Free passes for some…

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.

Amazing.

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.

Thank you.

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13 comments on “Free passes for some…

    • My gripe here is a totally professional one. How can you criticise the previous government for using material paid for by the tax-payer in an election manifesto while putting out a party political press release from a press office paid for, by er – the taxpayer? I think that is so hypocritical, it happens to be how it works here, but doesn’t mean I have to agree with it.

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  1. I think you might be being a little unkind here:

    “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.”

    If you’ve done the shop for the week for a family, and bought a few jars and tins and maybe some bottled water as well as beer, wine and soft drinks, that is going to get quite heavy. Busses are great, but they don’t quite go from A to B, so you may well end up lugging quite heavy bags for 5 or 10 mins either end of your journey. That said, I’m sure there are people in Gib who use their car to just go and buy a newspaper.

    I have to admit I enjoy the occasional glass of wine, usually followed by another occasional glass. I’ve just weighed a bottle of red wine and it comes out as 1.4 kilograms; don’t think I’d want to be lugging six of them home on the bus. Morrisons in London don’t do any form of home delivery, so can’t see that coming to Gib any day soon.

    I think an electric car might be ideal in Gib, especially given what you’ve said previously about the dangers of taking a Gib car into Spain and the risk of your vehicle being confiscated if the Spanish policeperson is having a bad hair day. Doesn’t seem to me like electric range would be an issue, I’d guess you can’t drive more than about 10 miles in Gib without passing the place you started from.

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    • You misread sarcasm where it wasn’t! And I am never unkind. Well, maybe about Juan Carlos but he doesn’t count.
      I actually wasn’t knocking the weekly/or whatever shop for heavy goods, although I was being a bit flippant about the Pampers or whatever those ginormous bags of disposable nappies are called. I think you would struggle to carry even one of those or get it on the bus! And as we buy tins of beer, bottles of cava and water, and 13.5kg sacks of dog biscuits, I wouldn’t be lugging too much of that home either on foot or by bus.
      Incidentally though, the buses are convenient. About the only place you get immediate parking is the basement level stuff in the newer blocks of flats, otherwise you find street or car parking places which are further away than the bus stop. Certainly in our case.
      Tesco is meant to be coming here, and I know they used to do home delivery and internet shopping. Be interesting to see that happening in Gib I must say!

      My real gripe is about people who drive ten minutes down the road to go to work. Not everyone does by any stretch of the imagination but some do.

      I pointed out the dangers, but the risk is low if you are compliant with the law. The big check at the frontier going out is still on the mopeds/motos after the tobacco incident I wrote about. There is a real purge on at the moment. Gib Royal Police wandered up to a Spanish car in the car park the other day and gave it a good going over, and a couple of people have been nicked recently. Spose I should write about that!

      I think you could round Gib at least twice in a ten mile run – along Rosia to Europa, down the east side, along Devil’s Tower Road, and then back up Line Wall or Queensway. I’ll try and remember to clock it next time we do it!

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      • Yes, Tesco do online shopping which is then delivered to your door, which in addition to groceries is now the full gambit of almost everything you might want to buy via their online store.

        They have just launched a new service, that I’ve actually been shouting at them to do for years. In addition to doing your shopping online, you can now pop by your local Tesco super store at a time that suits you and pick up your purchases which you bought online and they then load them into your car for you; so no more waiting around for the delivery driver to turn up.

        If they could find the right location, I think a Tesco in Gibraltar would be successful, must look and see if there are any Tesco in Spain.

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        • I’m impressed that Tesco has responded to your personal demands!! No knowledge of a Tesco in Spain, but the location is meant to be up from Water Gardens which is currently a huge car park. Hasn’t happened yet although was meant to be this year. The competition would be good (qv post on Clouds re utilities etc).

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      • I was just idly thinking, a business that could do well in Gib is Streetcars. They have a fleet of VW Golf sized vehicles in reserved parking spaces dotted across London that you can hire for about £5 per hour , each with key card entry they can program remotely. Very useful if you only need a car a couple of times a month. (Ooops looks like they are now zipcar, zipcar.co.uk)

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    • I had an editor who was big on compound adjectives. That and the difference between residential homes and nursing homes.

      I got Partner to read the last bit, he laughed and then said: ‘I don’t think they will be offering you a job in a hurry.’ Looks like I am destined to be merrily blogging away a while longer …… but thank you.

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  2. Transportation issues and a government mess. (typical here, too)
    Do you think the media/press (pretty much world-wide) has gotten much much worse about not doing objective factual reporting (like citing sources/ people who comment) and are leaning more towards emotional appeal, self serving nonsense, and opinion?

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    • For such a small place Gibraltar seems very political, and in that respect I don’t think it is a good parallel with anywhere! The last time I saw UK television news I thought it was somewhat trite so I guess to some extent my long-winded answer to your question is – yes. But only because they are responding to a somewhat superficial public not interested in hard-hitting issues or wanting to know the facts behind the stories.

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