GSD Says “Questions Arise” on Bayside Land Deal

The GSD has today said that the sale of the sites of the old Bayside Comprehensive and St Anne’s Schools “raises questions that need answering.”

Yesterday the Government announced a deal by which it was selling the site to TNG Global an entity ultimately controlled by the same person who owns Trusted Novus Bank.

A statement continued: “On 20 July 2021 the Chief Minister announced that Trusted Novus were making a surprise “very generous donation” to fund the costs of the Midtown Park. It will be recalled that the Midtown Park has cost in excess of £3.7M although the final cost was as yet unknown when questions were last asked in Parliament. At the time the Chief Minister said this was a “gift to all the people of Gibraltar by the Board and shareholder of Trusted Novus Bank” and a “magnificent donation” which was their way of “wanting to give back to the community.” By any means this was – as the Chief Minister described it at the time – an “out of the ordinary” donation which was presented as unconnected to anything else.

“Now the Government has announced a major land deal in favour of the same individual behind both structures. That land deal may be unconnected, value for money and unimpeachable. However serious and legitimate questions arise.

“Questions arise as to whether the Government were already in discussions with the individual who ultimately owns or controls TNG Global and the Bank when the “very generous donation” was made? How and when was the donation paid? Is there any link between the “donation” received by the Government to bail out the £3.7M cost of the Midtown Park and the deal announced yesterday? Inevitably there will also be questions as to how the land was allocated and the value for money of the deal and whether the Government was influenced in favour of the arrangements by the donation or took it into account directly or indirectly in the financial calculations or decision-making on the Bayside/St Anne’s deal. What value will the developers get from the site?”

Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi said: “The GSD will probe all those questions when Parliament next meets. Clearly, we want there to be new schools built affordably and for there to be economic development that maximises value in the public interest. But the need to have full answers to these questions is about transparency of this deal and value for money and ensuring that this is an unimpeachable deal. All that is also in the public interest.”

Damon Bossino who has shadow responsibilities for lands and planning said: “The questions which the GSD has raised in respect of whether there is a potential connection between the supposedly, no strings attached and charitable donation in respect of the Midtown Park and the schools deal require full replies, otherwise, people will be allowed to come to conclusions as to the connection between both deals. Furthermore, very little of any real substance has been said about the detail of what the old schools’ site will be used for, an issue which also raises questions and concerns, not least for the people who live in the area.”