WHO AM I?
I was born in 1954, the youngest in a family of five children, and brought up in a Vicarage in Leyland, Lancashire. I went to boarding school in my teens and then went on to study Spanish, South American Studies and Egyptology at Liverpool University. After teaching Spanish, French and a variety of outdoor pursuits at a boarding school in Shropshire, I came to the Falklands in 1986 after applying for a teaching post advertised at Stanley Senior School. At the time, the War had catapulted the Falkland Islands onto the world stage. I was ready for a change and a challenge and the Falklands with its remoteness and unique qualities seemed to be the right choice
At Stanley Senior School I taught many of you between 1986 and 1988, and then moved into the private commercial field. The Falklands economy was rapidly changing. From humble beginnings in 1989 I built up my company – Seaview Ltd, named after my house – into a successful multi-million pound fishing business with complex international dealings. At the age of 55 I have decided to retire from the business and would like to devote myself full-time to representing you as an elected Member.
I have supported the community in various ways for many years. I have been on a considerable number of FIG committees for many years, and have been an active member of the FI Chamber of Commerce for over 10 years. I have served as a JP since 1999, and have been a strong supporter of many local charities.
In 1988 I married Judith. We have two children, Jamie and Felicity, and as a family we value and respect our status as Falkland Island residents. We are proud to be Falkland Islanders and remain fully committed to its community, independence, and way of life.
WHAT MAKES ME TICK?
I am no stranger to hard work and will never accept defeat on what I consider to be important issues. I will not be bullied and I am always ready to take on a challenge. My thirteen years of teaching and over twenty years running and developing a Falkland Island business have given me invaluable skills and experience. I am entirely at ease dealing with complex accounting issues and the myriad of political, business and personnel challenges that come along every day when running an international business. Now, having retired from my business, but still with plenty of energy, I have the time and desire to devote to representing the Falklands. I would like to put my skills and experience back into working for the community – a community to which I consider myself fortunate to belong and with which I have been deeply involved for most of my working life.
I believe passionately in freedoms – the basic freedom of choice and the removal of petty restrictions. I am a practical person and enjoy hands-on work. I have no problem with getting my hands dirty and getting stuck into difficult situations. I am fair and honest in my dealings with other people, and I prefer to be straightforward and tell it how it is.
I enjoy solving problems and finding innovative solutions – from building a cold storage plant inside a floating pontoon to building an office on top of it!
I passionately believe that the private sector needs to be more involved in decision making in partnership with the FIG. In turn, the FIG needs to tap into the entrepreneurial spirit that still exists in the Falklands. The constant reviewing of FIG and its structures gives rise to a system which is ever more complex and harder to understand while the real issues of the day – such as the dismantling of old monopolies that hamper business and development, and the building of a new port – are not progressed or solved.
I am equally passionate about openness and honesty in public life. I believe elected members need to listen more and take account of what people are saying. There is still too much that goes on behind closed doors. The confrontational politics of public meetings are not the solution. High on my agenda will be going out of my way to meet people in order to discuss issues and solve problems, whether social or political. A common complaint I hear is that once elected, many members simply ignore the electorate and become wrapped up in their own importance. I can promise that I will always be available and will always meet with you to hear what you say.
I no longer am tied to a job and would enjoy the challenges and hard work that being elected would represent. I believe that being elected is now a full-time job and that the complexities of representing the Falklands can no longer be considered a part-time business.
Above all, I have a great admiration and respect for the entrepreneurial spirit of Falkland Islanders – new and old. The ability to provide solutions to problems, to fix and mend what elsewhere would be considered impossible – the ability to get on with it and be self sufficient, these are qualities we must never lose and which we must now, above all in times of a recession, enhance and use to our best advantage.
MY PROMISE TO YOU
This is an issue that will always be tough and complicated. We cannot allow any relaxation of the stance we have always shown towards Argentina and their constant attempts to intimidate. We need to keep the pressure up from our side using all of the political tools we have – political visits to the Islands, constant lobbying via FIGO and the use of the FCO. Their claims are frankly ridiculous, based on scant fact and are repugnant to the principles of democracy – we must remember that democracy in Argentina only became possible due the 1982 war which threw their dictatorship out. They have every reason to be ashamed of their recent history towards us. Good communications are essential to any Island, and Argentina’s constant attempts to block any development of them is at odds with modern democratic principles.
This project has gone nowhere, yet a new port is vital to the continuing and future commercial viability of the Islands. The strategy for taking this forward and dealing with this was put to Council in 2002. The private sector should take a larger part in driving this forward. The entire cost need not be yet another perpetual FIG burden. There are alternatives, but the FIG and interested private sector parties need to get together and talk to make it happen. I will aim to make this happen as we need to increase economic activity and create wealth.
Land issues for development projects
The freehold versus leasehold argument was never fully resolved. We need a clear and workable policy produced by FIG in partnership with the private sector otherwise investment and new growth will never happen.
This is the big unknown for the future. Will it happen? As the world’s resources dwindle, new fields become increasingly attractive. Our internal structures – political, technological, and social – need to be fully up to date to deal with the complexities that such major potential development would bring. I am not confident that this is the case at present and believe we must strive for change to prepare ourselves.
Modern, speedy and reliable communications are essential in today’s world, especially for an Island-based economy many thousands of miles from its trading partners. Yet our communications system is regulated by an ancient Ordinance of 1988 that predates the Internet, email and even the humble fax. It stunts business growth and makes us uncompetitive. The massive changes brought about by the technology revolution are in danger of passing us by. Who could have predicted the massive benefits of Skype with its free videophone back in 1988? Yet an antiquated colonial monopolistic system dictates how we communicate with each other and the outside world and the price. It is inadequate and costly. A recent independent assessment of our Internet service states, “Falkland Island consumers and businesses [share] a backbone link to the Internet that, in the UK, would be available to a typical single household”.
In short, this monopoly provider simply cannot improve and meet the expectations and requirements of the population that deregulation and competition have made possible even in the developing world, and which are now accepted there as part and parcel of everyday normal life. It has to change – as a population standing to gain most by it, we should be at the forefront of this new technology.
Whilst this is not a significant issue for most consumers, the fuel monopoly is an issue vital to the fishing industry as the entire business of fishing relies on having fuel delivered at the right time, the right price and the right place. Stanley Services must have a completely transparent pricing structure. If fishing is to progress and grow and give greater benefit to the Falklands, this monopoly must demonstrate “effective control” over their use of this privilege.
How well managed is this? Is the research directed where it is most needed? Is the government encouraging the adding of value to the fishing activity? I believe searching questions need to be asked and innovative solutions found and acted upon. We should be managing and developing our fishery now in order to increase the local benefit from fishing and protect and enhance our Islands’ major source of income.
The Public Accounts Committee
I support this as a welcome addition to government. It is vitally important that there is an independent body set up to scrutinise the accounting procedures of government and the expenditure and value for money generated by public bodies. It is part of the system we need to ensure that checks and balances on expenditure are in place.
Areas that cause concern here relate to telecommunications, roads, FIGAS, ferries and meat production. I believe that the political will to improve the economy of Camp has been well meaning in approach, but I have to question the value generated by some of these investments. The Public Accounts Committee, had it been up and running, would have provided the political leaders with what I believe would have been useful feedback on these issues and may have saved us from some expensive mistakes.
Health, Education and Employment
We invest a huge amount in our youngsters within the Islands, and then we seem to lose them once they move on to higher or further education. We need to work hard to create a vibrant, healthy and developing social and business culture that will attract them home to invest their skills and interests. I believe there is a lack of coordination and approach towards providing opportunities for our young adults. For example, I would seek to promote a proper careers organisation to which they could turn for help and advice on the opportunities available to them here, and the means whereby to make it happen.
Means testing for overseas education expenses has hit most people with young families. Means testing simply has the effect of making those who pay the most pay even more. I cannot believe that savings could not have been made elsewhere to meet these costs. We have to protect the educational opportunities of our children and after GCSE’s this has to take place abroad and there will always be a significant cost to this which we will always have to bear if we wish young Islanders to develop their skills.
Health services are increasingly more expensive as treatments become more sophisticated. We must continue to bear the brunt of these expenses as those who contribute to the success of the Falklands will all eventually require society’s help. To meet these costs we must develop and grow the economy rather than simply request continual budget cuts and savings. This is a big challenge but with vision and energy I truly believe it is possible.
I will freely admit that I am new to the issues that currently dog the civil service. But, what I am sure of is that there are many skilled people in the service who work hard for the good of the Falklands. Local knowledge has been lost in yet another review process that has achieved little other than add more complication and additional layers to our system. Local talent in the civil service has to be encouraged and developed, not simply dismissed and replaced with little thought to the consequences. Morale is clearly once again at an all-time low. The skills and human resources that are part our education process are vital to the smooth running of our country and deserve greater respect and better treatment. I promise to listen, learn and act.
Above all, I believe that government is there to serve the people for the good of the whole community. This is especially true of a small community like ours. I would seek to open up the public’s access to government information and decision-making. At present, there is a relatively good flow of information up to the decision-making process, but after the decisions have been made, there is no information available as to what those decisions have been.
I would like the media to make better use of their websites to better perform this duty that they have, and would encourage people to make comment – the Falklands belongs to us all, whatever our colour, creed or background and in order to make it work, everyone must participate. The silent majority often make the most sense, but they must have an adequate system for voicing their thoughts and concerns – whether on international, national or personal issues without having to speak at public meetings or writing to Penguin News. Access to all Ordinances and regulations should be freely available on a government website. There should be much greater openness and freedom of information.
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If I am elected I will do my utmost to ensure that our Islands’ independence is protected and assured. I believe that this can only be done if we bring ourselves up to date with the rest of the world and create a modern, competitive, fair and open society. I pledge to use my best endeavours to bring this about.
Please do contact me if you wish…52141
Tags: Candidate - Stanley