Falklands : FIRS THROWS THE SPOTLIGHT ON JAMIE FOTHERINGHAM
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 22.10.2011 (Article Archived on 05.11.2011)
Stacey Bragger interviews the new Head of Policy, Jamie Fotheringham (JF), has been in the Falklands for two weeks and already he has his sights set on seeing what the Falklands are like and taking in the scenery and wildlife.
FIRS THROWS THE SPOTLIGHT ON JAMIE FOTHERINGHAM
A Report for FIRS by Stacey Bragger (SB)
Intro by J. Brock (FINN)
The new Head of Policy, Jamie Fotheringham (JF), has been in the Falklands for two weeks and already he has his sights set on seeing what the Falklands are like and taking in the scenery and wildlife.
Previously he worked in economic development in the UK in London doing consultancy work in economic development. He has worked for the English Regional Development Agencies and local authorities in London and across England.
JF: My background and training are as an economist in Glasgow and worked there for years. I spent a lot of time in the UK on various economic development projects.
SB: What made you want to apply for the role here in the Falkland Islands?
JF: It was a really interesting opportunity for me. I was looking for new challenges and I think they are all here in being Head of Policy. It was a very interesting one in terms of the scope of the work cutting across all aspects of Government and the economy. Career-wise it was an exciting opportunity. On a personal level, I have never been to this part of the world before and I wanted to come and see what the Falkland Islands are like.
SB: You have had a little bit of experience in working with rural economies and the issues they face.
JF: I spent quite a bit of time working at the Highlands and Islands Enterprise with a lot of rural development projects looking at small business grants, programmes for rural areas as well as infrastructure and policy issues they face. At the time I was there, there were issues around Skye Bridge – the impact it would have in terms of accessibility of some of their rural areas. We also looked at things like ferry crossings and the economic importance of that for local communities and the economy.
SB: You also dealt with the St Helena Airport Project.
JF: that was some time ago. There was a proposal at the time to take forward the port and hotel development and I was asked to look at the economic merits of that in terms of a public finance initiative that SHG were considering. At the time it really wasn’t a goer but it is obviously still on the agenda for them as accessibility is a big issue for them.
SB: How have you found the first couple of weeks in the Islands?
JF: I spent a lot of time out and about meeting lots of people – across government and some of the MLAs and I am about to speak with some of the business organisations and get their take on what the priorities and issues are. I have managed to see some of my first penguins – a big plus for me.
SB: What kind of priorities do you have in the short term?
JF: one of my big tasks is to drive forward the economic development strategy; and I am aware that there is a lot of work going on with that in terms of the tourism development strategy, so I am just getting up to speed on that and find out what are the next steps in driving that forward. We need a fishing policy that helps drive more economic benefits from the industry. We need to discover what would make local businesses grow and what attracts new businesses to the Falklands and what are the issues. Some are described in the strategy – access to finance – limited labour force – will be high on my agenda.
SB: there has been a small gap between you and your predecessor. Have you fallen behind schedule in the few months that have gone by?
JF: As I have been here only a few weeks I have a lot of catching up on what has and hasn’t happened. One of the things is the cyclical analysis on the economy and one of the big things on my agenda is taking forward the census, which will happen in the early part of next year.
SB: with the initial pressure you had, obviously everywhere is suffering from the recession. Are you positive for the Falklands’ economic future?
JF: Absolutely! I think there are a lot of great opportunities here. In some respects the Islands may have been sheltered from the economic crisis elsewhere. At the same time the Islands face some of the big challenges in the economy in terms of trying to attract and grow new businesses; and some of the challenges that are faced in terms of labour costs and all those issues. There are opportunities but it is a matter of how we take those forward in a way that’s going to be manageable for the economy in a way that will meet the aspirations of the Islanders in terms of what level of growth and what type of growth they want to see in the Islands.
(100X Transcription Service)