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Morning Call: The best from Gibraltar

A selection of the best articles about politics, business and life on the Rock from the last seven days

1) Commons committee in Gibraltar evidence session (Gibraltar Chronicle)

The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee will arrive in Gibraltar today ahead of a public evidence session with the Chief Minister tomorrow morning. Eleven MPs from the Committee flew into Málaga yesterday to visit the busy consular service establishment there before crossing the border later today to hear evidence from Fabian Picardo.

 

2) Hague raised incursions with De Benito (Gibraltar Chronicle)
The UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague, personally raised Britain’s concerns about persistent “illegal” Spanish incursions into British Gibraltar territorial waters, it was revealed yesterday.


3) Britain's gambling clampdown could cripple Gibraltar's economy (Politics.co.uk)
For more than three centuries Gibraltar has been a British territory, yet government proposals - reaching report stage on March 4th in parliament - could deal the Gibraltar economy and British consumers a hammer blow by the end of this year.


4) Realistic Games awarded Gibraltar gaming licence (Gaming Intelligence)
UK-based slots and table games developer Realistic Games has become the latest company to be awarded an online gaming licence by the Gibraltar Gambling Commission.


5) Gibraltar Offers New Pension Schemes To UK Expats (Tax-News.com)
Gibraltar is to introduce Qualified Non-UK Pension Schemes (QNUPS), which will enable British expats to make additional contributions to pension schemes that will be administered by Gibraltar-regulated trustees.

 

6) No immediate plans for change at Natwest Gibraltar (Gibraltar Chronicle)

The head of NatWest in Gibraltar said the bank remained committed to the Rock despite news that its parent, the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, is to slash its overseas operations following staggering losses.

 

7) International news: Gibraltar confirm new stadium plans (Sky)

Gibraltar have unveiled plans for their new national stadium, which they hope could open in 2016. The British Overseas Territory is currently served by the Victoria Stadium - which does not meet criteria to host full internationals, although some friendlies can and will be played there.

 

8) Gibraltar Business Capital Provides $3.5MM ABL to Bills Khakis (Abla Advisor)
Gibraltar Business Capital announced that it has closed on a $3.5 million asset-based loan to Bills Khakis, the leading designer and manufacturer of premium men’s sportswear and accessories, based in Reading, PA. The company intends to use this new credit facility to support working capital needs, as well as to fund strategic growth initiatives.

 

9) Gibraltar’s ILS ambitions should ‘keep us on our game’ (Royal Gazette)
A bid by Gibraltar to muscle in on the lucrative insurance-linked securities (ILS) market should “keep us on our game”. And Greg Wojciechowski, an ILS Bermuda committee member, said: “I don’t know that it’s competition — but it should keep us on our game to provide the best customer service and best value.

 

10) Trusselle not ‘fit and proper’ to operate in Gibraltar (Insurance Insider)

Gibraltar's Financial Services Commission (FSC) has banned James Trusselle, the former managing director of now-defunct Gibraltarian insurer Lemma Europe Insurance Company Ltd, from operating in a senior financial services role on the Rock.

 

 

 

A year on from the Spending Review, the coalition's soothsayer has emerged to offer another gloomy economic prognosis. Asked by ITV News whether he could promise that there wouldn't be a double-dip recession, Vince Cable replied: "I can't do that.

Maintaining links to the past.
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Gibraltar’s Urban Renewal Challenge

Historic cities all over the world often struggle to maintain the balance between conservation and preservation and renewal and regeneration.

Historic cities all over the world often struggle to maintain the balance between conservation and preservation and renewal and regeneration. The spirit of these cities are heavily entwined in the bricks and mortar, the physical fabric of the old quarters, the town centres of these places which speak volumes about the people and communities that built them and live in them.

Gibraltar is no different other than in the fact that the conservation issues faced all over the world can often be so much more acute and decisions taken more critical due to the land available for development. Gibraltar’s surface area covers 8.4km² [1] and the old town, within the city walls makes up for about 4km² of that- approximately 50%. Therefore pressure on this resource to keep up with change in terms of improved living standards, flat sizes and living space expectations, infrastructure requirements and upgrading, the need for leisure and commercial spaces, parking and access requirements, can all make the rejuvenation of these historic spaces unattractive.

In the campaign for the renewal and beautification of Gibraltar’s old town, the phrase ‘Urban Renewal’ is often used. This is sometimes mistakenly seen as limited to decorating or repairing old buildings but, whilst essential maintenance cannot be ignored, it actually goes a lot deeper than this. The drive for Urban Renewal is about people – it is about creating and fostering environments for communities in areas where they want to live, work, study and play- spaces that people are proud to identify with. Gibraltar has seen a distinct lack of investment in areas of its historic city over the years. The main tourist thoroughfares, the Main Street and ancillary side streets, public squares and large stretches of the defensive city walls have all been subject to comprehensive refurbishment and upgrading programmes since the 1990s, many have been completed with some ongoing and others in the pipeline. In recent years, attention has turned to the Upper Town, a concentration of vernacular buildings, alleyways, steps and streets which wind their way up the natural slopes of the Rock. Described by many as having a striking resemblance to Italian coastal towns such as Genoa and others along the Italian Riviera, Gibraltar’s old town exudes a character of its own, asking for investment and rejuvenation to help it shine once again.

Over the last decade or so, there have been a number of major Government-led infrastructural projects which are acting as catalysts for change and attracting investment into the old town. The conversion of the old civil hospital, which relocated to a new facility in 2005, into a First and Middle School ready to open its doors in September 2015 is a prime example of this. Adjacent to this site, a large complex of early 20th Century Police Officer Barracks are being converted into large family apartments with onsite underground parking and a large plaza and cafe which will undoubtedly become a popular space for parents on the school run.

The investment by Government in infrastructure and access improvements is luring Gibraltarians back into the old town. The beautification of Castle Street, and renewal of infrastructure services down this artery, coupled with the provision of strategic multi storey car parks and the installation of a large open air escalator has made access to the narrow, though picturesque, lanes of the area easier. A private scheme to convert 6 adjacent dilapidated buildings into 21 modern flats was sold out off-plan within 48 hours of their launch.  Other projects in progress in the area are the conversion of a large town house into a boutique hotel and another into a short-stay hotel, as well as a growing number of conversions of long empty properties that had been subdivided over the years into flats, and are now being consolidated into beautiful spacious family homes.

Themomentum is gathering for change in Gibraltar’s old town, but with that there also comes the need to be alert to unsuitable and unsustainable projects such as the recent loss of an historic bakery building just off the Main Street in favour of the construction of a modern 8 storey hotel. It is this type of project that does not seek to maintain the relationship between Gibraltar’s past and its future that we must work to avoid. People want to hold onto real places from their history and collective memories that contribute to their identities. Heritage is an intrinsic part of that. In a place as unique and fiercely proud as Gibraltar, we cannot afford to miss the opportunity.

Claire Montado is the Chief Executive of The Gibraltar Heritage Trust, a non-profit statutory body working to protect, conserve and promote Gibraltar’s heritage. www.gibraltarheritagetrust.org.gi

 

[1] Source: HM Government of Gibraltar. “Gibraltar Geoportal.” www.geoportal.gov.gi (accessed: 20/08/2015)