Gibraltar Government 'should protest in strongest terms' to Spanish Government

The latest developments in the proposed toll that the La Linea Mayor wishes to introduce are a mixture of smokescreen and an aggravation of the toll proposal.

First it is reported that the Mayor has now decided to position any toll on exit to Gibraltar rather than on entry. Whether the toll is on entry or exit is of course objectionable, but the fact that it is now proposed on exit demonstrates what the PDP have been saying for some time namely that this is not a congestion charge at all but a naked toll and tax on Gibraltar's success. This cannot be a congestion charge on La Linea traffic if it taxes traffic leaving Gibraltar most of which will completely by-pass La Linea and will cause the traffic chaos in Gibraltar instead. Besides the obvious point about a congestion charge is that it is intended as an environmental measure to make it less attractive for people to use their cars to go into a city centre.

By all accounts the Mayor does not want less people to visit La Linea. Rather he wishes to have more visitors so that the city's financial coffers grow. All this exposes the lie behind his policy.

Secondly he announced yesterday that a percentage of the funds collected from the tolls will be utilised for social cases. That is merely a smokescreen to dress up as slightly more acceptable a completely hare-brained scheme. It is a completely transparent and ineffective gesture.

We are now seeing the La Linea Mayorís true colours. In questioning the Andalucian President Mr Grinanís criticism of the toll as illegal he has reportedly said that Mr Grinan is behaving like Ďanother Gibraltarianí. This is the same Mayor who barely a few months ago was all smiles and handshakes in a meeting with the Chief Minister and pledged that he wanted to have a climate of friendship with Gibraltar. Actions speak louder than words.

'The imposition of a toll is unacceptable and illegal. It will be a clear hindrance on freedom of movement. The Gibraltar Government should protest in the strongest terms and the Spanish Government should squash this proposal once and for all.

'Further delay merely threatens to further de-stabilise relations and is an unnecessary threat to the daily lives of Gibraltarians. Obviously it will also affect the many thousands of Spanish workers in Gibraltar. It is not for Gibraltar to underwrite the financial mis-management of another city.í said PDP Leader Keith Azopardi.

'The PDP notes that the Chief Minister has said that he is reluctant to be drawn into an issue that is internal between La Linea and Madrid. While of course this is a Spanish internal issue the PDP has made clear that the Gibraltar Government should protest in the strongest terms and request that action be taken to ensure that the proposal does not see the light of day. This is a proposal that is targeted at Gibraltar and is designed to have a direct impact on our economy and the freedom of movement of our people.

'All the Gibraltar Government needs to do is defend Gibraltarís interests against this nonsensical measure. It should not be reluctant in discharging its duty. In government the PDP would have no such qualms."