Councillor Cyril George recently returned from the 59th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Conference in Johannesburg, which took place from 28 August – 6 September 2013.

Councillor George, the first Councillor from our newly elected Council to attend a CPA conference, commented that the Conference presented him with vast knowledge on how some political systems are carried out in other Commonwealth countries and allowed him to meet and discuss with Ministers from other countries how their ministerial systems work. Councillor George said that attending the Conference provided him with a valuable opportunity to represent St Helena while at the same time enhance his knowledge and skills in his role as a Councillor.

Plenary sessions involving small branches commenced at the beginning of the Conference. Several delegates gave presentations following which the floor was opened for questions. Opportunities were also given to allow attendees to speak with presenters on a one-to-one basis after formal sessions came to a close.

Workshops held included topics on:
•Land Access and Ownership, Progress and Challenges Experienced by Rural Communities in Accessing Land. What could be the Role and Intervention of Parliamentarians?
•Should there be Parliamentary Intervention in the Informal Economy and Entrepreneurship Sectors?
•The Challenges of Attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015; and
•Inequitable Resource-Sharing: A Threat to Democratic Governance

A total of seven workshops were run simultaneously. Councillor George said:

“I decided to dedicate my time to three workshops from which I felt I could gain the most knowledge and experience as time constraints in the programme unfortunately could not allow me to attend them all. Workshops that I attended involved Agriculture, Land Access and the Millennium Development Goals. As I am the Chairman of the Environmental and Natural Resources Committee it was of use to learn how other countries operate, how they differ and how they are similar in terms of the systems we use. Discussion with delegates provided me with an understanding of what we are successfully doing on St Helena along with possible ideas for improvement.

“During the workshop on agriculture, discussions were based on large holdings and their sub-division into numerous small units that may lead to a drop in productivity and loss of export markets, whilst at the same time with effective support, smallholders can become successful in the agricultural economy.

“The workshop on land access was based on the need for Parliamentarians to increase their outreach activities among poor rural communities. The most in need of land are landless and poor communities which included vulnerable groups such as female headed households. In this regard the responsible departments should provide the necessary expertise. We are fortunate on St Helena not to have these problems as there is a well established Lands Section within SHG who control all Crown land.

“The final work shop I attended was the challenges of attaining the Millennium Development Goals. From the discussions it was highlighted that some Commonwealth countries are finding it very difficult to meet the millennium goals due to their resources and financial constraints. We are fortunate that we are able to monitor the goals and hopefully achieve them by 2015.”

While overseas Councillor George also spent some time in the UK where he was able to visit the office of the UK SHG Representative and meet with FCO Officers, Martin Longden, Head of Falklands & Southern Oceans Department and Hannah Chadwick, Desk Officer for St Helena and Ascension.
In South Africa Councillor George also visited the office of John Scipio, Enterprise St Helena’s Project Administration Manager, witnessing discussions with potential investors and tourists.

Councillor George commented:

“I would encourage Councillors to attend similar conferences as it provides the opportunity to network with the many delegates from different Commonwealth countries. This in itself adds to one’s confidence, knowledge and experience and gives us an excellent opportunity to raise the Island’s profile especially during this period of immense change.”

2 October 2013

Arriving to the Island on 22 September 2013 was Socio-Economist, Thomas Holvey.

Based in the Project Management Unit at the Castle, Thomas has been contracted by St Helena Government for two years with the primary aim to help improve the decision making around project management. To do this Thomas will be providing socio-economic appraisal for separate projects in support of the Island’s Capital Spend Programme. This will be extended to appraisal and analysis of other tasks and strategies.

The role of Socio-Economist is a new one for St Helena and Thomas will be working on various projects within the Capital Programme as well as other Government policies that will have social or economic impacts on the Island.

Thomas commented on his new role:

“I’m very excited by the new role at a very important time for the Island. Moving to St Helena is something I’ve wanted to do for some time and I’m delighted to be able to fulfill this ambition whilst hopefully being able to contribute to Island life in a positive manner. St Helena has lived up to all my expectations so far, in terms of the beauty of the Island and the warmth of the local people.”

Prior to taking up his role on St Helena, Thomas worked as the Economic Policy Manager for Leeds City Council where he led on economic strategy and information for the City, and also delivered major projects such as Superfast Broadband. Thomas has also worked for the UK Government and other Councils in social and economic policy roles. He was also a local Councillor in York for 8 years.

Thomas is originally from Lincoln and moved to York 12 years ago before moving to St Helena. He is a keen cricketer and sports fan as well as being interested in political issues. Thomas’ partner, Hannah, a nurse, will be arriving in 5 weeks.

1 October 2013

Nominations are being sought for the 2014 Birthday Honours.

Persons wishing to submit nominations are reminded that the overriding principle is that honours are awarded on merit for exceptional achievement or any service recently carried out over and above what normally is expected. Where possible, nominations should place emphasis on voluntary services. It should also be noted that age is not a factor in awarding honours and younger members of the community who have made an outstanding contribution or have given exceptional service, should not be overlooked.

Nomination forms are available from Corporate Support, Corporate Services and completed forms should be returned to Mrs Carol George, Executive Secretary, Honours Committee, in a sealed envelope, marked ‘confidential’, by close of play on Friday, 8 November 2013.

Corporate Support
Corporate Services
The Castle

1 October 2013

Q:What work will be done on this road?
A:There will be road maintenance works to: walls, railings, road structure and surfacing. Improvements are limited to road drainage.

Q:Why is the road closed all the time?
A:We are aiming to work extended hours, 7am to dusk, and at weekends. To work safely the road has to be closed.

Q:Why can’t the Roads Section work half and half?
A:At its widest the road is 6m wide, generally the wider section varies between 5.5 and 6m. To have a safe lane for traffic requires a 3m width which then only allows a 2.5 to 3m working area. This would also be limited to a 200m maximum length for control by our traffic signals. Below Captain Wrights Turning the width is mainly less than 5.5m which is too narrow for half and half working. The aim is to work in the wider section, allowing residents past, with a second site blocking the road lower down.

Q:Why isn’t the road open when work isn’t happening?
A:To make the work area safe for normal traffic would take up to an hour each afternoon and then a further period the following morning to return the road to a construction site. This equates to about an extra 2-3 weeks on the duration of the whole job.
With road structure and surfacing work the critical period to the quality is the first few hours after the work is carried out. Previously we have attempted to reopen both The Briars to 5-bar Gate, and Ladder Hill shortly after completing work and have experienced problems with both roads because it was reopened too early.

Q:How can I get to my friend’s house, or to the shop?
A:If you are visiting someone within the road closure you will be allowed access from one end. The link to the map below shows the initial arrangements for access to properties. Somerville Store is remaining open and customers will initially have access from the Gordons Post end of the road closure.

Q:If residents are allowed access why not everyone?
A:Residents will be allowed access to their homes from one end only; they will not have through access past the main work area.

Q:If emergency services are allowed access why not everyone?
A:Emergency Services are a special case. We accept that in an emergency we will have to move everything to the side to make way. For a 1 minute journey through the site we may lose an hour’s work putting things right and costing a few hundred pounds. This is nothing compared to someone’s life, but we can’t do this for every vehicle.

Q:What about Busses?
A:Busses will not be allowed through, but can come in to collect or drop off passengers. We have spoken with many of the bus operators explaining what they will and will not be able to do. If you are unsure how your bus will get you to work during the closure please speak to the operator. If you are an operator and are unsure what is going to happen please speak to Dave Malpas, Roads Manager (Contact details are below).

Q:Why is this work being done now?
A:We considered doing this work last summer; however co-ordinating with the logistics of the Airport Project during construction of the Haul Road would have been impractical. We therefore agreed to carry out this work this summer. It is my technical opinion that the road surface is at the end of its life and may well not survive another winter period. It is therefore most cost effective to make the repairs now before complete failure than to delay.

Q:I’m still unsure, how can I…?
A:Please email or call Dave on telephone number 23765.

The Roads Section apologises for the inconvenience caused, and thanks everyone who is working to make arrangements to cope with the disruption.

Dave Malpas, Roads Manager, 1 October 2013

Map – Road Closure from the Briars to Gordons Post

The Governor has recently approved the new Procurement Regulations which replace the Contract Regulations 2006.

The new Procurement Regulations have introduced a number of new concepts that reflect a more modern procurement approach and are therefore significantly different to the old Contract Regulations, the main changes being:

•The threshold before the regulations apply has risen to £5,000. A number of other thresholds have also risen to reflect the fact that global prices have risen since the previous regulations were published.
•All procurements above £5,000 must be on a Rolling Procurement Plan before any procurement activity can take place. The Rolling Procurement Plan will be published on the SHG Website to ensure suppliers have increased visibility of upcoming procurement opportunities.
•The main procurement decisions with SHG will be based on risk and not value to ensure appropriate scrutiny of higher risk procurements whilst allowing the routine ones to proceed quicker and with less bureaucracy.
•Procurement Services (the old Central Procurement Unit) will play a much greater role in any Procurement classified as Medium or High risk. This will focus procurement skill and expertise where it is required.
•The main procurement decisions will now take place before the procurement commences to ensure appropriate scrutiny and control of what is to be purchased rather than at the end of the process when it is normally too late to affect the decision.
•The Contract Award process is significantly simplified provided the tenders/quotations are within the boundaries agreed at the commencement stage.
•Tender Board will be replaced by a Procurement Board with a significantly different Terms of Reference to focus on strategic decisions and not on process.
•To ensure greater transparency in the decision making process all waivers to the Regulations and a register of SHG Contracts above £5,000 will be published on the SHG website.

As with all major changes the new regulations have been subject to a phased implementation over the past two months, this has allowed approximately 100 SHG staff to be trained in the new Regulations and the Tender Board to complete its business.

The new Regulations will come into full effect on 1 October 2013. However, until the recruitment of the Head of Procurement Services and a number of other organisational changes are implemented there may be some deviation from the regulations regarding who in SHG conducts the procurement in order to ensure capacity constraints do not significantly impact service delivery.

Copies of the new Procurement Regulations, Terms of Reference for the Procurement Board and process maps which will hopefully help guide people through the new processes, can be found on the SHG website, via email from the Financial Secretary on or by visiting Corporate Procurement at the Castle.

Further, officers within Finance and Corporate Procurement will be happy to discuss the new regulations with any interested parties, so please feel free to contact them via the Castle receptionist on telephone number 2470.

30 September 2013

A Phonics Information evening was held at Pilling Primary School for parents of children in the Foundation Stage, Nursery and Reception, on Wednesday 25 September 2013.

The evening was led by the Advisor for Early Years Education, Vivienne Ward, who spoke to lots of parents about how the teaching of Phonics helps children learn to read and why parents’ help in this was essential for good progress. Parents were then able to talk to Early Years staff, ask questions and participate in activities their children would encounter in the classroom. The evening was very well attended and ended with refreshments.

Director of Education and Employment, Colin Moore said

“I am delighted that so many parents attended this session. It is really important that parents can follow up at home what our teachers work on with the children in school. It is also very encouraging that so many parents are already asking for follow up sessions.

“By working together we can really give children the best possible start to life.”

Education and Employment Directorate
27 September 2013

With effect from 26 September 2013, Mr Rodney Buckley and Mr George Stevens have been appointed by His Excellency Governor Capes as Members of the St Helena Media Standards Commission.

The St Helena Media Standards Commission was formed under the Media Standards Ordinance 2011 to monitor and enforce media standards on St Helena and oversee media services delivered in or from the Island. Mr Buckley and Mr Stevens will serve on the Commission with President, Chief Magistrate John MacRitchie and fellow Member Miss Jennifer Corker MBE JP.

27 September 2013

SHG’s Conservation Architect, James Stewart is to leave his post in October.

James has been employed with SHG since late 2012 and has focused on a number of key infrastructure projects on the Island such as the temporary Challenging Behaviour Unit and the Jamestown Wharf development.

Acting Environmental and Natural Resources Director, Paul McGinnety commented:

“James has worked well on the Island and he has provided a great deal of support for his local counterparts. We wish him well for the future.”

27 September 2013

The temporary exemption of water bottles (including bottled water) and water containers from Customs Duty has now been lifted.  Throughout the period of the water shortage on Island, there was a raised concern that if the situation worsened retailers could not meet the demand of the public.  Reducing the level of duty was done to encourage retailers to purchase more items to benefit the needs of their customers.   

Due to the current state of the water situation, the exemption will be lifted commencing from the next Cape Town to St Helena trip expected to arrive 10 October 2013, and will no longer apply to retailers’ importing bottled water to the Island.


25 September 2013