Falklands : FIDB Meeting 18 October 2005
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 18.10.2005 (Article Archived on 01.11.2005)
Find out what happened during this vital development board meeting.
FALKLAND ISLANDS DEVELOPMENT BOARD MEETING: TUESDAY, 18 OCTOBER 2005
By J. Brock (FINN)
A meeting of the Falkland Islands Development Board took place in the Liberation Room of the Secretariat at 0900 on Tuesday, 18 October 2005. Apologies were received from Mrs. C. Stevens, Head of Tourism. Present at the meeting were Cllr. Mike Summers (Chair), Cllr. Richard Cockwell, Fiona Didlick, Ron Binnie, Bernadette Lang, Keith Padgett, Mike Forrest, Cllr. John Birmingham, Julian Morris (FIDC) Stuart Wallace and Chris Simpkins, the Chief Executive.
The minutes from the meeting held at the Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, 13 September 2005 were confirmed and matters arising were discussed. The FIPASS issue has gone to EXCO and the next stage is to receive a repairs and maintenance paper for submission to EXCO. Cllr. Cockwell asked whether the changeover had taken place and the answer is yes.
Declaration of interests came next with Stuart Wallace declaring interests in Fishing, Aquaculture and Retail.
The General Manager’s report mainly consisted of his business trip to Chile, where he held discussions about sheep meat and the import of Falkland Islands beef. There is some interest in Falklands products and the next stage would be to get a container of products to send over. The interest in beef is because Brazil has Foot and Mouth Disease in their cattle and there is a niche in the Chilean market. The drawback to trade is that the Falklands cannot prove their disease free status. This has been taken onboard by the Department of Agriculture but this proof is at the early stages of development. While there have, for example, been no diseases like BSE in cattle born in the Falklands, an animal was imported with the disease and destroyed. This did not help matters in terms of the Falklands reputation of a disease free status. A system of monitoring and testing would be implemented.
As far as the Abattoir is concerned we have EU status but it was attained before the issue came up and it is thought that it is an issue with the EU now so it is important to document and maintain our disease free status.
Cllr. Summers asked about testing for Scrapie in sheep and how do we demonstrate that the disease isn’t evident in Falklands’ sheep. Stuart Wallace wanted to know what the next steps were to ensure the disease free status in regard to Scrapie and Julian Morris said that there were plans to put forward a regime to demonstrate our disease free status as we need it to export to the EU. Money for this purpose has been allocated. Ron Binnie asked about traceability and Mr. Morris said that records were kept at the abattoir about the farm of origin of all animals slaughtered at the Abattoir.
Moving on to the e-shop, Mr. Morris is pleased that it is up and running and receiving an average of one order a day. Setting it up wasn’t an example of speed. Cllr. Summers said there was £15,000.00 allocated for the e-shop and Julian Morris said that half was for the portal and the other half was for the e-shop. It was hopeful that it could be passed on to a retailer to operate as it was taking up a lot of Tim Cotter’s time.
The Lookout Industrial Estate’s spine road, drainage and flooding was the subject of a users meeting headed by Charlene Rowland. The users said they approved a tarmac surface for streets within the estate. More people have replied to the business survey than had done so two years ago and this was encouraging. A beef trailer for the TAMAR would be delivered in a month and hopefully it will work well.
Tim Cotter is looking into a wind generator that would provide power for the cool room as well as hot water. Extra power would be needed should sea food be processed at the Abattoir. A second hand turbine had been selected and it should pay for itself in three to four years. A paper will come to the next meeting. Cllr Summers asked about cost and Julian Morris said it was £30,000.00. And, a new one would cost £70,000.00 but it was thought that if this was experimental then the less money spent the better, especially if it didn’t work. Cllr. Cockwell was assured that spares would be available.
Julian Morris said that there were 150 applicants for the Aquaculture, however only a few would be suitable for the job. It was mentioned that the salary might have been a drawing card. Four volunteers including Chris Simpkins and Stuart Wallace were put forward to help Julian Morris interview the applicants. The JDR study has been received in the Falklands on Monday and it will be circulated in due course.
Neil Judd had been travelling and had meetings with the British Wool Board about a Broad Wool Offering System for wool growers in the Falklands. FIDB should support any value adding scheme and this was a flag that there would be further Board discussion on this.
As for the East-West Ferry, it was proposed that there would be a trial in subsidising transport of goods to the Ferry Port as some farms would have to endure a 2 hour drive. The idea was a non starter because people would have to pay for transport costs after the trial was over. It was better to have the Tamar go to the individual farm jetties for pick up of wool and goods. Fox Bay was considered open waters and not part of Falkland Sound, so as the law stands now, passengers could not be dropped off there. Fox Bay was a good port because it had the proper facilities like a large storage facility – and a Government Agent.
The financial statement made by Bernadette Lang mentions that there was a lot of unspent allocated money available.
The carrier bags were discussed again with Fiona Didlick saying that the General Manager and not the Board had approved the expenditure of money for them. Miss Lang had not seen the approval. Julian Morris said to consider that it was not approved, as the bags were not paid for yet.
Video Conferencing was discussed with an option of using imported equipment but it was thought to compare prices with those that Cable & Wireless were going to offer and make a decision after prices and services were compared. The Hospital are keen to use the equipment for obvious reasons.
A Dumping machine – a bailer that compresses two bales into one – was discussed with Stuart Wallace asking who the machine was for. It was obvious from Julian Morris’s remarks that the machine was for FIDC’s disposal, as he didn’t name a person or business.
Income and the amount in the loan account were discussed. People had been moving out of the FIDC Business start up Offices. Rented and leased land at Lookout Industrial Estate was discussed with Miss. Lang saying that further income comes from the container park.
The balance sheet shows an under-spend on approvals and a low loan fund. Stuart Wallace asked if FIDC was running down on funds and Miss Lang said that there was a certain amount of the funds that weren’t used. Cllr. Summers added that there was £300,000.00 to £500,000.00 in the consolidated reserve. Miss. Lang went on to say that draft statements are awaited for FIDC and FIMCO.
The remainder of the public section of the meeting was taken up with a discussion on upgrading Bed and Breakfast and Lodge accommodation, with priorities for Grants being increasing bed capacity, providing en suite bathrooms and improving common areas. There needed to be a tightening up on using the money for maintenance, such as painting the exterior and adding windows. The general thought was that the business needed to be established. There was the fear that the business would benefit from the grant and be sold on. If it was within 3 years of the grant, monies on a sliding scale would have to be paid back. A time limit of 5 years was liked but 6 years in business would even be better. If the business is sold after that time it would be a good thing because the money would have been well spent in building the business up. However, to sell the business on just after improvements was a non starter with Cllr. Summers saying that using public funds to facilitate a private sale was not acceptable. Everyone was happy with that and the tightening up on what the money would be used for. £40,000.00 would be found for the grant scheme.
The public session of the meeting ended at approximately 1015.