On Friday 6 December a contract was signed between St Helena Government and Solomons for the procurement of 2 new Refuse Collection Vehicles (RCVs), expected to arrive on St Helena in April 2014. 

The RVCs are Nissan models, each with a rear loading 12 cubic metre rubbish compactor and each fitted with a high level bin lifter.  This mechanical bin lifter aids the emptying of a range of standard wheelie bins.    

Additional funding has also been identified for the procurement of 1600 x 240 litre wheelie bins for provision to households this financial year. 

With the total costing of the two RCVs at £179,660 and £72,500 for the 1600 x 240 litre wheelie bins (compatible with the bin lift equipment) – the total capital spend is £252,160.

Councillor Ian Rummery, Chair of the Health & Social Services Committee, commented:

 “For anyone who thinks that buying a garbage truck for the Island is a simple process, I can assure you that it is not.  For a long time it has been recognised that the current fleet is no longer fit for purpose and the public are all too aware of the problems that frequent breakdowns cause. 

“It is fantastic news that two trucks have been procured and this, along with the redevelopment of Horse Point Landfill, will result in significant improvements to the management of solid waste and environmental health on St Helena.”

Project Manager Mike Durnford Manager of Environmental Risk Management, working with Environmental Health, will devise a strategy with stakeholders for distribution of the new wheelie bins and the introduction of the new vehicles into the domestic waste collection and disposal service.

Senior Environmental Health Officer, Georgina Young, added:

“We look forward to operating the refuse collection service with the two new  vehicles.  Not only will they contribute to a better service, but they also will aid better occupational health and safety standards for the workforce.”

SHG

10 December 2013

 

 

 

 

In late October/early November the Statistics Office conducted a Household Living Standards Survey. Two major goals of the survey were to enable an update to the basket of goods and services, monitored for the quarterly calculations of the Retail Price Index, and to be able to link this with information regarding household income. 

Once again, the Statistics Office wish to express their sincere appreciation to everyone who participated – we recognise the effort involved in completing the shopping diary and also the sensitive nature of a lot of the information which respondents provided. All who participated can feel proud of their efforts and be assured that the information will be of great use to their community – ensuring that households like theirs are fairly represented. The evidence provided will inform decisions effecting St Helenian households for many years to come. 

As a small incentive to taking part in the survey, a hamper of goods was offered as a prize to all households who returned completed diaries and questionnaires by Friday 15 November. The winner, drawn at random, was Myra Young of St Pauls. A pleased Myra received her prize on Tuesday 19 November.

Thanks are due to the many generous people who donated to the hamper, including Natalie at Bliss Salon, Joshua Brothers Production, Leo’s Planet, Jodie Mills, Mrs Ruth Pridham, Solomons & Company, Stevens’ Family Butchery, and the Rose and Crown.

In total 88 households participated, representing approximately 5% of St Helenian households. The participants were from all administrative areas and represented a range of household types (families, extended families, couples, and single person households) and income sources (employment, self-employment, pension and income related benefits). The Statistics Office staff are now busy collating results and a report of initial summary results will be available by April 2014.

SHG

10 December 2013

Morag Stevenson - Solicitor General
Morag Stevenson – Solicitor General

His Excellency Governor Capes has today appointed Morag Stevenson as the new Solicitor General, following Frank Wastell’s recent appointment to Attorney General.

Morag, previously Crown Counsel, takes up her new role with immediate effect.

Of her appointment, Morag said:

“I am delighted to accept the appointment as Solicitor General and I look forward to dealing with the challenges that will come with this new role. In addition to undertaking or supervising all Criminal prosecutions, I will now also be responsible for all Civil Court cases either by or against SHG. The remainder of my time will be spent providing my full support to the Attorney General in dealing with the variety of legal issues that require addressing, particularly in the lead up to certification of the Airport.”  

A photo of Morag is attached.

SHG

9 December 2013

 

Corporate Support would like to extend sincere thanks to all persons involved with the Remembrance Day Service on Sunday 10 November 2013.

Special thanks go to members of the public on Island and on the RMS St Helena who made generous contributions to the Poppy Appeal Fund, and to all the local outlets who continue each year to support the Poppy Appeal by selling poppies on Corporate Support’s behalf.

The sum of £1097.76 was raised this year and will be sent on behalf of St Helena to The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal in the UK.

Connie Johnson, organiser of the Poppy Appeal Fund and the Remembrance Day Service commented:

“This could not have been accomplished without the help of staff members Alton Isaac and Stephanie Crook who were involved with the preparation and distribution of the poppies and money boxes.  This year’s funds raised were considerably higher than in previous years and it was all down to those who kindly donated to this worthy cause.” 

The Royal British Legion has always been grateful and has previously congratulated St Helena for the amount of funds raised.  

SHG

9 December 2013  

Passers-by in Main Street, Jamestown, may have noticed the current works taking place at the Post Office building, where a hole is being knocked into the Veranda wall, adjacent to The Star.

Head of the Environment and Natural Resources Directorate, Paul McGinnety explained that this project had been in the pipeline for a long time, but these works – to provide wheelchair and pushchair access to the front of the Post Office – are now taking place.

Paul said:

“There is currently wheelchair and pushchair access to the Post Office building via the rear entrance. But members of the public have raised concerns that this access (which includes buzzing for help to lower the wheelchair ramp) is inconvenient and often time consuming.

“By providing wheelchair access to the front of the building, the more vulnerable members of society, plus parents, grandparents and visitors with push chairs are able to easily access the building, more quickly and conveniently.”

Councillor Les Baldwin, Chairman of the Social Community and Development Committee added:

“I think the major benefit will be that wheelchair and pushchair users will be able to more easily use the facility to watch parade events, beginning this Christmas season, from this major public vantage point. Improved accessibility for all, wherever feasible, will be supported by SHG.”

SHG

6 December 2013

St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Receive Indicative EDF 11 Funding of 21.5 Million Euros Councillor Lawson Henry, SHG UK Representative, Kedell Worboys MBE, and Assistant Financial Secretary, Dax Richards, are currently attending the 12th Overseas Countries and Territories – European Union Forum (OCT-EU Forum) in Brussels, Belgium. They are representing St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha at the Forum covering a variety of issues.

The delegation arrived in Brussels early on Tuesday morning, 3 December. The day was dominated by the Trilateral meeting with the European Commission (EC) and Member States, where discussions centred on the 10th European Development Funding (EDF) allocations and progress against leading indicators for the release of funding to all three Islands.

This was a very useful meeting where the delegation were able to highlight concerns in the different Islands and how they can continue to work together with the EC to get the best results. That evening at 6pm the delegation attended a Forum at the European Parliament, on the subject of Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development, hosted by Member of the European Parliament Mr Maurice Ponga. The presentations and debate ended around 9.30pm.

On Wednesday the delegation attended the Association of Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTA, of which St Helena is a founding member) Ministerial Conference, where there were various issues and discussions, including the political resolutions. Councillor Henry gave a short intervention on the topic of the adoption of a board of Chairman. The political resolutions once agreed were then physically signed off by Councillor Henry and the other heads of the 25 delegations of OTCA. During the forum the new Executive Council of the OCTA was elected and SHG UK Representative, Kedell Worboys was elected to the post of Vice President of the OCTA EXCO. This is great news for St Helena as we will have a stronger voice and presence on all OCTA matters.

Thursday saw the start of the actual 12th OCT-EU Forum, and there were presentations from key stakeholders, including the European Commission and Members of the European Parliament. Representatives of Member States then talked about the Overseas Association Decision (OAD), welcomed the new OAD and the further engagement of the OCTs. The EC then announced the indicative financial allocations under the 11th EDF round for the OCTs. St Helena, Ascension and Tristan will receive 21.5 million Euros in total for all three Islands over the period of 2015-2020. This was followed by the interventions from each of the heads of delegations in response to the new OAD. Councillor Henry presented his intervention which was well received by all present.

When asked how he thought the Forum has gone so far Councillor Henry said: “Attending the OCT-EU forum has been a real eye opener and a steep learning curve, as it brings together not only Britain’s Overseas Territories but the whole of the EU’s OCT’s. This highlights the richness and diversity of living on an Island. “I believe we on Island underestimate the importance of the OCT’s-EU relations to St Helena, Ascension and Tristan. We need to change this and ensure our people are educated on these issues. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Kedell and Dax for their support and guidance during the Forum.”

The meetings will conclude today Friday, 6 December, with further discussions around territorial and regional programming and strategies for innovation. Councillor Henry and Kedell will then leave later that evening. Dax will stay on for the training workshop for Territory Authorising Officers (TAO) which will take place on Monday and Tuesday 9 and 10 December, before returning to London on Tuesday evening.

Both Councillor Henry and Dax will depart for Ascension on Wednesday and arrive back on St Helena on Tuesday 17 December.

SHG 6 December 2013

News of Nelson Mandela’s death reached St Helena late yesterday evening. Commenting on the sad news this morning, HE Governor Mark Capes said:

‘I know that the news of Nelson Mandela’s death will be received with great sadness by the people of St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha. During my visit to South Africa only a few weeks ago, I spoke of the close historical, family and cultural links with South Africa and of the warm and friendly relationship we enjoy.

‘At this sad time we give thanks for the life of a truly great man and celebrate the powerful and lasting legacy of his commitment to peace and reconciliation. On behalf of our communities on all three islands, I extend sincere condolences to Mr Mandela’s family and to all the people of South Africa’. Governor Capes has directed that all flags on St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha be flown at half mast today, 6 December.

SHG 6 December 2013

EMD will be undertaking Feral Pigeon Culling at Horse Point Landfill Site on a monthly basis between December 2013 and March 2014, in an effort to reduce pigeon numbers as part of the mitigation of bird strike risk to aircraft in advance of the Airport certification process.

The culling will take place between 0600hrs and 0800hrs, commencing this month on Sunday 8 December.  Whilst the landfill site is closed between these times, marshals will be in place as a safety measure and the public are requested to remain outside of the site and adhere to any directions given by the marshals.  Your cooperation will be greatly appreciated.

If you have any concerns regarding the culling you are invited to contact Mike Durnford, Environmental Risk Manager at EMD on 22270, or via e-mail 

mike-durnford@enrd.gov.sh

SHG

4 December 2013

The Overseas Territories Environment and Climate Fund (Darwin Plus) was launched last year by the UK Government, with the aim of helping to deliver long-term strategic outcomes for the natural environment in the UK’s Overseas Territories.

The second round of 2013 bidding was recently completed and St Helena was very successful, with five bids awarded:

  • St Helena Baseline Assessment of Physical Environmental Parameters
  • Taxonomic and Conservation Status of Oceanodroma Storm Petrels in the South Atlantic
  • Securing St Helena’s Rare Cloud Forest Trees and Associated Invertebrates
  • Conservation of the Spiky Yellow Woodlouse and Black Cabbage Tree Woodland
  • Darwin Fellowship – MRes Carbon Sequestration in Community Forests

The St Helena Baseline Assessment (awarded £96,700) will provide a foundation for effective environmental management through gathering baseline information of physical parameters to allow the assessment of change on St Helena, including the impact of the new airport and associated economic activity.

The Taxonomic and Conservation Status of Oceanodroma Storm Petrels in the South Atlantic aims to clarify whether storm petrels nesting on St Helena and Ascension Island are the same species that occurs elsewhere in the Atlantic, or whether they constitute one or more species to new science.  The project, awarded £43,430, will survey all known colonies and re-assess their IUCN conservation status. 

Securing St Helena’s Rare Cloud Forest Trees and Associated Invertebrates was awarded a sum of £98,380. This will be used to secure the existence of four endangered and critically endangered keystone endemic tree species and their associated invertebrate fauna in the Peaks National Park.

The project entitled Conservation of the Spiky Yellow Woodlouse and Black Cabbage Tree Woodland was granted to the St Helena Nature Conservation Group.  The £37,090 grant will be used to stabilise and restore a further hectare of woodland, enhancing populations of several very rare endemic ferns and invertebrates. A captive breeding programme will safeguard the last few spiky yellow woodlice, whilst detailed biodiversity surveys will inform longer term management.

The MRes study (£21,617) will investigate carbon sequestration of selected endemic tree species, in order to provide a scientific basis to register a carbon off-setting scheme. This will provide information on the carbon sequestration potential of schemes on St Helena and, in turn, will also allow calculations of current and future carbon capacity of restoration sites on the Island.

The projects will be delivered by a variety of partners, including: the Environment Management Division of St Helena Government; St Helena National Trust; St Helena Nature Conservation Group; Buglife; RSPB; the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and Queens University, Ontario, Canada.

Ben Sansom, Head of SHG’s Environmental Management Division, said:

“St Helena was awarded funding for 5 projects out of a total of 15 OT projects which were selected for funding this year. This is a great result and testament to the collaborative bidding and delivery of nature conservation projects on the Island.  Our next challenge is to ensure that the skills and knowledge gained through delivering these projects are retained on Island, so we can ensure the long term protection of our unique environment.”

Chris Hillman, Director of the St Helena National Trust, added:

“Given the stiff competition this year and with only two million pounds to cover the 14 OTs, St Helena has done extremely well this year. The five successful projects will provide further information in support of conservation initiatives and needs on the Island. What is most needed now is support for trained Saints to plan and carry out the conservation management on the ground for the long term.”

The Darwin Plus fund brings together two existing UK Government funding mechanisms: the DfID/FCO-funded Overseas Territories Environment Programme (OTEP); and OT-related elements of the Defra/DfID-funded Darwin Initiative (including the Challenge Fund). This new consolidated fund aims to provide a simpler and more coordinated mechanism to support UK Overseas Territories’ natural environment issues by acting as a one-stop-shop source of funding.

SHG

3 December 2013

Executive Council met today to discuss three items on the open agenda. 

The first item concerned a proposal to increase liquor licensing fees following an annual review. ExCo agreed the proposed increases.

The second item concerned a proposal to increase the charges for granting or renewal and transfer of licenses for Gaming Machines.  ExCo agreed the proposed increases.

The third item involved a long and detailed discussion on changes to Regulations and Orders under the Land Planning and Development Control Ordinance 2013.  For this discussion Head of Planning and Development Control, David Taylor, was present.

There were eight subsidiary Regulations and Orders under discussion. 

Six of these Regulations are effectively covered in the 2008 Ordinance.  The purpose of extracting them from the Ordinance and placing them in the Regulations is to provide flexibility and facilitate future revision.  Had these remained in the Ordinance, it would require a formal sitting of Legislative Council to amend them, whereas once they are Regulations any further amendments can be made by Executive Council.

The Land Planning and Development Control (General Development) Order is a new Regulation and this was discussed at some length.   This Regulation allows for relatively minor and uncontentious work to be permitted without the necessity of applying for development permission.  ExCo unanimously supported this as it will reduce the administrative burden on both the applicant and the planning section.

It was made clear that while certain minor developments will not require development permission it will always be advisable for any developer to contact the Planning Officer prior to construction to ensure, in writing, that development permission is not required.  Building Regulations approval will still be necessary for such work.

Also approved was the Land Planning and Development Control Ordinance (Commencement) (No.2) Order 2013, which will bring into effect the Land Planning and Development Control Ordinance 2013, and the Regulations and Orders  from 1 January 2014.

Under any other business there was a discussion about HIV/AIDS and the need to maintain public awareness on this sensitive issue. 

One Member of ExCo enquired if it would be possible for those in receipt of Basic Island Pension or Income Related Benefits to receive a Christmas Advance.  There is no policy or budget for this, and so it was not possible to agree to it.

The Governor gave a summary of his recent trip to Cape Town and Tristan da Cunha. In Cape Town, along with Councillor Lawson Henry and Julian Morris, he had undertaken a number of activities to raise awareness of St Helena as a potential tourism and investment destination.  There had been a positive response from the public, investors and politicians in the Cape. 

The Governor also spoke warmly of his time in Tristan da Cunha and paid tribute to the resilience of the Tristan community. 

The meeting closed at 11.20 am. 

ExCo

3 December 2013