You know that an election is coming when all types of projects and proposals start being announced across the board with very little consideration of the residents’ wants and needs. As one of my ADPD colleagues put it, it is like government MPs sat around a table with their Legos and built something for their constituents’ localities while leaving the common citizen to pick up or trip up on the pieces left lying around.
Grandiose multimillion projects are announced come every election and some have been so pushed from one to the other that they have become a bit of a joke. At the same time, it seems that citizens’ concerns have become secondary – heard, if at all, but certainly ignored. This seems to have happened so far in Marsascala with the marina project, with barely a whimper from PLPN representatives, and the same seems to be happening with the latest announcement about the racing track.
Many localities, often with the support of their local council, have aired their concerns over the years, sometimes seeking central government financial support in order to carry out projects that the council would, otherwise, not be in a position to implement.
Unfortunately, many of these initiatives are tied up to the so-called ‘development’ of green lungs in heavily built-up urban areas that, once lost, will be gone forever.
Although councils have been termed local governments, they are treated more like glorified civil servants in that they do not really have any control as to what happens in their locality but have to simply accept the policies established by the central government. ADPD’s position that the principle of subsidiarity should be entrenched in the constitution would enhance their role.
As a former resident of Fgura, I had followed the battle by the locality to retain the remaining undeveloped space in the centre of the town where the remnants of the farmhouse belonging to the Ficura family that gave the town its name still stand. But not one single cent was available for this to be achieved and the area stands to be engulfed by more building blocks.
In other localities, even well-established public gardens have been taken over by buildings that could have easily been accommodated elsewhere, especially in the existing stock of properties laying vacant ready to be restored.
In Marsascala, we have seen the monstrosity of a building sprouting up literally in the middle of the only decent public garden in the locality, right across from the parish church. To add insult to injury, this is meant for the local council itself.
Moreover, just up the road from this garden, another massive development of a police station (not a tiny one) blocks the view across from the primary school.
I am sure that, in both instances, one could have actively considered purchasing one of the vacant properties around that same area and restore and repurpose it for the required services, without impinging on the little remaining green space within the urban built-up zone.
Even where proper application procedures are being followed, it seems that developers already know when they will not be having any problems with obtaining the relative permits. Hence, why residents’ protests against out-of-place buildings taking place in Għarghur, Kalkara, Pembroke or Żebbuġ – to mention a few examples – seem to be falling onto deaf ears.
Even ‘sacred sites’ such as the Ġgantija Temples, in Xagħra are not spared, with the threat of apartments being constructed very close to them still hanging over them.
Virgin land such as that in Mġarr, Malta has been earmarked to be taken over by a solar farm, exacerbating the flooding problem close to another archaeological site and changing the landscape of the area forever.
I can keep on going on and on but it is a never-ending story where, many a time, the PLPN representatives in parliament act in cahoots – whether overtly or discreetly – to allow such ruin to take place. We have seen this happen once again recently in the approval of residential units in what had previously been assigned as a tourism zone at Ħal Ferħ, with PL representatives approving this change in a 12-minute parliamentary committee session while PN representatives ‘conveniently’ stayed away!
Hence why we need truly Green representatives in parliament to serve as a check and balance on what is happening in this country and salvage what remains of our environment and what makes us truly Maltese.
ADPD General Election Candidate
Published in the Times of Malta – Sunday 10 October 2021