All Posts By

Orlando

GSD QUESTIONS TO FOCUS ON PUBLIC SERVICES, SOCIAL JUSTICE & INEQUALITY

By | News

The GSD Opposition will be asking over 80 questions at the next meeting of Parliament that starts on Monday 20 January 2020.

There are significant questions raised on issues of mental health, concerns affecting persons with disabilities, financial issues, BREXIT, education, housing, heritage and the environment.

Highlighting some of the main questions:

Elliott Phillips MP [Shadow Health & Environment Minister] will focus his questions on this occasion largely on mental health exploring issues of dementia, counselling, mental health complaints, and the mental health budget. He will also ask about sick leave in the civil service and wave power generation.

Daniel Feetham MP [Shadow Employment, Equalities & Justice Minister] will ask a number of questions on disability allowances, sheltered employment, social assistance, child welfare, autism and training. He is also presenting a Motion to Parliament asking Government to review the system of disability allowances to improve the current system.

Damon Bossino MP [Shadow Financial Service, Port & Shipping & Tourism Minister] will ask questions on the future of the Mount given its heritage & tourism importance, tourism, banking and aviation.

Roy Clinton MP [Shadow Finance Minister] will be asking a number of questions on public finances and in respect of the financial implications of a number of public contracts. He will also ask how the Government will strengthen public finances and curb abuses and whether the Government will set up a BREXIT bail fund which has been requested by the Chamber of Commerce.

Edwin Reyes MP [Shadow Education, Housing, Culture & Sport Minister] will ask about outstanding works on sports facilities, vacant teaching posts, the possibility of wardens at Albert Risso House, the extent of housing lists, unlawful occupation of Government flats and the extent of unsold housing at the new project of Hassans Centenary Terraces.

Leader of the Opposition Keith Azopardi MP has a number of diverse questions on the environment affecting Catalan Bay, talks with Spain in the context of BREXIT, the public effects of 5G technology, the promotion of recycling in refuse collection, the establishment of a Code of Conduct for Ministers and other BREXIT or governance related questions.

Mr Azopardi said: “Much of the focus of our questions in this session will highlight issues of social justice, equality and mental health as well as the environment and housing. We will be probing Government in all these areas to ensure that support services for persons with disabilities, with mental health issues or training needs is improved. We want to see access to public services enhanced for those citizens who suffer inequalities of opportunity or support.”

Mr Picardo Can’t Handle The Truth

By | News

 

Nothing about Mr Picardo’s wildly defensive reaction to the GSD New Year Message was about putting things in perspective or being politically mature. Mr Picardo seems to have a problem with anyone opposing him. His call for unity is simply an expectation that the Opposition should behave like sheep to his tune.

It is obvious that Mr Picardo feels wounded by the truth. As the saying goes the truth hurts. And in this case the truth is that the GSLP that he leads is economically reckless with our future. No amount of personal jibes will stop us from saying that or from pointing out unfairness or public wastage. Mr Picardo can say all he wants but the biggest truth here is that we have never been so much in debt. It is his leadership that has tripled the gross public debt when he sold the lie to the people of Gibraltar in 2011 that he would halve it. That was a massive broken promise of his leadership and the start of his legacy of debt. We will not tire from saying so. Nor will we tire from arguing that there is a need for economic prudence. He cannot answer that so he resorts to personal jibes instead.

It is understandable why Mr Picardo is so defensive when one of his own Ministers – Sir Joe Bossano – has described some of his decisions as financially unsustainable.

The irony and hypocrisy here is that Mr Picardo is only sensitive about the argument of economic prudence when it is raised by the GSD. During the election campaign he promised to spend hundreds of millions more so as to persuade people to vote for him. On the morning of his election win he suddenly discovered his new “Age of Responsibility” which is nothing more than a very tardy recognition that there is a need for prudence, civic pride and responsibility – all things that the GSD have been saying for years.

Mr Picardo needs to get off his high horse and understand once and for all what the GSD is saying. We are not saying that we should not build houses or schools. We are saying that it should be done prudently. We are saying that he should not gift the developers of Victoria Keys with taxpayers’ money so that they can develop land for private development.

The biggest issue here is that the truth matters. Mr Picardo is continually politically dishonest. He was politically dishonest before the election, during the campaign and again as recently as during the Viewpoint interview on Thursday. He is quite willing to present a picture to people that he knows is untrue or full of half-truths. The problem about fighting politics in Mr Picardo’s age of superficial populism is that truth doesn’t matter to Mr Picardo. That is why teachers chanted “no more lies.” He is swiftly getting a reputation in Gibraltar.

Mr Azopardi said: “I’m not going to stop doing my job because Mr Picardo acts like a wounded animal – lashing out without any coherence because he is worried and defensive that the truth hurts. Mr Picardo needs to get real. We have offered him unity and to work together with Government on a number of fronts including BREXIT. But we have a clearly different economic view of how public finances should be run. Mr Picardo needs to get beyond his petulance just because we do not share his economic recklessness. There is scope for unity on some fundamentals and his shrill intemperate language on issues on which we disagree do nothing to demonstrate that he is capable of conducting politics in a mature way. He needs to get beyond his usual reaction to people who disagree with him or he will confirm the suspicions that all he wants is to surround himself with people who agree with him all the time. That is not good for democracy.”

GSD announces daily political surgeries

By | News

GSD announces daily political surgeries

As part of its continuing outreach programme the GSD today announces new arrangements so that members of the public can easily speak to MPs on issues of concern be it on housing, employment, health or any other issue.

GSD MPs already conduct regular meetings with members of the public on a variety of issues. We are now improving on those arrangements by putting in place a structured daily surgeries programme for all MPs.

Damon Bossino said: “GSD MPs have always made themselves available to listen to peoples’ concerns on any issue but we are keen to ensure that this is more widely known as well as more structured. There is much we can and will do to help people as best we can. After all, this is what politics is all about – helping people.”

The party wants to ensure that in the next four years it continues to make itself available, through its MPs and the wider party structure, to the public. The GSD is determined to make it known that it is here to represent the whole of Gibraltar. This is part of its overall strategy to ensure that the party is fully in tune with people’s needs and therefore ready for Government at the next general election whenever it is called.

One element of the outreach drive is that each of the GSD MPs will make themselves available to members of the public at a fixed time and day at the party’s headquarters at College Lane. Details of when the individual MP will be available can be obtained at HQ and will be publicly announced. If the individual cannot meet at the appointed day or time, staff at HQ will make alternative arrangements for the meeting to take place.

“GSD MPs have, for some time, been available to attend to constituents’ concerns. In making this announcement we are formalising the arrangements and advising the public when its MPs will be available” said Mr Bossino

NURSING SCHOOL – GSLP JITTERS

By | News

The GSLP Leader needs to relax and get his facts right rather than accuse the GSD of saying things we have not.

At yesterday’s press conference and in answer to a press question on training Keith Azopardi said that we had always been committed to training and gave the example of when the GSD reopened the nursing school for staff nurse training in the late 1990s. The GSLP before we were elected in 1996 had stopped staff nurse training. That is a fact and the GSD stands by that.

Instead Mr Picardo wildly says that the GSD had accused his administration of closing the nursing school now. That is not what was said. This is the second time in two days that the GSLP Leader displays his jitters. He did so yesterday on our Gibraltar 2050 plan which he completely misunderstands as another development plan. That just shows how directionless his own approach is that he does not believe in long-term strategic planning.

We invite him to make this election a real contest of ideas and stop raising smokescreens that have nothing to do with the substantive policies and choices open to the electorate. That’s what people are interested in.

GSD Gibraltar Social Democrats

GSD Reaction to fatal incident

By | News

“The death of a young man last night at sea is of course tragic and an investigation should be undertaken to establish what exactly happened. Our condolences to the family. The exact circumstances of what transpired are as yet publicly unknown and the GSD will not be drawn into speculating as to the causes of the incident pending a full investigation.

 

It is concerning, however, to see that there are already reports of incitements to violent incidents on Gibraltar customs or police officers in Spain or on Gibraltar vehicles. Such acts would be repugnant and Spanish authorities should ensure that matters are not worsened by unprovoked attacks. Our officers and authorities in all essential services – especially the Customs and the Police when at sea – do a difficult job at the best of times. They deserve our full support and will get that from the GSD” said GSD Leader, Keith Azopardi.

GSD TO CAMPAIGN UNDER THE SLOGANS “THE FUTURE YOU DESERVE” AND “MAKE IT HAPPEN”

By | News

The GSD team for the 2019 General Elections will be GSD Leader Keith Azopardi, Freddie Ballester, Damon Bossino, Roy Clinton, Danny Feetham, Trevor Hammond, Elliott Phillips, Edwin Reyes, Joelle Wahnon-Ladislaus and Orlando Yeats.

Keith Azopardi said: “I am delighted to be leading this strong team into the election. It combines political, Parliamentary and Ministerial experience with freshness and energy. It is a team that is ready for the BREXIT challenge and to navigate our community forward. As I said when this election was called last Monday people will want to ensure that parties aspiring to govern have the core competence to do so. For the many people who want change we offer a strong, competent team that could govern as from 18 October if the people of Gibraltar so choose. Seven members of the team have Parliamentary or Ministerial experience. They should have no doubt we are ready for the job.”

“This next election will be a choice between two very different ways of doing things – the GSLP way of unaccountable practices and economic opaqueness and the offering we will make to people at this election of accountability, transparency, change, reform and fairness. Now that the team has been selected we will be setting out our clear message on the big issues of the day.

We will have a strong manifesto, ready for Government. It will be an exciting and comprehensive programme for change. We will be campaigning under the slogans “The Future You Deserve” and “You Can Make it Happen.” In coming days we will be rolling out our ideas on the environment, housing, social services and workers’ rights among many others.”

The GSD team will be signing up in Parliament tomorrow Wednesday at 2pm.

ST MARY’S DEAL QUESTIONS NEED ANSWERING

By | News

The announcement of the property deal to relocate St Mary’s school raises questions that need answering. On Friday the Government said they had agreed with private owners to use a building in Town Range for the purposes of the new St Mary’s school.

The company that owns the building is called Town Range Developments Limited. The ultimate beneficial owners are unknown as the shares are held by a licensed trustee that is part of the Line Group of entities that is associated with the law firm Hassans. Some of the directors are common to the companies holding interests in the MidTown or Victoria Keys Developments although it is unclear who the beneficial owners of Town Range Developments are so the ultimate owning parties may be different.

The Government should publish the terms of the agreement it has entered into. It needs to confirm whether the building has been bought and if so for what price. If other land or property has been exchanged the Government should also confirm. The public should also be told who the ultimate beneficial owners of Town Range Developments is. All this is information that should be made available in the public interest.

People will also want to know why a competitive tender process was not opened if the Government wished to go to the private sector market to acquire buildings for new schools or whether there is adequate value for money in this deal.

What has been announced is an opaque deal with no details shared with the public. All the details of the transaction should be known. When your money or your assets are used you should be entitled to know who is benefiting and whether the terms are fair and competitive. We are asking these questions publicly because there is no current opportunity to put questions in Parliament. If the GSD is elected to Government we will publish the full terms of this deal.

As in the case of Victoria Keys we reserve the right to reopen the transaction if we judge it was not in the public interest.

GSD Gibraltar Social Democrats

GSLP COMMITMENT ON QUEENSWAY QUAY IS UNPRINCIPLED BUT WELCOME

By | News

The GSD welcomes the GSLP Government’s announcement that they no longer support development in the Queensway Quay basin.
GSD Leader Keith Azopardi said: “this is a victory for many people who are against this development and a vindication of the position taken by the GSD months ago. We are glad the Government now agrees with us on this issue. It is about time that they did and listened to people on this. It is obvious that this is a transparent and unprincipled decision in the run up to an election. It is hollow that they should distance themselves from the project that cannot have been tabled without discussions with Government having been held behind closed doors.

This is not about the GSLP’s commitment to better planning but a worry about votes. Be that as it may the decision will be welcome to many people.
We had said months ago that we were against the development and would not allow it if elected to Government. We have a firm commitment to strategic planning. The residents of Queensway Quay will not forget that this promise comes late and how it has emerged.

It is a real shame that the GSLP who seem to govern by what they hear on social media and not on principle have not also heard the voices of the hundreds of people against the Queen’s Cinema development. And why is the Victoria Keys development protected from review? There should now be a revisiting of that development also.”

Comprehensive School lack of fall-back plan inexcusable

By | News

The announcement that the opening of the Comprehensive Schools is to be delayed now to 16 September 2019 was on the cards given the controversy about health and safety risks reported earlier this week. The GSD had called for the Government to ensure that the schools were safe for students and teachers before these are formally opened. However the further delay gives rise to questions as to the schooling of children.

“It is inexcusable that the Government have not provided a fall-back plan which would ensure that the schooling of children can happen elsewhere if there was a delay to the opening of the new comprehensive schools. The Government can talk down the effect on children and families as much as they want but the reality is that this is caused by their poor planning which is now in massive disarray. This will inevitably cause stress to pupils and families quite apart from not helping teachers to plan properly.” said GSD Leader Keith Azopardi.

“We welcome the fact that they have accepted they need to deal with the construction and safety issues. We reiterate the schools should not open till they are completely safe and ready. But the delay to the new date of 16 September means that some students will now start school two weeks after the customary opening date. How is the delay to their teaching going to be addressed? This is especially relevant for GCSE or A Level students who will be facing exams in May 2020. It is simply unacceptable that the Government has not made plans to get students to start their schooling on a temporary basis elsewhere particularly if they are in exam years. And is there a cast-iron guarantee there will be no further delay beyond 16 September?” said GSD Shadow Education Minister Edwin Reyes.

“The Government has to answer for that clear failure in planning. They have been so obsessed with insisting the schools will be ready that the construction site is working round the clock at massive high cost. This will cost millions of extra pounds to the taxpayer because of their inefficiency. By working in such a hurried way the workmanship can also be compromised and give rise to health and safety issues that we saw the other day or construction defects that will be evident later. The safety of our children and teachers is paramount. The GSD welcome the investment in new schools but it is clear that alongside any plans to have new schools there needed to be proper plans to allow the education of our children to continue seamlessly. The education of our children cannot be compromised because of poor planning by the GSLP” added Mr Azopardi.

Only yesterday in a GBC interview the Minister was insisting the schools would open on 11 September. The inability to admit what was obvious to everyone else is unbelievable. Today’s climb down was inevitable. Last year the Government repeatedly said Notre Dame would open on time only to have to successively delay opening for weeks. This is much more serious because of the schooling of students that are facing exams at different levels in their formative years.

GSD End of Summer BBQ “A great success”

By | News

Last night saw the GSD End of Summer BBQ take place at the Dolphin Bar terrace in Camp Bay.

Over 150 turned out for the event with lots of familiar and also new faces enjoying the food and entertainment.

The event was hosted by GSD Leader Keith Azopardi, MP’s and party seniors who spoke to guests in attendance about any issues or concerns they may have had.

Keith Azopardi said “Its great to see such a strong show of support potentially weeks away from a general election. It has been a pleasure to speak to the people who attended,  familiar faces and new individuals who have expressed an interest in supporting the party. The event has been a great success and I’d like to thanks those who attended the event as well as the organisational team who did a fantastic job.”