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Government Affordable Housing Scheme Slashed?

By | Housing | No Comments

We’ve noted with interest the answers given to GBC by the GSLP-Liberal Government in respect of Bob Peliza Mews. It begs the question what is to happen to Hassan Centenary Terraces, which as part of the Bluewater development was to provide 1,147 affordable homes of the 1,700 mentioned in their manifesto including the 514 at Bob Peliza Mews.

Roy Clinton, GSD MP with shadow responsibility for Public Finance, said:

“It is significant that at the time the Bluewater project was announced in June 2015 it was revealed that Camoren Holdings Limited would be both the financier and developer for Bob Peliza Mews and Hassan Centenary Terraces. Given that the Bluewater eastside project appears mired in technical difficulties and has not been signed, it begs the question who is to finance and develop “magnificent” Bob Peliza Mews and why hasn’t the Government issued a statement in respect of “brilliant” Hassan Centenary Terraces, which represents over two thirds of its manifesto affordable housing scheme? Individuals who expressed interest in these much heralded schemes deserve some clarity.”

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Government U-Turn on LNG Bunkering

By | Environment, Power Station | No Comments

Responding to the Alliance Government’s attempt to silence us on the issue of LNG bunkering, we have today released a statement to say that Government appear not to understand that the discussion has moved on from the simple provision of LNG storage to supply the power station to the reality of offshore, and possibly onshore commercial bunkering.

Trevor Hammond, Shadow Minister for the Environment, said “I will certainly not be put off pursuing this matter by their gutter politics. They are not interested in mature debate, only in silencing any enquiry into what they are doing. Despite previous rhetoric, the Alliance Government has now made clear that its agreement with Shell includes offshore bunkering as part of the deal, something we had said would be the case all along to make Shell’s interest financially viable. Indeed Mr Bossano made this clear in a debate during the election in which he was quoted as saying “that a recent deal with Shell over LNG supply in Gibraltar had only happened because of an intent to supply LNG bunkers, and that any deal to supply the power station only was of little interest to the energy major”. This apparent slip of the tongue was quickly countered by his cabinet colleague, Dr Cortes, who is quoted as saying “HMGoG clarified that the LNG facilities currently planned by the government are intended only to supply LNG to a planned power plant facility, and are not intended to serve the bunker industry as they are too small to do so (bunkering) is quite some way away and not part of the power station project”.

Mr Hammond continued “It seems bunkering was not so far away nor the facilities so small and this must have already been under discussion at the time of that denial being issued. Again, as with matters of the economy and debt, it is to Mr Bossano that we must turn for the truth. The Government is otherwise intent on concealing the truth from people and there is no question now that despite the denial by Dr Cortes, Shell’s interest has always been in bunkering as stated by Mr Bossano. This was always a done deal, there is nothing in the public domain to demonstrate that this activity is acceptably safe and indeed, recent events at sea would demonstrate that the risks are very real”.

Regarding the LNG storage facility, Trevor Hammond also said “we were given a meeting with the Government’s experts, HSL, to discuss the LNG storage facility but not any associated commercial bunkering activity for which no independent safety assessment had been conducted at that time. Even they admitted that within the limited scope that they had been asked to review, they could not give an absolute guarantee that a serious incident could not occur at the LNG storage facility. We were of course not permitted to invite the press to accompany us.  The booklet produced by Shell contained no safety information of any value and their presentations at the John Mackintosh Hall were at best simplistic and lacked any technical safety details. The statement issued by Fabian Picardo simply demonstrates that his Government have no idea what a Risk Assessment or Hazard Analysis looks like as they are yet to produce one and simply point to irrelevancies in an attempt to confuse the public”.

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Mr Picardo must take full responsibility for existential threats

By | Brexit, Debt | No Comments

We note the statement made by the Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, on the BBC4 “Today” programme on Saturday morning that a “hard Brexit” would pose “an existential threat to Gibraltar’s current economic model”.

He has, and all of us have, known of the in/out EU referendum for the last three years, with a hard BREXIT being a possible result. Despite knowing that, Mr. Picardo and his GSLP/Liberal Government, in that period, unleashed a historic debt-fuelled spending spree and increased recurrent expenditure massively; recklessly gambling Gibraltar’s financial well being on BREXIT not being the referendum result – well they got it wrong.

Mr. Picardo’s Government have spent £750 million in capital projects in just four years.  The combined debt of the Government and Government owned companies now exceeds £1.1 Billion.  That level of spending and debt in any circumstances would not have been prudent, but to have done so at a time when our community could face an “existential threat” to its economy from a potential BREXIT has been downright reckless.

Daniel Feetham, GSD Party Leader and Opposition Leader, said “every Government that has known how to administer the affairs of this community in a safe and secure manner has always understood that our economic strength underpins our political strength in the face of potential decisions by the United Kingdom Government but more crucially in relation to Spain.  These high levels of debt resulting from excessive spending and incursion of more recurrent expenditure magnify the existential threats posed by BREXIT to our social, political and constitutional model.  Mr. Picardo must take the full responsibility for that.”

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