Quedgeley family's nightmare trying to leave Gibraltar
SEVEN hours spent backed up in queues by customs officers in Gibraltar wrecked a Quedgeley family's visit to the territory.
Alastair Chambers, his wife Stephanie and their five children visited at the beginning of August during a holiday in Spain – just as a huge dispute over fishing in its waters reached boiling point.
The row between British and Spanish authorities has seen those trying to leave Gibraltar held up for hours at a time in what has been called a deliberate attempt by Spanish officials to make life as difficult as possible during the diplomatic row.
Alastair, 37, who runs his own construction company as well as the Break the Chain service to get former prisioners back into work, said he had seen shocking scenes while he was there.
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"The whole of Gibraltar was backed up with traffic," he said.
"We were sent right around the back of it, overlooking Africa, to a holding area that was full of hundreds and hundreds of cars.
"There was no welfare, it was so hot and people were really struggling. They were having to go to the toilet in the street and there were a lot of elderly people having a really tough time.
"Eventually they brought some water round but our visit to Gibraltar was completely spoiled."
Finally, he and his family were allowed to leave – and got straight out.
"They didn't even check our car when we left, they didn't look at our passports or anything," he said.
"They had just been taking as long as possible with a few cars at the start to make everyone's life as difficult as they possibly could, then let everyone off."
Alastair is half Spanish and said he wanted to see a resolution to the dispute over the British territory.
"The Spanish argument is that when they signed the declaration with Britain, no waters were included so technically Gibraltar doesn't have any waters to fish in," he said.
"Our friend there said he thinks it's more to do with the fact there's no VAT on Gibraltar so everyone in that part of Spain nips over, fills up their car, buys all their supplies, and goes back. With Spain's economy in crisis, they are probably losing hundreds of thousands a day and they want Gibraltar back."
MEP Julie Girling, who represents Gibraltar as well as the South West of England, has been the target of abuse by some Twitter users for standing up to Spain's "bullying".
The row began when a manmade concrete reef began to be erected in waters off the territory.