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Keep it simple on Brexit – Access and Freedom of Movement

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Reflecting on the various comments made by Theresa May over the weekend regarding Brexit, we have today said that the best strategy for Gibraltar is to keep things as simple as possible.

The statement by Prime Minister May that her priority in the negotiations will be to obtain “maximum possible access to the Single Market” is to be welcomed. From our perspectives we must make sure that we are speaking to the right people and doing everything that we can in order to ensure we are also included in that potential deal.  This is particularly so given the comments from the British Government that the devolved administrations cannot expect to negotiate different or separate deals with the European Union.

Trevor Hammond, GSD MP, said: “The best strategy is inevitably the least complex, though that is not to say it would be easy to achieve. What Gibraltar needs is continued access to the UK market, access to the European Single Market and ideally, an assurance that we will be included in any future global trade deals agreed by the United Kingdom. We must also strive for continued free movement across our frontier. We need to set our stall out and focus on achieving these aspirations without muddying the waters and potentially losing friends in Westminster by pursuing whimsical schemes which the British Government clearly has no interest in following. It has been said repeatedly by the Prime Minister that there will be no second referendum and any calls for a second referendum from Gibraltar or criticisms of Brexiteers simply risks alienating the very people whose support we need to ensure we are not excluded from any deal reached by the U.K. with the EU.”

Trevor Hammond, GSD MP

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Government’s workmanship and planning on rental home refurbishment is extremely unfortunate

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Five years after the 2011 election and many tenants in Laguna, Moorish Castle and Glacis Estate continue to live in a construction site.  In some blocks at Laguna Estate, works have not even started. Earlier this year, after we pressed the Minister for Housing on when the Alliance Government expected to complete its 2011 manifesto commitment, she said in Parliament that Glacis Estate and Phase 1 of Laguna Estate were estimated to be completed by September 2016 and that Moorish Castle was estimated to be completed by December 2016.
The Glacis and Laguna phase 1 dates have already come and gone and the works do not appear like they will be completed any time soon.  This is not surprising given that there have been reduced crews working on the project for some time now.  No doubt, the reckless amounts of money spent by Mr. Picardo in the last five years has had an impact on the pace at which these projects can proceed.  Furthermore, and even more worrying, is the way in which the workmanship is already showing signs of depreciation.
Glacis Estate  
Drying enclosures are deteriorating fast, with many residents unable to use them due to the impossible task of maintaining them clean. The rust is clearly visible even to passersby.  Many of these also appear to have been installed on the wrong level, with the enclosures being the width of the balcony for the maisonette flats but having been installed at corridor level. This also creates potential theft issues, not previously a problem as laundry lines were placed on the balcony level of maisonette flats.  Tenants have also expressed concerns at the materials used to render the walls which is already showing signs of deterioration in places.  Indeed, there seems to be considerable  discrimination between the internal refurbishment plans for estates, with Glacis Estate having received minimal or no internal refurbishments whatsoever.
Glacis Internal Refurbishment 2Glacis Internal Refurbishment 3Glacis Internal Refurbishment
Glacis Estate Ground LevelBalcony Enclosures
Laguna Estate  
Works on phase 1 of Laguna Estate, namely; Rodney House, Smith Dorrien House, Mallard House, Forbes House, Landport House, Orillion House, Bayside House, Maidstone House, Blackwatch House, Causeway House and Nelson House, seems to have stalled in terms of completion. Rodney House, the block unveiled prior to the 2015 General Election has had just one of the two lifts relating to this block commissioned only recently. The beautification of this block is also being hampered by the amount of cables hanging around on podiums, etc. This is a common trait in all phase 1 blocks.   The remainder of the blocks are still considerably well away from completion, with many not having had the internal tiles replaced and lifts still to be commissioned.  More surprisingly, is the lack of health and safety measures being taken, with no signs of proper measures in place to prohibit the general public from entering areas of high risk.
None of this, of course, includes blocks nearest to Devils Tower Road, where works have not even begun yet nearly five years after works on the estate started.
Laguna 1Laguna 2Laguna 4Laguna 3
Moving forward  
The Government must be clear with tenants as to what is delaying the commissioning of lifts for the blocks already meant to have been completed.  Given the lifts have been lying at Lathbury Barracks for the past two years and have yet to be commissioned an adequate explanation is now well overdue.   We also call on the Government to provide people with realistic completion dates for all overdue phases, including those blocks where work has not begun. It must also tackle basic health and safety issues which is an  accident waiting to happen. Finally, commenting on the general standard of the refurbishment, many tenants have complained to the us that they believe maintenance will be an issue for the future. The Government should also be clear about what maintenance policies are planned to be introduced after works are completed.
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GSD tells Margallo to “put up or shut up”

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The GSD notes the comments made by Sr. Garcia-Margallo that “confidential” talks on co-sovereignty have taken place with “personalities” in Gibraltar.  No one in Gibraltar has a mandate to discuss co-sovereignty with Sr. Garcia Margallo or anyone else and we cannot believe that anyone from Gibraltar would break rank to talk to Sr. Garcia-Margallo about something that was so resoundingly rejected by the people of Gibraltar in a referendum.  Sr. Garcia-Margallo should name the people concerned.  He should put up or shut up.

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