Friday, October 14, 2005

Power blackout was produced by 'human error', says Minister

House of Assembly * OESCO operator hit wrong button

A power cut that occurred in Gibraltar on September 6th affecting five districts was caused in error by an OESCO operator who shut down the wrong generator, it was revealed in the House of Assembly yesterday.

The power cut in question lasted nine minutes.

There were six other power cuts in Gibraltar between April 1st and September 30th, Minister for Heritage Fabian Vinet said in reply to questions from Opposition spokesman Lucio Randall.

The power cuts occurred in May (three), July (one) August (one) and September (one) lasting between six and 23 minutes, affecting districts 10,13,14,15 and 18 that are supplied by Waterport Power Station. The causes of the faults in all the other cases was a mechanical failure.

Anti Social Behaviour

Gibraltar Government is including anti-social behaviour legislation as part of its housing policy reforms, Minister for Housing Clive Beltran declared yesterday.

Theatre Costs

Gibraltar Government has spent over £3m on the old Theatre Royal site since 2001, but this figure does not include the rent paid out to the owners, Minister for Heritage Fabian Vinet said yesterday in answer to Opposition spokesman for culture Steven Linares.

The breakdown by year is as follows: 2000/01 – £221,467; 2001/02 – £1,221,467; 2002/03 – £699,917; 2003/04 – £912,450; 2004/05 – £135,182; 2005/06 – £13,122.

Mr Vinet said:

“Government has appointed the structural engineering section of the Technical Services Department to regularly monitor the condition of the site. Any works deemed necessary are then instructed through 6 Convent Place and carried out by GJBS which maintain the site in clean order. There is no fixed sum allocated in this regard.”


New Radiologist for Hospital

A new Radiologist took up his post on October 1st while CT Scan services in St Bernard’s Hospital will commence shortly, Minister for Health Ernest Britto said yesterday.

Meanwhile a second Orthopaedic Surgeon has now been selected and is expected to commence duties in the New Year. In the meantime some backup medical service in this field will be provided.

The post of Anaesthetist, a building maintenance officer and some part-time domestics are the only staff vacancies that remain open.

Beltran accused of Delivering Party Political Broadcast

Minister for Housing Clive Beltran and Opposition spokesman Fabian Picardo ‘crossed swords’ during exchanges on the reform of the waiting list points system for the allocation of government flats.

Opposition spokesman for Housing Charles Bruzon had tabled numerous questions on the subject, and during one of his supplementaries revealed that he had received as many as 300 complaints during the course of his many visits to people on the waiting list.

In his intervention Mr Beltran criticised Mr Bruzon for trying to “portray a picture” that it was only from the Opposition benches that there was a “special interest” for housing cases.

The Minister went on to argue at some length that the GSD Government had gven “ample proof” of its commitment to all sectors of society.

At that point Mr Picardo sprang to his feet and accused Mr Beltran of delivering “a party political broadcast” while exclaiming that the Minister was there to answer Mr Bruzon’s questions and not to criticise the Opposition. He also came to the conclusion that none of the Ministers actually visited people with housing problems.

The Minister returned the charge and a mini-debate ensued.

Mr Bruzon added that he was a humble man and did not think he was the only person who expressed concern for housing issues.

The Speaker later interjected that Mr Beltran’s intervention had appeared more as a general defence of the Government’s record rather than addressing the specific questions posed by Mr Bruzon.

Breaking ‘The Cammell’s back

Cammell Laird's infamous grit mountain will end up at a toxic waste disposal site in Los Barrios, Minister for the Environment Jaime Netto said yesterday in the House of Assembly. The removal will cost £360,000.

In reply to questions from Opposition member Fabian Picardo, Mr Netto said that by last Friday approximately 1,440 tons of grit out of a total accumulation of 8,000 tons had been removed from the shipyard.

The Minister said:

“Government welcomes the removal of the grit mountain from Cammell Laird and based on the advice that it has received from the Environmental Agency is satisfied that no nuisance is being caused as a result of this, to the residents of the South District.”

The site in Los Barrios belongs to a company known as Gamasur Campo de Gibraltar SL, while the movement of the waste is being carried out in accordance with the provisions of the transfrontier shipment-of-waste legislation and has been approved by the Gibraltar and Spanish competent authorities.

Mr Netto added:

“We have obtained a commitment from Cammell Laird that there will be no future accumulations of grit in the shiprepair yard. This is an issue that is of importance to the Government.

In essence, now that a system for exportation of the waste grit to a proper disposal site has been put in place, grit will be exported at frequent intervals whenever sufficient quantities have been accumulated to make up a load.

Temporary storage of the grit will be within a dedicated tank that the company will install specifically for this purpose.”

Lord Nelson Monument

A statue in memory of Lord Nelson will be erected opposite the Trafalgar Cemetery and preparatory works are already under way, Minister Fabian Vinet said yesterday.

Caruana on Unspecified "Urgent Government Business"

Chief Minister Peter Caruana was absent during the morning session and much of the afternoon.

In reply to Chronicle questions a spokesman for Mr Caruana said he was attending “urgent government business”, but declined to explain the nature of this “urgent business”.

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