What was happening in Marsascala in the environs of its primary school was what reignited my activism earlier on this year.
In a letter to this paper on August 1, I had asked: “Who, in the right state of mind, would place a building – and a police station to boot – bang in front of the primary school where hundreds of children attend every day?”
To add insult to injury, a massive local council office building engulfed the only decent garden in the locality literally down the road from the same school.
But it seems that another council at the other end of the same electoral district wanted to go one step further, building local council premises within the garden of the primary school of Marsaxlokk.
The plan is for the council to construct offices, a public library, a hall and a post office.
Although these amenities are all but missing in the locality, the proposed ‘development’ has provoked the ire of residents, eNGOs and, indeed, a number of local councillors have also expressed their disagreement with the plans.
Indeed, the voices against this project were a surprise to those who felt that this was a development for the community’s own good. But many will no longer accept this deception that is leading to the erosion of the quality of life.
As fellow opinion writer Alan Deidun has written, it is definitely the case of the local council missing the wood for the trees: a total of 37 mature trees are to be compensated by less than half that number on a rooftop garden.
But does nobody understand that education goes beyond teaching in class and the environment the students are surrounded by (and the opportunity this gives for real life lessons in appreciating that environment) also makes a difference to what they learn?
Who knows how many students have memories of playing in that garden and what message does it send to them as adults that their local council (which is normally there to protect residents’ rights) is tearing it apart. What message does this send to our youngsters that green areas make way to buildings at whim? I believe that we have truly lost the plot!
It also reflects badly on the government’s attitude to local councils. They are not being provided with the resources to acquire existing buildings to give their services from. Some, unfortunately, end up turning to government-owned land, even at the cost of open, tree-filled spaces.
Others have tried in vain to retain what remaining undeveloped space there was in the locality.
In my former hometown of Fgura, the local council tried in vain to retain the remnants of the farmhouse originally belonging to the family that gave the town its name. But this green lung bang in the middle of Fgura will be no more with building blocks set to engulf it instead.
ADPD – The Green Party has always supported the struggles of local communities to defend their quality of life against overdevelopment. Economic, environmental and social needs should be addressed in a holistic manner for the common good.
It is time to hold all our representatives to account and put the citizen first above all else.
Unfortunately, the PLPN alternation in power has led to a degradation of common sense. Only Green representatives in parliament will be able to highlight and put a stop to such aberrations as building in gardens.
ADPD Communicatiosn Officer
Published in The Times of Malta – Sunday 26 December 2021