Falklands : Falkland Islands Development Board Meeting Report (15/08/06)
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 17.08.2006 (Article Archived on 31.08.2006)
Find out what happened during this vital board meeting.
FALKLAND ISLANDS DEVELOPMENT BOARD MEETING REPORT (15/08/06)
By J. Brock (FINN)
A meeting of the Falkland Islands Development Board met at 0900 on Tuesday, 15 August 2006 in the Function Room of the Chamber of Commerce Building. Present were Cllr. Dr. Andrea Clausen (Chair), Cllr. Richard Cockwell, Cllr. Ian Hansen, Mr. Mike Forrest, Dr. Brendan Gara (Aquaculture), Mr. John Ferguson (FIMCO), Mr. Tim Cotter (Energy Advisor) Mr. Chris Simpkins (FIG Chief Executive), Mr. Julian Morris (General Manager FIDC), Ms. Jeannie Morton (Financial Controller), Ms. Nuala McKay (Business Advisor) Mr. Stuart Wallace (Vessel Owners Association), Mr. Rikki Evans, Mr. Keith Padgett (Non Voting Member) and Miss Sue Gyford (Minutes).
Prior to beginning the meeting, Cllr. Dr. Andrea Clausen asked for a vote of thanks for the out-going General Manager, Mr. Julian Morris, who was attending his last meeting of the Development Board.
After matters arising from the minutes of the meeting held on 06 July 2006, declarations of interest on items 5 and 6 on the agenda were noted.
There was a full agenda during the public session of the meeting, lasting nearly four hours. The General Manager, Mr. Julian Morris, began with his last report to the Board.
General Manager’s Report
The report included items about staff as well as coastal shipping and the container stacking yard, bowser and dairy.
Julian Morris reported that the Double Dumping machine was in the Islands and it was to be reconditioned so it could be used for this season’s wool clip. There had been seemingly unfounded reports about the poor condition of the machine but Mr. Morris expressed that it was a used machine and that it was in good condition for its age and previous use.
He commended Sue Gyford on her annual report and thanked her for the hard work she did on it. Also in the written report were a few lines on organics, plasma displays for MPA and the Farm exit scheme.
Dr. Brendan Gara had some uncomfortable words with regard to the aquaculture in that there had been some desk-top studies done but Research and development would take money that was not in the budget. There were no technical and support services here for marketing and profit realisation would be minimal. Developing a species base not indigenous to the Falklands was not recommended due to costs. Developing indigenous species would be the best way forward but it would take a lot of money and training so that local staff could operate the venture. Things must be done step by step. There was a brief discussion about whether an eventual system should be closed but, again, the costs would be prohibitive. This was followed by a discussion about worms. It had previously been thought that Rag-worms would be brought in from the UK but there is an indigenous species that would be appropriate to use. Dr. Gara recommended that he was here for another 18 months and he expected to use his expertise during that time. There was a brief discussion about the lack of fresh water for fresh water species and this would make sea water species more likely to succeed.
(Wool Review and Strategic Plan)
The paper envisaged a farmers’ co-operative and that 16 farmers surveyed supported the project, 4 had yet to decide, 13 did not support the plan. It was thought that other farmers would go along with the project if participating farmers realised more of a profit. Incentive schemes like reduced membership fees were discussed. The point was made that individual farmers selling their wool would not realise the results that a group of farmers would. Mr. Lambert wanted to be in the Falklands as early as next month to begin working with the farmers who wanted to go for the scheme. The £100,000.00 cost would be found within the budget and an information paper would be sent to EXCO.
A conference phone call between the Board and Mr. Tony Docherty took place and a power-point presentation showed the work that Mr. Docherty had done on the project. At the last meeting of the Development Board there was comment that the report hadn’t answered the questions that had been set out.
After the presentation the board asked Mr. Doherty some questions and discussed the relevance of the project and while it would enhance the tourism experience for cruise ship passengers in the Falklands, it wouldn’t be a drawing card to make the Islands a unique destination. We are best served as part of a package that includes Cape Horn.
Mr Docherty explained It was important to create an atmosphere where people wanted to spend their money. There was a feeling that the Museum should be moved to the dockyard. Cllr Cockwell was concerned that the Museum would turn into a commercial venture instead of having a focus on heritage. Mr Doherty agreed that heritage needed to be brought to the fore but it also needed to done so in an atmosphere where people would spend some money and some facilities needed to be dedicated to catering to tourists. Local crafts, paintings and sculptures could be sold.
Concern was expressed that many people would go outside of Stanley during the day a cruise ship was in. Chris Simpkins mentioned it was difficult to cater for tourists who stay in Stanley and don’t spend anything. The atmosphere, with a Government Jetty that was falling down and an under-developed seafront, had to be considered before anything further could be done to attract tourists to Stanley.
(Falkland Islands Meat Company (FIMCO) Review of the Business)
A full review of the season resulted in a paper to the board as the Standing Finance Committee wanted to see figures about business performance of the Abattoir. The paper explained about performance for the 2005/06 season as well as an explanation about how the local market were receiving better quality and paying more for it and an explanation about the way forward for next season.
Stuart Wallace mentioned that he was amazed at what has been achieved at the Abattoir and the ability for the staff to get things done. He acknowledged that the project needed a minimum of £300,000 per annum to keep going and a recovery plan like the FLH Recovery Plan. The option of selling sheep for cash now and forgetting about the wool clip was not wise for the long-term sustainability of the wool and/or the meat industry. It was a serious situation and the whole scenario lacked a strategy for recovery as well as a marketing strategy. The project needed to stand alone and be a project of FIG and not of FIDC.
Phyl Rendell said that there needed to be a five or ten year business plan to encourage farmers to move towards getting new flocks – animals that are good for meat and wool. Department of Agriculture programmes like pasture improvement would be on-going. Cllr. Hansen mentioned that sheep nutrition was an important factor in the improvement of flocks.
The ability to store meat in the chillers and the inability to deliver chilled meat to the UK and Europe means that the product must be frozen prior to shipping – not the most desirable marketing advantage.
(Solar Heating Grant Scheme)
Tim Cotter presented a paper on the Solar Heating Grant Scheme to introduce a grant funded by the Falkland Islands Government on the same basis as other grants subsidised by FIDC.
The grant for solar heating materials would be £1,000.00 but the system must include a hot water cylinder. Modifications could be made to a combi-boiler system but they are thought to be impractical. The system would be low maintenance. Similar systems are installed successfully in the United Kingdom and we have more sunshine than they do.
It was thought that efficient methods for replacing fossil fuels would be welcome and a paper would be put to EXCO in due course.
(Policy Review on Land Tenure)
The purpose of the Land Tenure policy was to discover how FIG could most effectively dispose of land for commercial use to facilitate economic development.
Debate centred around the benefits of owning land freehold or leasehold. It was thought if Government property was disposed of freehold a huge business could buy up the land. It was thought that 25-year leases and 99-year leases would be the best option, even though there were many advantages to owning land freehold. With leasehold, FIG could control what happens with the land. This would not be easy if property were owned freehold.
The lengthy public section of the meeting ended at 1245hrs.