GSD welcomes ‘Gibraltar Development Plan 2023’

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The GSD notes and welcomes the news, as advertised through a specialist publication, that the Gibraltar Government is finally inviting tenders for what is described as the  . The tender is advertised with a contract price of £250,000.
The announcement has to be viewed in the context of a frenzied building spree which this Government has overseen under its watch in which no nook and cranny of Gibraltar has been or is being spared from construction. This is particularly telling in the case of Devil’s Tower Road, the seemingly uncontrolled development of which is changing the area into a sprawling concrete jungle.
The fact is that the Government has shown that they have no sense of any real plan or vision for Gibraltar adopting what can only be described as a piecemeal approach. This was evident when they had to issue a specific plan for Devil’s Tower Road as a result of pressure.
The starting of the tender process now means that Gibraltar will continue to be without a plan until at least 2024 despite the long list of projects which continue to come on line.
Gibraltar’s urban fabric is a fundamental element of our cultural identity and should be jealously guarded. It is this, after all, what makes Gibraltar not only a place worth living for residents, but a place worth visiting for tourists.
“Despite the challenge and while the horse has in many ways already bolted, in government we would pursue a long term vision for urban planning as we had committed to do in 2019. This is what Gibraltar needs and what this Government has singularly failed to do in their 12 years in office.” said Damon Bossino

May Day & Workers Memorial Day 2023 Message from Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi

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May Day & Workers Memorial Day 2023 Message from Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi
The cost of living crisis is biting hard on people. Supermarket food prices have rocketed over the last 18 months, mortgage rates have risen significantly and there’s been higher taxes, fees and charges that have increased the burden on families. This has been a tough year for people. Whether you work in a business or as an employee in the public or private sector the road to recovery is long and hard.
All this has been made worse by the Government’s inability to properly deal with the public finances crisis and the perilous way it has racked up debt over the last 12 years. Gibraltar is in a financial mess largely of the Government’s making and was already on the cliff edge when COVID arrived on our shores to make the financial challenge worse.
To get out of this situation requires clear direction, a willingness to address the public finances crisis and deliver a plan to take us out of the red. We have never been more in debt as a community. Things can only get worse if those who have immersed us in this mess continue in office.
We are in election year. This will be held within weeks or months and will provide an opportunity for a decision by you that could lay the basis for a recalibration of what Gibraltar needs to secure its future. In short there is a need for change and a new way.
We often meet people who face a real crisis of opportunities. At its most basic they find it hard to secure dignified employment. Some of them face a Government that often drags its bureaucratic feet or doesn’t listen even when they are told of an individual’s predicament. There is a dearth of opportunity or training for young people without academic aspirations. Equally there is a real sense that employment opportunities come by for some depending on who they know and not necessarily on merit. Some people feel abandoned when all they are trying to do is to put food on the table and look after their children and family.
It is a terrible verdict on the state of things that there are people who are struggling to make ends meet when there is an emerging class of privileged few who not only seem untouched by the cost of living crisis but seem untouchable from the hardships working families need to endure.
This Workers Memorial Day and May Day weekend we mark two important dates in the calendar. The first reflects on persons injured or lost in places of employment. We reaffirm our commitment to health & safety standards to ensure people are not at risk when they are at work. The second marks the wider celebration of workers worldwide.
To be meaningful these need to be more than just words on a public holiday. May Day 2023 is the first workers day since the 50th anniversary of the 1972 General Strike. Then people fought hard for parity and better terms and conditions. Now 50 years on there are people who struggle in this cost of living crisis. They struggle also to find opportunities and against unfairness. They simply deserve more. As we go forward to the next election I pledge that the GSD will keep that thought uppermost in our minds if we are elected to Government later this year and will ensure that the changes we seek to make maximise fairness and opportunity and benefit those on lower incomes in priority.

Daniella Tilbury & Abigail Gomez join GSD Executive

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Daniella Tilbury and Abigail Gomez have been co-opted onto the GSD Executive. They now join the currently 28-strong Party Executive Committee that is made up of MPs, elected Executive Members and a small number of life and co-opted members.


Until recently, Prof Daniella Tilbury was Gibraltar’s Commissioner for Sustainable Development and Future Generations after having been the inaugural Vice-Chancellor (CEO) for the University of Gibraltar. Daniella is also an international policy adviser to the UN and EU and has led international negotiations in the area of climate change and education. Abigail Gomez is currently a compliance officer in a local financial services provider and has a first-class honours degree in sports coaching and development. She has also spent time volunteering with the Panathlon Foundation that gives children with disabilities and special needs opportunities to engage in competitive sport.

Leader of the Opposition and GSD Leader, Keith Azopardi said: “I am delighted that the Party Executive has ratified the co-option of Daniella and Abigail onto our Executive. They will be great additions to our team. Abigail has been involved in various sub-committees of the Party as well as in our grassroots work over the last couple of years. Daniella has an impressive career in academia, international policy and public services and almost needs no introduction. They will be real assets and both form part of the strengthening and regeneration of the GSD that I have been keen to prioritise over the last few years. The influx of new people into the Executive and the Party as a whole is making it more diverse, representative, younger and stronger in depth. This augurs well for the talented team that we will – in due course – present to fight the next election as the modern, progressive alternative to the GSLP/Libs.”


Daniella Tilbury said: “Gibraltar needs change now. I would like to live in a place where it is safe to express one’s opinion; where people are listened to and can actively shape government practice; where divergent views are respected and, where Ministries work in a connected way for the better of all and not just a few. Now is the time to stand up and be counted. I am supporting the GSD as the party that will create a brighter and fairer future for Gibraltar.”


Abigail Gomez said: “I was drawn to get involved some years ago. I was worried about my children’s future. It was like nothing seemed fair. Housing, education and welfare were all problems you could see on the streets and on social media. The GHA doesn’t work like it should. I remember looking at each news story thinking, I love our Rock, Gibraltar is a small place, why can’t we fix things? If I see a problem– I really feel the need to get involved. It seems to me that there are many financial or economic issues to fix and the rises in tax and fees are hitting people on low incomes really hard especially in this cost of living crisis. There are big fairness and opportunity issues. It’s all got to change.”

Gibraltar needs to be put back on track on heritage and tourism

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The GSD hopes that it will be given the opportunity to offer the leadership and fresh energy required to put Gibraltar back on track in the heritage and linked tourist field, just as much as we wish to do in other areas. This Government simply lacks the humility to acknowledge the obvious and palpable failings which Gibraltar is so clearly labouring under. It needs to be replaced.
In its reply to the GSD statement on the neglect of our heritage sites and indeed Gibraltar as a whole, the Government has indulged in a wild rant and angry outburst without adding much to the debate. In doing so they have singularly failed to address and conveniently side-step one of the central planks of the GSD’s criticisms which focuses on the abandonment of many of our sites and heritage assets. Parson’s Lodge and Moorish Castle are in a particular state of neglect, for example. To, at this stage of this Government’s time in office, talk of plans ‘progressing to restore parts of Moorish Castle for cultural use’ without offering any detail smacks of weak and defensive posturing.
Damon Bossino said “That the Government is only able to produce a Consultation Paper with what it describes as a ‘new’ vision for Gibraltar’s heritage in the dying days of its third term in office and seek to impress with a long and dubious list of supposed achievements speaks volumes of their lack of direction, drive and purpose in this area.
Gibraltar needs more than words, it needs action and investment. Gibraltar deserves more than mere declarations of objectives which amount to little more than virtue-signalling wish lists lacking in a firm budgeted commitment to preservation and results.”
In a ditching of their mantra that they would ‘play the ball and not the man’, the Government has dedicated most of their reply to personally attack Mr Bossino. The GSD does not propose to do the same to Mr Cortes – when they go low, we go high.

GSD Conducting District Wednesdays Outreach – Varyl Begg Estate Wednesday 12th April

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GSD is launching a District Wednesdays programme which will cover all parts of Gibraltar over the next weeks and months.
Keith Azopardi has been conducting outreach visits to estates, districts and associations since he was elected as GSD leader in 2017. Visits have also been undertaken by Elliott Phillips and Edwin Reyes when they have held the shadow housing portfolio and by Damon Bossino since 2021.
The GSD will now be continuing with its outreach programme in a more structured way as from this week. We will be in Varyl Begg Estate this Wednesday 12 April as from 6pm so that anyone who wants to talk to us about their concerns or issues can do so directly. Next week on Wednesday 19 April we will be in Moorish Castle Estate and the Upper Town.
Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi, said: “This programme will build on the outreach work we have been doing for some years now. It provides a direct opportunity for people to show us first hand if there are specific issues that affect them in their residential districts. We very much look forward to continuing this work.”
Shadow Housing Minister, Damon Bossino, said: “reaching out and making yourself available to citizens is fundamental to being a politician as it provides people the opportunity to raise issues of concern in their areas and beyond and informs us better so we can understand issues. While we are generally available as MPs to meet with anyone who has concerns we think it is important also to be out there at residents’ homes. At the end of the day, we are all in this together.”


Confirmation Needed on Source Monies of the £90M

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Confirmation Needed on Source Monies of the £90

The announcement by the Government that TNG has paid the £90M premium on the Eastside project on the very last day of the financial year studiously leaves open the question as to the source of monies used to pay the premium. Given this Government’s track record of opaque use of Credit Finance, the Savings Bank or public funds generally the question deserves further exploration. The Government should therefore confirm that none of the source funds to pay the £90M premium were provided by the Savings Bank, Credit Finance or any Government entity and that no public or savers monies have been used towards this.
It will be recalled that the Eastside project was adjudicated with much fanfare in October 2021 by the Government to TNG, an entity which they subsequently confirmed had not even submitted a bid within the expressions of interest process conducted in relation to the Eastside. Indeed it was a company that did not even exist when the expressions of interest process closed. That in itself raised serious questions at the time. 18 months on very little has substantively happened on site.
The Government issued photographs at the time that agreement with TNG was announced in 2021 which showed Government and TNG officers signing Heads of Terms. Subsequently it transpired following questions in Parliament that there were still aspects under discussion. Only three weeks ago the Chief Minister accepted there were still issues being negotiated. The payment of the premium on the very last day of the financial year with the lease signed the same day shows how much of a last-minute scramble all this has been to save the Government from presenting an even bigger hole in its budget. The Government should now publish the full set of contractual arrangements entered with TNG in relation to this site. If it does not do so a future GSD Government will.


Eastern beach promenade project will result in a significant loss of much needed beach space

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Eastern beach promenade project will result in a significant loss of much needed beach space

The Eastern beach promenade project will result in a significant loss of much needed beach space. This is the conclusion which many are coming to now that the works are in progress and more people are accessing the beach as the weather improves.

The immediate problem is the significant loss of beach area which the works will result in and which are expected to be paused and then completed after the close of the bathing season. The GSD asks the Government to clarify what it expects to do during the intervening period when the area will be a work in progress construction site.

Many are also concerned because the stores, which will be situated on the actual beach itself will not be able to resist bad weather and storms when they hit in winter.

It is further not clear to the GSD what demand there is for this project with this particular design especially when it entails such a significant loss of beach space which is so sought after in what is already a limited leisure area at the best of times during the summer peak season.

Damon Bossino said: “It will be recalled that this project is being sponsored under the National Economic Plan so it is therefore financed by the Savings Bank yet it is questionable how it makes commercial sense. There is also lack of clarity as to how the process of allocation of the stores will be done.”

The Government is asked to provide a full explanation on these legitimate questions which are being raised.

Cold facts catching up with the Government

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Cold facts catching up with the Government

The GSD welcomes the now very much long overdue announcement of the tender awards with respect to the affordable housing projects but persists in its observations that the huge and significant delays are unacceptable.


These projects have been used for electoral purposes in 3 consecutive elections with the Government making announcements about them in 2015, 2017, 2019 and now that we are at the doors of the 2023 election.

The difference is that the bare and cold facts eventually catch up with you and purchasers’ patience has quite justifiably run out.

With Government finances under pressure it is also of serious concern that all projects are the subject of increased construction costs, with Hassan Centenary running at an excess now of £30M and the others also the subject of significant increases.

Damon Bossino, the shadow Minister for Housing said: “Despite the attempt at gloss with the now tiresome and oft repeated audit of the number of houses expected to be delivered, the reality is that many families are facing the prospect of all the flats being heavily delayed by many years. This has an impact not just on these families but on future generations who face an uncertain future as there are no further developments in the horizon. A lost generation indeed.”

All Criminal Allegations in the McGrail Saga Should Be Investigated Independently

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All Criminal Allegations in the McGrail Saga Should Be Investigated Independently



On Thursday, former Commissioner McGrail was arrested among other reasons for a suspicion of misconduct in office. Clearly it is right for those issues to be investigated in an independent fashion. To the extent that any other related allegations of misconduct in office or about other criminal wrongdoing are being made by any person in this saga it would make sense for all of these to also be independently investigated in the same manner. If the remit of former Chief Superintendent McVea needs to be extended to allow for that then the Governor should do so because otherwise only some of the evidence of potential criminality will be investigated independently. That would ensure that the independent criminal investigation is comprehensive and there is conclusive finality to any criminal dimensions relevant to this overall case. If that is not done it may leave unsatisfactory gaps in this affair.

Additionally and despite the Chief Minister’s protestations it remains strange that he should say that he is aware of evidence of “potential criminality” but that the current Commissioner of Police, Mr Ullger, when asked about this specifically said he had not seen that evidence. Indeed, the Commissioner of Police made it a point to say on the GBC Gibraltar Today programme that the proper port of call for anyone who does have evidence of criminal wrongdoing is to report this to the Police. Has Mr Picardo passed on all the evidence of potential criminality that he says he has seen to the Police? It is doubly strange that Mr Picardo who is a core figure in the events of May and June 2020 should be the recipient of that information and not the Commissioner of Police.

What Mr Picardo’s press release on the whistleblowers law conveniently leaves out is that in the case of police officers a qualifying disclosure should primarily be made to the Commissioner of Police. In any event Mr Picardo’s focus on the whistleblowing legislation rather misses the obvious overarching point that in the case of criminal wrongdoing the appropriate investigative authority is the Police so that any information should also be delivered to them.

It is unclear when this evidence was provided and whether it came before or after other jobs in the public service were given to some of these individuals. This is something that has already been described by the current Commissioner of Police as affecting capability or morale. Legitimate questions arise in relation to that specific chronology, as to what the motivations or inducements were for the making of these statements and how these allegations are being collated and surfacing now. If these are historic allegations it is equally legitimate to ask who is benefitting from these allegations being thrown about now.

Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi said: “The constant question that remains is how allegations of unrelated issues that are not about what happened in May and June 2020 between Mr Picardo and Mr McGrail are actually relevant to the Public Inquiry or whether they are being deployed as diversionary tactics. Those questions are matters for the Inquiry Chairman. Clearly all allegations relevant to the McGrail Inquiry should be fully assessed by the Chairman of the Inquiry.

Beyond that if there is any evidence of potential criminal wrongdoing or misconduct in office this should also be investigated by the police in the normal way and as necessary the remit of the current independent investigation should be extended by the Governor to cover those issues.”