The GSD yesterday said the Gibraltar Government is “running scared” over public parking enforcement concerns – and immediately drew a stinging reaction from No.6 Convent Place.
This comes after the Opposition expressed concern over the number of erroneous parking fines being issued which, it insisted, was a waste of both public and police time.
But instead of addressing the issue, the GSD said the Government had focused a third of its reply on “irrelevant typographical errors on social media”.
“It further accuses Trevor Hammond, GSD Transport Spokesman, of hypocrisy but then fails to describe any hypocrisy,” the Opposition said in a statement.
It added that the Government “really does seem to be running scared on this and many other issues and has lost all credibility.”
And, as the row rumbled on yesterday, the Government hit back accusing Mr Hammond of positioning the GSD on the side of those who park illegally on the one hand, against the vast majority of the law-abiding population on the other.
“He is regrettably, in effect, saying that people who break the law should not be fined nor face any consequence,” No.6 said in a statement.
“Mr Hammond should say clearly to parents and those with disabilities, who find they cannot get around because their paths are blocked by illegally parked cars, that the GSD doesn’t care about their plight, that the GSD is on the side of those who are illegally parked.”
“Is he also saying that, if someone is rushed into hospital when their car is parked in a Pay and Display bay, they must pay the resultant fine, regardless of their state of health?”
The Minister for Infrastructure, Paul Balban, said: “The GSD disbanded the Central Arrears Unit in 1996 and now complain about arrears building up.”
“The GSD say they stand for the Rule of Law, but now complain about the enforcement of traffic laws which are designed to secure safety and accessibility on our roads.”
“They say one thing and then do another,” he said.
“The GSD, by dint of the statements made by Mr Hammond, is now advocating for lawlessness on our roads. That’s an incredible record of irresponsibility and political hypocrisy.”
“In the reckless pursuit of relevance at all costs, Mr Hammond and the GSD are also seeking to take issue with the work of our PMOs and other officers, work that is often conducted under difficult circumstances.”
“To attack teething issues as a basis for a political assault on the Government and those who work within it is another example of the shameless contempt in which the GSD holds the people of Gibraltar,” Mr Balban said.
“The fact is that Mr Hammond is evidently incapable of seeing the hypocrisy of his statements unless the Government spells it out for him.”
“Perhaps Mr Hammond can apply himself a bit more to understanding the perils of law enforcement ‘a la mode’. Or perhaps, like so much of what he says, he hasn’t stopped to analyse that this is the natural and ordinary consequence of his populist remarks.”
Mr Balban insisted the Government has a clear vision for Gibraltar and a clear strategy for achieving it.
“On transport, as set out in our STTPP, we seek to tackle the perennial problems of congestion on our roads and to encourage the use of alternative forms of transport,” he said.
“Allowing flagrant lawbreaking in parking only encourages congestion and adds to the variety of complex and challenging traffic issues we face.”
“This is a clear example of how the GSD is bereft of vision or of any sense of duty to the greater good of this community.”
“The Government remains committed to seeing through its vision for a cleaner, healthier Gibraltar.”
“We have made wholesale improvements in our community in this regard, and many others, since 2011 and will continue to invest our time, dedication and the resources of this community to deliver the best quality of life we can achieve for our citizens.”
Mr Hammond said: “Gibraltar has always been a place where a degree of tolerance and common sense has been shown when dealing with issues such as parking.”
“If Government wishes to adopt a zero tolerance policy that is a decision for them and it is for them to deal with the consequent public backlash.”
“Motorists are fed up of being fined for having a wheel on a line or returning to a vehicle moments too late to find that a warden has been waiting for that moment to issue a ticket.”
“These are people’s real experiences,” Mr Hammond said.
“The Government appears to have no concept of the difference between practical and sensible enforcement, which has always occurred, and zero tolerance, punish all offences no matter how minor, which is their policy.”
“There is no question that this policy is raking them in a lot of money, approximately three quarters of a million pounds a year, so of course they are going to defend it, they need to find income from all sorts of sources to pay off the debt mountain they have built up, but at least they could be honest about it.”
“Of course in this grab for cash, punish all offences world, too many mistakes are being made; 933 in a little over six months, and these are the ones actually challenged.”
“Many more mistaken parking tickets are no doubt paid because people lack the time to make a challenge.”
“That’s 933 occasions when members of both the public and the police have had to use their valuable time correcting mistakes.”
“Government cares so little about this that they suggest it is normal for so many mistakes to happen,” he said adding: “I would say it is unacceptable and must stop.”