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The publication of the Yellowhammer Report dated 2 August 2019 by the UK Government shows that when the Gibraltar Government said that the leaked report was out of date this was untrue.

The leaked report was published by the Sunday Times on 18 August. Mr Picardo immediately said it was out of date and that work had been done since those scenarios were devised months ago. He clearly led people to believe that the Report was months old. At the time Mr Picardo described it as “out of date reporting by the Sunday Times.”

We now know the report was dated 2 August putting to an end any doubt on this issue. This was a mere 16 days after it was reported by the Sunday Times which was criticised by Mr Picardo for “out of date reporting.”

In the Yellowhammer report there were concerns expressed that the Gibraltar Government was not ready and that there could be long border queues, breaks in food and medicine supplies and general disruption to freedom of movement, waste management or business in a no deal BREXIT scenario. It also highlighted that “Despite the time extension to the UK’s exit from the EU Gibraltar has still not taken the decisions to invest in contingency infrastructure (such as port adjustments and waste management equipment).”

GSD Leader Keith Azopardi said: “The Government has been at pains to say that it has done work to alleviate those worst case scenarios. It needs to share the latest reports with the Opposition in advance of the election and not just say publicly that it has done work. In the same way that the UK has shared the Yellowhammer report with the Opposition the Gibraltar Government should do the same with its own internal reports. We are not asking for these to be published as there may be sensitive issues that cannot be published. We understand that. But people would expect the Government and Opposition to work together on this issue and we are prepared to do so in the public interest. If Mr Picardo does not then the people of Gibraltar can make their assessment at election time.”

Mr Azopardi added: “At the same time that the Yellowhammer report was leaked it was reported that the Government were seeking to “strike a new agreement with Spain to allow for the free movement of persons next month.” That would mean that an agreement would be signed this month – September. What are the status of these talks with Spain and what will the agreement cover? Weeks away from an election Mr Picardo needs to be clear with the electorate what agreements he is envisaging. Are we going to find out about this new agreement by leaks in the foreign press as well?”

Gibraltar Social Democrats Image

Is the old Notre Dame fit for purpose?

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The Government’s statement announcing that Notre Dame pupils will, after all, start school in the old
building next week confirms the Government’s failure to deliver on their promise to open the new school
in September this year and their total lack of planning. The Minister’s u-turn from asserting it will be
ready to “it will be ready when its ready” is now fast becoming a source of ridicule.
As evidence of the shoddiness of the planning, it is useful to briefly set out the recent chronology of
events surrounding this issue as follows:

(i) as recently as July the Minister talked exclusively about a September opening date with no
mention being made of the possibility of delays;

(ii) by 20th August (with a mere 14 days left for the start of the new school year) and for the first
time he warned of the possibility of delays and contingency planning;

(iii) on 24th August it was revealed by GBC that part of that planning entailed extending the
summer holiday to allow the new building to be finished;

(iv) 5 days later, on 29th August, the announcement is made that term time will after all begin as
scheduled, albeit in the old school building.

The above chronology illustrates the mess that the Government has got itself into. The sad thing here is
that it has got hundreds of pupils, their families and teachers in a mess with them too.
The Government cannot argue that they have found themselves in this predicament for any lack of
warnings from the Opposition. The GSD has long been concerned about the inevitable consequences of
rushing a project like this with very little planning.

It is unforgivable that the Minister should now cite the relocation of the Laguna Youth Club and last
winter’s severe storms as reasons for the delay. These excuses simply do not wash. If they are to be
believed he must have known that the project would be delayed in July when the storms had already
occurred and the Club’s relocation was in progress. Why did he therefore not refer to it in his speech and
more importantly plan for it at the time?

Armed with this knowledge why were teachers asked to pack classrooms before the school term ended in
June? The fact is that the Government ignored the inevitability of delays and asked teachers to pack their
classrooms before the summer break only to now ask them to return with the prospect of having to reallocate
to the new school in the same school year.

Had the old Notre Dame school building been left intact, the Opposition would have fully supported the
Government’s decision to delay a transfer until an appropriate term break in the future, in order to ensure
the new school was fully functional before effecting the transfer. The Minister is now suggesting a
transition during term time even though he stated in Parliament earlier this year that “we certainly cannot
move children in the middle of term time”.

It is clear that the Government has taken an ostrich approach to this whole affair and that our school
children, their teachers and their parents are now having to face the consequences of its sheer

The fact is that the current location is inadequate as an education establishment given that the area
remains a construction site. This has been admitted in a recent statement by the Minister who refers to
‘logistical arrangements’ still being worked on. The lunch hall has been demolished and construction has
already taken place on what appears to be two thirds of the old Notre Dame playground.

Other pertinent questions that the Government has to address are:

* Where will the children exercise and play?

* Have the evacuation routes been jeopardised? Have all other health & safety issues been addressed?

* Will the outreach programme for St Martin’s school students suffer too?

* Will the Government rush through completion and snagging for the sake of mitigating their

The whole episode reflects sadly on the Government and only heightens our concern in respect of the
other school projects.

Laguna Estate Plagued by Unfinished And Shoddy Work

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The GSD revisited Laguna Estate at the kind invitation of the residents committee which follows a recent outreach program initiated by the GSD to better understand the concerns of residents in our housing estates. The visit included all GSD Members of Parliament.

It is clear to everyone at Laguna Estate that despite 7 years of promises and considerable investment by the taxpayer the Government has failed to deliver a fully refurbished estate and a sustainable program for ongoing maintenance of one of our larger housing estate.

Our 3 hour visit included engaging with a large number of residents as to their serious concerns over, unfinished works, poor workmanship, lack of supervision and serious concerns about the health safety of families and children living in the area.

Shadow Minister for Housing, Elliott Phillips MP said:

“ It is remarkable that since our last visit nothing seems to have moved on and the residents of Laguna Estate are plagued by continuing and in some case worsening problems. The residents have been very patient and are grateful for the investment made however they are rightly after 7 years fed up with the clear lack of progress in delivering a final and sustainable product. It is important that the residents and the Government work together in in facilitating access to areas to workers in order improve conditions in the wider Laguna community for the benefit of all residents.

Mr Phillips went on to say:

The residents who have effectively lived on a construction site for 7 years have every right to feel very disappointed by the level of unfinished works at Laguna from loose and stray utility cables, shoddy workmanship, dangerously exposed working areas to impractical solutions for many simple problems which are in part caused by poor planning at the pre-construction stage. It is disheartening to see so many straightforward issues be ignored or improperly dealt with which has compounded the more serious issues such as antisocial behaviour, security and a lacking pest control programme affecting the residents. We call on the Government to make good on their commitment to people of Laguna Estate whilst tackling serious and systemic issues of anti-social behaviour, security and drug related crime within the Estate”

The Rock of Gibraltar in the morning dawn

GSD Question Air Quality Monitoring Priorities

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The GSD notes that the Government intends to conduct an air quality monitoring study at the frontier over the next two years. While all air quality monitoring is of value in order to help understand what pollution levels are being experienced in Gibraltar, the GSD has questioned why the frontier has been chosen for such monitoring ahead of the area of Waterport, one of our community’s most densely populated areas.

Trevor Hammond, GSD Environment spokesmen said “Any form of air quality study will always be welcome and I look forward to hearing the results of this study at the frontier. I do however have to question why the frontier has been chosen over the area of Waterport for such a study. Whereas the frontier sees people passing through relatively quickly, Waterport has a large number of residences and shops in close proximity as well as being the location of the Government’s new mega school. Almost all children between the ages of eleven and eighteen will spend a significant proportion of their day in this area, it would seem sensible for such a study to have been conducted there as a matter of urgency.

“Pollution at the frontier is caused by traffic in frontier queues, which is very much transient. Pollution at Waterport is caused not only by traffic, the Waterport roundabout is a significant pinch point, but the area is also subject to pollution from the cruise terminal, port, bus terminal and power generation. Combine this cocktail of sources of pollution with the high density of the population in the area, as well as the mega school, shops and Main Street it is surely more important to conduct a study in this area, where pollution affects so many people in our community. I call on Government, as I have done previously, to commission an independent study in this area as a matter of urgency. It is a higher priority to our community than the frontier”.

Trevor Hammond

Reyes Message to Gibraltar Cricket Squad

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The GSD Opposition extends a special Good Luck message to The Gibraltar Cricket National Squad in their participation at the forthcoming ICC World T20 Europe Qualifier taking place in the Netherlands from 29 August 2018 to 3 September 2018.

Opposition Spokesman for Sports Edwin Reyes had the following to say:

“We are conscious Gibraltar has tough games ahead in this 18 Team Competition where, if successful to finish in the top two teams in our Group, we would achieve qualification to play in the ICC World T20 Europe Qualifier in 2019. We wish you all the best of Gibraltarian luck in your forthcoming matches.”

Edwin Reyes

GSD Congratulates GCSE Students

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The GSD Opposition congratulates all students who have been successful in their recent GCSE examinations and wishes them all the best in their next phase of studies; which will hopefully lead to them consequently obtaining a place at University in UK in order to pursue Higher Education Studies.

Opposition spokesperson for Education, Edwin Reyes, is pleased to note that Gibraltar’s GCSE results have remained steady. The Opposition would also like to acknowledge the contributions made by all teachers who have prepared our students for these exams, since they started Reception Year in First Schools, and who have been collectively responsible for ensuring our students were stretched and gave their best throughout their school years.

GSD Gibraltar Social Democrats

Llamas Urges Government to Reconsider Payment Structure to Elderly Care Residents

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The GSD welcomes the increase payment of a maximum of £13 per week being offered to the residents of Elderly Residential Care (ERC) facilities. However, it does not agree with the strict non-accumulative policy being proposed.

Currently, residents receive an allowance of £12 per week, a sum which has not increased in a number of years. This allowance is received and will continue to be received directly into the bank accounts of the residents.

This week residents and family members have received a letter informing them of the additional weekly maximum of £13 increase, however, the additional allowance will not be processed in the same manner.

Firstly, the additional weekly £13 shall be paid upon presentation of receipts for goods purchased per week up to the a maximum cap of £13, with a cut-off time of a month for reimbursement

Secondly, the £13 weekly allowance is ​not ​cumulative.

By introducing the additional allowance as a second tier allowance, the Government is rightly ensuring that monies are used exclusively for the resident’s needs for as long as they are residents at one of the ERS facilities.

The GSD does not, however, believe that limiting the allowance purchase of goods in a weekly manner is in the best interests of the residents. GSD shadow minister for Health and Care Lawrence Llamas said “I would urge the government to review their policy decision and consider changing the implementation of this weekly policy to a quarterly one. By widening the criteria to a three month cycle, residents will be able to purchase more substantial essential goods such as clothing, underwear, footwear, perfume, vitamins etc which would be very difficult to do on a strict £13 weekly cycle. At the same time extending the period as suggested will ease the demand on admin staff to process receipts/payouts and soften the bureaucratic burden on users or their families”

Lawrence Llamas Image

GSD Gibraltar Social Democrats

Government Refuse to Acknowledge Public Parking Enforcement Concerns

By | News

It is bizarre that in response to a Press Release expressing concerns about the number of erroneous parking fines being issued and the waste of both public and police time that this is causing, Government should focus a third of its reply on irrelevant typographical errors on social media. It further accuses Trevor Hammond, GSD Transport Spokesman of hypocrisy, but then fails to describe any hypocrisy. Government really does seem to be running scared on this and many other issues and has lost all credibility.

Trevor Hammond said “Gibraltar has always been a place where a degree of tolerance and common sense has been shown when dealing with issues such as parking. If Government wishes to adopt a zero tolerance policy that is a decision for them and it is for them to deal with the consequent public backlash. Motorists are fed up of being fined for having a wheel on a line or returning to a vehicle moments too late to find that a warden has been waiting for that moment to issue a ticket. These are people’s real experiences. The Government appears to have no concept of the difference between practical and sensible enforcement, which has always occurred, and zero tolerance, punish all offences no matter how minor, which is their policy

“There is no question that this policy is raking them in a lot of money, approximately three quarters of a million pounds a year, so of course they are going to defend it, they need to find income from all sorts of sources to pay off the debt mountain they have built up, but at least they could be honest about it.

“Of course in this grab for cash, punish all offences world, too many mistakes are being made; 933 in a little over six months, and these are the ones actually challenged. Many more mistaken parking tickets are no doubt paid because people lack the time to make a challenge. That’s 933 occasions when members of both the public and the police have had to use their valuable time correcting mistakes. Government cares so little about this that they suggest it is normal for so many mistakes to happen. I would say it is unacceptable and must stop”

Appalling Condition of Upper Rock Nature Reserve

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The GSD has today insisted that Government must do something to rectify the appalling lack of care and maintenance in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve. Many areas are covered in litter, barriers fences and stairs are in a state of disrepair and the pools designed to provide a supply of water for our monkeys’ lie stagnant and abandoned. The situation is utterly unacceptable.

Trevor Hammond, GSD Spokesman for the Environment and Tourism said “While I would remind people that we all have a responsibility for looking after our environment and not littering, this does not excuse Government from providing proper cleaning and maintenance to our number one tourist attraction. Better enforcement of the litter laws would also help. It needs to be remembered that Government has now taken to charging tourists £5 to visit the Upper Rock on foot. I don’t disagree with this but it means the product should be in top condition and it is not, that revenue is clearly going elsewhere.

“The condition of the drinking areas for our macaques is of great concern; they seem to have been abandoned. Millions of people come to Gibraltar every year to see our monkeys, they are a tremendous asset to our tourist product and they must not only be looked after but they must be seen to be looked after, leaving their drinking holes stagnant gives a strong impression of neglect which in turn raises issues of animal care generally and whether other things are also being mismanaged. There is a need for a review of macaque management to ensure all issues around their care are sensitively and efficiently dealt with”

“Unfortunately Government’s complete disregard for the cleanliness and maintenance of our community, something that I and others have been highlighting for a very long time now, sadly to no effect, has spread even to the Upper Rock Nature reserve. Whether in our urban areas or our natural areas, the
Government simply does not care about the terrible state of neglect that it has allowed to develop. The Minister responsible really should be ashamed”.

Parking Harassment

By | News

With the zone parking scheme making parking more and more scarce for those who must use their vehicles to get about Gibraltar it is clear that Government has also been targeting motorists with a zero-tolerance policy on illegal parking since September 2016, this is leading to an enormous number of tickets being issued erroneously.

There is no question that motorist should park correctly and that illegal parking is unacceptable but many people are being preyed upon by traffic wardens who are quite literally waiting in ambush to catch people out for being in the wrong place minutes too long. The zero tolerance policy commenced in 2016 and has seen the number of parking tickets issued each month almost triple and the number of clampings rise from virtually zero to over 300 a month. Whatever instructions they have, it is clear that traffic wardens have been told to issue as many tickets as possible, a nice little earner for a Government desperate for money to fund its overspend.

Trevor Hammond, GSD transport spokesman said “I asked a question in Parliament in May regarding the number of rescinded parking tickets and was told that in the eight months up to May, the RGP had rescinded 933 parking tickets. That is, 933 tickets that were erroneously placed and 933 occasions when both the police and the public have had to waste their time because those enforcing parking did not do their job properly. It is unacceptable that there appears to be no accountability for this absurdly high number of mistakes and you have to wonder how many people have paid fines when quite possibly they should not have.

“Government must take this matter in hand and make sure that wardens are being properly trained and that there is some accountability for mistakes which are happening with far to great a frequency. The service must be improved so police and public do not have to waste their time correcting mistakes. The public should look very carefully at fines issued and be prepared to challenge as it is clear that many mistakes are being made”