Headlines Press Releases Views-Features Letters Poll

 
 

Fire at the MOD Laundry

Emergency services were called to Dutch Magazine to fight a fire at the MOD Laundry on Wednesday night. The cause of the fire is not known and there will be a full investigation. The Command Fire Officer Alec Button, who was on scene at the incident, is heading the investigation.

The initial response to the call, which came shortly before Nine o’clock last night, was from the Gibraltar City Fire Brigade as the Defence Fire Service was needed at the airport to maintain the airfield fire cover required for aircraft movements.

Fire-fighters at the scene described dealing with the fire as "straightforward" and the blaze was quickly extinguished by the City Fire Brigade. The Defence Fire Service took over control of the incident at around half past ten and using thermal imaging equipment monitored the location through the night for any "hot spots" which might have caused the fire to flare up again and need damping down.

The partnership of the Defence Fire Service and the City Fire Brigade is a well-planned and rehearsed feature of the overall fire plan in Gibraltar and illustrates the Forces historical defence link with the community.

The Commander British Forces Commodore Richard Clapp visited the site yesterday morning to inspect the damage. Pausing to praise the effort of all fire-fighters involved he said,

"Having visited the building, it is clear to me that the prompt response by the City Fire Brigade did much to contain the spread of fire and prevented further damage within the building. I am most grateful to the Brigade for there actions throughout the incident. Whilst the cause of the fire is not immediately apparent, I have directed that a full and thorough investigation be carried out."

Alternative sources of laundry services are being sought this morning and the loss of the laundry is not expected to impact on British Forces Gibraltar’s ability to work as a Joint Operating Base ready to contribute to the UK’s defence aims.

Gibraltar’s role in military build-up for the Gulf

Gibraltar is "a key staging post" and is "a logical transit point for naval and other forces en route for the Gulf," a Ministry of Defence spokesman said in the House of Lords. Gibraltar's loyalty and support was recognised in a debate, where a UK minister stated that "Gibraltarians, as always, are staunch and solid allies of the UK."

The debate: IN FULL

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government: What role Gibraltar is playing in the build-up of military forces in the Gulf.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): My Lords, Gibraltar's role as a key staging post, strategically located at the gateway to the Mediterranean, makes it a logical transit point for naval and other forces en route to the Mediterranean or the Middle East.

LOYALTY

Lord Hoyle: My Lords, does my noble friend not agree that, as in the past, the people of Gibraltar are once again showing loyalty to this country? Does he not further agree that loyalty is a two-way traffic?

Lord Bach: My Lords, I entirely agree with my noble friend. The Government fully and completely appreciate the support, including to our military forces, of the people of Gibraltar for many years. Our primary aim is to secure a more stable and prosperous future for the people of Gibraltar. As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said in another place on 18th November last: "no deal will be imposed on the people of Gibraltar against their will".

Lord Vivian: My Lords, the Minister agrees that Gibraltar is of vital strategic importance to this country as a forward-operating base. Does he further agree that any military operation in the Mediterranean or Gulf area would be greatly hindered if the United Kingdom did not have sole control over this forward-operating base in the future?

Lord Bach: My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord's comments. We have made our views clear. We intend to retain current arrangements for UK military facilities on Gibraltar.

SUSPENDED?

Lord Janner of Braunstone: My Lords, will my noble friend assure the House that in the circumstances he set out negotiations with Spain for sharing sovereignty of the Rock have been suspended?

Lord Bach: My Lords, I do not agree that they have been suspended. Under the Brussels process, the UK and Spain reached a broad measure of agreement on the principles that should underpin a lasting settlement, although a number of issues remain unresolved. It was equally clear that, for Her Majesty's Government, no deal was better than a bad deal. I repeat that any agreement reached would have to be acceptable to the people of Gibraltar.

Lord Redesdale: My Lords, if there is no other way of getting RAF planes to the Gulf, will the Government transport them by ship, using Gibraltar as a staging post on that journey?

Lord Bach: My Lords, there are other ways of getting aircraft to the Gulf; namely, by flying them.

SOVEREIGNTY

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, as it is clear that the people of Gibraltar are not in favour of sharing sovereignty with Spain, why do the Government persist in negotiations towards that end?

Lord Bach: My Lords, we do not ignore the wishes of the people of Gibraltar. We recognise that the referendum result highlighted how the people of Gibraltar feel. What we still believe—I think that the government of which the noble Lord was a distinguished member also believed this at one time—is that we need to look at how to move forward and tackle the real problems that still exist for the people of Gibraltar. The referendum did not answer the basic question of how to secure a more stable and prosperous future for Gibraltar. That is what we need to do. Nor did it address the underlying reality of the dispute with Spain, which can be resolved only through dialogue.

Lord Tomlinson: My Lords, in the circumstances with which the Question deals—the military build-up in the Gulf—does my noble friend acknowledge that the British Government, the British people, the Spanish Government, the Spanish people and the people of Gibraltar are all fighting on the same side?

Lord Bach: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend. That is absolutely right. Although Gibraltarians, as always, are staunch and solid allies of the United Kingdom, it should be noted—and has been noted by my noble friend—that Spain, too, is on our side in this important matter.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that not all of us seem to think that we are all on the same side? If the Government will not suspend these negotiations, will they consider that in current circumstances, which may well involve important military action, they should be put on ice?

Lord Bach: My Lords, we shall certainly consider what the noble Lord says but we still feel that we need to find a way through this matter. That means dialogue with Spain and Gibraltar. I am sorry if the noble Lord and I are not on the same side. I try to be on the same side as he.

Lord Glentoran: My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that the Spanish Government have their own reasons for not wishing to enter into a shared sovereignty agreement with the United Kingdom Government?

Lord Bach: My Lords, I am afraid that I cannot comment on the motives or reasons that the Spanish Government may have. All I can say is that on the issue that is of the greatest importance to this country at the present time, Spain is a loyal ally.

Another road closure

The Technical Services Department Highway Maintenance Term Contractor will be carrying out resurfacing works at Witham’s Road, from the junction with Rodger’s Road to the junction at the north with St Joseph’s Road.

The works are scheduled to start during the week commencing the 11th March 2003 and have an estimated duration of 3 weeks.

During this period, there will not be vehicular access along this stretch of road, although access will be provided for emergency services.

Vehicular exit from Rodger’s Road will be via St Joseph’s Road. The worls will consist of planning the wearing course and resurfacing.

The limits of the works will be, on the south at the junction with Rodger’s Road and on the north it will be in line with the north façade of St John’s Court. The stretch of road between St John’s Court and Jumper’s Building will be resurfaced at a later stage, once the Utilities have laid their infrastructure.

The infrastructure works are part of a project to lay water mains and ducts from Europa Road to Rosia Road.

The Department says it would like to apologise for any inconvenience these works may cause to residents of the area and would appreciate their cooperation so the works may be completed as soon as possible.

Should any member of the public like any clarification on the proposed works or bring to the Department’s attention any matter in relation with the works, they should contact the Highways Division of Technical Services Department at tel. no. 59800.

Gibraltar boss called in over riddle of Jackal

Plymouth campaigners are appealing to the Chief Minister of Gibraltar to help solve perhaps one of the biggest mysteries of the Second World War. And the ‘disappearance‘ of Westcountry shipmates from the Rock nearly 62 years go this month. City residents‘ are demanding the MoD finally reveals the truth about the fate of Plymothians who ‘disappeared‘ after a mutiny in Plymouth Sound.

Nearly 63-years-ago the Jackal was sunk 200 miles off Alexandria by enemy aircraft in a secret mission code named operation M.G.2. In which she was operating under orders in company with three other destroyers. 

In secret papers released by the MoD the Captain at the time named has (D) said: ‘All secret books and papers were collected before the ship was torpedoed by HMS Jervis in steel chests before she went down‘.

That contradicts statements made to war veterans that logs, lists, and paperwork was lost in the Second World War. By releasing such details it can finally disprove all the rumours about what happened back in 1941. One veteran said before he died recently: “Some of the men left the ship and were never seen again by their shipmates.”. HMS Jackal was ordered into Plymouth in March 1941 by Winston Churchill to give the city artillery cover. When the German Luftwaffe bombed the naval port in one of the most devastating raids of the War.

Men on the Jackal are understood to have closed water tight doors in the face of the Naval Officers in protest. They only relented when they were granted shore leave. 

There are differing first-hand accounts of what happened after the mutiny-with some wild rumours that the men had been shot in Gibraltar.

Kevin Kelway spokesman for the Plymouth Party said: “This month marks the 62nd anniversary of the firebombing of Plymouth. 

And the 62nd anniversary of the uprising against the Queen`s uncle Louis Mountbatten, who was in command of the 5th flotilla which included the Jackal. 

“City residents are calling on the Chief Minister of Gibraltar to help find out if the rumours and speculation are true or not?

The Rock is where the mystery of the Jackal ends-and the time for openness, and transparency by the MOD must surely be now?”

Gib painting for Sir Alex

Not one, but two Rocks of Gibraltar have been recently presented to Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson when a group of Gibraltar fans of the football club flew to meet him: it's an impressive painting of Sir Alex's racing sensation on the background of a majestic rock of Gibraltar, playing on the pun of the horse's name.

Abraham A. Seruya, the talented painter, was commissioned it by his fellow policeman William Lima, an active committee member of Manchester United fan club Gibraltar's branch, with a specific request to highlight in the picture the liaison between our land and the champion horse.

Abraham solved the challenge thanks to a history lesson, remembering that Gibraltar used to have a racing course where the runway lays now, so he travelled on a time machine and imagined a good old day at the races with colt Rock of Gibraltar shooting through the winning line as it wanted to leap out of the bi-dimensional space of the painting.

Abraham A. Seruya isn't new to painting 'stunts' as he made a large painting for his friend Charlton Heston few years ago, representing a gallery of characters he played in his famous movies and then had the picture sent to America in a special metal box.

He is proud of telling PANORAMA that his work is now hanging in Charlton's living room!

Abraham describes himself as 'born with the brush in his hand' and interested in artistic challenges: he went through a 'battle' period which gave him the chance to depict human body's twists and movements and a 'biblical' period where he masters the tricks of lights and divine light.

He had many exhibitions in Gibraltar and even one in Israel in the Seventies. 

Commons motion on integration for Gibraltar

Special report by our London correspondent

A motion has been tabled at House of Commons demanding that the people of Gibraltar are offered the chance to integrate fully with the United Kingdom.

Tory backbencher Andrew Rosindell has called on the government to abide by a little-noticed statement made by the United Nations one month ago.

The statement says the option of integration - as well as indepen-dence and further self-government - should be offered to the citizens of all overseas territories.

Yet there are currently no plans to give Gibraltarians that choice, while the government refuses to abandon efforts to strike a deal to share sovereignty over the Rock with Spain.

Now Mr Rosindell (pictured above), MP for Romford, in Essex, has put down the early day motion, which was immediately signed by six other MPs.

They are David Chidgey (Lib Dem; Eastleigh), Geraldine Smith (Lab; Morecambe and Lunesdale), Martin Smyth (Ulster Unionist; Belfast South), Robert Walter (Con; North Dorset), David Ruffley (Con; Bury St Edmunds) and John Randall (Con; Uxbridge).

Mr Rosindell said countries including France, Holland and Spain had already fully integrated their overseas territories to secure their constitutional status.

INSISTS

And he insisted such a move would not jeopardise Gibraltar’s existing self-government - pointing to the devolution granted to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Mr Rosindell told Panorama: “Integration for Gibraltar seems to have been ruled out by the government, which flies in the face of the UN statement.

“It is up to the people of Gibraltar to decide, but integration would remove their limbo status and allow them to be a secure part of the UK.

“And it would not mean being governed from London. Gibraltar’s current responsibilities would continue, as with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”

Mr Rosindell said integration would not clash with the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht, which says Gibraltar should remain British for as long as its people wish.

PRESSURE

The motion reads: “There has been no categorical assurance by Her Majesty’s Government that the freely expressed will of the people of Gibraltar will be observed.

“The United Nations believes that integration for territories should be an option and [this House] calls on Her Majesty’s Government to offer the Gibraltarian people the option of integration with the United Kingdom.”

An early day motion is not discussed in the Commons chamber, but is auseful device for MPs to put presssure on the government.

Nobody takes notice of Junta's complaints about Gibraltar

The Spaniards have a penchant for threatening to take Gibraltar to court. It gives them a thrill!

The latest threat comes from the Junta, the Andalusian regional government. They want to take Gibraltar to a European court for not complying with "a dozen of EU directives on the environment."

They want to air the matter at the European court of human rights, given that the UK is taking no heed of complaints from the Junta.

Environmental councillor Fuensanta Coves says that there have been numerous representations made to get Gibraltar to comply with the directives because of the effect such contamination has on nearby Spanish municipalities.

She cited directives on a range of issues such as atmospheric emissions, noise, sewage treatment etc.

NO REPLIES 

Representations have been made to the Spanish government but without success, but when the Junta complains to Brussels, the EU tells them that such matters have to be dealt with through the member state, that is, the Spanish government and not the regional government.

Now, they are studying with taking the matter before the European court, but nothing concrete has yet been determined.

Junta president Manuel Chaves has been sending letters to Aznar, Blair and Romano Prodi. So far, no replies

Gibraltar may soon have swimming facility for the disabled and elderly

Gibraltar may soon have a swimming facility for the disabled and elderly. It follows years of hard work by Julio Pons of the Help Us to Help Them association.

Mr Pons says he has had several meeting with Yvette Del Agua, Minister for Social Affairs, in order to identify a suitable area to create a swimming facility, for people who are unable to access the beaches or pools, due to their disabilities. 

“This idea was first presented to Government in 1996, when the old Montagu Sea Bathing Pavilion was demolished. Many people had used this venue, as a way of getting into the water, when they could not manage the sand on the beaches.

On 24th February “we were finally able to meet with the Government about this swimming facility, which we want for the disabled and elderly in Gibraltar. As a result of the points made, a plan for the new swimming pool has been drawn up which will be discussed further with the Disability Awareness Group, Disability Society and the Senior Citizens Association. After these discussions we hope to finalize an area which can be safely used, year round, by this group,” he added.

When all the planning is finalized, Mrs Del Aqua will announce the details of this area which “will be such an asset to these groups.”

NATO escorts ships in Gibraltar area

NATO warships have begun escorting allied civilian ships through the Strait of Gibraltar to help avert possible terrorist attacks, the alliance says.

“The alliance decided to expand its naval operations in response to recent assessments of terrorist threats to particular shipping lanes,” said a statement yesterday.

Following the arrest of a number of alleged members of al’Qaeda, and jailed this week on Morocco for planning suicide-boat attacks on allied shipping, there had been consideration to strengthening vigilance and support in the strait area.

The new mission is part of NATO’s continuing support for the campaign against terrorism, and is a significant extension of the existing Operation Active Endeavour, which was launched following the September 11 attacks on the United States, said NATO sources.

A Royal Navy ship is permanently based at Gibraltar for support operations, while a Portuguese and Spanish warship have also joined the NATO force undertaking operations in the Strait.

Govt “desperate at trying to hide their failures”

The recent announcement by the Government giving publicity to a review of the GHA, is another attempt by the Government to counteract the many criticisms being levelled at them from all quarters with regard to their handling of our Health Services, says Opposition health spokesperson Mari Montegriffo.

Instead of concentrating their efforts in trying to solve the many problems that continue to exist in this Department, they prefer to continue with their spin, only interested in dishing out publicity to try and convince the electorate that they are doing something constructive.

“By now the people of Gibraltar do not believe any more their excuses, their lies and their promises” she says.

FIASCO

It appears that now this is the third review commissioned by the Government. The first review was a fiasco – it produced no significant results. On the contrary, complaints have continued to rise to unacceptable levels. Then the Government decided to accept some recommendations and others they ignored, However, they were only willing in the House Of Assembly to talk of those they had accepted and not accepted in percentage terms.

The second one was announced by the Minister, Dr Linares, in November of 2001. Then there was a value for money audit, which was undertaken by the Principal Auditor of the Government. If the review, which has been announced this week, happens to be the same one Dr Linares announced in November 2001, and subsequently has been announced on several other occasions, then it will have taken him well over a year to get it going.

Without a doubt, the Government are now desperate at trying to hide their failures within the Health Services. Since 1996, their record is a shameful one and matters are getting worse by the day. If only on matters of health, they deserve to be kicked out of the office by the people of Gibraltar.

If, as they have constantly said in public, that the complaints and problems are the normal everyday ones which exist in every hospital, then why do they have the need to commission so many reviews?

The statement adds: “ History has taught us that what experts recommend for implementation in Gibraltar might be good for the UK but not necessarily good for Gibraltar. Our respective cultures are different and moreover, the experts have no cure for the measures, and the policies introduced by the Government.”

As we have predicted all along, from now until the next elections, the GSD administration will continue to bombard the public with more and more propaganda on the impending move St Bernard’s to the Europort Building. All that will occur is that the problems will be going from one building to another.”

The civilian authorities must keep the public informed

The warning from the director of GCHQ, Britain’s electronic eavesdropping centre, that Gibraltar is bound to be a potential target for terrorists, should make all and sundry in Gibraltar take due note.

Many will see him as THE person in the know, even if his assessment serves to confirm what some people have always thought. But coming from him makes all the difference.

The GCHQ director is, of course, the Governor-designate.

It is important that such matters be aired responsibly because what works against us is a state of complacency.

The MOD here have been holding exercises and keeping their personnel informed, no doubt to create an awareness and also to provide indications of how to handle any eventuality.

IT’S A SECRET!

But what about the civilian authorities? They seem to think that all is a secret!

If they have plans they are all wrapped up and kept under seal for no one except a chosen few to see, as if an unfortunate incident would only affect them.

This is sheer irresponsibility on their part.

All they have to do is read of the preparedness elsewhere, such as London where a major exercise is to take place.

There will be a simulated attack and the establishing of a rapid emergency response.

They even have plans to move the entire seat of government to a secure bunker out of the capital.

By contrast, in Gibraltar, those concerned are taking it lightly in not communicating with the public at large.

PUBLIC IMPORTANCE

This is a matter of the greatest public importance which requires greater promulgation. It is important to create an awareness of the difficult times we live in, because it is by doing so that members of the public will develop a greater sense of alertness.

It is not a question of creating panic, but of creating a realistic awareness of situations that can flow from the current world situation.

We have only recently seen the jailing in Morocco of a number of Saudis who were found guilty of seeking to bomb warships passing through the strait with the aid of suicide boats.

Had that not been detected, had that happened, had the warships been near Gibraltar, there is no doubt that the repercussions would have been felt here.

There are other plans that have been foiled in different parts of the world - and others have not been foiled.

It is to be hoped that this community, which likes to live in peace and harmony with everyone, will be spared of anything sinister, but the facts of the case cannot be pushed to one side.

FAILURE WITH GREENPEACE

We have recently seen the stern action taken by our security services out in the bay against Greenpeace.

Many people were arrested - but the salient point that has been hidden is that, had the Greenpeace members been anything but peaceful activists, they would have achieved their aim, which was to climb onboard a ship in the bay and do what they wanted to do.

The fact that so many were arrested would have been no consolation had this been for real. People are arrested to prevent them from reaching their target — but the Greenpeace members were not stopped from achieving their ultimate aim. This is a lesson to learn.

The other lesson that we do not want to learn when it is too late flows from the consequences of our civilian authorities keeping vital information to themselves instead of appraising the public so that everyone can be better prepared and fully aware...

Heritage Friends in bitter row

More problems have surfaced at the Friends of Gibraltar Heritage Society.

The editor of the society's newsletter, Mike Brufal, has resigned.

It follows an anonymous complaint about the contents of the newsletter.

It has emerged that a member, who wishes to remain anonymous, complained to the society's committee that the newsletter should not contain anything that might be deemed to be political.

This was followed by the society's legal adviser looking up the constitution. The complaint was upheld.

As a result, Mr Brufal has called it a day. Subsequent newsletters will not be produced by him.

It will be recalled that the society's chairman, Admiral Sir Derek Reffell, was at the centre of a row last year when he published certain comments in a UK newspaper.

Greenpeace case adjourned

Two activists from Greenpeace yesterday pleaded not guilty to charges relating to an incident in Gibraltar waters last January. The case, at the Gibraltar magistrates court, was then adjourned to 29 April, when the pleas from four other persons charged arising out of the same incident will be heard.

Argentinian Waldermar Wichmann pleaded not guilty to the charge of dangerous navigation, causing damage to police property, obstructing police and importing a semi-rigid inflatable boat, which is illegal here.

Neither he nor Richard Pearson, British, could attend on the 29 April, which is why their court appearance was brought forward to yesterday. Pearson was charged with dangerous navigation, obstructing police and importing a semi-rigid inflatable boat, also a prohibited import.

Two other members of Greenpeace, as well as two Spanish journalists, will be appearing in court on 29 April when the case resumes.

The prosecution are collecting evidence from as many as 59 witnesses.

The incident last month centred on a bunker-supply vessel, the Vemamagna. Two Greenpeace activists boarded the ship and hoisted signs reading: Oil hazard.

A small number of political actviists from the 'Voice of Gibraltar' pressure group gathered outside the court to make the point that the action by Greenpeace had been politically motivated, as there has never been a major oil spill at Gibraltar which is claimed by Spain.

Call for Chief Minister to resign as ITEG president

The Chief Minister should resign - as president of the transborder institute (ITEG). That’s the view of Daniel Feetham, the Labour party leader. “Last week we pointed out that the vice president of the Campo Press Association, which is taking legal action against the RGP in La Linea’s courts, is none other than Sr Francisco Oda Angel who, in turn, is the director of the Transborder Institute of the Straits of Gibraltar (Instituto Trans-fronterizo del Estrecho de Gibraltar). This association is presided jointly by Chief Minister Peter Caruana and Sr Rafael Roman the “Presidente de la Diputacion Provincial de Cadiz,” said Mr Feetham. 

WATERS

A statement adds: Given the fact that the legal action being taken against the RGP is based on the argument that Gibraltar has no territorial waters we asked the Government to demand the immediate resignation of Sr. Oda Angel as Director of ITEG. We also asked the Government to make a public statement as to whether or not this foundation is partly funded by Gibraltar taxpayers’ money. The Government has thus far refused to comment. 

IMPORTANT 

The Labour Party believes this is an important point of principle. If Sr. Oda Angel refuses to resign, then the Chief Minister himself should resign from the association. It is all very well for Sr. Oda Angel, in his capacity as Vice-Chairman of the Campo Press Association, to support members of his association. He is perfectly entitled to do so both publicly and legally in the courts here in Gibraltar. However, it is a political affront on the people of Gibraltar for this to be done in Spanish courts based on the politically motivated argument that Gibraltar has no territorial waters. 

In these circumstances, says the statement, if Mr. Oda Angel continues as a director of ITEG the Government has to withdraw any support for it and the Chief Minister must resign from his position.

Caruana speaks at El Relicario to Conservatives Abroad

Peter Caruana, Chief Minister of Gibraltar, took time out of his busy schedule to address the dinner of the Conservatives Abroad (Marbella & West Branch) held at the El Relicario restaurant in San Pedro on Friday evening, says a press release. Mr Caruana told of the unanimous determination of the people of Gibraltar to remain British and to resist all the obstacles and adversities with which they are currently faced.

The evening was hosted by Club Chairman Dottie Smalley who commented: “We are very honoured Mr Caruana made the time to speak with us and we all now have a clear insight into the position in which Gibraltar finds itself. Gibraltar costs the British taxpayer nothing, yet is of strategic importance as a naval base i nthe Mediterranean. In the year 2004, Gibraltar will celebrate its 300th year anniversary, to which the Conservatives Abroad have been invited. We will be delighted to join the celebrations and, further, to wish the people of Gibraltar well for the next 300 years!”

Over 70 members and guests attended to enjoy dinner and to hear Mr Caruana and everyone agreed that it had been an extremely interesting evenng and the vote of thanks was given by Mr Peter Bond.

GSD Government fail to deliver health promises

The GSD is accused of failing to deliver ‘ many of its promises on health,’ says Labour party health spokesman Charlie Bishop.

They say they have been saying for some time now, that the health service is in urgent need of reform. 

Amongst other things, “we have advocated a restructure of management with a view to introducing greater accountability down the line, improved allocation of resources, better training and re-training incentives for personnel, and improved consultation with staff, with the aim of providing a better, patient-centred, health care service.”

In this sense, adds a statement, we welcome the setting up of the Healthcare Development Team if it achieves what it is setting out to do. 

That is “to introduce changes that will promote the delivery of high quality, patient centred care across the hole of the Gibraltar health care system”.

SEVEN YEARS

It adds: “We do question however, why it has taken the Government seven years to get to this stage, particularly when they were already claiming some successes after the first term in office, such as with the setting up of the Complaints Procedure and how they were going to put in place, measures to control and regulate private practice.”

Clearly, so far, the G. S. D. Government has failed to deliver many of its promises on health, and as a result patients have had to endure in many cases, a health service of “unacceptable standards.”

The Labour Party hopes, therefore, that this final attempt by Government to improve health care service in Gibraltar, achieves it’s aims and actually introduces changes which will lead to producing a better patient-centred service. 


Failure to do so will only undermine further the little credibility this government has in providing a health service of acceptable standards and more tax-payer’s money down the drain.

Retiring but not shy

Friday saw the men and women of Headquarters British Forces seeing off in style Lieutenant Colonel David Arthur (Royal Artillery) on his last working day in the Army. 

He was presented with a 105mm engraved shell case celebrating over 37 years of service. The Lieutenant Colonel was led out of the Tower building by the Commander British Forces, Commodore Richard Clapp and Chief of Staff Colonel Tom Camp, while the rest of the staff of the Headquarters staff followed on. 

To his surprise, waiting for him was a 105mm gun of Headquarters Company “Thomson’s Battery” Royal Gibraltar Regiment, ready to fire but one man short! 

David enthusiastically filled the vacant post and pulled the trigger firing a one-gun salute to himself, a rare feat. 

After a short speech to the assembled crowd the Lieutenant Colonel was ceremoniously driven off atop a Royal Gibraltar Regiment truck waved off by all his old colleagues David started his Army career as a private soldier and managed to climb the ladder to the heights of Lieutenant Colonel making many friends on the way. 

He has continued in service two years more than normal retirement age in order to stay in Gibraltar, a testament to his dedication in the job. “I would not have stayed on in any other place, which shows how I feel about the place and people”. 

In a varied and adventurous career starting in the Royal Hampshire Regiment, David has seen many aspects of the modern Army and has visited many countries, in particular Zimbabwe where he was posted twice. Amongst his many successes was the award of MBE for his part in the Gulf War. 

The Lieutenant Colonel and his wife, Jennie, will not be going far as they plan to retire locally in Spain, no doubt renewing their links with Gibraltar on a regular basis.

Gibraltar is a “potential target for terrorists”

The new Governor, Sir Francis Richard, says he is used to telling people what they don’t want to hear. He was giving a piece of his mind ahead of his taking over as Governor and Commander-in-Chief in May.

Although it is said that he never displays what he is thinking, he has chosen to allow an insight into his thinking.

THREE-IN-ONE 

Sir Francis sees himself as a three-in-one. “As Governor I have responsibility in three directions - to HM the Queen, the British Government and the people of Gibraltar,” he said, in that order.

He added: “I have to represent these perhaps different views fairly. This is something I am pretty used to as the job of the intelligence agency is that for most of the time, it has to tell people things that they do not particularly want to hear. This will not be an unfamiliar role.”

He sees his role as giving honest, objective advice to the British Government, he told the newsletter of the friends of Gibraltar Heritage Society. Jack Straw would not have appointed him to the job if all he wanted was for Sir Francis to shut up and just do what he is told.

He owes it to the Foreign Secretary to give him an honest view - that is what is the right thing to do in the interests of Britain and Gibraltar.

His army career was short-lived after a car crash. 

The doctors told him he would be able to use his legs only for some ten years, but 30 years later his legs are holding out which is good news. 

When he takes part in a parade , he says with a smile, that his performance will not be as smart as that of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment - but no one will be let down! He plans to wear the uniform of a civilian governor, feathers and all, when he sets foot on Gibraltar soil from hopefully a man of war.

LISBON... 

Guess what, from 1981-82 he was asistant private secretary to the then foreign secretary Lord Carrington. People will remember that period as the time of the Falklands crisis, which led to Carrington - and our previous governor Richard Luce - resigning. That was also the time of the signing of the Lisbon agreement, political observers will note, the forerunner of the Brussels Agreement.

In 1995 he was, in fact, back at the foreign Office as director for Europe, which had him fly to the Rock to have meetings during Hugo White’s governorship and later during Luce’s tenure of office. 

He is now coming to Gibraltar from the top job at GCHQ, Britain’s eletronic intelligence centre. “I shall be keeping a close watch on security and ensure that it matches any possible threat to Gibraltar,” he told the newsletter. “I intend to walk around Gibraltar without a bodyguard. I have never had a bodyguard in my present job and I do not consider my personal safety an issue.”

He added: I don’t think my arrival as Governor will change anything in any way. I accept that I am slightly less of a civilian than the normal civilian. 

TERRORISTS 

Naturally, he adds, Gibraltar has a great history as a military and naval base which is bound to make it a potential target for terrorists. So security remains of the utmost importance.

He does not think he was chosen because of his intelligence interest, but rather because of his strong association with the armed forces and national defence.

“I am looking forward enormously to arriving on the Rock. Gibraltar has an unique place in the history and affections of Britain and its armed forces. 

It is hard for me to imagine a greater honour than to serve as governor - or a better time to do so than in the approach to its 300th anniversary since its capture by Admiral Sir George Rooke,” he said.

British ambassador defends Gibraltar

The British ambassador in Madrid, Peter Torry, yesterday defended Gibraltar in a Spanish television interview.

The interview was about the good relations between the British and the Spanish prime ministers, given that they see eye to eye on many issues including Iraq.

But what about Gibraltar?

The ambassador is leaving Madrid after more than 4 years there. He thought it was always a challenge to explain and convince the Spanish government of the British position on Gibraltar.

The deal had not been concluded because the two positions could not be reconciled.

Britain wanted a lasting settlement and not the first step to the devolution of Gibraltar to Spain. 

Retention of British control of the base was another issue, as well as the constitutional commitment about the wishes of the Gibraltarians.

They had now entered a period of reflexion. “What I want is a deal that benefits the Gibraltarians, Spain and Britain,” he said.

He was told that what was allowed in the port of Gibraltar was not allowed in UK ports. The ambassador answered like a Gibraltarian: If the sinking of the Spanish oil barge in the bay, without valid safety certificates, had happened in Gibraltar, can you imagine the theatrics from the Spanish press?

Gibraltar, he added, complies with maritime law, and will with any future EU regulations.

The finance centre, he added, is perfectly regulated.

Have you been knighted for not having lost Gibraltar? he was asked.

Apart from Gibraltar, Anglo-Spanish relations have improved, said Sir Peter.

Robin Hood is 'first' for new group

ARROW : The Legend of Robin Hood

"ARROW..." was written and composed locally by Trevor and lyricist William Finlayson. Both had been involved in Alpha Group's production of "Jesus Christ Superstar" in 1992 and, a year later, in Group 70's production of "Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat". It was during the latter that Trevor and William announced their intention to write a full blown stage musical based on the legend of Robin Hood. Research into the original Robin Hood ballads started soon after their announcement and actual work on the musical commenced in September 1993. It took a full year to write and compose Act One and only five months to complete Act Two. The whole musical was completed by March 1995. It was originally staged by Group 70 in May 1996 to a full house for five nights at the Alameda Open Air Theatre.

The musical itself consists of two acts of approximately forty-five minutes each and tells the story of how Robin Hood, after being outlawed by Prince John for shooting a royal deer, joins with a group of outlaws in Sherwood Forest. With this group of men he becomes the people's hero, taking from the rich to give to the poor until he eventually rallies the countryfolk to stand up against Prince John's tyranny. A timely appearance by King Richard ensures the success of the rebellion and a happy ending to the musical. The musical has the usual elements of drama, romance, evil tyrants, dashing heroes and comraderie.

Compact Disc

When "Arrow..." was being written and composed, the authors carried out a recording of their musical. Time restraints and the very minimal amount of recording equipment forced this first recording of the musical to be of a very basic nature with all the music squeezed onto two tracks and almost all vocal parts recorded by the lyricist himself. Nevertheless, the recording proved invaluable as a learning tool for the singers that would eventually render the songs live on stage.

The actual live performances during May 1996 produced a further recording of the musical but, despite repeated requests from the audience, the authors felt that, due to the limitiations of live performances, it was not of a sufficiently high standard for it to be made publicly available.

When the idea of restaging "Arrow..." came about, the authors thought it would be a good idea and an excellent opportunity to attempt a new recording of the musical and make it publicly available. Advances in digital recording techniques, computer hardware and software promised to make this new recording a reality. And so, the last nine months has seen the whole cast busy recording their vocals in the group's own digital recording studio. The recording is almost complete at this stage and early June is the predicted release date. 

Production

The musical will run for seven nights as from Monday the 23rd to Sunday the 29th of June. The Alameda Open Air Theatre will again be the chosen venue for the production with the theatre itself seeing some changes. The group is planning to extend the existing stage out over the pond. This will bring the action closer to the audience and ensure a more "interactive" experience. This, and other structural works, are being carried out by "Haymills Contractors Limited".

The cast totals twenty-three major and minor singing roles and approximately twenty "acting-only" extras. Popular local singers and actors together with some new-comers are responsible for portraying the different characters in the musical. All choral work will be provided live by the "Tears of Joy Choir".

The group's costume workshop has been busy manufacturing costumes for the last nine months. The costumes have been researched to look as authentic as possible and this includes handmade chainmaille and armour. Costumes range from very elegant noble outfits to very ragged peasant clothing.

Local companies are currently being approached for sponsorship. In return the group is offering prospective sponsors a number of very attractive packages which include free seats with complimentary programmes for the VIP night on Thursday the 26th of June, free advertising in the production's programme, and drinks and tapas after the show. A number of local companies and banks have shown some interest in the project, whilst others, such as "Interbuild", have already opted for one of these sponsor packages.

The group has recently met with Minister for Culture, Dr. Bernard Linares, who has also shown great interest in this project.
More tomorrow

Top UK team arrives to remodel GHA

A high-powered team of UK health specialists start work today on an eight month programme to put Gibraltar’s health service on a par with that of other European countries. The six strong group from Britain will work alongside senior GHA executives in carrying out what Chief Minister Peter Caruana described as ‘the endgame in our process of seeing that Gibraltar has a health service appropriate to the 21st Century.’

The visiting specialists include the NHS’s Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Chief Medical Officer and the Acting Director of the NHS Clinical governance and Support Team, as well as the Programme Director and an international consultant in Healthcare Systems. Kevin Pizarro will be the head of the local team, supported by Minister Bernard Linares, GHA Chief Executive Ernest Lima and Director of Operations Joseph Catania as well as Joseph Negreta and Norbert Sene.

Although the review will take place over the next eight months the government expects to start implementing reforms in health care procedures as soon as is practical. ‘It is not a question of waiting eight months and then studying the report to see what needs to be done. We intend to address issues as they arise during this period.’ The Chief Minister told a press conference at No 6 Convent Place.

Costing ‘several hundreds of thousands of pounds’, both the Chief Minister and the Health Minister said the team’s job was not an economic review, except perhaps in such matters as the system for prescribing medicines. There was no question of redundancies or any other sort of reductions taking place as a result of this review, they emphasised.

Sir Liam Davidson, the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, said: ‘Gibraltar has a very distinctive health service; it is very different from that of the UK – and will remain so in order to reflect local needs.’ He said that the most important challenge was to ensure a combination of high quality with minimum risk, giving the highest possible quality of care. ‘Gibraltar will be in the vanguard of placing user needs at the head of health care.’

It was explained that the first phase of the review will run from today until July and will concentrate on how health service is delivered today - a matter of gathering information, talking to staff and surveying public opinion for an overall view.

From July to November, the team will set about redesigning the GHA, and Peter Caruana said that he was hoping to accept every one of their recommendations. ‘If we do not accept any particular one or other of them then we will publish our reasons for this,’ he said.

Opposition hold 'positive meeting' with banks

The Opposition says it held a positive and friendly meeting yesterday morning with the Gibraltar Banker's Association. A wide range of issues affecting the finance centre in general and the banking sector in particular were discussed.

The Opposition was represented by Opposition Leader Joe Bossano and Trade and Industry spokesman Dr Joseph Garcia.

The issues discussed included the EU Savings Tax Directive, the proposed reform of business taxation, the possibility of introducing a banking ombudsman and the question of loan guarantee schemes for small businesses. The Opposition explained that a loan guarantee scheme was a policy commitment that we had already entered into at the time of last general election.

The Opposition believes that such contacts with business and other organisations in Gibraltar serve to provide a valuable insight into the workings and the concerns of each sector, and these are planned to continue.

Spanish 'red lines' have a direct bearing on the outcome of an Anglo-Spanish deal

Our report yesterday about the Spanish military shows to what extent they want to see a Spanish Gibraltar, so that they can exercise control of the Strait of Gibraltar. They see such a role weakened by the British presence.

The Spanish defence ministry also recognises, elsewhere in the document, that they need to modernise their military hardware and to make it compatible with that used by their allies. This indicates that, while wanting to exercise control, they are not fully equipped to do so at present.

Certainly, the British view is that the UK wants to continue to retain operational control of the base. This is seen by the MOD as being of vital importance to Britain's strategic interests.

The likelihood of a foreseeable change is therefore pretty remote.

Yet, the Spanish military - as we disclosed yesterday - continue to harp on the return of the Rock, considering it a top priority.

Indeed, the recovery of Gibraltar is listed as one of the six principal 'strategic interests" for Spain.

It is useful to know, and to have confirmed, where the Spanish draw their 'red' lines on the question of defence as it has a direct bearing on the outcome of an Anglo-Spanish deal over the Rock.

Why is Miami more important than Berlin?

If the Miami Sea Trade Cruise Shipping Convention is "necessary" for the Government to attend then it is incredible that Mr Holliday has not yet decided that Gibraltar should be represented at the International Tourism Fair, Berlin (ITB) which, incidentally, starts on the day that the Miami one finalises.

At the Berlin fair, according to Chris Montegriffo, there are over 9,000 expositors, which are visited by 65,000 professional visitors and around 60,000 private visitors in addition to over 6,000 media representatives. "If we go to Fitur then we should not miss the Berlin fair" said Mr Montegriffo.

In the past, he has been present at both Fitur and the Miami Convention, and feels that the number of German visitors to Gibraltar warrants GTB representation in Berlin on the 7th March.

"If it is too late now Mr Holliday should make sure that Gibraltar does make it next year," concludes the Labour statement.

Gibraltar riddle of the Jackal

PLYMOUTH campaigners are demanding the MoD finally reveals the truth about the fate of shipmates who ‘disappeared’ from Gibraltar - after a mutiny in Plymouth Sound.

Kevin Kelway who has researched and investigated the story for the last five years- fears any hope of uncovering the truth is dying with the last remaining survivors. One veteran said: `Some of the men left the ship at Gibraltar and were never seen again by their shipmates”.

This month marks the 62nd anniversary of the uprising against the Queen's Uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was in command of the 5th flotilla, which included the Jackal.

She was patrolling in the Sound in March 1941, when the German Luftwaffe bombed Plymouth in one of the most devastating raids of the Second World War.

One veteran in Cardiff, recalled: "The Plymouth men were desperate. They wanted to go ashore, but they weren't allowed.”

Shipmates are understood to have closed water tight doors in the face of the naval officers in protest. They only relented when they were granted shore leave.

There are differing first-hand accounts of what happened after the mutiny-with some veterans hearing wild rumours the men were shot on the Rock.

Veteran Bill Skilling, former Secretary of the HMS Jackal Association and who recently died said: "Men were taken off the Jackal at Gibraltar and never seen again".

Crewman John Draper, said back in March 1999: "There are a lot of rumours about what happened to the men. It is time we knew the truth".

A blitz commemoration event will be taking place on the 20th March 2003, at 2.00pm, near Charles Church.

City residents` will be paying tribute to all those Plymothians who perished by bombs that “tore out the city's heart.”

The Rev Roger Williams of St Mathias Church will be giving a blessing, where flowers and a flag of Gibraltar will be symbolically laid on the pavement. A letter written by Plymouth campaigner Eileen Le Bearn before her death will be read out. Paying tribute of her love of the city & Charles Church-which she seen go up in smoke by the Luftwaffe in 1941.

Spain's military Plans and thinking on Gibraltar

EXCLUSIVE
by JOE GARCIA
The Spanish military, at the highest level, have reaffirmed that a Spanish Gibraltar is a top priority.

Sovereignty and territorial integrity are 'vital interests' while the 'recovery of the sovereignty over Gibraltar' is a 'strategic interest', according to the Spanish,

The importance attached by the Spanish military to a Spanish Gibraltar shows why the joint sovereignty deal faltered on military grounds.

MEDITERRANEAN

Because of its geographical position, Spain says it can exercise a major influence over the western Mediterranean, but sees this aim of policy weakened by the British presence at Gibraltar.

This has been a longstanding concern of Spanish military planners which has heightened with the entry of Spain in NATO and its newfound role in western defence strategy.

The recovery of what it terms as 'its historical right' over Gibraltar is a matter of the first order' to allow it to gain a prime role in what it sees as its area of influence on behalf of national and NATO interests.

This role is seen as impaired by the British presence at Gibraltar, says a Spanish military document which seeks to project a vision of the future up to the year 2015.

In this context, it advocates a 'united Europe' with an 'autonomous military role', although it recognises that European defence is dependent on NATO at present. Spain does not regard a policy of 'European defence by the Europeans' as threatening Atlantic relations.

Regional stability is a vital consideration, as recognised by the Barcelona declaration of 1995. Spain wants to play an increasing role over North Africa and the Mediterranean.

The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, whether nuclear, biological etc, together with the ability to launch such weapons, is regarded as able to originate a major threat to stability. The Spanish document takes note of the events of September 11.

In the context of the main risks for its security, Spain points at Ceuta and Melilla, and other rocks in the North African coast, as possible sources of risks for Spain's own integrity. It further points at the importance of the Strait for Spain's basic requirements, such as energy requirements.

The Spanish military document goes on to say that the 'British colonial presence at Gibraltar' is a limiting factor in the exercise of Spanish sovereignty.

It sees other problems flowing from military operations which can take place from the Rock without Spanish participation over areas of strategic interest for Spain, such as access to the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.

Under the heading 'the recovery of sovereignty over Gibraltar', the document speaks of 'an imposed presence at Gibraltar', which is a crucial point for the world's maritime traffic.

"It has direct consequences over our own people, territory and maritime areas and, definitely, over all kinds of Spanish interests, apart from weakening the role that corresponds to Spain," say the Spanish military.

Apart from the military, problems posed by the British presence include economic, financial, judicial, social etc, they claim.

Gibraltar is a long standing thorny issue in Anglo-Spanish relations, inevitably affecting such relations. But the Spanish defence ministry adds that the positive evolution of relations between the two countries presents the possibility of the problem being progressively resolved, for the first time ever.

How the military shot down the joint sovereignty deal

Our disclosure today shows to what extent the differences over Gibraltar between the British and Spanish military led to the planned deal on joint sovereignty being shot down.

The Spanish military see no point in a deal over Gibraltar if they are not going to be involved in the military affairs of Gibraltar.

It also shows the kind of pressure the Spanish Government must have been applying on the UK to allow a Spanish military participation here, which seemed a possibility until the defence secretary Geoff Hoon leaked his letter expressing concern that British defence interests were being put at risk by Foreign Office designs.

While the Spanish would like to exercise control in this area, they themselves reluctantly recognise that the Spanish Government must further improve the operational capability of their armed forces before such a move is seriously contemplated. Spain must also accelerate the full compatibility of its military systems with those of allied forces, as the military document recognises.

Hospital’s complaints procedure not working well

The complaints procedure at the Gibraltar Health Authority is operating “in a less than satisfactory manner,” says the latest Ombudsman’s Report.

In last year’s report the Ombudsman pointed out and welcomed the fact that certain measures had been taken to improve the structure of the GHA Complaints’ Procedure. He expressed the view that these were steps in the right direction but much more was needed to improve its performance.

In his 2001 Annual Report the Ombudsman expressed the view that the Complaints Procedure had under performed. The reasons forwarded at the time to explain this underperformance ranged from the GHA not having sufficient resources or the designated officer not having sufficient means for imposing her authority to deal with investigations, to the lack of co-operation received from those being investigated. The Ombudsman said in his last report that this situation was inadmissible and that Government must either equip the GHA Complaints Procedure with the necessary resources and the designated officer with sufficient authority to properly conduct investigations of complaints or refer complaints against the GHA to an independent authority that would properly and effectively investigate such complaints.

REGRETTABLY...

Regrettably and in spite of the assurances given by the Government, the Complaints Procedure has continued to operate in a less than satisfactory manner throughout 2002. The general view of the Ombudsman is that notwithstanding the fact that there is a number of professionals whose work ethos is of the highest calibre, the GHA continues to attract a significant number of complaints and not all of them unjustified.

In 2001 the Ombudsman was informed by the Minister for Health that a comprehensive audit by an independent expert from the UK involving all practices and procedures, managerial, administrative and clinical was going to be carried out. The Ombudsman was told that the general audit would be carried out during the first half of 2002, and that the Government was committed to carrying out a review of the Complaints Procedure both structurally and operationally.

The Ombudsman welcomed the review of the GHA launched by Government in late September. This as announced by the Minister of Health would involve a team of U.K. clinical experts to carry out a profound review and modernisation of the areas of health care in Gibraltar.

The Minister was quoted as having said that with the move to the new hospital, the aim was to revise the cultural and organisational changes, to ensure that the GHA’s working practices, procedures and clinical practices reflect the most modern and up-to-date practices in high quality, patient centred health care. The Minister announced that this project for clinical governance would be completed in some 12 to 18 months.

The Ombudsman said that his office would be monitoring very closely the unfolding of this project and see how it would impact on the day to day running of the GHA.

COMPLAINTS

The year 2002 saw another decline in the number of complaints registered at St. Bernard’s Hospital. During 2001 a total of 35 complaints were registered, yet during 2002 these amounted to 30 complaints. Out of these 30 complaints 4 were resolved within the established time limit, whereas 26 were not. During 2002, 9 complaints were registered at the Primary Care Centre, compared to 11 complaints during 2001. Again, as in the last year the Ombudsman was unable to explain the reason for the continuing decline in the number of complaints lodged.

Although he again expressed the view that it could be attributed to the public’s disenchantment with the Complaints Procedure, which as already stated, had failed to serve the public in an efficient manner during 2002. In late November the Ombudsman was informed that the Complaints Procedure was under review and that it would be restructured before the end of 2002 or in early 2003. The Ombudsman noted that by the end of 2002 the expected changes had not materialised.

LAST WEEK'S STORIES 

Search





 

  • Books

  • Magazines

  • Posters & Prints

Top