Healines: In the drink; Cheap flights for vets; Planning for Argentine visit; Budget deliberations out in the open?; Desire announces farm-in deal; Foreign Affairs committee here next month; Corinthian II leads week of cruising.
In the drinkALTHOUGH it may appear that the West Falklands Sports Week now includes a swimming event, what (from left) Chloe Ford, Gareth McGhie and Keith Knight are actually doing is hunting for clues in the annual Treasure Hunt. More pics and report from Andrew Newman next week. Cheap flights for vetsALL British veterans of the Falklands war are to be allowed to apply for indulgence flights to the Islands. Chairman of the South Atlantic Medal Association, Tony Davies, yesterday confirmed that with effect from September 1, all British veterans from the 1982 campaign will be eligible to apply for the flights, which are much cheaper than normal civilian-allocated seats on the airbridge, subject to the normal procedures. The concession applies only to the veterans and not to spouses or dependents. All applications for the service will be channelled through SAMA82 for verification. Tony described the move as a major step forward following a long period of negotiations with the Ministry of Defence: "We are the first veterans to be afforded this concession." He said there was no doubt that the visit by the Veterans Minister, Derek Twigg MP, to the Islands during last year's pilgrimage and the lobbying by veterans and Islanders while he was here had a significant effect on the decision. He commented: "2007 was a great opening of the eyes to a lot of people in the United Kingdom. Everyone is now fully aware of the great bond that exists between the people of the Falkland Islands and the veterans of 1982. "I am certain that the Minister saw this at first hand during his visit and there is no doubt that this and other things he experienced has had a lasting effect on him. When I arrived at his office in January for a meeting I was not only surprised by the statement then put to us about the flights but also equally delighted. I am equally sure the Minister was delighted to make the announcement to us." He added: "I am certain that the relationship formed during 2007 over Falklands25 between the Minister's Office and the veterans is now on a very solid, co-operative footing." Planning for Argentine visitEarly planning for a visit by ship of Argentine next of kin has begun. Although no date has been fixed for the visit, the Governor this week called a meeting of representatives from Mount Pleasant, the police, fire brigade, hospital, tourism and government to begin discussions on how to cope with a visit of between six and eight hundred people who will come for the inauguration of the memorial at the Argentine cemetery near Darwin. First Secretary Paul Martinez said Government House had not been given any dates for the families' visit and added: "The Governor thought we ought to start thinking about how the exercise itself, moving so many people from a ship to the cemetery, might be carried out." Budget deliberations out in the open?THE discussion of governmental budget issues which is currently held behind closed doors may be opened up to the public. At a meeting of Standing Finance Committee held late last week Councillor Mike Summers asked why all items referred to the Budget Select Committee had to be discussed in the exempt section of meetings. He said there were some elements of the budget which could be discussed openly. Financial Secretary Derek Howatt said the consideration of the budget was exempt under the Committees (Access to Information) Ordinance 2000 and if councillors wished the public to have access, the legislation would need to be amended. Financial Secretary Designate, Keith Padgett, added that some confidential items would have to remain exempt under any revised Ordinance. Councillors agreed that further discussions were needed to consider options for moving forward. Desire announces farm-in dealHYDROCARBON exploration company Desire Petroleum plc has accepted the terms of an offer from a "significant party" to farm-in to three of the eighteen exploration prospects they have identified in the North Falkland Basin. The identity of the farm-in company has not yet been revealed by Desire. The deal remains subject to certain awards and approvals by the Falkland Islands Government which are being applied for and a further announcement, including the final terms of the farm-in, will be made once the necessary awards and approvals are in place, a spokesperson for Desire said. If successfully approved, the farm-in will involve the drilling of two exploration wells, including the mobilisation and demobilisation costs associated with the two wells, at no cost to Desire. At current rig rates, in addition to the two wells above, Desire has sufficient resources to be able to drill two wells for its own account in the North Falkland Basin. In combination with the two-well commitment entered in to by BHP Billiton south of the Falkland Islands, the company said there was now the potential to hire a rig for a minimum six-well drilling programme, covering mobilisation/demobilisation costs for all parties. The company spokesperson said: "Desire continues its efforts to hire a suitable rig in partnership with all of the other companies involved in Falklands exploration. "Given the size of Desire's exploration inventory, the company may seek other farm-in partners for other prospects, in addition to any wells drilled for its own account, and further discussions, which may lead to additional farm-ins, are under consideration." Foreign Affairs committee here next monthTHE committee appointed by the House of Commons to scrutinise the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is to send a delegation to the Falkland Islands next month. Members of Parliament Eric Illsley and Gisela Stuart will represent the committee. They will hold a meeting with members of the public on Friday, March 14 from 5pm at the Chamber of Commerce. Corinthian II leads week of cruisingIT'S ANOTHER busy week ahead for cruise ships visiting the Falklands. Corinthian II (83 passengers) will call at New Island and West Point on Monday while Topaz Peace Boat(900) heads to Stanley for the night. On Tuesday Costa Victoria (2,464) and Endeavour(110) will both visit Stanley while heads to Carcass Island and Saunders Island. She will visit Stanley on Wednesday along with Nordnorge (464), while Endeavourwill head to Carcass Island and West Point Island. On Thursday both and Nordnorge will call into New Island; Nordnorgewill also visit West Point Island.