Gibraltar part of UK’s history and future, says Lidington at Guildhall

gibraltar-unionflagGibraltar is an integral part of the history of the United Kingdom – and very much a part of the UK’s future as well. That was the message given by Europe Minister, David Lidington, at the traditional reception at the Guildhall to celebrate Gibraltar Day in London.

Addressing an audience of around a thousand guests, David Lidington reiterated his Government’s commitment to defend and promote the interests of Gibraltar, and never to enter into sovereignty negotiations against the will of its people.
Mr Lidington spoke of the challenges facing Gibraltar – saying he believed lobbying efforts by the UK were starting to pay off with regards to the border, with Spain taking remedial action. He emphasised that Gibraltar’s right not to be excluded from EU aviation legislation was a matter not of political whim or choice, but of law as set out in the European treaties.

In his address, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo read out a message from the Queen – a response from her private secretary to his request for Her Majesty to visit Gibraltar, expressing Queen Elizabeth’s continuing support for the Government and the people of Gibraltar.

Fabian Picardo said “the voice of Gibraltar is loud and clear … but best amplified when working together with Britain on issues of mutual importance”. He said Gibraltar was ready to engage in trilateral dialogue – and to enter into parallel ad hoc talks if parameters can be agreed with Spain.

He outlined a number of recent economic and cultural developments in Gibraltar, including the International Literary Festival, the licensing of the Gibraltar Stock Exchange and the creation of both a national bank and university.

Mr Picardo reiterated that the links between Gibraltar and the UK were as modern as they are historic – with Mr Lidington going on to say the Rock had transformed itself from a military garrison to a modern, dynamic, entrepreneurial society.

The evening came to a close with a Massed Bands Spectacular, which saw the Royal Gibraltar Regiment Band and Corps of Drums and the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth perform a Sunset Ceremony.

Source: GBC News

Gib Govt and MoD at odds over who will pay for airfield resurfacing

GibraltarA difference of view appears to have arisen between the British and Gibraltar governments over who will pay for the resurfacing next summer of the runway at Gibraltar Airport. Whereas No 6 Convent Place is adamant that the works will be funded exclusively by the Ministry of Defence, the MoD claims the costs will be shared.

During last week’s visit to Gibraltar by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, both sides announced that the MOD would shortly invite tenders for the resurfacing of the runway, which was last carried out in 1993. In a statement to Parliament, the Chief Minister left no room for doubt that Gibraltar would not contribute to meeting the costs.

However, in a written Parliamentary statement Mr Fallon has suggested the forthcoming works will also be paid for by both governments. He said “the UK and Gibraltar will share equally the cost of the first resurfacing work at Gibraltar Airport in over 20 years”.

We referred the Defence Secretary’s remarks to No 6, which insists that future resurfacing costs will be met from a sinking fund that’s been created for that purpose. A government spokesman said this fund has been created under the agreement with the MOD and is designed to be available in 15 years’ time. There is therefore no question of the Gibraltar Government contributing to the current resurfacing.

Meanwhile, in answer to GBC questions, the Ministry of Defence has simply repeated the line given in last week’s joint statement, saying key elements of defence infrastructure at the airfield will be shared equally over time in the future. However, no specific answer was given as to whether the Gibraltar Government will be expected to share the cost of resurfacing this time round.

Source: GBC News

Gonzalo pounds Anguilla, Tourism Plant Intact

Gonzalo pounds Anguilla

Gonzalo pounds Anguilla – The Anguillian Newspaper

Life is returning to normal in Anguilla after Hurricane Gonzalo crisscrossed the island on Monday, October 13, with pounding gusts well above hurricane force (74 miles per hour) and torrents of rain. Before and after the more than one-hour long lull, the intense hurricane knocked down utility poles and lines, TV and other telecommunication cables, destroyed vegetation, flooded several low-lying areas, blocked roads, and caused widespread leakage in homes, offices and business places as well as some roof damage.

Most of the damage was said to have occurred in the eastern and western areas of the island which, up to Thursday, was still to be remedied. In some parts of the island uprooted utility poles and others, broken like matchsticks, and a mass of lines with attached transformers in some cases, fell across main roads. The George Hill main road, formally named the Edwin Wallace Rey Drive, was blocked by a high-tension pole with about three transformers. Workmen from ANGLEC worked for hours to remove the tangled heap while impatient motorists formed a long traffic jam or found a way around the back of the nearby bakery.

Other ANGLEC crews, in the meantime, were spread out in other areas in their bid to take control of downed poles and wires and, where possible, to speed up repairs and gradually restore electricity in some of the less affected locations.
Both private and sector crews and individuals also travelled through the island clearing roads partly covered by fallen trees and other debris.

The Adrian T Hazell Primary School suffered significant damage which the Ministry of Education said was being assessed. Grades 2, 3, 4 and 5 lost parts of their galvanize-and-wood roofing. This is now expected to cause some delay in accommodating students in those classrooms during the repair work. The reopening of the school in September was delayed due to disrepair, infestation and insanity conditions; and plans are afoot to commence the construction of eight new classrooms shortly. All public schools except this one will resume classes on Monday, October 20.
On Tuesday, October 14, Governor Christina Scott joined personnel at the National Emergency Operations Centre to review the impact of the hurricane and the necessary emergency response. During that evening, the Governor broadcast a statement in which she said in part:
“It is very welcome that there are no reported casualties as a result of the storm. Of course the storm has caused interruptions to some essential services such as electricity and water, which will continue to inconvenience the public in the days ahead. I recognise also that some have had their homes and businesses affected, and had important possessions destroyed. As they set about cleaning up, I want to reassure the public that their public services are working hard to support their efforts.
“I should like to thank all those who worked so hard before and during the storm, and who have been working tirelessly since. In particular, my thanks to the emergency services, businesses and public officials who are striving to restore services to the public as quickly as possible, and to Radio Anguilla which kept our company through the storm and has been providing such valuable updates.
“I would also like to thank the public who have been helping to clear roads around their homes, checking on vulnerable neighbours, and assisting their neighbourhoods in many other ways to respond to the storm. Our communities are strongest when they stand together and, in talking to people across the island, I have been impressed again by the resilience and generosity of the people who call this special island home.
“With just a couple weeks before the tourist season starts, together these efforts by the whole of society will help to restore Anguilla to its beautiful best. Thank you for the contribution you are making.”

Chief Minister Hubert Hughes was also quoted on Radio Anguilla as extending thanks to all persons who responded to the aftermath of Hurricane Gonzalo.

Source: The Anguillian Newspaper

Bermuda, the shipwreck capital of the world

bermuda-wreckBermuda is an area shrouded in mystery with stories of unexplained disappearances and strange happenings. So its no wonder that Bermuda is also home to one of the biggest shipwreck sites in the world.
With more than 300 identified wrecks off its coast, it has become a virtual time capsule preserving historic wrecks in the Atlantic that are hundreds of years old.
Bermuda’s propensity for taking down ships is explained by its position in the Atlantic Ocean where the Gulf Stream draws ships into the path of its many shallow reefs.
It is now known as a world-class wreck dive site thanks to its shallow waters and clear visibility and divers can swim among encrusted hulls, preserved cannons and historical relics.

One of the most popular dives is the Cristobal Colon, the largest wreck in the Bermuda. The 152-metre Spanish luxury liner was completed in 1923 and was one of the fastest boats in her day. Making the passage between New York and Central America, it ran aground in 1936 after crashing into a coral reef. Today she lies 16 metres underwater with wreckage scattered over 9000 square metres of sea floor.

The 60-gun French frigate, L’Herminie, sank in 1863 and is the most impressive warship wreck in the area. The three masted wooden hulled sailing boat was returning to France when it crashed into the shallow reef and now lies just 10 metres below the water.

And one of the most historic shipwrecks is the Mary Celestia, a side paddlewheel steamer chartered during America’s Civil War. Used as a blockade runner, she smuggled guns, ammunition, supplies and food to troops in the south. The 68 metre-long ship sunk in 1838 after hitting a reef close to the south shore. Lying 16 metres underwater, divers can explore its paddlewheels, boilers, anchor and bow.

The hundreds of shipwrecks remain remarkably intact despite the rough Bermuda weather due to strict marine preservation and today are the playground of diving enthusiasts.

For more information visit The Bermuda Dive Association on Facebook.

Routemaster at 60

google-busSixty years to the day that the first ever Routemaster bus was shown to the public, Google has replaced the logo on its homepage with an image of the iconic red London bus.

Today’s Google Doodle is the latest collaboration to mark Transport for London’s (TfL’s) Year of the Bus, a celebration of “the role that London buses, bus drivers and the staff who support them play in keeping the capital moving.”

Leon Daniels, TfL’s Managing Director for Surface Transport, said: “I’m delighted that London’s iconic Routemaster bus will join the London Underground in being honoured with a Google Doodle. It’s a hugely fitting tribute to the backbone of the capital’s transport network and definitely one of the highlights so far in 2014′s Year of the Bus.”

The Routemaster bus was first unveiled to the public at the Earl’s Court Commercial Motor Exhibition on 24 September, 1954. However construction of production vehicles didn’t get under way until 1959. In total 2,760 Routemaster buses were built for London with production ending in 1968.

As well as celebrating 60 years since the creation of the original Routemaster, the Year of the Bus also marks 75 years since the launch of its predecessor the RT-type bus and 100 years since hundreds of London buses were sent to the Western Front to play a crucial role during the First World War.


Battle Bus

Events and activities are being held throughout 2014 to celebrate the Year of the Bus. This week, a ‘Battle Bus’ restored in its original livery set off for the battlefields of France and Belgium to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. And in June the Regent Street Bus Cavalcade gave an estimated 400,000 people the chance to view around 50 of the most celebrated buses of the last two centuries as they gathered in the heart of London’s West End.

Other Year of the Bus partnerships have included a unique collaboration with the world-famous Fender Stratocaster guitar – also celebrating its 60th anniversary this year – and the installation of an operational bus stop and shelter on Regent Street made entirely out of Lego.

The Year of the Bus has also seen the first ever series of live music performances on board a New Routemaster bus as part of Oxjam, and ‘bus stop top’ exhibitions along the Strand from renowned photographers Juergen Teller and David LaChapelle.

Events still to come include the Year of the Bus Sculpture Trail which will see up to 60 New Routemaster bus sculptures, painted and adorned by well-known and aspiring artists, on show in the capital from Monday, 20 October and auctioned for charity in the new year.

Scotland votes ‘No’ to independence

referendum-resultScotland has voted to stay in the United Kingdom after voters decisively rejected independence.
With the results in from all 32 council areas, the “No” side won with 2,001,926 votes over 1,617,989 for “Yes”.

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond called for unity and urged the unionist parties to deliver on more powers.
Prime Minister David Cameron said he was delighted the UK would remain together and that commitments on extra powers would be honoured “in full”.

Mr Cameron said the three main unionist parties at Westminster would now follow through with their pledge of more powers for the Scottish Parliament.

He announced that Lord Smith of Kelvin, who led Glasgow’s staging of the Commonwealth Games, would oversee the process to take forward the commitments, with new powers over tax, spending and welfare to be agreed by November, and draft legislation published by January.

Alex Salmond to quit as Scottish First Minister

Alex-SalmondAlex Salmond Quits As Scottish First Minister After Referendum Defeat
Alex Salmond has announced he will quit as Scottish first minister and leader of the SNP, following the decision of voters to reject Scottish independence.

Speaking in Edinburgh on Friday afternoon, Salmond said it had been the “privilege of his life” to serve as first minister, but the time had come for someone new to take charge. “For Scotland, the campaign continues and the dream shall never die,” he said.

On Thursday, Scots voted 55% to 45% in favour of Scotland remaining part of the United Kingdom, with the promise of more devolved powers from Westminster. “The party, parliament and country would benefit from new leadership,” he said.

The SNP deputy leader, Nicola Sturgeon, will be the favourite to succeed Salmond at the top of the party.

Ian Paisley buried at private funeral

Ian PaisleyIan Paisley was buried at a private funeral on Monday without the presence of any of his closest allies in the Democratic Unionist party at the ceremony.
Paisley, who stepped down as DUP leader in 2008 amid disquiet about his leadership of the party, was buried at Ballygowan cemetery in Co Down after a service at his home in East Belfast.
The 88-year-old former first minister of Northern Ireland died on Friday after a long illness.

On Monday, members of the DUP and former political foes in Sinn Féin paid tribute in the Northern Ireland assembly.
Martin McGuinness, the deputy first minister, told members of the assembly that serving alongside Paisley had been an “incredible experience” and one of the “most memorable” of his life.
The former IRA chief of staff and later key peace strategist for Sinn Féin, said that he and Paisley “genuinely grew to like each other and in doing so, we confounded the world”.
McGuinness added: “From the word go, for some reason, we hit it off. Not alone did we develop a positive and constructive working relationship, we actually became friends.”

The DUP leader’s successor both as party chief and first minister, Peter Robinson, said: “Ian Paisley was a remarkable man, whose long career in public life has left an indelible mark upon all of us who knew him. Like so many , I was drawn towards politics by the clarity, the certainty, the strength and the conviction of his message.”

Debates and all business in the Stormont parliament were suspended for a day as a mark of respect to Paisley, a dominant force in Northern Ireland politics for four decades.

The union flag at Belfast City Hall – an emblem that has become a focal point of loyalist protests since a council decision to restrict the flying of the British flag to 18 days a year – was at half mast on Monday to mark Paisley’s funeral.

Writing in the Guardian on Monday, the former Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern also paid tribute to a man who was once a mortal enemy of successive Dublin governments.
The former taoiseach said: “Ian was a big man with a big heart, and he was a good friend. He was a valued partner in peace and a charismatic politician whom I grew to admire greatly.
“We both came from very different political traditions, but the more I got to know Ian, the more I respected him and the more I came to like him. In my dealings with him, I found him to be unfailingly polite and a man of his word.”

Ian Paisley dies

Ian PaisleyFormer Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley, has died aged 88. Baroness Eileen Paisley said her husband died on Friday morning and the family was heartbroken.
Mr Paisley moved from a political “never man” to Northern Ireland’s first minister.
He ended up leading a power-sharing executive at Stormont – although he had supported the strike to bring one down 30 years earlier.
In her statement, Baroness Paisley said: “Although ours is the grand hope of reunion, naturally as a family, we are heartbroken,” she said.
“We loved him and he adored us and our earthly lives are forever changed.” Baroness Paisley said that his funeral would be private.

Prime Minister David Cameron said Mr Paisley was “one of the most forceful and instantly recognisable characters in British politics for nearly half a century”.
He said he was a controversial politician but his contribution in his later years to stability in Northern Ireland was “huge”.
“In particular, his decision to take his party into government with Sinn Féin in 2007 required great courage and leadership, for which everyone in these islands should be grateful,” Mr Cameron said.
“Ian Paisley will be remembered by many as the ‘Big Man’ of Northern Ireland politics. He will be greatly missed.”

Ed Miliband, Leader of the Opposition, said Mr Paisley was “a towering figure in Northern Ireland politics for decades”.
“His decision to take the DUP into a power-sharing partnership with Sinn Féin was the ultimate act of political courage and reconciliation,”he said.
First Minister and DUP leader Peter Robinson said that during the height of the Troubles, the “sure and certain ring” of Ian Paisley’s voice had a “special resonance” with the people of Northern Ireland.
“I don’t think that there’s anyone who has had more influence in Northern Ireland over the years,” Mr Robinson said.
“Even those who thought the least of his politics thought the most of him as a person.” He said those who knew Ian Paisley knew his priority was his faith – above all else in life.
“In terms of Ian Paisley’s political contribution, I think there are many people who look at his early days in the context of the more stable and peaceful society that we have today.
“The Ian Paisley of those days was an Ian Paisley that was keeping together a unionist community that felt it was under fire, that it had no friends to help it constitutionally, that its representatives were being picked off, there was genocide along the border,” he said.

However, former Alliance Party leader John Cushnahan said that while he sympathised with the family, he was astonished at the “rewriting” of Ian Paisley’s political contribution.
“While I welcome the fact that he ultimately embraced power sharing, it was too little too late and should not be used to excuse the pain and suffering that he inflicted on the people of Northern Ireland for the majority of his political life,” he said.

Bermuda Sun closes

bda-sunIn the wake of Bermuda Sun’s closure, observers of Bermudian media are questioning what the future holds for the industry, with some concerned that news coverage will continue to narrow on the island.
“It’s very unfortunate that the closure of the only alternative news print publication now leaves one daily news publication with a monopoly,” said PLP MP Glenn Blakeney, who is the chairman and CEO of Inter-Island Communications, Ltd.
Mr Blakeney said the media marketplace is “increasingly competitive and saturated” but added that there is “indeed a need for an alternative publication.”

“It’s very unfortunate that the Bermuda Sun has fallen victim to the paradigm shift in how and where consumers prefer to source their news and information, because it would have been great if the Sun could have at least maintained their online presence as a going and sustainable competitive local news source,” he said.

Ayo Johnson is a local journalist who has worked for both the Sun and The Royal Gazette, from which he was fired last October. He now runs an independent media outlet called Think Media.

He said none of the traditional, legacy media institutions are doing well financially. Bermuda, he said, should be grateful for ventures like Bernews, which he described as “the only daily alternative to the RG in the online space.”

In the future, media will have to adopt business models that aren’t advertising dependent, he said.

“Clearly the media is in a transitional period,” said Mr Johnson. “I’m confident that others will rise and fill the gap, in time. We may well end up with a more diverse mediascape.
My only hope is that we find ways of collaborating and generating synergies while preserving our individual editorial visions, instead of engaging in the kind of predatory capitalism which in fact killed the Bermuda Sun.”

He added, “Make no mistake — the Sun died primarily because the RG (Royal Gazette) cut its throat. It is extremely ironic that the result of this ‘competition’ is the death of the quality product and the survival of a mediocre, badly led monolith.”

Yesterday, Jonathan Howes, the CEO of Bermuda Press (Holdings) Ltd (BPHL) responded to the comments: “Mr Johnson is entitled to his opinion. He has a personal agenda and continues to attack the Royal Gazette…”

Worthy rival

He added: “In the news business we thrive on competition and over the years the Sun has certainly proved a worthy rival as well as providing a valuable alternative media voice in the community… “As Bermuda’s only print newspaper, The Royal Gazette now has an even greater responsibility to provide the community with the balanced, accurate and inclusive news coverage that it deserves. It’s a responsibility our editors and reporters take very seriously and we’re ready for the challenge.”

Tim Hodgson, The Royal Gazette’s editorial consultant, however, declined to respond directly to Mr Johnson’s assessment. He did say the island’s media landscape still features “considerable competition and room for a wide variety of viewpoints.”

In the deal that prompted the Sun’s demise, the
Gazette’s mother company, Bermuda Press (Holdings) Limited (BPHL) acquired several operations from MediaHouse Limited, which owned the Sun, including Island Press and the Bermuda.com site and print guide companion.

MediaHouse retained ownership of Global Directories, which is a Caribbean company that publishes directories out of Grand Cayman, according to a statement from BPHL.

However, the Sun, which has been operating at an annual loss since 2008, will cease to exist per the agreement announced last Friday. Twenty-three people were made redundant in the deal.

Mr Hodgson declined to comment on what effect the Sun’s closure will have on the Gazette. Specifically, he batted away a question about whether he anticipated more revenue now to expand his staff.

“It would be inappropriate to comment on any potential plans for expansion at this stage,” he said. “In common with the rest of the media, The Royal Gazette has had to cope with declining revenues in recent years and continues to do so.”

Is he worried about complacency at his paper in light of the end of one of its main competitors?

“The Royal Gazette takes pride in the professionalism of its staff,” he said. “We do not anticipate complacency will be a problem – particularly, as we have already noted, there remains a plethora of competition.”

The paper’s sense of responsibility to the community, he said, will not change.

He batted away concerns that the media would become less diverse in terms of viewpoint or that his paper carries any sort of inherent bias.

“While we regret the loss of jobs and the loss of a media voice, we are satisfied that we will continue to report the news with professionalism and without fear or favour,” he said.

It is unlikely, according to Mr Hodgson, given the current economic climate that “anyone would choose to invest in a new print venture.”

Jonathan Starling, a local blogger and political activist, thought any reduction in the island’s media options was “dangerous.”

“We’re increasingly (in) an information desert; social media tends to mask that, but social itself remains dependent on good journalism,” he said. “The loss of the Sun greatly reduces ‘the people’s’ access to information and concentrates too much power — control over information — in too few hands.”

He hopes other media ventures will fill the void left by the Sun.

“But at the moment I’m a tad pessimistic,” he said.

He said The Royal Gazette has some “great journalists” but worried that they were under-resourced and overwhelmed.

Freefall

“Journalism, as an institution here, it’s in freefall,” he said.

Randy French, president and CEO of MediaHouse Limited and publisher of the Bermuda Sun, said there is always a need for more media outlets on the island.

“I think there will be opportunity for new media in particular and there may be a proliferation of them in the short term,” he said.

“However, it will take time for any one of them to become dominant as the level of investment is high if original content is to be provided, as well as costing out an advertising department and cutting-edge technology.”

The bigger question, he said, is whether any such outlet could be sustained financially “given Bermuda’s contraction.”

“Running media is expensive, quality reporting is expensive,” he said.

He said the paper’s legacy was putting a “human overlay on news reporting in Bermuda.”

“That was a market opportunity that was ours to take as Royal Gazette is the paper of record,” he said. “There is always space for news with a distinctively human touch, and I think it will be sorely missed.”

He described the amalgamation deal between BPHL and MediaHouse as complex and said the chief objective was to preserve as many jobs as possible.

“Unfortunately we could not preserve all,” he said.