Thursday, March 31, 2005

Noise is making our lives “a daily misery,” say Residents

Ocean Village works complaints - Residents from Marina Court, Portland House and Glacis Estate have complained that the noise levels from the Ocean Village development under construction are making their lives “a daily misery.”

They say works are affecting their quality of life by interfering with their sleep even during bank holidays, and state that although residents in the vicinity are not against the project, they do resent living in a building site every day of the week since the 12 metre depth excavation commenced in February. It is understood some residents are considering legal action in the form of an injunction to stop
the works.

In a statement to the Chronicle yesterday, Marina Court resident and spokesman for the management committee Paul Victor said the Gibraltar Government should review existing noise nuisance laws to deal with these kind of situations. Mr Victor also criticises the developers of Ocean Village and argues that although they give assurances in the end “they do what they want.” Residents are also dissatisfied with the “shoddy fencing” around the project. Mr Victor said:

“The developers release a considerable amount of propaganda to promote how good the project will end up being, but in the meantime they subject us to a daily misery.”

He continued:

“As most of Gibraltar was enjoying a well earned lie in on Commonwealth bank holiday Monday, the residents of Glacis Estate, Portland House and Marina Court were woken to the harmonic sounds of pneumatic drills. This noise commencing at 7.45am. Indeed on the following Tuesday residents were again awoken before the 8.00 am deadline to the sound of a large crane cranking up its engine.

The Ocean Village developers provided the residents of Marina Court with a letter of undertaking that the machinery used would be the quietest available and that on Sundays and Bank Holidays no work would be undertaken. So much for their undertakings!”

Mr Victor said they hoped to make the general public aware that residents are at “the losing end” when living adjacent to new developments under construction, while stating that Gibraltar’s laws “sadly appear to be somewhat archaic and favour the developers.”

He further states that the only available option seem to be the courts since Government Departments charged with the monitoring of construction projects appear “powerless” to take any action to curb “the excesses of developers.” He added:

“We sometimes wonder who checks the safety of the equipment being used on-site as residents were witness some days ago to the pilling machine breaking down and the oil from one of the pneumatic hoses spilling on to the pedestrian pathway below – you just have to walk by the site to see for yourself the grey spill marks on the pavement. We wonder what would have happened if the high pressure oil would have spilt on to the numerous school children who make their way to school on a daily basis through this same walkway.”

Final result will make it worthwhile, say Promoters

Ocean Village defends “fantastic” project

Ocean Village promoters have incurred considerable additional expense to minimise noise, vibration and pollution during the construction phase of the development, spokeswoman Barbara Sellors declared yesterday.

Responding to the criticisms from residents in the area, Mrs Sellors said that from the very beginning they had consistently tried to keep “a positive rapport” with neighbours” by co-operating with them, and stated that some inconvenience was inevitable whilst infrastructure improvements take place but the final result would be better for everyone. Meanwhile they have also denied that there was any work carried out by them on Easter Monday and attributed the disturbance to “ambient noise.”

“Ocean Village will be a fantastic asset to Gibraltar, greatly enhancing the value of all adjoining properties and providing vastly improved facilities and views for all in the vicinity,” she declared. The statement by the Ocean Village promoters said:

“We have cooperated with Marina Court over their repairs to their own building which was facilitated by allowing access over our site. This repair work created tremendous noise – they were hammering out concrete. Though it was for worthwhile cause i.e. the improvement of the structure of their building. We didn’t complain!”

“We have tried to keep a positive rapport with our neighbours and have cooperated at considerable additional expense, voluntarily employing augured as opposed to driven piling to minimise noise and vibration.

Julian Munday, our Construction Manager, was very keen to meet with the Residents’ Committee for a follow-up session to a previous meeting but despite writing and phoning numerous times since March 23rd we have had no response i.e. the onus was on them. If there has been no response then presumably there were no problems to be resolved.”

“Several residents have visited the Site Office and use the opportunity to discuss various aspects of the development in a positive manner with him. Indeed many residents have thanked us for resolving issues. This appears to be at odds with the views expressed by Marina Court Management Co. Ltd.”

“We have issued a Newsletter delivered to all Marina Court residents. We have fully investigated the possibility that the contractor worked on Easter bank holiday Monday and can confirm that the site was shut for the entire Easter holiday period. If noise was heard this confirms to us that ambient noise – people working on boats, cars and lorries passing, etc – must have been the issue on Easter Monday.”

“New storm water drainage for the benefit of Glacis Road has been put in place by us for the Government. These works prevented a protective walkway being completed. It will be finished very soon and will incorporate side panels and lighting. This is like the beatification of Main Street: some inconvenience is inevitable whilst infrastructure improvements take place but the result is better for everyone.”

“We continue to procure best solutions to reduce sound levels such as an alternative technique to breaking down the pile caps - expanding grout system. The tower crane has been selected to minimise dust and fume pollution which is a feature of mobile cranes. We have improved the security of the fencing. Richard Labrador, Gibraltar’s foremost Health and Safety expert, has been employed by the contractor as Health and Safety Supervisor.”

Mayor of Algeciras in shock resignation

Socialist Mayor of Algeciras Juan Antonio Palacios resigned his post yesterday in a sudden decision that has sent shockwaves in Campo political circles.

Sr Palacios a leading PSOE figure in the Cadiz province declared his reasons for the move were personal, but refused to disclose any further details.

This is the first time a mayor resigns in Algeciras in such circumstances.

The Ayuntamiento now has a period of ten days to accept the resignation in which case he will be succeeded by the current deputy Tomas Herrera, who was the second most voted candidate in the PSOE list at the last municipal elections.

According to political observers in the Campo, the unexpected decision culminates a period of serious financial difficulties faced by the local authority which has been unable to meet several commitments such as ‘rescuing’ the local football club Algeciras FC from an economic crisis, and meet other payments to the fair organisers.

Oldest former Policeman unveils RGP Memorial Plaque

by Alice Mascarenhas

87 year old former police officer John Cano yesterday unveiled a memorial plaque in memory of both past, present and future serving officers of the Royal Gibraltar Police.

The plaque situated within the patio walls of New Mole House Police Headquarters for officers and their families, retired and present, to see when they visit Police Headquarters forms part of the 175th celebrations which will be taking place between now and June 25 when a special parade marking the anniversary will be held along Main Street.

Commissioner Joe Ullger described the event as a very special occasion which was very much linked to this anniversary year. Mr Ullger was adamant that the plaque would serve as a memory and reminder of all the police officers who have served and are serving with the Royal Gibraltar Police.

As former PC Cano unveiled the plaque the words ‘In Memory of those who served’ were revealed. The short ceremony included the participation of members of the Force, and former officers. It was followed by a series of short prayers read out by the Bishop of Gibraltar Charles Caruana, The Dean Alan Woods and Rabbi Hassid. Addressing the small gathering, the Commissioner emphasised how special the event was.

“Today we have a very special police force which is committed, accountable and modern and meeting the expectations of the community. And we have to thank not just the present police officers but those from our past.”

Mr Ullger paid tribute to the first Gibraltarian Commissioner of police Pepe Morello who was present at the ceremony as were a number of the older officers who today are the committee members of the Retired Police Officers Club.

What this plaque commemorates is all those officers who have served dating back to 1830 when the then police officers started the Gibraltar Police right through to the present time. We have to be so grateful to them all for the building of this police force.

Mr Ullger said the plaque also commemorated the fellowship and comradeship which existed today within the Royal Gibraltar Police.

With the help of the Association of Retired Police Officers, former PC John Cano, was found to be the eldest living retired officer. Mr Cano who admitted he was a tough policeman and never let anyone get away with anything is proud to have belonged to the force. PC Cano joined the service on 8 October 1939, and retired after 31 years and 10 months service, on 21 August 1971.

“Being a policeman who had to go on the different beats, it was almost like being a watchman making sure everyone was safe. We would check all the doors making sure they were locked and that there was nothing out of place,” he said.

On the beat then meant you would walk all around the Rock and be made aware if anything was out of place. From Napier Battery to the Dockyard, Buena Vista to Prince Edward Road, every nook and cranny on the Rock was covered.

In those days the Sargeant on duty waited for the officer on duty at the different points along the way making sure that they were keeping to time.

Even today he admits he is very much aware of all that is happening around him, and almost walks like on the beat.

And he agrees that “once a policeman, always a policeman, exactly. If I were young again I would be a police officer all over again!”

Commenting on the ceremony, former police Commissioner Pepe Morello said it was of great significance, and spoke of the great changes in the force since his day. He joined the force in 1951. Mr Morello who will have been present at all three significant police anniversaries, the 125th, the 150th and now the 175th, said the ceremony yesterday was of great importance since it remembered in particular all the predecessors.

AGM for Legal Executives

The Institute of Legal Executives Gibraltar Branch will be holding its Annual General Meeting next week.

The meeting will be held on Wednesday 6 April at the Lecture Room, John Mackintosh Hall at 6.30pm.

“All members are requested to attend. Any persons interested in obtaining information on ILEX and the courses run locally are welcomed,” said Nicki Walker, Branch Secretary. More details are available from her on 79000.

Recruiting of contestants for Miss Gibraltar

Yesterday, the Gibraltar Tourist Board, reminded all possible future contestants of the 2005 Miss Gibraltar Contest, the recruitment campaign had already started.

Already two ladies have signed on for the contest which will be held in July.

“The Gibraltar Tourist Board are reminding any other young ladies wishing to take part in the show that application forms are now available from the Gibraltar Tourist Board offices in Cathedral Square,” said a spokesperson for the GTB.

“A closing date for entries will be announced shortly. Prospective candidates should be aged between 17 (on 2nd July 2005) and not more than 24 (on 31st December 2005).”

This year’s winner will receive a cash prize of £2,000 and a clothing allowance of £1,500 amongst other gifts.

Miss Gibraltar 2005 will also have the chance of representing Gibraltar at the Miss World Pageant taking place in Sanya, China on 10 December, and will receive an exclusive evening gown for her to parade at the Miss World contest designed and sponsored by Dorcas Hammond from Dorcas Fashion House.

For further information please contact the Miss Gibraltar office Tel: 74950, Email: or log on to the Miss Gibraltar Website.

Queen’s baton relay flies in on Sunday

by Alice Mascarenhas

The Commonwealth Games

The Queen’s Baton Relay is making its way around the world visiting all Commonwealth countries. The relay was launched by The Queen in London last month and is being held in the run up to the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

The Gibraltar leg of the event begins on Sunday when the team carrying the baton will arrive on the Monarch evening flight at 7.40pm. The team will be met by the Minister for Sport Clive Beltran, Vice-President of the Gibraltar Commonwealth Games Association Becky Fortunato and Secretary Harry Murphy.

Thousands of runners are expected to carry the baton for more than 110,000 miles through all 71 nations of the Commonwealth.

The Queen’s Baton has already seen its way through Wales, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Guernsey. Its next stop will be Gibraltar where it will remain from Sunday to Wednesday before heading for Cyprus, Malta and returning to the Channel Islands – Jersey on April 12 and England by April 15. It will then travel to Africa, the Americas, the Caribbean, Asia and finally Oceania and the Melbourne opening ceremony on March 15 2006.

The Queen’s Baton was created for a relay to celebrate the Cardiff 1958 Commonwealth Games in Wales. Since then it has become a much loved games tradition. The baton’s journey symbolises the unity and shared ideals of the Commonwealth of Nations, and enables communities beyond the host city to share the games celebrations.

The Melbourne 2006 Queen’s Baton Relay will be the world’s longest and most inclusive relay of the 71 nations of the Commonwealth. Originally eleven nations participated in the first British Empire Games in Hamilton, Canada, in 1930. Today the games will see the representation of over a third of the world’s population – all are expected to compete in Melbourne next year.

Whilst on the Rock the Queen’s Baton Relay will visit several places.

On Monday Minister for Sport Clive Beltran will officially start the relay at the Victoria Stadium at eleven in the morning. School children, athletes and VIPs will be present at the ceremony which will see The Queen’s Baton Relay, GCGA delegates, athletes and children march with the Baton around part of the Stadium track, and leaving via the exit closest to Cepsa.

The relay will then make its way down Winston Churchill Avenue, around Portland House and into Casemates Square. The Baton route will move into Main Street and up to the Piazza where the entourage move onto the City Hall where they will again be met by Clive Beltran this time in his role as Mayor of Gibraltar at around 12 noon. Here the Mayor is expected to give a speech and receive the Queen’s Baton from Heloise Mañasco, Gibraltar’s top Air Rifle Shooter. The Mayor will then return the Baton and the entourage will return via the same route to the Victoria Stadium.

Whilst The Queen’s Relay Baton is on the Rock the Gibraltar Commonwealth Games Association will host a dinner at the Eliott’s Hotel, which will be attended by GCGA committee members and guests including the Governor and Lady Richards, and GCGA Honorary Life President Pepe Fabre.

On Tuesday the QBR crew will visit Loreto Convent School, Bayside Comprehensive School, and pay an Official QBR visit to the Convent to meet the Governor. The crew will then leave the Rock on Wednesday.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Unions give deadline to MoD for withdrawal of plan

Military base contractorisation dispute

TGWU/ACTS and Prospect have threatened to take legal action against the Ministry of Defence unless they receive a firm commitment by the end of the month, that the proposed programme of contractorisation will be withdrawn.

The Unions have written to the Command Secretary British Forces stating out their position and identifying what they believe to be breaches of the EU directive on the transfer of undertakings, Employment Ordinance and established consultation procedures between the MoD and Unions.

The Unions also argue that the proposed manner of implementation is likely “to breach the constitutional and or human rights of the persons affected.”

Furthermore they call on the Command Secretary to provide an undertaking “by close of business on March 31st 2005,” that the MoD will take all necessary steps to withdraw its programme of implementation, and not seek to impose it or any other programme of contractorisation in respect of the MoD jobs in question, “unless and until a proper information and consultation programme involving transfers which do not create any job risks for the employees has been put in place in accordance with the provisions of the Employment Ordinance and the underlying objectives of the Directive.”

In a statement by lawyers representing the two Unions Hassans and Attias & Levy respectively, they criticise what they describe as “the pre-determined nature of some aspects of the proposal” to the effect that certain benefits will not transfer and that not all employment is guaranteed within the contractor companies. Meanwhile the Unions have reiterated their “fundamental objection to the manner in which these proposals have been announced, and the lack of proper information and consultation.”

Gibraltar clash over HMS Sussex treasure - The Guardian

The Strait of Gibraltar has been the scene of numerous skirmishes between the British and Spanish navies, and now the two nations are sparring again - this time over the wreck of an English warship packed to the gunwales with treasure.

According to The Guardian newspaper on Monday, HMS Sussex has lain undisturbed on the seabed for more than 300 years, but since researchers discovered the ship was carrying billions of pounds of English gold and silver, it has become the focus of a bitter dispute as the Spanish authorities try to frustrate the attempts of a private company to locate it and start salvage work on behalf of Britain.

The newspaper reported that international law gives UK authorities jurisdiction over the wrecks of British ships wherever they might lie, and this month the UK government gave permission to an American exploration company, Odyssey Marine Exploration, to salvage the Sussex. But according to The Guardian the regional government of Andalucía claims that Odyssey also needs permission from Spain to carry out exploration in Spanish waters and has sent out coastal patrols to disrupt the salvage operation.

The Sussex sank with 12 other ships when a storm blew up on their first night out of Gibraltar. The ship was swamped as its commander, Admiral Sir Francis Wheeler, tried to avoid being swept on to the rocks. The admiral’s body was washed up on a Spanish beach two days later. Documents uncovered in 1995 revealed that the ship was carrying a payment for the Duke of Savoy, a key ally in Britain’s war against the French.

The Guardian reported that it was estimated that the treasure it carried would be worth more than £2bn today.

It further reported that, “Odyssey has struck a deal with the British under which it can keep a share of the treasure in return for conducting the salvage operation. It will get 80% of the first £45m recovered, half of everything up to £500m and 40% of everything above that. Shares in the company have nearly doubled in price over the past month.”

According to the report Odyssey’s explorers have combed 400 square miles of the Mediterranean seabed using sonar equipment and deep-water robots discovering 418 possible targets, including Roman and Phoenician ships more than 2,000 years old. But only one of the wrecks had cannons.

“Odyssey is confident it has the right wreck, but other archaeologists have expressed doubts. The Guardia Civil has sent out patrols to disrupt the operation,” further claimed the report.

Tory MEP calls for “real action" on refinery emmissions

South West Conservative MEP Neil Parish has declared that real action is needed from the European Commission “to pressurize the Spanish Government to rectify the pollution” emanating from the refinery at Algeciras.

Mr Parish said he was still waiting for answers from the Commission regarding emissions which, he said, “must be brought under control because they are way above the levels allowed under European law.”

Speaking during his recent visit to Gibraltar Mr Parrish also referred to the MoD dispute on contractorisation and the absence of a consultation period. Mr Parish said:

"Gibraltar is unique as the Spanish are able to close the border on to the Rock. The need to service nuclear submarines and warships could be severely jeopardized if the whole workforce had to come from Spain. The UK Government should think again before embarking on this particularly dangerous transfer.”

Meanwhile a spokesman for the local Conservative branch said:

“Neil Parish MEP met Michael Tampin (Prospect) during his visit to the Rock on Wednesday 23rd March, to discuss the MoD decision to transfer the direct labour force in the dockyard to private contractors. Mr Tampin explained that one of the major stumbling blocks was that the MoD had not carried out the statutory requirement to consult with the workforce for 90 days before any decision was taken.”

“The Prospect Union and the TGWU are working together to challenge the decision of the UK Labour Government. The lack of the 90-day consultation period may well be challenged in the European Court of Justice. Neil Parish has agreed to arrange for both the T&G workers and the Prospect Unions to meet Conservative politicians when they come over to the mainland on April 14th.”

“Recently Gordon Brown, the present UK Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that UK citizens travelling back to UK should be able to take up to £1,000 worth of luxury goods with them. Mr Parish wants British citizens returning from Gibraltar to be able to take up to £1,000 of goods with them. It is also time that the £145.00 limit on luxury goods for people crossing from Gibraltar into Spain was raised. This would be very beneficial to the economy of The Rock.”

Related Links: Gibraltar News Online MoD Contractorisation Poll

Antena 3 links Gibraltar to money laundering scam

Gibraltar has been linked to the Marbella money laundering scandal in a television programme ‘Siete Dias Siete Noches’ screened on Sunday night by Spanish national channel Antena Tres.

A journalist with a hidden camera posing as a client seeking to ‘launder’ one million euros of black money in cash to avoid Hacienda, was seen discussing the matter with a local lawyer in his chambers.

The lawyer, whose face was blurred and identity concealed, offered possible solutions and declared that he had contacts in Switzerland and also suggested the possibility of registering a company in the British Virgin Islands.

The programme which also showed footage of an alleged tobacco smuggler giving details of his activities in Gibraltar, claimed that the Rock’s lack of transparency allegedly contributed to the establishment of mafia organisations in the Costa del Sol.

Spanish police carried out a huge anti-money laundering operation in Marbella last week codenamed ‘Ballena Blanca’.

Oil exploration off Morocco

Vanco Morocco Ltd has announced the commencement of a 700 square kilometre seismic acquisition program off Morocco over the deepwater Safi Haute Mer Permit.

This permit is held under a Petroleum Agreement signed with the Government of Morocco on 24 October 2000 and has an area of over 5 million acres.

The purpose of the seismic program is to confirm the up-dip salt-delimited closure of a huge Jurassic prospect named Paprika. A discovery at this location would be ideal since it could first satisfy the Moroccan market and then be accessible to Europe via a pipeline across Gibraltar to Spain.

Vanco has contracted the PGS Viking vessel to acquire the programme and expects the survey to be completed within 30 days. Vanco Energy Company is a Houston-based independent oil and gas company engaged in international exploration and operations.

Vanco is a leading deepwater explorer in offshore Africa with 20 million acres under license in Morocco, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Madagascar.

EU Treaty for all Libraries

Local Liberal Democrat Euro MP Graham Watson has written to the Minister for Europe Dennis MacShane asking that all libraries in Gibraltar and the rest of the South West should have at least one copy of the EU Constitutional Treaty for the public to refer to. Mr Watson said he had received many complaints from people that no copies were available in local libraries.

“The referendum could be less than a year away and people want to know what the story is at first hand. I am writing to the Minister for Europe Denis MacShane asking for him to make sure that all libraries have at least one copy of the EU Constitutional Treaty as soon as possible,” commented Mr Watson.

Closure of Gibraltar Red Cross Tsunami Appeal Fund

by Alice Mascarenhas

• Over £520,000 raised locally since December

The Gibraltar Branch of the British Red Cross is set to close the Gibraltar South East Asia Tsunami Appeal Fund.

Yesterday the account at Barclays Bank was boosted by a further £4000, and will only remain open until tomorrow.

Since late December Gibraltar has raised nearly £520,000. Eddie Davis, Treasurer, of the Gibraltar Red Cross yesterday collected a further two cheques.

One cheque was for £2,635 and was raised by the Gibraltar Fine Arts Association and the Arts and Crafts Association during a Grand Raffle held at the Gallery a couple of weeks ago. The cheque was presented by the Chairman of the Arts and Crafts Association Gioranne Henshaw, and the President of the Gibraltar Fine Arts Society Willa Vasquez.

A second cheque was presented by Maribel Matthews, Artist of the Month at the Art Gallery this month. She presented a cheque for £1,464 from the earnings of her first solo exhibition. The exhibition has been the result of two years of work and is still on display at the Gallery.

Mr Davis said the Gibraltar Branch of the British Red Cross wished to thank everyone in Gibraltar for such a fantastic response to the Tsunami Appeal and for helping to raise more than half a million pounds.

“With the Tsunami Emergency Phase nearing completion, the British Red Cross have asked us to close the appeal with effect from the end of March. The Red Cross would therefore be grateful if any remaining collecting tins or outstanding donations could be sent in as soon as possible, in order that the bank account can be closed and the remaining funds transferred to London,” he said.

Overall the British Red Cross have raised over £16 million, out of a total collected by the Disaster Emergency Committee of £230 million. This has already allowed the Red Cross to send over £14 million in emergency aid to the affected areas.

The Red Cross, with all the other agencies is now turning to the next phases of the recovery operation, and rehabilitation teams are already working in the region to assess priority of needs. They believe that it will take a decade of hard work to re-build lost homes and businesses and to rehabilitate lost livelihoods.


Meanwhile the latest disaster to have hit the area is now feared to have killed some 2,000 people. The grim search for survivors continues on a small island devastated by a new earthquake in south east Asia. For the second time in just a few months, the impoverished people of Nias were ravaged by the brutal power of nature as the tremor struck at the weekend. The community of coconut farmers and fishermen which has also been described as a surfers’ paradise was thought to be the area worst hit
by the disaster. Relief workers were arriving on the Indonesian island to begin an urgent assessment of the damage caused by the 8.7-magnitude quake. The disaster follows the Boxing Day tsunami which killed at least 174,000 people in 11 countries and left 1.5 million homeless. But fears faded that the latest quake would cause carnage on the same scale, although estimates suggest it may have killed up to 2,000.

Indonesian authorities said 330 bodies have already been found in the rubble in Nias with the toll expected to rise as more are found under collapsed buildings. Four Swedish tourists were reported to be missing on the island.

Oxfam staff are this week in the main town of Gunungsitoli, which appeared to have been one of the worst-hit areas.
Alessandra Villas-Boas, a member of the team, said: “Bodies are being pulled from the rubble as I speak."

Aid workers said 20,000 people had been left without water after the collapse of the electricity grid shut down pumping stations.

One mosque in the town was being used as a morgue and temporary shelter, and 34 bodies had already been brought there.

The town’s roads had also collapsed making transport by car impossible and there were also reports of food shortages.

Christian Aid have pledged to increase its aid funding to the region. Its local partner organisations were currently concentrating on providing food, water, medical services, and shelter to islanders.

Action for Churches Together estimated that between 500 and 1,000 buildings had been damaged or destroyed in Gunungsitoli.

Communications and infrastructure have been severely affected and the Nias airstrip was destroyed, with small aircraft having to land on a wide road. Claire Shelley, a press officer for Christian Aid, said she had been on the island three weeks ago to see the relief effort following the tsunami. She said:

"It is quite a small island and the southern tip is known as a surfers’ paradise. The people are quite poor."

Ms Shelley said the new disaster would be a terrible setback to the people of the island struggling to recover from the tsunami.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

ASCTEG complain of work benfits disadvantage in Gibraltar

Spanish workers in Gibraltar are at a disadvantage in relation to the social benefits obtained by their counterparts in Spain, ASCTEG the Spanish workers association in Gibraltar has declared.

In a statement the association welcome what they describe as the positive disposition of the Spanish administration, and said it will continue to assist individuals who face problems while pressing for a solution to their difficulties. A spokesman said:

“It is clear that by working in Gibraltar Spanish workers lose out in terms of workers’ acquired rights in Spain. ASCTEG (Asociación Socio Cultural de Trabajadores Españoles en Gibraltar) held a meeting yesterday to study individual cases of workers.”

ASCTEG highlight the case of a woman who had to obtain official medical leave because of pregnancy complications, and was not covered by any financial assistance for the period in question because this is not contemplated in Gibraltar labour law.

The association is complaining about the lack of cover for workers who are unable to work due to illness and also draw attention to the case of an employee who had been working in the same firm since 1998 whose employment was terminated in September 2004 and currently receives no unemployment benefit.

Finally the group say that another worker who was injured in an accident while cycling to work and did not fully recover from a knee injury even after a period of convalescence, was subsequently dismissed because he could not longer perform the job.

They add that under local law the incident was not considered an accident at work and therefore the employee missed out on financial benefits.

Gibraltar Soldiers in Iraq

A Warrior arrives safely at Shaibah Logistics Base - click on image for a hi res version.Royal Gibraltar Regiment soldiers do not only serve in Gibraltar.

WO1 Stuart Bensadon is currently the Garrison Sergeant Major at Shaibah Logistics Base and has been the key mover in arranging the attachment of RG personnel to units in Iraq. He has been there since August 2004 and has been instrumental in organising attachments for RG soldiers to the Scots Guards Battle Group out in Iraq.

Sgt James Gracia is leading a group of 12 soldiers deployed in Iraq and has sent this update about their time in the desert:

The group arrived in Iraq on the night of 12 Jan 05. They were very quickly pushed through further training prior to taking part in active duties. This included using the new grenade launcher which is attached to our rifles and learning how to shoot from the top hatches of the armoured Land Rovers.

Being attached to a Guards Regiment means life is not quite as we know it. There is much stamping of boots and snapping of crisp salutes. Even the camp names reflect Guards traditions and we are living in the ‘Left Flank’, formerly known as Camp Abi Naji near the city of Alamarah. Whilst being looked after by the Scots Guards, the troops at the Left Flank have in fact been attached to the Welsh Guards Battle Group and it is quite interesting to see the subtle differences between the Guards Regiments and the friendly rivalry between them.

This attachment to the Welsh Guards continued until after the Iraqi elections at the end of January after which we returned to the Scots Guards Battle Group and moved to Shaibah Logistics Base.

The Scots Guards have gone out of their way to make us feel part of their unit and have taken very good care of us. Very quickly we struck up lots of friendships and a desire to foster links between our units. Some have even enquired as to attachments to our Regiment or how to get posted to Gibraltar.

Alamarah was the scene of significant insurgent activity last year with the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment becoming the British Army unit with more contacts with the enemy in their stay than any unit since the Korean War. However things are much calmer now and no activity against the Multi- National Force (MNF) has taken place. The occasional shots are heard in the distance but this is largely criminal activity or people celebrating a wedding or other family occasion by firing into the air.

Much of the routine work has consisted of patrolling the streets and areas surrounding the city. These patrols are carried out in support of the Iraqi Police Service and the Iraqi Army. Liaison with these units is good and they have proved friendly and enthusiastic. Our interpreters are also eager to please and help us considerably in understanding what the situation is whenever we go out to investigate a report. When not patrolling we man Vehicle Check Points (VCPs) where we carry out checks on people and vehicles. This makes it difficult for insurgents to operate and also helps in clamping down on crime.

Our other main task is dealing with reports of unexploded ordnance (UXO) left over from the war in 2003. Every now and then, a report comes in of a shell or grenade being found by children and the explosives disposal team is then tasked to deal with this. We are then called in order to assist with security at the site of discovery and cordoning off the area.

Although we haven’t been here long we feel we have achieved something by helping the Iraqi police and soldiers in stamping out elements of the insurgency and cutting down on crime. This is essential in order to allow the Iraqi people to rebuild their society. It was very encouraging to see the good turn-out for the elections, and in this area there was no disruption by the insurgents.

Two other members of the Regiment are also serving in Iraq following a posting to Germany. These are chefs Sgt Joe Bula and LCpl Iriak Silva who have been deployed with their units to provide catering support for the British troops there.

All soldiers will return to the Gibraltar in early April for some well-earned leave before rejoining the Regiment. Their next duties will be somewhat different as the Regiment starts preparing for the summer’s ceremonial season.

London backs Local talk on pollution

Campo & Gibraltar issues

The British Government hopes that the new trilateral forum will provide a suitable atmosphere in which to discuss issues such as air pollution from the oil refinery at La Linea near Gibraltar.

This was the position stated by Dennis MacShane, Minister for Europe.

But he said that at the present time London believes that local environmental issues such as these are most appropriately addressed under the local cooperation forum of the Government of Gibraltar - Mancomunidad del Campo de Gibraltar Joint Committee.

This Committee has already established a joint epidemiological study to investigate the alleged high incidence of cancer cases in the area, he told the Commons in reply to a question from Lyndsay Hoyle.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Community Care Payments will not be stopped, say Gibraltar Government

EU challenge - Gibraltar Government will vehemently resist suggestions that there is any discrimination in the local social security system on the grounds of nationality, a Convent Place spokesman has said.

Responding to reports regarding the EU challenge to the Community Care payments, their spokesman declared that there was no question of these payments being stopped to residents of Gibraltar.

Earlier this week it emerged that the European Commission had written to the UK authorities in connection with the claim by former Spanish workers for the payment of revalued pensions, and an additional complaint by ALPEG related to the non-payment of Community Care.

Mayor of La Linea Juan Carlos Juárez had also claimed that these payments known as the Housing Cost Allowance, were now under scrutiny in the European Comission, allegedly on the grounds that they were discriminatory because they required residence for payment and were based on nationality.

In reply to questions from GBC (Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation) a Gibraltar Government spokesman said:

“The Government has not yet received any official information or details relating to the apparent decision. The Government knows only what it has read in the Spanish press and will comment when it has official and detailed information. In the meantime we can say that our position on Spanish pensions is well known and will not change, namely if Spanish pensioners are entitled to a revaluation of their pensions, then the UK must pay.”

“In relation to Community Care, this is not a Government entity and the Government cannot dictate to it. But even if it could do so, there would be no question of stopping Community Care payments to residents of Gibraltar.”

“In relation to the apparent EU challenge the Government firmly denies and will vehemently resist any suggestion that there is any discrimination on the grounds of nationality in our Social Security system.”

New RGP Logo for 175th Anniversary

By Alice Mascarenhas

As the Royal Gibraltar Police prepares to celebrate its 175th anniversary as the second oldest British police force in the Commonwealth, Commissioner of Police Joe Ullger launched a new logo yesterday to commemorate the old whilst celebrating the work of a new modern-day-force.

The RGP was established on the 25th June 1830, only nine months after the Metropolitan Police, London.

The new logo has been designed by PC Anthony Debono which depicts the old and new badge with the years 1830 to 2005. The logo was the subject of an internal competition held some time back within the RGP.

Mr Ullger said the Force was very proud of both the work it carried out and of the force today and of course its history which will be extensively explored in the coming months. He emphasised how the new logo aptly represented 175 years of policing and serving the community.

The anniversary is on June 25. A special parade is planned for that day with an interdenominational service and Gala dinner which will see the participation of retired police officers as well.

Chief Inspector Jay Gomez gave a brief history of the Force going back to the capture of Gibraltar in 1704 and highlighting the main events and changes over its long history since it was formally constituted in 1839 as the Gibraltar Civil Police Force.

Meanwhile in the run-up to the anniversary in June the RGP will be holding a series of events. The first main event will be the unveiling of a memorial plaque at Police Headquarters in New Mole House which will serve as a reminder and commemoration for all those who have served in the Force over its 175 year history and those who are presently serving in the Force.

It will be unveiled next week by 87 year old Juan Cano who is believed to be the oldest former policeman on the Rock.

The events will include pistol, basketball and football competitions, bringing to the law enforcement agencies who will also compete in the games from both the UK and Spain.

Throughout May the RGP will open its doors to children from the Middle Schools who are being invited to see the work carried out by the police and to visit its headquarters.

Together with the Fine Arts Society the Force has organised a painting competition which will see the RGP open its HQ for one day, there will also be a major photographic exhibition at the Casemates Vaults during the main week of celebrations in June with photographs dating back to the 1800s with displays of all major events over the past 175 years.

Other events will include an open day at Casemates.

There will also be a special stamp released for the occasion by the Gibraltar Philatelic Bureau.

Family pay tribute to search effort

Glenn Migge death at sea * Man lost life ‘trying to save others’

Following last weekend’s incident in which Glenn Migge was found having drowned in the stormy seas off the east side his family has expressed their thanks to all the people who took part in the search for him.

“On behalf of myself, my son and the entire family, would like to express our sincerest gratitude to all the Gibraltar essential services / authorities and Spanish authorities who in any way participated in the search and recovery of my boyfriend, the late Glenn Migge who lost his life in the attempt of saving others,” said Mireille Dalli-Migge.

She also paid tribute to “all those individuals, too numerous to mention, who so selflessly gave of their time to assist and support me and all the family in such difficult moments. I am aware that many of these individuals spent many long hours in the search from ashore and at sea, and at some moments some of them actually put themselves at risk. Their professionalism and dedication is a credit to their entities. We will forever be in their debt.”

Attempted Rape charge rejected by Jury

A jury yesterday returned its verdict in the Cruz-Costa case clearing Steven Costa of attempting to rape a young English woman in September 2003 at a Lopez Ramp squat.

Returning a not guilty verdict on three of the four charges Costa was cleared in relation to all allegations.

John Paul Cruz, currently on bail, was found guilty of assaulting the woman occasioning her actual bodily harm.

The Chief Justice has adjourned to April 19 for sentencing.

GONHS at climate change workshop

A delegation from the Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society (GONHS) was in Cambridge last week at the invitation of the organisers of a major workshop of scientists working on Climate Change. The workshop, which ran over two days at the historic Madingley Hall, was attended by scientists and officials from the UK, Holland, Denmark, Germany and Gibraltar and focused on the effects of climate change on migratory species.

A GONHS spokesman said: “The main aim of the workshop was to prepare a document for submission to the UK Government, which was represented at the meeting by officials from DEFRA (Department of the Environment, Fisheries and Rural Affairs), to form the basis of their policy document to be presented as the formal UK position at the meeting of the Signatories to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).”

“Discussions centred on changes being observed in the behaviour of migratory species over recent decades, some of which have been very noticeable from Gibraltar, and on the possible, or likely future effects on these. There was particular concern about the situation affecting birds of the tundra in the very north of Europe and Asia, which are being pushed north but will run our of land. There was also concern about the loss of sea ice and the effect this will have on species of seals and on the polar bear. Marine species would be affected through changes in ocean currents and, of particular relevance to Gibraltar, increasing drought in the Mediterranean would lengthen migratory journeys and increase stress to migrants.”

“Some of these effects can be partly offset for example by creating artificial wetlands, and by moving marshy areas inland as sea levels rise. However, it was generally agreed that the only real solution is a significant cut in carbon emissions. Following discussion of the draft document discussed, the formal recommendations will be presented to DEFRA on behalf of the workshop by the British Trust for Ornithology, which was tasked with organising the workshop.”

Funicular Launch Plans unchanged

Statements by the anti-funicular lobby group accusing the developers of the project of putting across “a shameful lie” that Albert Hammond and John Galliano were going to participate in a lauch extravaganza, requires editorial clarification.

On March 3rd 2005 Leslie Ratcliffe on behalf of the funicular developers 21st Century Rock declared to the Chronicle that the renowned fashion designer John Galliano, Albert Hammond and The Strokes were among some of the big names that would be linked to the international launch of the project.

Following the interview with Mr Ratcliffe published on that date, there has been speculation in other local media with subsequent reports that chose to infer or construe from the Chronicle story that the artists in question were supporting the project. Such comments later drew a denial from representatives of both Messrs Galliano and Hammond.

Meanwhile a spokesman for the funicular project said that their plans for the launch extravaganza remained unchanged.

Regiment Band visits local schools

The Royal Gibraltar Regiment Band has been visiting local schools over the last couple of weeks, playing to the children and talking about opportunities for playing a musical instrument.

The Band Master, Warrant Officer Paul Collis-Smith, has visited more than 10 first, middle and secondary schools with representatives from the RGR Band and has performed in front of large groups of children. He says:

“The aim is to enable children to experience music close up and have the chance to ask questions about the musical instruments. It is important to encourage young musicians and to enthuse children to try playing a musical instrument. I hope to visit other schools after the Easter break.”

There will be an RGR Band Open Day starting at 1:00 pm on Sunday 10 Apr 05 at the Catholic Community Centre. Any child or adult who plays a musical instrument will be able to join the RGR Band in an afternoon of music where they will prepare for a performance in the evening. The tuition, workshop and performance are all free of charge. Musicians of any ability are invited to come along and family and friends are encouraged to come and support the evening performance.

Please contact the RGR Band Master, WO Paul Collis-Smith on 54014505 if you are interested in taking part.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Jury set to decide ‘attempted rape' case

Chief Justice Derek Schofield will today be summing up in the case in which two local men are accused of indecently assaulting a British woman who was living rough in Gibraltar.

Ricky Rhoda QC, the Attorney General, closed the prosecution case at the Supreme Court putting to the jury that the issue of credibility is at the centre of the case and that they either believe the victim’s story or that of the accused.

“Either (she) took two trips here to tell the truth or she came deliberately to lie. It is as stark as that,” Mr Rhoda said.

The defence stood by their clients’ position that the alleged victim had made up the story and that what had actually happened was that she had been found naked in bed with a Czech man known as Pepe by John Paul Cruz who then slapped her and chased the man.

The allegations date back to September 13 2003 when one of the men, Steven Costa, is accused of attempting to rape the woman who cannot be named for legal reasons. He is separately accused of that same day assaulting the woman by kicking her about the head. Both defendants are jointly charged with indecent assault where it is alleged that a wine bottle was inserted in the woman’s vagina.

Stephen Bossino, defence lawyer for Costa, has highlighted the absence of scientific proof and the fact that his client had promptly provided police with blood samples, nail clippings and pubic hair.

He said there was no forensic evidence to support the prosecution case and said that the original charge of rape had had to be reduced to attempted when the alleged victim had said she could not remember if she had been penetrated. Nor could she remember seeing markings on the lower part of Costa’s body even though she had said he approached her with trousers lowered but no erection.

Elliot Phillips appearing for Cruz said his client had walked into the Lopez Ramp squat to find his girlfriend naked in bed with another man and had slapped her. He said there was no corroboration of the prosecution’s evidence and he questioned how she could have jumped out of the upper floor window which the jury had been taken to see earlier this week.

It was claimed by the Crown that a screwdriver blade was held to her head and that after the experience she was so terrified that she jumped from the upper floor window injuring herself and leading to both defendants facing an additional charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm. Mr Phillips however told the court that the woman had been shown to be inconsistent in her story.

The court sits at 10am.

Murder charge man released

A Gibraltarian man who faced 30 years in prison for an alleged double murder jointly with an Italian man has had the charges against him dropped.

The man identified as JC had been accused of involvement in an incident in November 1999 in which a man was shot but the body never found. The case ran into difficulty when a protected witness could not be found to give oral evidence.

Anti-Funicular Group attack Project “misinformation”

Gibraltar’s anti-funicular transport lobby yesterday issued a statement to correct what it described as the “misinformation being communicated to the public by Messrs Leslie Ratcliffe, Brian Francis, Ken Robinson” and the investors in the project.

According to the group if the funicular were to go ahead it could lead to the closure of the Cable Car and have negative effects on all existing transporters. A group spokesman said:

“These persons have tried to mislead the public into thinking that the funicular is necessary to provide access to the Northern Defences. Not only is this untrue but there was not even any mention of the Northern Defences in the Study submitted by the developers as part of their application.”

“Between us, the Gibraltar Taxi Association, Persian Rose, Southern Garages Management, MH Bland and Calypso Tours we took more than 350,000 tourists last year to visit the Great Siege Tunnels, which are a part of the Northern Defence.”

“The funicular would not take these tourists any closer to the Northern Defences than is today possible and is not needed to make this area more accessible to tourists. Indeed, when the Government has completed the improvement works that it has announced we shall be in a position to as much as double this figure as not all the passengers we take, currently go to the Northern Defences and are not included in the figure of 350,000.”

“The developers of the funicular should admit that the only ones who would benefit from this project would be themselves to the detriment of all other local operators within the existing tourism industry. If the funicular were to go ahead it would almost certainly result in the closure of the existing Cable Car and the dismantling of our existing tourist product to the detriment of all existing transporters.”

Related Link: Funicular Project Poll

Westside Generosity

Students at Westside School presented their annual donations to charities yesterday with a magnificent total of £13,460 raised by both students and staff.

Those benefiting ranged from the Calpe House to Women in Need.

New book on the films of Nina Danino

Visionary Landscapes The Films of Nina Danino was launched last night in the UK.

Visionary Landscapes is the first book on the widely celebrated Gibraltarian filmmaker and writer Nina Danino. It includes an analysis of Danino’s films such as the seminal Stabat Mater, 1990, “Now I am yours”, 1992, and Temenos, 1998.

Visionary Landscapes presents colour sections from each of her films as well as production and background documentation and filmography.

The essays are by the filmmaker herself, by Louise Gray, a music and performance critic who writes for numerous publications including The Independent on Sunday, The Wire and Art Review; S Brent Plate, a theorist of religion and visual culture who has published widely and is currently teaching at Texas Christian University; JJ Tellez, a writer, journalist and broadcaster based in Seville; and Helen de Witt, a film specialist who works at the British Film Institute, London.

This publication is supported by the Arts Council and Goldsmiths College, London.

Buy the Book:


Visionary Landscapes: The Films of Nina Danino

Domain Names Auctions to end next week

The generic domain names auction has been running successfully since the 1st March and will end next week.

A Gibraltar Regulatory Authority spokesman said:

“New applications should be submitted by 11:30 pm on 31st March 2005. However, bids can be entered or amended up until midnight. Applicants are reminded that this is an opportunity to register a previously declined generic domain name.”

“On 1st April 2005, the Gibraltar Domain Name Committee will assess the electronic bids in front of a Notary Public and then contact the successful bidders. After the auction generic domain names will be registered as per the current rules of registration.”

Full details on how to participate are available on the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority's Website

Commissioner announces Police promotions

Commissioner of Police, Joe Ullger this week announced the following promotions in the Royal Gibraltar Police.

Richard Mifsud - Inspector to Chief Inspector.
Chief Inspector Mifsud joined the Police Service on the 5th April 1983. He has served in numerous departments and on the 1st November 1999, he was promoted to the rank of Inspector.

Harry Parody - Sergeant to Inspector.
Inspector Parody joined the force on the 20th October 1975. He has served in numerous departments and was promoted to the rank of sergeant on the 5th April 1982.

Frank Barton - Sergeant to Inspector
Inspector Barton joined the service on the 7th April 1986. He has served in various departments and was promoted to the rank of sergeant on the 1st November 1999.

Joseph Olivero - Constable to Sergeant
Sergeant Olivero re-joined the force on the 8th June 1987 and has served in numerous departments.

Raheman Kassam - Constable to Sergeant
Sergeant Kassam joined the force on the 30th September 1985 and has served in various departments.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

EU confirms Spanish Pensions probe

The European Commission has written a letter to the UK authorities on the question of the claim made by Spanish pensioners for increments and in relation to the Housing Cost Allowance, an EU spokesman confirmed last night.

The UK authorities are now requested to react within two months.

The Commission, which sent the letter out last week, said it would not comment further.

However, Juan Carlos Juarez, the La Linea Mayor yesterday issued a statement claiming that Britain was being told to change the existing legislation and to provide compensation for lost re-evaluation.

Sr Juarez claimed that the Commission is basing its action on discrimination because of residence and nationality. He praised ALPEG the pensioners association and argued that the loss since 1989 when they were frozen could amount to as much as 50% of current payments. It is argued that the Housing Cost Allowance is discriminatory because it requires residence for payment. This contradicts previous findings of the Commission.

The Spanish pensions issue is one of the matters that has been discussed in the ongoing tripartite talks where it was raised by the Spanish side.

Government unveils Sale of Pre-War Housing

First step for Upper Town renewal

In another major step in its housing policy the Gibraltar Government has today published an advertisement for the sale of vacant pre-war housing.

The move is also part of the project to rejuvenate the Upper Town area announced some years ago. The release for tender involved 14 properties containing around 30 units. The details and location of each property are set out in the advertisement on page 21 and resale controls and other conditions apply.

The Government says that for many decades, the Upper Town, which is a vital part of Gibraltar’s architectural heritage and social history has been allowed to fall into a state of neglect and dilapidation.

“The Government’s Upper Town Urban Renewal Scheme is intended to reverse this and to retrieve and restore the Upper Town as a desirable part of Gibraltar to live in, offering the opportunity of larger, more spacious homes in an urban environment, than is the case in modern flats.

The sale of pre-war houses to homeowners is an important part of that policy,” says the Government release document.

Upper Town Urban renewal proposals include street beautification, creation of green areas / parks, building refurbishment programme, possible construction of two multi-storey car parking and a new road to allow a one-way system in Castle Road / Willis’ Road.

The Government says that there would be an improved bus service to the Upper Town and plans residential and open space redevelopment of the old St Bernard’s hospital site. They also want to remove the prison from the Moorish Castle.

Lib Dems call on MoD and Unions to resume dialogue

Future of the local naval base * Stop contractorisation, Keech tells Hoon

Liberal Democrat Defence spokesman Paul Keetch MP has urged the local Ministry of Defence and the trade unions to resume dialogue and sit around the negotiating table “to discuss how changes can be managed better.”

In a press conference yesterday, Mr Keetch said Britain wanted the capability of the Gibraltar military base to be maintained “and that can only be if there is a good working relationship between the MoD and the workforce.”

Meanwhile Mr Keetch has also called on Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon “to stop the contractorisation process” and that it was not acceptable that the MoD should want to have a base “on the cheap.”

Mr Keetch said that the Pegasus model could provide the way forward for both sides to achieve good negotiations and this opportunity existed.

The Liberal Democrat MP also said he was not convinced that privatisation was the right thing as a matter of principle, and that there was “some evidence in UK” that this had not worked well.

He declared that in the course of his meetings with trade union representatives yesterday, he had sensed “very genuine hurt,” at the manner in which the cutbacks process had been rushed and “the heavy-handedness of the MoD” in its presentation to the workforce.

“There may be legitimate reasons why this has been done so quickly but the cutbacks have not been properly explained and there is concern about this,” he said.

The Liberal Democrat MP also highlighted the skills to be found at the local base and that these would not be easily replaced by workers coming from Spain.

Mr Keetch also dismissed the conspiracy theories that link the MoD cutbacks to a payback time for the local rejection of the joint sovereignty proposals in 2002.

“I don’t think that is the case. The commitment to the base remains solid as it is important to the UK global defence position.”

He added that it was more a question of the UK’s wider defence budget and constraints. Mr Keetch said:

“I welcome the opportunity to come to Gibraltar once again and am grateful to the Liberal Party of Gibraltar for having organised this working visit.

This visit is all the more relevant given that it comes in the wake of the announcement by the Ministry of Defence of their plans for cutbacks and contractorisation to their establishment on the Rock.

Yesterday I was given a comprehensive brief on this by my Liberal colleague Dr Joseph Garcia.

I have had a number of very useful meetings today in relation to this issue. Firstly I was briefed by the trade unions whose members are affected at first hand by the MOD plans and then I met with the Leader of the Opposition. This afternoon I met with the MOD in Gibraltar and with the Governor. I will be meeting the Chief Minister tomorrow Tuesday.

“There are a number of points which are already clear to me. The first is that I am not convinced that contractorisation is the right thing for the MOD base in Gibraltar as a matter of principle. I can see no reason to change the present situation.

In the United Kingdom itself there is already some evidence that contractorisation has not worked well.

The second point I would like to make is that, even if purely for argument’s sake contractorisation is deemed to be the way forward, how that change is managed is also an issue. It is clear to me that this has not been managed well. The vagueness and lack of clarity which has been explained to me has generated considerable and legitimate suspicions and uncertainty, particularly on the part of those whose are most directly affected.

It is important that the Secretary of State for Defence Geoff Hoon realises that Gibraltar is a special case and that it contributes much more to UK global defence interests than any ordinary base on the British mainland. An overseas base, like Gibraltar, is a stand-alone. The cost of maintaining such a base has to be balanced against the obvious benefit of its stategic location and capability. It is not acceptable that the MOD should want to maintain a base in Gibraltar on the cheap. Indeed, there is always a risk in these cases that this may even affect its operational capability.

On my return to UK I will make representations on behalf of the MOD workforce in Gibraltar at the highest level in the department. I will request a meeting with the Geoff Hoon where I will convey the strength of feeling that exists in Gibraltar among a workforce that has always been there and come through for the Ministry of Defence and for UK over many years. We should never forget that Gibraltar has played a vital role in practically every conflict in which we have been involved from the Second World War to the Falklands conflict and, more recently, the two Gulf Wars. I will therefore ask Geoff Hoon to reconsider the contractorisation decision taken by his department. Given the small increase in defence spending announced in the budget by the Chancellor last week, this additional funding provides an ideal opportunity for the Secretary of State for Defence to stop the contractorisation process.”

Related Link: MoD 'Contractorisation' Poll

Missing man's body found on East side

The body of Glen Migge 29 who was reported missing on Thursday at Eastern Beach after having been swept by the waves was recovered on Saturday, an Royal Gibraltar Police spokesman confirmed yesterday.

An RGP spokesman said:

“Following a report received by police at 13.38 hours on Saturday March 19th 2005 from a member of the Gibraltar Motor Cycle Club to the effect that a body had been sighted at a cove beneath the East Side cliffs by Dudley Ward Tunnel, police officers attended and the authenticity of the report was confirmed.”

“Due to the inaccessibility of the cove from the road, the assistance of the City Fire Brigade was requested and shortly after a body was recovered with the aid of a CFB abseiling team under the command of station officer Estella.”

“Once recovered the body was identified as that of the late Glen Migge 29, of 17 Mallard House Laguna Estate who had been reported missing to police at 23.30 hours on Thursday March 17th after having been swept away to sea by a wave while at Eastern Beach by the reclamation area.”

“The Coroner Charles Pitto and the Forensic Medical Officer Dr Salem were in attendance. The body was then conveyed to St Bernard’s Hospital Mortuary pending a post mortem examination. A Coroner’s Inquest touching upon the death of Glen Migge will be held.”

New EU proceedings against UK over Gibraltar Tax

The European Commission has decided to send a formal request to the United Kingdom for information on the measures that the United Kingdom has adopted to implement an EU Directive, on a common system of taxation applicable to interest and royalty payments made between associated companies of different Member States.

This, says the Commission should have been implemented in all Member States by 1 January 2004.

The request is in the form of a reasoned opinion, the second stage of infringement proceedings. If the United Kingdom fails to notify the requested measure within two months of receiving the reasoned opinion, the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court of Justice.

The Directive prohibits the application of tax on interest and royalty payments in the Member State in which these payments arise, where the payments are made by a company to an associated company in another Member State.

“The Directive plays an important role in the elimination of tax obstacles for companies engaged in cross-border business in the EU. Taxes levied at source, either by deduction (i.e. withholding taxes) or by assessment, can involve time-consuming compliance formalities and sometimes lead to double taxation,” said the Commission.

The United Kingdom has notified the implementing measures that it has adopted with regard to Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but it has not done so in respect of Gibraltar. The Commission says it must therefore assume that the United Kingdom has not yet implemented the Directive in Gibraltar.

Meanwhile, action in relation to Gibraltar on copyright issues and affecting public libraries has been suspended on the basis that it is about to be implemented. Action is being taken against several EU states on non-implementation of a Directive to ensure that all copyright material including books, films and music is adequately protected. It provides a secure environment for cross-border trade in copyright protected goods and services, and will facilitate the development of electronic commerce in new and multimedia products and services. Moreover, it is the means by which the European Union and its Member States implement the two 1996 World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) “Internet Treaties” which have adapted copyright protection to digital technology. This makes implementation all the more urgent.

By adopting the Directive in the Council, Member States agreed to implement it before 22 December 2002. The European Court has already ruled against Belgium, Finland, Sweden and the UK – for the territory of Gibraltar - for their failure to implement the Directive. In the case of the United Kingdom, the Commission has postponed its decision to start infringement proceedings as the UK authorities have informed the Commission that implementation in the territory of Gibraltar is imminent.

In-House Option would be considered - Ingram

MOD contractorisation - There is no current policy that precludes a competitive in-house option for MoD tasks currently done in-house Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram has said.

In reply to a Commons question from Lyndsay Hoyle MP, Mr Ingram said that two areas of work, currently being carried out by MOD staff in Gibraltar, are being examined for contractorisation. Any company, including those from Gibraltar, could tender if they meet published MOD commercial criteria, he said.

Related Link: MoD 'Contractorisation' Poll

MEP seeks Hoon Meeting over MoD cuts

Glyn Ford, Labour MEP for Gibraltar (South West of England), has expressed solidarity with Gibraltar over the MoD decision to contractorise jobs.

In Gibraltar to address last night’s closed session of the GSLP (Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party) AGM, Mr Ford also said he was making a call for Gibraltarians to have a vote for the new EU Constitution and to exercise that vote in favour of this.

A staunch lobbyist for Gibraltar over two decades Mr Ford said he was in agreement with everything he had spoken to on the MOD issue since he arrived. Although he recognised that they are entitled to seek efficiency Mr Ford believes that the UK Government may have acted illegally by failing to comply with the need for 90 days consultation and breaching TUPE the transfer of undertakings agreement. He is preparing questions for the European Parliament on this and has also requested a meeting with Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary.

Mr Ford said he would expect Mr Hoon to receive him on an issue like this. And he believes that London must take into account problems that could arise if contractorisation bring its labour from Spain.

“Given Spain’s knack of closing the border what would happen if there were a military crisis?” he asks adding that the UK has “an historical obligation to Gibraltar.”

“The impact here is much greater than it would be in UK,” he says suggesting that he hopes MOD would re-look at this issue and explore ideas like in-house bids.

Mr Ford believes that Gibraltar’s direct representation in Europe is a benefit and that the institutions there have to take more note since it has its own MEPs. He not only wants Gibraltarians to support the new EU Constitution but hopes that Gibraltar will participate in the vote on the Euro.

Governnent to the Citizen

Trade minister Joe Holliday last Friday opened an information technology seminar which he says is part of the Government’s manifesto commitment to develop ‘e-government.’

“This project will mean great strides in e-government within the next three years and this will bring radical changes in the way government business is done. More effective computerisation, more modern methods and more dynamic internal functions will deliver a more user-friendly interaction with the public and a simpler, faster and more secure service,” he said.

Mr Holliday said that the move would minimise the potential for error and delay. He announced that virtual public counters will be set up where the public will be able to download government forms from the comfort of their homes and communicate with officials to deal with their queries.

“Eventually, they will be able to access their personal or company records on-line,” he said.

As far as is possible, the development of the necessary application software will be undertaken in-house by the IT & logistics unit to bring about such changes as:

E-procurement will allow for officials to submit electronic purchase orders, doing away with the need for paper purchase orders;

The government’s GIS, geographical information system, will be made available, as appropriate, to government departments and agencies;

All government servers and PCs will be standarised to the same operating systems.

A security policy is being finalised and a set of regulations is being prepared to ensure the security and integrity of government’s operations and information.

Another area of development is the Government’s own website. This is being given a face-lift and will be upgraded with a view to making navigation, within the site, easier.

Caruana plans Pharaonic Rock Tourist Project – La Razon

According to the leading article published in this weekend’s edition of Spanish newspaper La Razon under the headline “Gibraltar, from tax haven to real estate business”, the governing authorities in Gibraltar aim to convert the Rock into a major tourist destination, the ‘News in Spain’ website aimed at ex-pats in the coast reported yesterday.

It said:

“The paper claims that British architect Norman Foster has designed a macro marina project with 500 berths for yachts and cruisers of all sizes, hotels, leisure complexes with cinemas, a museum and a shopping centre, and 15 buildings including 4 high-rise apartment blocks the largest of which has 26 floors.

La Razon writes “Peter Caruana (Chief Minister in Gibraltar) intends to leave a pharaonic project as his legacy to the colony so that he will be remembered by future generations”.

“According to the paper which claims to have seen the plans of the project, the size of the complex is 308,000 sq. metres and its cost is 2,500 million euros. If the story is true, there will be much protest in Spain where political and business leaders are fiercely critical of the fiscal status of Gibraltar where the VAT tax is still not applied. Such are the tax advantages of having a business in Gibraltar that there are more offshore companies registered on the rock than inhabitants.”

“Meanwhile, tourism is a key sector of the Spanish economy, especially in southern Spain, and Gibraltar is located right in the middle of the Costa del Sol, one of Spain’s most popular tourist destinations. The marina project in Gibraltar will be seen as unfair competition by the Spanish tourism industry and is bound to become yet another divisive issue to be included in the agenda of future meetings planned between Britain, Spain and Gibraltar.”

Goodbye, Elizabeth - Our oldest Rock Ape is dead

Goodbye Elizabeth - Our oldest Rock Ape who passed away recently
Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society regrets to announce the death of Gibraltar’s oldest “Rock Ape” at the age of 24.

A GONHS spokesman said:

“Elizabeth, affectionately known as “Bloody Mary” a female Ape from Apes’ Den was born at the Apes’ Den at Queen’s Gate in 1981.

She was the third monkey to carry the name Elizabeth, the first animal with this name was so named during the Queen’s visit to Gibraltar in 1954.”

“Elizabeth died during the period of bad weather on the 1st of March due to her age and failing health. Born at a time when the frontier was still closed, she saw many changes within the Upper Rock, and witnessed the huge increase in the number of tourists that visited her once the frontier opened.

She was a favourite with the tour operators and tourists alike. A monkey of great character, tolerance and understanding. She will be sadly missed at the Apes Den.”

Monday, March 21, 2005

Lib Dem Defence Chief in Gibraltar

MoD contractorisation

Liberal Democrat Shadow Defence spokesman Paul Keetch MP is in Gibraltar for a two day working visit following the announcement of cutbacks to the Ministry of Defence establishment in Gibraltar. The visit is at the invitation of the Liberal Party of Gibraltar.

A Liberal Party spokesman said:

“Mr Keetch is a senior Liberal Democrat frontbencher who is a strong supporter of Gibraltar. He has been to Gibraltar in the past for National Day and is also a member of the Gibraltar Group in Parliament.

Mr Keetch will be briefed by Liberal Party leader Dr Joseph Garcia on the latest political developments, following which he will attend a meeting with the trade unions affected by the planned MOD cutbacks Prospect, the TGWU and ACTS.

This will be followed by a meeting with the Leader of the Opposition Joe Bossano and later by a lunch hosted by the Liberal Party of Gibraltar.”

“This afternoon Mr Keetch will attend a meeting with the local MOD establishment at British Forces Gibraltar, after which he will be accompanied by Dr Garcia to a meeting with Governor Sir Francis Richards.”

“On Tuesday Mr Keetch will visit the Gibraltar Boat Squadron and the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, accompanied by the Secretary General of the Liberal Party Steven Linares.

Paul Keetch has always taken a keen interest in the activities of the Gibraltar Regiment and has tabled questions in the House of Commons on the Regiment as recently as last year when there were fears that it might be cut back.” Mr Keetch will then meet with Chief Minister Peter Caruana.”

Dr Garcia said that a very comprehensive agenda had been prepared for Mr Keetch so that he could assess the situation in the time that he was going to be in Gibraltar.

Dr Garcia said it was very good of Mr Keetch to come to Gibraltar at short notice for such an intensive working visit.

"We are delighted to have been able to host such a visit and hope it serves a useful purpose for Gibraltar as a whole,” he added.

Related Links: Gibraltar Online News - MoD Contractorisation Poll

Young Gibraltarian in Washington

Nicholas Gaggero, the 19 year old son of GB Airways Chairman, James Gaggero is currently working for Senator Hilary Clinton as an intern in her Washington DC office. She is tipped as future candidate for the US presidency.

Nicholas, who recently completed an intensive course in Spanish at Spain’s Salamanca University has been in the US capital since the New Year. He is involved in the busy Senator’s press office and has already acquired quite a reputation for “giving one of the best guided tours on the hill”. He regularly fields press enquiries from as far away as Japan and Australia and he says he could never imagine how enjoyable this job could be.

Opposition attack Government “lack of planning” at St Bernard's

Parking row at new hospital

GSLP/Libs has rejected what it terms as “the excuse offered by the Government that the problems being experienced by Europort hospital users are mere teething problems.”

In a statement the Opposition accuse the Gibraltar Government of lack of planning and point to a shortage of parking spaces in the area that is affecting members of the public.

Meanwhile they also encourage persons who may have experienced any problems at the new hospital to come forward and say so.

“In this way people will be able to draw their own conclusions as to what is going on.”

An Opposition spokesman said:

“The continuing complaints by members of the public point to a distinct lack of planning on the part of the Government. Given that the public are paying £55 million for the Europort hospital, people have a right to know what is going on so that they can make a judgment on the competence or otherwise of this Government.”
“We will continue to raise the complaints made by hospital users, with their consent, so that the policies of this Government can be judged. Further complaints were received regarding the lack of adequate parking facilities in the area of the new hospital. It is no good for Government to say that they have purchased parking spaces in a nearby housing development, the
fact is that people need parking spaces there now
that the Europort hospital is open.”

“This has been compounded by the attitude of private companies with car parking spaces in the vicinity of the hospital. We have been informed of the case of a woman who was rushing to visit her mother in hospital. Having found nowhere to park, she decided to park in the car park of a well-known fast food business in the area where there were plenty of available spaces at the time. On returning to her vehicle she found that it was clamped and had to pay a fine of £50 to have the car released.”

“This incident runs deeper than simply the attitude of businesses in the area of the Europort hospital. If Government had provided adequate parking facilities then this incident would never have happened.”

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Caruana - Hoon talks fail to move MoD stance

The Chief Minister Peter Caruana returned from his flying visit to London yesterday and admitted that the effort, to persuade Secretary of State for Defence Geoff Hoon, Defence Secretary, and Adam Ingram, Armed Forces Minister, to reverse their decision to proceed on contractorisation, had failed.

But Mr Caruana said that he is not giving up despite some of his hopes having been dashed. “MoD remains camped in its determination and the Government remains camped in its equal determination to resist and we will continue to press the MOD to alter course,” said Mr Caruana adding that this would end either in talks or confrontation.

Mr Caruana said Mr Hoon did not appear to have been moved by the argument that the methodology – no consultation and moving ahead on contractorisation without regard to the social and economic impact to Gibraltar – was improper.

Mr Caruana had hoped to persuade the MOD ministers that they should pull back their tender advertisement for contractors to take over the functions in MOD that affect initially 300 jobs but eventually some 700 and to instead engage in the sort of negotiations with the unions that they had done under the Pegasus initiative.

Mr Caruana yesterday briefed TGWU/ACTS and Prospect trade union leaders on the outcome of his meeting in London which he characterised as a “full and frank exchange of views about the MOD’s contractorisation plans and the manner and method being pursued by MOD.”

Both sides stated their position and Mr Caruana had repeated the case that he has already stated publicly in Gibraltar, including a request for meaningful negotiations with the Trade Unions. Mr Hoon had repeated MOD’s view that MOD’s wish to contractorise is no more or less than they are doing elsewhere, including in the UK itself and does not reflect any reduction in MOD’s commitment to Gibraltar.

However, Mr Hoon did agree to consider an economic impact assessment that the Gibraltar Government will provide to him. In addition some other aspects of the meeting will be continued in correspondence. This is understood to refer to Mr Hoon having said that in-house options are not ruled out, something which Mr Caruana has said is not consistent with refusing to discuss these.

In a statement Government said that the meeting has not produced any change in MOD’s present position.

“The Gibraltar Government will continue with its efforts to try and persuade MOD to engage the Unions in negotiations about mutually acceptable ways of delivering efficiency savings to the MOD.”

Mr Caruana said that whilst the MOD has work requirements it has a responsibility to behave as a good and reasonable employer – that would mean not doing a done deal and instead engaging with the unions.

Caruana denies agreement has been reached in AquaGib dispute

Chief Minister Peter Caruana has accused the TGWU/ACTS of making “a premature statement” regarding the AquaGib pay dispute.

In a statement issued yesterday, Mr Caruana said there has been no negotiations and there is not yet any agreement between the Union and the company, “nor have details of any agreement been passed to me.”

A Gibraltar Government spokesman said:

“The position is as follows. As is known, the Chief Minister agreed to mediate between the parties to enable them to reach a negotiated solution. During the last three weeks Mr Caruana has invited both sides to make representations and provide relevant documents to him, he has considered the voluminous documentation provided and has met separately with both sides.”

“Based on his assessment of the merits of both side’s arguments the Chief Minister last week outlined to the staff side a possible way forward, which Mr Caruana would, if it was acceptable to the staff side, propose to the Company. The staff side took the idea away for discussion. On Thursday the Union informed Mr Caruana that his idea was acceptable to staff.”

“Accordingly, the Chief Minister will now put the idea to AquaGib management for their consideration. Only if AquaGib accept the same idea will the mediation have provided a way forward for the parties to themselves negotiate a comprehensive agreement that will address all uncertainties in the Company pay structure and other matters.”

“Furthermore, the Union statement refers to an apparent claim for Distiller Plant Assistants. Mr Caruana’s suggested 3 point plan does not specifically address any particular grade’s claim. The Chief Minister’s is mediating in a dispute that relates to retrospection. However, if both sides accept the Chief Minister’s proposal, all issues between staff and company now and in foreseable future can be addressed by them.”

Sombre vigil as search goes on for missing man

A huge operation involving British and Spanish helicopters and search teams continued into the night yesterday for a local man in his late twenties who disappeared into the sea on Thursday night.

Police refused to confirm reports that the incident happened whilst some smuggling activity was taking place in the area during rough seas.

A Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) spokesman said yesterday that at 11.30 pm on Thursday a call was received at New Mole House Police Station reporting that a man had been swept away by rough seas off the south end of Eastern Beach by the reclamation area.

Police and local essential services immediately attended to the area and a full search was instigated both by land and sea with the Port launch and Salvamar helicopter taking part.

The search continued into Friday morning and soldiers from the Royal Gibraltar Regiment assisted with the land based search together with the Guardia Civil searching along the adjoining Spanish coastline. A RAF helicopter from a Royal Navy vessel patrolling the Strait also participated in the search.

"The man reported to be a local resident in his late 20s was at the time of the incident in the company of other persons and was wearing dark blue clothing.
The circumstances leading to his disappearance are still under investigation,” said police.

UK costs in Gibraltar

The costs of The Convent (The Gibraltar Governor's Residence) in the financial year 2004–05 are £1.268,000 (£1.187,000 running costs and £81,000 capital expenditure).

Core Ministry of Defence costs are £78.491,000 (£64.698,000 million operating costs and £13.793,000 million capital expenditure).

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is also responsible for the Gibraltar Project Fund which has an allocation of £400,000 in financial year 2004–05. This was revealed by Dr Denis MacShane, Foreign Office Minister, in answer to questions from Andrew Rosindell. Dr MacShane also stated that the UK Government are committed to helping Gibraltar maintain its prosperity through open access to markets in goods and services.