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GSD calls on Govt to consider old police station for ‘tribunals’

The GSD has called on the Government to consider retaining the old police station in Irish Town in public ownership and using it to host tribunals. This follows the invitation from the Gibraltar Government for expressions of interest in the former Central Police Station Building.

“The former Central Police Station is an iconic and beautiful building and the GSD believes that there is a real opportunity to retain it in public ownership for the purposes of housing all tribunals,” the Opposition said in a statement.

The GSD believes that with sensitive and careful development of this historic property, it could be used as a central hub for all tribunals such as the Industrial Tribunal, Rent Review Tribunal and Social Security Tribunal.

The added benefit of having a central hub for tribunals would mean that the costs of administration and resources could be shared and pooled, the GSD stated.

For example it has long been the case that Industrial Tribunal hearings have been held at both New Harbours and John Mackintosh Hall.

“Locating the Industrial Tribunal at a fit for purpose central location with a permanent Chairman would improve the service and the citizen’s interaction with the service.”

The GSD said it invites the Government to give serious consideration to retaining this building for the purposes of not only locating tribunals at a central location but also as part of a wider move to bring tribunals under the umbrella of a combined Courts and Tribunal Service.

The GSD added that it will be inviting views from stakeholders and the public.

Shadow Minister for Justice, Elliott Phillips said: “It will be recalled that there was significant investment into the fabric and infrastructure of our justice system by the GSD in Government, from the building of new courts and a new prison to the recruitment of new judges.”

“In addition, the GSD and latterly the GSLP in their first term, finalised reforms the criminal law, family law and laws concerning children.”

“This iconic building should be retained in public ownership to create a central location for all tribunals in order improve the service to the public.”

“Over the last eight years we have seen significant changes to our justice system but the time has come to take stock, review where we are and how we improve the point at which the citizen interacts with the Courts and particularly tribunals,” Mr Phillips said.

“We believe that creating a central hub for tribunals should be the first step in bringing tribunals under the umbrella of a combined Courts and Tribunal Service which will serve our community well and ultimately improve the quality and experience to the service user and the administration of justice in Gibraltar”

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE WITH PLANS

Responding to the GSD’s statement later the same day, the Government announced plans for a police exhibition space in the old central police station.

The Government said it invited expressions of interest in the building in May of last year. The deadline for submissions was 31 July 2015, after which the process closed and discussions commenced in order to progress the preferred scheme.

The decision to proceed in this way was taken after careful consideration of the state of the building, the Government said in a statement.

“It is therefore surprising that the Opposition have waited all this time before putting forward ideas of their own for its use, although the timing and substance is clearly a matter for them,” said the statement.

The scheme currently under discussion includes provision for public access into an area on the ground floor to be used as a Police exhibition space or as a general cultural exhibition space, or both.

It is also a condition that the historic building will have to be preserved and that heritage considerations will have to be taken into account, the Government added.

The scheme will go through the planning process in public in the usual way in order to allow for greater consultation.