New Year’s Day dawned like Christmas Day in Gib. Slowly and damp.
There was probably an extremely good fireworks display – well it was certainly noisy – but we spent 30 or 40 minutes stroking and reassuring a trembling shaking dog who was having a panic attack.
Enough of festivities, let’s look at some news.
I see the Gib Govt has brought in a new recycling scheme for paper and cardboard. This is a good thing, is it not?
Apparently, like the rest of Europe, we have a target to recycle 50% of all household waste by 2020. We are nowhere near that. In fact I have no idea where we are, apart from low, as the government press release didn’t say what the current figures are.
Now, I have a gripe with this somewhat pie-in-sky figure-plucked-out-of-the-air target.
As with Spain, commercial businesses use domestic rubbish bins and the existing recyclers for glass and plastic bottles/cartons/cans.
So, does someone sift through the recyclers and the rubbish bins separating the rubbish, saying oh yes, this comes from roughseas flat, she’s put a little tag around her rubbish so that is domestic, and this bottle here comes from the Piccadilly bar and this carton here comes from … etc etc?
To my knowledge there is no commercial refuse collection. Well, if there is, I’ve never seen it.
We live near two tobacconists. One puts cartons outside the domestic bins near us. Another puts them outside other bins, just up the street.
It would seem entirely sensible if the aspiration is to recycle waste, to include commercial waste in that. Or at least fudge the figures and pretend they were domestic as that way you will reach your target faster.
In which case, why are there no proposed paper/cardboard recycling bins on Main Street near these two shops? Because although the nearest one will be literally only two minutes walk away, it is uphill to the back streets on the border with Upper Town. Quite frankly, you don’t run a business and walk out of your way to drop off all your cigarette and bottle cartons. They could easily have put something nearer for both these two shops who throw cartons out every single day of the week.
That’s before I’ve even mentioned the deli/mini-market, the café in John Mack Hall, the tax office, Lloyds TSB, the lighting shop, Saverland, the list is endless. Paper and cardboard recyclers are needed either on Main Street or just off. They could go in a parking bay (after all we are trying to encourage less driving), or they could be put underground like some of the rather swish Spanish ones.
Good idea. But I’m not convinced it’s well thought through. After all, looking at this shot of our local bins – what’s on top? A tetra brick carton of skimmed milk from Mercadona. They can now be recycled in the can bank. But the nearest bin is more than five minutes walk away, and why walk when you can just chuck it outside your house?
Although, in theory, we should be having some glass and plastic/can bins added to the proposed paper/cardboard one, two minutes walk away. Still, I doubt my idle neighbours will walk up there. Big culture change needed here.
In Spain we have a plastic/can recycler virtually outside our house. Fortunately not right outside but a mere 30 seconds walk down the street. It gets used. Down the town, five minutes away, we have a bottle bank, cardboard/paper, and cooking oil. At the church (also five minutes or so), we have a clothes bank.
And while I agree with the concept of re-cycling – in many different ways – and not wasting precious resources, I do wonder how much of this is lip service.
But speaking of cigarettes however, just before new year, a Spanish woman was arrested for allegedly possessing 120,000 Red Ducal cigarettes (whatever they may be). The cheapest cigarettes here are less than £2 a packet, so we are looking at somewhere between £10K and £20K outlay for those cigarettes. Who the hell is funding that? Because I sure don’t walk into a tobacconist with ten grand in my pocket.
The limit, incidentally to take across the frontier, is 200 per person. And that’s not every day either, as far as I know, it is once a month, but as I don’t smoke, don’t hold me to that.
However, a Spanish colleague on the building site smoked, and took out 200 fags a day to sell to his local estanco in the provincia de Cádiz. Apparently even the Guardia Civil used to go in there and buy cheap fags. He did say if he ever got pulled and registered on the computer, he wouldn’t take any more out for another month. Hence the monthly rule.
An even bigger arrest before new year was a drugs bust. Amazingly the Guardia Civil and the Gib Defence Police managed to co-operate on this one, when a boat was lurking suspiciously in the Straits of Gib. The Chron report is somewhat unclear about what happened. People in RIB escaped, and the next thing they were arrested in Gib! Either they escaped or they didn’t. Anyway, the bottom line is they had 460 kilos of cannabis resin worth an estimated £2.3 mill on the street.
But this is how the GC and Gib forces should be working – to deter smuggling of drugs, and tobacco, not having stupid spats over fishing in British Gib waters.
Yet there appears to be no let-up in the territorial waters ‘dispute’ aka illegal invasions by Spain into British Gibraltar Territorial Waters (BGTW).
An extract from a Gib govt press release:
BRITAIN CONFIRMS SPANISH MEDIA REPORTS WRONG
Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar notes the reports in Spanish news media suggesting that meetings have been held between UK and Spanish officials on “joint management of the marine environment” in what they erroneously refer to as “the disputed waters around the Rock.”
These reports have, rightly, been immediately denied by the Foreign Office in London in clear and unequivocal terms. The FCO statement illustrates that the Spanish media reports are simply wrong.
The fact is that the management of the marine environment in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters is a matter exclusively for the Government of Gibraltar. For that reason, there is no question of any “joint management” with Spain being agreed in respect of BGTW.
There is even less likelihood that the UK Government might be engaging on reaching such arrangements – given that they have no Constitutional competence whatsoever to do so in respect of environmental matters and no mandate to do so insofar as related Sovereignty issues might be relevant.
Or at least, I certainly hope the UK govt isn’t doing dirty deals behind our back.
Next we will have Obama telling us to accept a US/Spanish peacekeeping force to control the rebellious natives.
I referred to the governor’s Christmas speech on my last post, and have found a copy. I’ll finish with some of his words:
There have been so many good things to celebrate in this Diamond Jubilee year but it is deeply frustrating that at the same time we have had to deal with so many challenges to our sovereignty from our Spanish neighbours. Illegal fishing activity and incursions into our waters by Spanish state vessels have been a persistent theme through most of the year and have made heavy demands on our security and law enforcement agencies.
In recognition of this, I was pleased recently to award my personal commendations to the marine units and sections of the Royal Gibraltar Police, the Gibraltar Defence Police and to the Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron in acknowledgement of their skill and professionalism in dealing with confrontations on an almost daily basis in the most testing of circumstances, and often in the face of serious pressure and provocation.
But in this uncertain world one thing we have always been sure of is the Queen herself. Her dedication, her dignity, her steadfastness have been constants that have helped bind us all together under her Crown. She has been our Rock and lest anyone has any doubts, Gibraltar is her Rock, hers alone, and no-one else’s to claim.
Sir Adrian Johns, Governor of Gibraltar.
I’ll be writing more about the Treaty of Utrecht this year, signed 300 years ago this April, and the continual claims by Spain, both by diplomacy and by force, to retake Gibraltar against the wish of the people of the Rock.