Falkland Islands rural community talks issues for by-election candidates
SUPPORT for Falkland Islands farmers, drought and improved communications were some issues of concern rural voters brought up when Penguin News made contact this week ahead of the September 21 Falklands by-election.
They also said more engagement was required from their representatives. PN also asked them if they felt happy for Stanley residents to represent them.
Suzan Pole-Evans at Saunders Island told the newspaper she didn’t mind if Stanley residents stood for Camp, “so long as they do have Camp at heart, because none of the workers in Camp can give up to be an MLA unless they are a retired person.”
She felt the main issues for Camp were that MLAs had “lost contact with the Camp folk – none of them ever ring to see how we live or if we have any complaints.”
She said she’d “invited them out but no one ever comes out.”
Suzan wanted to see younger people in the Camp, “but they are not helping by increasing the freight on Concordia Bay and passages and freight on FIGAS”
She was also concerned about, “the awful, slow expensive internet.”
Nick Pitaluga at Salvador East Falklands said if Stanley residents were able to grasp issues concerning Camp, even if they had not lived in Camp, “that is OK with us.”
He felt some “form of support might be needed for young farmers “facing servicing crippling mortgages in the present failing wool market which may force them to try to overstock their farms beyond what is sensible or possible with the issues of droughts each summer.”
Nick felt that more work needed to be done establishing the carrying capacity for stock on farms as a result of the drying out of the Camps, “so that it is recognised that the sheep numbers are going to have to be reduced, as even if water dams give sheep drinking water, it doesn’t help with reduced grass growth, which is going to have a massive effect on incomes and the sustainability of Camp and FIMCo.
“Islands and the West which need special attention with the additional logistic issues they have and extra expenses involved with their freight, ferries and Islander costs.”
He said they were an essential part of the Camp. He also added: “And the bloody phone system still needs work”
Nick said: “We hope we get a good number of candidates standing. Full time does make it very difficult for anyone making a living in Camp to stand given the poor quality of internet voice transmissions. He said this was shown in the last Legislative Assembly making it very difficult to understand MLA Mark Pollard.
Justin Knight at Leicester Creek Farm said he had no issue with Stanley residents standing for Camp: “I voted for two constituencies and it’s the accountability to their electorate that’s important. We need Stanley residents to stand for Camp, and I hope they do. Some research and talking to Camp residents will quickly cover the main issues faced.”
With regard to main issue he raised the abattoir “and why it was not making money there in turn paying farmers more.” He said improved communications were imperative to running a business, including Wi-Fi and mobile phone coverage. Camp education, the usual continued support of Work Boat Services and FIGAS, “with the expectation that services are flexible in the future to support the changing needs of Camp (and Stanley) users.”
Justin said he felt they had poor representation currently for Camp: “I think more could be done to engage their constituents, and I don’t think residing in Camp means they have made good use of in-constituency time in the past. It certainly doesn’t feel like there has been increased visibility of those who live in Camp compared to East/town in the past. We generally only contact one MLA if we have anything we require attention.”
Adrian Lowe from the Murrell Farm on East Falklands said he felt Camp was losing out as “everything is checked around Stanley plus our elected councillors once voted in we never hear from them again,”
He said the way things were going it didn’t matter “what we say, we are governed by overseas contractors, that leave a mess when they go and get a good pat on the back saying “didn’t you do a good job.”
“It doesn’t matter who or what our MLAs do we won’t benefit.”