St Helena Online

Tag: Ian Rummery

Ian responds to critics on Rupert’s port project

Traders in Jamestown have been strongly critical of the plan to land cargo at Rupert’s Bay – leaving them with a difficult journey to transport goods to the shops, on narrow roads that hug steep hillsides. Executive councillor IAN RUMMERY offers a personal response. 

The thing about Rupert’s is that with limited funding, albeit £15 million, we are limited to construction at Rupert’s.

While Jamestown is the main wharf at present it cannot continue to be all things to all people.  If it is a working port then it cannot be used for leisure purposes.

At present there are significant health and safety risks. There is no room for warehousing. What would happen if we enforced health and safety measures and then prevented yachties from coming ashore?  What happens if a yachtie/tourist/Saint gets run over while on the wharf as they are moving cargo?

Another potential issue is that without a wharf we would require ships with their own cranes.  We have yet to receive the tenders for a new freight service but my understanding is that options would be more limited if the ships had to have their own crane.

There is a plan to upgrade the road from Rupert’s (Field Road and Side Path Road) and this is in the capital programme.

Rupert’s is not ideal but it is a compromise. Also, the haul road potentially opens up development opportunities outside of Jamestown, so in this case Rupert’s is ideally situated as the port.

SEE ALSO:
Monster wharf crane is shipped out in pieces
Rupert’s set to be new ‘port’ as wharf is approved

Fight looms over secrecy oath that blocks human right (updated)

Update: Councillors have all now sworn the oath of confidentiality that prevents them revealing any information about St Helena Government. A new story will be published later today, following the inaugural session of the new legislative council.

St Helena’s new councillors are being placed under pressure to swear a vow of secrecy that goes against one of their main promises to voters.

If they are forced to swear the oath of confidentiality today (Wednesday 24 July 2013), they face denying people one of the basic human rights protected in the island’s Constitution – the right to receive information.

It also goes against at least one of the seven principles of public life that St Helena Government has previously claimed to uphold, to be as open as possible.

The two councillors who topped the voting in the 2013 general election have issued a joint objection to the pledge.

Their statement says: “Lawson Henry and Ian Rummery wish to place on record that while they must take this oath, they object to it as it has no place in St Helena’s Constitution.

“In addition to introducing freedom of information legislation they will work to remove this archaic oath from the Constitution.”

It is not clear what would happen if all 12 new councillors refused to make the secrecy pledge. The Constitution says that no person shall be compelled to take any oath which is contrary to his or her belief.

But councillors are thought unlikely to want to do anything that would delay starting on work that has built up since the last legislative council was dissolved, 13 weeks before the election.

A private report seen by St Helena Online says that when a past councillor refused to promise confidentiality, he was “effectively barred from office” until he gave in.

Councillors will be asked to swear “that I will be a true and faithful Councillor and that I will not, directly or indirectly, except with the authority of the Governor, reveal the business or proceedings of the Government of St Helena or the nature or contents of any document communicated to me, or any matter coming to my knowledge, in my capacity as a Councillor.”

Ian Rummery said: “I cannot find any parliaments that require an elected member to take an oath of confidentiality. There is no place for such an oath in a modern democracy.”

Parliamentarians in London are only required to swear allegiance to the Queen – as do councillors on St Helena.

The oath clearly goes against the spirit of transparency that the new councillors have pledged to introduce to island government.

It also flies in the face of the right to freedom of expression. The island Constitution says:

“A person’s freedom of expression includes… his or her freedom to receive information and ideas without interference.”

The confidentiality pledge also breaches councillors’ own freedom under the Constitution to “disseminate information and ideas without interference”.

Excessive secrecy in The Castle directly conflicts with the UK government’s call for good governance in Britain’s overseas territories – including transparency.

It is also seen as a significant reason for distrust of St Helena Government.

Advisers from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, led by Lord Shutt of Greenock, will be asked for guidance on the issue when they arrive on the island.

The full statement from Ian Rummery and Lawson Henry reads:

At the Inaugural Meeting of the St Helena Legislative Council on 24 July 2013, newly elected councillors are required to swear or affirm three oaths.  One of these is the Oath of Confidentiality.

This oath states that a Councillor will not ‘directly or indirectly, except with the authority of the Governor, reveal the business or proceedings of the Government of St Helena or the nature or contents of any document communicated to me, or any matter coming to my knowledge, in my capacity as Councillor.’

Lawson Henry and Ian Rummery wish to place on record that while they must take this oath they object to it as it has no place in St Helena’s Constitution.  Such an oath contravenes the right to freedom of expression and is in opposition to the Nolan Principle of Openness which requires an elected member to be ‘as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take.’

Lawson and Ian are committed to making this government open and transparent.  In addition to introducing freedom of information legislation they will work to remove this archaic oath from the Constitution.

SEE ALSO:
‘Now for transparency’ says Ian as reformers win election
Transparency campaign launch – July 2012

LINK:
St Helena Constitution 2009
UK Parliamentary Oath

Stedson attempts to revive party politics on St Helena

An attempt is being made to introduce party politics to St Helena for the first time in four decades.

Stedson George has announced the launch of the St Helena Democratic Socialist Party.

It follows a separate announcement by would-be councillors Lawson Henry and Ian Rummery that they would campaign together in the 2013 general election – due to take place on 17 July.

Stedson has distributed a manifesto in island shops, calling for better pensions and benefits, free health care for Saints, and a fairer society – which includes confronting the “wild difference between island and expat salaries”.

Ian and Lawson’s “common values” include: the need for freedom of information; better water and housing; pensions and benefits that reflect living costs; more support for health and education; economic development to benefit all Saints, not just in tourism; and a “level playing field” for local and overseas businesses. 

They have begun holding public meetings, which other election candidates have also attended, but they have not formally established a political party.

Stedson told Saint FM Community Radio: “You hear people talk about the government as if it was some faceless people in the Castle.

“The government is actually the executive council. And the executive council is made up of five elected Saints, so you wonder, if they are the government, why are they doing things that are perhaps not in the interests of the people/

“I think the answer is because they are not united. They don’t have a unifying manifesto – a policy – and the old saying is, divide and rule.

“I think the only way to overcome this is to form a political party.  

“I know it’s been done before. Mr Tony Thornton formed a Labour party back in the Seventies, and people will say that didn’t work so why try again?

“I think somebody has to make a start, so I have decided to make a start. I have called it the St Helena Democratic Socialist Party and of course if the name doesn’t suit people we can always change that.

“I have prepared a manifesto and if people don’t like the manifesto we can change that, but this is a start.

“If you have a party you have to follow the party line, and everybody will be singing from the same hymn sheet.

“This won’t happen overnight. To have an up-and-running party is going to take some time but if you only have one candidate, at least you have made a start.

“The aim really will be to increase the number of party members and candidates, and when you have seven you are in a position to form a government.”

Several other election candidates have come forward. They include Derek Thomas, Earl Henry, Christine Scipio o’Dean and Cyril Gunnell – all members of the last legislative council – and Nigel Dollery.

The closing date for nominations is 2 July 2013.

Facebook