Falklands : Falklands Public Meeting Report 24/05/10
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 25.05.2010 (Article Archived on 08.06.2010)
A public meeting was held in the Court and Assembly Chamber of the Town Hall on Monday, 24 may 2010 beginning at 1700hrs
PUBLIC MEETING REPORT MONDAY, 21 MAY 2010
By J. Brock (FINN)
A public meeting was held in the Court and Assembly Chamber of the Town Hall on Monday, 24 may 2010 beginning at 1700hrs. Present were Councillors Glen Ross (Chair), Dick Sawle, Bill Luxton, Roger Edwards, Jan Cheek, Gavin Short and Sharon Halford. Emma Edwards is overseas on Assembly business.
There were five questions to discuss prior to opening the meeting up to general discussion.
Question 1 dealt with housing. Evidently, some people born in the Falklands and who have left to live overseas have come back and have applied for housing assistance. They have been given help sometimes in favour over Islanders who have lived here all the time.
A points system has been set up to help social services determine welfare issues. Glen Ross said it was difficult to determine welfare issues and Jan Cheek said it is why the points system is necessary.
Question 2 was about Falkland Islanders coming back on holiday after 30 years and expecting free dental treatment. However, dental treatment is not part of the reciprocal agreement covering medical costs with the UK and shouldn’t be given for free. This, as with question 1 is under discussion. A member of the public said that if a resident hadn’t visited the dentist in two years there would be an £84.00 charge for the appointment. Sharon Halford said that was dropped because the Dental Department got behind in their appointments. She will check to see if this is still the case. She said this needed to be clarified.
Question 3 dealt with work experience for returning graduates. Jan Cheek said that FIG had one place open but that in the past there were two openings for a post of one year in duration. She is going to look into this to see if the second post can be re-established. Councillors acknowledged that the private sector had a better programme for returning graduates.
Question 4 was about how many beds were available at the KEMH – how many patients could be catered for at a time. Lidda Luxton said that there were 7 beds in the residency area, 2 in ICU, 1 in maternity and 18 other beds that could be used. The beds were not always filled but when a visiting specialist came the hospital was stretched to find a bed.
Question 5 was about a rumour that helicopters going to the rig had to stop in Stanley for customs clearance before flying on to the rig. This was refuted. The helicopter stops in Stanley to pick up supplies and passengers.
Tim Miller wanted to know if there were going to be any unpleasant surprises with tax at the budget session and Jan Cheek said he should attend the session and find out for himself. Roger Edwards mentioned that Government were at the moment within the parameters of the Medium Term Financial plan. Lidda Luxton asked if there was going to be an increase due to the oil activity. Jan Cheek said that licence revenue barely covered running costs for the Department of Mineral Resources but that indirectly the private sector and other government departments benefited from the increased activity and FIG would be remunerated accordingly.
Lidda Luxton mentioned the huge number of ships in Port William and Jan Cheek mentioned that people would come ashore and spend money and there would be revenue from harbour dues. Cutting expenditure rather than taxes brought the response that FIG was always looking for ways to cut expenditure from Roger Edwards.
Savings in medical expenses was brought up by Tim Miller. Sharon Halford mentioned that she had recently been in the UK and prescriptions cost a fortune. We were lucky with those costs. However, the Director of Education and Health Services was looking into this to see what could be done.
Ruth Taylor said that she overheard a conversation at the KEMH where one person said only one doctor was available. Sharon Halford said she possibly overheard the same conversation and that she understood it to mean that on the day there was only doctor available. Lidda Luxton said that there was one doctor for clinic who worked alongside a nurse/practitioner. Sharon Halford mentioned that doctors were being recruited and they didn’t want to come due to being on call all the time. She also mentioned that for its size we had a demanding population who were used to a certain level of service. We also had a surgeon and anaesthetist working at the KEMH as well as Locums. Locums, however, are viewed as an expensive option.
Lidda Luxton was concerned about the junction between Philomel Hill and Davis Street going west. Parking seemed to be the problem and on occasion there was nowhere to go in that direction. Jan Cheek said it would be looked into but that yellow lines were painted 15 metres in each direction at junctions. Gavin Short said it was a black spot and that he would look into it.
The suggestion of a one-way system was raised again and councillors are going to revisit it. Sharon Halfford mentioned that if there were school dinners the problem around the infant/junior school would be averted at lunchtime. She also mentioned that in 1983 the military worked out a one-way system that worked and that afforded parking on one side of the street. Gavin Short will look into the situation.
Gerald Cheek brought up street lighting especially on Crozier Place. Glenn Ross said that the land doesn’t belong to FIG and lighting needs to be agreed with FIC. Jan Cheek said she had received representation about the problem. Stephen Luxton brought up lighting around the 1982 Memorial. Glenn Ross said that the lights don’t last long due to road vibration, however the memorial would be lit properly for 14 June Commemorations.
Phil Middleton thanked the Power and Electrical Department for the lighting outside the town hall for the May Ball but mentioned that few bulbs in the hall itself were working. Glen Ross said that since January the Power and Electrical section were not responsible for maintaining Government buildings and that the maintenance manager for the Town Hall was responsible for replacing the bulbs. Gavin Short will take this onboard.
Members of the public brought up earwig eradication and councillors said a working group needed to be set up to help with community action. People said that spraying helped with the problem. Tim Miller said he had to specially pack his produce for transport to South Georgia. Sharon Halford said earwigs stowed away on produce and that Campers bought things in bulk, receiving Earwigs in every food shipment.
Street Lighting at Narrows View:
Stephen Luxton mentioned that the area needed basic maintenance. Gavin Short will look into the problem and report back.
Oil Spill Contingency Plans:
The subject of oil spills was brought up with Jan Cheek saying that the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico caused concern for safety here. She assured the public that prior to any drilling an oil spill mitigation programme must be approved by EXCO and that it will be in place before any drilling takes place. Each exploratory company has to submit an Environmental Impact Assessment prior to drilling and that has to go through a lengthy process of approval before any resulting permissions are granted.
Though there were no major oil spills in the North sea, a lot of things went wrong even though the proper assessments and contingency plans were in place. Mike Forrest asked about who would be responsible for clean-up should anything go wrong here. Councillors said it was the oil company involved.
Given the events in the US the public expects difficulty with that.