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'Death by drowning'

The result of the Post Mortem carried out by Dr Jerreat, Forensic Pathologist into the cause of death of Commander British Forces, Commodore White's death was by drowning.

An inquest will be held in Gibraltar in due course.

British Forces collect for tsunmai appeal

Volunteers from British Forces Gibraltar have been collecting unwanted clothes, children's toys and packets of dried food in response to the Red Cross appeal to help victims of the Tsunami disaster. The squash court in Devil's Tower Camp has been used as the collection point.

On Wednesday morning volunteers then packaged over eighty bags of donations into boxes to be sent via Bishop's Move to Sri Lanka.

A British Forces Spokesperson says: "People in Gibraltar have been so generous in giving to the victims of the Tsunami Appeal. British Forces Gibraltar just want to help out where we can.

"This is a 'funicular folly'
- says GONHS

The Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society (GONHS) has so far refrained from making much public comment on the proposals for a funicular train to the top of the Rock. This is because it has faith in the planning process and is confident that such a scheme will not receive approval, they said yesterday.

In a statement they add: However, in view of recent public statements, in particular by the proposers of the project, who seek to justify it by underplaying the huge negative impact and giving the false impression of great benefits to heritage, GONHS has no choice but to state that it totally opposes the proposal and categorically rejects the points made by the developers who claim that there will be no significant effect on the environment.

GONHS is struck by the audacity of the consortium in claiming that the whole idea of the project is to enhance Gibraltar's heritage. And the consortium downplays the clear adverse environmental impact that the running of a railway line up an undisturbed area of the Upper Rock's habitats will have. This is incredible and is a clear attempt to cover up what is obviously a real stumbling block to their proposal.

There is no-one better than GONHS, with its expertise and track record locally and internationally, to assess the environmental impact of such a scheme, and our assessment is clear. The implication in a GBC interview that GONHS is not independent is as ridiculous as it is regrettable. GONHS is well known, even by developers, for its reasonable approach to development and its willingness to co-operate whenever harm and damage to the environment can be minimised. On this occasion this cannot be done. If we are against it, then everyone in Gibraltar will know that it will be for good reason.

They add: The proposal represents the first major construction on the Upper Rock for half a century and would be a clear deviation from the policy of successive Governments over many decades who have supported and respected the integrity of the Upper Rock. It would set an unacceptable precedent that could well predict the end of our only stretch of real countryside.

The destruction and the disturbance caused not only during the works, but also throughout the operation of the train will be extremely disruptive to wildlife and will result in serious threats leading to the loss of important components of our fauna, including our special Barbary Partridge whose habitat will be dissected.

More than a "lifeline" to the area of Rock Gun, as described to the media by Brian Francis, it would be a death sentence to an area of exceptional natural beauty. It would threaten the "wild" pack of apes by affecting their natural behaviour, encouraging them to interact with the public, and also resulting in direct mortality as they are hit by the trains. It would threaten the habitat of important rare plants special to Gibraltar - some found nowhere else. It would destroy the peace of the northern area of the Rock, upwards from Governor's Lookout - such a popular site for the public and the Scouts in particular - where a gaping hole will be blasted out of the ground.

Plans already in advanced stages to introduce to the Upper Rock - precisely to the area in question - the wild Ibex (or Mountain Goat) and the Roe Deer would have to be aborted. We would lose the opportunity of restoring and improving the wilderness value of the Rock and enhancing it as a nature reserve and a proper tourist attraction.

The purposes of education and interpretation, which the proposers are making such a big deal of, we have been serving for years. While any additional education and interpretation would always be welcome, it is certain that Gibraltar does not need such a destructive development to achieve this. It can be achieved sensitively and at much, much less expense.

GONHS has already presented plans to convert the Rock Gun site into a biological reserve, once the MOD have left, much as are parts of the Coto Doñana and the Sierra de Grazalema, with guided tours and access to the public and tourists in a controlled manner, so that they can observe Ibex, deer, eagle owl, peregine, raven and other species, and appreciate the natural, unspoilt beauty of the Rock.

Instead, now that the MOD are relinquishing the site, rather than grasping the opportunity to promote it as an asset, we would be destroying it altogether for all time.

This is even ignoring the impairment of the views of the northern defences and the Moorish Castle, the unsightliness of the top station, the rails, and all the negative destructive work that will go into it. It will involve the wrenching down of trees, the tearing up of rocks and soil, the meshing and grouting of cliffs and many other things that the developer's pretty pictures, as submitted to the public fail to show. Why is it that none of their photographs or artists' impressions show machinery digging up our Rock, tearing up mature trees, blasting our heritage to smithereens?

What about the dangers of rock falls, and the damage to the environment in trying to prevent these? And the disruption to traffic and to housing estates, and the economic effects to traders and tourist operators?

If this project were to go ahead, it would mark the end of the Upper Rock as we know it, as a serious nature reserve, as quiet countryside, and make it look more like a fairground, with carriages going up and down day and night in a scene more fitting of Tivoli World or the Chessington World of Adventure. It would give Gibraltar a bad name in nature conservation and heritage circles and in publications around the world.

The stated aim to enhance our heritage is an attempt to mislead. The formal plans show no access to "the Jungle", and access to the area and to the top of the Rock can be opened in many ways that are not destructive. Significantly the developers claim that it will open up the northern defences. This is not at all mentioned in the documents that were presented in the Environmental Impact Assessment, and so is attempting to mislead either the authorities, or the public. Indeed it is planned that one of the tunnels in the Northern Defences will be filled with the rubble created by the blasting of a new, 150m tunnel through our Rock.

GONHS has no confidence in the so-called UK experts who have been involved. They seem to have the impression that the Rock is the size of the Alps or the highlands of Scotland, where such a train can be lost in the landscape, hidden within a huge tract of land. The consortium makes a comparison to the case of the Cairngorms, which still remains controversial. They argue that a funicular that was recently installed in this National Park has had little effect on the integrity of the Park. What they do not tell you is that the Cairngorms National Park is 123 times larger than the Upper Rock Nature Reserve and that the number of people using its funicular every year is only 250,000, but a third of the target for Gibraltar. To make such a comparison is misleading and devious.

GONHS has studied the environmental statement prepared for the project's proposers and has rejected it as being poorly researched, full of inconsistencies and misquotes, and showing a supreme lack of understanding of the local environment and of its scale. It has no confidence in the scheme's so-called independent environmental advisors, who have produced an extremely biased report, nor in their heritage advisers. If their main interest was legitimately the promotion of our heritage, then they would have approached organisations such as the Heritage Trust to discuss and develop ways in which our heritage could be enhanced and promoted without at the same time having huge chunks of it destroyed. No, their motives are clearly not those.

They should be honest and admit that their main interest is monetary.

In addition, some of the so-called local firms involved are in fact UK-based and have a questionable record in relation to their concern for the environment in other local projects in which they have been involved. We must not be fooled by the presentation of "acceptable" local faces as partners. This is a case of people from outside Gibraltar, who have no regard for our heritage or wildlife, looking to make some money from the rape of our homeland.

Despite the implication in the statement to the media, GONHS is extremely well informed about the project. It is the developers who are guilty of misinformation and not only downplaying, but ignoring the true and tragic effects that their project would have on the Rock.

The developers claim that they will produce an asset to our heritage, an icon representing Gibraltar. Gibraltar already has its icon - the Rock itself, the majesty of rock and cliff and nature at the summit, with our town and port nestling at its base, living in harmony with each other. The Rock is its own icon, thank you. We don't need half a doughnut sitting on top of it to be a symbol to the world. It would be more like an embarrassment, a demotion from the symbol to the world that we already are.

GONHS rejects the developers' claims that they are enhancing the conservation of our ecology and heritage. More like a celebration of its destruction, of the rape of the only part of the Rock where Nature still reigns supreme. And all for what?

Once again we see that people who don't even live here are trying to buy one of our more precious assets and trying to turn it purely into a money making enterprise for them, while ignoring the advice of those of us who have lived on and studied Gibraltar and its natural assets for decades. Ignoring those of us who love Gibraltar and who care. This time it is the very outline and peace of the Rock that they are seeking to destroy. But these have no price.

We ask these people to kindly go away and leave our majestic Rock in its natural and peaceful state.

GONHS has a lot more to say on the matter, but it will refrain from making any further statement at the moment, confident that the authorities will not contemplate this abomination, says their Press statement.

More soldiers from Royal Gibraltar Regiment in overseas duties in regiment's history

The soldiers of The Royal Gibraltar Regiment continue to volunteer for service overseas on operational duties. This month has seen the largest number of men serving overseas in the Regiment's history,

A section of men under Sgt James Gracia left this week for Shaiba Camp, in the British sector of Iraq. There they will be attached to the Scots Guard Battle Group. They join WO1 Stuart Bensadon who has been serving as the Camp RSM since Aug last year.

A further section has been posted as part of an exchange to the 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, They join Capt Juri Williamson who has been serving with the battalion again since Aug 2004.

Both sections will return to UK in early April and join the Regiment on their UK Battle Camp before going on post-tour leave. This conforms with the normal Army procedure of returning to work immediately after an operational tour.

Iraq Section
Sgt J Gracia
Cpl D Castrey
Cpl A Chipolina
Cpl I Hamilton
Cpl M Cooper
LCpl A Perez
LCpl B Tosso
Pte K McGuigan
Pte L Traverso
Pte S Wright
NI Section
Cpl Wallace
LCpl L Mauro
Pte L Cano
Pte N Balbuena
Pte K Gaivizo
Pte A Garro
Pte P Battison

The Regiment also has 4 individuals serving on non-operational duties in N Ireland, UK and Gennany, bringing the total of deployed volunteers to 23.

Funicular project will cost over £15 million

The proposed funicular project was presented by Leslie Ratcliffe, the promotor and director of 21st Century Rock Ltd. The project is to be sited on the basketball pitch above Landport Ditch and "will rise to the top of the Rock by the North face, giving access to the Northern defences."

"My introduction to Gibraltar was through a then young professional James Levy who was working in the office of Sir Joshua Hassan at Library Ramp. It was difficult not to be impressed by Sir Joshua and his goals for Gibraltar. I became an investor in Gibraltar over 20 years ago through his connection," said Mr Ratcliffe at a press presentation yesterday. He said he was also advised by Brian Francis and initially his first discussion with the MOD took about 6 months to complete when they authorised a 'full technical feasibility survey in September 2002.

"I believe Gibraltar has a unique opportunity to enhance its heritage to the advantage of the people of the world. I have been looking at this opportunity over the time I've been visiting Gibraltar and hearing everyone talk about it. I decided some 5 years ago to try to do something to promote Gibraltar on a global basis. I believe the Gibraltar funicular project will achieve the result of opening up the heritage route to all including the disabled."

The Development and Planning Commission has been told that the £15.5 million scheme offers Gibraltar the chance to realise a brand new world class tourist attraction. The scheme is said to incorporate "a major cultural and heritage experience which will support and build upon the renowned heritage and history of Gibraltar."

It will offer swift access to a hitherto inaccessible part of the Rock, and will inevitably attract extra tourists, the DPC has been told.

The developers say that the environmental effects both in the construction phase and ongoing will be mitigated by the use of sympathetic construction techniques and building materials.

ESG objects to funicular project: Significant negative impact

The Environmental Safety group says it objects to the proposed funicular plan.

"When the first plans were aired for a funicular railway in Gibraltar some time ago, the ESG did not dismiss the concept out of hand. It suggested at the time that any such infrastructure should be very carefully considered if it would try and improve our current transport systems on the Rock," they said in a statement.

An ESG committee member went so far as to have a discussion with the potential investor to see if the initial proposal could be developed to accommodate local as well as tourist traffic, cutting back on road congestion, pollution, and overall environmental impact. This never got very far.

SILENCE

After a period of silence on this issue the ESG is surprised to see a second and similar proposal for a funicular railway coming forward as it does at such a busy time of the year and regrets the lack of opportunity, given the time frame, for proper public consultation and participation.

The group acknowledges the amount of work that has evidently been invested in the substantive environmental statement that accompanies the plans, but has not been swayed by any of the positive arguments put forward. The Environmental statement itself indicates a negative 7 overall score!.

The funicular railway would serve as an additional tourist facility that would detract from our natural environment whilst setting an alarming precedent for further urbanisation in the Upper Rock area in the future.

As the environmental statement rightly indicates, “the development of the upper station will have a substantial negative effect on the Upper Rock.”

The visual impacts of the Upper terminal building by nature of its elevated location, form and mass, would be more widely seen and impact more heavily on high sensitivity viewpoints than the route of the funicular railway itself. "The result would be a significant negative impact on the widely recognisable appearance of the Rock of Gibraltar," says the ESG.

The Environmental Statement highlights the “lack of traffic data and modelling in Gibraltar “(non-existent).

MOVEMENT

An example of significance, but merely one of many, is that the traffic movement calculated to be created through the construction process over a five month period is set at : 144 total truck movements per day (18 two way movements per hour! or one every three minutes!!) using 5 ton trucks for eight hour days, 5 days per week. The document states that impact from this on the lower station (near and on Corral Road) is considered to be big but impossible to enumerate given the lack of traffic data.

It is clear, however, that the impact from such significant vehicle movements will not only impact the Corral Road area, but would also have significant repercussions on traffic congestion generally on Gibraltar’s roads, they add.

There are other issues such as considerations given to localised impact on people and their quality of life due to noise and air pollution from blasting of tunnels and various construction processes as well as the mayhem that the lower station will cause particularly in the early stages.

Similarly the paper also mentions an inability to access the “Upper Rock Management Plan” or details of the protection status of the “Upper Rock Nature Reserve. The ESG considers that urgent publication of such important information is necessary and could protect this important area of the Rock from this proposed urbanisation and any other future attempts at commercial development in the Upper Rock area.

DEVELOPMENT PLAN

The ESG reiterates its call for our Government to produce an updated development plan for Gibraltar to ensure that clear and practical guidelines are set for all activity and development to be carried out sensibly and with full implications understood well ahead of time. To achieve this, sufficient time has to be allowed for interested members of the public to look over any plans.

The ESG yesterday lodged an objection directly with the Planning Commission against the funicular transit system project.

Top military visit after CBF's death

The Deputy Chief of Joint Operations, Rear Admiral Wilcocks has flown in from London to visit British Forces Gibraltar.

He came to visit British Forces Gibraltar following the recent death of Commodore David White. He also took the opportunity to visit various units around the Rock including the Joint Logistic Support Unit and the Royal Gibraltar Regiment.

Lieutenant Colonel Mark Randall, Commanding Officer of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment emphasises how important it is to the Regiment to be visited by senior military personnel when they are in Gibraltar.

He says, "We have a unique role in the defence of Gibraltar but are also able to deploy further afield. It is important for senior military personnel to meet our soldiers and get an understanding of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment’s roles and capabilities."

Gib soldiers in Iraq

Twelve soldiers from the Royal Gibraltar Regiment are in Iraq, said military sources. They are in the southern area of Basra, which is not thought to be the main 'hot spot' in that troubled country.

They left for Iraq on Monday and will be based with the Scot Guards Battle group. The local soldiers wanted to go there for experience, and volunteered to do so.

This is not the first time that members of the regiment have been in Iraq. Officers were there at the start of the conflict. But this is the largest contingent from the regiment to go there.

The regiment have already got seven soldiers serving in Northern Ireland, with the Royal Anglian Regiment.

Consumer guide to insurance

The Financial Services Commission said yesterday they had published a guide to insurance products aimed exclusively at the consumer.

The aim of the guide is to provide a clear reference point for consumers on the different types of insurance products which are available. It also brings to consumers' attention what they should be looking out for as well as suggesting questions that they should be asking of their insurance intermediary or financial planner, said the FSC.

Written in plain and easy-to-understand language, it is divided into Life, Home, Health, Motor and Travel Insurance sections. It also contains a glossary of commonly used insurance terms and general issues surrounding all types of insurance products.

Damian Rocca, who co-authored the guide together with Jandra Borg, said: "Experience tells us that consumers may sometimes buy insurance without knowing the exact terms and conditions of their policy and, for example, the types of losses which are covered and which are not.

"We are therefore delighted to have produced this document to enable consumers to better understand insurance products.

"The guide is simple and informative, and we trust will be of good use to the consumer."

The guide has been drawn up in conjunction with the Gibraltar insurance sector.

OBJECTIVES

The FSC has set itself a number of objectives including raising public awareness of financial products. The guide to insurance is the first of a series which the FSC will be producing across the main types of financial products which are available to the local market.

• Interested persons can read the guide on the FSC’s web-site  by clicking on the Consumer section on the menu followed by Insurance Guide.

Gibraltarian gets top job in UK union

Gibraltarian Manuel Cortes has been appointed as the new assistant general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), the UK’s second largest rail union.

Mr Cortes was appointed by TSSA originally in 1998 as a recruiter, progressing to organiser and most recently negotiations officer. For several years he has been leading the union’s campaign to gain recognition rights for managers in Britain’s train operating companies.

The 37-year old assistant general secretary, born in Gibraltar, has been a trade unionist from the age of 15. He starting working life as an electrician, and later graduated as an engineer (Herriot Watt University, Edinburgh), obtaining a master’s in optical electronics (Strathclyde University) and economics (also Strathclyde).

Before joining TSSA, he worked as a fundraiser and campaigner for Amnesty International and as a recruiter for the Banking, Insurance and Finance Union (now amalgamated into Amicus).

TSSA assistant general secretary Manuel Cortes said: "I feel privileged to be given the opportunity to serve our members in this senior role. I want to make a positive contribution to the union, and intend to build on TSSA’s successes in getting recognition rights for workers, despite some challenges from employers. "I will also work closely with members and our general secretary on TSSA’s campaign to restore the railways to public ownership."

TALENT

Responding to the new appointment, the TSSA general secretary, Gerry Doherty said: "I am delighted to welcome Manuel Cortes to his new post. He brings immense commitment, enthusiasm and talent to the top echelons of our union. I know he is as committed as I am to delivering our members’ aspirations on fairness in the workplace, decent retirement benefits, and, not least, the return of our railways to their rightful place, the public sector."

TSSA represents 33,000 members in administrative, clerical, managerial, professional and technical jobs in the railways, buses, the London Underground, the travel trade, canals, ports and ferries, and road haulage. Manuel Cortes’ appointment took effect from Monday, December 21.

Four earth tremors in Gibraltar area since Christmas

by PANORAMA reporter

There have been four earth tremors in the Gibraltar area since Christmas, and ten in the last 30 days. With the tsunami disaster in Asia in everyone's minds, questions are being asked about earthquakes in the Gibraltar area.

It has to be said that Gibraltar is at the bottom of the danger area as regards earthquakes, according to scientific information. But there is no harm in creating a greater awareness of such matters.

In determining the strength of earthquakes, 33km is used as a default depth for earthquakes determined to be shallow. Default depth of 5 or 10km are usually used in mid-ocean ridges since earthquakes in these areas are usually shallower than 33km.

An earth tremor on 13 December west of Gibraltar was given a depth of 10km, while another 13 days later was 8km in depth.

MAGNITUDE

The magnitude of the recent Asian earthquake was 9 in the Richter scale.

Earth tremors in the Gibraltar area in the last 30 days have ranged in magnitude from 3 to 4.9, less than half of the Asian one in most cases.

As a general rule, earth tremors in this area are very slight and more often than not hardly noticeable.

The great Lisbon earthquake of 1755, whose shockwaves reverberated in Gibraltar, had its epicentre west of Gibraltar into the Atlantic. It is regarded as one of the biggest in Europe, around 8 in intensity, and causing major devastation in Lisbon. Huge waves were recorded down to the Algarve and the Cadiz coast.

The Euro-asian and African tectonic plates come in from the Mediterranean and out into the Atlantic through the Strait of Gibraltar.

MOROCCO

A major earthquake of 5.7 magnitude took place in Agadir, south of Rabat in Morocco, which some people in Gibraltar still remember. It happened in February 1960. It is estimated that at least 12,000 died, with an international relief operation set in motion at the time, including help from Gibraltar. In February last year there was a 6.4 earthquake near the north coast of Morocco.

South-east Spain is well known for its earth tremors, mainly in the Granada area.

While it is not known if there is any detection equipment in Gibraltar, equipment that could alert to a Tsunami is being installed in Spain where there are 78 seismic alert stations. The high speed of a Tsunami makes it essential that the public are alerted promptly.

CBF said to have ‘leapt to his death from a second floor balcony’

Commodore David White leapt to his death in his pool from a second floor balcony after taking booze and drugs, claims a report in The Sun. Police believe he downed several whiskies and took a number of tablets before making the 25ft plunge fully clothed.

The Gibraltar forces’ chief — ordered home on Friday to answer charges he downloaded child porn images off the internet — smashed his head on the bottom of the pool, the paper adds.

He had showed no sign of crisis on Friday night, when he was seen "and looked in great spirits."

As investigations into the death got under way, police in London confirmed to The Times that Commodore White had been under investigation for allegedly downloading child pornography after being identified by Operation Ore, Britain’s biggest child pornography inquiry.

He is believed to be the 33rd suspect of Operation Ore to kill himself rather than face the disgrace of an investigation and possible prosecution.

Operation Ore was begun in 2002 after American investigators uncovered a pay-per-view website run by a couple in Texas enabling customers to download child pornography.

"The commodore was one of 7,250 Britons identified after their credit cards were traced to the website," said the paper.

So far more than 4,283 homes have been searched and 3,744 arrests made. Suspects range from judges, civil servants, teachers, lawyers and senior surgeons to police officers. Around 1,840 suspects have been charged and 1,451 convicted.

Accusation against us is complete fabrication, says Opposition

The Opposition said yesterday that certain accusations made against it by the chief minister are a complete fabrication.

A statement says that Mr. Caruana referred last week to the issue of Gibraltar's legal entitlement to have a tax system different to that of UK. He then went on to say this was crucial to Gibraltar’ s future and accused us of having recently stated that the importance of the issue was being exaggerated.

"That accusation against us is a complete fabrication on Mr. Caruana's part, saif financizal services spokesman Fabian Picardo. The Opposition has not made any statement whatsoever on this issue.

The only statement made recently by the Leader of the Opposition related to the disappearance of the qualifying company regime which ended on the 1st of January and which has not produced the dire consequences predicted by Mr. Caruana on many occasions in the past.

"Indeed, in answer to a question from me in the last House of Assembly, Mr. Caruana confirmed that none of the existing companies had decided to leave Gibraltar as a result of having to give up their qualifying company status," he said.

TAXATION

Mr Picardo adds: "As regards the right of Gibraltar to set its own level of taxation independent from UK, we are clear that this goes to the very heart of our constitutional relationship with the UK and the supremacy of ourparliament to pass the tax laws of our own country. If the European Commission has chosen to challenge this, it is as a result of the political decision taken by Mr. Caruana to submit to the Commission for its approval the entirety of a new tax structure covering all types of business in Gibraltar.

This is something which no other member of the European Union has ever chosen to do. We have never expressed a view on the wisdom of this decision and have only commented to point out that the Opposition was not being briefed on this issue confidentially or even less consulted on it by the Government. Instead, we have had to rely on information published by the Commission."

CONFIDENT

At the same time last week, Mr. Caruana announced that he was confident that an interim agreement reached with the EU last month will shortly be approved by the Commission and come into effect. It follows that if his confidence is justified, then there cannot be a huge threat facing Gibraltar since presumably this agreement will permit the existing tax exempt companies to continue. Again, no information has been provided as to the content of this agreement, but it is logical to assume that the perceived threat would only arise if the agreement reached in December is not approved and therefore not put into effect, and if the present exempt companies leave Gibraltar as a result.

"It appears from past experiences that the modus operandi adopted by Mr. Caruana is to magnify the negative effects of issues affecting Gibraltar in order to claim credit subsequently when the results are not as bad as predicted. In this case, we shall have to wait and see," the statement ends.

Matrimonial bills for the House

Three bills for ordinances to be approved in the House of Assembly have been recently published in Gibraltar Gazette, referring amendments and provisions to matrimonial matters and parental responsibility.

A bill for an ordinance to make provision in respect of EC Regulation (EC) 2201/2003 of 27 November 2003 concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgements in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility, repealing Regulation 1347/2000, to make further provision in respect of EC Regulation (EC) No. 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgements in civil and commercial matters and to amend the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgements Ordinance 1993.

The effect of the amendments in relation to EC Regulation (EC) No. 44/2001 and to the Brussels and Lugano Conventions is to provide that foreign judgements may be enforced in Gibraltar subsequent to being declared enforceable by the appropriate court in Gibraltar.

Previously, such judgements could be enforced in Gibraltar if registered in the prescribed manner with the appropriate court in Gibraltar.

In relation to EC Regulation (EC) 2201/2003 the amendments are to ensure that Gibraltar law conforms to European obligations in relation to jurisdiction of the courts and the recognition and enforcement of European judgements in matrimonial matters and parental responsibility.

Another bill is proposed for an ordinance to amend the Matrimonial Causes Ordinance to make provision for Council Regulation (EC) 2201/2003 concerning jurisdiction and recognition and enforcement of jurisdiction in matrimonial matters.

The small amendment makes it clear that the Matrimonial Causes Ordinance has effect subject to Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 of 27 November 2003 and Council Regulation (EC) No. 22/2001.

These two European regulations concern jurisdiction and the enforcement and recognition of judgements in respect of maintenance, matrimonial matters and parental responsibility for children and apply to all member states of the European Union except Denmark.

Section 39 of the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgements Ordinance applies the two European regulations as between the UK and Gibraltar.

A proposal to amend the Magistrates’ Court Ordinance in section 45(a) by substituting the following: (a) under law relating to the guardianship of minors, including parental responsibility matters under Council regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement or judgements in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility.

These small amendments ensure that ‘domestic proceedings’ in the Magistrates’ Court will include matters relating to children under Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 of 27 November 2003 and all applications for the recognition and enforcement of maintenance orders under the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgements Ordinance 1993 and not simply those which fall under Part I of that Ordinance.

State of shock

Following the tragic death of Commander British Forces, Commodore David White, "all British Forces personnel he commanded in Gibraltar remain in a state of shock at the news," said chief of staff, Colonel Tom Camp, yesterday afternoon. He is now the acting CBF until a new appointment is made.

Certainly everyone who had met Commodore White will equally be in a state of shock.

As Colonel Camp put it, in a comparatively short time in post he had become very popular with his staff - and indeed with everyone else.

Commodore White was determined that British Forces supported Gibraltar and Gibraltarian people, said Colonel Camp.

He endeavoured to integrate British Forces within the local community.

Shortly after his arrival, at a reception given by the Governor at the Convent, it was PANORAMA which suggested to an aide of CBF that he should organise a collective meeting with the media, because civilian/services relations are important whatever differences there might emerge on specific issues from time to time.

It so happens that Commodore White was to subsequently invite the media and press officers to his home at Mount Barbary for a buffet reception one evening which was a huge success. It became clear there and then what a friendly person he was, how proud he was of the Royal Navy and how much he wanted to help Gibraltar and its people.

As Colonel Camp said yesterday, Commodore White had earned the respect of his staff for not only carrying out his role and responsibilities as CBF, but also for the way in which he carried them out.

His popularity extended to Gibraltar as a whole.

The specific reasons that led to his death are not yet clear, but they are described as being of a personal nature. Whatever they may be, Gibraltar has lost a great friend.

FULL TEXT of Statement by Colonel Tom Camp, Chief of Staff and acting Commander British Forces

As you are aware, Commander British Forces Gibraltar, Commodore David White RN, died over the weekend. His body was found within the swimming pool of Mount Barbary Residence, Gibraltar, on Saturday 8 January 2005. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies quite clearly at this very difficult time are with his family and friends.

This tragic event has been met with great sadness by the Command. All British Forces personnel he commanded in Gibraltar remain in a state of shock at the news. In his comparative short time in post he had become very popular with his staff. He had earned their respect for not only carrying out his role and responsibilities as CBF, but also for the way in which he carried them out. He was passionate about his Command, proud of the professionalism of his people and did everything in his power to encourage military usage of the Naval Base, Airfield and training facilities.

From a personal perspective I had worked closely with Commodore White since his arrival in May last year. I became aware very quickly of how much he enjoyed his job here, how proud he was to hold the position of CBF and also how much he respected Gibraltar and its people.

I would hope that the people of Gibraltar were also aware of this and share with us the sadness at his death.

Commodore White had a significant and positive impact on British Forces relationships with Gibraltar across a range of topics. He was determined that British Forces support Gibraltar and Gibraltarian people. He was a high profile public figure and endeavoured to integrate British Forces within the local community. He was at the forefront at the planning for and execution of the RN Freedom Parade in August 2004 and an active participant in the Tercentenary celebrations. He welcomed people from all walks of life on board visiting ships and aircraft and also opened his home for charity functions.

I would hope he will be remembered by all of us for his contribution to Gibraltar.

Funicular project: until tomorrow to stop the ‘monstrosity’, say objectors

By Elena Scialtiel

‘Monstrosity’: this is how Mr. Parody, the spokesman for the “Lobby Group Against the Funicular” describes the project submitted by 21st Century Rock to develop a funicular transit system providing tourist access to the Top of the Rock from the Northern side.

The venture was announced during the Christmas period and the public given the deadline of Wednesday 12th January to lodge a complaint against the realisation of such major works that will produce ‘unpredictably negative impact in the short and long run on the social, economical, visual and environmental tissue of Gibraltar’ – an advertising manoeuvre that has raised eyebrows amongst local associations during a season when the public was distracted by the festive atmosphere.

Calypso Tours Ltd, The Gibraltar Taxi Association, M H Bland & Co Ltd, Persian Rose Ltd and Southern Garages Ltd, have reacted forming an association, the Lobby Group Against the Funicular to lodge a complaint and raised awareness amongst Gibraltarians of the negative effects of such a device, both during construction works and once fully functional. ii iii iiii iiiCONCERN iii iiii iiii iiii iii iiiThe lobby has written to the Chief Minister conveying its profound concern at the proposal, currently before the Development & Planning Commission, which will be finally approved or rejected tomorrow, when the span for the public to lodge their complaint will be expired.

A scheme for the construction of a funicular to the Great Siege Tunnels has now submitted twice to the Development & Planning Commission.

In an interview with PANORAMA, their spokesman listed all the devastating alterations that the new tourist service may bring to Gibraltar: first of all the eyesore that a glass three-floor top station will create standing out in sharp contrast with the gentle greenery of an uncontaminated Mediter-ranean flora the Rock is so proud of. This may as well eventually catch the new facility into a paradox net: if it looks so ugly from the bay, which tourist will be attracted to visit a technology-spoilt nature reserve?

Then there’s concern about the preservation of the histori-cal monuments Gibraltar is so proud of, during the drilling of a soft limestone, which might collapse as well any time onto the densely populated areas of Moorish Castle and Laguna Estates – together with the environmental impact on the fauna that enjoys the wildlife peace of remote peaks on the northern face.

But most importantly: what is it going to be the repercussion on Main Street businesses, lining the walking distance from the coach park at the entrance of Gibraltar to the existing cable car at the southern end?

OBSOLETE

And what about guides, guided tours and licensed taxis? They are concerned that the funicular will sweep away their business and make the Upper Rock tours obsolete and rare, where virtual guides will be strategically placed at the entrance of the monuments.

In fact, tourists coming from Spain will probably be dropped off at the border, advised to cross on foot to reach the lower funicular station and then take their tour the other way round it is made now from the Cable Car: quicker, more techno-logical, but more impersonal, skipping the human experience of a stroll through Main Street and a meal in one of the many alfresco restaurants whose Gibraltar is so proud of. iii iii iii iiiFurthermore, the foreign-operated funicular will cater for visitors to the Upper Rock only, without intermediate stops to the upper town that might have favoured the elderly living in that area and lightened the traffic congestion, and won’t probably absorb with their job offers potential redundancies from the weaker sectors of the actual transport market, like for example casual tourist guides or part-time employees.
 

New funicular project “flawed”, says party

The Reform Party says that following a thorough consideration of the plans for the new proposed funicular railway, it does not support the idea.

"The concept as it stands is deeply flawed in several ways" said a party spokesperson today. "Environmentally, construction would cause great disruption. This is especially true in the tunnel section and in the other aspects as well. For instance, one envisages at least the possibility for accident regarding the large helicopters intended to hoist major construction components for the upper station as they fly to and from the site.

This and other construction processes could have serious effects on at least two of the government Housing Estates in Gibraltar. Also while detrimental effects on wildlife, flora, bird migration and other natural systems are hard to assess exactly, it is clear to us that they will be at least considerable.

NO REAL SENSE

Economically the project makes no real sense either and the necessary number of visitors is just not realistic. The expected figure of 750,000 users per year is not really based on any practical consideration. The actual usage is likely to be much less than this average of over 2000 per day which must be maintained winter or summer, rain or shine.

"We are also concerned about the negative effects, both primary and secondary, on existing transport systems and tourism enterprises and the incomes currently generated by them. They would of course be considerably reduced thereby having a negative result for Gibraltar's economy as a whole in contrast to the positive earnings from the funicular itself,"says a Press release.

The 1Km railway would only go to a viewing platform at the top of the rock. It would not connect easily with any other popular heritage or tourism site. So as a tourist feature the project would hardly be able to be integrated at all into Gibraltar's tourism package.

The Reform Party concludes: "Finally, we can't help but wonder why this project was announced when it was, on the 21st December. With only 21 days from that date for the public to examine the plans and comment/object, we suspect a certain element of hope here by the proposers. Maybe they thought that much of the community would be 'suitably distracted' during the festive season. Well, that may be true of some people in Gibraltar but not ourselves. This project needs to be stopped in its tracts."

Commander British Forces found dead in swimming pool

Commander British Forces, Commodore David White, was found dead on Saturday in the swimming pool in his official home at Mount Barbary. He was fully clothed.

That was the shock news that emerged over the weekend.

Commodore White had been in Gibraltar since May last year. He was single and lived alone. His staff, such as housekeeper, military assistant and kitchen staff would attend to their duties and then leave the house.

On Saturday, his military assistant had gone to Mount Barbary on a routine check. He found him at the bottom of the swimming pool, fully clothed.

Commodore White was dressed casually and had his shoes on.

The military assistant telephoned the RGP at 4.20pm to notify what he had discovered. A waiver was given by the Governor to the RGP to investigate in an MOD area.

The Coroner had the body identified on site. The body was taken to St Bernard's Hospital, and a pathologist is coming over from the UK.

NO FOUL PLAY SUSPECTED

A police spokesman said that no foul play is suspected. There were no visual signs of any injuries. But clearly it was not a natural death.

The RGP have interviewed all staff and will also question the pathologist.

A 'scene of crime' was instituted at the house, which has been sealed off. Police are guarding the house. There was a search of all the perimeter.

Commodore White was 50 years of age.

He wanted to promote the image of the Navy in a place like Gibraltar which had always served the Navy so well. He had ideas about more warships coming to Gibraltar and of having sailors in uniform when on shore leave, to highlight the presence of the Navy he loved so much.

As Commander British Forces he was in charge of the military operations here, where there are about 800 military personnel.

The MOD has five core functions in Gibraltar: The nuclear powered submarine berth; the airfield; intelligence gathering facilities, the headquarters and command, control and communications, and the Royal Gibraltar Regiment.

The MOD said he was under police investigation.

HANDS OFF OUR MONKEYS!

GONHS is taking the initiative in establishing, once and for all, that our Barbary Macaques are wild animals and not a circus act.

Feeding of the apes, other than official provisioning, is illegal, and touching them is unwise and potentially dangerous as there is the real possibility of transferring disease in both directions.

Contact and interference with the monkeys will often lead to bites or scratches, another potential avenue for disease transfer.

GONHS asks all its members, staff and volunteers, to take an active role in dissuading visitors from coming into any kind of physical contact with the apes.

"We are asking you to take time to visit the ape sites on the Upper Rock and get actively involved in solving this problem," they say.

GUIDELINES

Here are some guidelines as to what to do:

If you see anyone attempting to feed, stroke, or otherwise touch a monkey, politely call their attention and ask them to stop doing so.

Explain that feeding the apes is illegal.

Explain that rich foods such as chocolates or crisps are bad for their health.

That even if they appear hungry they are well provisioned and are just reacting like a child will eat an ice cream no matter how well they’ve eaten and, like humans, they become habituated to over-eating.

Explain that receiving food from visitors will make them expect this from everyone and they will become aggressive if not fed.

Explain that they are a potential source of disease

And that we can transmit disease to them.

INFORMATION

Offer them additional information on the apes, for example:



* That they are a threatened species

* That they live in the wild in Algeria and Morocco

* That they are members of the Macaque family and are in fact tailless monkeys

*That they live in groups of up to 40 individuals

*That this species takes special care of their babies, with even the males looking after them.

*That they can live up to 20 years.

*That their diet is almost totally vegetarian but they will eat insects, etc.

*That they can best be enjoyed by observing their natural behaviour and not by degrading them by making them jump onto shoulders and perform tricks.

BITTEN?

If anyone gets bitten or scratched, advise them to:


Wash the wound thoroughly and place under running water for 15 minutes,

Treat with anti-septic

Seek medical advice at St Bernard’s Hospital

INCIDENT?

If any person escorting a visitor complains, politely explain the reason for our actions. Any threatening or aggressive approach should be dealt with by way of a calm response. Log down the details of the incident, with names or vehicle registration numbers if possible and hand this in to our offices at the Botanic Gardens. If the problem escalates, quietly walk away and then call the Police on 72500.

Planned Eastside project put at nearly £2 billion

MULTIPLEX, the Australian builder, and the Reuben brothers, the billionaire private investors, are in talks to develop a £1.8 billion marina development in Gibraltar.

The ambitious project includes at least two luxury hotels, a cruise liner terminal, a 500 berth yacht marina and hundreds of luxury apartments, as well as a housing development.

The project, which is known as Eastside, was inherited by Multiplex and the Reuben brothers after their takeover of Chelsfield, the property company founded by Elliott Bernerd, reports The Times.

It adds: The Government of Gibraltar is keen for the plans to proceed because it believes the project will help to deliver economic growth and hundreds of new jobs.

A spokesman for the Gibraltar Government would only say that the project was being negotiated with MCB Gibraltar, a joint venture between Multiplex and Chelsfield, which has since been taken over by the reuben brothers and Multiplex.

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