The Government considers that Together Gibraltar appears to be living on a different planet because they continue to raise issues in complete ignorance of the facts surrounding them. While they are perfectly free to raise whatever they like, they need to understand that the tone and the inflammatory language in their latest statement on the Queen’s Hotel does them no favours.
The Government has just announced plans for a new hostel with over 600 beds in the area of the MOT Test Centre near Eastern Beach. An application has been tabled before the Development and Planning Commission, concept designs have been published and a full explanation of the intended use has been given in public. It is therefore quite incredible that Together Gibraltar should proceed as if nothing has been said and as if a solution to the issues which they have chosen to highlight has not already been found.
This Government has a proud record of standing up to racism and of correcting the serious injustices which faced members of the Moroccan community in Gibraltar when we were elected. TG , who have been on the political scene for five minutes, have no right to distort and belittle the record of the Government in this respect. The insulting innuendos which run through their statement are neither understood nor appreciated.
There was, for example, a huge backlog of applications for citizenship pending from Moroccan nationals when the GSLP/Liberal Government was first elected. These were unlocked by this Government in order to correct a historical injustice and in full recognition of the positive contribution made by the Moroccan community to the progress and development of Gibraltar over the decades. Indeed, more citizens have been bestowed with British Nationality than ever before, with all the rights that flow from this. As a result, a very large number of ethnic Moroccan British Citizens have been allocated government tenancies or have purchased affordable homes. All of these things were impossible under the regime of the party which saw the leader of Together Gibraltar first elected into Parliament.
It is worth recalling that prior to 2011, the hostel, then located at Buena Vista Barracks, was sold by the then Government to a developer and no alternative location was provided in which to house its residents. This Government purchased the Queen’s Hotel, which was fully operational as a hotel at the time, and transferred the residents there from Buena Vista for that purpose. While there is always room for improvement in certain respects, it has always been understood that this is a temporary location and that residents will be rehoused elsewhere.
It is also important to remember that it was this Government that knocked down the other old and dilapidated hostel located in Devil’s Tower Road, purchased the Sunrise Motel, and relocated the residents to what was then a newly refurbished location.
This Government has an excellent working relationship with the Moroccan Community Association who raise any issues affecting them and work for solutions hand in hand. We will not allow the politically opportunistic and poorly thought out comments from Together Gibraltar to sour that relationship or to convey a false and misleading impression to Gibraltar at large.