Saturday, July 30, 2005

Caruana unveils portraits of Gibraltar Chief Ministers

Chief Minister Peter Caruana unveiled the portraits of Gibraltar’s five Chief Ministers to date at The Mount on Thursday evening.

Presented to the people of Gibraltar by the Alwani Trust, the portraits have all been painted by local artist Ambrose Avellano.

The works have all been painted mainly from photographs at the time when the various chief ministers were in post. Sir Robert Peliza; Sir Joshua Hassan; Adolfo Canepa; Joe Bossano and Peter Caruana who was the only contemporary. The artist also consulted with their wives, and had a few personal sittings when possible.

Unveiling the portraits, the Chief Minister stated that there was no doubt that part of the heritage of Gibraltar and its people was its political, democratic and self-government heritage.

“This is not better reflected by the fact that we have quite a long line of Chief Ministers. It shows the amount of time for which we have been successfully running our own affairs as a community,” he said.

Turning to the former Chief Ministers he added, “it is fitting that we are here to receive together this tribute that the Alwani Trust has made to the people of Gibraltar.”

The portraits will be displayed for the public over the next few months, although it is still not known where. After that they will be housed at No.6 where it is expected the portraits of all former Chief Ministers will be hang permanently on the ground floor of No.6 Convent Place.

But the Chief Minister said he was not sure if it was appropriate for his own portrait to hang whilst he was still in office, and would probably have to wait for his successor to give the go ahead. He thanked the Alwani Trust for the work it carries out throughout the year and for this latest contribution.

Spanish Police declare go-slow at Frontier

Dispute with PSOE Govt

Gibraltar - La Linea Frontier - Spanish police trade unions have declared a work-to-rule as from August 1st 2005
Spanish police trade unions, the SUP (Sindicato Unificado de Policia) and UFP (Union Federal Policia), have declared a work-to-rule as from August 1st following a break-down in negotiations with the Spanish central government.

The industrial action is likely to have adverse consequences for frontier flow, causing greater delays in traffic and pedestrian crossings than has been the norm in recent times.

In a statement issued yesterday, the police unions said they had decided to step up their protest as a result of what they described as alleged “inaction, lack of interest and dishonesty of the Socialist Government,” whom they accuse of having reneged on a signed agreement with the national police unions.

Aerial view of Gibraltar airport and Frontier customs crossing with Spain at the top of picture - Image courtesy of Travel Shots
It will not only be frontier flow that is targeted by the disgruntled policemen.

The presentation of ‘denuncias’ at La Linea’s police headquarters and the processing of documents such as ID’s, passports etc, will also be slowed down, with negative effects for the general public across the border.

In a statement the police unions say “the socialist government lacks all credibility with the security forces in Spain at a time when international terrorism has captured world-wide attention.”

They say that now governments in Europe are adequately reinforcing and strengthening their security forces, “the PSOE Government creates despondency and lack of motivation in our ranks.”

Unions express discontent with Reid “way forward” proposals

Rt Hon Dr John Reid MP - Secretary of State for Defence
Both sides to meet on Monday * TGWU/Prospect to attend “without prejudice”

Gibraltar’s trade unions TGWU/Prospect are known to be “unhappy” with the contents of a reply by new Defence Secretary Dr John Reid on the way forward for the MoD contractorisation plans.

Informed sources said the TGWU had received a reply from Dr Reid containing the skeleton arguments of the Ministry of Defence proposals, but stated that these “do not go far enough” to satisfy the Unions’ position in the dispute.

It has also been confirmed that the local trade union delegation consisting of TGWU District Officer Luis Montiel, Prospect General Secretary Michael Tampin and TGWU-MoD convenor Victor Ochello will be attending the talks with senior MoD officials at Transport House in London on Monday August 1st.

The MoD team led by Command Secretary Susan Scholefield (Permanent Joint Headquarters [PJHQ]) will include Gibraltar Command Secretary Phil Mallion.

A statement from both parties is expected after the talks.

Informed sources said that as far as the Unions are concerned, the meeting is not a consultation process or even a negotiation but an opportunity for the MoD to lay down their proposals on the table without prejudice to the Union’s position in the substantive court case on contractorisation which is going ahead in September.

Related Links:

29 July 2005 - TGWU/Prospect to meet MoD officials in UK next week

28 July 2005 - House approves bill to enshrine court ruling into statutes

21 July 2005 - Caruana spells out conditions for settlement at Naval Base

20 July 2005 - Negotiated settlement to Naval Base jobs crisis gains ground

14 July 2005 - MoD refrain from appeal in Unions case

30 June 2005 - Contractorisation gets big 'NO'

29 June 2005 - Chief Justice gives Union go ahead to challenge cuts

19 April 2005 Unions declare a united front on MoD Contractorisation

Gibraltar News Online Contractorisation Poll

Rock fire

Gibraltar - Eastern view of the Upper Rock Nature Reserve - The Cable Car station can be seen in the middle - Image courtesy of Jack Cox
There was a small fire close to the Cable Car Station on the Upper Rock Nature Reserve yesterday.

The City Fire Brigade responded to the call and brought the fire, which was on the eastern cliffs overlooking Catalan Bay, swiftly under control.

The Royal Gibraltar Police also attended and sealed off the area.

The incident comes just weeks after a major fire on the lower slopes of the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, immediately behind the Mount Alvernia residence.

Images courtesy of Jack Cox @

Gibraltar Regiment Convent Guard

Royal Gibraltar Regiment Band - Image courtesy of Jack Cox
Members of B Company The Royal Gibraltar Regiment will be conducting a Ceremonial guard mount at 12 o’clock outside The Convent today.

A CBF (Commander British Forces) spokesman said:

“The guard will be commanded by Lt Ernest Danino with Colour Sergeant Santos standing in as acting company Sergeant major.

Sir Francis Richards Governor of Gibraltar accepts the Parade - Image courtesy of Jack Cox
The band and corps of drums of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment will be provide music for the mount which will be held in the presence of Governor Sir Francis Richards.”

Images courtesy of Jack Cox @

Friday, July 29, 2005

Minister Vinet meets Miss Gibraltar 2005

Melanie Chipolina - Miss Gibraltar 2005
Miss Gibraltar 2005 Melanie Chipolina was presented with part of her prize money yesterday by Culture Minister Fabian Vinet.

Prize money presentations were also made to 1st Princess Shayanne Almeida, and 2nd Princess Kirian Lopez.

This year’s show produced by Stage One was the first occasion it had come under the auspices of the Ministry for Culture.

Meanwhile Mr Vinet in presenting the remainder of the prize money for last year’s Miss Gibraltar 2004, Helen Gustafson, congratulated her for having been such a popular ambassador for the Rock.

The Minister then offered his congratulations to the First and Second Princesses, before wishing Miss Gibraltar 2005 Melanie Chipolina the very best of luck in the Miss World Pageant, to be held in China later this year.

Related Article & Link:

04 July 2005 - Melanie takes the Crown and our Cup!

Miss Gibraltar Official Website

Miss World Pageant

Caruana in talks with FCO ana Treasury

EU and finance centre issues on the agenda

Chief Minister Peter Caruana travelled to London last night where he will be having meetings with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Treasury officials today.

Mr Caruana is accompanied by Chief Secretary Ernest Montado.

A Government spokesman said:

“The Chief Minister will be meeting Treasury officials on a range of issues relating to EU measures and financial services.

This will be followed by a meeting at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office this afternoon before returning to Gibraltar.”

Related Link:

Gibraltar Government Press Release - 28 July 2005 - No: 180/2005

TGWU/Prospect to meet MoD officials in UK next week

Naval base contractorisation dispute

Local union leaders will travel to the UK this weekend ahead of a meeting with senior Ministry of Defence officials next Monday on the Naval Base privatisation plan.

A spokesman for the MoD’s Permanent Joint Headquarters [PJHQ] in Northwood said Susan Scholefield, PJHQ Command Secretary, would likely lead the ministry’s team at the talks.

Ms Scholefield is one of the top four officials in Northwood and provides policy, legal, presentational, financial and civilian human resources advice to the most senior officer at PJHQ, the Chief of Joint Operations Air Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy.

Local and UK representatives of both the Transport and General Workers’ Union and Prospect are expected to attend the meeting.

It will take place two weeks after UK Defence Secretary Dr John Reid discussed the Gibraltar privatisation plan with senior UK representatives of the TGWU and Prospect during recent talks on a wide range of human resource issues.

At the time Dr Reid described the talks as “very useful” and said he would respond in detail to the points raised by the unions “very shortly” with a view to reaching an agreed way forward.

Meanwhile in yesterday’s House of Assembly report on the MoD contractorisation, the reference to the case which led to a Supreme Court ruling, should have read “TGWU AND Prospect” as the parties bringing forward the case.

Related Links:

28 July 2005 - House approves bill to enshrine court ruling into statutes

21 July 2005 - Caruana spells out conditions for settlement at Naval Base

20 July 2005 - Negotiated settlement to Naval Base jobs crisis gains ground

14 July 2005 - MoD refrain from appeal in Unions case

30 June 2005 - Contractorisation gets big 'NO'

29 June 2005 - Chief Justice gives Union go ahead to challenge cuts

19 April 2005 Unions declare a united front on MoD Contractorisation

Gibraltar News Online Contractorisation Poll

DPC to inform Developer of the reasons for refusal

Funicular project

The company behind the controversial funicular project will soon hear formally from the Gibraltar Government as to the reasons why the scheme was refused outline planning permission at a meeting of the Development and Planning Commission earlier this year.

It has taken nearly three months to draft and approve the document detailing the criteria under which the DPC reached its decision last May 4.

Joe Holliday, Minister for Trade, Industry and Communications, said in a recent interview that it would be a “substantial reply” setting out clearly why the project was refused. He did not go into detail on the reasons except to say that they covered a range of issues including environmental, heritage and safety factors.

He added that the formal advice would most probably be sent to the developer, 21st Century Rock, by the end of this month.

The DPC’s decision to refuse outline planning permission last May came a day after anti-funicular campaigners handed Chief Minister Peter Caruana a petition signed by 7,350 people who opposed the scheme.

Once it receives the DPC’s reply, 21st Century Rock has several options open on how to proceed.

It can address the issues raised and re-submit the application. It can appeal the DPC’s decision. Or it can simply call it a day and withdraw the project.

In an interview with Chronicle last May 8, Leslie Ratcliffe, the driving force behind 21st Century Rock, left little doubt that he wished to push ahead with the scheme if possible.

“I believe the DPC made a very sensible decision in wanting further reassurances about the heritage and environment,” he said at the time.

“I believe the decision they made was the correct decision for the people of Gibraltar, taking all the factors into account.”

But he added:

“I’m waiting on the DPC to meet…to give me a structured reply as to how I might re-apply or appeal.”

11 May 2005 - Anti-Funicular Groups welcome DPC decision

Related Articles:

27 March 2005 - Gibraltar News Online Poll gives a resounding 'No' to proposed Funicular Project

05 May 2005 - Funicular Proposal fails at first stage

Funicular Project Photomontage

Opposition quiz Government on tax agreements with UK

Gibraltar Finance Centre debate

The GSLP/Liberals Opposition has expressed surprise that the Gibraltar Government should say that they are happy to enter into appropriate exchange of information arrangements with UK outside of the legal framework of the EU Directive for the Taxation of Savings Income.

In a statement issued yesterday, an Opposition spokesman said it was “incomprehensible” that the Gibraltar Government should have been “so angry and upset” at not being granted equal treatment by Britain in relation to other competitors, “when it now claims that this [exchange of information arrangements] will have no effect and that it is quite happy to do it.”

A GSLP/Lib spokesman said:

“There is of course no legal framework because there is no legal obligation to enter into such an agreement.

In the past Mr Caruana has indicated that it was not Government policy to enter into a voluntary agreement with the United Kingdom on exchange of information since this is not a requirement under European law.

In view of the fact that the Government announced in this year’s budget that Gibraltar residents are no longer required to pay tax on the income from savings and investments held outside Gibraltar, for example in the UK, there is even less reason for the Government of Gibraltar to want to receive this information from the UK in respect of its residents whose income is not taxable.

This in effect means that the granting of this exchange of information as a bilateral agreement based on reciprocity would be meaningless since the information would only be one way since it would only be useful to the UK Government to tax UK residents who have their money invested in Gibraltar.

Furthermore, when UK was negotiating with other Member States it agreed to the introduction of a system under which individuals in some Member States would be able to elect between paying a withholding tax or having their information provided to their home tax authorities.

Although the Gibraltar Government considered that giving competitors this advantage was denying Gibraltar institutions a level playing field, and although it said it pleaded with UK to be given equal treatment, the UK apparently turned a deaf ear to the pleas of the Gibraltar Government although it acceded to the same requests from the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

The Gibraltar Government complained bitterly about the attitude of the UK Government. It is incomprehensible that the Gibraltar Government should have been so angry and upset at the UK attitude when it now claims that this will have no effect
and that it is quite happy to do it.”

Related Articles & Links:

28 July 2005 - Government statement attempst to correct Taxation of Savings reports from Channel Islands

27 July 2005 - Guernsey decides not to shelve Tax deal with UK... yet!

European Savings Directive

22 July 2005 - Guernsey considers Euro Tax opt out

21 July 2005 - Gibraltar accused of taking advantage of loophole

04 July 2005 - Channel Island fury over Gibraltar tax ‘perk’

02 July 2005 - UK and Gibraltar Government seek deal on witholding tax

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Tax row with Crown Dependencies rages on

War of words over application of EU savings directive * Islands getting “over-excited,” says Gib Government

Gibraltar Government has declared that the Crown Dependencies (Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey), are getting “over-excited” as regards the local position in relation to the application of the European Tax Savings Directive.

In a statement issued yesterday, Convent Place said that remarks in the Channel Islands calling on Britain “to force Gibraltar” into complying with the tax directive “are based on lack of familiarity with the facts.”

Earlier this week the Chronicle sought a reaction from the Gibraltar Government to the discontent and hostile statements that were emerging from the islands. According to financial experts, there are fears in the Crown Dependencies about a potential flight of savings following a tax agreement with Britain, and these statements are aimed at discouraging would-be investors from relocating to Gibraltar.

For the Gibraltar Government implementation of the directive in question is “not a challenge or a difficult or controversial issue” for the finance centre.

Meanwhile Britain has been dragged into the row and yesterday a UK Treasury spokesman declared that the issue of forcing Gibraltar to comply with the directive “does not arise, as Gibraltar has already met and implemented all of its obligations.”

In answer to questions, the Treasury spokesman confirmed that there had been exchanges with the Gibraltar Government following the statements from the Crown Dependencies.

Gibraltar Government reacts to Channel Isles remarks

The Gibraltar Government yesterday issued the following statement:

“The Government of Gibraltar notes statements in the Channel Islands which refer to a “last minute problem” and “an initial difference of views between the UK and Gibraltar” in the implementation of the Taxation of Savings Directives between the UK and Gibraltar and demanding a “quick resolution to the problem”.

There have even been calls for UK to “force” Gibraltar to comply with the Directive.

These remarks are based on lack of familiarity with the facts. Gibraltar already is within the ambit of and complies with the Savings Directive.

There has been no “last minute problem”, nor any difference of views.

Nor, as has been said has “Gibraltar signed up to the Directive”.

The Directive applies, and has always applied to Gibraltar as of right and obligation because Gibraltar is an integral part of the EU.

However, as was stated jointly by the Gibraltar Government and the UK Government in a joint press statement issued by them on 1st July 2005, the Directive does not apply as between the UK and Gibraltar because we are not separate member states in relation to each other.

Nevertheless, as announced jointly on 1 July 2005 the two governments are in discussion to agree appropriate arrangements for exchange of information between them outside of the legal framework of the Directive, which does not apply between them.

The two Governments have jointly announced that they are working together with a view to agreeing such arrangements during the next few months.

Expectations by ill-informed third parties that this should happen by the end of this month are as inappropriate as they are unrealistic.

The Crown Dependencies appear to be getting over excited about this issue.

This is not a challenge or a difficult or controversial issue for Gibraltar or its finance centre, which is not orientated to or based on providing tax shelter to UK resident depositors affected by this Directive.

Gibraltar’s Finance Centre has developed well beyond a dependence on the sort of business that is jeopardised by this Directive.

We are happy to enter into appropriate exchange of information arrangements with the UK at its request which it has indeed made. Hence the discussions now taking place and the 1st July joint statement.”

Tax deal with UK not shelved yet

Meanwhile press reports in Guernsey said yesterday that the islands’ political leaders had agreed to give the UK until the end of the year “to plug a gap in the coverage of the EU savings tax directive.”

The EU savings tax directive dominated proceedings at the annual inter-islands meeting. A joint statement from the islands said:

“At a meeting in the Isle of Man yesterday, the Crown Dependencies decided not to suspend their bilateral agreements with the UK.

It was agreed to accept the UK Paymaster General’s commitment to conclude arrangements with Gibraltar so as to ensure a level playing field during the period of the UK’s presidency of the EU.

We will be keeping in direct contact with the UK and will be monitoring progress closely.

In view of the very firm promises we have obtained from the UK Paymaster General, we are assured that the gap with Gibraltar will be closed.

However, we have already made it clear to her that it is a point of principle for us that the UK must deliver on its commitment.”

The Guernsey press reports added:

“The gap in the directive’s coverage led leading finance players to warn that investors in Guernsey could switch to Gibraltar.

The expected quick resolution failed to materialise and Deputy Morgan (Guernsey's Chief Minister - Laurie Morgan) last week warned that suspension was a possibility.”

Related Articles & Links:

European Savings Directive

27 July 2005 - Guernsey decides not to shelve Tax deal with UK... yet!

22 July 2005 - Guernsey considers Euro Tax opt out

21 July 2005 - Gibraltar accused of taking advantage of loophole

04 July 2005 - Channel Island fury over Gibraltar tax ‘perk’

02 July 2005 - UK and Gibraltar Government seek deal on witholding tax

House approves bill to enshrine court ruling into statutes

MoD contractorisation case

House of Assembly yesterday unanimously approved an amendment to enshrine in Gibraltar’s statute books a recent ruling by the Chief Justice in the MOD contractorisation court case.

The judgment stated that the Supreme Court had jurisdiction to hear the case brought forward by the TGWU.

Minister for Employment Joe Holliday said the amendment gives effect to the ruling which means that trade unions and workers “whose rights are violated by privatisation,” will be able to seek relief against this in the Supreme Court, since this is not available through the Industrial Tribunal which is far more limited in its powers to grant the recourse sought.

From the Opposition benches, Fabian Picardo welcomed what he described as “any legislation to entirely stop contractorisation,” and to stop any work currently undertaken by directly employed labour in the MoD being put into a contract.

Related Links:

21 July 2005 - Caruana spells out conditions for settlement at Naval Base

20 July 2005 - Negotiated settlement to Naval Base jobs crisis gains ground

14 July 2005 - MoD refrain from appeal in Unions case

30 June 2005 - Contractorisation gets big 'NO'

29 June 2005 - Chief Justice gives Union go ahead to challenge cuts

19 April 2005 Unions declare a united front on MoD Contractorisation

Gibraltar News Online Contractorisation Poll

Freedom of the City

Meanwhile a motion conferring the Freedom of the City of Gibraltar on the Institute of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, popularly known as the Loretto Sisters, was approved unanimously by the House of Assembly.

Mr Caruana reviewed the order’s historical role in the development of education on the Rock since their arrival in 1845.

Leader of the Opposition Joe Bossano recalled that the last time a religious order had been granted this honour was in 1977 when the Christian Brothers were the recipients of the freedom of the city. He said it had taken all these years to rectify the sex discrimination of not having extended the award to the nuns at the time.

The House of Assembly also passed an amendment to the Medical and Health Bill closing down a legal loophole that allowed for the importation of certain controlled drugs without an import licence. The amendment will now ensure that the importation of every controlled drug into Gibraltar is carried out by means of an import licence.

Support for TEP plan holders

The House of Assembly yesterday passed an ordinance relating to legal assistance that is designed to provide one-off legislative support to TEP plan holders.

The ordinance, which is “ring-fenced” to make it specific to TEP plan holders, amends existing legislation and is carefully worded to ensure that it does not pre-determine any of the legal issues in question.

Its aim is to enable people who might otherwise be unable to afford it to proceed with their claims in court using government-funded legal assistance.

It makes “special provision for claims of a legally-assisted person which are the subject of a group litigation order under the Civil Procedure Rules in accordance with public interest requirements,” the explanatory memorandum to the ordinance states.

The opposition backed the move, though opposition member Fabian Picardo said it was “long overdue”.

Chief Minister Peter Caruana, countered that the ordinance stemmed from “general” requests from TEP plan holders for help and that it would have been wrong for the government to rush through measures on such a complex and sensitive issue.

Related Article:

14 January 2004 - FSC Press Release - Traded Endowment Policy Plans ("TEP Plans")

House approves new anti-terrorism laws

The House of Assembly yesterday passed new anti-terrorism laws that mirror existing legislation in the UK except for one small, yet highly significant word: Or.

The section of the Terrorism Ordinance 2005 amended by the House during the closing debate of the budget session is entitled ‘Inciting terrorism outside Gibraltar’.

It states that a person would commit an offence if he incited someone to carry out an act of terrorism, “wholly or partly outside” Gibraltar, involving a murder, a wounding, a poisoning or an explosion.

But the section, which initially followed word for word the UK legislation, included a clause that excluded “any person acting on behalf of, or holding office under, the Crown” from criminal liability.

In simple terms, a person acting on government orders or employed by the government could not be charged under this section of the Terrorism Ordinance 2005 for inciting terrorism wholly or partly outside Gibraltar.

Peter Caruana, the Chief Minister, was only half-joking when he told the House that this clause hinted at covert British Government activity he would rather not contemplate.

“It’s the closest I’ve seen to an admission of things that I’ve always thought were officially denied,” he said.

But it was the word “or” that most concerned the Chief Minister and the House during yesterday’s debate. The worry was that the language in the UK legislation implied that any person “holding office under” the Crown – a civil servant in other words – could not be held criminally liable under this section of the law, even if that person was acting of his own accord and not under Crown orders.

“That means that provided they hold office under the Crown, it’s OK [to incite terrorism] even if they are acting on a frolic of their own,” Mr Caruana argued. “It can’t be right,” he added. “It’s absurd.”

He proposed, and the House accepted, an amendment that changed the word “or” for the word “and”, leaving the final version of the clause to read:

“Nothing in this section imposes criminal liability on any person acting on behalf of, and holding office under, the Crown.”

In other words, it is permissible under Gibraltar’s new anti-terrorism laws for a Crown employee acting on Crown orders to incite an act of terrorism wholly or partly outside Gibraltar.

Sanctions on Former Yugoslavia

The House of Assembly also unanimously approved a second motion in support of the implementation of a mandate of the international tribunal providing for economic sanctions in the form of criminal penalties to give practical effect to European Council regulations in respect of the former Yugoslavia, was also approved unanimously.

This referred to the flagrant violation of humanitarian law in Yugoslavia that constituted a threat to peace and were aimed at the restoration of peace. A similar text in respect of Burma was also unanimously approved.

Spain asks for consultation on Environmental Impact

Eastside Development row

The Spanish Government has asked to be consulted on the environmental impact of the Eastside Project.

Spain’s Foreign Affairs Ministry (Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores MAE) last month sent a diplomatic note to the UK Foreign Office via the British Embassy in Madrid, an embassy spokeswoman told the Chronicle.

The note sets out Spain’s desire to be consulted on the environmental impact assessment currently being carried out in relation to the Eastside Project. The British Government has yet to send a formal reply to Spain, the embassy spokeswoman added.

Spanish newspaper Europa Sur revealed the development in a front-page article yesterday that quoted a letter sent by Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos to local environmental group Grupo Ecologista Verdemar - Ecologistas en Acción.

According to the newspaper, Sr Moratinos told the group that Spain’s Foreign Affairs Ministry had called on the UK to halt work on the east side of the Rock until the full environmental impact of the proposed development was assessed. The letter added that the ministry shared Verdemar’s concerns that the Eastside Project could have a negative environmental effect on the Spanish side of the border.

According to Europa Sur, the matter was also discussed at the recent tri-partite talks in Albufeira, Portugal.

Earlier this week, the Gibraltar Government said the environmental impact assessment was already under way and that Gibraltar’s laws fully reflected European Union requirements in this context. (See article link below)

“Gibraltar, as always, fully intends to honour and comply with all its EU obligations including those in this case, namely, cross-border notification of environmentally sensitive projects,” the government said in a statement.

It also noted that Spain had failed to inform either the UK or Gibraltar about any of the numerous, and often major, reclamation projects carried out on the Spanish side of the Bay of Gibraltar or on the Mediterranean coast over the past few years.

Related Articles and Links:

UNECE Protocol on SEA

European Union (EU) Directive on SEA (2001/42/EC) - transboundary consultations

26 July 2005 - Government responds to environmental impact assessment demands for Eastside Projects

26 July 2005 - Partido Andalucista voice objections to Eastside Development

27 January 2005 - Reactions in Spain - Juarez calls for environmental study into Eastside Project

26 January 2005 - Eastside Development first step taken for £1 Billion project

Gibraltar Government Press Release - 26 July 2005 - No: 178/2005

Sanlucar beaches set to welcome world's finest thoroughbreds

Sanlúcar de Barrameda 2005 horse races • Organisers trace historic Gib connections with event

Sanlucar de Barrameda horse races start from August 1st 2005The jockeys and thoroughbred mounts taking part in the 160th edition of the internationally renowned programme of races in the beaches of Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cádiz), will take to the paddock on August 1st-3rd in the opening of the two competitive cycles that make up the competition.

The races will culminate with a second series from the 16th-18th later in the month.

The organising committee this week launched the 2005 poster with a special invitation extended to Gibraltar’s authorities, business community and horse racing fans in recognition of the strong horse-racing tradition that existed on the Rock at the turn of the 20th century.

This year the event, which is held in a natural setting with the breathtaking backdrop provided by the Parque Doñana nature reserve, promises to be an even bigger and more enthralling affair than ever before, and is certain to attract record-breaking crowds lining the beach to watch the exciting spectacle.

Last year attendances at what has become a sporting tradition in its own right and is firmly established in Spain’s official racing calendar, averaged 60,000 per race, attracting widespread media interest.

Historical Notes

Historians have traced how it was not only 19th century British travel-writers that were fascinated and drawn to this part of the world, chronicling their experiences of contemporary rural Spain in a profusion of literary texts.

The famous manzanilla wine that was already being produced while Napoleon was laying siege on Cádiz, and the horse races are defining characteristics of Sanlúcar de Barrameda that these authors have paid tribute to in their observations.

Features that turned Sanlúcar from sleepy rural village to the fashionable seaside resort that was later to exercise an irresistible pull on Spain’s wealthy classes in the early 20th century.

Horse racing in southern Spain was developed with the notable influence of orthodox British equestrian culture, that attracted an elite membership of aristocrats and noblemen to the sport.

The jockey clubs established in Jerez, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and Puerto de Santa Maria in the 1840’s followed rules and regulations that were similar to those already applied in Britain’s most famous racecourses.

Through the years the merger of these original elite clubs with more rank and file horse-racing associations such as the “Sociedad de Carreras de Caballos de Sanlucar de Barrameda”, widened the popular appeal and guaranteed the long term evolution of the races into modern times.

Other than in the rules and in the sharing of knowledge and enthusiasm, Britain’s contribution to the progression and consolidation of the sport was also recorded in an Englishman’s design of the first ever hippodrome constructed in Jerez in 1868, and in a generous sprinkling of English words that are still to be found in Spanish horse-racing terminology. For example “box”, “chance”, “paddock”, “foal”, “gentlemen”, “handicap”, “jockey”, “turf”, and “stud book.”

Gibraltar Links

It is no coincidence that in the 1920’s the “Sociedad de Carreras de Caballos de Andalucia” the organising body of the races at the time, had its headquarters at number 4 College Lane in Gibraltar.

Additionally, and in parallel to Gibraltar’s own racecourse at the airfield, the nearby town of Campamento organised its programme of events which attracted the participation of British and Gibraltarian stables with gentlemen jockeys who were usually serving British officers and a few high ranking figures based on the Rock.

A quick glance at some of the posters printed in the early days also reveals notable Gibraltarian connections.

In January 1910 the Andalusian championships were held under the auspices of two judges Messrs Joseph A Patron, who was also handicapper and honorary secretary, and Horace P Parodi. The starter was a Mr Joseph Manasco while Messrs A C Baca and William Isola were the Clerks of the Scales.

The list of stewards included a Mr Alexander Rugeroni and a Manuel Murto. All of them with the term esquire attached at the end of their surnames.

The honorary president of the event was Prince Don Carlos de Borbon, and the honorary vice-presidents were the Governor of Algeciras and “the Consul for Spain at Gibraltar.”

One of the trophies competed for was the Copa Gibraltar, and a jockey by the name of Juan Attias riding a horse named ‘Adler,’ chose the colours of the Union Jack for his uniform.

Related Links:

Sanlúcar de Barrameda Horse Races - Cadiz
Sanlúcar Online
Parque Doñana Nature Reserve

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Caruana accuses Partido Andalucista of “blatant double standards”

Eastside Development row

Chief Minister Peter Caruana has been drawn into the public debate regarding the Eastside Development and responded to objections raised by the Spanish regional opposition group Partido Andalucista.

Speaking to the Chronicle yesterday, Mr Caruana in a stern tone said that local and Campo public opinion will not allow itself “to be misled by blatant double standards,” and rejected any notion that land reclamation for economic advancement “are fine” when they occur in Spain, “but terrible when they happen in Gibraltar.”

Meanwhile Mr Caruana has also advised Spanish politicians against attempting “to play international politics” with this, saying that in carrying out its own numerous reclamation projects in recent years, Spain has not complied with these same EU cross-border notification obligations.

Mr Caruana also expresses surprise at remarks by both the PA and by local pressure group Environmental Safety Group (ESG) regarding the need for an environmental impact assessment of the project.

“This is precisely the stage the project is at,” said Mr Caruana.

A Convent Place spokesman said:

“The Gibraltar Government notes, with some surprise, the demands by a Spanish regional political party, and by the Gibraltar Environmental Safety Group, for an environmental impact assessment to be carried out in relation to the Eastside Project.

This is already the case, as has been announced publicly by the Government on several occasions (see press release dated 25th January 2005 and 16th June 2005). This is precisely the stage at which the project is.

The laws of Gibraltar fully reflect EU requirements in relation to both public and private projects that are deemed to have a significant effect on the environment and thus require an environmental impact assessment before they can be approved.

These provisions are set out in the Town Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2000. These regulation regulate how such projects must be dealt with both domestically, and internationally with any neighbouring country whose environment may be affected by the project.

Gibraltar (as always) fully intends to honour and comply with all its EU obligations including those in this case, namely, cross-border notification of environmentally sensitive projects. However, those Spanish politicians who may be thinking of falling into the temptation to play international politics with this issue should be aware that in not a single one of the many huge land reclamation projects carried out in recent years on the Spanish side of the Bay of Gibraltar or on La Linea’s Mediterranean coast, has the appropriate planning authority in Spain complied or even tried to comply with these very same EU cross-border notification obligations.

Neither Gibraltar (as required by the EU Directive) nor even the UK has been notified of a single one of these reclamation projects prior to their approval and execution. Some of them have been hard up against the land border, for example the La Linea pier and port in the Bay.

Accordingly, it seems unlikely that Campo or Gibraltar public opinion will allow itself to be misled by blatant double standards, into thinking that land reclamation projects are fine when they occur on a wholesale basis across the border in Spain for the benefit of its economic and social development, but are terrible and must be stopped when they happen in Gibraltar for our economic and social benefit.

Those same politicians in Spain may also wish to ponder on the appropriateness of publicly demanding compliance by Gibraltar with a law (with which we are in any case complying), but with which they themselves systematically do not comply in relation to Gibraltar.

Those same politicians in Spain may also wish to ponder on the appropriateness of publicly demanding compliance by Gibraltar with a law (with which we are in any case complying), but with which they themselves systematically do not comply in relation to Gibraltar.”

A Gibraltar Government spokesman added that the bill that sets out legal requirements for cross border notification requirements in cases of significant transboundary environmental effects, is the Gibraltar Town Planning Regulations, 2000.

The amendment to the Pollution Prevention and Control Ordinance that is currently before the House of Assembly, deals with a different set of EU obligations relating to transboundary notifications in respect of installations that cause environmental pollution, but is not concerned with land reclamation or real estate development as envisaged for the Eastside Project.

Related Articles and Links:

UNECE Protocol on SEA

European Union (EU) Directive on SEA (2001/42/EC) - transboundary consultations

26 July 2005 - Government responds to environmental impact assessment demands for Eastside Projects

26 July 2005 - Partido Andalucista voice objections to Eastside Development

27 January 2005 - Reactions in Spain - Juarez calls for environmental study into Eastside Project

26 January 2005 - Eastside Development first step taken for £1 Billion project

Channel Islands call on UK “to force” Gibraltar into tax compliance

EU Directive on Taxation of Savings * Gib at centre of row

The Isle of Man has threatened to suspend retention tax or exchange of information on UK residents’ accounts held in the jurisdiction unless Gibraltar is brought within the ambit of the European Savings Directive, according to UK press reports.

It emerged earlier this month that the Directive, does not currently apply between Gibraltar and UK as they are not separate member states of the EU, a revelation which reportedly “caused outrage” in the offshore centres of Jersey and Guernsey as well as the Isle of Man.

Malcolm Couch IOM Tax Assessor: Gibraltar has the capacity to completely derail the savings directive
“Gibraltar has the capacity to completely derail the savings directive,” Isle of Man’s tax assessor Malcolm Couch remarked, according to the Isle of Man Online. “If the UK don’t do something about Gibraltar, they will quite openly be creating a tax haven within the EU, which is against everything the directive stands for,” he added.

Mr Couch suggested that the authorities in Gibraltar are actively using the situation to attract new funds, commenting that:

“They are playing a long game - not being particularly helpful to the UK in closing the gap.

If the UK government can’t sort this and we can’t get satisfaction, we will suspend the UK financial agreement,” Mr Crouch warned.

At a meeting of the Crown dependencies next week, the Guernsey government intends to call on the UK to force Gibraltar into compliance with the Directive as soon as possible.

“That is the date when the directive could live or die,” said Mr Couch.

Guernsey and Jersey may suspend tax deal over Gibraltar

Meanwhile Guernsey could this week also suspend the tax agreement with UK that has been in force only a month according to a report published in The Guernsey Press and Star. Jersey has already said that if the problem is not fixed by the end of the month, then it will suspend the agreement.

The article states that new fiscal arrangements were brought in across much of the international community on July 1 “when around 40 jurisdictions agreed to implement the long-awaited” and what it describes as the “highly controversial EU savings tax directive.”

But Guernsey Chief Minister Laurie Morgan revealed just days before it came into action that the island was considering suspending its bilateral agreement after “a last-minute problem occurred involving Gibraltar and the UK.”

This, says the newspaper, left a gap in the directive’s coverage and “led leading finance players to warn that investors in Guernsey could switch to Gibraltar.”

The Star says:

“At the time, Deputy Morgan was hopeful that UK would bring a quick resolution to the problem. But now, with the solution still outstanding, he is warning that suspension is a real possibility.

The Policy Council were expected to discuss the issue this week. Deputy Morgan will then travel to the Isle of Man for the annual inter-island meeting of the three Crown Dependencies.”

Deputy Morgan added:

“We have been very supportive of the UK Government while ensuring we do not damage Guernsey’s interests, but now we are in danger, if we have to suspend, of being made to look like the bad guys.

I am reluctant to use the weapon because, politics being what it is, some in the UK see this as the islands bringing the directive to a halt, especially if others followed us and use it for other motives when we all believe in a level playing field.”

Related Article:

22 July 2005 - Guernsey considers Euro Tax opt out

21 July 2005 - Gibraltar accused of taking advantage of loophole

04 July 2005 - Channel Island fury over Gibraltar tax ‘perk’

02 July 2005 - UK and Gibraltar Government seek deal on witholding tax

‘Crazy Kayaks’ retrace Nelson’s last voyage

A Kayak similar to the one used by ‘Crazy Kayaks’, members of the Gibraltar Canoe Association, on their intrepid charity fund raising journey retracing Lord Nelson's last voyage to the Bay of Gibraltar - Photo courtesy of
Their call sign on the VHF marine radio was ‘Crazy Kayaks’ and yesterday they lived up to the name.

Four men, all members of the Gibraltar Canoe Association, set off in seagoing kayaks from Cape Trafalgar just before sunrise, destination Gibraltar.

Travelling unaccompanied and relying entirely on each other, their aim was to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar and raise money for charity by retracing the last voyage of Admiral Nelson to the Rock.

But the anticipated voyage time of seven hours ultimately stretched to 11 hours after they encountered a series of hold-ups on the way.

For a start, the weather was not on their side. Even though the wind and the tide were in their favour, they were often battling large waves and choppy seas as they made their slow, gruelling way down the Spanish coast to Tarifa and then into the Strait of Gibraltar.

Somewhere between Cape Trafalgar and Tarifa they suffered an emotionally devastating setback after one of the four men – Norman Garcia – was forced to drop out of the trip following a bout of vomiting brought on by food poisoning.

They came ashore and made arrangements for Mr Garcia’s return to Gibraltar, but there was little question of the other three canoeists - Arthur Asquez, Eugenio Pons and Sigurd Haveland - pulling out of the trip. Within two hours, they were on their way once again.

For a while yesterday afternoon there was concern on shore after the three men lost contact with those following their progress on land. For several hours they could not be reached by radio or mobile phone, leaving anxious relatives and friends wondering how they were faring and fearing that something had gone wrong. Then, at around 5pm, the signal station at Windmill Hill managed to make radio contact and, shortly after, the Crazy Kayaks were spotted rounding Punta Carnero and heading into the Bay of Gibraltar.

As they paddled in toward the Rock they were accompanied by a Defence Police speedboat and a patrol boat from the Royal Gibraltar Police Marine Section, who kindly gave the local press a lift.

As they made landfall in Rosia Bay, where Admiral Nelson’s body is said to have been brought ashore after the battle 200 years ago, the three men were applauded and greeted by friends and family, greatly relieved to see them home safe and sound. The canoeists looked physically shattered, but jubilant.

“This is the most wonderful experience I’ve had in my life,” said Mr Pons, summing up their mood.

Editor's Note:

The canoeists were raising money for two charities, Rainbow Ward (unfortunately I can't find a link for Rainbow Ward) and Wireless for the Blind.

Anyone interested in donating money to the four canoeists for their great efforts on successfully concluding their Trafalgar voyage should contact Mr Asquez on 55076 during the day and 43896 during the evening.

Note: Gibraltar International dialling code: 350 - If dialling from Spain: 9567 (followed by the number)

Related Articles & Links:

13 July 2005 - Canoeists do the 'Full Nelson'!

23 April 2005 - Gibraltar commemorates 200 years since the Battle of Trafalgar

Wireless for the Blind

200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar

The Battle of TrafalgarBattle of Trafalgar at

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Partido Andalucista voice objections to Eastside Development

EU environmental regulations * House to debate transboundary consultation bill

Spanish regional opposition group the Partido Andalucista has urged the Junta de Andalucia to lodge an objection with the Gibraltar Government in respect of the Eastside development and reclamation project. (See related links below).

The PA wants the Rock’s authorities to paralyse the works “until an environmental impact assessment has been carried out.”

The move comes just a few days before the House of Assembly is due to debate amendments to the Pollution Prevention Control Ordinance, which includes a section on transboundary consultations and exchange of information, in our case with Spain, where “the operation of an installation is likely to have significant negative effects on the environment” of another EU member state.

This would also apply in respect of a project on the other side likely to have negative effects on the environment in Gibraltar.

Under the amendment, there are provisions for consultation to be initiated at the request of either side, and as far as it is applies to Gibraltar, for the official forwarding of information regarding the project to another member state, at the same time as this is made available to persons in Gibraltar, namely a non-governmental organisation promoting environmental protection.

The fact that a decision is subject to a national or transboundary consultation or
environmental impact assessment will be made public by the relevant local authority.

Antonio Moreno Olmedo - Member for Cadiz of the Partido Andalucista in the regional parliament
Meanwhile Antonio Moreno, PA member of the regional parliament has already formulated questions to the government in Seville, and has expressed concern that the Eastside project could have damaging effects on the environment and lead “to a loss of sand by the beaches on the La Linea side.”

Sr Moreno who wants the Junta de Andalucia to make representations to the Madrid Government and to the European Union, said a subsequent regeneration of the beaches would be a financially costly exercise.

Environmental groups such as Grupo Ecologista Verdemar - Ecologistas en Accion, have expressed similar criticisms against the Eastside development and have spoken in terms of “an irreparable damage to the coastline.”

ESG call for Impact Study

Meanwhile the local Environmental Safety Group (ESG) has called for an environmental impact assessment into the Eastside Development project and other developments in the pipeline.

In reply to Chronicle questions ESG spokeswoman Janet Howitt said:

“We reiterate that we will continue to campaign for issues such as an up to date development plan for Gibraltar (prior to any more permissions issued for new developments), and an environmental Impact Assessments to be carried out on both private and government developments.

There is a need for sustainable development incorporating renewable energy systems and green technologies. There is also a need to allow green areas and spaces in all new developments, as well as ensuring that no existing green areas in Gibraltar are lost in the building process.

We are concerned that many of the proposed developments do not currently meet any sustainable technology standards. Where resources and opportunities allow, the ESG has and will continue to present its objections on environmental grounds to any future developments it believes would seriously affect our natural and living environment or be unnecessarily polluting.

Given the already severe load on our infrastructure and roads, the group also considers that radical enlargement of our developed areas could disrupt our lives even further.”

Related Articles and Links:

UNECE Protocol on SEA

European Union (EU) Directive on SEA (2001/42/EC) - transboundary consultations

27 January 2005 - Reactions in Spain - Juarez calls for environmental study into Eastside Project

26 January 2005 - Eastside Development first step taken for £1 Billion project

‘Viking’ replica ship calls into Gibraltar port

The Cilicia is a replica of a 13th century Armenian merchant vessel.
As far as visiting ships go, you would be hard pushed to find a more unusual one than the Cilicia.

Docked alongside Queensway Quay yesterday, this replica of a 13th century Armenian merchant vessel looked distinctly out of place - A wooden Viking ship among high-tech luxury yachts.

But the Cilicia, built by hand following guidelines and information gleaned from medieval manuscripts, was without doubt the most remarkable boat in the marina.

It took 11 years to build this vessel using nothing but ancient techniques and natural materials. It is made from oak beams and pine panels, kept together by over 10,000 handmade brass nails and waterproofed using a mixture of pine resin, animal fat, sulphur and ash.

The ship is the product of a long-running project by Armenia’s AYAS Nautical Research Club. Since 2002, members of the club have been sailing the Cilicia along medieval maritime trade routes around the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.

The crew of 15 includes people from all walks of life, from doctors to writers and engineers, and they live a Spartan shipboard life, testing themselves to the limit in order to better understand their ancestors.

“Our ancestors were maybe more patient than us,” joked Karen Balayan, the ship’s captain and president of the AYAS club, when asked to describe life on board. “It’s really hard work.”

Although the ship has an engine, required to meet rules in most harbours, its primary source of power is wind. Apart from a few modern gadgets, the aim is to recreate as closely as possible what life on board was like in the 13th Century.

This Mariner's Astrolabe (1616) was a navigational device intended for use primarily at sea.
Yesterday, Mr Balayan could not help but share his favourite joke after the Chronicle asked him if the ship carried a Global Positioning Satellite kit to help navigate. He rushed below deck and returned with a mariner’s astrolabe, an instrument used by sailors through history to navigate by both the sun and the stars. “With this astrolabe, I control the GPS,” he said, unable to conceal a grin.

The Cilicia and its crew have worked their way slowly from Armenia, at the easternmost end of the Mediterranean, all the way to Gibraltar. From here they will sail up the Spanish coast to France, before crossing the English Channel and stopping in Portsmouth for the winter. After that, the journey will take them to St Petersburg, in Russia, and along inland waterways and rivers back to Armenia, where they started their voyage.

In each of the many ports they have called at, the crew has worked to raise awareness of the historic role of maritime commerce in building links between countries. In the process, they have become ambassadors for Armenia and its rich cultural heritage.

Yesterday they were visited by Baroness Cox, a member of the House of Lords who has led an astonishing life and has for the past 20 years worked fearlessly to defend human rights around the globe.

Baroness Cox has a long and close relationship with Armenia, particularly with the enclave of Nagorno Karabakh, scene of a violent conflict in the early 1990s. During that time she made around 60 trips into the enclave, crossing the blockade at the height of a full-scale war in order to deliver aid to communities there.

To her, the Cilicia was symbolic of the spirit of Armenia and its people, who “create beauty from the ashes of destruction.”

“I’ve known them in very dark, difficult years and it’s lovely to see them now they have their independence,” she said.

“They are incredibly resourceful, resilient people with a deep culture and deep commitment to tradition and preserving history.”

For Baroness Cox, yesterday was also an opportunity to catch up with an old friend, a man who first made her aware of the problems of his home country.

Zori Balayan is a physician and also one of Armenia’s most famous writers, author of 60 books, the latest being an account of the first leg of the Cilicia’s voyage.

Yesterday, he presented her with a copy of that book and an encyclopaedia of Armenia’s recent history, which included an entry on the Baroness herself.

“He’s an amazing man,” she said of her friend. On board the Cilicia, they all said the same about her.

Related Links:

Armenia - Info from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Armenian History
Armenian Information Directory
Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Search for books by Zori Balayan

Search for Books by Baroness Cox

Police to curb dangerous use of jet skis in beahces

Warning to persistent offenders

Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) Marine Section has said it will be strictly enforcing the Seashore Pleasure Rules this summer, while persistent offenders will risk having their vessels “impounded.”

According to the RGP this is part of a police effort “to curb the dangerous and inconsiderate use of Jet Skis or other fast vessels.”

Meanwhile the Police has also expressed concern in relation to the “inconsiderate and dangerous use of Jet Skis within the proximity of bathers” and other vessels within the proximity of the beaches and inside the Port area and Admiralty Waters.

An RG Police spokesman said:

“While not wishing to curtail what is otherwise an enjoyable water sport practiced by law-abiding citizens, the RGP is determined to ensure that the safety of bathers and compliance with our laws is maintained and enforced.”

He continued:

“A number of complaints were made to the police by members of the public using Western Beach in relation to the speed that some Jet Skis were being navigated within the proximity of bathers and as a result of which two persons were reported for the offence of exceeding the speed limit of five knots within the area adjacent to the beach.

Two other persons were similarly reported for the same offence within restricted Admiralty Waters inside the harbour.

The law regulating the use of vessels requires that the navigator of a high-speed craft (a vessel capable of exceeding 15 knots) conduct themselves in such a way as to avoid endangering or inconveniencing bathers or other pleasure boat users.

The RGP wish to remind owners of such vessels that they can obtain a ‘safety at sea’ booklet, published by the Marine Section of the RGP, free of charge from either New Mole or Central Police Station. This booklet will also be available at Public Utility premises.

Similarly the Seaside Pleasure Boat Rules can be obtained from the Government Legislation Web Page on the internet.”

Related Link:

Gibraltar Government's "Laws of Gibraltar".

Monday, July 25, 2005

Six new major development plans in the pipeline

Tall buildings set to dominate Gib landscape • Land scarcity is a factor, says Holliday

The Government of Gibraltar is working on the final draft of a development plan that will set out clear guidelines for future construction work on the Rock.

The plan, which should be ready by the end of the year, comes at a time of dramatic change in Gibraltar’s urban landscape.

There are currently at least nine projects - some of them already under construction, others in various stages of obtaining planning permission – which envisage tall buildings that could radically alter the Rock’s skyline if they all go ahead.

Joe Holliday, Minister for Trade, Industry and Communications, said last week that scarcity of land in Gibraltar has led to greater demand for taller buildings. But he added that applications for such buildings must be handled sensitively to reflect environmental and heritage concerns, among other issues.

Of the major projects now being built or at planning stage, most tend to share common features in that they figure striking, modern architectural designs that would not be out of place in any contemporary capital.

But in some cases, they have drawn flack from members of the public who have expressed concerns about the height of some of the proposed buildings and the broader impact that these may have on their surroundings.

Some of the ongoing projects are well known and include developments such as the Eastside project, Ocean Village and Tradewinds.

Within the past fortnight, attention has focused on a recently filed application for a 95-metre high, 28-storey annexe to the Eliott Hotel, which would be built on a plot of land on Cannon Lane currently used as a car park.

But there are other projects that have been less publicised. The following list is not exhaustive – there may be more - and many of these projects are still in the early phases of the planning application process. They include:

King’s Wharf, a major residential development that would be built on a site next to Queensway Quay and includes plans for a 78.5 metre high, 22-storey tower, among other buildings of staggered height;

The Anchorage, next to Rosia Bay, a heritage-focused residential project that includes plans for a 9-storey, 31.2 metre building, among others;

Filomena House, on Devil’s Tower Road next to St Teresa’s Church, another residential project centred on a 10-storey building that is 37.28 metres high at its tallest point;

The Midtown Project, a wide-ranging development led by government that includes a plan to build a 115-metre high tower just outside the city walls which, if it goes ahead, would be the tallest building in Gibraltar;

Peak House, a 7-storey residential project in a prominent, cliff-top location close to Lathbury Barracks;

North Mole Road, which foresees a 28-metre high, 7-storey office development on the site of the ex-MOT centre.

Mr Holliday told the Chronicle on Friday that current applications were subjected to close scrutiny and that existing guidelines – for example on height restrictions within the city walls, or in relation to aviation safety issues – were being followed.

Any project that envisages a tall building – he used the Midtown Project as an example – is subjected to an aeronautical study, reviewed by the Ministry of Defence, to ensure it does not pose a danger to air traffic.

The Minister said that all applications were carefully assessed to take account of any environmental or heritage impact, as well as wider planning considerations. And he stressed that private developments were also subject to a 21-day consultation period during which members of the public could review applications and lodge objections that would later be considered by the Development and Planning Commission.

A general overview was taken of the various projects currently under assessment, but each application was also viewed on its own merits, Mr Holliday added.

“We have to recognise that land is a scarce commodity in Gibraltar,” he told the Chronicle.

“That means buildings might be higher in the future, but this must be handled sensitively.”

The government’s development plan, which aims to build on an existing one dating back to the early 1990s, will set out official policy on everything from the height of buildings to details of what is permissible on a building’s façade.

The criteria will vary depending on where in Gibraltar the development is taking
place, with the tightest restrictions on projects within the city walls.

The Minister added that the development plan would be opened to wide public consultation once the final draft is completed.

Scouts speak out against youth vandalism

Reaction to club-house burglary

Gibraltar Scouts have spoken out against the actions of under-aged youths in the area of Wellington Front, following a break in suffered at their premises.

The Scouts have declared that “illegal activities” including under-aged drinking and drug taking “to name a few,” take place there during the night.

Leaders of the 1st/4th Gibraltar Scout Group were notified of a possible break-in at their headquarters at Wellington Front on Wednesday, and subsequently discovered that over £300 has been stolen, lockers had been forced open and items were thrown all over the floor.

It is understood the thieves had lifted a metal grill protecting a first floor window to gain entry into the premises.

The Scouts spokesman said:

“This amount does not take into consideration the money now required to repair all the damage caused. Our van was vandalised back in February this year. Do we need to install an alarm system? Now who’s going to pay for that?”

The group is currently fundraising to go to Italy next summer and says it “cannot afford setbacks like these which hinder our chances of attending.”

In its statement yesterday the Scouts pointed out that Wellington Front was an area which suffered from inadequate lighting at night.

The statement said:

“Especially since groups of drunken underage youths are often seen in the area smashing their empty bottles creating a hazard for young children who play in the area.

The roof of Wellington Front is another cause for concern with groups of youths again participating in illegal acts. Drinking and smoking drugs just to name a few.”

Meanwhile the Scouts have thanked the RGP for their quick response to the scene, and asked potential eye-witnesses to contact them or the police with any information.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Montagu Gardens arson investigation continues

Two men arrested on suspicion of arson last May in relation to the fire in Montagu Gardens are due to appear again at New Mole House police station in the coming weeks.

The Royal Gibraltar Police, which continues with its investigation into the fire, will then have three options in relation to the two suspects. If sufficient evidence has been collected, the men could be charged. Alternatively, if there is not enough material to link them to the fire, they could be released. The last option is for the police to apply to the Attorney General for permission to release the men on bail again while enquiries into the incident continue.

Very little information has been released at this stage about the focus of the police investigation into the fire, which occurred last April 26th.

The blaze forced residents of Montagu Gardens to be evacuated and destroyed 16 vehicles – including eight motorcycles and eight cars - in an underground car park in a block on the estate.

Two letterboxes, a notice board and some artificial plants were also damaged by a second, smaller fire in a foyer of the same block of flats.

Since then, police officers have been conducting a wide-ranging investigation into the incident, which from the onset was treated as an arson attack. Last May, the police carried out house searches during which a number of items were seized. Two men were subsequently arrested, though not charged, and bailed to appear at the police station at a later date, the RGP said at the time.

A police spokesman said on Friday that extensive and intensive enquiries into the fire continued, but could offer no further details on the investigation.

Related Article:

19 May 2005 - Montagu Gardens arson - Police arrest two suspects

27 April 2005 - Arson attack suspected in Westside One blaze

Winston Churchill Avenue – Runway

In order to allow an MoD contractor to carry out repairs to the section of runway at Winston Churchill Avenue between the north and south barriers, one lane will be closed to traffic.

These arrangements will be from Monday to Thursday from 1300hrs to 1600hrs, as from Monday 25 July 2005, for a period of 4 weeks.

Repairs will be carried out on all four lanes, although only one lane at a time will be closed.

The works will be demarcated using traffic cones and portable traffic signs. We would like to take this opportunity to apologise to the general public for any inconveniences these works may cause and urge drivers to exercise extra caution when driving through the works areas.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Terror Bill comes before House next week

Legislation that was pending since 2002

The House of Assembly will next week debate new laws to combat terrorism.

The Terrorism Ordinance 2005 aims to implement a European Union Council Framework Decision dating back to June 13th, 2002, and which should have been complied with by the end of that year.

The debate in the House will come at a time when European countries are looking to tighten security laws even further in the wake of the London bombings on July 7th.

The Terrorism Ordinance covers a wide range offences relating to terrorist activity, both within Gibraltar and beyond its borders. It sets out hefty prison sentences for many of these crimes, including life sentences for the offence of directing a terrorist organisation.

Alongside legal measures to respond to direct acts of violence, it also tackles financial issues relating to the financing of terrorist activity.

Among other offences, the ordinance makes it a crime to provide training in weapons or explosives and to collect information of use to someone planning an act of terrorism.

It also tackles the issue of hoaxes involving noxious substances.

International Co-Operation

In the latest FIFA rankings, published in yesterday’s Chronicle, ‘England & Spain’ were listed as 8th.

Perhaps this is taking the current climate of peaceful co-existence a bit too far. Perhaps a Gibraltarian could manage the side.

Related Article:

FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking

“Campo de Gibraltar de Gibraltar”, Bossano tells Canal Sur Radio

Joe Bossano - GSLP - Leader of the Opposition
Leader of the Opposition Joe Bossano participated in a live programme on Gibraltar in Canal Sur Radioyesterday morning.

During the interview Mr Bossano reiterated the GSLP/Liberal doctrine on cross border issues, and ended the programme on a humorous note replying to the old Spanish slogan of “Gibraltar Español,” with his own “Campo de Gibraltar de Gibraltar.”

A GSLP/Liberal spokesman said:

“Many issues were raised during the interview, which also touched on the trilateral forum talks.

Mr Bossano explained that the Opposition had made clear from the beginning that it would not pronounce itself for or against the talks until it was able to evaluate what emerged. Since nothing has emerged from it to date, the position was unchanged. All that had happened is that three people had met two times and had told everyone after the meeting how friendly and how cordial it had been and how well they had all got on together. The interviewer reacted by saying that what had emerged was the removal of the cruise ship ban and the permission to land in Malaga in inclement weather. Mr Bossano said this was not correct and that these measures had been announced in October 2004 as an initial move by Spain to create a climate of goodwill that would enable the launch of tripartite dialogue. The other two things mentioned in that initial announcement were the Spanish pensions and the joint use of the airport. It was the latter two issues that have been discussed.

As regards to the importance of these measures taken by Spain, Mr Bossano reminded listeners that the cruise liner ban had been lifted earlier temporarily and that what was announced in October 2004 was that it would now be lifted indefinitely.

As regards the use of Malaga, this was a new development that had to be put in context by remembering that even with a closed frontier and Franco in power, flights had been allowed for some time between Gibraltar and Madrid.

The interviewer then asked what was wrong with flights coming in from Spain. Mr Bossano replied there was nothing wrong but that they were being stopped by the Spanish Government and not Gibraltar.

He then explained that the 1987 Airport Agreement resulted from Spain blackmailing the EU to exclude Gibraltar airport which until Spain joined had been accepted as a British Regional airport in the EU. The 1987 agreement had sought to remove Spain’s veto in Gibraltar’s participation in exchange for a joint use agreement under which flights from Spain were treated as being within Spanish national territory and authorised by Spain. UK flights would be treated as being within UK, and third country flights required the agreement of both parties. This is what the GSLP (Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party) in Government had rejected and blocked in 1988.

Mr Bossano said there was a fundamental difference between allowing use of the facilities, and quite another to convert them into joint facilities for use by both sides and he wondered how Spain would feel if Gibraltar asked for joint use of the Port of Algeciras in exchange for joint use of Gibraltar airport.

On the question of Spanish pensions, Mr Bossano told Canal Sur Radio that it was incomprehensible why so many technical experts were needed to look at this matter. UK had asked that pensions in Gibraltar should be frozen because they did not want to pay. These could only be unfrozen when UK becomes willing to pay.

The interviewer suggested some progress was being made on telecommunications. Mr Bossano made the point that it was one thing to talk about cooperation, where two parties agree to work together, and quite another to hold talks about the removal of restrictions. So far the dialogue with Spain has consisted in Spain being given something in exchange for removing restrictions which should never have been imposed in the first place. When it came to telephones, Mr Bossano pointed out that the mobile phone he had with him worked in Helsinki in Finland and the Finns were not asking for anything in exchange. So why should Gibraltar have to give anything for it to work in Algeciras?

In the light of the answers that Mr Bossano had given, the interviewer asked tongue in cheek what Mr Bossano made of the view held in Spain that the Gibraltarians wanted their bread buttered on both sides. The Opposition Leader replied that the people of Gibraltar are entitled to have their bread buttered on both sides because it is their bread and their butter and they can do with them what they like.

The interview ended with Mr Bossano being asked to give a short counter to the Spanish cry of “Gibraltar Español”. He replied “Campo de Gibraltar de Gibraltar”! The programme lasted half an hour. The interviewer was based in Seville and Mr Bossano was based at the Canal Sur studio in Algeciras.