Friday, April 29, 2005

Hospital Parking provokes exchange

A question, on what the Gibraltar Health Authority (GHA) parking policy for the spaces at Europlaza will be, sparked off an exchange that threw back to the 2000 election when the GSD (Gibraltar Social Democrats) accused the GSLP/Liberals of rushing out a promise to build a hospital only after the GSD manifesto had promised one.

The simple answer on parking was that a policy has not been decided on yet and that the Government is speaking to Morrisons to see what can be done about parking now. But Chief Minister Peter Caruana said that the parking problem
as it is at the new St Bernard’s is not as bad as it was at the original hospital and that it was worth the wait for the improvement when parking becomes available in 12 months time.

Mr Caruana rejected claims from Fabian Picardo that there had been a lack of planning. He argued that it had always been envisaged that the parking would take longer than the completion of the hospital but that those who had given Safeways (now Morrisons) the large car park were not well placed to complain about Safeways controls.

This prompted Mr Picardo to argue that there was no need to go back so far because Safeways was where it was when Government decided to build the hospital in office buildings rather than on a greenfield site.

Mr Caruana retorted that Mr Picardo ran the danger of sparking off an old political debate and claimed that the GSLP had never intended to build a new hospital and that if they had won the election the debate would not be taking place at all.

The Opposition had had no intention to build a hospital until they saw the GSD manifesto and had then rushed to the printers to add pages making a similar promise.

Waiting 12 months for parking is a small price to pay for having a splendid hospital, he said adding that the Opposition seemed to have difficulty recognising the quality of the hospital.

To Mr Picardo’s assertion that the Opposition had always intended to build the hospital Mr Caruana pointed to “the circumstantial evidence” and the different paper used to insert that election pledge in the GSLP manifesto.


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