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MPs agree to tackle ‘shameful’ cemetery

The Gibraltar Government and Opposition have come to a consensus over the condition of the North Front cemetery, acknowledging that it is a ‘work in progress’ and the need for improvements.

The motion was tabled by GSD spokesman for the Environment, Trevor Hammond, who flagged up the current poor state of the North Front Cemetery and called for it to be better cared for and maintained.

In presenting his motion to the House Mr Hammond told MPs that he receives complaints “almost daily” about the condition of the cemetery and highlighted a petition that had been raised asking for improvements.

“As leaders of this community we all share to a lesser or greater degree the shame of having allowed this situation to arise,” Mr Hammond said.

“I am proud to move this motion as a positive action in at least getting this House’s acknowledgement that this is an issue, that many people feel let down and that improvements must be made,” he added.

Mr Hammond therefore called on the House to acknowledge and accept that the North Front Cemetery “is not as we would wish it to be”.

He added that lavish sums do not need to be expended in order to bring about improvements but advocated a more effective use of available resources.

First to reply to the motion was the Minister for the Environment, Dr John Cortes, who said: “I am not happy with the state of the cemetery…it is, however, very much a work in progress.”

“Mr Speaker at least there is work in progress which there hadn’t been before we came into Government because the complaints about the cemetery and the state of the cemetery go back for decade’s right through the time of the previous administration,” he said.

Dr Cortes highlighted some of the factors that contribute to the current state of the cemetery and what processes are already in place to remedy these as well as future plans.

The government, he said, is currently finishing a process of consultation and will shortly be publishing a command paper with a revised cemeteries Bill “which will deal with a lot of these issues”.

Dr Cortes proposed an amendment which read: “This House recalls that North Front Cemetery is the place where our loved ones are laid to rest, considers that there has always been room for improvement to the condition of North Front cemetery and that this has been the case under successive governments.”

“Notes the importance of continuing maintenance to the state of the cemetery, recognising the efforts presently being made in that direction and supports the Government’s plans to review relevant legislation and to provide a management programme for the maintenance of the cemetery.”

“Mr Speaker, this I am hoping will allow us to work towards a cemetery that our community requires, demands and in fact deserves,” Dr Cortes concluded.

Responding to that, Mr Hammond said that Dr Cortes’ amendment appeared to him to be “perfectly acceptable”, and indicated that the GSD could support the emended motion.

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