Part 1: Executive Council Report, Prayers, Confirmation Papers and Questions
Compiled and transcribed by J. Brock (FINN)
A meeting of legislative Assembly took place in the Court and Assembly Chamber of the Town Hall at 0900hrs on Thursday, 24 April 2014. Present were the Chief Executive Mr Keith Padgett, the Attorney General Mr Peter Judge, the Financial Secretary Mrs Nicola Granger, the Speaker of the House Mr Keith Biles, the Clerk of Council Mrs Claudette Anderson-Prior, Councillors Cheek, Edwards, Elsby, Hansen, Poole, Rendell, Short and Summers.
Prayers were said by Dr the Reverend Richard Hines, Priest in Charge of Christ Church Cathedral. After the Speaker gave his usual message about mobile phones Mrs Anderson Prior announced the confirmation of the record of the Legislative Assembly meeting held on Thursday, 27 March 2014. Mr Biles signed the paperwork as a true copy of the aforementioned record.
Papers lain on the table by the Honourable the Chief Executive: Copies of subsidiary legislation published in the Falkland Islands Gazette since the last sitting of Legislative Assembly and laid on the table pursuant to Section 35.1 of the interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance 1977:
1. Coins Order 2013 Correction Order 2014 2. Mental Health Approved Practitioners Order 2014 3. Mental Health Approved Medical Centre Order 2014
KP: Mr Speaker, Honourable members, I hereby lay the aforementioned papers on the table.
QUESTIONS FOR ORAL ANSWER
Question No 7/2014 by the Honourable Dr Barry Elsby:
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, can the Honourable Michael Poole please advise the House what provision has been made for play areas in and around Sapper Hill Housing development and how they will be equipped?
Answer by the Honourable Mr Michael Poole:
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, thank you to my Honourable Colleague for his question. I would also like to thank the Head of Environmental Planning and the Director of Public Works for their assistance in compiling a response to this question.
Clearly access to appropriate, sufficient open space is a priority and is important for appearance and also for public health purposes as well. This question is reflected in the draft development plan which we are consulting on at the moment. There are statements in there regarding the town being a safe, attractive and convenient place to live and providing opportunities for a healthy lifestyle and a range of recreational activities.
There is also a specific objective included which is to support all our communities in living healthy lives in an attractive, safe and clean environment which facilitates walking and other outdoor pursuits.
The specific question regarding Sapper Hill the development is divided into four loops with each loop representing two individual phases, with a total of eight phases for the four loops. And the first two loops, which have planning permission, are already underway. And the play park is to be provided between phases two and three of these.
It is envisaged that this will be levelled and seeded in summer of 2014/15 and play equipment provided in summer 2015/16 the end of next year. A bund is also being provided between the phases 4 and 5 to not only reduce wind speed but also to provide amenity space. It is envisaged the landscaping of this will commence next summer. There is also amenity space between the properties on Rex Hunt Road phases 1 and 2. It is anticipated this will be used for less formal play. There is also potential for additional open space in the area and it is envisaged that the area currently used for spoil dumping to the north of Diamond Jubilee Road will eventually be levelled and landscaped as an additional amenity area.
The way in which the rest of the development phases 5 onwards are developed has yet to be decided and will require funding approval from Executive Council and Budget Select (Committee) in due course.
As such it will be informed by the emerging development plan to review and there is also therefore potential for further open space to be provided as part of that. Setting aside the above the whole development backs on to Stanley Common and Sapper Hill which have been used recreationally by the children of Stanley for many years.
I believe my Honourable Colleague is also interested in specifically traffic calming measures in the area as well. Currently there are no plans for specific traffic calming measures within the development and in this respect it is exactly the same as it is for the rest of Stanley.
And I believe he is also interested in children being able to cycle safely to school. Although there are currently no plans for specific cycle paths within the first four phases, a footpath has been provided in phase 1 to FICS, which is not adjacent to the main road. There is also a path leading between the main sections of road in each pair of phases which enable young cyclists to take short-cuts away from the road should they wish to.
Thank you Mr Speaker.
BE: Mr Speaker, Honourable members, he told you what my supplementary questions might have been. Thank you very much for the detailed response. I am certainly pleased to hear that so much consideration has been given. It is a new housing estate, the roads are fairly narrow but wide enough but they are curved so I think we really do need to pay attention to the speed limit of 25MPH through the actual loops might be a little bit high, I think when there is lots of children playing about. I am pleased to see the provision you are making for the play areas and the consideration for children cycling in that area as well.
I think it is very important and I thank him for that.
Question No 8/2014 by Dr the Honourable Barry Elsby:
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, can the Honourable Phyl Rendell please advise this House if the shelter belt trials which were planted in various parts of Camp in the 1990s have been successful?
Answer by the Honourable Mrs Phyl Rendell:
Thank you Mr Speaker. I am indebted to the Senior Agricultural Advisor for the information I give to you today. The shelter-belt planting trial took place in the Falkland Islands between 1997 and 1998. Plots were established at Fitzroy, Saladero, Estancia, Port Howard, Bold Cove and Shallow Harbour. The trial plots successfully demonstrated that selected tree species are able to be established and grown in the Falkland Islands. The most successful tree species evaluated has been Lodge-pole Pine.
However, a key issue for the Department of Agriculture is that the economic benefit of establishing tree shelter belts on farms for agricultural benefit per se, has not been demonstrated. A recent report on the shelter belt trials placed the cost of establishing a single farm scale plot at over £6,000.00. The Department of Agriculture has reviewed the economic assumptions made and is of the view that the likelihood of a single shelter belt providing significant improvement in farm productivity to justify private expenditure is not high.
The likelihood of achieving sufficient return on investment is further significantly reduced if the number of shelter belts in increased to the more likely number of five or ten shelter belts per farm to provide protection for a modern farmers sheep flock.
BE: Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I would like to thank my Honourable Colleague for that. So what we are saying is that they are effective. Trees do take and you do get a shelter belt but its purely a matter of return on that investment how soon people can get that back.
Youve got to remember that those trees are there forever so they will be protecting sheep for many generations to come.
Are there any plans to help farms with any form of subsidy to help them develop more shelter belts for the long-term development of the Islands?
PR: The Department of Agriculture doesnt have any plans to encourage farmers to plant more tree shelter belts. The Department of Agriculture is currently developing a broad suite of activities with greater opportunity for economic return on investment than tree shelter belts. Further, the Department of Agriculture will continue to work closely with all sectors of the industry to review programmes of activity support over coming months to ensure that priorities remain appropriate.
I might just explain that if a farm has 4,000 Ewes and you have one shelter belt that has cost you £6,000.00 to put into place. You cant really keep your 4,000 Ewes on the small space that is sheltered by those trees for a very long period of time unless you have supplementary feed. So a farm with several thousand ewes would need 4 to 8 shelter belts grown in areas where their Ewes are lambing. Thats to ensure that they have sufficient feed during that period of say 50 days. So the economies of scale grow.
Yes the Department of Agriculture accept that the trials have proven and we know that trees grow in the Falkland Islands giving shelter to start with having an adequate water supply but its that scale and the economic returns in the long-term for farmers with substantial numbers of Ewes.
Question No 9/2014 by the Honourable Mrs Phyl Rendell:
Thank you Mr Speaker, following the recent very successful breast screening programme could the Honourable Nike Summers tell this assembly what other health screening measures the medical Department has in place and if there are any plans for additional preventative care? Could, for example, the merits of regular blood testing for diabetes, blood diseases and chlamydia plus blood pressure checks for cardio-vascular diseases be considered not only as a service to the community but also as a potential means of reducing medical treatment costs in the longer term?
Answer by the Honourable Mr Mike Summers:
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, there is no quick fix answer to this question as it is a long and complicated subject. Much of what is mentioned in the Honourable Members question, for example testing for diabetes and blood pressure checks are already done on a regular basis for those who have relevant conditions but also on an ad-hoc basis for those who attend the hospital for the primary care services. You can only teat those people who come to the facilities.
There are other important conditions for which we can and should be screening and we do test for cervical smear screening and colon cancer. Before other screening programmes can be introduced we need to more fully develop our primary care services. We need to ascertain information about the prevalence of disease and to be able to collect data and use this information to screen the right population. This takes time and resources because setting up of screening is labour intensive and very time consuming and therefore very costly. I would remind Honourable Members that there is a request in this years estimates for a further time to be allocated for IT support in the Hospital. We are not good at collecting statistics at the hospital and we have limited capability to interrogate the information that exists in the existing hospital records. And so to have an effective screening programmes will rely quite heavily on our ability to have that statistical information.
Some years ago the National Health Service, on whom we base much of what we do, began a quality outcomes framework which changed GP work and practices. It is recognised that the Falklands need to develop their own quality outcomes framework or whatever we would like to call it and develop new and innovative ways of taking health and the health service forward.
Public health needs to have a more permanent role with its own resource and its own manpower. And how we get to that I think yet will take a good deal of discussion. It is possible that this is separate from KEMH but it is more likely that they will be co-located because that makes for better use of resources.
But as a society there are all sorts of things we can and should do to improve our health. The Health Service can pioneer things but so can the local population and the local population needs to get involved increasingly with being healthy and there are discussions taking place amongst some of us later today and ongoing about the health relation with sport and exercise particularly in the health relation and thats an area on which we should strongly concentrate.
PR: Mr Speaker I would like to thank the Honourable Mike Summers for that reply. I am very pleased to hear that this has been given considerable thought because yesterday in our discussions in Standing Finance (Committee) we noted that the cost of medical treatment overseas is rising to nearly £2Million out of a budget for the Hospital of £7Million. This is a huge proportion of that budget. And we do need to see emphasis put on primary public health screening to try and see a reduction not only in the costs but the inconvenience to people having to travel overseas for treatment when they are away from their families and their homes. So I thank the Honourable Mike Summers for that. I appreciate the tremendous effort that the Staff at the KEMH put into healthcare for the Islands and I know they have difficulties with staffing and I would like to think that in the next few years we have a steady state there in that department with staffing and these issues can really be addressed and some solid public health prevention can be introduced in the next coming years.
Thank you very much.
BE: Mr Speaker, honourable Members, I would like to thank my Honourable Colleague Mike Summers for a very informative answer and I think I share his views. We must place more emphasis on primary prevention in stopping people getting ill at the beginning and I welcome those initiatives.
When MLAs went down to Goose Green recently a person there asked what was happening to the bowel Cancer Screening and I had a few people since ask about it and I wonder if hes got a comment on that.
MS: Mr Speaker, I am not a medical technician or Doctor and therefore I cant comment in any detail on exactly how the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme is being carried out. I am happy to ask the local staff to provide that information and then provide it to members.
GS: Mr Speaker, I, too, would like to thank the Honourable Mike Summers for his quite detailed reply. I fully accept you may not be able to answer this at the moment but it is just curiosity on my part. You mentioned we were having trouble getting statistics from the system in the hospital. I was just wondering whether this was due to the lack of people to actually get those statistics, the lack of knowledge of what we might be going for or is it in fact a problem with the software package we have within the hospital?
MS: Mr Speaker, I can address that question. The problem is not particularly with the system itself but the problem historically has been that we have not had the capability to use and interrogate the HEMA System It is my understanding that whilst you can always improve just about every computer system, it is a perfectly adequate system for the Health Service. Our problem is being able to have people to understand it and use it properly. We had a consultant visit relatively recently from HEMAS who trained a young Falkland Islander in being able to use the HEMAS System and hes made great progress and we have already seen some great result from that. The reference I made earlier to increasing IT support would be to turn that into a full time post from a half-time post so that person can continue to develop his skills and be able to provide the sort of statistical information that we require to run a proper health service.
GS: I thank the Honourable member for his reply.
DB: MR Speaker, I wonder if I could just pick up again on the Bowel Screening Campaign. I feel a sense of guilt in a way because I set it up 20 years and now I have become a full time MLA and it has been left in abeyance. I think its an important scheme and I would just repeat my offer that I made to the Department before that I would be willing to do that screening campaign whilst the House is in recess.
MS: Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, my understanding is that the programme is not in abeyance but there is an alternative approach to it and I will provide written information to Members on that.
Question No 10/2014 by the Honourable Mrs Jan Cheek:
Mr Speaker, Honourable members, can the Honourable Ian Hansen confirm if civilian airmail is dispatched in the first available flight to the Falklands following its receipt at the Military depot, whether it is carried on every air-bridge and whether all airmail has the same priority?
Answer by the Honourable Mr Ian Hansen:
Thank you Mr Speaker, I thank the Honourable Jan Cheek for her question and I would also like to thank the Post Office for supplying the answer I am about to give.
The Royal Mail and the BFPO system is not under our control so we cant guarantee that civilian airmail is dispatched on each individual flight. But having said that, the Post Office is aware of how the system operates. And they can and do alert the Royal mail if airmail is being interrupted or delayed. For instance, earlier this month the Post Office received dispatches that civilian airmail had left them on the 3rd of April and they were carried on the first available flight on Sunday, the 6th and duly arrived in the Post Office on Monday the 8th of April. And this is just an example but this happens on a regular basis and this would indicate that civilian airmail to the Islands is receiving priority.
JC: I thank the Honourable member for his reply. Unfortunately that appears to have been a rare instance. I asked this question because I was contacted by people and currently discussed it with two people in this room who had taken three months to receive airmail for which they had in good faith paid an airmail premium. And can I ask that the Post Office make further enquiries, first with the Military who transport the mail and if satisfied that the problem does not lie there may we ask that further enquiries be pursued with the UK Post Office? While delays are understandable at busy times like Christmas, it would be good to know what system is in place for the rest of the year.
IH: Yes. I shall be more than happy to proceed with the enquiry as the Honourable member suggests. I apologise that I havent got any more information than what is in front of me but I will certainly follow that line of enquiry.
GS: On this question, I would just like to bring to the Honourable members attention that I think the Honourable Dick Sawle in his time at the last Assembly gave quite a detailed explanation about the mail to the Falklands and I thought you would like to reference that.