The Minister for Traffic, Paul Balban, has defended the Gibraltar Government’s “major overhaul of Gibraltar’s parking arrangements”, insisting that the various schemes are starting to show benefit.
Speaking during the budget debate, Mr Balban acknowledged that parking is a subject that evokes very strong and powerful feeling within the community.
“Car ownership will arguably become one of the most challenging aspects to tackle in the future if we are to become an environmentally responsible society,” he said.
Addressing some of the heated social media interactions and local conversation surrounding the Zone 2 parking scheme, he said it was a case of leading and doing what one thinks is the right thing to do.
“To prod the beehive from a distance with a very long stick and run away in fear of being stung, for fear of being unpopular with the electorate, or even for fear of receiving the most lemons is not what this is all about, in my opinion,” Mr Balban said.
“This is about trying to improve our environment and our health, for us and for successive generations, it’s about making life easier even though it may not seem that way at first, while trying to achieve certain common aims and benefits for us all.”
Residential Parking Schemes try to achieve better parking opportunities for residents while trying to accommodate visitors and commerce at appropriate times.
Parking schemes also lead to the identification and the reduction of derelict and abandoned vehicles which free up more parking space, he said.
Additionally, he underscored that all Residential Parking Zones are “pilot” and will therefore remain under scrutiny until the whole parking scheme is rolled out, for all of Gibraltar.
“At this stage, when all of Gibraltar is zoned then the entire Residential Parking Scheme will enter its final pilot phase, as a whole.”
Therefore, Zone 1 will not cease to be a pilot scheme simply because Zone 2 is implemented, nor will Zone 2 stop becoming pilot in nature simply because Zone 3 has been launched.
This is the scientific and right way of doing things because no Zone is an island, he said.
“All zones are different and they react differently when there are more than one zone working in parallel.”
“It is not the intention of this Government, as surely it is not the intention of any other Government to make life difficult for residents, on the contrary, but it is a well-known fact that we have a parking problem, or probably more accurately, a vehicle ownership problem.”
“Nevertheless, a brave scheme of this nature is seen by some as an ideal opportunity for political mischief and to try to score cheap, but short-lived, political points.”
Parking for commercial vehicles is now being considered as parking schemes start to displace these vehicles from within highly populated residential areas.
Mr Balban explained that there are already plans in place to address these issues.