) Mrs Gloria Leo informing and encouraging parents to assist with their child’s educational development at home.
Teachers gave group workshops and discussed progression in the calculations policy and demonstrated practical methods of equations. Leaflets were also given to parents to take home to support further learning.
Parents gave feedback and felt that the workshop allowed them to gain knowledge of different teaching methods used in maths, putting their own skills to the test and raising their understanding of the principles children need to learn. Many asked for a refresher course for next year.
Gloria commented: “It was a fun and informative evening. Parents seemed to have enjoyed themselves. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who attended the workshop and to the staff who helped make this evening a great success.”
The Education Committee met on 20 November 2013 at the Education Learning Centre. Present at this meeting were Councillors Christine Scipio-O’Dean, Nigel Dollery, Wilson Duncan, Derek Thomas and Cyril George. Also in attendance were Colin Moore, Director of Education, Beverley Francis, Deputy Director of Education, Jill Young, Librarian, Vivienne Ward, Early Years Adviser, Wendy Benjamin, Education Officer Training and Joy Peters, Committee Secretary.
The first item on the open agenda was the draft Public Library policy detailing the services currently provided, who may use the library, the library’s mission and rules and regulations.
Vivienne Ward then gave an update on teaching practices in the three primary schools. Vivenne is working closely with two crèches on the Island and funding has been secured for two members of staff at these crèches to undergo online nursery management courses.
The third item on the agenda was the financial statements for October 2013.
Wendy Benjamin gave a comprehensive report on teacher training, that included a continuous professional development programme for the Directorate.
The first item of the closed agenda was a brief update from the Director relating to the scheme of service for teachers.
The next item was proposed Christmas festivity dates for the Directorate. The dates of the Advent services are as follows:
Pilling Primary, St James’ Church – Wednesday 4 December at 12:15pm
St Paul’s Primary, St Paul’s Cathedral – Sunday 8 December at 3pm
Harford Primary, St Matthew’s Church – Tuesday 10 December at 7pm
The third item of the closed agenda was a proposal to exempt teachers from Jury Service.
The final item was the future use of the Jamestown Infant School car park area. The Committee agreed that Pilling Primary School could expand their play area by relocating the existing fence. The Committee also agreed for the untarred space to be used as a garden production area.
The St Helena Police and Prison Service has recently welcomed four additions to their ranks – a Probation Officer and three Police Constables from the UK (photo attached).
Probation Officer, Victoria Kellet, is based and working at the St Helena Prison. Victoria is here on a two year contract and will be focusing on public protection and rehabilitation, addressing the underlying reasons why people have committed offences and putting processes in place that will hopefully prevent them from reoffending in the future.
“There’s been real investment in rehabilitation services on St Helena and trying to better understand what has caused people to commit offences and what has got them into custody. That work that has already started at the prison has been fantastic – and they’ve done really well with the limited resources they have available.”
Victoria will now build on the work that has already been done at the prison and is currently observing processes and meeting with the prisoners to make initial assessments of what their needs are, and where they are in terms of reoffending.
“My initial impressions have been very positive and things are actually much more progressed than I’d expected. The commitment shown and the motivation to really try and get things moving in the right direction has been fantastic and hopefully during my time here I can extend that.”
Victoria studied Psychology and joined the Sussex and Surrey Probation Trust as a Trainee Officer where she undertook a further degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice studies. Victoria qualified as a Probation Officer in 2007/08 working in a generic offending team supervising caseloads upwards of 60 offenders at a time. Victoria has also worked within the West Sussex Court Service before moving into a training and development role training probation staff. For the last 2 ½ years Victoria has worked in a dedicated team working solely with registered sex offenders, counter terrorism offenders and life sentence prisoners.
Meanwhile, the Police Service welcomes Police Officers John Rigby, an Ex-Merseyside Police Officer, David Brooksbank, an Ex-West Yorkshire Police Officer and Phillip Tester from Strathclyde Police in Scotland.
All will be on Island for the next three months supporting the St Helena Police Service with general policing duties.
John was a general Police Officer for 20 years in Liverpool City Centre, spending some time in the Criminal Investigations Department (CID). John’s work has mostly been based around operational matters but he became a Police Trainer and Training Development Officer while in the Police. John now has his own company offering professional police training to Constabularies in the UK and while on St Helena he hopes to be able to offer training to the Police Officers here.
David worked in the West Yorkshire Police for 30 years and is now retired. The bulk of David’s career was spent in CID work and working with sex crimes. David studied Criminology and is particularly interested in managing sexual offences, investigating male predators and the safety of women.
Phillip was a Detective based in Glasgow for 23 years involved in everything from general investigation to serious crime squad to surveillance work. As a Detective Sergeant, Phillip investigated public protection and sex offenders.
All three commented on the good standard of work by the Police Service, given the limited resources available on St Helena.
“I think the police service here do a good job with the limited resources they have. There’s obviously a problem with recruitment and retention but I think they do a fantastic job. The intelligence potential is also very good.”
While here, John, David and Phillip will observe the systems in place and suggest areas that might need improvement. Hopefully they will pass on some of their wide experience to Officers on the Island while also focusing on policing in a small community.
Today sees the publication on SHG’s website of the St Helena Social Welfare Review, a report by Roy Sainsbury and Jonathan Bradshaw of the University of York. The report is available at http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/publications/
The Review, carried out between August 2012 and April 2013, had two principal objectives:
To provide recommendations for the next uprating of benefits on St Helena, and
To review the benefits system as a whole and make recommendations
Commenting on the report, Paul McGinnety, Interim Director of the Environment and Natural Resources Directorate, said:
‘The review and its recommendations are ambitious, especially when Governments around the world are looking to reduce benefits. For St Helena to introduce a Minimum Income Standard demonstrates the Island’s commitment to supporting vulnerable people.
‘It is particularly encouraging that we have worked as a community to develop an Island MIS and those members of the public who dedicated their time to this work deserve tremendous credit.’
Councillor Les Baldwin, Chairman of the Social and Community Development Committee, added:
‘I would like to thank all those who worked on and contributed to this Review and the resulting Social Policy Plan which were well received by Council and Government officials alike. We all recognise the difficulties of the vulnerable in our society, and although many of the recommendations are ambitious they are not unachievable.
‘Evidence of this is the introduction of a Minimum Income Standard (MIS) for the uprating of pensions and social benefits, seeing St Helena becoming one of the first countries in the world to apply this methodology. Work has already begun towards a plan of implementation for other recommendations over the next five years, beginning with Child Benefit for those aged five or under.’
Director of Strategic Policy & Planning, Susan O’Bey, concluded:
‘This review has taken place just two years after the new benefit system was introduced in 2011. It addresses a number of issues which have been raised by Councillors and by members of the public and the recent announcement on the increase in IRB and BIP is a direct result of this work.
‘The report contains a number of recommendations which will be discussed by Councillors in the coming months. Some of these are about improving operational aspects of the system and can be put in place quite quickly. Others are much more ambitious and will be implemented over a much longer timeframe.’
SHG is pleased to announce that recipients of Basic Island Pension (BIP) and Income Related Benefits (IRB) will receive an increase in their weekly allowance from 1 December 2013. This was agreed by Executive Council on 14 November 2013.
This increase results from the introduction of a benefit system based on a Minimum Income Standard for the setting and up-grading of Income Related Benefits and Basic Island Pension.
From 1 December, BIP recipients who currently receive £50.05 will receive £53.53 per week, those receiving £37.54 will receive £40.15 and those receiving £25.03 will receive £26.77.
IRB recipients will receive an increase in their weekly benefits from £48.16 to £51.64.
Households receiving benefits under ‘Transitional Protection’ may not necessarily receive an increase in their current overall amount of benefits as this will depend on the amount of benefit they are transitionally protected by. These households will continue to receive the same amount of benefits as they did before the increase.
The Health and Social Welfare Directorate will be distributing letters to all recipients of both Basic Island Pension and Income Related Benefits informing them of the increases and their new weekly entitlement.