Picardo makes rush move on new GBC premises without first obtaining planning clearance

Joe Garcia

The chief minister Fabian Picardo made a rush move to announce what he termed as new premises for GBC when in fact planning clearance has not yet been obtained - and a planning application is required. 

Information reaching PANORAMA since the announcement, highlighted the lack of consultation that had preceded the move, with even people at GBC being caught by surprise.

PANORAMA can reveal that the original planning application for the South Bastion site was made for a corporate building by Sharrock Shand Limited last year.

Suddenly, there has been this sudden change in plans, with the Government taking over the site.

A fresh planning application will now be made by Government in order that office accommodation, which was the original use of the planned building, can be changed into the necessary facilities by GBC.

There was this rush to present the co-called new premises to the staff to try and project that there was unanimous approval from that sector, as everyone at GBC would like to move to new premises but not necessarily to the South Bastion half-cooked project. Mr Picardo has been asked, by GBC itself, if such a planned scheme is justifiable.

Of course, there could be objections to the new use when it comes to the new planning application. And in making the premature announcement Mr Picardo has clearly jumped the gun.

There is also public concern, especially in business circles, that a potential investment of £7.5 million remains a purchasing option, as announced by Mr Picardo, in the midst of the uncertainties emanating from the unfinished Brexit negotiations which, depending how they go, could present Gibraltar with economic difficulties.


Even the option of a £300,000 annual rental is a considerable amount of capital outlay which GBC cannot meet.

When the GSD were in power, the annual grant to GBC oscillated around the £2 million mark, but Mr Picardo - encouraged by his being ‘a fan of GBC’ - started pouring more public money into the ailing Corporation. The subsidy is now more than double, at £4.5 million, being the cost of running GBC.And staff numbers have increased to 80.

And the tax payers money being pumped into GBC does not end there, with public money also being made available from the Government’s Improvement and Development Fund for capital projects, such as purchasing replacement items of equipment and new equipment, facilities not available to other businesses.

In this year’s financial estimates, the Government states that GBC obtained an additional sum of over £1 million - and large sums of money have also be given to them in other years.

An aggrieved source said: “If the Queen’s Cinema option had been proceeded with, GBC could also have had a theatre next door, all of which would have been paid by a developer, costing the Government nothing.”



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