Chairman of Heritage Trust resigns over Rosia Tanks issue

The Chairman of the Gibraltar Heritage Trust, Joe Ballantine, has tendered his resignation as both Chairman and as a member of the Board of Trustees.

In his letter of resignation, submitted to the Minister for Heritage, Mr F Vinet, Commander Ballantine explains that he has been compelled to take this action because of the recent events concerning the Rosia Tanks, which are in the process of being destroyed to make room for parking for the flats that the Government wishes to build on that site.

The Trust, as has been reported in the media, took action in court to try to stop this development on the basis of the heritage value of this site, which is an integral part of the whole of the Victualling Yard complex. The tanks and the adjoining stores provided all the necessary supplies to the British Fleet since the beginning of the 19th century.

The Trust?s opposition to the project persisted until 20 January 2006, when the Trust took the decision, by a majority, to withdraw from litigation because members of the Board felt that they and the Trust could potentially be faced with escalating costs and damages which could adversely affect the future of this body, said a statement.


It adds: Since that action was taken Commander Ballantine has repeatedly tried to reflect the views of the Trust in the best possible way, but personally, in conscience, he has felt he cannot continue to do this. Neither can he continue to bear the stress and feelings of frustration at having failed to convince anyone in the administration to relent in its drive to continue with this project.

He has reiterated his support to the Government in its desire to build affordable housing, which is laudable, but not on this unique heritage site.


Another member of the Board, Denis King, has also tendered his resignation, completely independently of the decision of the Chairman. During the bicentenary year, Mr King was heavily involved in promoting the local Nelson sites among the visiting Trafalgar enthusiasts from UK. He now feels that, once the tanks are demolished, he stands to lose credibility with these many people and that he is no longer able to carry out his duty properly as a custodian of Gibraltar?s heritage without losing face.