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Zone 2 scheme sparks Twitter spat

Zone 2 Parking 08-04-2018 (Photo John Bugeja) empty parking spaces

The row between the Government and Opposition over the new Zone 2 parking scheme spilled over into social media yesterday with exchanges between government Minister Paul Balban and GSD MP Trevor Hammond.

The Twitter spat came after Mr Hammond posted a photo of a near-empty Montagu Bastion in Zone 2.

Mr Balban reposted the image highlighting a parking restriction cleaning sign, suggesting that was the reason for the absence of vehicles in the area.

And in doing so he accused Mr Hammond of trying to score cheap political points.

In response Mr Hammond posted a picture taken in the same location with a similar number of vehicles but minus the sign.

He further tweeted directly at Mr Balban and said “he seems to believe that empty spaces in zone 2 are down to cleaning, seems every day is a cleaning day, must have the cleanest streets in the world”.

Mr Balban, he added, was “ignoring the evidence of dozens of images and videos, clinging to your hope that the empty spaces in zone 2 are down to cleaning rather than a poorly executed plan, which took 5 years to produce.”

The Minister drew GBC into the debate too, posting images of a fuller looking Zone 2 which, he said, looked nothing like images shown by the broadcaster.

“It’s either things have picked up suddenly overnight or footage was dated. Cheap political points? Or sensationalisation? Or a bit of both,” Mr Balban tweeted.

News editor Jonathan Sacramento replied: “Why would we need to score political points? We're independent journalists reporting fact. Empty spaces shown were filmed yesterday. The report was fair and reflected the thoughts of many people in Gibraltar.”

“You were given a four minutes on air to defend your policy,” he added.

Clarifying his position, Mr Balban said: “Not referring to GBC! - but can see how it could be misconstrued. Just another statement of fact though, picture this morning was different, at least in my opinion. No doubt about GBC journalists independence though.”

The exchange also prompted an intervention from the Chief Minister.

Fabian Picardo tweeted: “Indeed, our criticism is not of @GBCNewsroom 's balanced report, but of an opposition MP who should ensure that his public statements are not designed to mislead the public! #FACTSnotFAKES”

tweet 1

The Zone 2 scheme, which came into effect earlier this month, has drawn flak from frustrated local drivers who are unable to park in town even when there is ample space available.

Government and Opposition have exchanged statements on the subject this week intensifying the row further.

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