Below follows the retirement statement issued by Mr Paul Balban.
"Yesterday I communicated my intention to the Executive of the GSLP that I would not be seeking re-election as a candidate to stand at the next General Election."
"This was in fact, a decision taken as far back as Friday 21st May 2021.
It has been an honour to have been part of the legislature of Gibraltar and having been able to contribute and play a small part in the development of Gibraltar over the past 12 years. I have enjoyed much of my time, working very hard as part of a great team but it has also often been very tough too, for many reasons. Public service is especially tough on family life too, having to spend endless hours working even when one is not at work, but my family have always supported me throughout.
When we were elected on 8th December 2011, we agreed and made a pact at home that politics would not change our lives as a family, or who we were. and I think that we achieved that. I was never too comfortable in a suit anyway, neither being driven around in a black car, and we have made our lives in Gibraltar, enjoying the company and support of many friends which have also supported us along the way.
I have enjoyed leading many great teams within the many Ministries I have led in the past 12 years.
However, it is fair to say that the work that I have done in Traffic and Transport has often been radical, it has tried to challenge the way that we live and move and that can only be contentious, but I am passionate, and I believe in the work that I do. From Residential Parking Schemes all the way to bicycle lanes, the people have been divided and I have strived at times against much adversity and criticism, simply because I strongly believed in the bigger picture. I saw a cleaner, better, greener Gibraltar, a better quality of life, I saw streets alive with people, children playing, people moving in different ways, better air quality, a healthier community, and these are the seeds that I have sowed today, and it will take time to reap the rewards of this work.
Alternatively, we can choose as a community to rid ourselves of this work, abolish the zone parking scheme and remove the bicycle lanes, restoring on-street parking as we had. This is the beauty of a democracy; we collectively decide our future and how we live. I am confident however and hope that at some point in the future we may look back and perhaps understand the work that I may have played a small part in bringing about change to our community and that all that hard work was for a reason.
Already, parts of the private sector have begun to embrace this work and are well on their way to contributing to this urban vision. Of course, I leave without finishing the work I have started but this was always going to be a labour of love and something someone else would have to adopt at some point, if indeed they felt it was right to. The work I have done recently with regards to the Active Travel Strategy was always going to be bigger than me, my political party, and our political system itself. Our democracy gives us the collective right to determine our own future, hence I successfully sought the cross-party support, critical for such a transformational environmental project of urban mobility.
Regardless of differing opinions, I did what I set out to do, my sights remained fixed throughout, I did what I felt was the right thing to do, and I am happy to be judged now and again in 20 years’ time.
My advice to any new prospective candidates, you only get one chance, everyone does their best, everyone wants the best for Gibraltar and by all means strive to be popular not least because popularity keeps you there, but above all do what you think is right. We need to be brave as leaders if we are to bring about change, we need to be brave if we believe that there really is a climate emergency, if we want to live a healthier life and if we believe that we can do better. We can always do better. I apologise if my vision for a better Gibraltar was not mainstream, if it was a vision with less pollution, cleaner air, if I wanted to give more street space to people, especially families and children, if I wanted to create green areas and see a better quality of life at street level. This was my remit as Minister for Transport and our 2019 Manifesto Commitment but I wanted to have done so much more, not least concentrate on our buses, the backbone of transport within any city and another looming priority in the next 4 years.
I thank everyone who has worked with me in the past 12 years, my supporters especially who have egged me on. To my detractors, especially those that hated everything I did, you played an important part too, you were my reality check, but it did not deter me, it made me even braver and more determined to push on.
I will cherish so many memories of my political colleagues, these 12 years have taught me so much, so many life skills and a little bit about politics. I will fondly remember Charles Bruzon who embarked on this journey with us.
To my Family, we did it.
I will be supporting the GSLP Liberal team at the next election. Fabian has been a tour de force internationally and my trust in his ability to achieve the best deal for Gibraltar is unquestionable. Sir Joe, the reason I entered politics, is for me the epitome of the father figure in Gibraltar politics always available and wise beyond his years. They are the only option to keep us safe, to deliver the best possible outcome in treaty negotiations and to ensure that Gibraltar continues to thrive and be greener and even better.
Another 4 years.
Thank you, Gibraltar."