St Helena : St Helena EXCO REPORT – 15th June 2010
Submitted by Saint Helena Herald (Juanita Brock) 17.06.2010 (Article Archived on 01.07.2010)
The only agenda item was about the revision of fuel prices. It was an Information Paper that arose from the decision at the previous EXCO to flex fuel prices to reflect importation costs. In the light of that earlier paper, prices had changed on 4th June to 80p per litre for diesel (6p up) and £1.30 per litre for petrol, (6p down).
EXCO REPORT – 15th June 2010
I had thought that this might be a short EXCO, however it didn’t finish until 2 pm after four and a half hours. That was not a measure of the length of the agenda which only had one substantive item, but of the real need to discuss many of the issues that surround us at present.
All EXCO members attended and I expressed my pleasure at being back in the chair.
The only agenda item was about the revision of fuel prices. It was an Information Paper that arose from the decision at the previous EXCO to flex fuel prices to reflect importation costs. In the light of that earlier paper, prices had changed on 4th June to 80p per litre for diesel (6p up) and £1.30 per litre for petrol, (6p down). You will recall that these rises do not impact on electricity prices and the government has pledged to hold current electricity prices at least until the end of this financial year next March. The discussion ranged quite widely around this whole topic of the importation of fuel. That included the amount of duty charged by government, the efficiency of the fuel farm itself and the role of Solomons. The long term future of the whole operation received a great deal of comment and various background documents were sought by Councillors that will be provided in the near future.
The minutes of the previous meeting also generated discussion. We began by talking about the actual role of minutes and how complete, or concise, they should be. It was agreed that draft EXCO minutes should be circulated to all those in attendance so that differences of wording could be picked up prior to the next meeting.
The matter of the whitewashing of the new Baggage and Freight Terminal on the Jamestown wharf arose. This has been the subject of considerable comment for some weeks, many people finding the stonework finish attractive in its natural state and others feeling that the whole ambiance in reproducing something like the original wharf is dependent on a white covering of the stone. The actual planning consent for the terminal includes it being finished in white and any change to that would need to be made by EXCO. The decision was not to make a decision, but to leave the building un whitewashed until other aspects of the wharf improvements come into being. Council felt that the matter could then be viewed in a more holistic way.
It was reported that improvement work is already being done on the Run and this is to be discussed at the next meeting of the Infrastructure and Utilities Committee.
The recent DFID business adviser Kato Kimbugwe had taken samples of oil from the Darkdale back to the UK with him for testing. Apparently the samples sent to South Africa were not large enough for a proper appraisal to be carried out. We had to report that we have no results from the UK yet.
Sharon Wainwright’s responsibility for managing the infrastructure projects approved by DfID was outlined. She will of course be utilising Public Works personnel for much of that activity and will have direct links to the engineers for that aspect of their work.
I have already commented on the length of this meeting and the range of topics. You may recall that shortly after the election of this Council I suggested that we should have fewer EXCOs, limiting them to once a month. That has proved to be unworkable; in fact we have actually held more than before! It was therefore agreed that we would revert to having meetings every fortnight. We will also institute a tracker document in the hope that the information therein will reduce Matters Arising.
The issue of public toilets near to Napoleon’s tomb occupied far more time than I would have wished. There was anxiety from Councillors with regard to water supply in that area as well as the stability of rocks by the roadside if parking is to be extended. I promised to discuss the matter with the Urban Planner.
Under Any Other Business we discussed the matter of the distress experienced by Malcolm and Lisa over their stillborn child as revealed in a recent newspaper article. An issue like this, and the manner in which it is handled by both hospital and media, is obviously of considerable concern to Councillors and Officials. The fact that the hospital is unable to respond because of the constraint of patient confidentiality makes reaction difficult. The chairman of the Health & Social Services Committee Ferdie Gunnell, informed us that he would be having a meeting of his committee tomorrow and that the four doctors would be present for discussion of this item.
The Financial Secretary presented the government accounts to the end of May which show the performance after only two months. Once again the promptness of this information was very welcome. What the accounts actually show is that it is too early in the year for us to draw any real conclusions. However if we were steering wildly off course it would have been apparent.
This was a meeting in which we went in to quite an amount of detail and I have been delighted at the way in which Members are becoming more and more involved in policy matters.
The meeting finished at 2 pm.
15th June 2010