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Govt ‘working tirelessly’ to deliver affordable homes delayed by ‘unforeseen circumstances’

Photo by Eyleen Gomez.

The Government of Gibraltar yesterday rejected the GSD’s claims that Brexit and Covid were being used as excuses for not having completed affordable housing projects.

The Government said it has been working diligently to deliver on its promises despite the unprecedented challenges posed by both Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It is deeply regrettable that the GSD would refer to Covid-19 as an excuse when 112 Gibraltarians have lost their lives to this terrible disease,” the Gibraltar Government said.

But replying some hours later, the GSD said it “stands by the measured points it has made” in relation to the “significant delays hampering the completion” of the affordable housing developments.

This is the latest in an exchange over the delays in the completion of affordable housing in Gibraltar, namely Hassan Centenary Terraces, Chatham Views and Bob Peliza Mews.

The GSD this week said the Gibraltar Government cannot use Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic to “absolve itself from responsibility”, as it criticised the delays to the new housing estates.

The delays to the housing projects were also at the core of a heated Parliamentary exchange after the Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, said he had written to Chatham Views and Bob Peliza Mews purchasers informing them that the Government would honour the original prices despite a significant increase in construction costs.

On Wednesday the Government said it has “handled both Brexit and Covid-19 in an exemplary manner under the leadership of Fabian Picardo and Joseph Garcia”.

“Brexit continues to be a challenge and the Government continues to work to address that through the negotiations of a UK/EU Treaty,” a statement from No.6 Convent Place said.

“The Government remains committed to delivering affordable housing projects such as Hassan Centenary Terraces, Bob Peliza Mews, and Chatham Views.”

“While there have been delays due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of the Government, we are working tirelessly to ensure that these projects are completed as soon as possible.”

“Indeed, the GSD and the indecisive [Damon] Bossino could not have delivered these projects any sooner if they had been in Government and they are therefore trying to trick the purchasers by pretending that the delays are the fault of the GSLP/Liberal Government, when they are not and the same delays would have affected a GSD Government.”

“We understand the frustration of those who have applied for these homes and we are committed to attending to their plight with compassion and flexibility.”

The Chief Minister has written to all purchasers to explain the delays and the relevant timetable, the spokesperson said, adding that the Government will continue to work towards delivering these homes and providing affordable housing for all Gibraltarians.

“It is important to recognise that both Brexit and Covid-19 have had a significant impact on our community and our ability to deliver on certain projects,” Mr Picardo said.

“It is a shame that Mr Bossino and the GSD want to stoop so low as to call a worldwide pandemic that has taken the lives of 112 Gibraltarians an ‘excuse’.”

“Brexit is not yet over for Gibraltar and remains a daily source of work for Government and has an effect on building contracts.”

“However, we remain steadfast in our commitment to providing affordable housing for all Gibraltarians.”

“The GSD is cruelly trying to trick the purchasers into thinking that there were things that could have been done that we have not done.”

“That is not true.”

“The GSLP Liberal Government has worked every day to deliver these homes and will continue doing so.”


In its reply to the Government, the Opposition remained unchanged in its view.

“The undeniable fact is that the Government has historically failed to deliver on all of their promises in relation to timings,” the GSD said last night.

“The GSD has set out a very careful chronology which shows, without a shadow of a doubt, that these developments were at one stage promised to be completed before Covid struck and at another stage, at least as respects one of the phases, also prior to Covid.”

“The Government should be taking direct responsibility and not use dissuasive tactics which now also include hurling defamatory abuse at Opposition members.”

“The fact is that construction continued during the Covid restrictions because it was one of the few sectors allowed to carry on.”

The GSD added: “The cost overrun, which in respect of Hassan Centenary Terraces currently runs are £30M - despite the original denials when this precise figure was put to Mr Picardo by Mr Bossino in Parliament - and a still to be disclosed figure in respect of Bob Peliza Mews and Chatham Counterguard; the fact that 144 of the Phase 1 residents of Hassan Centenary will not immediately have parkings available on completion; and the very ‘real life’ issues which people are facing as a result of these delays have been quite properly and justifiably raised by the GSD Opposition.”

The GSD also took issue with some “disgraceful” references to GSD MP Damon Bossino made by the Chief Minister in the Government’s statement.

“It is ill-befitting, although sadly not surprising for the Chief Minister, our highest elected official, to have sought to lower the political discourse to such venomous and vicious levels,” Mr Bossino said.

“As an elected official and albeit honorary KC, he should be leading by example and not behave like an uncontrolled bull in a China-shop whose cage has clearly been rattled.”

“His office demands that he behave differently politically but he always seems intent in taking politics to the gutter.”

Mr Bossino said “insults…are the arguments employed by those who are in the wrong.”

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