Govt climbdown over Line Wall Road, says GSD

The Government have climbed down from its decision to effectively close Line Wall Road because it had neither properly planned the implementation of its idea nor properly consulted on it, says the GSD.

Rather than continue regardless with a pilot project from Saturdays to Mondays it should abandon the proposed implementation until such time as it has done proper groundwork, invested in infrastructure to support its plans and persuaded the public of the merits of its ideas.

This should not be rammed through on 1 June. The insistence on implementing a three day a week pilot project now also shows the Government's poor handling of its traffic and transport policy and more importantly it illustrates how the Government are ignoring the concerns of thousands of people in our community who have expressed strong views on the subject.

It is clear that in order to discourage the use of vehicles in our community, serious work will need to go into traffic modelling and widescale consultation before making changes to our road network and infrastructure.

Shadow Minister for Transport Elliott Phillips said:"A plan to reduce use of vehicles by our citizens requires serious and detailed planning with widespread consultation and not a suddenly rushed through and ill thought out announcement to be implemented by 1 June.

"The original plan failed to fully appreciate the implications of the closure of a major arterial road in our network affecting the lives of many people in our community and could have been avoided if the Government had done all the groundwork necessary to implement significant changes to our roads. The recent rowing back on the announcement to close Line Wall Road and the widespread revolt by our community is the clearest sign that the Government is disconnected from the views of many working families, small to medium size business and the elderly on traffic management.

GSD’s Disappointing Reaction to Road Closure Scheme, says Government

The Government says it is disappointed with the GSD’s unfortunate Press Statement that might tend to mislead members of our community by suggesting the environmentally important road-closure schemes are going ahead without “Proper Groundwork”.

HMGoG set out to pursue a green agenda at the start of its first term of office. Furthermore, this Government set out to deliver the most comprehensive Sustainable Traffic and Transport Parking Plan in our history with extensive and thorough consultation at its onset following the advice of a contracted UK specialist firm.

It is incredible that this was only the first ever published Sustainable Traffic, Transport and Parking Plan. The GSD attacked the GSLP/Liberal government then by saying our plan took too long. Now they criticise us for going too fast. That sounds like they will criticise anything we do in this area of policy. The STTPP is a very comprehensive and extensive Plan that was published on the firm foundations of extensive consultation, traffic modelling and aims to better understand our complex and challenging road transport network and infrastructure.

The emerging global climate crisis and the Government of Gibraltar’s staunch commitment to pursue and implement schemes of this nature are wholly in keeping with its obligation to build a greener and healthier Gibraltar for future generations. Indeed, the GSLP/Liberals resoundingly won the last election on a platform of developing a green Gibraltar, a child friendly city, which is what these road-closures are designed to deliver. They form part of a responsible agenda that will once again encompass live consultation. All Political parties, members of the public and the relevant sectors of our community have so far been consulted, and will continue to be consulted, as these schemes take form.

A lengthy statement adds: The GSD should support this important policy agenda. Our children and grandchildren will benefit from a clean, sustainable and healthy city as a result of these and other plans we are developing to create that green Gibraltar.

Transport minister Vijay Daryanani said: “The Government is genuinely disappointed with the GSD and Mr Phillips’ comments. Although as he has taken up on the offer to work with my team and attended meetings to discuss delivery and implementation of the schemes, he chooses to suggest HMGoG has not done adequate groundwork.
"We have worked so well together for our nation on the pandemic that it is a pity we cannot work together on this also. One day Mr Phillips is criticising us for being too slow and consulting too much and the next he is criticising us for going too fast and not consulting enough.

I really do hope he will come round and work with us on delivering a great project for current and future generations. That’s what we are really elected to do and it is what I am committed to delivering.

“I will continue in my commitment to actively consult with as many members of our community as possible to deliver and promote sustainable forms of transport as part of a greener and healthier Gibraltar that will benefit our future generations. I am delighted to report that the great majority of the people who are in touch are hugely supportive and excited by our plans. I know that includes many GSD members who have got in touch and who have expressed to me how disappointed they are with the GSD in this area of policy.

"We are going to deliver the Green Gibraltar that people voted for and want. That will be our child-friendly city of the future for generations to come. I invite the GSD to work with us and not against us on this exciting agenda.”