Island Council Update May 2013

AIG HeaderFrom the Administrator

Island Council Meeting, 23 May 2013

The Island Council met on Thursday 23 May in the Court House. The Acting Governor, Owen O’Sullivan, attended by telephone. All five island Councillors attended: Kitty George, Neil Lawrence, Cathy Cranfield, Cyril Leo and Toni Bendall.

Children in Bars

The Administrator submitted a draft law, The Control of Alcohol and Access to Bars (Children and Young Persons) Ordinance 2013, for the Council’s approval. Debate centred on the time limit for Friday and Saturday nights. The draft had a time limit of 2230 (1030pm) after which children and young persons must not be in a bar or club. There was agreement that during the week the timing of 2100 (9pm) was appropriate. But, Councillors disagreed on 1030pm as a limit for Friday and Saturday nights. Most island Councillors viewed 1130pm or midnight as more appropriate options. The Administrator confirmed that he was not prepared to go beyond 1030pm.

Island Councillors voted to advise the Governor NOT to enact the draft legislation. In addition, Councillors voted in favour of advising the Governor to (a) amend the upper limit for Fridays and Saturday nights to 1130pm, and (b) to postpone consideration of the legislation until later in the year when clarity on youth clubs and social service arrangements would be available.

It is unusual for the Island Council to conclude that proposed Government legislation should not be enacted. The Acting Governor informed the Island Council that he would covey the decision and the points made by Island Councillors to the Governor on his return to St Helena on 13 June. Under the constitution, the Island Council’s role is to advise the Governor on business such as draft legislation. It is for the Governor to decide whether to accept that advice or not. The Council and the community
will be informed of the Governor’s decision as soon as it is known.

Ban on Smoking in Public Places

The Island Council approved legislation that will ban smoking in public places. The aim is to reduce passive smoking by others sharing public facilities. The law will be identical to that already in force in St Helena. Most employers already have their own smoking bans in place. This will reinforce that. Some clubs may have to change their current arrangements slight and Government will work with them. There will also be a public awareness campaign.

The impact is likely to be minimal, although the ordinance restricts young persons under the age of 18 from being supplied or possessing tobacco in a public place. The current age restriction is young persons under the age of 16 years. The law will come into effect on 1 August 2013.

Entry Control

Councillor Leo introduced proposals for procedures in the handling of extensions of visit permits and flexibility for individuals on visit permits being able to undertake short-term work assignments, seek employment. The Administrator undertook to consult and review the proposals.

Public Transport

The Administrator reported that the current take-up of the public transport system was poor. It was losing money – something that needed to change. More needed to be done to promote the service, and to understand why residents were not using it. In response to a point raised by Councillor Cranfield, the Administrator said the case for a service on Saturdays between Two Boats and Georgetown on Saturdays to allow residents to shop at Solomons was not yet justified. He had asked Solomons to consider options for a delivery service. That was being considered.

Budget

Hamish Stewart, Director of Resources, briefed Councillors on the review process he was undertaking into AIG finances and on-going projects. He would make a formal, detailed statement to a meeting of the Island Council in June – a copy of which would also be made widely available to the community. A mini-budget would be required in September to address a number of new measures needed to allow the Government to reduce costs and find new revenue streams from areas where the Government is currently under-performing. One such example is from existing tourism and cruise ships.

Education of 16-18 Year Olds

Councillor Cranfield raised this issue with Minister Mark Simmonds in December 2012 in the margins of the Overseas Territory Joint Ministerial Council in London. The Administrator reported that the FCO had followed up to see if there was any support that might be available from the national government or local councils to support Ascension students doing their A-Levels in the UK. There were none. It was a matter for Ascension, employers or individuals.

Hamish Stewart, Director of Resources, in responding to a separate point, said he would review the existing policy on providing limited support to the costs of A-Level studies in the UK, with a particular view to extension to St Helena.

Medical Referrals

The Administrator issued a revised policy on medical referrals for non-elective procedures. This made it clearer that where a patient does not take his or her leave in the UK, referral to the UK was still possible when in the patient’s interest. Normally, such referrals coincided with expected holidays in the UK.

Colin Wells,
Administrator
27 May 2013