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The Budget 2023 – Minister for Education & Culture, Environment, Sustainability & Climate Change, Heritage and Public Health – 462/2023

By July 12, 2023 No Comments

The Hon Prof John Cortes MBE


Mr Speaker


This will be a long speech given the tremendous work done and planned.  To do all this justice, but to spare the time of this House, the version of my speech that will be circulated to the media and that I will publish in my social media will contain additional information.




This is my twelfth and possibly my last budget.  As the Chief Minister said in his thoroughly inspired presentation yesterday, it is potentially the last speech here for all of us, something that, rightly so, is in the hands of the people of our beloved Gibraltar, who I have had the honour to serve in this role for twelve years. 


Mr Speaker,

This job can be most unrewarding.  Our adversarial system pits the party in Government at a disadvantage as the system is such that the expectation is to undermine-even-the-good in order to try and usurp our position.  The system of course has an inherent flaw, for it flies in the face of what society strives to be, considerate, understanding, encouraging, tolerant and accepting, and yet, our system expects the very opposite.

Mr Speaker, this, and the unforgiving social media that seem to like to play the very same game, will concentrate on the negatives, on the things not done, giving very little credit to the positive.  So here, today, I will concentrate on the positive.


Mr Speaker, Gibraltar has moved in huge strides from where we were when I started this journey nearly twelve years ago,  including in the last four years.


But wait, has it really, effectively, been four?


Mr Speaker, the human mind likes to play tricks on us, often in an auto-protective mode, and isn’t it true that it tries to make us forget the two years plus of Covid?  Tries to package all that we went through in one little corner, rarely accessed, and pretend it never happened?


But it did happen, Mr Speaker.  We were confined, unable to move freely, unable to work.  Ministers and public servants had to freeze their usual activities, put aside their plans and projects, and concentrate on pulling our community through.  It took up our time, our mental space, our money, drained us emotionally and socially, left some of us with long lasting physical effects and yet, incredibly, we sometimes forget it happened. 

Oh, the tricks of the mind. 

We have to be so focused to not be fooled by them.  But that is something that the Opposition has clearly not mastered, for they have been fooled and speak and act as if they had somehow been living elsewhere, like Peter Pan in some magical Covid-free Never-Never-Land, while we were all here, day in and day out, dealing with the horrors of the pandemic ticking like the clock in the entrails of the crocodile.



With that I think important preamble, Mr Speaker, I launch into my introduction, with, as in have done over the last few years, a stark warning on the future of our world.


Mr Speaker, last week saw the three hottest days ever recorded on Earth.  It is thought that it was the hottest week since records began.   The effects of climate change continue to hit community after community, country after country.  Parts of our planet are becoming uninhabitable, drought and heat and hunger are forcing peoples to migrate and wars to break out.   Figures just released estimate that 62,000 people died in Europe from heat related causes in the summer of 2022.  The future of our species is at risk.


And yet we are seeing increasing support for extreme right-wing politicians – happily not in Gibraltar, but close – who are not just questioning this reality, but actively working against the measures that we desperately need; against the progress that we have achieved.  Even moderate Governments are failing to see that climate is the overriding priority that must govern policy, and are reversing decisions that future generations will not forget and will not forgive.   That is, if they survive.


Mr Speaker, even in Gibraltar some sectors of our community are lagging behind.  Happily these are fewer and fewer, and I have seen tremendous progress particularly in the private sector, some of which I will refer to later, with bunkering firms, vehicle traders, and the construction industry are now actively pursuing climate-wise policies.


The Opposition however, don’t seem to agree as Mr Azopardi yesterday kept on saying he wanted to clear the Jungle, when the world desperately needs to keep its rainforests.  I wish we did have a jungle here Mr Speaker.  The only ‘Jungle’ I know in Gibraltar is in the Northern Defences, and the Deputy Chief Minister is doing an excellent job in clearing that one up!


I sincerely thank the Deputy Chief Minister, my friend the Hon Dr Joseph Garcia, for his work in heritage-related projects and most especially in his leading from the front in promoting the climate agenda, and not just as Chair of the net Zero Delivery Body.



25 Year Plan


Mr Speaker, the Government will this month be publishing its 25 Year Plan for the Environment. This high-level but critical document will form the backbone of environmental policy over the next quarter of a century.  It encompasses all areas of environmental responsibility and sets important standards as we embark on our collective goal of delivering a clean, green, pleasant, safe and resilient Gibraltar.


I trust Mr Speaker that the Opposition will be able to embrace it and not criticise and undermine it as it did with our Vision for Heritage.  Because these are visions for the whole of Gibraltar.  And that includes them.


This Plan is significant, because it reflects the environmental leadership and governance which this administration has brought.  We are not afraid to be held to account on environmental matters because we provide environmental leadership, laws and policies for future.


Indeed Mr Speaker, one of my greatest successes as Minister for the Environment has been to influence the policies of the GSD and turn them towards the environment.  Of course they don’t do any way near as well as we do, but they no longer dare to publicly push for grimy, slimy diesel or refuse to use the words sustainability and energy efficiency as they did just a dozen years ago.  I am still waiting for them to thank me for having so significantly influenced their party’s policies.



Climate Change


Indeed, Mr Speaker, because of the then policy of the GSD, terms like climate change, renewable energy and energy efficiency were non-existent within the public sector, and the Department of the Environment would struggle to be taken seriously.  Now, 12 years later, not only have we provided an ambitious Climate Change Act and Strategy, but I am happy to report on progress in gearing up to delivering Net Zero, and once again must point out the work and leadership that the Deputy Chief Minister is providing.



Delivering on Net Zero


Mr Speaker, the 2020 Greenhouse Gas Inventory saw a significant drop in emissions in line with what would be required to meet our Net Zero targets.  While we do expect to see a bounce back in emissions following Covid, it appears that the trend continues and we will not be going back to the pre-Covid levels.


The very successful Aspire conference on sustainability in the built environment served to drive home the message about the scale of the problem and the challenging steps we need to take. Both the Deputy Chief Minister in his opening address and Environmental celebrity Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth as keynote speaker, spoke of the need for Revolution – in the way we think and in the way we act.  That the message resonated equally from Government and from the private sector, as well as from environmentalists, was a sign that the revolution may have begun. 


I want to highlight too the private sector support for the Aspire Conference – Casais, the Montagu Group, Gamma Architects, NatWest International, Trusted Novus Bank, North Gorge Properties and NOSA – who financed the event and showed the breadth of support that there is across the built environment sector for change. We will now be working with the recently established Gibraltar Sustainable Buildings Group to expand on ideas and to develop the necessary policy and legislative frameworks needed to deliver these essential changes.


The Net Zero Delivery Body has met 4 times in the last year. In that time it has produced an Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Strategy and an internal Renewable Energy Strategy. A tender for the installation of further EV charge points is being developed. We continue to work on Adaptation and Resilience initiatives as well as Public Engagement which is a key element of any successful revolution. We are working with the Press Office and with young people,  to ensure greater visibility of the work of the NZDB so that the public can keep abreast of what we are doing and also help to keep us accountable.  Members are currently working on their sectoral plans, across Energy, Transport, Finance, Education and more and we look forward to sharing this information in due course. 


Accountability is of the essence and this is also brought by the independent Climate Change Committee which recently fulfilled one of its statutory obligations under the Climate Change Act in reporting on the state of play.  I welcome their assessment which recognises the significant amount of work that went into the Climate Change Strategy and also commends the level of ambition set by the Government. It correctly highlights that much work remains to be done in setting out detailed sectoral pathways to net zero and in understanding the likely economic impacts of climate change to Gibraltar’s economy. 


Climate Change Vulnerability & Risk Assessment


The Climate Change and Vulnerability Assessment published last year highlighted some of the threats to Gibraltar and areas of vulnerability. The next step is to develop an Adaptation Strategy which the Department of the Environment will commence work on shortly, in collaboration with the Adaptation and Resilience working group and our consultants Ricardo.  


Other Private Sector Initiatives


The private sector continues to work on the environment and climate change agenda. Of particular note are two bunkering firms. GibOil have been providing carbon credits to marine customers in Gibraltar to offset their carbon emissions. Earlier this year they launched a new initiative whereby all purchases made using the GO Card are carbon neutral as GibOil are securing carbon credits that offset the Scope 1 emissions generated by consuming the fuel you purchase. Peninsula Petroleum too is making great strides internationally in reducing its carbon footprint, by moving to new fuels and investing in new technology.

These initiatives are significant in their scale-and-reach and I commend all companies taking similar steps.  And we will continue to work on developing Green Finance initiatives.





Mr Speaker,


At long last, this year the World Health Organisation declared the global public health emergency from Covid to be over. However, we are reminded that Covid continues to affect us and our strategy remains to protect the most vulnerable in our community. We are fortunate to have access to some of the best testing, vaccines, antiviral medication and dedicated health professionals in the world to enable us to do this. We will successfully live with Covid.


Therefore Public Health Gibraltar has been able to start a programme to address the wider determinants of health. How we live our lives will affect our health more in the medium to long term in terms of the risk factors for developing cancer, diabetes and heart disease. 


It can be done Mr Speaker, as I think that I have been able to show when after a diabetes scare last autumn, I have lost 18kgs in weight and returned my blood count to within the normal range.  And for the benefit of the Leader of the Opposition, I am pleased to say that I feeling better than ever and neither tired, nor much less, jaded.


Later this year we will be publishing the first part of our Joint Strategic Needs Assessment, which will help us understand what affects how healthy we are and how long we live. Our main priority area this year has been smoking and vaping. People are seven times more likely to have a successful attempt to quit if they receive support. The public health team have been working with GHA colleagues to ensure that the smoking cessation support that we offer to our population is able to give people the best chance. We have undertaken a large scale vaping survey in schools the results of which we published last week. The initial findings are that 75% of young people do not vape, but those who do vape more regularly than we would expect. The study has provided information that will allow us better to address ways of preventing young people taking up the habit. We are working on plans to further restrict supply of vapes targeting younger people but also to support young people to quit vaping.


Discussions have now commenced on carrying out a similar survey on the use of mobile devices by young people.


Gibraltar now has an established research resource in the University that is being used to inform evidence-based policy development and decision making – yet another step in the growth in sophistication of our community as has brought about at this Government’s initiative.





Marine Environment


Mr Speaker, the Department of Environment, Sustainability and Climate Change continues to expand its marine surveillance and monitoring capabilities. An overview of the work being carried out will be published in the next reporting cycle of Gibraltar’s Marine Strategy which will assess a range of marine descriptors in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters. From monitoring key habitats to the presence of invasive species, sampling water quality and rescuing wildlife, this work forms the backbone of marine biodiversity policy development.


Crucially Mr. Speaker, enforcement at sea is something in which we take great interest and in which, despite ill-informed criticism, there has been great improvement.  Our presence at sea matters. The new assets that are being provided to the Department’s Environmental Protection and Research Unit (EPRU) will ensure that our officers are suitably equipped to meet the challenging conditions they face in protecting the marine environment.


I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the officers in EPRU and others in the Department of the Environment who assisted the Port and other services in responding to the OS35 collision, and to all the volunteers who have given up their time to protect our coastline. 


Mr Speaker, those of us who keep a close eye on Nature can tell you that despite the clear pressures on marine life that a densely inhabited coastal city brings, we still have a great deal of marine life, as seen by the increase in the number of species at the top of the food chain, like Grey Herons, Great Cormorants and Shags, whose incidence and population in Gibraltar have increased significantly over the past decade.  Even an otter lived in the harbour for at least the best part of a year.


Once again, the exceptional marine awareness and educational work of the Nautilus Project has to be recognised along with the yearly awareness and clean-up work coordinated by the Environmental Safety Group, and monitoring of seabird migration by GONHS.  I thank the NGOs for their tremendous collaborative contribution in this and all other aspects of our common work on the Environment.





Mr Speaker, administrative delays continue to exist in relation to waste transfer licences post Brexit.  I am grateful for the effort and work of staff at Environment, Technical Services and the Environmental Agency, for always finding a work-around. 


To ensure greater efficiency and self-sufficiency in our waste management, we have published a tender for a waste sorting plant at Europa Advance Road. This will allow us to separate solid waste into recyclable streams and reduce the portion which might need to go to landfill.  It will also allow us to ship waste to other European destinations if issues were to become overly complicated in future.




In relation to litter and cleanliness Mr Speaker, we have recently increased litter fines to £250, and £1000 for dangerous litter and have introduced offences for placing normal litter in recycling bins and littering from cars.  Collection times have been modified with a new collection in the middle of the day, and we have increased cleaning frequency and enforcement effort.  Improvements are already evident.


We are increasing the capacity of bin stores, which are always a problem as no one wants them to be located near them.


Mr Speaker, we all know that we need to clean because others litter.  It is a matter of civic pride, and of changing habits.  We can clean and clean and fine and fine, but if we don’t work together as a community, we will not succeed.   It is a collective responsibility.



Sewage treatment


Mr Speaker,  I can confirm that a new and much awaited tender process for a sewage plant closed on Monday. We expect a preferred bidder to be appointed before the end of summer and works to commence on the ground shortly after.

I am determined to make this happen despite the many challenges that have had to be surmounted thus far. This project is one of the most critical in our environmental agenda and we will continue to ensure that it receives the priority and urgency that it deserves.   


Air quality


Gibraltar’s air quality programme continues to be operated by the Environmental Agency and the Government appointed UK-based air quality consultants, Ricardo. The Gibraltar air quality website was updated and modernised in 2022 and continues to provide up-to-date hourly measurements of pollutants. These are reported to the public in a user-friendly website which increases transparency and demonstrates the work and progress that is being made to improve air quality. The new website now also provides climate change data to support the work of the Net Zero Delivery Body.


The most recent fully ratified year of data (2021) from the Gibraltar Air Quality monitoring network shows stable levels or continued decline in key pollutants (NO2 and particulate matter). All were below the Limit Values, something that was simply unachievable before 2012.   We will now continue to focus on emissions from traffic and shipping.


At this juncture I want to make special reference to the work of my Honorable colleague and friend, Paul Balban and his relentless energy and commitment to cleaning up the transport sector by promoting alternative forms of transport.


AQ Network


We continue to review the AQ network to ensure it remains fit for purpose and provides relevant air quality data.  New AQ instruments were installed last year to replace the existing.  With these improvements Gibraltar now reports reference standard automatic measurements for PM10 and PM2.5 at both Rosia Road and Bleak House. This represents an increase in PM monitoring – providing data on both fine and coarse fractions of particulate matter at both roadside and background locations for the first time. The new instruments are also capable of near real time data provision which will enhance the public information service provided via the Gibraltar AQ website. Over the last few years, the fixed monitoring network has been supplemented with emerging technologies providing indicative monitoring in potential hotspot areas.  These new monitoring technologies have been used to investigate potential pollution issues and in doing so have added to the overall understanding of air quality in Gibraltar.


AQ Mesh pods


Gibraltar now has five AQ mesh pods with two new pods installed last year. The pods’ mobility allows for them to be moved to locations near identified emission sources such as power generation, major traffic routes and industry which are near dense residential areas. One pod was installed on North Mole Road to try and better understand the impact of maritime activity on air quality and a second pod was installed on Governor’s Lane to continue monitoring known major traffic routes near residential areas. The other three pods are currently located at Devil’s Tower Road, Rosia Road Clocktower and Europort Road.

The website hosts up-to-date hourly measurements of pollutants from the five mobile AQ mesh.  All data presented on the website can be retrospectively downloaded by users.


Witham’s Road relocation


Works are also underway to relocate the Witham’s station on a location earmarked on Devil’s Tower Road. These works should be completed before the end of the summer. The air quality monitoring station has served its purpose due to the ceasing of power generating operations in the south district and will continue to monitor for NOx (NOx, NO2 and NO) with room to expand the pollutants measured for such as PM 2.5 and PM 10.




We will also be seeing more progress on solar power, as both private initiatives and Government projects progress.  To date, Solar PVs have exported around 7,000,000 kWh to the grid.  This has resulted in government subsidy savings of about £400,000.  We currently have an installed capacity of nearly 4000 (3663.64) KW/p over 14 sites. These include new harbours, Europa Sports Complex, Bassadone World, Europa Sports Complex, Mid Harbours Estate, Gibraltar University, Gasa swimming pool, St Annes School, University Residential Block and St Bernard’s Hospital, with the Cruise Liner terminal, St Joseph’s School and St Mary’s School coming up soon.  This constitutes just over 10% of Gibraltar’s daily average peak power demand. Further projects will also be announced soon, so getting ever closer to our target which suffered a setback during the years of industry inactivity due to Covid.


Electric Vehicles


The electrification of the vehicle fleet is an important part of the move to better air quality. We are already seeing an increase in the number of EVs and hybrids being purchased and there is strong pressure from the industry which is moving in this direction globally.   We are responding to this with an increase in the number of publicly available charging points.


In December the charge points on floor 6 in Midtown car park were replaced by Plug-N-Go a Gibraltar based company who own and operate the hardware and location under agreement with the Government.


Next the old charge points in the Park & Ride in Devil’s Tower Road will be replaced and operational under the same platform and both of these locations are future-proofed to match the growth of EV adoption in Gibraltar.


In July they will be adding charging points at Europa Point.


There are discussions with the Taxi Association to start adding further charge points for Taxi use which in turn will assist the rollout of Taxis to meet the EV only taxi purchase from January 2024. The usage of all these points will be monitored to ensure that we can continue to provide new locations to meet increasing demand.


Other EV initiatives are also on the way.


Environmental Health


Mr Speaker, the Environmental Agency continues to advise and enforce in many areas, such as nuisance, building control, waste regulation, ship sanitation, COMAH, Food Hygiene and food imports, water quality and others. It has participated in the review of legislation in areas of public health, littering, waste and food hygiene and is working to introduce important allergen legislation.


Complaints and call outs


The Agency received 1853 complaints from the public in 2022 and 787 so far in 2023 and continues to operate a 24 hour on call service which have seen Environmental Health Officers and the Agency’s Pest Control team engaged in 320 call outs in 2022 and 86 call outs so far in 2023.


84 abatement notices have been served in 2022 with 20 served so far in 2023.


Action resulted in fines issued to a total of £17,050 in 2022 and £10,060 so far in 2023.




  • £7500 fine for several food hygiene offences
  • £6800 fine for several food hygiene offences
  • £500 fine for non-compliance of abatement notice
  • £250 fine for non-payment of FPN issued under Animals Rules
  • £2000 fine for several food hygiene offences




  • £9000 fine for several food hygiene offences
  • £500 fine for non-compliance of abatement notice
  • £560 fine for non-compliance of abatement notice




The Environmental Agency continue to work closely with the Department on issues such as contingency planning on food imports, and exports of waste in the event of a No negotiated Outcome in relation to Brexit.  The Agency has adapted and taken measures to ensure that the administration of waste exports and food imports continues unhindered.


Dog Fouling


The Agency also continues to make a significant contribution to the Government’s anti-dog fouling campaign. In 2022 the Agency collected 173 DNA samples with 16 FPNs issued and so far in 2023, 98 DNA samples have been collected with 9 FPNs issued to offenders. The DNA sampling provides a very useful tool in allowing officers to retrospectively link a dog with its owner.


Officers from the Agency also carry out patrols during which they check that dogs being walked on the public highway are  licensed and registered.  In 2022, 55 patrols were carried out with 150 dogs checked which resulted in 15 FPNs being issued for no registration or license. Thus far this year, 61 patrols have been carried out with 85 dogs checked resulting in 5 FPNs being issue.  Additional patrols are carried out by the EPRU.


This gives the officers the opportunity to catch out owners who are not complying and oblige them to regularise their position, thus ensuring that their DNA profile is registered and improving the effectiveness of the DNA sampling initiative.


Mr Speaker, most dog owners are totally responsible and resent those who are not, and who unfairly give them – and dogs – a bad name.  They will be pleased to know that we are now working on detailed plans for setting up a dedicated dog park.





The Agency is the competent authority for COMAH. The Agency recently hosted HSE inspectors who carried out a successful emergency planning and climate adaptability inspection as part of the bi-annual inspection regime of the LNG plant.  This is the plant that the GSD said would blow up half of Gibraltar.


In conjunction with the Office of Civil Contingencies and with UK based Health and Safety Executive, the second LNG live exercise is being organised for November 2023. The exercise will provide the opportunity for the offsite plan to be tested alongside GASNOR’s onsite plan with learning points identified going forward.



Water Quality and Beaches


Water Quality


Like Air Quality, Bathing water quality has been improving steadily over the past 12 years. Five of our bathing waters continue to be classed as “Excellent” with Western Beach improving and now being classified as “Good” rather than “Sufficient” as it was in 2019. Despite Brexit, Gibraltar goes beyond the legal requirements for sampling of bathing waters and sampling has been increased further to weekly sampling during the bathing season.


The Agency also carries out the task of sampling Gibraltar’s potable water supply network. Samples at different points of the network are taken throughout Gibraltar as per the requirements of the Public Health (Potable Water) Rules 1994.  In addition, the Agency monitor the quality of water supplied to ships at the Port, licensing and monitoring the companies providing this vital resource to the marine sector.




Ongoing construction projects at Eastern Beach delayed preparation works leading up to the Official Bathing Season.  Our beaches were, however, with some work left to do at Eastern beach, well ready for the summer thanks to the great efforts of the pertinent sections of Environment, Technical Services and contractors.   There were a number of key improvements at Camp Bay, for example, following representations from my friend  and regular Camp Bay user Adolfo Mor.


There are still some issues with Eastern Beach as a result if work by external contractors which we hope will be fully resolved shortly.


This year we have carried out a far more extensive rock clearing and sand sifting operation than usual at both Eastern Beach and Catalan Bay, including mechanical removal of rocks and debris beneath the water, from up to 4 metres in from the shore.


At Little Bay a new and improved access to the shore has been constructed. It comprises a concrete platform leading out from the existing the sea access stairs and a side set of steps hugging the sea wall leading bathers away from the rockiest area of shoreline. This will facilitate access for beach users, especially the elderly and those with mobility restrictions. Little Bay has also seen an improvement to the internal shower facilities. A solar panel fed hot water system, mirroring that installed at Camp Bay a couple of years ago, has been installed thus providing warm water showers within the beach facility premises.


At Camp Bay, the old wooden beach umbrella store and beach accessibility equipment store have been replaced by two, purpose built, permanent structures. The new public beach umbrella store will be somewhat greater in size (compared to its predecessor) with a better internal distribution, thus affording the general public greater storage space, and improved access to this one. The problem of ponding (accumulation of stagnant water) which used to occur in areas of flooring around the large pool at Camp Bay, potentially becoming a bacterial focal point, has been resolved by the construction of a new water gutter around the pool edge. This one is already proving successful in efficiently draining away overspills from the pool and any excess water resulting from the hosing and cleaning operation of the area.


General yearly preparatory works at our beaches have also included much other work.


Camp Bay


  • The old wooden beach umbrella store and beach accessibility equipment store adjacent to the Lifeguard Post have been removed and two, purpose built, permanent structures will be constructed in site. The new public beach umbrella store will be somewhat greater in size (compared to its predecessor) thus affording greater storage space to the general public.
  • The areas of flooring around the large pool where ponding (accumulation of stagnant water) occurs is being resolved by the construction of a new water gutter around the pool edge which hopefully help overspills from the pool to be drained away more efficiently.
  • New fencing will be erected around the toddlers’ pool. This one has never been protected by a fenced perimeter.
  • One extra external shower unit will be installed on the main promenade area.
  • The main centre holes on all concrete tables (close to 230) have been covered. These centre holes tend to get filled up with pebbles and other debris preventing beach umbrellas from properly being set up within the provided opening. These centre holes normally require drilling a few times each during the course of the Official Bathing Season. New holes have been drilled on the sides of the tables, and way from the centre stand, with a fixing point drilled perpendicularly in line on the floor, in order for beach users to comfortably ‘pitch up’ their beach umbrellas. This new set up will avoid the historic hindrance and inconvenience of the constantly blocked centre holes.
  • The electrolysis cell that provides natural chlorination to the large pool will be replaced, as the current one has passed its expected active lifespan and no longer produces the required levels.
  • The water pipe system feeding the pool pumps will be improved, with wider pipes being installed. This should improve the rate of water intake to the pool system.
  • The coping stone edge of the toddlers’ pool, significantly damaged, will be replaced in its entirety.
  • Damaged coping stone units around the large pool’s edge will be replaced.
  • The entire metallic balustrade along Keys Promenade, at the southern end of the beach (90 linear metres approximately) which is partially rusted and somewhat ‘tired’ in appearance, will be replaced in its entirety.
  • Erection of the Beach Accessibility Service pergola.
  • Setting up of the Jelly Fish Net enclosure.
  • The usual yearly remedial works will also be carried out; rendering and painting of flooring, walls, seating areas, stairs public accesses, etc. Replacement of toilet furniture, fixtures and retiling wherever necessary. Repairs and/or replacements of beach facility doors (external and internal).  Repairs and painting of railings and balustrades.
  • New electric pump to provide constant pressure for hot water shower system


Little Bay

  • Entire metallic balustrade along the lower tier of the beach is currently being replaced.
  • New fencing will be erected around the toddlers’ pool. This one has never been protected by a fenced perimeter.
  • A new platform and stairs running adjacent to the sea wall (actually hugging this one) in order to improve access to the shoreline will be constructed. This should make access to shoreline, and bathing itself, easier for the elderly, or those beach users with any mobility restrictions. These stairs will lead bathers to the centre are of the beach and away from the shoreline area covered with boulders immediately in front of the northern stairs. These works have been commissioned by TSD under their Coastal Defences programme.
  • Installation of solar panels and hot water shower system.
  • Setting up of the Jelly Fish Net enclosure.
  • Repairs and treatment of wooden beach umbrella stores.
  • The usual yearly remedial works will also be carried out; rendering and painting of flooring, walls, seating areas, stairs public accesses, etc. Replacement of toilet furniture, fixtures and retiling wherever necessary. Repairs and/or replacements of beach facility doors (external and internal).  Repairs and painting of railings and balustrades. Repairs and/or replacing of concrete tables.


Western Beach

  • Yearly removal of all accumulated seaweed within the runway sea inlet running adjacent to the beach car park.
  • Overhaul of all wooden structures composing the Beach Facilities on site, including the retreating of wood, replacing of all partition walls within the changing room and shower room cubicles, that are quite worn out and somewhat ‘tired’ in appearance, as well as the replacing of toilet furniture and fixtures wherever necessary.
  • Releveling of the beach where required.
  • Laying/realigning of concrete walkways providing access to the beach and the Beach Accessibility Service Unit.
  • Erection of the Beach Accessibility Service pergola.
  • Setting up of the Jelly Fish Net enclosure.
  • Repairs and treatment of wooden beach umbrella stores.
  • Repairs and painting of railings and balustrades.


Catalan Bay

  • Removal of stones and pebbles from the entire beach, as well as the first stretch of shoreline into the sea.
  • Releveling of the beach and shifting of sand where required.
  • Painting of the entire beach wall and balustrades (including the street balustrade running from the top of Sir Herbert’s Miles Rd to the actual village).
  • Repairs and treatment along the entire wooden pedestrian causeway running from the car park to the actual village road.
  • Laying/realigning of concrete walkways providing access to the beach and the Beach Accessibility Service Unit.
  • Erection of the Beach Accessibility Service pergola.
  • Erection of the Beach Accessibility Beach Tent for the exclusive use of blue badge beach users, immediately adjacent to the accessibility mat providing stable access to wheelchair users to the shoreline. This service was first introduced last summer.
  • Setting up of the Jelly Fish Net enclosure.
  • Repairs and treatment of wooden beach umbrella stores.
  • The usual yearly remedial works will also be carried out; rendering and painting of flooring, walls, seating areas, stairs public accesses, etc. Replacement of toilet furniture, fixtures and retiling wherever necessary. Repairs and/or replacements of beach facility doors (external and internal). 


Sandy Bay

  • Releveling of the beach and shifting of sand where required.
  • Laying/realigning of concrete walkways providing access to the beach and the Beach Accessibility Service Unit.
  • Repairs and treatment of wooden beach umbrella stores.
  • Setting up of the Jelly Fish Net enclosure.
  • Repairs and painting of railings and balustrades


Eastern Beach

  • Removal of stones and pebbles from the entire beach, as well as the first stretch of shoreline into the sea.
  • Releveling of the beach and shifting of sand where required.
  • Painting of sections of beach wall not covered by the new storage units project and balustrades.
  • Laying/realigning of concrete walkways providing access to the beach and the Beach Accessibility Service Unit.
  • Erection of the Beach Accessibility Service pergola.
  • Erection of the Beach Accessibility Beach Tent for the exclusive use of blue badge beach users, immediately adjacent to the accessibility mat providing stable access to wheelchair users to the shoreline.
  • Setting up of the Jelly Fish Net enclosure.
  • Repairs and treatment of wooden beach umbrella stores.
  • The usual yearly remedial works will also be carried out; rendering and painting of flooring, walls, seating areas, stairs public accesses, etc. Replacement of toilet furniture, fixtures and retiling wherever necessary. Repairs and/or replacements of beach facility doors (external and internal). 




Beach Service/Lifeguards


There have been improvements in the Lifeguard service thanks to enhanced training.


We now also have round the clock supervision of the Beach Service to ensure that it is running up to expected standards and the safety of all beach users. Training started in September 2022, immediately after the closure of the official Bathing Season, in order to encourage and prepare potential candidates via comprehensive all-year-round training programme.





Mr Speaker,


Major changes have been taking place in the Cemetery, in terms of administrative procedures, including recording and plotting of graves, staffing, and in the management of graves and vaults. Works are ongoing to repair the niches, entrances, public toilets and staff offices. This will be followed by construction of a dedicated columbarium for the internment of ashes. 


Green and Planted areas, urban wildlife


Nature-based approaches to tackling climate change are now recognised as essential.  Indeed it is also established that green areas in cities improve both physical and mental health and add to the benefits of increasing urban biodiversity.


Relevant to this I can report that there have been 240 trees planted since autumn 2022.  Any trees removed in any project need to be either transplanted or replaced and legal action will be taken against transgressors.


New green areas have been created, such as the new roundabouts at both access points to Kingsway. The existing planter opposite Victoria Stadium has been improved and significantly extended as part of the new bicycle lane project. There has also been additional removal of non-native invasive species, and habitat for native plants has increased.


We will continue to provide better green spaces that improve our urban environment and increase the quality of life of our residents, also diversifying the wildlife in these spaces.


And wildlife is responding.  The Spotted Flycatcher is now nesting in many green spaces, including those in Town.  Further afield, Ravens have raised three young on the Rock for the first time since the early 1970s.


Botanic Gardens


The Gibraltar Botanic Gardens continue with their core objectives of maintaining and beautifying the grounds; educating the public and researching into the ecology, evolution and conservation of plants and animals.


Improvements to the gardens’ aesthetics continue and the very hard and enthusiastic work of the grounds staff is clear to see.  Beds are being planted using water-wise plants consistent with the environmental values that we must embrace.  Some beds have been replanted with many of the important succulent plants that are propagated at the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens for research and conservation purposes, but they are also extremely attractive.


The popular children’s education programme continues to go from strength to strength, performing excellent outreach work as well.  The new, bespoke education area is now ready and will be inaugurated this autumn, thanks entirely to the contributions of a number of very generous private donors.


In the meantime, we continue to plant the very rare Gibraltar endemic, the Gibraltar Campion back into the Gibraltar Nature Reserve, with further plans to reintroduce them to different parts of the Rock.  This relies on seed from the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens, and raised by the Gardens where the species has been propagated successfully every year after it was rediscovered and rescued from certain extinction, and by Greenarc.  This is just part of the important conservation work that goes on at the Alameda.



The Gibraltar National Park


Mr Speaker,


We have recently seen the establishment of the Gibraltar National Park by Act of Parliament, sadly not supported by the Opposition.  The first meetings of the newly established National Park Co-ordinating Board have been held and plans are moving ahead to use this new entity to better co-ordinate the work of the constituent bodies and to better promote Gibraltar abroad.



Gibraltar Nature Reserve


Mr. Speaker,


Visitor numbers to the Upper Rock component of the Gibraltar Nature Reserve continue to increase.  A recent small increase in the entrance fee for non-residents, which is still well below what you can expect to pay for similar experiences in many tourist destinations, has increased revenue.  This has been helped by the new Gibraltar Nature Reserve website which now allows visitors to buy tickets online and customise their visitor experience.


Improvements to the reserve continue.  Sites are now controlled via speed gates making it possible to have complete visibility of every ticket sold and to track individual and groups throughout the nature reserve, important in case of an emergency. We have already been able to increase revenue by about £2m per annum and we forecast that, through efficiencies and further system enhancements, we will be able to increase this by a further £1m in the 2023/2024 financial year.


New improved signage is being rolled out along with interpretation panels. This is being extended to areas of ecological and heritage interest throughout Gibraltar.

We are investing in the improvement of our main attractions such as the World War II tunnels, soon to re-open after refurbishment, St. Michael’s Cave, Mediterranean Steps and O’Hara’s Battery, recently re-opened. New picnic sites have being created and more are planned. This year has also seen a drastic improvement to the parking facilities available to visitors who can now make use of Lathbury car park.  We will also be deploying enhanced traffic calming measures, including speed cameras, to protect both visitors and wildlife.


Building on the successful rewilding programme which started with the reintroduction of Barbary Partridges and wild Rabbits, new species that once inhabited the reserve are being brought back.  I highlight the majestic Bonelli’s Eagle, which once nested in the Rock and which, I can today reveal, has nested here this year in captivity, raising two young which are in the process of being released from a secret location. This is thanks to the undoubted world-class expertise of the team at GONHS as well as the Upper Rock management team. 

Mr Speaker it is also thanks to them that Barbary Partridges are more common in Gibraltar than at any other time in recent memory and members of the public frequently have very close encounters with them in the Nature Reserve. 


The recently created Tovey Cottage interpretation centre is helping to raise awareness on this and on all the habitat management and conservation work being carried out in the reserve and I take the opportunity to thank all those involved, many of them volunteers, in making this happen.


Yellow-legged Gulls


The Yellow-legged Gull is an opportunistic species that does exceptionally well around humans.  Unfortunately, it can also cause problems for us and it is therefore considered a pest species.  The population of this gull in Gibraltar needs to be controlled because the birds have an ecological impact on habitats and other species, can be a public health problem and, most importantly, they constitute a risk for aircraft.  I highlighted last year that the long-term trend of Yellow-legged Gulls in Gibraltar is one of decline.  The results of this year’s breeding gull survey confirm this trend of continued decline.  This is testament to the excellent work done by the Avian Control Unit, which ensures that these gulls will never again be as abundant as they were during the 1990s and early 2000s. 

The Avian Control Unit provides an excellent service which I believe is unique in the world.

Control of pigeons and feral chickens is also proceeding.




The GONHS Bird of Prey Unit, already referred to, continues its excellent work in rescue, rehabilitation, release and tracking of injured and exhausted birds of prey.  They do excellent conservation work and are also very involved in education on migrating birds of prey and their preservation.  The fruits that this incredibly successful programme have borne are plain to see: This serves as a model for conservation programmes in Gibraltar and beyond.




Mr Speaker ,

The Nature Reserve is this year again receiving large numbers of tourists that as always puts pressure on the macaques and their natural behaviour.  There is now a full time Wildlife Warden to help educate the public and reduce interactions between the macaques and tourists and tour operators.

Macaque numbers have remained stable now for several years after a concerted effort to sterlise females through laparoscopy so that numbers of births annually have fallen to a level that will sustain a stable population. This, and rapid deployment of staff when needed has meant that incursions into urbanized areas are now the exception and not the rule as they once were. 

 Macaque blood samples were tested last year for zoonotic diseases and were found not to carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans. However monkeys are always vulnerable to catching illnesses from humans and then spreading them back so this further cements the point that contact between the macaques and man should be prevented.



Mr Speaker, our work on the Environment is recognised beyond our shores as I know from my work as Chair of the Environment Ministers’ Council of the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.  We are seen by many as a model in ambition, commitment, and achievement.  Indeed, I know from my meetings with Ministers from the Territories and from UK Government Ministers and senior officials, some of whom have visited Gibraltar recently, that there is tremendous respect for our environmental stewardship.





Mr Speaker, I will now turn to Heritage.


The Ministry for Heritage together with all other heritage stakeholders such as the Gibraltar National Museum, Gibraltar Garrison Library and Gibraltar Heritage Trust have continued to work together in seamless collaboration as never before.


Archaeological monitoring, restoration, heritage assessments and technical advice through the planning system continue and have been enhanced.


The Heritage and Antiquities Advisory Council (HAAC) continues to advise me on all matters relating to our heritage and is proving to be an invaluable asset.


A sub-committee of the Council produced a Heritage Vision for Gibraltar.  Feedback from the consultation draft has been analysed and required no significant changes and so the Vision is now formally adopted.


This will guide us in developing and implementing management plans in order to protect not only our tangible heritage but also less tangible aspects of our cultural heritage such as our languages.


A Bill before this House will amend the Heritage and Antiquities Act to incorporate greater protections and supervision in the importation and exportation of antiquities and on the use of metal detectors.


We have also declared our first ever scheduled archaeological area east of Arengo’s palace.


We pursue the scheduling of other heritage sensitive properties with all relevant parties and are working on a register of properties of historical value.


Mr Speaker, the importance of scheduling buildings of historical importance has been well demonstrated given the recent sale of St Andrew’s Church, as it will clearly ensure that its heritage value is conserved in whatever use it is put to.


As I highlighted last year, after fifty years of neglect, the 9.2-inch gun barrel, carriage and pedestal that were once at Levant Battery was removed from the Eco Park in Flint Road and transported to a holding and restoration area at Brewery Crusher.  The plan is to return it to its original home at Levant Battery.


Interpretation panels detailing different facets of our history have been placed throughout Gibraltar for all to enjoy. These include new information on our military history now on display at the 100 Ton Gun visitor centre.


Information on the Almond Tower and its restoration can now also be found at Tarik Passage.  Panels are also be placed at Casemates Square detailing Gibraltar’s rich medieval heritage from both our Islamic and Spanish Periods. Eight new interpretation panels were placed on Juan Carlos Perez Promenade between Little Bay and Camp Bay highlighting not only our social and military history but also focusing on natural heritage. New interpretation panels will soon be placed at Southport Gates.


Collaborative efforts also continue; the Ministry for Heritage, the Gibraltar Heritage Trust and Alabare (a UK based charity) have continued working together on heritage projects. This year the focus was on O’Hara’s Battery. I hugely welcome the support given to Gibraltar’s Heritage and thank them most sincerely for their excellent work.


Another collaborative effort with the American Battle Monuments Commission will also see work commencing in the enhancement and restoration of the American War Memorial later this year.


The Ministry for Heritage Website, continues to be successful due to the extensive amount of information within it. The website continues to expand with new maps and information.


Restoration works continue in major sites such as the Convent Façade and at the new St Mary’s Lower Primary School. The restoration of Southport Gates will also be finalised by the end of the summer; it is the first time in over two centuries that such intensive work has been undertaken. We will finally have our medieval shields that have stood there for nearly 500 years brought back to life.


We have undertaken heritage works through the removal of vegetation on all four facades of the Tower of Homage and we restored the last whipping post located outside the Shrine of our Lady of Europe.  We are also well underway in the protection of graves of historical interest, having listed a number of these in the schedule to the Act.


Together with GJBS the Ministry for Heritage is constructing new gun carriages that will be placed at sites of historical interest. We are also planning together with the Housing Works Agency future restoration works that will take place at the Medieval Gatehouse.


These are all examples of the Government’s unwavering support for heritage.  Another unseen but fundamental part of the work is archaeological supervisions through watching briefs. All developments are regularly supervised by the Government Archaeologist.  These have recently include, Orange Bastion, North Gorge, the Ex-Casino development as well as the former TOC-H site among many others. This is possible only because of the extremely important work that our heritage organisations undertake in advising and supervising the restoration of heritage assets in private developments.


The close working relationship the Ministry for Heritage has with other heritage stakeholders as well as with other departments such Town Planning, and Technical Services among others ensures that heritage sensitive work is undertaken to the highest standards.


The close relationship with the Gibraltar Heritage Trust continues to go from strength to strength.  The mutual support that exists between the Trust and the Ministry on day-to-day work allows projects to continue unimpeded. The Trust’s Heritage Awards  continue to show that there is a desire and a pride in the community for heritage preservation and improvement of our historic environment.  Indeed one Government-supported project, the restoration of the Central Hall by GCS proudly received a Heritage Award last year.


Work at Witham’s Cemetery by Trust volunteers continues and is now focused on the cottage and garage area, which have been given over to the Trust following their request.


Gibraltar National Museum


A lot has been said recently from one particular Opposition bench about the budget of the Gibraltar National Museum. A lot has also been said from the same bench about Government under-spending on our heritage.   Typical Opposition inconsistency Mr Speaker, you can’t argue both ways.


The fee that the Museum receives for its inspiring work in Gibraltar and beyond is just one way that the Government invests in heritage, including our World Heritage Site.




The excavations at the Gorham’s Cave Complex continue, with students from Liverpool John Moores and Leiden University, together with local volunteers.


As in previous years, the students are accommodated in the Museum’s Field Centre in Parson’s Lodge. The excavations follow the 2023-28 Research and Conservation Strategy for the site, which was approved by the International Research and Conservation Committee (the IRCC) in March of this year.  Excavation work proceeds in Vanguard Cave and there is also a return to Gorham’s Cave, the first year after the pandemic.


In addition to providing accommodation for students, Parson’s Lodge also houses the sieving laboratory, where materials are sorted prior to transfer to the final laboratory at the Gibraltar National Museum. The continuing use of this field laboratory, which has for some years now housed the popular summer programme of activities for children, allows access to a public that may not be able to go to the caves themselves. Here they can interact with the researchers and students and see part of the process at work.




I am pleased to report that a wonderful stone monument, in the shape of the Rock with Gorham’s Cave within will soon be inaugurated at Europa Advance Road as part of a plan to attract visitors to the World Heritage site viewing platform. We plan to develop a cliff-top path between the viewing platform and the monument, allowing for safe pedestrian access.


Periodic Reporting


The World Heritage site has just completed its first participation in the process of periodic reporting to UNESCO. The team at the World Heritage Office has worked closely with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport in the United Kingdom, who represent the State Party at UNESCO. It is another milestone in the history of our unique site. I know that this has been a mammoth undertaking over the past year and we should all be proud of the professional and expert manner in which our Gibraltar team has undertaken this task.


Management Plan


The new management plan for the Site, covering the period 2023-28, is now completed and will shortly be made public via online. The research and conservation strategy and the risk preparedness plan have also been completed.


TV Crews


Worldwide media interest in the Gorham’s Cave Complex continues.  During this field season alone, three major international television crews have covered the work there. There is interest from at least two other teams and a major production, filmed last year, is expected to be out by the end of the summer. I cannot give specific details at this stage as we have to respect the release schedules of the various filming agencies.


The Gibraltar National Museum and Parson’s Lodge


The development of the extension of the Gibraltar National Museum as a Natural History Museum in Parson’s Lodge is a major step forward for our museum services.


I sometimes recall the days when the museum was a small, well-kept, provincial style museum and I compare it to what it has become today. The transformation of the Museum into an international centre of excellence has been truly impressive and I am hugely excited about this next stage, especially given my personal and professional interest in Natural History.


A first phase will open in the autumn and regular improvements and updates are expected thereafter. I would like to add that this development is part of the expansion plans for the museum and has been in the thinking since the end of 2014, when the museum commissioned a health and safety report as it looked at ways of opening up the site for visitors without guides (the current system). Other priorities took over and then, yes, COVID. It was early in 2022 that the consideration of opening up Parson’s Lodge in the proposed manner resumed.


I would like to add that we see the new facility at Parson’s Lodge as the ideal complement and support to the already existing programme of education which the Gibraltar National Museum runs, with local schools. This is a very active programme in which schools come to the museum, and museum staff goes to schools, covering all manner of subjects from Neanderthals and pirates to water and dinosaurs. The new facility will be a fantastic addition to this already wide-ranging programme.


The Moorish Castle


Conservation and restoration of the Moorish Castle is progressing inside the castle walls. This has included test archaeological soundings and studies of the fabric, as can be seen in a film on this on show at the Museum. The result of this work is in the process of being put together into a monograph on the Moorish Castle. It will be the start of a series covering our important monuments and based on original research.



Museum Events


Events organized by the Gibraltar National Museum continue. This year’s Calpe Conference will commemorate three anniversaries, the end of the Great Siege (1783 – 240 years), the discovery of the Gibraltar 1 skull (1848 – 175 years), and the start of the construction of the Gibraltar Dockyard (1893 – 130 years). Put together, these dates span a very important period in the history of Gibraltar, from the end of the Great Siege to the onset of the First World War, with a major anthropological discovery right in the middle!


Other successful events will continue, from regular museum lectures, to the annual Open Day (coinciding with International Museums Day), World Heritage Day and the Christmas Lecture, which last year took the form of a Christmas seminar. The museum will also continue to organize other events, on an ad hoc basis, with international speakers when possible.

One wonderful event was the recent lecture by Mensun Bound on the discovery of Ernest Shackleton’s HMS Endurance under the Antarctic ice in 2022.  Those of us who attended the lecture, and I did notice that some of our new-born heritage gurus were missing, will know why he came – he described his past work with the Gibraltar Museum team as among the best of his entire career and his friendship and association meant that when the call came earlier in the year, there was only ever going to be one answer. This is a little cameo of what years and years of professional endeavour achieve in the promotion of Gibraltar and its unique heritage.



Gibraltar Garrison Library


This is a greatly significant year for the Gibraltar Garrison Library too as it approaches its 230th anniversary on the 27th August. There is much to celebrate here as we have now come to believe that it was the first of the garrison libraries to have been established, with those that followed adopting the Gibraltar model.


This year is also significant as it brings a real game changer, with the Library entering the digital age through the establishment of a digitisation lab, the first output of which will be the digitisation of the Gibraltar newsprint archive collection. These data will be fully searchable and available online, offering global access to Gibraltar’s history. Digital access will offer greater protection to hard copies which will be physically handled less often. This is being achieved with a generous grant from the Kusuma Trust, who have also supported the purchase of rolling stack storage for the most valuable collection items, including artworks.  Additionally, going digital on some aspects of the Gibraltar Garrison Library’s collections is essential – we live in a globalised world where access to knowledge is, literally, at our fingertips.  To be relevant we must also project outwards.


Over the last few years the Garrison Library has increased its projection in social media, with an Instagram page now also forming a part of the Library’s outreach, their first Instagram post in March 2023 being viewed over 5,000 times.  My purpose continues to be to open the Garrison Library, with all its history and heritage, to the whole of the community and beyond.



Heritage in General


Mr Speaker, the structural and systemic improvements introduced by the Government have allowed Heritage to become central to government policy.


We are the only ones with a vision, the only ones who have, and are capable of, protecting all aspects of our heritage, both tangible and intangible, allowing Gibraltar to develop into the future, with the evidence of its past fully protected and enhanced.





Mr Speaker,


In the last twelve months my teams have worked on around thirty pieces of legislation, ranging from the creation of a National Park, to Environmental Governance, a Review of Education, management of Contaminated Land and the regulation of Fireworks.  Later this week I will be publishing a Bill for an Act for the protection and enhancement of Gibraltar’s Culture.






Mr Speaker, now to Education.


The Education of our children and young people is one of the most important aspects of good Government.  This Government has done more for Education than any other in our history, to build on the critical changes in the scholarship system introduced by Sir Joe Bosano’s GSLP Government. 


This is not just by providing new school buildings and facilities. 

The re-alignment of Key Stages has proved most successful, co-education now is firmly established and seen, even by those who had doubts, to have been the right step to take. 

We have revised the remuneration of the much-valued and hard-working teaching profession, and increased the numbers of both teachers and Special Needs Learning Support Assistants to reflect growing needs and diversification of the educational offer, now greater than ever, project-based, and importantly with equal opportunities in education for all.  This was never the case before.


And still the Government continues to invest in making meaningful, real changes to the educational estate which will improve the quality of the learning environment for generations of children. The educational estate legacy of the already lived-in seven new school buildings (St Bernard’s Lower and Upper Primary, Notre Dame, St Anne’s, Bayside, Westside and St Martin’s) together with the significantly upgraded St Paul’s, will be extended with the upcoming opening of three further magnificent schools: St Mary’s, Governor’s Meadow and Bishop Fitzgerald. 


These new buildings will provide bespoke high-quality learning environments for children as well as transforming the working environment for staff. They include better and more extensive physical resources which will be enjoyed by pupils as from September and we can’t wait to open these doors to the public so that all can see what amazing spaces we have created for the pupils.


This private-public partnership has worked extremely well.  I want to thank everyone involved in the projects, the contractors and project managers, ITLD, and especially the Department of Education team and the heads and deputy heads of all three schools for their hard, nay, exhausting work in bringing these to completion.  They have gone well beyond the call of duty, as have all the staff, especially in getting the schools ready for the new Academic Year.


We have also commenced the upgrading of the two St Joseph’s school buildings to a similar standard to our new schools. This will ensure that these schools also enjoy the physical betterment of their learning environment.  We are also well advanced in our plans to build a new Gibraltar College. This will ensure we create a bespoke series of learning spaces that both nurture the current subject offerings in specially designed areas, and enable us to extend the subject offering with the provision of additional learning spaces.


Plans for the construction of a new Hebrew Primary School and Girls’ High School at the old St Mary’s School site are also proceeding.




The number of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities ( or SEND) continues to increase year on year.  I have commissioned a study into possible causes of this, being co-ordinated jointly between the Department of Education and Public Health Gibraltar, and calling in UK experts in the field.


In order to cater for their needs we have increased our Learning Support Facility (LSF) provision across both Lower Primary settings (St Paul’s, St Mary’s and St Joseph’s) and in the Secondary sector in the Gibraltar College.

For the first time ever, LSF provision was extended to the Nursery year group, with such provision being offered in Notre Dame and Governor’s Meadow.  This provision is being extended to 5 Lower Primary schools as from September 2023. We have also increased the number of classes of LSF within all settings, to meet the presenting needs as required.


We are continuing to adapt our existing educational facilities to cater for the growing needs of children with additional needs and early intervention opportunities.

For example, the new St Martin’s school building has a number of resources to which children previously did not have access, such as rebound therapy and hydrotherapy. This enables children to benefit from accessing therapeutic interventions within their school day, which will very much support their holistic development.

Work continues in looking at options to increase the footprint of St Martin’s School to cater for the extending pupil cohort.  The creation of the new Wessex campus, with St Martin’s, Governor’s Meadow and Bishop Fitzgerald being inter-connected, increases the flexibility and adaptability of provision, as it was meant to do.  For example his year the Early Birds Nursery provision will be housed in the Governor’s Meadow school footprint.

It would me remiss of me Mr Speaker not to mention the excellent work being done in relation to SEND by NGOs and want particularly to congratulate PossAbilities for their new premises and forward-looking programmes.

Following sustained works relating to the hydrotherapy plant room, which I have explained before in this House,  long-standing issues have now finally been resolved and this will be fully operational this September.





AED’s Public Schools.


The Department of Education in collaboration with the Cardiac Association, St. John Ambulance and the Gibraltar Fire & Rescue Service, will be coordinating the positioning of Automated Emergency Defibrillators (AED) outside government schools, Bleak House and the University of Gibraltar.


The positioning of AED’s within the school footprint is expected to complement the current distribution plan and limit time between incident and access to potentially life saving equipment.

School staff will receive bespoke training by St. John which will in turn be cascaded to pupils.

This project with all its benefits to pupils, staff and the community more widely comes with no cost to the taxpayer.



School buildings


Work is progressing on establishing full pre-emptive maintenance agreements for all schools.


In addition to the new schools, a great deal of improvement work has been carried out over the past year in existing schools.


Some examples are reroofing of the clock tower at St Joseph’s, installation of air-conditioning at St Bernard’s and the completion of the woodland area at St Paul’s where a concreted patio is now an educational natural space and refuge for wildlife in the heart of an urban zone.


Works planned for the coming months include our inhabited schools’ refurbishment programme at St Joseph’s schools and at St Paul’s, which will include air conditioning and a phased toilet refurbishment, and provision of shading to the roof terraces at Notre Dame, St Anne’s and  St Martin’s to increase use of the areas in the hotter months.   



Education Act


After a long period of research, discussion, consideration and drafting, necessary revisions to the Education Act, before this House, have been made, ensuring that the education section of the outdated legislation is brought up to date to reflect current practice. Some key changes have been made in regard to SEND, we have ensured the revised draft includes more appropriate language and terminology and a clearer outline regarding SEND processes, including the appeals process.


I thank Opposition spokesman for Education Edwin Reyes for his positive engagement and useful suggestions many of which as he knows have been incorporated in the Bill.





We are working with Human Resources in reviewing selection procedures for Education staff.


We have supported our staff who have had issues relating to their wellbeing, working very closely with the Wellbeing Team to offer a higher level of professional support whenever the need has arisen.


I recognise that, as rewarding as working with children and young people can be, it can also be tremendously challenging and draining. The Department of Education has worked very closely with school Senior Leadership Teams to adopt a proactive approach to wellbeing. We believe that happy staff leads to happy schools and happy pupils.


We are looking at a revised structure of posts in St Martin’s School, given the much larger numbers of pupils and staff numbers.


We are also working on addressing structural inconsistencies in responsibility posts and reviewing the TLRs that have been held in an acting capacity pending the outcome of the paused TLR review.


Mr Speaker, in other initatives, we are:


  • Continuing focus on training staff to develop skills in supporting children with social, emotional, mental health needs.
  • Continuing our proactive ethos in nurturing wellbeing so that all children are better equipped to face adverse life situations
  • In close collaboration with RGP and Care Agency and Ministry of Justice to bring into effect the new legislation on Operation Encompass (Gibraltar), with prior awareness raising on Domestic Abuse; training for pastoral leads; and the development of specific protocols
  • Reviewing our service-wide provision for vulnerable children, with our ALC support structures in secondary and the TLC as an extension of this essential bespoke provision for children whose needs cannot be met within a mainstream setting. Our aim is to ensure we develop a more sustainable, dedicated and trained team, with in-house TLC leadership.
  • Given our concerns with attendance, and in the knowledge of the very much evidenced negative impact that poor attendance has on educational outcomes and positive life prospects, we are keen to give this an even more concerted focus next year. However we also recognise the already high workloads of SLT and pastoral leads, so are keen to develop an additional structure of support through a ‘Pastoral Support Team’ within schools.



We have invested in more CPD opportunities for teachers than ever before and have coordinated whole service and whole school training. We have also funded individual teachers who have wanted to branch out into specific areas like mental health support, mentoring and coaching, subject development, forest schools and new initiatives in learning and teaching.

We have introduced a formalised induction for new SNLSAs, who make a hugely important contribution to educating our children, which includes a core programme of essential training, to better prepare them for their role in the classroom.

Mr Speaker,

I am well aware of the importance of the work done by all non-classroom-based staff too, including technicians, industrial staff, caretakers and attendants, as well as the school secretaries, who so often work in the background, and we are looking at ways in which to improve their situation.

UK trainers delivered a 3 day training course on Person Centred Planning (PCP) to representatives from all Educational settings including representatives from Private schools. Individuals from other agencies were also invited to attend day 1 which was an introduction to PCP. We intend to use this approach when undertaking the planning of more complex situations, as we can see how this approach ensures that the person(s) (pupil, pupils[s], staff member or team) is kept as a central focus to the plan that is devised.


Playtech Funds to Support Mental Health & Wellbeing in Schools.


The Department, after presenting a case to Playtech for funding, based on the Mental Health Strategy for Schools, has received a grant of £52,000.


A total of 6 key projects have been agreed and are at different stages of implementation. These include:

  • Trauma Informed Training,
  • Mental health First Aide,
  • Person Centred Planning: transition to adulthood,
  • Relationships and Sex Education & mental health issues in SEND,
  • Nurture UK &
  • Stand alone Website to support pupil transitions


The Department has partnered up with Gibsams as a registered charity acting as custodians of the funds received.

In-service Training focused on various SEND topics delivered to many of our schools during this academic year.

The second 2-day training event which brought the whole service together proved extremely worthwhile and was extremely well received by all.

Mr Speaker, there are many other developments in our provision for learners with SEND, such as:

  • Introducing the Pupil Profile for teachers to start using next academic year so as to have a common framework to track pupil progress through the Early Years Curriculum, in all our Lower Primary schools.
  • Continued close liaison with GHA staff to support pupils –
  • Continued BEST provision to support pupils presenting with Social Emotional and Mental health Needs (SEMH).
  • Following on from the signing of the Made By Dyslexia Pledge by the CM in 2019 we have started our annual dyslexia screening for all Y4 pupils and have delivered Dyslexia training in schools.
  • Ongoing Educational Psychology parent Drop In sessions so parents can reach out to discuss any concerns they have.  
  • Formalised our Outreach and Inreach procedures to ensure that pupils are appropriately supported in their transitional opportunities between schools and stage of provision.
  • Continued support for pupils with SEND at key times of transition between sectors, with enhanced transition support when they move from one sector to another e.g. Lower Primary to Upper Primary, or Upper Primary into Secondary.
  • Enhancing our offer of post 16 provision for young people with SEND and inclusion of some of the St Bernadette’s users identified as individuals who will benefit from attending courses at the Gibraltar College.
  • Developing our use of technology, visual support and communication aids to more effectively support pupils with SEND.
  • Access Arrangements (AA) – robust arrangements are in place for individuals requiring AA. Dedicated Specialist Assessor is based in the Educational Psychology office to support the assessment of pupils requiring AA.


There continues to be close collaboration between Education staff and our colleagues in GHA and in the Care Agency to facilitate access and support to the children and young people with additional needs. This multi-agency working ensures that the children and young people’s needs are clearly outlined, planned for and reviewed, in order to support their holistic development.

Multi-agency working also continues via attendance and participation in the SEN Assessment Panel and the Children’s Disability Panel.

Mr Speaker, the pandemic halted much of our projected work as we had to focus on providing education for our children in a different way.  Happily, we are now able to re-embark on our plans and I can confirm that we will be keeping our Manifesto Commitment of employing more School Counsellors and Educational Psychologists and to review the allowances of both EPs and SENCos, whose increasing workload deserves recognition.


Vocational Courses


Contrary to repeated allegations from the Opposition we are most definitely keeping to our commitment to provide wider vocational opportunities.

For example, the Gibraltar College has worked closely with senior leaders in the Care Agency to develop a Social Services, Health and Social Care Course for individuals employed by the Care Agency who wish to develop themselves professionally and acquire a qualification.


The College is also exploring the possibility of offering Cambridge National Certificate in Sports Studies.


Other new vocational courses that will be starting this September, in Bayside and Westside, a Level 2 Certificate in Design and Craft, and Level 3 Food Science and Nutrition, and in the College a Level 2 E-Sports and a Level 3 Drama and Performing Arts (BTEC) in association with GAMPA, adding to the existing subjects which include Music Performance BTEC and the hairdressing BTEC with Mayfair on Main.


Unfortunately there have been no takers for the construction route we offered at the Secondaries or the first time this year.


Never before Mr Speaker have our young peoples had so many vocational courses available.




Investment in Technological Resources


We have audited schools and addressed the gaps identified wherever possible in an effort to ensure a higher level of equity in terms of technological provision across all schools (TV screens, etc).


We have also invested in additional carts of ipads across all schools in order to improve the ipad:pupil ratio and thereby extend this technological provision in a way that has real impact on learners. We have also extended the ipad provision to the Gibraltar College, by investing in student ipads and in-house training for staff.



Emergency Response Planning for Schools.


The DoE in collaboration with Civil Contingencies is currently drafting a Generic Emergency Response Plan (ERP) and rehearsed these procedures during table-top exercises with a view to building toward a full active exercise in the future.


Net Zero/Climate Emergency/ClimAct/Sustainable Schools Focus

There are a number of work streams which The Department of Education have been part of which develop the important ongoing work of the ClimACT working party and the Core Committee with the Net Zero Delivery Body work.

A Learner Ambassador forum has been created in order to seek the direct input of young people into this critical work stream which ultimately will directly impact on the quality of their living environment in the future.


Our review of the Education section of the Education and Training Act (1974) has ensured that along with the other key changes mentioned earlier, it features a commitment to making learning about the climate emergency and climate justice a fundamental principle of education policy. The revised Education Act will also bring to bear a number of commitments which will support us in prioritising some climate emergency work streams.

  • There are a number of targets that the Department of Education is actively working on, with colleagues throughout Education as well as with colleagues in the Department for the Environment and the Ministry for Transport. These include:
  • A bespoke climate change curriculum framework suitable for our local context
  • A policy for Sustainable Schools
  • Developing climate change INSET training for our staff
  • Revised career advice which includes a focus on green jobs
  • Looking at school transport
  • Looking at how pupil and staff travel to school
  • Developing a revised cycling proficiency course as an extra-curricular opportunity and looking into the possibility of making the development of cycling skills part of the curriculum
  • Pedal Ready (Gibraltar) Monitoring our school energy data and using it to inform our decision-making process







And so to the University of Gibraltar, now so firmly established despite its young age. 




The University enrolled almost 560 students during the academic year ending 31 July 2023 from a combination of academic programmes, professional and continuing education courses, technical training certificates, and language courses.


Its portfolio of academic programmes continues to grow. Last year saw the University offering undergraduate degrees in computing & entrepreneurship, nursing, business, and maritime science, complimented by a range of access courses, and post-graduate degrees in research (PhD), education, business (MBA and management & leadership) and marine science.


Students enrolled on these core academic programmes continue to increase with 30 in the academic year 2018/19, 134 in 2020/21, 188 in 2022/22 and 203 as of end of June 2023. The latter are of 41 different nationalities, coming from as far as Hong-Kong, South Africa, Pakistan and Canada, with the top five nationalities excluding Gibraltar, being UK, Spain, United States, Morocco and Switzerland. There continues to be a diverse student community residing at the Europa Suites accommodation, with Block A now largely filled by university students and, with this year’s intake of students it is expected that Block B will start to be filled.


Graduates of the University are also increasing with 21 graduating in December 2020, 38 in 2021, 79 in 2022 and an anticipated 98 (which includes 3 local PhD students) graduating in December 2023. In keeping with the University commitment to the human dimension of education, all graduation ceremonies have been undertaken face to face.


Following extensive consultation with industry and successful completion of a rigorous UK validation process during this past year, the University will offer a further 3 new degrees from September 2023:


  1. MSc Environmental Science and Climate Change. This degree aims to develop competent, environmental consultants and managers to meet the growing demand for skilled graduates in the ‘Green Economy’, environmental and wildlife management, environmental and biological conservation, climate change adaptation and ecosystem disaster risk reduction. Partnerships with local stakeholders such as the Department of Environment and the Botanic Gardens will further assist the University to deliver ‘conservation gains on the ground’ via placements and projects such as fora and flora of Gibraltar, Nature Reserve management and bird ringing.
  2. MSc Contemporary Healthcare. Developed in consultation with the GHA, this degree is offered to all allied health practitioners’ seeking to advance their knowledge and skills in management, leadership, teaching, and implementing change to improve patient care and health services. GHA will day release those successfully enrolled on programme.
  3. MBA (Gaming). Developed in consultation with the Gaming industry, this degree aims to develop leaders within the gaming industry. It provides a systematic understanding of gaming organisations, their external context, how they are managed, and the issues and challenges faced by management within the gaming sector as they strive to make organisations successful, sustainable and responsible stakeholders in society. In addition to international interest, several local firms have already booked staff onto the programme.


This year, the University will be working with industry to launch an MSc in Advanced Health Practice, and a BSc Adult Nursing International Top-up and, in line with many UK Universities, a range of micro-credentials to support life-long learning will be launched in January. Also planned is the development of an MSc Psychology (Addiction) and an MSc Sustainable Maritime Operations.


The University Centre of Excellence in Responsible Gaming (CERG), has continued to grow its reputation both locally and globally. In addition to publishing almost 60 academic research papers this past year, holding an international PhD Summer School, providing 8 public lectures and webinars and more than 20 presentations at international conferences, the Centre has also assisted with research looking at Domestic Abuse in Gibraltar.


The University was recently awarded funding by the UK Darwin Plus scheme to undertake a biodiversity and conservation project in Gibraltar at Windmill Flats and continues to work with a range of other local and international organisations, as well as other universities on various research projects. A range of public research lectures by academics from across the globe have also been offered, including the ‘International Symposium on Infectious Diseases’ organised in collaboration with Dr Leon Leanse which attracted 16 speakers from 7 different countries.


This year also saw the event of the first Research that Benefits Gibraltar conference which show-cased the research of PhD students, as well as the first student led Nurses Conference focussed on health-care practice improvements, both were a resounding success.




In addition to its academic programmes, the University has provided a range of professional, continuing education and short courses, all aimed at addressing local needs and covering topics that include: Gibraltar law, Gibraltar Tax, accounting (e.g. AAT), responsible gambling, digital marketing, creative thinking and problem solving, in addition to acting as an exam centre for professional awards and providing a diverse range of English and Spanish courses to local and regional individuals and businesses via its Language Centre. 


During the academic year, the Professional Development Department also completed its inaugural Professional Diploma of Competence in Financial Services. The first of its kind, this cross-sector qualification was developed in direct consultation with the Regulator and industry, aiming to serve as an industry standard. The qualification which has been endorsed by the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission saw 14 local students’ from 6 different licensed industry sectors graduate in June 2023. Due to the success of the course, a further offering is scheduled for this September.


This academic year also saw the official launch in November 2022 of the University Maritime Academy in an event held on board the Windsurf sail-ship. Building on its Maritime Shipping for local industry courses, and working with its collaborative partner Viking Maritime Group, the year has seen the Academy develop and launch a beyond compliance Fire-fighting course targeting local and international shipping. The success of this course has drawn repeat business from operators that include Windstar and Virgin Cruises.


Just recently, a significant agreement was signed with FRS a major local, regional, international ferry operator for provision of Ratings Training for seafarers, Maritime English (1000 crew), provision of cadet sea-time placements, sponsorships and graduate jobs. The Academy are also in talks for provision of customised maritime training for a number of other large local and international operators, such as Carnival UK (including P&O, Cunard).  The Academy’s strong ties with local bunkering companies such as Minerva, Peninsula, Grimaldi and GibOil has also ensured that despite a continued global shortage of sea-placements, all the University’s growing number of maritime cadets have been placed on board quality vessels.


Recruitment, Tuition Income and Subvention


In spite of extremely challenging targets, an increasingly competitive international market and the constraints posed by processing delays with visas for international students, recruitment of students continues to be successful with tuition fee income increasing from £1,324,507 in the University year ended 31 July 2021 to £1,746,657 in the year ended 31 July 2022. Moreover, tuition income is estimated to reach £2.1m by 31 July 2023. This growth reflects the University’s ability to recruit increasing numbers of local, regional and international students attracted by the University’s quality student experience.


As a result, the University continues to work towards a much greater degree of self-financing with the proportion of income, excluding donations, provided by the Government subvention steadily decreasing from 86% in the year ended 31 July 2017 to a forecast 30% in the year ending 31 July 2023.


Key recruitment markets for the University remain local, regional, Europe/Benelux, USA, Canada, Morocco and globally with key attractions remaining the University face-to-face teaching, small class sizes, alignment to the UK higher education frameworks, the recent global accreditation from the UK Quality Assurance Agency and focus on employability (including development of work-related skills and knowledge and provision of meaningful placements).


Drawing upon research undertaken by the London Economics (2021), Report on Costs and Benefits of International Higher Education Students to the UK Economy, it was estimated that international students studying at the University for the academic year 22/23 will contribute approximately £5.7million net to the Gibraltar economy. This figure will increase to £7.6m net if international student targets are met for the upcoming academic year.


Finally in relation to the University I can report that it was recently awarded membership of the prestigious and influential Universities UK.










Mr Speaker,


Following from the budget speech last year I am delighted to confirm that our programme to develop Culture and its appreciation, both in Gibraltar and abroad, remains at the heart of my agenda as is evident with daily cultural activities and the increased services that are provided by my team at the Ministry and our executive arm, Gibraltar Cultural Services.


My commitment to develop our Art at an international level is also a priority, and art programmes, residencies and exchanges have already been put in place for this forthcoming financial year.


Our cultural service is thriving and moving from strength to strength, in Events, Development, Cultural Facilities and Premises, Cultural Education, promoting our art galleries, our public library, and more, together with all stakeholders.   Art exhibitions, book launches, music, dance and drama productions, are all prolific, and long may that be so.  Gibraltar is seeing a veritable Cultural renaissance in every genre.


Mr Speaker, the policy of concentrating on promoting our culture and exporting it is reaping benefits.  People are sitting up and taking notice of our uniqueness.  The importance of our Culture cannot be over-stated.  It is the essence of our identity and is increasingly recognised as being unique and inimitable. 


Mr Speaker, the way we express ourselves through the Arts, our established and growing Gibraltarian Literature, our unique language, is what will see our identify through-any challenges that may come our way.  It is our Culture that makes Gibraltar Gibraltar and Gibraltarians Gibraltarian.  That reality will frustrate those who wish us to cease being who we are, and will defeat them every single time.


It is therefore imperative that we continue to produce these programmes as we need to make sure we invest in the cultural leaders of the future. In those who will promote Gibraltar outside our shores.


We must develop and promote our own. Events with international artists are welcome but it is more significant, and much less expensive, to promote the development of the arts within our community.





To this end, there has this past year, been a myriad of events organised, including:


  • As part of the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations, ‘Jubilita’, gastronomic extravaganza marking the 70 years of service by the late Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to the people of the United Kingdom, Realms and the Commonwealth.


  • Last year saw the return of the Gibraltar Fair, the Cavalcade, the Christmas festival of Lights and the Christmas attractions.



  • A new gastronomy event ‘The Grub’ was held at Wellington Front. An international and gourmet food festival that provided a new and exciting event for Gibraltar.


  • A Cultural Day was held in London in September as part of National Week Celebrations. The day saw a Cultural Soiree featuring Gibraltarian creatives performing, and a networking breakfast, where ideas were exchanged and new working relationships forged, also paying tribute to the many Gibraltarians working in the arts and the cultural scene in the UK.


  • We also held an Art Exhibition at the heart of the capital, at the Bermondsey Project Space. The exhibition featured a number of Gibraltarian artists and was organised in conjunction with Philippa Beale from the Lloyd’s Art Group in London exploring the theme ‘Sense of Place’.


  • As examples of how we are taking our Culture beyond our shores, the space of a month will have seen four plays written or performed by Gibraltarians being presented in the UK, including one in London’s Soho and three in drama festivals – one of which, by Westside and Bayside swept the major awards just a few days ago, and another by GAMPA which will be staged in a fortnight, and I won’t be surprised if they too succeed, given their high standard.


  • The National Gallery celebrated the 150th anniversary of the birth of Gustavo Bacarisas. An extension was launched with new exhibition rooms created and the exhibition of new works curated to provide a more organic experience at the Gallery. A gift shop was created as part of the extensive refurbishment programme which also saw the exposure of the original floors. QR codes were introduced too, with audio and written commentary which now provides a more inclusive visitor experience.


  • A set of stamps was launched in collaboration with the Gibraltar Philatelic Bureau to commemorate the birth of Gustavo Bacarisas.


  • The 4th Cultural Awards aired on GBC TV and on cultural social media platforms. The event was held at the John Mackintosh Hall, celebrating the best of Gibraltar’s arts and culture.


  • Gibraltar Literature Week was held at the John Mackintosh Hall, providing a platform and giving exposure to local authors.


  • GCS also assisted the Ministry for Tourism by providing staffing support for the Gibraltar Literary Festival at the City Hall and the Convent.


  • We partnered with the University of Gibraltar to host a second bilingual language research project with the University of Valladolid.


  • The return leg of the Cultural Exchange with Morocco took place in Tangier in February. It was organised in conjunction with the JM Memorial Foundation. Events there included:


Confluence of Cultures, an art exhibition at Gallery Kent featuring 9 Gibraltar artists.


Performances by the Gibraltar Sea Scouts Band and Merdiya from Tangier.


A visit to Donabo Botanic Gardens hosted by Lala Malika of the Moroccan Royal Family and a donation of a sculpture to the Gardens by artist Mark Montovio as a symbol of the cultural links between both communities.


A talk promoting Gibraltar’s Mario Finlayson National Art Gallery and its artists.


Presentation of Books, creating a Gibraltar library at the Gibraltar Morocco Business exchange offices.


  • February 2023 saw the 8th edition of the ever-popular GibTalks.


  • GCS also organised the 2023 Youth Arts Jamboree as part of our cultural development initiatives. Projects included:


A 3-day Young Writers’ and Illustration Workshop organised by Accord Literary and The Rock Retreat. This attracted over 40 students from numerous educational establishments with the event involving international authors, publishers and illustrators. An event that built on Gibraltar’s international links building to the Festival in Ghana in May 2023.


Once again in the spring we held The Gibraltar International Dance Festival, the Festival for Young Musicians, the Young Art Competitive Exhibition, The international Drama Festival and the ever-popular World Book Day celebrations. The latter attracted hundreds of students from 4 school groups to the John Mackintosh Hall where they embraced the theme of Alice in Wonderland taking part in educational workshops where they explored the Book and themes through storytelling, art and performance.



  • The Young Shakespeare Company returned to Gibraltar in May 2023, as part of the GCS Cultural Development and Educational Programme.


  • In May, with the University of Gibraltar we hosted a bilingual language study research project with the University of Vigo and the University of the Balearic Islands.


  • Our video archives portal, ‘Culture TV’ continues to provide local entertainment to our community. It is a tribute to Gibraltar’s richness in Culture and forms an important part of our social Heritage.


  • GEMA Gallery continues to be a successful cultural heritage space with several exhibitions and other events taking place over the last year. This has included a themed summer curation with complimentary workshops for young people as part of the GSLA’s summer sport & leisure offering, the Bermondsey UK exhibition, which was shown in Gibraltar too, Kitchen Collective exhibition and the Sovereign Trust Art Award. The Youth Service ‘Let’s Connect’ Exhibition supporting Children’s Mental Health Week also opened at GEMA this year with a special immersive theatre performance by GAMPA & Parasol Foundation marking International Women’s Day with an exclusive all women art exhibition running alongside it for the occasion, and an intimate theatre performance that run over 2 weeks by Theatre Makers.


  • Marketing and promotion remains at the heart of all our activities, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Buytickets.gi. In addition, we continue to work with The Gibraltar Tourist Board to run a ‘Visit Gibraltar’ campaign of our national contemporary galleries.


  • We continue to support the Ministry for Sport in its summer and mid-term sports and leisure programmes, providing cultural initiatives and opportunities. This year also supporting Mindspace Project in its cultural summer programme.


  • We have supported a Retreat organised by Accord Literary and The Rock Retreat in Accra, Ghana. Two local artists, Gabriella Chipol and Beatrice Garcia were selected to take part.



  • The Cultural Organisations Register is a live document and is always being updated, keeping in line with Child Protection policy. GCS have also processed new cultural entity applications and ensured members are properly vetted. In the last year GCS has ensured that most of the groups and individuals required are up to date with the Safeguarding Children courses.


  • We launched the Cultural Organisations directory, an information booklet to formally include all the Cultural Organisations registered locally.





Mr Speaker


There has been an increased interest in and awareness of Gibraltarian Literature and our languages over the last year, with significant international recognition. In my last budget speech, I promised new ways of encouraging and consolidating recognition of our languages.  This is being delivered in style.


Very significantly, the Gibraltar National Book Council (GNBC) has been established to encourage writing and reading aimed at supporting writers, illustrators, and publishers, and working to promote Gibraltarian Literature internationally, be it in English, Spanish or Llanito/Yanito. GNBC is already becoming a focal point in Gibraltar for all book and literature related activity.  I want to thank Mark Sanchez, a heavyweight of Gibraltarian Literature, for engendering the idea and agreeing – with other outstanding writers – to become part of the Council.  The Bill that I will be publishing later this week will consolidate the Gibraltar National Book Council within our statutes.


Members of GNBC recently visited the London Book Fair to explore opportunities for Gibraltar and its authors, already making valuable contacts and establishing possible opportunities to promote the Rock and its literary culture. GNBC is currently working on a website where it will have links and information for authors and illustrators, an author directory and present related events and opportunities.


A bookshop has been opened at the Ince’s Hall Complex, which will pay for itself, with any profits invested directly back into cultural development.


Mr Speaker,


I want to emphasise the work that is being done into studying, promoting and protecting Gibraltarian language.   We have for several years now been supporting research by the Universities of Vigo and the Balearic Islands.  Now the University of Cambridge, led by Professor of English Laura Wright, is planning a full-scale research project into our language which will include a symposium at Cambridge in September followed by several years of research which could lead to Llanito becoming recognised as a language in itself.


This makes its protection and use all the more important, and my teams at both Culture and Education, as well as Heritage, are working hard to ensure that this is so.


To this end, I am pleased also to be working closely with a new NGO, Gibraltarians for a Multilingual Society.


The use of Llanito, including Spanish Llanito, is not something that we should shy away from.  Todo lo contrario, es parte de nuestro Heritage, de quienes somos, algo que nos distingue from all other communities, not just in our way of combining English and Spanish and Genoese words, pero tambien en el deje de nuestra pronunciación, which is raising a great deal of academic interest as to its origins.  Lo dejo ahí por ahora.





The Safety Advisory Group (SAG) continues to bring together key agencies, to ensure the safety of all events in our community.  SAG continues to provide support, guidance and advice to all event organisers, whilst ensuring that they maintain a high standard of safety when considering or planning a specific event.





We have been working with stakeholders on a new Entertainments Act.  Work on this continues as we work together towards encouraging musicians and business to entertain while at the same time showing consideration for nearby residents.





During the course of the year 49 new artworks have been acquired for the Government’s Art Collection.


This includes purchases at auction and from private collections, winners in the Governments’ art competitions and purchases from the Affordable Art Exhibition and solo shows.




The John Mackintosh Hall Library social media platform continues to generate and oversee content promoting related initiatives, storytelling sessions, school visits and literature.


Further investments have been made during the last year in the purchase of new books and on Borrowbox, a popular platform for the loaning of eBooks and Audiobooks.


This online service which this year has also added eMagazines to its provision has attracted over 150 new members in the past few months.


Storytelling sessions at the John Mackintosh Hall Library continue to prove popular with the weekly event possible thanks to a committed group of volunteers who deliver these sessions.


The JMH Library prides itself in having an extensive collection of books written by Gibraltarian authors, and books written on themes and subjects related to Gibraltar, including military, history, social history, wildlife, and flora etc. This complete collection has been reviewed and catalogued to allow for ease of use.




We recognize the vital role that refurbishing and maintaining our existing cultural facilities plays in supporting a wide range of cultural entities, groups, and individuals. By enhancing these spaces, we are better equipped to elevate the standard of artistic practice and foster the potential of all those involved in the arts. Our ongoing commitment to this programme allows us to promote public engagement in the arts and maximize our investment in this important sector.

We have a challenge in such an active community to find suitable premises for all, and I apologise to those groups and associations waiting patiently.  We are making full community use of our many top-class sports and education facilities  and encouraging all developers to include cultural spaces in their projects.  We also developing our own plans to make new space available to organisations.


We continue with the refurbishment and maintenance programme for all our facilities to ensure we extend public participation in the arts.


Works over the past year have included significant improvements to the Central Hall, Ince’s Hall, Mackintosh Hall and the Art Galleries.


These have included:




  • Resurfacing of wooden flooring
  • Purchase of protective floor covering
  • Purchase of new speakers
  • Landscaping




  • Installation of new entrance doors
  • Installation of new canopy to disabled lift
  • Landscaping in courtyard




  • Purchase of portable theatre lighting system and rigging –
  • Purchase of portable hearing loop systems
  • Patio ground works
  • Purchase of gallery hanging system
  • Purchase of portable televisions for meeting rooms




  • Purchase of PA system and microphone
  • Installation of security alarm



  • Installation of fire and security alarm
  • Conversion of ex-Parliament store to new National Gallery space
  • Restoration of original flooring in new National Gallery space





The GCS Premises Department continues to make significant progress in managing premises, having undertaken various works in several locations, such as Retrenchment Block, Recreational Rooms, Jumpers Bastion, Wellington Front, Prince Edwards Road, and Town Range.


Three new premises were created during the year at Retrenchment Block following the relocation of three large portacabins units from the old St Martins. These units have been allocated to Cultural Groups.


An extended list of works will be included in the published version of my speech.


Retrenchment Block


  • Repair of main entrance gate and pedestrian gate
  • Installation of flood lights in the parking lot
  • Electrical installation to the new units
  • Replacement of wooden frames and doors on several units
  • Deep cleaning of the block, walkways and car park
  • Repairs to stone stairwell
  • Replacement of damaged flooring in various units


Recreational Rooms, South Barracks

  • Repairs to lobby ceiling following water ingress
  • Various repairs to communal toilets facilities


  • Jumpers Bastion
  • Various repairs to communal toilet facilities
  • Repairs on electrical cables
  • Repairs to a unit’s door and windows


  • Wellington Front
  • Sandblasting of unit
  • Removal of vegetation around the Mosque, sealing with weatherproof paint.
  • Repairs to ventilation shaft
  • Repairs to street lighting on top and bottom levels


  • Prince Edwards Road
  • Repair exterior letter box
  • Paint communal corridor
  • Various repairs to communal toilet facilities
  • Replace faulty lights inside communal areas
  • Cover electrical meters
  • Installation of fire extinguishers and fire alarm
  • Build brick wall in front of existing old metal door to prevent water ingress
  • Repairing joints on roof membrane and sealing with weatherproof paint.


  • Town Range
  • Unblock waste sewer
  • Painting of communal area
  • Various repairs to communal toilets


  • Other Premises Works
  • Repairs following water ingress to Lynx Unit at Europa building
  • Painting of communal toilet at Bayview
  • Clearing of unit at Fish Market Lane
  • Removal of asbestos and install new roof at Old St Bernard’s School
  • Installation of new main door at Senior Citizen Club, South Barracks



Mr Speaker, many do not realise quite the extent of the work carried out by GCS on behalf of the very small team at the Ministry of Culture. Barely a day goes by without one, two or often more articles or stories in the media related to the vast amount of work, and much more goes unreported.




Activities already planned for this coming year, in addition to annual calendar of events include:


Gibraltar Literature Week in November.


The 5th Cultural Awards.


A Street Art Mural in Landport, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the first album by Melon Diesel.


An Art Residency in Tangier, with artists from both cities taking part.


The Creation of Artists’ studios at the Moorish Castle.





The New National Theatre and Cultural Hub at John Mackintosh Hall, remains a priority. The Ministry, GCS and the Gibraltar National Theatre Foundation, whose Patron is His Excellency the Governor, remain committed to this and the Foundation is working tirelessly to raise the necessary funds to complete this community project.


The Foundation received donations from the Parasol Foundation, the Kishin Alwani Foundation, a significant donor who at this moment wishes to remain anonymous, and other smaller contributions from the Musicians Association of Gibraltar and private donors.


It also launched the ‘Buy a Seat’ scheme which allows for individuals or entities to sponsor a theatre seat and in turn the seat will have a plaque on its back naming the benefactor. This concept has proved very popular with sponsors in similar projects elsewhere, including the Royal Albert Hall in London, the Opera House in Brussels and the National Theatre in Timisoara, Romania.


The Theatre and Exhibition Hub will make a tremendous difference to the world of Gibraltarian Arts, mirroring the world-class facilities that sports are graced with in our community.


The Foundation hopes to make a significant announcement on progress shortly. 







Mr Speaker, before I conclude I have to pay tribute to two friends and colleagues in my work in natural history, former colleagues in GONHS, who have passed away over the past year.  Arthur Harper, an excellent photographer and botanist who, together with Leslie Linares and myself re-discovered our very own Gibraltar campion and saved it from extinction; and Eric Shaw, so well known for his lifetime work in particular on marine life and the Barbary macaque.  They will long be remembered.


Finally, Mr Speaker, as ever, I wish to express my thanks to all the staff, including my personal staff for looking after me, and of course to my Heads of Departments and CEOs, Liesl, Keri, Seamus, Catherine and Helen and their staff for their hard work every day, and for their constant support. 


Mr Speaker, the administrative staff in my Departments, some of whom look after sections that are huge in terms of personnel and responsibility, are essential to the running of the Departments and to keeping Gibraltar going.  We have increased so much in outcomes and delivery, that sometimes it appears that those in the offices, doing the accounts, managing the leave, preparing the salaries and wages, are not appreciated.  They most certainly are Mr Speaker, and I am totally committed to recognising and responding to their needs.


My thanks too to all the schools who make me feel so welcome in all my visits, to all the staff in the Agencies and contractors that work to my departments.  To NASUWT, UNITE and GGCA for their constructive work.  To the Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses.  To all the NGOs, associations, schools and academies, environmental, cultural, educational, too many to list – who are so committed to what they believe in, often working as volunteers, for being committed, honest and reasonable in pursuing their aims. 


To all those many citizens appointed to voluntary boards, working groups, and committees for which I am responsible. 


To the outgoing Mayor Christian Santos for all his work and friendship over the past few years.  And to those in other Departments with whom I have regular contact, such as the staff at Gibraltar House in London, the team at Human Resources, and at No 6 including the Offices of the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister, the Chief Secretary and his staff, the Financial Secretary and his staff, the Chief Technical Officer and his, and the Civil Contingencies Co-ordinator and his, and the Attorney-General and all at the Gibraltar Law Offices for always being there when I need them.  I do give the GLO a lot of work, and I hope not too many headaches. 


Thanks also to you, Mr Speaker and your staff, and to the Chief Minister, Deputy Chief Minister and colleagues. And to His Excellency the Governor, Sir David Steel, for the genuine interest that he shows in the work of the different parts of my Ministry, and for his constant encouragement.


Finally Mr Speaker, I want to direct a few words to the children and young people of Gibraltar, for whose Education I have been responsible for six of the last twelve years, and through them to their parents, grandparents and families. 

For most of your lives you have lived in a progressive Gibraltar under a caring, forward-looking Government dedicated to bettering your life and your homeland socially and environmentally, and economically too, but to you that will be less relevant.  

In the only Gibraltar that you have known, you have grown up in excellent schools, with new and exciting ways to learn, with new schools appearing almost every other year, with cleaner air and green areas that my generation never even dared to dream about.  With better access to doctors when you need them, in your own health centre.  With opportunities for your future, wider and more accessible than ever before, allowing you to be yourself, no matter who you are, to dream bigger and achieve greater than certainly my generation ever could.  Treasure this.  Despite all the problems and the struggles which you will remember, as you more than most suffered through Covid, despite all of this, you are living in a Golden Age for Gibraltar.  Long may it continue.


And with this, Mr Speaker, I too commend the Bill to the House.