Juan Carlos may not have got a free pass for his recent travels outside Spain but it seems some Spaniards will be entitled to one.
Spanish cross-border workers in Gib will be able to apply for a card entitling them to travel free on all local bus routes except for the one that runs from the frontier to town, which is not free.
All they have to do is fill in the form, produce a photo, proof of ID, their contract of employment, the last four weekly pay slips, or last monthly one, and a copy of their tax coding. Shouldn’t be too difficult.
I’m in two minds about this.
The free bus service was first introduced nearly a year ago – in time for the election – although the previous government had talked about bringing it in as part of their manifesto. After six months, the routes were tweaked somewhat and there was an announcement that Gib residents would need to apply for a card at the cost of a fiver.
When I rang the bus company they told me they were inundated with requests, and not being a big bus user, preferring to walk, I did nothing. Now it seems, residents can produce an ID card, a residence permit, a health card, or for MOD staff, an MOD card. Gibraltarians not living in Gib can use their ID card. This goes live from 1 May this year. Presumably if you don’t produce one of said cards then you will have to pay from that date. Note to self, always carry ID card just in case, and remember to give Partner his back.
By deduction, that would suggest that all holidaymakers, people who live here and haven’t taken out formal residency, and cross-border workers who are working on the black, will all have to pay.
Let’s explore this one.
I think a free bus service is a good idea. The issue, is whether it should be free for everyone, or just for local people.
If it encourages local people to use their cars less than that is A Good Thing. Why the idle toerags need to drive around Gib is beyond me unless they are doing the weekly/monthly shop at Morrisons and need to stock up with 20 packs of Pampers.
What actually happened when the free buses came in was that a lot of tourists, and tour guides, were jumping on the buses for free. Hmmmm. I don’t think that was the original intention. Fine for independent tourists to use the local buses but not organised trips.
Do tourists really care whether they pay 60p – or whatever the revised cost may be – for a single bus journey? Hardly going to break the bank. Returns were always cheaper as was an all-day pass. The bus service was pretty fairly priced when it was paid-for.
What is puzzling me, is the logic of allowing cross-border workers to apply for a pass – unless it is to deter car usage across the frontier – from a government that has taken a very firm stance on putting employment for Gibraltarians first.
But in a way, it could be a rhetorical question. Which is the bus service cross-border workers are likely to use most? The one from the frontier that is not included in the free scheme. Ha!
Perhaps it is a meaningless gesture to foster local good relations? Who knows? Not me.
But note, if you are visiting Gibraltar, the bus service will, presumably no longer be free after 1 May. Unless you have the appropriate card of course.
In other news, the Republic of Poland has been dishing out honours to Gibraltar, or rather, one dead Gibraltarian and one live one.
Bishop Caruana (no, not Peter the one from the previous government, this is clearly a different Caruana) has been posthumously awarded a Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.
Apparently the bishop put in a lot of effort to preserve the memory of the Polish Prime Minister, Wladyslaw Sikorski, the one who was killed in the strange air crash off Gib, that I wrote about here. He was also renowned for his efforts in helping Polish nationals who found themselves in difficulties. Can’t say I knew we had that many Polish people in Gib.
The second award goes to the Honorary Polish Consul in Gib, Anthony Lombard. Another surprise. Why on earth does somewhere the size of Gib have an honorary Polish consul? Mr Lombard has been awarded the Knight’s Officer’s Cross of the same order of merit for his work on behalf of Poland and Polish citizens in Gib.
And my third snippet of news is a political one which I find quite rich.
The current government (which you may recall I voted for) has put out an official HM Government of Gibraltar Press Release slagging off the GSD party for using ‘Government material for party-political propaganda’. [extract below]
The Government has established that Opposition Leader Peter Caruana used designs commissioned and paid for by the taxpayer in the GSD party’s general election manifesto. This constitutes an abuse of power and is another example of the former administration blurring the distinction that should exist between party and Government…..
While it is difficult to quantify exactly what element of the overall design fee is apportioned to the production of a single image, the estimate is that over £7,000 worth of Government images was used by the GSD in their last election manifesto…..
It is not acceptable that the taxpayer should subsidise the GSD manifesto in this way. The party should have commissioned and paid for the relevant designs instead of using those that were commissioned and paid for by the Government.
And what may I ask is this press release apart from a piece of party political propaganda?
Both this government and the previous one do exactly the same. They put out official press releases slagging off the opposition. It really gripes me.
As someone who has actually worked in a UK government press office I can say right now that we did NOT put out party political press releases. Any publicity was related to the work of the various government departments. Anything political came from the relevant political party press office. And given that we were working under Margaret Thatcher’s government who used the press offices and the media better than any of her predecessors, that is no mean statement.
So, I would respectfully suggest, Chief Minister Picardo, as I understand media is part of your portfolio, that you may wish to consider splitting your official press releases about government announcements eg bus passes and Polish awards, and political announcements slagging off the opposition.
I would also suggest that party political is not a compound adjective so therefore does not need to be hyphenated as in the title of your press release.
Finally, there is no attribution to anyone of the comments in the said press release. There should be. Facts stand on their own. Opinions don’t. They need a person to voice them.
I am, of course, available to work for this refreshing and outstanding new government should you require further assistance etc etc.