Thursday, 2nd August 2012
Tony Lima becomes new Gib Mayor after parliamentary consensus
by Alice Mascarenhas
With a long distinguished career in the Civil Service Tony Lima, over a 50 year span, has gone from being PA to former Mayors to being Gibraltar’s current Mayor. Invested yesterday lunchtime in the City Hall, silence filled the Chamber followed by great applause as the Chain of Office was placed on him by outgoing Mayor Julio Alcantara. In the presence of the Governor, Chief Minister, Members of Parliament, local dignitaries, family and friends, the ceremony was as ever precise and dignified with the participation of a Royal Gibraltar Regiment Bugler who had sounded in the new Mayor. The Pipes of the Sea Scouts Band had led the parade into the Parlour where Chief Minister Fabian Picardo announced the new Mayor’s term of office would be extended by eight months and would run until March 2014 to the end of that financial year. He then announced there would be no deputy during this time
and that former Mayor Tony Lombard would return to the Mayoralty for an extended period at that time.
The Chief Minister made known how on having consulted the Leader of the Opposition Peter Caruana on both matters, he would be moving Motions on the extension, and Mr Lombard’s re-appointment in the next session of Parliament. Following proposals made to Government for an extension, Mr Picardo said both had agreed that one year was not enough for the men and women of the calibre who had already served as Mayors to give their best to this community.
On Mr Lombard’s re-appointment the Chief Minister stated: “There will not be a deputy mayor because given that we have decided to bring back somebody who has already been mayor it would not be appropriate for him to be deputy. I am therefore delighted to tell you that after consulting with the Leader of the Opposition I will be moving a motion to propose the appointment of Tony Lombard as Mayor for a period far in excess of one year.”
In his speech the Chief Minister paid tribute to Mr Lima for his contribution as Deputy Mayor and looked forward to his term as Mayor, as well as to Julio Alcantara for his contributions over the past year, recognising that Mayors were very important in the context of Gibraltar.
“They are not Mayors in the Spanish sense they are much more than that because they represent our whole community in a civic capacity where party politics is irrelevant. They represent Gibraltar,” he emphasised.
Mayor Tony Lima’s career, pointed out the Chief Minister, had begun in the service of the City Council which would later become the Civil Service. In that period Mr Lima had already served his community.
“Today having served many Mayors and Chief Ministers he becomes himself Mayor of Gibraltar. I am delighted to have been able to support the motion appointing him Mayor by the Leader of the Opposition and even more delighted to be here today as Chief Minister to see him invested with the honour of representing our community in this civic capacity.”
The news of the Mayors extension was welcomed by the new Mayor, and as a true Civil Servant added: “mainly because it runs with the financial year.”
Mr Lima said he was both grateful and humbled to have been given this opportunity and the extension would allow him extra time to carry out his programme as Mayor.
It was a very special day not just for him but for his family and for those who had travelled from Cambridge to be present at the ceremony. It had been on a visit to Cambridge, he revealed, where he had been phoned by the then Chief Minister Peter Caruana and asked if he would accept the appointment to the Mayoralty.
With reference to his Civil Service career and his time as CO of HMS Calpe Mr Lima believed his experience in these areas would help him in discharging his new responsibilities.
“It was almost 50 years ago when I stood in this same room and I was interviewed for the appointment of Clerk Grade 2 with the then City Council. It is incredible,” he commented. He would be PA to the then Mayor Sir Joshua Hassan and later under the 1969 Constitution to Sir Willie Thomson and Sir Alfred Vasquez when the duties also moved to the House of Assembly. Listing all Mayors through the years, the new Mayor thanked them each for their contributions.
“I represent the people of Gibraltar where non-political civic matters are concerned and I give you my pledge that I will spare no effort in building on what has so far been achieved by my predecessors.”
Although inroads had been made, he vowed that the search for those fellow citizens who without any fuss silently carry out very important work for the community, would continue.
“We need to find out where they are and we need to bring them here. There are also those who have never ever come to a civic reception,” he added and to this end welcomes suggestions from everyone.
Talking to the Chronicle following the announcement Tony Lombard expressed his delight at the news.
“Generally, it is a huge honour and privilege, made all the more specific because, modesty aside it may be unique, as well; in that, in the 703 year history of the Mayoralty of Gibraltar, I do not believe a Mayor has been re-called and asked to re-serve, some years, following the conclusion of his term of Office and retirement, and that, exceptional and generous recognition, by the politicians, is both humbling and gratifying and, of course, further ‘sings to my historical soul’, in respect of the precedent it clearly set,” he said.
“On a more personal note, it is also particularly gratifying to be re-asked by the party who was in opposition, when I was first appointed, as to indicate the gracious confidence I enjoy right across Parliament,” he added.
Meanwhile outgoing Mayor Julio Alcantara said that as the first of the new-style Mayors to live through a General Election, he trusts he had been able to maintain the essential impartiality and dignity of the Mayoralty.
“Having bridged two administrations, I thank ex-Minister Edwin for his consistent support and warmth throughout his share of my term as Mayor; equally I thank Minister Steven for his open, genuine, helpful friendship throughout this time. I know he would have wished other things for me, and for that I am grateful,” he said in his final speech.
Mr Alcantara applauded the decisions made by the Government to lengthen the mayor’s term of office and the move to make the building the focal point of all things cultural. Decisions, he said, he had long sought after himself commenting there may now be an opportunity to replace that “hideous false balustrade on the roof and replace it with a real one”. Mr Alcantara said he would forever be indebted to Parliament for the privilege and honour granted to him, to represent this great City as its Mayor.