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Financial Information and News

The Radio Address of John Birmingham

THE RADIO ADDRESS OF JOHN BIRMINGHAM

 

I am standing for re-election to the Legislative Council of the Falkland Islands because I want to be part of the continuing development of these Islands – both economically and as a society.  I say the Falkland Islands, because no matter which constituency a councillor gets voted on to represent; in the end that councillor is part of the Falkland Islands Government and is making decisions that affect all of the Islands.

 

I first came to these Islands in 1974 and have long considered them to be my home.

 

The next council’s number one priority has to be security.  The military presence at Mount Pleasant and around the Islands which we all appreciate is only part of the picture. 

 

If re-elected I would support the continuation of the previous council’s policy of being firm in the face of increasing Argentine pressure whilst at the same time not shooting ourselves in the foot by denying visits to the cemetery by Argentine next of kin.

 

We also need to keep the Falklands cause in people’s minds overseas.  I, along with Stephen Luxton, represented the Falklands at the United Nations last June and the Argentines were left in no doubt, as were the Committee of 24, of the views from the Falklands about the behaviour and claim by the Argentine Republic.

 

The economy is also very important.  The next council will take over a budget and consolidated fund that, despite recent poor income from ilex, is in a healthy condition.  Not knowing what the future brings, I would, if elected, be for a prudent approach to spending what, after all, is the taxpayer’s money.

 

In the private sector, building is doing well, but we really need a push on getting more serviced plots on line.  The time is right for smaller plots.

 

The fishing industry generally welcomed the passing of the legislation that will enable local companies to prosper and that will have a knock on effect at the treasury.

 

Farming for wool is not doing so well at present, but there is optimism in beef, lamb and mutton production.  I support continued sensible investment in agriculture.

 

I also very much support the ferry trial across the Sound.  If we wait for the perfect vessel then we will wait a long time.  I am confident that, given the right conditions, the West will benefit greatly from increased tourism (even townies may go there) and tourism brings income.  Surely that has to be a good thing.  And tourism is, of course, proving to be an ever increasing earner.  This sector needs more investment and going by what we know, that investment will repay itself a lot sooner than some other projects have.

 

Underpinning the private sector are of course the public services.  I see no need at all in privatising the key areas such as power and water.  Falkland Island Government departments have, over the last four years, been faced with budget cuts.  Some departments are now at a level which cannot take further cuts without affecting services.  If re-elected I would take seriously any further reduction in departmental budgets.  The medical and education departments are, in my mind, the two that, in the event of having to make further reductions in the overall FIG recurrent expenditure, should be least hit.

 

In the hospital, the dentistry department has gone through a rough patch.  I’m pleased that they are now fully staffed.  I am, however, not convinced that some of the dental charges are either fair or necessary.  If elected, I would push for a review of these.

 

Education is one the big three in terms of spending.  I would continue to support that level of spending as the future of the Falkland Islands is there.  I think a mistake was made in stopping evening classes and would support a re-introduction.

 

I am particularly interested in assistance for childcare.  Some people say it should be up to the parents.  I agree that in an ideal World, Government would not be involved in provision towards preschool facilities because all women …. or men would stay at home and look after children until they went to school at the age of five.  But we don’t live in an ideal World, do we?  In modern Stanley the majority of parents work and there is a need, and in my opinion, a duty of Government to have some interest and involvement in assisting, financially and otherwise, with the provision of preschool childcare facilities.

 

The Leisure Centre comes under education.  If elected I would propose the establishment of a leisure services committee.  With the growing number of playgrounds, football pitches, other green areas and even the Town Hall, I think the time is right for some sort of overall body to oversee and have a real input into the decisions about the allocation of funding for recreational activities in Stanley.

 

Everybody standing for council will have a wish list of capital projects and I am no exception.  But there is only a certain amount of funding available.  If a councillor wants to get anything done, there have to be at least four other councillors in agreement.

  • I still would like a new hostel.  This would free up Stanley House and Grounds.  Look at the Villiers Street Cul-de-sac.  A job well done!  There could be more.
  • Why can’t we have a collection point on the Eliza Cove Road (south of the Agricultural Department), saving a trip to the dump and help recycling.
  • More money spent on the Town Hall to make it what it should be, the centrepiece for civil entertainment in Stanley (with a lift).

There already is a list of projects.  I support that list.  Some of mine are minor and inexpensive.

 

Some other issues that I am interested in and consider important locally are:-

  • No to a town council.  There would just be an increase in bureaucracy.
  • We should revisit the problem of traffic flow in the centre of Stanley.  The clearway works but has put pressure on other streets and Barrack Street is a mess at certain times.
  • The community should help those who need financial assistance, but at the moment there are some who seem to be taking advantage.  I am not happy about that.
  • There are changes in the constitution on the horizon.  I want to see a lot more debate and public awareness before any changes are made.
  • There is talk of a Council leader.  I see no need for such a person for the foreseeable future.

 

There are advantages and disadvantages to being a previous councillor.  If people think that you did a reasonable job you stand a chance of re-election.  I consider myself to have been a hard working councillor and would like to continue representing the Falkland Islands.  On election day, the 17th, please vote.

 



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