Executive Council met today, Tuesday 11 March, to consider five items on the open agenda.
The first item was an information paper on fuel prices implemented on 24 February 2014. This is now a standard agenda item following each change in fuel prices. It was noted that the price of diesel fell by 2 pence per litre and petrol by 4 pence per litre – both lower than the price of fuel a year ago.
The second item was the Wharfage, Warehousing and Customs Miscellaneous Fees Amendment Proposal. The proposal was for an increase in charges relating to break-bulk cargo and its storage on the wharf after seven working days. At present, a daily charge is set at 10% of the value of the break-bulk cargo for it to remain on the wharf beyond seven working days. The proposed increase to 25% of the value of the goods was agreed by Executive Council – to encourage prompt collection of cargo.
The next item was the Pensions (Amendment) Regulations, 2014. Tax and Pensions are complex issues and Head of Pensions and Payroll, Enid Joshua, and Pensions Consultant Desmond Wade were invited to attend to help explain the proposed amendments to the tax regulations. The proposed regulation was to allow SHG staff, who retire through ill health (and are medically boarded), to be able to claim their pension benefits. As the Ordinance currently stands, only SHG staff over the age of 55 can claim their pension if they retire due to ill health. Executive Council recognised that the current system is unfair and was pleased to agree the recommendation.
An Amendment to Income Tax regulations was proposed to accommodate making the 25% of any lump sum payment tax free. While this is already available for people to claim on retirement, it sits outside the Tax Ordinance as an extra statutory concession. Executive Council agreed the Amendment to make it part of the Regulations, to come into effect on 1 April 2014.
The final item on the open agenda was to give permission to suspend the review on Phase 3 of the Pensions Reform process. The review was concerned with assessing the implications of a compulsory pension scheme for all employees on St Helena. Given the benefits that would accrue from a contributory pension scheme, the Financial Secretary agreed to explore ways that Government could support people to join such a scheme. It was further agreed that in anticipation of improved economic development, that this will be reviewed again in two years time.
On Island for two months is Archaeologist John Barber (photo attached), contracted by the St Helena Government to work with staff in the Environment and Natural Resources Directorate, St Helena National Trust and Museum of St Helena.
John is based at Essex House and during his time on Island will be assisting with the development and treatment of archaeology, both in the Development (Planning) Process, but also as a genuine phenomenon on St Helena.
“Heritage expands into many aspects such as development control, education, excavation, archiving, museum-based work and cultural tourism.
“My principal role here is to try and find a way in which we can balance both development and heritage conservation by putting into place certain systems. To do this we will have to train the people who work within the development process.
“I am impressed with the range and quality of work that has already been undertaken with the limited resources available. Overall I hope to build on the excellent work that has already been done, to help the heritage sector make a positive contribution to the economy of St Helena, and contribute to the quality of life of Saints and visitors alike.”
John started his career with ‘Historic Scotland’ working on ‘rescue excavations’ – excavating large numbers of historical monuments and assisting with the administration of all other excavations taking place in Scotland during that time.
John now works as a Commercial Archaeologist working for developers and excavating sites before they are built upon. John also works with local communities so they can become more actively engaged in their own heritage – deriving benefit from it and supporting its conservation for future generations.
John has a Masters Degree in Archaeology and is currently studying for a PHD in the Architecture of Ancient structures with Edinburgh University in Scotland. This is his first visit to the Island – John will depart St Helena on 24 April 2014.
Arriving on Island next week (18 March) for a period of two weeks is public transport consultant George Watson. George is set to conduct a review of St Helena’s public transport system, home to work transport for private and public sector workers, school bus system and SHG’s internal transport system.
The review will recommend ways of improving the effectiveness, efficiency, reliability and accessibility of the Island’s passenger transport network – ensuring that capacity is matched to demand and that the recommendations provide a cost effective and affordable solution to both the users of the service and Government. George will also make an assessment of future transport network requirements in line with the Airport operations and associated developments in anticipation of increased visitor numbers from early 2016. He will also consider how a more flexible working hour arrangement can be facilitated through an improved passenger transport network, alleviating the need for private vehicles to be used.
One of the key outcomes from the review will be the identification of the most appropriate, affordable arrangements for meeting the Island’s public transport needs at this time and post Airport construction, highlighting any associated implementation and financing issues.
Currently a limited and subsidised Public Transport Service operates on St Helena, first introduced in 2003. Since that time, a number of adjustments have been made to the original timetabled routes, and more recently, an expanded service to some areas of the Island has been introduced to meet the needs of some SHG shift workers following an in-house review in 2012.
In addition to the limited Public Transport System, there are a number of different private transport providers which convey public and private sector staff to and from their place of work, some catering solely for the transport needs of their own staff. There is also a service provided exclusively to convey schoolchildren to and from the schools, funded by SHG.
George has many years of experience in the bus industry, as an operator, planner, owner and consultant. A photo is attached.
Basil Read would like to advise the public that there will be a blast on the Haul Road in Upper Rupert’s Valley area on Tuesday 11 March 2014 between the hours of 5 – 6 pm. This blast will take place if weather permits.
The affected area extends from the Basil Read contractor’s yard to the mid-valley, including the Powerhouse, Bulk Fuel Installation (BFI) and St Michael’s Church. Only the affected areas need be evacuated for this blast and Basil Read Security Guards with red flags will be in position to assist and ensure that everyone adheres to the warnings and evacuation.
Safety measures, which are imperative for this particular blast, mean that the Solomon’s BFI and Connect Saint Helena’s Power Station are to be temporarily shut down during the blasting period, to enable personnel to be evacuated.
As a direct result of this shutdown and evacuation process, there will be an Island-wide power outage during the blasting period. Power will be restored once the All Clear is given by Basil Read for personnel to return safely to their stations, the necessary checks carried out and the restarting of the power station’s systems.
Basil Read and Connect Saint Helena appreciate your continued co-operation and apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
On behalf of Basil Read and Connect Saint Helena Ltd
Today is Commonwealth Day. Celebrated annually on the second Monday in March, Commonwealth Day is an opportunity for member nations of the Commonwealth to promote understanding on global issues, international cooperation and the work of Commonwealth organisations.
The theme for 2014 is ‘Team Commonwealth’ – expressing the spirit, friendship and motivation towards the shared goals and values existing between the 53 Commonwealth member nations.
This year, Commonwealth Day on St Helena is being led by Legislative Council Members with the day’s activities reflecting the theme of ‘Teamwork’. The day’s activities started with a special Commonwealth Assembly at each school attended by representatives of the St Helena Legislative Council.
At Prince Andrew School the assembly was attended by His Excellency Governor Capes and Head of the Governor’s Office Sean Burns, Speaker Eric Benjamin, Councillors Lawson Henry and Nigel Dollery and Director of Education, Colin Moore (photo attached).
In his opening address Head Teacher Paul Starkie spoke about the 53 Commonwealth countries uniting under Her Majesty the Queen and coming together on shared goals and values. He spoke of the importance of this year’s theme, ‘Team Commonwealth’, and how fitting it is for this year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the journey of the Commonwealth Queen’s Baton, which recently made its 40th stop at St Helena.
His Excellency Governor Capes read Her Majesty’s Message to the Commonwealth and in his address remarked on an important point raised by Her Majesty the Queen, who said: “People of all ages from different cultures are weaving an ever-growing network of links which connect us in our diversity and our common purpose.” Governor Capes spoke of how important this message was to St Helena and encouraged young people to value the diversity of their Island and to embrace St Helena’s rich and colourful history and our place within an ever-growing multi-cultural world. Copies of Her Majesty the Queen’s Message and Governor Capes’ speech to Prince Andrew School students are attached to this release.
Councillor Nigel Dollery, speaking on behalf of Legislative Council, also remarked on teamwork, recollecting his experiences in the Military and working in Higher Education both of which required working together and supporting each other to achieve more.
Commonwealth Day continued with a group of 26 schoolchildren from the Primary and Prince Andrew Schools touring various sites around the Island showcasing teamwork. These included the Spruce Projects at Harford and St Paul’s Primary Schools, work at the Millennium Forest, Bradley’s Motor Cross track, the Airport site at Prosperous Bay Plain, and SHAPE Recycling Plant at Donkey Plain.
Video Conferences also took place between the St Helena Youth Parliament and the Welsh Youth Parliament, and between Councillors and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association who visited the Island in August 2013.
In the UK, St Helena Government Representative Kedell Worboys will attend the Observance at the Westminster Abbey and students Chloe Terry and Sasha Bargo are representing St Helena at the Commonwealth Day celebrations in London.
The St Helena Audit Service is to welcome a new Chief Auditor. Phil Sharman (photo attached), accompanied by his wife Sarah-Jane, will take up his three year term in mid-June this year.
Phil is no stranger to the Island having headed up the Audit function for St Helena between 1990 and 1994.
Governor Capes said on Phil’s appointment:
“I much look forward to welcoming Phil and Sarah-Jane to St Helena in June. Phil has impressive skills and experience to bring to the important role of Chief Auditor and of course he also knows St Helena well from his service here in the early 1990s.”
Since leaving St Helena Phil has held similar positions in the UK and overseas, including the Turks and Caicos Islands and New Zealand. He is currently the Director of Audit for NHS Wales.
“I’m honoured to be able to return to St Helena to serve as Chief Auditor. It will be fascinating to see the changes in the Island’s development over the past 20 years and to be there when the new Airport opens. We’re really looking forward to meeting up again with colleagues and friends on St Helena.”
Nominations are currently being invited for the Certificate and Badge of Honour Awards, 2014. This is a reminder of the Deadline.
These awards are available for the Governor to award to public servants for loyal and valuable service worthy of recognition or, in the case of other persons, for their loyal and meritorious conduct that has provided exceptional benefit to the people of St Helena.
The Certificate and Badge of Honour awards will be presented at the Queen’s Birthday Garden Party at Plantation later this year. Up to six awards can be made at any one time.
Nominations are also invited for the Acts of Bravery Award, 2014.
Nominations should ideally be made to recognise Acts of Bravery that have taken place since the last call for nominations in June 2013.
Nomination forms for the 2014 awards are available from Mrs Carol George, Corporate Services Executive Manager, the Castle – and should be completed and returned in a sealed envelope marked “CONFIDENTIAL” to the “Executive Secretary, Honours Committee” at the Castle by Monday, 17 March 2014.
For more information please contact the Corporate Services Executive Manager at the Castle on telephone number 22695 or e-mail:
Clare Harris, Deputy Airport Director, and Nigel Kirby, DFID Project Manager, were in Johannesburg last week to meet with Basil Read and Lanseria International Airport to focus on the actions that all parties need to take to ensure that certification of St Helena’s Airport is achieved on time.
During two days of meetings with Basil Read, Clare and Nigel reviewed the programme to achieve certification of the Airport, clarified responsibilities and agreed a programme of action – which will be monitored on a monthly basis to minimise the risk of delays to opening the Airport. Clare and Nigel were also invited to join the regular 06:30 Friday internal Basil Read/Lanseria meeting, where progress is reviewed in the preparation of the many manuals and plans for staffing and training.
The issues discussed in SA with be followed up in the UK this week in meetings with the regulator, Air Safety Support International (ASSI) and the UK Department for Transport.
The visit to Lanseria International Airport provided an opportunity to see a live airport in operation, and to review first hand many of the processes that will need to be established for St Helena. The visit included close observation of all the activities for both arrival and departure of an aircraft, including checking in, immigration, customs, baggage handling in and out of the aircraft, marshalling and push-back of the aircraft. There was also a demonstration of the rescue and fire-fighting service (RFFS) capabilities with a full scale practice of evacuating an aircraft filled with smoke.
Clare was given an opportunity to ‘push back’ a Boeing 737-800, join the pilot in the cockpit of the aircraft, travel with the baggage trolleys to see how cases are offloaded and placed on the carousel and to put on full fire-fighting equipment and join the rescue teams entering the simulated aircraft fire.
SHG thanks everyone at Basil Read and Lanseria who made Clare and Nigel so welcome.
A Bye-Election will take place this Wednesday 12 March 2014 to elect a new Member to fill the vacant seat on Legislative Council.
Candidates for the 2014 Bye-Election are: Dr Corinda Essex of Jamestown,Mrs Brenda Moors of Alarm Forestand Mr Lionel Williams of St Paul’s.
Polling stations will be at the Levelwood, Jamestown, Harford, Blue Hill, Sandy Bay and Kingshurst Community Centres, Half Tree Hollow Clinic and at Judges Lodge, Alarm Forest. Polling stations will open at 10am and close promptly at 7pm.
Only those named on the Register of Electors dated 7 February 2014 will be able to vote in the Bye-Election and you must vote in the Polling District in which you are registered. Half Tree Hollow residents should note that their Polling Station is now at the Half Tree Hollow Clinic (and not at the normal venue of the Half Tree Hollow Community Centre).
Returning Officer Gillian Francis would like to encourage the Electorate to exercise their voting rights and generate a strong turnout.