Beach commitment must be all-year round

The Progressive Democratic Party welcomes the statement by Government that it is considering a refurbishment programme of the beaches ahead of the new summer season. "But this is simply not enough.

Inclement weather that causes damage to the beaches is clearly beyond Governmental control but the Government should be much more conscious of the fact that beach usage is not simply a summer activity," they say.

Many citizens use the beaches, promenades and adjacent playgrounds during winter months. Facilities are almost non-existent during these months and toilets are closed. Beaches are often unsafe and dangerous. They are full of rubbish and other sharp or dangerous items. Frequently the situation is worsened by objects that are washed up onto the beaches and remain uncleared for some time. There seems to be a marked absence of a coherent plan of action for the future. Every year we have the same issues and every year there are promises of refurbishment. Year in and year out there are calls from many sectors of the community just before the summer season commences to ensure that Government moves to make our beaches ready in time for Easter for both local families and tourists alike. The PDP feel that these persistent calls have been disregarded. Many more people would use the beaches, waterfront promenades and play-areas if they were properly looked after all the time and not just during certain months. It is important for there to be an all-year round investment in facilities to meet the community?s needs and the desire of people to make proper use of these areas throughout the year. Otherwise the Government is, in effect, sanctioning areas that are out of bounds for families because they are unsafe and inadequate.

Given the Government?s comments in today?s press as to the size and importance of Tourism to the economy this is an additional reason why the beaches, its adjacent areas and facilities should be maintained throughout the year. In view of the promotion of Gibraltar by Government as a tourism destination these beaches should be looked after all year round and not just through the summer months when the Department of Tourism take responsibility for them until the season ends. The fact that bad weather has an adverse effect on the beaches should not be used as an excuse for them to be abandoned for 6 months of the year. It makes more sense to maintain these throughout the year instead of bearing the expensive costs of heavy duty clean-ups and refurbishment once a year.

The PDP calls on the Government to introduce schemes like the Blue Flag award [] for beaches and marinas. This scheme has been successfully introduced in other countries and has led to improvements in the provision of relevant facilities and procedures. "That would require a firm commitment to an all-year round tourism product and regular investment in our beaches and waterfronts. This would be in the interests of our environment and the quality of life of our citizens," says Rosemarie Peach.