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St Helena : ST HELENA EXCO REPORT for 21 June 2011
Submitted by Saint Helena Herald (Public Relations Information Office) 01.07.2011 (Article Archived on 15.07.2011)

Today is our shortest day and midsummer in the UK, but it is also another Tuesday - and another EXCO. You may remember the time when we were able to hold Governor’s Groups every other Tuesday. The work load continues unabated and so we remain in a weekly EXCO pattern.

ST HELENA EXCO REPORT for 21 June 2011


 


Today is our shortest day and midsummer in the UK, but it is also another Tuesday - and another EXCO. You may remember the time when we were able to hold Governor’s Groups every other Tuesday. The work load continues unabated and so we remain in a weekly EXCO pattern.


 


We began with looking at the Order Paper for the formal meeting of LEGCO which is coming up on Monday next. Before the Council Committee system was put in place EXCO was used as a committee for sorting out the answers to LEGCO questions and as preparation for the debates. However now that 8 of our Councillors have specific political responsibility for areas of government, rather than just the 5 on EXCO, that process has ceased. Questions can be asked by any Councillor of any Government Department and Monday has 13 in prospect. They deal with issues such as: Government Landlord Housing, the work of our Tourism Sales and Marketing Executive in the UK, the effectiveness of the rock-fall protection, the upkeep of Longwood Green, wheelchair access to shops and offices and many other issues. There are two substantive government motions one presenting the Tobacco Control Bill and the other the new Immigration Bill.


 


I try hard not to pontificate and sound like a school master, but at times it is hard to refrain from doing so – so I won’t resist and will say that the proceedings of LEGCO may seem slow at times, but they contain a great deal that is of vital importance to all on the island. We are living in difficult times, when complicated and sometimes unpopular decisions have to be made. Those decisions impact on all of us and as citizens we owe it to ourselves and our children to make sure we understand some of the detail of what is going on rather than accept what we may be told by those not directly involved.


 


We approved the minutes of our last meeting held on 7th June and dealt with Matters Arising. Among such items was a report back from the Acting Chief Secretary on discussions on the future of media on the island that are being orchestrated by John Styles. In principle we are all committed to the provision radio and printed news that is independent of government yet soundly based, providing worthwhile employment and content that is accurate, informative, educational and entertaining. Thanks to the efforts of all concerned we believe we are moving towards that objective.


 


We then had an interesting discussion about the management of the RMS and how we might interpret the fact that “shipping” is a special responsibility of the Governor under section 44 of the constitution. I made it clear that I would expect to consult widely on all appropriate decisions concerning the ship, as indeed I believe I have in the past, and without committing my successor to do the same, I am sure that such an approach is the best way. However, all were agreed that the Governor’s powers under this section, which include finance, defence, security, external affairs and justice, have to be maintained in case an emergency makes them necessary.


 


Still arising from previous minutes I was able to circulate a draft of a short press release about the appointment of both the Chief Executive of Economic Development (CEED) and the Chief Secretary. After this broadcast the release will be made, but I will fill in some of the detail now.


 


Julian Morris is to become the CEED. Many of you will know Julian from the work on the RMS schedule that he did here. Julian is a Chartered Accountant and has an MBA. He ran the Development Corporation in the Falkland Islands for 3 years, but not, as was mistakenly reported this morning, while I served there. I left at the end of 1999 and he didn’t arrive until 2003. He will report directly to the Governor and will not be part of the Civil Service. In that, his role will be similar to that of the Public Solicitor, but his responsibilities will mean that he works very closely with government in developing, managing and balancing our economy.


 


The new Chief Secretary has a good reason for remaining anonymous at present, but he is coming to us with a wealth of experience. Although still a young man, he has already shouldered considerable responsibility in several UK Government Departments, including the Home Office, the Department for Culture Media and Sport, and the Ministry of Defence. He has also worked as a Senior Policy Adviser in New Zealand. His first degree is in Electronic Engineering with French, and he subsequently acquired a London Business School MBA. His studies have taken him abroad to both Columbia (USA) and Montpellier. In addition he is a part qualified accountant and has a range of leisure interests that include tennis, golf, sea kayaking, cycling and hiking. Clearly I will be able to say a great deal more about him in the near future.


 


These two new senior managers will arrive with their young families on 15th September, and my likely leaving date is 23rd September, so I am personally sorry that I will not have the opportunity to work closely with them for long.


 


I was able to tell Councillors that I have received a letter from the Hon. French Consul praising the work of our Tourism Department for the manner in which the recent visit of 42 Napoleonic enthusiasts was organised and handled. In spite of a well-publicised hint on a loo wall that not all of us were enthusiastic about their presence, they clearly felt very welcome and most vowed to return. If all new tourists that we hope to attract take the same view we will have to impose a tourist quota in the years’ ahead. The success of tourism remains the only practical hope for this island, and it takes years of hard work to build the right image and appeal. We must build on this success.


 


After Matters Arising we renewed the Broadcasting Licence to Radio St. Helena, and went on to discuss the response to a letter from a local business about the new service tax.


 


There was not a great deal of AOB but I was able to confirm that our French Consul will be staying here for the foreseeable future. There had been a suggestion that the French Government might wish to relocate him, but the importance of his work in the build-up to the bi-centenary of Napoleon’s time here as well as the value of his contribution to the on-going restoration work at Logwood are well understood by the French Government, and we are grateful for their positive attitude.  The meeting finished at 12.30 pm

 

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