The continuing saga and failure to deliver on promises in respect of the affordable housing estates is an indictment on this Government.
The Government’s reply to further questions from the GSD Opposition MP Damon Bossino on the lack of progress is concerning. On the Opposition’s own reckoning, as matters stand, Bob Peliza Mews will, at best, not be completed until 2026. As for Chatham Views, again, at best we are looking at completion in late 2025.
For the Government to rely on COVID as a reason for the delay is simply disrespectful to those long-suffering applicants waiting to be delivered their new homes, especially when they have paid their deposits and are no doubt making additional financial provisions. It also has to be pointed out that during the COVID lock-down the construction industry continued to generally function in a normal manner.
Accordingly, the Government should be reminded of their promise back in 2017 – two years before the last general election – when they said that “over 1600 homes for Gibraltarians will be made available from the summer of 2019”. The summer of 2019 was almost a year before COVID and lock-down struck and it is now more than three years away and not one brick has as yet been laid in the Bob Peliza Mews or Chatham Views projects. If the Government had met its original timescale then all three projects announced in 2017 would have been well under way by the 2019 election and “hundreds of homes” would have been delivered by 2019 and well before COVID struck.
All of this is now further compounded by the worrying lack of clarity and ‘play with words’ that the Chief Minister treated Mr Bossino to in Parliament last week when he failed to answer the very direct question as to whether the Government currently has the required financing in place for these two developments.
Prospective purchasers have been left enduring major delays. People who first expressed interest in these homes may not even get these till 2026 – nine years later! And that is on current estimates and on the basis that everything else runs smoothly from this point on. However, given the Government’s track record it would be unlikely that they can be relied upon to deliver these houses 9 years after they announced them. Regrettably, for purchasers the Government’s new timescales – like their track record on these developments – have no credibility.