THE MANIFESTO OF RICHARD COCKWELL
It has become the practice in recent elections for Candidates to present electors with a written manifesto. It would be tempting to write pages of discussion about the problems that we experience in the Falklands and how I would like to see these problems solved and further pages of self congratulation! However I believe that I should only burden the electors with a short resume of my views and mission for the future
I have decided to put myself up for re-election for Council as I believe that I still have the same skills and principles to offer that I detailed in 2001. I also have the time to give full attention to the job as Councillor. I hope that after eight years as a Councillor people will know me well enough to recognise that they may approach me for an honest and fair hearing of their problems and understand that I will always try to do what ever is in their best interests and those of the Falkland Islands.
Before the last election I stated that my mission was to ensure that the People of the Falkland Islands retain their democratic right to determine the future of their Islands without outside interference. This position is still not and never will be negotiable. I said then and repeat now that –if elected- I am prepared to proclaim this in any forum in any place in the world. We have to robustly resist any attempt by Argentina to influence our economy, our sovereign rights, and our access to our Islands. I believe that any person elected to represent our Islands must have this as an over-riding principle.
It is the right of every Falkland Islander to live in a peaceful environment with freedom from physical, economic and vocational harassment. I would like to include the protection from undue noise under this right.
Today it is even more essential to control expenditure at a level which will maintain a steady increase in our consolidated fund. This increase may be affected by the occasional poor income year as has been the case in the last few years, however the overall trend should be an increase. I am proud to have been part of a Council which has had to face up to large decreases in income while maintaining essential services as far as possible particularly within the medical and education sectors.
In the last Council discussions took place over the structure of Councillors responsibilities and the Constitution. These discussions must be concluded. I support the concept of Councillors being seen to take more responsibility for their respective portfolios and we must be sure that the public are aware of and understand these responsibilities.
I would like to see a clear definition of our right to internal self government. If we are to have the right to determine our future we must be seen to be internally self governing.
Every Islander should expect a sound all round education and a medical service at least comparable to that which we enjoy today. We should continue to look after the needs of our more vulnerable members of society; particularly the young and elderly. The income level of the elderly needs to be carefully monitored particularly in view of the huge increases in fuel bills.
As a Stanley Councillor I would like to see:
The establishment of a new housing development after making sure that all possible existing development sites have been utilised. The need for new housing will not recede within the foreseeable future. The support for first time buyers must be retained if we are to see young people able to own their own homes. -An aim that I fully support-
The continuation of the development of sensible, logical and uncomplicated town planning whilst retaining our historical heritage.
The further development of the tourist industry should be supported including the use of the Stanley Dockyard as a heritage centre. Without criticism of the PWD, I believe that the present use of the Dockyard is not in keeping with the Stanley that we would want tourists and visitors to see and that we ourselves would like to enjoy.
I would still like to see an appropriate community centre developed, the scale of which should be commensurate with our needs and available finances. However rather than this being a government driven project I would like to see it instigated and led by the community with financial assistance and support from Government. I would do my utmost to support an initiative proposing such a project.
I would like to see Councillors continue to be involved in international gatherings such as the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the United Nations and that they take every opportunity to express our right to self determination worldwide. There is still a lot of misunderstanding in the world regarding our situation.
We must work for the continued support from MPs from Britain and the maintenance of the good relations with Westminster that have been built up over the years. This support can and will wear away without constant work.
Councillors should maintain close relations with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to ensure that decisions made on our behalf are in the best interests of Islanders and make sure that Councillors are involved in any discussions which might effect the future of our Islands.
I would like to see a good standard of living for all, good employment opportunities and a vocational training system which supports these opportunities. I fully support the further education system that we have in place and would wish it to continue, but I also believe that we may not be grasping all the opportunities for suitable students to become skilled tradesmen. A tradesman is worthy of just as much respect as a white collar worker in fact if we put too much stress on academic training alone we could find ourselves with an even greater skills shortage than we have now.
The Taxation system has been revised but I would like to see a review undertaken to ensure that there are no anomalies in the system which treat taxpayers unfairly or for that matter allow loopholes to be exploited.
I would like to see the continued improvement of internal and external communications. The Camp road building programme should be completed soon and we will now have to decide how we can make the best use of this network both for commercial and leisure activities.
Fisheries are and will remain a very important sector in our economy. We must support the development of new initiatives whilst maintaining the sustainability of this valuable resource and our protecting wildlife. The revised Fisheries ordinance has given the fishing industry new opportunities to advance, it is now up to them to develop these opportunities. The benefit to the Falklands will follow in increased income from taxation. –Taxation from fisheries activities is already a significant element of our income-
Internationally we must continue to press for the establishment a high seas regime which will control the unrestricted fishing of the seas to the north of the Islands. As well as being detrimental to our industry, this fishing has the potential to destroy an important world fish resource, which properly managed would continue to help feed the world in the future as well as support our industry.
Agriculture and Camp in general have for a long time been an important sector and will continue get my full support.
We are hearing and seeing more about oil exploration. Although we should not in any way raise our expectations, it is necessary to ensure that suitable legislation is in place to handle any further developments. We cannot find ourselves unprepared in the event of oil being found within our waters.
We must not omit to support the many small businesses that have been set up. These enterprises should be protected, and encouraged to expand where possible. Many of these businesses supply goods and services which have improved life in our Islands immeasurably.
I am also a great supporter of our voluntary services most particularly The FIDF and The Fire Brigade. These organisations are maintained mainly by volunteers who willingly give up their free time to ensure our Islands security and safety. Government must continue to ensure that these services are adequately funded and supported to carry out their roles within the community. I would also continue to give my support in any way that I may. The FIDF in particular are a symbol of our determination to have a significant role in the defence of our country.
As an electioneering candidate it is tempting to make promises that would later be difficult or impossible to fulfil. I have said before that no single Councillor can solve everybody’s problems, and Councillors have to work together for the good of our country. However I can give you my pledge that if elected I would continue to listen to anybody’s problems and if it is within my power to help I will do so. It is my firm belief that everybody should be treated equally in the way that I would like to be treated myself.
Thank you for taking the time to read my message.