(SDA) supports action on Public Safety Issues

March 30, 2006 at 3:38 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

South District Association (SDA) supports action on Public Safety Issues

The SDA has taken note of the recent letters and reports that have appeared in the media regarding public safety issues.  In particular, the issue that has received the greatest coverage is that of the overhead cranes operating in close proximity to St. Anne’s School.  The Association wholeheartedly supports the action parents have taken to highlight their concerns.  On one occasion, at least, following an incident during a windy day their children were evacuated from the school playground.  Their requests for further reassurances, which are entirely justified, seem to have been met by official indifference and standardised replies, even though they are only trying to ensure that ‘going to school’ does not become a dangerous activity for their children.  The SDA sympathises with the plight of the parents as this treatment reflects exactly the attitude that the Association has experienced in relation to its own concerns over the Rosia Tanks/Nelson’s View development.

The SDA believes that given the scale and number of developments that are being announced in
Gibraltar there is an urgent need to re-evaluate the manpower available and the effective independence of the Health and Safety Inspectors under the Factory Inspectorate and the Environmental Agency.  These bodies’ primary aim is a duty to protect public health and ensure that all safety legislation is being complied with.  When big developers on large budgets start cutting corners to protect profits who gets hurt……can you guess?

Part of the benefits to the local community from the economic boom that these new developments should bring is a modernisation of these agencies, so that all relevant legislation and codes of practice are written into the planning permissions and developers know that if they are caught operating outside of these rules they will be dealt with firmly.  If, as the SDA understands, these departments are currently overstretched and understaffed then it is likely that they will be swamped by the pace of change coming in the next few years.

Recently the SDA highlighted the presence of asbestos on the Rosia Tanks site, asked for information to allay residents’ fears and for action to be taken to ensure that the asbestos was safely removed.  The Association has to report that the government agencies tasked with protecting public health were evasive, slow to react to complaints or take action and have failed to back any of their bland assurances with any hard facts.

While the SDA understands that some in the community believe that its only intention is to slow down or stop the development at any cost by scaremongering on asbestos, it believes that most people would not condone the teaching of a child that fire burns by allowing the infant to put it’s hand in the flame? Asbestosis is a long-term terminal illness and must be treated with full responsibility and the true gravity it deserves. Accountability from officials is hard to extract in 20-30 years time so we must have confidence that they are doing it right NOW!

Public relations and media campaigns that provide honest fact and real information are an essential part of modern democracy, rumour and misinformation will only keep the population ignorant of the dangers they face and increase the risk of being ‘burnt’.

SOUTH DISTRICT ASSOCIATION

 St. Anne’s School Website

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