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Budget Speech 2023 – The Hon Paul Balban – 473/2023

By July 17, 2023 No Comments


Mr Speaker, it is an honour to rise once again, as Minister for Transport for the last time before the upcoming elections.


Mr Speaker, at first blush, and after listening to the father of the House’s budget speech conclusion regarding his analysis on the Environment, the first thing that came to my mind was whether I should simply stand up and say Mr Speaker, “I commend the Bill to the House” and sit down again.


But, Mr Speaker, luckily enough, the resilient bicycle and our even more resilient feet, have a few more tricks up their sleeves, and one is their potential for significant health cost savings.


These savings come about when a population walks or cycles more as a mode of transport as opposed to each person sitting inside their own car.


The direct effect on fitness, cardiovascular health and respiratory health still leaves active travel in a very good place.


Mr Speaker, nevertheless, my friend and colleague, someone I have always looked up to and wise far beyond his years, hits the nail on the head.


We need to change our mode of consumption, and I quote “from excessive consumption to necessary consumption”.


We need to change our lifestyle.


This is spot on and the reality of it, and I won’t dwell or delve further in what was said as it paints quite a bleak picture and it will be there, recorded in Hansard long after we burn up in the heat of the sun.


Maybe our next budget should include a Head for space exploration as we are going to have to look for that Planet B.




Mr Speaker, we are all very aware, that opinion is extremely divided when it comes to the environment and our responsibilities towards it, especially when it comes to traffic and transport.


Our 2019 Manifesto was for a green Gibraltar and the creation of a child friendly city.


This was the direction that this Government wished to see Gibraltar take, during the 4 years after the election.


Little did we know the challenges that we would face; least did I know that I would leave Transport and become the Minister for Health and would be faced with the challenge of a worldwide pandemic.


Although my heart has always been in medicine and health, preventative medicine, in my view is the most important of all branches of medicine.


As a dietitian, before my time in politics, I tried to encourage healthy living, promoting good nutrition, treating obesity to prevent illness and improve fitness.


Over time, this resulted in massive improvements in my patients’ health, but it was the weight loss and the prevention of obesity that made the most difference.


Preventative medicine during Covid meant behavioural change, social distancing, and self-isolation and this was especially important for the most vulnerable.


Living an active life has always been the key to promoting a longer and healthier life and this in turn translates to health savings.


This Government recognises the direct impact that health and fitness have on us and our budget measures reflect this.


Who doesn’t want to live longer, see their grandchildren grow up and feel well?


Mr Speaker, looking at my journey over the past 12 years objectively, I have realised, that my work really, has in fact, revolved around the health of the nation.


How does traffic and transport tick this health box?


Although, back in 2011, inexperienced when it came to traffic and its management, I thought that I would tackle the traffic problem head on, creating more and better infrastructure, new roads, roundabouts, and parking but I soon realised that more parking meant more cars.


The work carried out to prepare the Sustainable Traffic, Transport and Parking Plan, reinforced my thinking.


Instead of dealing with improving traffic flow, building more roundabouts, and creating more parking spaces. I found myself instinctively, trying to look at traffic and transport in a human centred way.


In my mind, mobility, as I believe that the Ministry I lead, should be called, the Ministry for Urban Mobility is all about people and how we may be able to move as a community efficiently, quickly, and effectively.


In doing so, we create that human centred city, that child friendly city, that green Gibraltar.


By thinking about people but especially children, even if many cannot see it, and they criticise it, rebel against it and fight against it, we can make this community a better place.


At least this is my opinion and the basis of my work.


However, this does not mean that we must rid ourselves of the private vehicle, no, this means that we must try to choose the right tool for the job.


Some people will find the car is their only option, and hence the right tool for the job and that’s perfectly fine; to go shopping or to drive elderly relatives to their medical appointment or simply because they want to.


This is called choice, and we can all choose.


But for others who live close enough to school or to work, walking may be the best way to move.


But why do many children not walk to school, why do many children not cycle to school as many of us did when we were kids?


I am often told by parents that they are scared to let their children walk or cycle to school because our roads have become busy, dangerous, and unhealthy.


But these roads used to belong to us, to the people, we lived on the roads, children played on the roads, we socialised and did business on the roads, but we gave them up, surrendered this space to the car and moved indoors.


Those were the days of “el patio”, las verbenas, playing football on the street, having to pick up the ball and all of the children having to step to one side each time a car came, which was extremely infrequently.


We would place an empty matchbox in the middle of the road and take turns to see whose matchbox would be squashed first by the tyre of an oncoming car, but Mr Speaker, it was so boring because it took ages for the cars to come.


These were magical times, and our social media was el cotilleo that was spoken en al porton de los Humpries.


Today children play inside metal cages, in parks separated from the lions of the road, to keep them safe, children must hold their parent’s hands or be tied into their buggies, even on the pavement in case a child should run away onto the road.


The moment we cannot allow our children to walk alone on the street or cycle to school, the circle is complete, activity levels drop, average weight increases, and we become unhealthy.


Furthermore, many management companies and committees within estates forbid children cycling or skating on the podium and common areas, they make noise, they are a nuisance.


Then we have fossil fuel emissions to further contend with, but even electric vehicles produce particulate matter from their brake pads and from the erosion of their rubbing components, especially their tyres which affects our respiratory health.


Then there is the “small” matter of our geographical size, we physically cannot accommodate so many vehicles, even if we changed them all for electric vehicles, all vehicles take up space and we have one of the highest vehicle ownership rates in the world.


But we know that.


Mr Speaker, this Government’s view has always been that we should be inclusive, that we need to provide the choice and encourage those that wish to walk of cycle, to be able to do so safely.


Mr Speaker, I will therefore not apologise to those that have been upset as a result of some of the work that I have done, neither for projects and initiatives that have very often been contentious and unpopular in certain circles, but which have been an important part of the holistic vision for a better Gibraltar.


I have often been jeered from a distance, insulted, I have been the subject of many, many, memes, and because of the vast differences of opinion, some individuals have become very personal in nature especially on social media.


I am often shocked, when some criticise vociferously the creation of safer walkways when these were created along Prince Edwards Road and South Barrack Ramp.


Some prefer to see parents with prams and children leapfrogging dangerously between parked cars than see parking spaces for their cars and motorbikes being lost.


However, it is also true to say that I have also enjoyed a great deal of support and encouragement from many individuals that have motivated me to continue this very difficult work.


Each day more and more.


Were it not for this positive support, this journey would have been harder, but one that I would, nevertheless, have still embarked upon as I believe that it’s the right thing to do.


Mr Speaker, social media, is often alive, rampant, in fact, it is fair to say, usually on fire, when projects aimed at environmental improvement, or for the safety of people are announced or are being carried out.


The reality is, Mr Speaker, that there are few subjects more emotive than our cars and our parking spaces, and sparks often fly.


This is the very reason why, it is often heard within professional circles, especially within urban planners, environmentalists, and sustainable transport professionals, that Government’s around the world need to be very brave and resolute when it comes to transport policy, because Transport contributes significantly to our environment, our wellbeing, and our health.


I have tried to be just that, brave and resolute.


I introduced pay parking simply to give those that need to drive more opportunity to park, I introduced the Residential Parking Scheme with a yearly fee, now that was fun from the word go, and the Opposition will remember that fun, as we had arguments for months and months about it, I introduced the first bicycle lane removing a number of parked cars, penalty points, the 1.5m law, that was another memorable one, I have even taken away parking spaces to create bicycle parking.


The list goes on and on.


I have done so many things and I have got it in the neck more times than I care to remember.  


Even my beard became easy picking.

But when I say resolute, here I stand, today Mr Speaker with my full beard, despite the many memes and pleas and attempts to convince me to shave it off.


Mr Speaker, change needs to be taken like bad medicine with much honey.


I struggle somewhat with the honey.



Mr Speaker, in Gibraltar, Transport is responsible for 20% of our total emissions.


This Government has committed, by way of its 2019 Manifesto, the Climate Change Strategy, and its Active Travel Strategy to make Gibraltar a better, safer, greener, child friendly city and to achieve some ambitious targets.


I for one, will not shy away from my commitment to try to achieve this, even if this is at the expense of my own popularity.


Mr Speaker, I have strived to create human spaces within our city, safe democratic spaces for all, but especially for our children to enjoy and we will hopefully see these come to life soon because Gibraltar matters to me.


Space for people to sit, socialise, to discuss politics perhaps, or even their next holiday plans and for people to enjoy a coffee away from heaving roads of rushing cars, acceleration, blaring horns and the sound and smell of idling engines.


Mr Speaker, there is space within our quiet parks to enjoy a lawned oasis of calm, lined with trees and plants, this is part of our vision for a green Gibraltar.


But there also needs to be a balance of urban space, areas which are not parks, within the community where children can play, ride their bicycles, skate.


For people to eat, drink and enjoy time with their friends, or walk their dogs respectfully and conscientiously in landscaped areas, away from the more rigid rules that exist within our parks in Gibraltar today which prohibit bicycle riding and dog walking.


Mr Speaker, I am pleased to work closely with my friend and Environmental ally on many projects, and we agreed to permit access through Campion Park and Juan Carlos Perez Promenade for cyclists and included bicycle parking telling cyclists, “you are welcome here” allowing for more travel options.


Mr Speaker, a Living Street is exactly this, and many cities have already created these urban spaces which allow for human interaction and life.


Modern cities must be human, liveable cities.


This is what I strive for.


In fact, the Development and Planning Commission recently granted final planning permission to our first living street project in Gibraltar, at Europort Avenue, a project that will be privately funded and that will provide exactly this, a democratic and person-centred space.


Within this space, those that wish to drive their children to school will be able to do so, and residents of the area will also be able to access their homes by car in a west bound direction.


I am hopeful that this area will become our first low-emission zone within Gibraltar, something that I have also been working with my colleague, John Cortes on.


I am extremely excited to be able to showcase this vision, one that the expect the community will support, over time.


Mr Speaker, the residents of this area and the children who will be going to the new schools opening here in September, will be the real winners of this project.


This road will boast of landscaping and shaded areas with trees, kiosks and cafeterias that will cross fertilise the whole area, inviting those that walk by, to spend some time there.


Mr Speaker, I am not against the car.


I am for life, for living, and for providing human spaces within our city.


I am all for providing sustainable and meaningful options to move and travel to and from work, in a space away from our busy and unhealthy roads.


The private car is but one travel option in today’s changing world, and it is slowly become less relevant within many urban city centres as alternative and sustainable travel options come to life.


Mr Speaker, a community that owns a reasonable number of cars is a reasonable community.


But not everyone can walk or cycle, Mr Speaker, or will want to walk or cycle, but so to, not everyone can drive, not least children and teenagers who do not have a driving licence.


We must provide the option.


Mobility is a human right.


I repeat, this is all about personal choice but we must give the choice and without safe bicycle lanes, people do not have the choice.


Mr Speaker, although this statement often raises eyebrows, I am not a cyclist.


I do not dress up in Lycra and ride with the peloton, I simply choose to ride a bicycle to get to work and back.


I enjoy the freedom of cycling to places without the constraints of having to drive around in a car looking for a parking space or getting stuck in traffic.


I can soak up the surroundings on my bicycle, I am one with them and not stuck within an air-conditioned box on 4 wheels stuck behind all the other boxes in a queue.


Encouraging other forms of travel will help address the real problem within our city, the numbers of private motor vehicles on our streets and our unsustainable reliance on them, their emissions, and our unhealthy, broken streets.


This is what we must get right.


Vehicles make our roads unsafe.


Irresponsible, speeding, and careless driving makes our roads unsafe.


Heavy vehicles tear into our roads, create potholes, and make our roads unsafe.


Mr Speaker, we have a very long way to go before we can aspire to say that we are ready to promote cycling as a real alternative mode of transport in Gibraltar.


Acceptance and respect are key within our community and especially so on our roads, pavements, and public spaces.


And respect goes both ways, cyclists must respect too.


Changing attitudes and mindsets is our biggest challenge.


Mr Speaker, one segregated bicycle lane along Bayside Road does not cut it.


That is not a bicycle network.


That will not encourage modal shift or bicycle take up.


The work that has been embarked upon now, must be supported by all those that lead our nation in the future, across the floor of this House, regardless of political beliefs, all of us, just as all of us supported the Active Travel Strategy earlier this year, but it will take us many years to achieve a truly meaningful bicycle route network.


The seeds have now been sown.


Mr Speaker, I am all for the environment, for sustainability.


Tony Juniper, at the recent Aspire Conference stated that it is now accepted that the greenest building that exists today is the one that already exists.


I asked Mr Juniper after his keynote address, is it also therefore fair to say that the greenest motor vehicle on our streets today is the one that already exists?


He only took a second to reply and he nodded affirmatively.


The Aspire Conference was a real eye opener for many when the world’s insatiable and unsustainable thirst for raw materials was exposed.


He said the planet could simply not sustain our linear economy, where products were purposefully manufactured with limited life, encouraging further purchases, fridges, washing machines, water boilers, cars.


That a circular economy is one where developers build with the foresight that buildings could be re-used and re-purposed in the future, for example, car parks that one day could be converted into office space or apartments without the need to knock them down.


This also means cars should be built to last longer, be well maintained, and not constantly traded in for new vehicles while they are sold on in a second-hand market.


That we should make things last longer, using them for longer, because swapping a fossil fuel car for a new electric car does not have a net zero effect.


Because EVs do not have a zero-carbon footprint, and their manufacture is hugely impacting on our planet’s resources and our environment especially because of their batteries, even though they may have zero-tail pipe emissions.


It has been estimated that EVs need to be driven between 50,000 – 80,000km for them to break even with their internal combustion engine counterparts.


Mr Speaker, many say, that the car industry is not building electric cars to save the planet, that the car industry is building electric cars to save their businesses, something that the car industry counter argues extremely well.


I personally believe that we will struggle to provide the necessary infrastructure to charge all new EVs should all cars that exist today, be swapped for EVs, maintaining our record-breaking ratio of cars per household.


Battery technology will need to take a huge leap forward to provide rapid charging, greater autonomy at an affordable price to make a real difference.


This could yet happen.


Nevertheless, Mr Speaker, we must start to plan our city with care, building to provide electric infrastructure within, to start this transition as the manufacture of Internal Combustion Engine manufacture is phased out by the industry, while keeping a close eye on hydrogen and other fuel technologies.


We must however tackle unmaintained vehicles, spewing out plumes of sooty black smoke as a matter of priority because there is no space in our community for them.


We need to use our resources wisely, but this only works if we use our cars much less and look at what other options may be available to us.


Sharing is clearly one of these options and it makes total environmental sense to share our resources and not owning one of everything.


Many cities support car-sharing models, car-clubs, shared bicycle, and e-scooter schemes.


These all make sense in a world where resources are limited.



Mr Speaker, if the Climate Emergency is exactly this, an emergency, a real emergency, then we need to understand as a population that the work being done in Transport is exactly being done for this reason, and this reason is to try to encourage sustainable alternative modes of transport in Gibraltar as per our Sustainable Traffic, Transport and Parking Plan, our Climate Change Strategy, our Active Travel Strategy indeed and our 2019 Manifesto.


If the blue lights are not flashing and sirens not sounding, we might as well declare a “Climate Concern” instead of a “Climate Emergency”.


Every one of us must work together in this respect, this is about us, it is our collective responsibility, Gibraltar.


Mr Speaker, we will need to focus on smart technology, on novel ways of moving, and new ways of delivering and moving items and produce within our city.


Mr Speaker, change is an extremely hard thing to face, and change is generally always unpopular at first.


People do not adapt quickly to change.


However, I sincerely believe that change is necessary if we are to create a better, greener, and environmentally sustainable Gibraltar for ourselves and our children.


But if we ignore the environment for just one moment, these changes will make Gibraltar beautiful, they will increase our health, make our city safer as a place to live and work and make us a more attractive, greener and vibrant place.


Mr Speaker, modern cities today are moving towards the 15-minute City, the vision of Carlos Moreno, a Franco-Columbian urbanist, and the driving force behind this concept, one that has also become hugely controversial and become the subject of conspiracy theories.


Nevertheless, the 15-minute city is simply a city where children may live within 15 minutes of school, people live within 15 minutes from the supermarket, 15 minutes to and from their workplace and 15 minutes from their nearest hospital or medical centre.


Being able to move to all these places within 15-minutes is as a result or efficient, effective, and cheap transport opportunities.


Who would not want to live in a city like this?


Paradoxically, many of us already live in this 15-minute city where could easily walk or cycle to all these places.


Yet many choose to live in a 45-minute city by driving our children 800m to school and then driving on to work and then continue driving around looking for that parking space if available.


When it rains, our 45-minute city becomes the 60-minute city.


Mr Speaker, these urban models which include the concept of tactical urbanism, simply try to help tackle the Climate Emergency and climate change which this very Parliament declared, and we all voted unanimously for.


There is nothing more to this work, to the work that I am doing, its simply environmental work.


I just don’t get it.


Why don’t we want a better Gibraltar?


Mr Speaker, we are breaking climate records year on year.


Last week saw the 3 hottest days recorded on earth.


We can feel the effect of that change, yesterday was incredibly hot here in Gibraltar, the hottest day of the year so far.



Mr Speaker, climate change will continue to be something many will battle against especially if it has a direct bearing on the quality of our day-to-day life.


I have always tried to push change carefully, but regardless of how carefully one pushes change, it is still that, change.


Mr Speaker, children, schools, and education should always be of central importance to cities and to Governments.


It has always been centrally important to us as a Government and our focus has always been on children, building new, modern schools to better our educational offering and encouraging and supporting further education abroad or locally.


Schools also form the basis of the work that we do in Transport.


We consider schools the starting and ending point of cycling and walking infrastructure because it is the children that can most easily get to school in this way.


We aim to make the schools the place where bicycle lanes start and end.


Cycling Proficiency courses and providing bicycle parking at schools is also key.



Mr Speaker, the way I see it is that I have just one chance.


When I leave this place, I would rather be remembered for trying to change Gibraltar, hopefully for the better, for my conviction, my stubbornness, and my passion for what I believe is right, than to be remembered for towing the line, sitting on the fence or for seeking popularity.


One thing I will say to any future Minister for Transport or preferably Minister for Urban Mobility, if you are looking for popularity, you will not find it here.




Launch of the Gibraltar Active Travel Strategy Plan


Mr Speaker, to this end, and as part of the Sustainable Traffic Transport and Parking Plan (the STTPP), I am delighted that the workings of this critical document, has continued to grow in a most positive and evolutionary manner.


The STTPP, another hugely criticised and debated document that saw the first real Traffic Plan for Gibraltar.


In January this year, the Ministry of Transport announced the launch of Gibraltar’s Active Travel Strategy.


The Strategy aims to present our vision for the future of active travel and encompasses walking and cycling, which are the most sustainable and healthy ways of travelling.


This new Strategic Plan builds on the fundamental foundations described in Chapter 6 of the STTPP as well as Section 4.2 Decarbonising the Transport Sector, of the Climate Change Strategy published in 2021.


This strategic document will sit within the auspices of Town Planning and the forthcoming Development Plan, to serve as a reference to the community, in laying down expectations on architects, developers and urban planners, for all future developments so that they are commensurate with a healthy, sustainable, and green way of thinking.


This is to say that we must plan our future city with a very clear purpose when it comes to the creation of public space.


We must allow for this public space as part of all future construction projects to provide for adequate and accessible pavements, throughfares and infrastructure for micromobility, especially active travel.


We must limit the footprint we sell to developers to ensure that public space is guaranteed to create living, human space.


I am very happy to say, Mr Speaker, that I have started to see this happening of late, and developers are now thinking more about our city, as one that needs to breathe and be vibrant and not just as a space to maximise development opportunity.


However, Mr Speaker, this is work in progress and we have a long way to go in this respect.


The Strategy outlines developments and improvements for active travel in Gibraltar, creating further opportunities for locals and tourists to enjoy and appreciate our public spaces, through enhancements to our pedestrian areas, and the introduction of bicycle infrastructure, to get us where we need to go quickly, or simply to exercise safely.


Mr Speaker the Technical Team at the Ministry of Transport spearheaded this Strategy closely with the Ministry of the Environment via our environmental attaché, to ensure that we work towards our common aims and aspirations for a better and greener tomorrow.


Mr Speaker, because of the nature of this document and the fact that we should be unified when it comes to the Environment, we shared this document across the floor of the House before the document was announced and published.


I am happy to say that there was in-principle agreement with the concept of the Strategy and the need to develop Gibraltar into the future in this way.


Without consensus, there can be little chance of true progress or success.


I wish to thank the members opposite for their time in reading the document, for their comments and for supporting the principles of the strategy.


Mr Speaker, I am personally extremely pleased to have shared our vision for a greener and more liveable city with the community even though not everyone found the contents palatable.




Implementation of New Cycling and Walking Infrastructure


Mr Speaker, I am passionate about transport and the potential role that the bicycle can have in greening up a city and its potential role in improving the health of the nation, helping to bring down health costs, improve mental health and keeping the community fit and active into our later years.


However, the reality of unsafe roads makes cycling inconceivable to many.


Gibraltar has never had bicycle lanes other than the few meters of bicycle lane across the live runway painted by the MOD years ago.


Mr Speaker, following the launch of the Gibraltar Active Travel Strategy Plan in January 2023, the Ministry of Transport embarked on the implementation of some of the first phases contained within the document.


These works have seen the introduction of new segregated bicycle lanes from the southern airport runway barrier, past the Sundial Roundabout along Bayside Road up to the Ocean Spa Plaza building.


This was opened to the public on World Bicycle Day on the 4th June this year and works are now progressing along Glacis Road towards Waterport Roundabout, with the intention of continuing southbound towards Queensway and Waterport Wharf Road.


This will complement the recently opened Kingsway Tunnel Cycle Way and its cycle connections on the northern side of the runway.


Mr Speaker, today, anyone living in Glacis Estate, Ocean Spa Plaza, or Tradewinds can cycle all the way to Eastern Beach and back, without having to mix with traffic on our roads.


We will be increasing this distance very soon so that, children living in Beachview Terraces or the new affordable homes at Hassans Centenary Terraces will be able to cycle to Bayside or Westside school without mixing with road traffic should they wish to.


Mr Speaker, pedestrian routes, and thoroughfares are also being improved with the construction of new footpaths with new paving and a general beautification of the areas contained within these initial phases of our bicycle lanes.


We have within the first month of opening, seen 70,000 bicycles and e-scooter trips.


This infrastructure, that can also be used by e-scooters, result in less conflict between users and will make a huge difference to this mode of travel.


They will also remove what many road users consider annoying bicycles and e-scooters from the road.



The Active Travel Strategy is an exciting document (at least for me) that sets out the whole vision for Gibraltar including commuter routes, school routes, recreational routes, and tourist routes.


It is a document that has little text and many clear images and artistic impressions.


It is available online on the Government’s Website and I fully recommend that people take time to look at it.


Mr Speaker, I hope that the roll out of cycling and its associated walking infrastructure that has now started will continue to expand into the future when I am gone, and that successive Parliaments will continue to embrace sustainable transport, the bicycle, and the pedestrian into the future.


The plans are for all of Gibraltar in its entirety and this infrastructure is and will be transformational.



Mr Speaker, with regards the wider ambit of the Sustainable Traffic, Transport and Parking Plan published the Ministry for Transport has carried out several projects during the past year.






New Regulations for Overtaking Cyclists on Roads


October 2022 saw the publication of Regulations which would govern the safe overtaking of cyclists on our roads.


These new Regulations are designed to protect cyclists from indiscriminate and potentially dangerous overtaking which may lead to serious injuries of vulnerable cyclists.


This legislation will increase safety for cyclists on the road and require a minimum distance of 1.5 metres when overtaking a bicycle.




Penalty Points System for Traffic Offences


Mr Speaker, October 2022 saw the publication of Regulations to introduce a Penalty Points system for traffic offences.


This followed representations from the Commissioner of Police who was concerned at the lack of respect by some road users and ongoing issues with safe driver behaviour on our roads.


The Regulations introduce a system whereby a person is issued penalty points if they commit a driving related offence. The points are recorded against the person’s driving record.


Accumulating 12 penalty points within any given 3-year period will automatically disqualify a person from driving for 6 months.


The Penalty Points system is designed to encourage proficient driving to help promote road safety and reduce casualties on our roads.


The introduction of similar systems in other jurisdictions have provided for a 10% decrease on road collisions and up to a 25% decrease in traffic injuries and fatalities, whilst proving much more effective than monetary sanctions.


Mr Speaker, this was a manifesto commitment in 2019.



Launch of the New Gibraltar Highway Code


Mr Speaker, following from the United Kingdom’s update to the Highway Code, the Ministry for Transport updated and revised Gibraltar’s Highway Code in November last year to ensure compatibility with our own laws and advice on road safety.


The aim of the Highway Code is to promote road safety, which also supports current thinking to promote a healthy, sustainable, and efficient transport system, be it on foot, bicycle, using public transport or by private car.


The biggest change within the code saw the introduction of a ‘hierarchy of road users’, meaning that those road users who can do the greatest damage would bear the greatest share of responsibility in ensuring safety on the road. 


This grading of users has been established to provide protection of injury in the event of a collision to the most vulnerable of road users, starting with pedestrians, moving onto cyclists, then other categories of motor vehicles, with buses and finally heavy goods vehicles at the end of the scale showing as the least vulnerable, but the most responsible.


Further changes included clarifying the existing rules on pedestrian priority on pavements. Currently pedestrians only have priority over other road users if they have already begun to cross a junction.


The code gives pedestrian’s priority over other road users at junctions where pedestrians are waiting to cross, in addition to the existing rule that pedestrians have priority when they are already crossing, even if these locations may not be at the traditional crossing areas.


This shows a change in road use ideology and a lean towards a far more human and people-based approach.


Mr Speaker, the New Highway Code is another of those documents road users seldom read. It is important that road users are familiar with this very important document,


Driving proficiently, respectfully, and safely is key to keeping our community and children safe.




Technical Services Department


Mr Speaker, I now turn my attention to Technical Services Department. Financial Year 22/23 remained a difficult year for Technical Services following the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the uncertainties raised by the ongoing negotiations with the EU.


This led to Technical Services Department concentrating its efforts once again on operationally critical items in all areas under its responsibility while meeting its core objectives of maintenance and providing technical support to Government Ministries and Departments.


Maintenance has included slope stabilisation works along Sir Herbert Miles Road, the repair of several retaining walls, critical highways repairs, highways maintenance as well as general sewer maintenance and improvement works.


With regards to highway maintenance, the works programme has continued over the past year with on-going critical repairs to roads and footpaths.


The Department’s team of Highways Inspectors carry out regular inspections of all our roads and footpaths and react to reports received from the general public.


When works are identified, these are then assessed, classified and work specifications prepared for the Government’s team of on-call contractors to make good.


This financial year will see the continuation of our road resurfacing scheme which typically always happens during the quiet summer months when school term is over and there is appreciably lower traffic on the roads.


Clearly during the past few years this has not been possible due to our other financial priorities.


Over the last few years, a very significant number of our roads have been resurfaced and during the last Financial Year the new Kingsway Tunnel and access roads have been completed.


Nevertheless, because of the constant construction in Gibraltar, heavy goods vehicles and heavy loads, roads simply cannot and do not last the amount of time that they should.


Furthermore, traditionally, essential infrastructure and services run beneath of roads and pavements and these often need servicing or localised repairs, breeching the integrity of the road surface which quickly suffer further damage, especially because of these very heavy vehicles.


Mr Speaker, I am pleased to announce that the next phase of our major road resurfacing programme is set to commence in the coming weeks.


During this latest phase the following works roads will be resurfaced: –


  • Smith Dorrien Avenue from Smith Dorrien bridge to Casemates Roundabout
  • Windmill Hill Road
  • Crutchett’s Ramp
  • Queensway in the area of Campion Park
  • Europa Road from Brympton to Bella Vista
  • Europa Road from Shorthorn to Mount Road


The cost of this resurfacing programme is estimated to be in the order of £1M.


Mr Speaker, the replacement, and enhancement of pelican crossing lights and equipment will continue during this year working jointly with the Gibraltar Electricity Authority.


The Department also continues to successfully manage road closures and diversions on the Public Highway, both for its own in-house works and for all other utility companies and contractors.




Power’s Drive:


Mr Speaker, following the major fire within Power’s Drive last year that had a huge knock-on effect on Gibraltar’s water supply, TSD were tasked with co-ordinating the efforts to make the tunnel safe and ensure that the saltwater supply to the reverse Osmosis Plant at Governor’s Cottage was reinstated as quickly as possible.


The Chief Executive Officer of TSD, Emil Hermida sat on the Strategic Coordinating Group and initially co-ordinated works to ensure that the tunnel was made safe.


Works to stabilise the tunnel commenced in September and were completed in December allowing AquaGib to replace the damaged pipe within the tunnel.


These works have now been completed.


In addition to co-ordinating all stabilisation works within the tunnel TSD provided expert technical advice on the temporary saltwater diversion which was set up at Europa Advance Road.


I think it is important to recognise the very professional and expert advice provided by TSD during such a challenging time.




Coastal Engineering Works


Mr Speaker, in continuing with other areas of responsibility related to Technical Services Department, I move to Coastal Engineering works.


The Department continues to monitor and carry out maintenance and repair works when required.


The Department also continues to provide advice to developers and the Development and Planning Commission on all aspects of coastal engineering when required.


This financial year Technical Services will be reviewing the existing coastal defences at Eastern Beach and Sandy Bay with a view of carrying out essential maintenance works.



Cliff Stabilisation and Rock Fall Protection


With respect to cliff stabilisation and rock fall protection projects during the last Financial Year the Department has been involved in numerous schemes which have included stabilisation works at Sir Herbert Miles Road and the Upper Rock.


During the past year the Technical Services Department was also involved with works to several retaining walls.


The continuous monitoring and repair of existing retaining walls is critical as many of these are old and border our Public Highways network.




Sewers Section


Moving onto sewers, during the past year the Infrastructure Section of the Department have continued to maintain the public sewerage network.


As part of the major desilting and relining works of the Main Sewer, Mr Speaker, works commenced several years ago.


During the last Financial Year however, the Infrastructure Section of Technical services relined a further 160 metres of the Main Sewer.


This brings our total relined length to 570 metres, covering 60% of our main sewer within the city walls.


This continuous project has now covered all the areas which were of most concern within the Town Area, reinforcing the Main Sewer in the areas which would cause the most disruption if there was a structural failure.


Mr Speaker as part of project, TSD also cleaned and desilted some 412 metres of the Main Sewer, ensuring it maintained its maximum possible hydraulic capacity.


These works are considered essential given the age and condition of the sewer and the disruption that can be caused in the event of a failure of the sewage network.


The Department continuously monitors the condition of the main sewer to prioritise the continuation of this essential maintenance work.


Other works will include gully cleansing, manhole repairs and the general upkeep of the public storm and sewage networks.


Given the sharp rise in developments in Gibraltar, the Department continues to provide advice to both developers and the Development and Planning Commission on the impact that these various developments can have on our existing sewerage network.


Finally, Mr Speaker, funding is once again being provided for the purchase of equipment to allow the Sewer Infrastructure Section’s to continue to expand and provide an enhanced service in respect of its inspections of the sewer network.


This also applies to the Garage & Workshop where funding for new equipment is also being provided.


They will continue to provide a service to maintain the fleet of Government vehicles, including the refuse collection vehicles.


I would once again also like to take this opportunity to publicly thank the Infrastructure Section and On-Call Officers of the Technical Services Department for their hard work and commitment over this past year.




Mr Speaker, as I have stated in the past, the Technical Services Department is one of those Government Departments who are rarely in the limelight but who work tirelessly behind the scenes to maintain public infrastructure and to support and provide technical advice to other Government Ministries and Departments.




Other Key Government Projects


Not only does the Department meet its core responsibilities but it is also actively involved on other key projects for HM Government of Gibraltar which my colleagues have already mentioned in their respective speeches but include the delivery of improvements of the new container terminal at North Mole and working with the Office of the Chief Technical Officer for the delivery of the first phase of the reclamation works at Coaling Island.




Driver and Vehicle Licencing Department


Mr Speaker, I now turn my attention to the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Department. The DVLD continues doing all the necessary amendments to legislation and additional requirements in the exchange of Driving Licences.

This has proven challenging at times with the DVLD team working closely with the Government Law Offices, DVLA (UK), and HM Government of Gibraltar Office in Brussels to obtain the necessary agreements with EU countries. 

The DVLD continues to see a high demand from its service users via the online e-gov portal and through its public-facing counters, which include a dedicated Business Counter for all Gibraltar Motor Vehicle Dealers that require an expeditious service.

The express service is working well providing our local dealers a next-day service for new vehicle registrations, duplicate certificates of registration, change of ownership, and motor vehicle particulars. 


Mr Speaker, the Department continues to arrange the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) with an approved UK instructor to deliver the course in Gibraltar, on a twice a year basis, for those driving licences categories for buses and heavy goods vehicles. 



Mr Speaker, the Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) for motorbikes, continues to be a huge success.

The three modules ensure that every person demonstrates a minimum level of skill and competence before being permitted to drive on our roads, helping prevent injuries and accidents on the roads.   



Mr Speaker, the Motor Vehicle Test Centre embraces the latest equipment for the testing of vehicles which enables our vehicle testers to establish if any part of the emission of the vehicle has been tampered, removed or modified.

By using this latest equipment, we can provide a service to check for excessive noise when vehicles are brought in by the Royal Gibraltar Police to perform noise test analysis.


Mr Speaker, The DVLD shares vehicle information via the” European Register of Road Transport Undertakings” – known as ERRU, via the Driver and Vehicle Services Agency, in accordance with EU directives.

I am pleased to announce that the DVLD has managed to secure the re-connection of the EUCARIS (the European CAR and driving license Information System) network by signing a service agreement at the last conference attended in Sweden. 

It is important for the DVLD to be connected to this network as it is used for information exchange between EU Member States on the vehicle, driver registration, and licence exchange.

The DVLD attends yearly conferences to keep in line with the latest updates provided by all member states and be included in the discussions for future changes and improvements of vehicle, driver, and licence exchange that countries provide.


Traffic and Transport Commission

Mr Speaker, the Traffic Commission is responsible for assessing all the requests that are received from members of the public for road improvements.

This forum accesses all kinds of applications from the installation as signage, road, improvements, requests for road calming measures, speed limit assessments, parking considerations and pedestrian enhancements.

The Traffic Commission is also a stakeholder in DPC Applications.


The Transport Commission also meets on a regular basis to consider applications for a wide range of transport related licences.

The Commission also considers all transport-based complaints received from users of our Public Services.


Transport Inspectors

Mr Speaker, our team of Transport Inspectors provide cover on the ground to police and regulate transport related activity throughout Gibraltar.

Their duties include the overseeing of our Taxi and Bus services the inspection of the taxi service provision at locations such as the Airport and to police the City Service.

Additionally, our team of Inspectors also ensure that access to pedestrianised areas is closely monitored and regulated, and that only those commercial and resident vehicles strictly in possession of permits access any such areas.



Parking Enforcement


Mr Speaker I now move to Gibraltar Parking Management Services (GPMSL) Limited as HMGoG’s parking enforcement contractors.


As parking enforcement agents, their Parking Management Officers (PMO’s) provide invaluable support in the management of our on-street parking spaces and Residential Parking Schemes.


Parking enforcement continues to be a massive challenge in a Frontier city the size of a town with one of the largest vehicle ownership rates in the world.


This often means that a significant number of cars are commonly parked illegally on pavements and areas not assigned for parking.


This provides a massive challenge to provide all year-round enforcement.


Additionally, GPMSL manage most Government owned car parks that our community benefit from and are also assigned school crossing point duties.



Residential Parking Scheme (RPS) Zone 4 – Westside


Following the successful rollout of RPS Zone 1 in July 2017, Zone 2 in March 2018 and Zone 3 in June 2018 respectively, 2022 saw the roll out of Zone 4.


This RPS Zone services residents of Harbour Views Estate, Mid Harbours Estate & Waterport Terraces within our west district and this new zone surrounds the West District from Marina Court in the North to Ordinance Wharf in the South.


Once again Mr Speaker I am delighted with the continuity towards our commitment to roll out recommendations contained within the Sustainable, Traffic, Transport and Parking Plan (STTPP).



Abandoned Bicycles


Mr Speaker, GPMSL have also worked with the team at the Ministry of Transport to address the issue of derelict Bicycles throughout Gibraltar.


Bicycles that seem abandoned or derelict are issued with a 7-day notice for their removal.


Those that are not removed by the owners are being removed by GPMSL and stored at the vehicle compound for a set period.


Unclaimed bicycles will be Gazetted and disposed of if not claimed by their owners.



Kingsway Tunnel


In bringing the services provided by GPMSL to a close, I turn to the opening of Kingsway tunnel.


Parking Management Officers (PMO’s) are actively providing support throughout the tunnel for the management of 6 lanes and contraflow arrangements during weekends or otherwise when traffic volumes at the frontier are at a peak, creating heavy volumes of traffic and tailbacks because of frontier queues.


Mr Speaker I would like to thank GPMSL for their continued commitment and support.


Before I move on however, I would like to give a special mention to one of the key players who recently sadly passed away following a long illness.


We will forever have Dion Mansfield in our thoughts for his dedication.




Gibraltar Bus Company


Mr Speaker, I will now move on to Gibraltar Bus Company.


Buses are a key and critical component of our transport network within Gibraltar.


If we wish to encourage modal change, we require an efficient and reliable bus service, and the Gibraltar Bus Company aims to provide this.


At present the Company operate a total of 26 buses, of which 20 are midsize buses, and 6 are smaller Upper Town buses.


Our Government, Mr Speaker is committed in providing a free daytime bus service which provides little reason for residents, not to consider taking up this free Public Transport service.


As we move forward, we will be looking at renewing our Upper Town fleet of buses soon.


We are also very close to securing electric buses for our fleet.


The intention over this coming financial year will be to audit the present bus offering to try to address and consider several potential improvements to the service, which will include the possibility of extending the operating hours of the service, improving the service at school times, and extending routes and looking into the potential of creating new ones.


User data shows the massive take-up during morning runs and at school times, and low usage during the day and weekends.


The school bus routes, operating at present during school terms, continue to indicate a growing demand.


Population shift resulting from new residential estates and districts are amongst the research we are conducting so additional school buses may be incorporated to our service.


Of special mention are the demographic changes in the south, especially the Europa Point area and the new build along Devils Tower Road and Eastern Beach which are seeing a far greater demand for buses.


Mr Speaker, we continue to consider feedback from service users who report full route buses at school peak times, however, we expect to enhance presently convoluted school routes at the start of the next school term.


The weekend night bus fare service is also showing greater take-up.


The Bus Tracker app continues to prove a success, putting the bus service right into the hands of the user.


Mr Speaker, the Bus Company shares a hopper ticket with Calypso Transport.


The hopper ticket – or hop-on, hop-off – enables visitors to Gibraltar to make the most of Gibraltar’s attractions within the city centre and other areas located within the lower reaches of the Rock at their own pace throughout the whole day.


The bus hopper ticket can be used on all of Gibraltar’s public buses.


We are committed to continue to explore ways to improve our current bus fleet and more importantly our existing service.


I would like to thank all those down at the Gibraltar Bus Company, the bus manager, his management team and all the bus drivers, who work long hours, day, night and into the early mornings on the weekend night buses.


They provide a service so that we may go out and enjoy the nightlife safely and sustainably.





Mr Speaker, in bringing my contribution to a close, I would once again like to thank, all those working within my respective Departments.


The Management, Technical and Administrative staff at Technical Services, the Sewer Section, Highways Division, the Garage and Workshop personnel, and those involved with parking management and enforcement.


The management and staff down at the DVLD, the Transport Inspectors.


The Members of the Traffic and Transport Commissions many of which give up their spare time to form part of these bodies.


I would also like to give a special thank you to the people I spend most of my office time with, my Ministry Admin Team, for looking after the Ministerial Office and managing our constant and very large workload, dealing with all sorts of challenges, their professional engagement with the general public and for their hard work in the discharge of our Ministerial responsibilities and looking after me, Stephen Bonich, Krystel Rodriguez, Leila Asquez, Malcolm Figueras and a special mention to Jared Negron, my stalwart PA, always on the other side of the phone whenever I need him.


Also, Mr Speaker, the Technical Team at the Ministry, for their efforts throughout the past year, especially with the massive and very difficult project that has been the planning of our bicycle lane infrastructure.


I am grateful for their continued efforts and dedication in the delivery of many schemes and projects.


Damian Muscat, Dylan Infante, Janine Galliano our environmental attaché and Matt Brear our man from the GEA.


I would also like to thank you Mr Speaker and all Parliamentary staff for your hard work and assistance during this year and especially our clerk Simon Galliano who looked after the delegation which included me this year, at the recent CPA Conference in London.