The GSD notes with concern today’s report in the Gibraltar Chronicle regarding contingency plans for Notre Dame First School and the reported comments by the Minister for Education, John Cortes.

Since the Government made the surprise announcement last October on its new school projects, departing with minimum consultation from the plans shown to the electorate during the last General Election, Opposition Members have been raising legitimate and genuine concerns regarding the plans, the timescale and the cost.

The Government have been adamant with the timescale, repeatedly assuring Parliament, teachers and educational staff that the plans were achievable within the parameters set. Consequently, all those involved have been working tirelessly, even through the summer recess towards these target dates. The fact that the Government is taking the decision as to whether the first of its schools will be ready on time down to the wire is unsatisfactory.

Additionally, it is demonstrating a huge disregard to the work of the professionals by undermining the preparations made ahead of the move, which may go out the window.

GSD spokesperson Lawrence Llamas said today

“The Government have remained headstrong that the target dates announced from the onset are achievable, despite the actual construction of the first school to be delivered being so obvious to all as being behind schedule. Whichever way the Government decides to go next week, whether it is back to the old school, or into the new one, there will inevitably be additional health and safety works required just to make the school safe and questions whether they will be able to provide an adequate environment for those students and staff alike to teach, learn and play!

The lack of planning and foresight deployed by this Government is endemic, with a constant shooting from the hip attitude in everything it does. The “data protection” at night beach webcams is a prime example. The community simply can no longer trust a Government which is so blatantly taking them for a ride or planning so badly on issues of real concerns. The fact that they have undertaken traffic and transport impact assessments after construction for the new schools had begun is yet another example of resolving problems after they arise, rather than providing for them because you can see them coming. As at the last Parliament question and answer session last May, the assessments were still a work in progress

The construction of new schools must be dealt with responsibly and sensitively, something the Government has not been able to convince the majority of this community it is in fact doing”