Political row over festival festers
The GSD yesterday accused Chief Minister Fabian Picardo of lying to the community about the music festival, as the long-running spat between the Government and Opposition on the issue continued to fester.
“Gibraltar is getting used to Mr Picardo's spin and lies,” a GSD statement read.
This immediately drew a stinging reaction from No.6 Convent Place who accused the GSD of embarking on a “destructive tirade” on the subject.
The Opposition was responding to a Government statement, issued the day before, which insisted that their criticism of the event can only mean that they will put up the prices or water down the quality of the acts.
But, in hitting back yesterday the GSD said: “Not content with refusing to publish a real and complete breakdown of figures on the festival Mr Picardo has now lied to the people of Gibraltar by saying that the GSD has said "black upon white" that we would increase ticket prices at the music festival.”
“The GSD has said no such thing and not one word was said about ticket prices in our press releases on the subject.”
GSD Leader Keith Azopardi said: "I appreciate that this subject is uncomfortable for Mr Picardo.”
“After all his festival has lost £9.3million since inception and £3.1million alone last year,” he said.
“I also appreciate it must be doubly uncomfortable when at the festival he has created his special grace and favour enclosure for his friends which every year seems to get bigger.”
“But to lie to people is unacceptable.”
Mr Azopardi reiterated that the GSD has not said it would increase ticket prices.
“It has said it would put the festival out to tender, give it more local control, reduce costs and save the taxpayer money,” he explained.
“All of that is achievable.”
“If Mr Picardo doesn't know how to do that then he should move aside and let others who can do so.”
“I will, like every year, attend as a paying customer.”
“Presumably Mr Picardo does not think that the thousands of Gibraltarians who like me pay their hard earned cash towards the festival should on top of that be grateful to him for losing so much taxpayers money on his jamboree."
For its part, the Government insisted that the GSD, “having put their foot in it, are now trying to cloud the issue of their contradictory and hypocritical behaviour.”
“Some Members of the Opposition have attended at the invitation of the Government while another Member, Mr Clinton who does not enjoy this kind of music anyway, has been critical of it.”
The Government said it has explained that the accounts of the festival are already published in so far as contractual commitments allow.
But, the Opposition continue to “distort” the figures supplied by the Government to “suit their own political ends”.
No.6 insisted it is simplistic to describe the festival as loss-making.
“The festival is not loss-making. Instead, it is subsidised by the Government in order to keep ticket prices down for families and young people.”
“The plain truth is that the GSD are stuck in a web that they have spun for themselves and they cannot get out of it.”
“They need to face the fact that the only way to reduce costs would be to lower the quality of the acts or to increase the price of tickets to young people and families.”
“The Government has already said that the festival will go out to tender once the deal with MTV is over.”
“This is therefore a non-issue,” the Government said.
“Thousands of people from Gibraltar and abroad have enjoyed the festival every year and will continue to do so this year as well.”
“Heaven forbid that Mr Azopardi is ever in a position to run the festival. It would end up as unexciting and irrelevant as the GSD.”