Ascension : MEETING OF THE ASCENSION ISLAND COUNCIL
Submitted by The Islander (Ascension Island Government) 09.06.2011 (Article Archived on 23.06.2011)
The Ascension Island Council held a formal meeting on Monday 23 May in the Council Chamber.
MEETING OF THE ASCENSION ISLAND COUNCIL,
Monday, 23 May 2011
The Ascension Island Council held a formal meeting on Monday 23 May in the Council Chamber. All members were present with the exception of Councillor Faith Thomas. The Governor and Attorney General joined by telephone link, though they were unable to participate in the whole of the meeting due to other commitments.
Colin Roberts, the Director of the Overseas Territories Directorate in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, was on island en route to the UK from his visit to St Helena at the time and joined the meeting.
The minutes of the meeting held on 8 April were confirmed.
The following was noted under Matters Arising:
The Road Traffic (Amendment) Ordinance, 2011, the Magistrates’ Court (Amendment) Ordinance, 2011 and the Export Control (Repeal) Ordinance, 2011, were all enacted on 15 April 2011.
The Director of Operations reported that the water cooler that had been requested for the outpatients’ waiting area at the hospital arrived on the last ship and should be installed within the next three weeks. A quotation has been sought for the installation of a water line to the Boat yard following a request by Council in the last meeting.
The issue of outdated foodstuffs has been addressed and re-packaged foodstuffs sold through the shop should now be marked with ‘use by dates.’
The first substantive item on the agenda concerned proposed amendments to the Road Traffic Ordinance and Road Traffic Regulations. These are the removal of the ban relating to drivers who have been disqualified in St Helena; the application of age restrictions to the granting of licences for driving motor cyles and quad bikes; and removal of the requirement for drivers to have 12 months’ experience on a 125cc motorcycle before being granted a licence for motor cycles above this size. Council accepted these amendments and recommended to the Governor that these further amendments to the Ordinance be enacted.
There was discussion about how to tackle the problem of noise nuisance. This is a difficult area and there are technical issues when using a meter to determine the source of noise and differentiate between say loud music and background noise, such as waves crashing on the beach. Crown Counsel reported that there had been 11 recorded complaints to the Police in 2009 about excessive noise, and 14 in 2010. This may not reflect the real scale of the problem as many people are thought to be reluctant to make a complaint.
A report on ways to tackle noise nuisance is being prepared to help Council consider this issue further and will be discussed at an informal meeting when ready.
The problem of obtaining passport photos on Ascension was raised. There is currently no facility for members of the public to obtain these. It was thought this could be an opportunity for someone in the private sector, and expressions of interest will be sought through a notice in the Islander. The investment is not considered high as acceptable results can be obtained with a good quality digital camera, but it is important that the guidelines for the photos are followed carefully to avoid photos being rejected by the UK Identity and Passport Service.
In the Closed Session Council was given an update on tax compliance issues faced by the AIG. Considerable progress has of course already been made on this, and it looks likely that the remaining issues should be resolved shortly.
The FCO’s Director of Overseas Territories Directorate, Mr Colin Roberts, thanked Council for the opportunity to join the meeting, and conveyed the best wishes of the Minister for Overseas Territories, Henry Bellingham to the new Council. Mr Roberts then gave an update to Council on the review being carried out by Tim Torlot and Mark Forrester into a sustainable financing model for the AIG that should avoid the kind of difficulties that had been faced in the past. This is still at an early stage, with proposals being refined, but should be ready to share with Council shortly. There will also need to be wider consultation, including with the small business sector and the public. But the aim will be to achieve a sustainable financing model that has wide support, and which will allow the island to move forward with a greater degree of trust and cooperation. Councillors looked forward to seeing the detail of the proposed arrangements.
Mr Roberts also described the fresh and positive approach to the Overseas Territories by the coalition government in the UK. One example of their approach is to seek the involvement of all UK government departments who in their own areas may be able to support the Overseas Territories’ governments, for example with technical advice. In response to a question from a Councillor on behalf of a constituent, it was confirmed that a new White Paper will be drafted in due course. Overseas Territory governments will be involved in discussions about this.
Under Any Other Business, Councillor Lawrence informed Council that he would be absent from the island on annual leave from 27 May to 6 July. A question was raised about the temporary notice in relation to swimming pools which increased the age of unsupervised children from 14 to 16 years. Further discussion will be needed in Council on a sensible way forward that enables our children to enjoy these recreational amenities while keeping them safe.
With no further business to conduct, the meeting was declared closed at 15:55.
02 June 2011