The Gibraltar Government and the Opposition clashed in Parliament yesterday over the future of the eastside reclamation and the Bluewater project.
During a question and answer session, Opposition MP Daniel Feetham said the £1bn scheme had become like “el cuento de la buena pipita”, a reference to a children’s bedtime story told by older generations of Gibraltarians.
“When I was a child my grandmother used to tell me ‘el cuento de la buena pipta,” Mr Feetham said, reminding the Chief Minister that the £1bn Bluewater project had been announced “with much fanfare” in 2015.
“When will this particular ‘cuento de la buena pipita’ end?”
But Mr Picardo hit back and said he had already provided public information on the status of the project, which has stalled as a result of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.
“I have said on two occasions that Brexit, which happened months after we made this announcement, has had a negative effect on the ability to deliver that project in that way, and that therefore negotiations have been affected by that,” Mr Picardo said.
“I have recognised that had had an effect on the Bluewater development. Does he simply want me to keep saying that? Is it that he wants me to send out a signal of a lack of confidence in Gibraltar?”
“I would have thought that…what we all need to do is demonstrate our confidence that Gibraltar is going to do very well in the future and that projects like Bluewater will not just take off, they will be a great success whoever is in government, to the profit of our whole community.”
Mr Feetham countered that the lack of progress with the Bluewater scheme meant the Opposition and many in the community were taking announcements of this sort “with a pinch of salt”.
“Of course we want it to succeed and of course we want it to come to fruition,” Mr Feetham said.
“But people are entitled to know how long the Chief Minister thinks this process is going to continue.”
Mr Picardo, who was initially responding to a question from interim GSD leader Roy Clinton, noted that two earlier projects for the eastside site had failed during the party’s 16 years in office.
But despite the plots chequered history, he said the eastside reclamation was “a property lung” for Gibraltar that provided ample scope for development.
And he opened the possibility too of future reclamation at the site.
“It is an opportunity for further expansion and development,” he said.
“There is a possibility that the plot might grow further, so that instead there being a marina which houses more boats, there may be more land which houses more properties for a larger development.”