Falklands : Public Meeting Report (25 April 2006)
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 26.04.2006 (Article Archived on 10.05.2006)
Seat Belt Law and Electricity Tariffs were on the discussion list for this important and lively meeting.
PUBLIC MEETING: TUESDAY, 25 APRIL 2006 REPORT
By J. Brock (FINN)
A public meeting took place in the Court and Council Chamber of the Town Hall at 1700hrs on Tuesday, 25 April 2006. Approximately 30 members of the public were present, as were Cllrs Davies, Cockwell, Robertson, Summers, Clausen, and Stevens.
Cllr Robertson, who chaired the meeting, read out some questions and answers from Tim Miller about Seat Belts.
Q1. Assuming Seat Belt Laws are for safety, there are some parts of the Bypass Road considered safe without a belt while a belt must be worn on adjacent road areas with the same 40 MPH limit.
Answer from the Attorney General Mr. David Lang QC:
The law was changed as far as that was concerned with effect from the 15th June 2004 by the Wearing of Seatbelts Amendment Regulations 2004. The Seat Belt Law as from effect on that date applied to all roads where the speed limit above 25MPH applies. A special exemption for a stretch of Stanley Bypass and Airport Road being the Southern end of Philomel Street and the Northern end of the road to Stanley Services Filling Station therefore ceased to have effect from June 2004. Therefore in affect, there is no exemption on the Bypass Road.
Q2. Why does FIG have road signs in Camp reminding people they no longer need to wear seat belts on un-designated Roads? Surely, as a safety issue, it is daft to remind people that you do not have to wear them. A recent Police circular said the same thing.
Answer from the Attorney General Mr. David Lang QC:
The working group on the Road Traffic Bill will shortly be considering whether to recommend if the Seat Belt Law should apply to all roads, including roads which are, at present, undesignated and roads in Stanley. In that event the signs the question refers to will be removed. The signs were erected when the seatbelt law was first introduced for the purpose of drawing attention to the stretches off road where the seat belt law did not apply. It wasn’t intended to warn people not to wear a seat belt.
Q3. Why does FIG not consider proven UK and European Seat Belt Laws that lap belts are manufactured with the instruction that they were illegal for children even on motorways. As most of our vehicles come from there, why do we not use their seat belt law? It is safe and workable by all.
The Attorney General’s answer was summarised by Cllr. Robertson.
The UK and the European Union are now considering indicates that the present law is not adequate. They are going to consider the type of restraints. Though a child can come out of a lap belt or be injured by it, a 3-point belt could break its neck. As a result, they are considering changing the law to authorising suitable restraints for children. In the Falkland Islands they want to introduce legislation to reflect this.
Questions and points to consider were then volunteered by the general public. Stephen Luxton said that we should consider using the constraints that we now have available. Another point brought up by Ging Davis was that because people felt more confident using seat belts that they tended to speed more. Stephen Luxton said that though inconvenient, he intended to follow seat belt laws. Cllr Summers mentioned that there was an option to amend the law to apply seat belt regulations to all roads built by FIG.
Accidents in the Falklands tend to be at low speeds and, at the moment, the restraints we use would save lives. Cllr Clausen mentioned that we all live in a risk zone. We lower the risk to our safety by wearing seat belts.
Phil Middleton asked if the same laws would apply to taxis and public transport and Cllr. Robertson said there was a section in the law pertaining to public transport.
Electricity tariffs brought some debate with Richard Cockwell saying that many people using card metres were still only paying 13.5p per unit, when the tariff is now 17p per unit. Glen Ross said that 538 card metres were on 17p unit and the balance - 310 metres were on either 15p per unit or on 13.5p per unit. Government was losing £60,000.00 per annum and this had to stop. The best way forward was to put everyone on a meter reading basis. Cllr Summers said that once everyone was paying the correct price, paying for electricity by the unit would be considered. A suggestion by a member of the public that a discount be given to those who paid ahead of usage be considered was not liked by Councillors. Cllr. Summers said we could consider it but it was best not to make any pricing system too complicated.
In the general part of the meeting Gerald Cheek asked if unqualified HGV drivers would cause problems with insurance, should they have an accident on roads they were helping to construct. Cllrs said that seeing the roads were under construction and not designated roads, this should not be a problem.
Romeo Pauloni asked about fuel subsidies for pensioners and would it be applied to electricity tariffs. Cllr. Summers said that there were plans in the budget to give a fuel subsidy but wouldn’t say more because it was not approved yet.
Roger Spink asked about the promised report from the Gordon Forbes Case and why was it not in the public domain. Chris Simpkins said that he had other priorities and that he did not have time to produce a report. The report would not be the subject of a costly study but will be done internally. Cllr Summers said that a date for the report could be known before the next public meeting.
The brief report that Cllr. Clausen presented will be included in the Hydrocarbons section.