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Govt and GSD set out positions on road closures after ‘misunderstanding’

Eyleen Gomez

The Gibraltar Government has said it “regrets a misunderstanding” with the GSD over lack of consultation on the new traffic measures.

The GSD hit out over the timing of the announcement, and said it was “untrue” that they had agreed and supported the initiatives.

The initiatives unveiled last week by the government were the closure of Line Wall Road to general traffic except for residents, buses, blue badge holders and taxis, the complete closure of Chatham Counterguard road and the closure of Europort Avenue to only allow school and residential traffic.

The Opposition added the government cannot expect to “sell any measure to people simply on a Covid bandwagon.”

“The imposition of parking fees in MidTown or the closure of Europort Avenue have got nothing to do with dealing with the virus,” the GSD said in a statement. “These measures need to stand on their own two feet and the Government needs to persuade people why these should happen.”

The GSD said they do not favour the closure of Europort Avenue.

“The proposals on Line Wall and Chatham Counterguard were contained in a draft document that the GSD saw,” said Leader of the Opposition Keith Azopardi. “However there was no reference in that document to implementation on the 1 June 2020 or how the groundwork or consultation would be carried out. What we urged yesterday was for Government to do a full consultation with parties interested and the necessary groundwork before plans are implemented.

We also made the obvious point that other measures need to be put in place for such a plan to work – like a Park and Ride for foreign vehicles for example.”

On the Line Wall Road project, Mr Azopardi said he saw the draft document and felt it was “important to work together to improve the document so that Gibraltar could benefit from a better Unlock Programme.”

“It was obvious any feedback on the principle of the Line Wall project was personal only and known to be so,” Mr Azopardi said.

“Additionally we did not speak about timing or consultation of stakeholders.”

Mr Azoaprdi added the second time he received the document he was asked to comment specifically on two sections of the document which did not contain traffic proposals.

“I took the view it was important I should assist in the wider public interest,” he said.

“It was, at that stage, that I was permitted to share the document with colleagues.”

“In any event there has never been any mention in that document of the Midtown parking fees or the closure of Europort Avenue.”

“What is “unfair” and simply untrue is to suggest otherwise. The GSD Opposition has been happy to work with the Government in the wider interests of Gibraltar at the time of pandemic to get Gibraltar through all this.”

“But it is wrong of the government to seek to take advantage of that good faith to suggest that there has been consultation where there hasn’t been.”

In response the government said it had reached out of the Opposition to work together on Covid matters.

“This has been positive and productive and may enable us to deliver a new style of politics for Gibraltar going forward more generally,” the Government said in a statement.

“The Government therefore regrets that there appears to have been a misunderstanding on the issue of the agreement in relation to road closures and trusts that the close working relationship developed will be able to continue.”

The Minister for Transport and Traffic Vijay Daryanani said the closure of Line Wall Road and Chatham Countergaurd had been agreed with Mr Azopardi.

“We have agreed the closure of Line Wall Road and Chatham Counterguard in principle with Mr Azopardi,” Mr Daryanani said.

A Government statement added: “That is all that the Government has said Mr Azopardi has said he committed to. The Government has not wanted to be interpreted as suggesting the opposite.”