22nd February 2021, 11:07
The project to restore the Parliament building is now on hold, with the Government saying this is as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The project was announced in September when the Government took back the commercial premises outside Parliament House, pledging to restore the building to its former glory.
Although the Government announced the project in full knowledge of the pandemic, it's now saying it won't be going ahead. In answer to GBC questions it says it's at a design, concept and costing stage only and no physical works are envisaged at this time. It adds there are ongoing discussions with a private sector entity which has generously offered to make a financial contribution to certain external restoration works and that it's possible that those works will proceed once the detail has been agreed.
The idea was to open up the possibility for lift access to the Chamber via an internal lift, as opposed to an external one, for people with reduced mobility.
The project also aimed to create office and secretarial facilities for members and the speaker. This follows a recommendation by the Commission on Democratic and Political Reform in 2013 for office space for the Opposition. These would provide a base for meetings between MPs and constituents or members of the public, so as to discharge their duty as parliamentarians.
Meeting rooms would also be used to host foreign dignitaries on official visits to Gibraltar.
In September, the Government said re-establishing the integrity of the Parliament building meant these services could now be provided at one location without the need to construct office space anywhere else.
GBC also asked how much has been paid to the Piazza Grill directors with the Government saying the amount paid for the surrender of the leases last year will be given in an answer to Parliament in response to a question which has already been tabled