Government have said it agrees that public buildings need to be adequately refurbished and maintained and that it is determined to carry this out in an organised and effective manner and not leave the problem for future generations to deal with.
"Indeed, action plans for the refurbishment and maintenance of public buildings have already been announced.
In the main, these buildings tend to be residential housing stock which have benefited from the highest investment in living memory since this Government came into office. The refurbishment and lift-installation programme at Glacis Estate, Laguna Estate and Moorish Castle Estate will boost the living standards and environment for both tenants and visitors. It is important to recall that these estates have been given a much needed mega-uplift in a part of Gibraltar was once forgotten and neglected.
The three Projects have gone beyond their original and pre-determined scope due to additional works and other significant variations. This will complement the overall appearance of the Estate. It is regrettable that the works, like all construction, will cause inconvenience but the finished product will be worth it.
It is important to note that these estates will not be maintained by themselves. That is why Government is determined to implement an effective maintenance programme so that they do not fall into disrepair once again.
The Minister for Housing Samantha Sacramento made this abundantly clear during the course of the debate on the budget. The Minister also explained the commitment of the Government to the refurbishment of other rental estates which are public property that form part of its remit. Many of these refurbishments are close to completion. These include Alameda Estate, Bishop Canilla House and Catalan Bay which will look glorious when complete. Other refurbishments are already timetabled so that tenants can be assured that their estates or buildings are in scope for refurbishment or attention under the GSLP Liberals, an assurance they did not enjoy under the GSD.
There are already detailed plans in place for the refurbishment of the Parliament building, including the provision of lift access for those who are unable to use the steep staircase. The refurbishment was delayed by the heritage issues which have surrounded the installation of a lift. There was clearly no point in carrying out refurbishment works without knowing where the lift would be located.
The Engineer Lane car park has been the subject of vandalism ever since it opened. This has been compounded by the lack of drainage provided for the escalator and by youths triggering the emergency stop deliberately. The maintenance and cleaning contracts for this car park and indeed all other Government car parks are now being reviewed with a view to a more positive end result.
In addition to all this, the Government has also set out on an ambitious project of urban renewal of Government pre-war properties in the Upper Town. We have been very proactive in identifying many properties that were empty for decades and many have been sold to provide further housing, already 20 tenders have resulted in over 120 dwellings. The old Police Barracks is a case in point. This was a dilapidated and run-down eyesore in the centre of the Upper Town and it has now become an example of what urban renewal is all about."
John Cortes, Minister with responsibility for the Environment and Urban Renewal, said: "We have done more to maintain our building stock and to spruce up the Upper Town than any government in history. Of course everything is not finished or done, but all this costs money which the GSD then criticise us for spending. It shows their utter hypocrisy to criticise us for doing more in respect of this policy area than they did, whilst also criticising us for spending too much. They are transparently, inherently self-contradictory!"