Candidate Responses – Patrick Camilleri

1. What is your stance on the Jerma proposal as it currently stands? Should the LC be asked to vote on this in the future, how would you vote if the residential apartments remain part of the proposal?

There seems to be general consensus that the Jerma building should make way to new development.

I believe in sustainable development where economic growth should be adequately balanced with ample environmental improvement. As proposed, the new establishment such as a hotel and residential units will occupy a much smaller area than the current one. It will therefore be complemented with an adjacent open space which I believe can serve for anyone to enjoy the harmonious balance between nature, modernity and in this case our historical heritage in the area, that is St Thomas Tower with its timely upgraded plaza.

Obviously demolishing and construction should be performed under strict scrutiny to safeguard the residences in the surrounding area. On another note if this development were to materialise it must not be seen in isolation and the benefits that can potentially be reaped with this development can only be fully achieved with a holistic improvement to the whole area.

2. What are your thoughts on the take up of public land to build the Żonqor branch of the AUM? If you had to vote again in the future, would you be in favour of, or against the irreversible destruction of that area of Żonqor?

Rather than leaving it as is, I prefer if the area will be rehabilitated into a dense woodland and populated with indigenous trees. Then again if the area will be used to develop an extension to the AUM, we must not forget that the proposed constructed area has been substantially reduced. Looking at things from a different perspective, in the eventuality that AUM will open an annex in our town one must not neglect that this can serve to brand our locality as a University village with potential attraction of other educational and other business enterprises that may be attracted to the region. If the area were to be developed I prefer to secure the land as a University and accompanying woodland/park with ample cycling, walking and running tracks that connect Marsaskala to Xghajra than anything else.

3. What are your thoughts about excessive development in general in Marsaskala? Our infrastructure is struggling to cope – how will you ensure that Marsaskala remains a residential village for families, as opposed to becoming another Sliema?

The local council seems to have limited say on urban development. There is no magic wand to resolve the issue of population increase except either increase building height or take more virgin land.

In context of the rapid increase in population, one must ensure that newly erected buildings must be complemented with adequate parking bays. One must also not forget that the wellbeing in our community does not stop at the doorstep but continues outside. Thus, the importance to safeguard our heritage and replenish public areas with indigenous trees that can withstand heat, provide shade and shelter for birds and enhance the quality of air. Like other areas we are already experiencing a high building density, but the creation of a ‘green belt’ with a robust presence of trees to demarcate the confines of our locality can be an initiative to start to balance things out.

4. What is your opinion on the preservation and creation of public open spaces in Marsaskala? What do you think about the building of new LC premises in Ġnien Sant’ Anna in the face of residents’ opposition?

The various facets of Marsaskala including the sea, the fishing community, our promenade, commercial outlets, village feast and family park, all compliment to attract crowds of visitors with their cars, with a detriment to the quality of the air. As I reiterated before there is no straightforward solution to urbanisation and while complaints are common, proposed solutions that can help the LC should also be put forward.

Marsaskala and St Thomas bay lie between Żonqor and Munxar, both of which require close attention in their own respect. Again, objectively speaking, in the eventuality that AUM will be set up at Żonqor, the rural area must be conserved and permanently designed to harbour indigenous trees where people and families can go to recreate themselves, read a book, enjoy sunrise and appreciate the unique open views of the Mediterranean Sea. During my walks at Munxar I could not but sadly see that it is inexorably becoming a construction dump site. I am sincerely grateful to see clean-up initiatives organised by residents. Yet, keeping a vigilant eye by setting up more CCTV cameras to limit illegal dumping will help so that the work these people do will not be lost.

In respect to Saint Anne’s garden my impression is that the local council office and civic centre are to complement Saint Anne’s garden which incidentally is also going to be duly upgraded. Then again it is the outcome of the consensus achieved by the members of the exiting LC and I may not have the whole picture to pass judgement.

5. What is your stance on the construction of an ODZ petrol station just opposite the Family Park ?

I prefer not to comment on something for which a decision has already been made.

6. What is your vision for the Sant’Antnin recycling plant once it phased out? What would you wish to have instead of it?

It can become a major project for further regeneration of the South of Malta. I suppose that the area can first be used to extend the limits of the family park adding more indigenous trees as part of the green belt and air enhancement initiative around all of Marsaskala. It can also be complemented by a large underground reservoir to ensure that the park and surroundings remain green all year round. Complementing this I envisage the development of tennis court(s) next to the football grounds. Adding more open green space is always a gain. Yet, if the rest is to be developed differently I imagine that it can include commercial premises and space for an open market, cultural and social events which, accompanied with ample available parking would reduce congestion closer to the sea front.

The area can also serve to provide the much-required building space for the local village feast enthusiasts who play an important role to safeguard local heritage, offer an alternative to the younger generation keeping them away from other vices and allowing the old church at La Sengle street, currently serving as a store and workshop, to be restored to its original beauty. The area can also be complimented with public transportation and bicycles to commute to and from the promenade.

7. Noise disturbance is an increasingly problematic issue. Would you consider fining contractors who disobey basic rules like working outside permitted hours?

While it falls out of LC control, there are specific sound regulations that control how construction work is performed. If these are breached than those involved should be immediately stopped.

8. How will your service as a councillor improve the health of residents?

I quit smoking 16 years ago and been physically active most of my life. We have currently exchanged one of our family cars with a smaller hybrid one and where possible I commute on foot. We consider health and wellbeing as a prerogative and sound investment. When I can, during my early morning runs or walks (depending on my mood) I proudly post photos of our majestic sunrises on social media, so safeguarding clean air and open spaces is very important for me.

As a locality, we must acquire a beneficial holistic mental and physical healthy living approach that includes everyone. Wherever possible we should also tap and incentivise the talent in our locality to step forward and help the LC achieve such initiatives through open-air training sessions which besides giving more value to our open spaces, will also blur further the delineation between the LC and residents. We must ensure support to local talent, incentivising residents to step forward with initiatives to back existing sports clubs including the boċċi club. Curating talks by professionals in our village, organising country walks and astronomy evenings will not only cater for the joy of knowledge and mental wellbeing but it can also (hopefully) safeguard the beauty of our locality better through the apprehended appreciation that will ensue.

9. Transport such as cycling have thus far been actively discouraged (e.g. removal of the cycle lane along Triq is-Salini). Will you actively encourage cycling and walking in Marsaskala? How?

There is a difference between wishful thinking and reality and a difference between what one can promise and what can be achieved. I am not in favour of the removal of the cycle lane in Triq is-Salini, then again it lacked continuity. If it were for me we will have a whole network of cycle lanes that will connect the whole island but space and road width are what they are.

We also have a problem with cars that is not easily tackled especially because for most of the population, cars are an extension of the body. I prefer that if this is to be taken seriously then we must be proactive and come up with tangible solutions. Putting back the limited cycle lane on Triq is-Salini will not resolve the issue of alternative transport. Rather it will squeeze ensuing parking in the surrounding streets which are already packed with cars and increase frustration among residents.

One must also not forget the topography of our locality. Most of Malta is hilly and not everyone is apt to commute on foot with children, shopping and shopping bags in any weather especially hot weather which is prevalent for us. Power assisted bicycles will surely help but again there are various facets to the issue such as social, economic, cultural and other that must be considered if we are to act holistically for all the forms that sustainable development can enact. Adding bicycle parking spaces, and connecting Żonqor to Xgħajra with foot paths and cycle lanes will be a good start. But soliciting for a serious discussion of a well-set local and social plan with interested parties is important to foster a greener mentality in both the adult and rising generation

10. Do you think there is a problem with rubbish and dog litter in Marsaskala? What do you plan to do about it?

Yes, there is. It is not the first time that I caught on camera people in front of my house who pick up dog litter with one hand and immediately throw it away in a plastic bag with the other hand. Then there are also a very few others who draw a blind eye while their pet is doing its job. The waterfront on Triq is-Salini is also frequently marked with ‘skid marks’. Then again it is not the first time that, while commuting I stop and thank the many responsible people who pick their dog litter and dispose of it properly

Increasing litter bins with well-planned times for litter collection in various areas helps, but I believe that, where proof of broken rules is tangible, fines should be issued.

11. Will you be willing to speak to restaurant owners and require a bin outside their premises?

Albeit that this is not in the LCs remit, we all know that lack of hygiene pushes crowds away. It is therefore in the interest of restaurant owners to have surroundings clean. Thus, where required bins should be added and rubbish collection should become more frequent especially in summer and during weekends. Also, restaurant owners should at least be encouraged to separate rubbish at source inside their premises.

12. What effective enforcement strategies would you put in place for those who do not follow rules?

Anyone who does not abide to the rules should be held responsible and face consequences as dictated by the law.

13. Currently, groups of residents are only allowed to speak at local council meetings once a year. Will you consider the possibility of engaging more publicly with groups of citizens during local council meetings once in office? How would you do this?

As a new candidate, there are things that I still have to learn. But, as can be observed, even from this questionnaire and the initiative to share on social media I form part of a community that can think, reason out and that I believe can possibly and constructively liaise to suggest solutions. So, if it can be done, then yes especially with those who are capable of formulating awareness, suggest and discuss outcomes.

14. Will you make an effort to regularly notify citizens of important council matters via the (thus far) rarely updated website, official Facebook page, and any other means?

The fact that most of us are digital citizens and are capable to reach out through our screens anywhere at any time has allowed me to thoroughly base my campaign through social media. The number of thriving pages on Facebook Social on Marsaskala are in themselves proof on how strong social media is. I will see that the website like other social media pages will appropriately serve its purpose.

15. Give me one good reason why you deserve the vote and the trust of the residents of Marsaskala

It irks me when I read comments by certain members of the community who try to threat prospective candidates with their vote. I believe that, like me, those who decide to run for local council do it because they have their locality at heart. Thus, there is no other reason for running for local council except for what I think I can give when it comes to the wellbeing of my town. I am sincere, transparent and straight to the point but always ready to learn. At this point in time, being new to the council and political mechanisms, what I believe is not achievable I cannot promise, else I will be lying. Hopefully I will contribute to make Marsaskala a better place for everyone.

I understand that I can never see the whole picture on my own and constantly testing the waters helps. So, I will always be open to suggestions and more so to solutions.

16. If you were granted three personal wishes for Marsaskala – no limits, everything is possible. What would those wishes be? What is your vision for Marsaskala?

a. Firstly I wish that parking problems will become something of the past. Hopefully I will live to see less parking problems with less cars, more parking spaces and better use of alternative modes of transportation.

b. Secondly, I wish that when I look on both sides of our bay, Jerma or not, AUM or not, my view would also be limited by woodlands. There are many beautiful seaside locations all over Europe where a healthy balance has been achieved between the environment and urbanisation. This can also be enhanced if more roof owners make best use of their space with roof gardens like I did at home.

c. Thirdly if we intend to safeguard land then buildings will inexorably get higher. I do not believe that there is a law that safeguards solar rights but if someone invested precious savings in PV systems and solar water heaters and eventually ends up in perennial shade because of adjoining high-rise buildings, then developers should be held responsible to provide space on their roofs where shadowed alternative energy systems can be installed.

17. What result do you want to achieve, if elected for the coming five years for Marsaskala residents?

Again, I prefer to use ‘wish’ and not ‘want’. I may want the non-attainable but as a council we can always aim to see that what one wishes becomes true.

I hope that we will be able to conserve what we have and make other things better. Apart from the fact that conserving what has already been done is a handful there is much more that can be achieved on social, economic and environment levels. I hope that in the end Marsaskala will become greener and a living example of balanced sustainable development. We can pledge for more trees even by adopting mature ones that are inexorably being uprooted to make way for new development elsewhere. Ultimately, I hope that I can feast my eyes on more wooded open spaces that can be used to facilitate the organisation of various local social activities that intentionally can include all of the community.

I want to safeguard and enhance what makes us Maltese and incentivise local village feast organisers to work in better conditions.

I will also work to conserve our historical heritage. A lot has been done but I am sure there is always more to do.

We must also protect our sea and find a viable solution for the fish farms which though economically important are detrimental to the achievement of a cleaner sea and wellbeing.

As an educator I look forward to enhance residents’ awareness and appreciation towards our locality make cleanliness a social responsibility.

18. What can we hold you accountable for?

Sincerity and transparency. My experience may be limited but, in my intervention, I tried to be as realistic and practical as possible.
I intend to talk less so I can hear more what residents will have to suggest.
The rest will hopefully follow once I can see a better picture of the outside from inside the council.

Local Council elections – getting to grips with the Single Transferable Vote

As Marsaskala grows, so does the proportion of non-Maltese residents who might not be familiar with the voting system in Malta. Young Maltese residents voting for the first time (any 16 year old readers out there?) might also be new to the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system, one of the fairest forms of proportional representation in the world. STV gives voters a choice among individual candidates, rather than political parties. It does this by asking voters to rank their preferences for various candidates, so that each vote contributes to the election of one of the voter’s choices irrespective of party lines. Only two countries – Malta and Ireland – use STV for national elections, although a few others use it for regional or local elections as well. But how does it work?

How does the single transferable vote system work?

In 2019, Marsaskala Local Council (LC) has nine seats up for election, and this year there are 11 candidates from across three parties. On the 25th May, voters are provided with a ballot list of candidates at the election booth. They can mark their favourite candidate as number one, their second favourite number two, and so on. Voters can put numbers next to as many or as few candidates as they like. The numbers tell the people counting to move your vote if your favourite candidate has enough votes already or stands no chance of winning.

Draft ballot paper with the list of local council candidates.

Voters can choose to mark just one box with ‘1’ next to their favourite candidate. Alternatively – and this is the beauty of the STV system – they can choose to number all boxes from 1 to 11, or anything in between (e.g. marking only 1 to 3, leaving the rest of the boxes empty) thereby ranking the candidates in their preferred order. The important thing to remember here is that political parties don’t matter – only the individual candidate’s abilities matter. Marsaskala Community and Friends has asked all candidates to reply to a list of questions dealing with local issues – hopefully some of you will use these replies to make an informed decision.

How votes are counted

To get elected, a candidate needs a set amount of votes, known as the quota.
The quota is calculated based on the number of empty seats and the number of votes cast. In 2013, the quota for Marsaskala was 720. Given that the number of seats has remained the same (9 seats) but the population of M’Skala has increased, the quota for this election is likely to be higher.

Marsaskala LC election results, 2013

Each voter has one vote. Once the counting has finished, any candidate who has more number ones than the quota is elected. But, rather than ignore extra votes a candidate received after the amount they need to win, these votes move to each voter’s second favourite candidate (this is why four of the councillors have a negative number (in red) in the image above: they were elected, and their ‘extra’ votes transferred to somebody else. If no one reaches the quota, then the people counting the vote remove the least popular candidate. People who voted for them have their votes moved to their second favourite candidate. This process continues until every seat is filled.

How should I vote?

Well, that’s entirely up to you, of course. Start by writing the number 1 next to your preferred candidate, and if you like, go on with the other numbers in the remaining boxes. As mentioned earlier, you can mark just a single vote (1), or put in the top 3, top 5, or rank all candidates from 1 to 11. Your choices will have significant repercussions, particularly if you keep to the spirit of the STV system and vote for the candidates, rather than for a particular party.

Be sure to write numbers like 1, 2, 4 and 7 clearly. If a number is not clearly written, there won’t be an impromptu debate in the counting hall on whether that’s a 1 or a 7; your vote will be considered invalid. Check out this article for examples of errors that might nullify your vote.

And that’s it….

Still confused? If you found the explanation a bit complicated (and even if you found it intuitive but you really like animals) you might find this video helpful.

Lastly, remember to take your voting document with you! No document, no vote.

Sources: https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/voting-systems/types-of-voting-system/single-transferable-vote/ and https://www.um.edu.mt/projects/maltaelections/stvsystem

[P.S. A longer version of the ‘Voting in the animal kingdom’ video is available here.]

Candidate Responses – Janice Falzon

Development

1. What is your stance on the Jerma proposal as it currently stands?
Should the LC be asked to vote on this in the future, how would you vote if the residential apartments remain part of the proposal?


For sure, I agree that the derelict building standing there for these past 10 years should be removed.

Regarding the Jerma proposal there are a number of subjective perceptions with regards to the development in question. Marsascala is not highlighted as a strategic location for high-rise buildings according the SMLP (South Malta Local Plan) and this is because it is placed as a locality for the holiday industry rather than major tourist accommodation.

I think one has to level out the options, way back other proposals were brought forward; some of them included development on the footprint occupied by the derelict hotel, circa 15,000sqm, to be again built keeping medium-high rise (10 storeys or less) but fewer open public spaces, or the newly proposed development of circa 7,000sqm footprint, rising 13 to 15 storeys with a larger area for public open spaces.

The Development Brief for the Jerma Palace, states that;

“The site currently occupied by the Jerma Palace Hotel site should be mainly used for tourist accommodation in view of the strategic location of the site for such purposes. However, a comprehensive development of the site, including residential and commercial uses, may be considered provided this forms part of a Development Brief for the area.”

If anything as a community, we should opt for the best sustainable project as to not witness another ruin in Marsaskala while also balancing open spaces in line with the development. Therefore, mixed development is a wiser option for a sustainable hotel as long as it does not compromise the footprint and height. Nonetheless, opting for a project that would provide for the local heritage in the vicinity i.e. St. Thomas Tower.

2. What are your thoughts on the take-up of public land to build the Żonqor branch of the AUM? If you had to vote again in the future, would you be in favour of, or against the irreversible destruction of that area of Żonqor?

When it comes to the AUM the residents complaints and objections were, at a certain point, heard and thus the area earmarked for development was reduced by 2/3 and another 40,000m2 were added to the Inwadar National Park, of which 30,000m2 were within development zone, an area previously earmarked for development and is now declared ODZ. This process is still at an early stage. Thus, one as to see how things will develop in the near future. But personally I do not agree with the development.


3. What are your thoughts about excessive development in general in Marsaskala? Our infrastructure is struggling to cope – how will you ensure that Marsaskala remains a residential village for families, as opposed to becoming another Sliema?

My vision is that in our locality, Marsaskala, we create an element of balance to the benefit of residents and entrepreneurs. Marsaskala has gone through a huge change, whereby the economy grew, construction exploded and there was a drastic raise in population. However, we must not forget our environment, and the virgin land we still have. An example of what I have in mind is Urban Greening; for instance the Local Council can insist that when there is an application for a development project of a certain size, developers need to be obliged to include green infrastructure for example Green walls and green roofs in their project. Thus, this way we are creating a balance in development zones and this would benefit the community and the entrepreneur through improved Energy Performance.

4. What is your opinion on the preservation and creation of public open spaces in Marsaskala? What do you think about the building of new LC premises in Ġnien Sant’ Anna in the face of residents’ opposition?

I was not keen on the land chosen for the Local Council Offices i.e. Gnien Sant’Anna, in my opinion it would have been more ideal to restore to glory one of our oldest buildings. Concerning preservation of open spaces, I am adamant to give importance and raise awareness on the Inwadar National Park, to make it more accessible and visited by our families and tourists. This way people and residents would appreciate the beauty of its nature.

I will also work towards identifying land, which is to no use to be transformed into a Community Garden.

I also want to boost the conservation of our fortifications, which need to be maintained and embellished more often in order to be appreciated by the public. This improvement should be strengthened by organizing activities to charm residents and tourists such as fire shows on the Sea, boat racing and ġostra.

5. What is your stance on the construction of an ODZ petrol station just opposite the Family Park?

It would have been more appropriate for the application for a petrol station to be built within a development zone, if truly needed, and not use virgin land, whilst also choosing a location further away from housing estates.

6. What is your vision for the Sant’Antnin recycling plant once it is phased out? What would you wish to have instead of it?

Ideally it would be nice to be extended with the family park and we can endeavour to further implement more Animal Friendly measures such as (a) A larger and more equipped Dog Park for the amount of dogs that are part of families in Marsascala; (B) A Dog Day Care equipped to residents advantage; (C) Cat shelters an initiative that has been grasped by many local councils around Malta including Pieta, San Gwann, Ta’ Qali, Pembroke, Zabbar and more; (D) Cat Café (E) More projects of Afforestation.

On the 20th April 2019 The Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Welfare has set up a €120,000 fund with the aim of promoting initiatives and projects in favour of stray animals including the setting up of Dog Parks and Cat Cafes in the various localities around Malta and Gozo.

7. Noise disturbance is an increasingly problematic issue. Would you consider fining contractors who disobey basic rules like working outside permitted hours?

Laws are there to be enforced. The scope of the Local Council is to see that the community prospers and improve the quality of life. This will not be achieved without the interest being expressed by the business community. However, this cannot be done at the expense of the residents.

8. How will your service as a councillor improve the health of residents?

As maybe you are aware I have already involved the local council in a greening the community scheme. Through this scheme we are promoting more trees to be planted, greener spaces, potted shrubs and urban greening in general. I work at the Ministry for the Environment and I am a mother so obviously I will commit myself to safeguard our environment and promote clean ups and raise awareness on electric cars and the promotion of bicycle lanes.

9. Parking is increasingly a problem, yet measures to promote active means of transport such as cycling have thus far been actively discouraged (e.g. removal of the cycle lane along Triq is-Salini). Will you actively encourage cycling and walking in Marsaskala? How?

It comes naturally to want to walk if you have a pleasant Environment around you and more areas that are pedestrian. Less usage of our cars leads to better air quality and less hassle on trying to find a suitable parking.

Environment and litter

1. Do you think there is a problem with rubbish and dog litter in Marsaskala? What do you plan to do about it?

Monitoring through surveillance cameras and through enforcement. Installing more dog litter bins and study the possibility of better ways to enhance the waste management system in Marsaskala, maybe we can also consider allocating a waste disposal site for those residents who cannot adhere to the schedule provided due to shift work commitments.

The local council should commit to a clean up schedule involving all local voluntary and non-voluntary organisations to raise more awareness on littering and waste. These can also be accompanied by small workshops to promote more awareness. Some of the organisations that come to mind are; Marsaskala Girl Guides, St. Anne Band Club, Ghaqda Armar tal-Festa Sant’Anna, Youths Marsaskala, PLYG M’Skala, Marsaskala F.C., Marsaskala Water Polo and more.

Ultimately, waste and littering does not come alone in our community but it is solely the responsibility of our civilians to be more aware and educated in order for better systems to work.

2. Will you be willing to speak to restaurant owners and require a bin outside their premises?

I am aware that some restaurant owners have already reached out to have some sort of adequate recycling method/bins that works for their amounts and type of waste. Thus, we have to keep in mind that having large skips/bins in front of restaurants might be an eyesore for tourists and residents, notwithstanding the smell.

I will commit myself to find a suitable solution to this and even encourage developers to include a garbage room to reduce the rubbish bins lying on the pavements and cats eating through the bags leading to residue and filth being left in front of our doors and this also in view of Chapter 549 – Environment Protection Act, L.N. 296 of 2018 clearly states; “Owner or occupier of commercial premises to provide bins in public place.”

9. Government or the Local Council, according to jurisdiction, may require, in writing, the owner, contractor, legal representative, occupier or licence holder of a commercial establishments to provide, at the expense of the owner, legal representative, occupier or licence holder and within such period as may be specified in the notice, for bins or other convenient receptacles, which shall conform to such specifications as Government may require, to be placed in appropriate locations within the premises of the commercial establishment, or on the street or in a public place in the vicinity of the premises, for the deposit of refuse and litter: Provided that the Minister shall, from time to time, and after consultation with representatives of the commercial sector, issue a list of selected categories of commercial establishments which may be required to place such bins or receptacles on the street or in a public place.”.

3. What effective enforcement strategies would you put in place for those who do not follow rules?

There is already a task force in place regulated by ERA and LESA, which have the leeway to fine persons, who do not follow waste management schedules, which I will collaborate with on hotspots.

Citizen Involvement

1. Currently, groups of residents are only allowed to speak at local council meetings once a year. Will you consider the possibility of engaging more publicly with groups of citizens during local council meetings once in office? How would you do this?

It is my aspiration to have a Council, which is close to the residents and for the residents. It is important that the Local Council maintain contact with residents to hear complaints and suggestions. I will make it a priority to make myself available in every activity organized by the Community’s organizations and consider a quarterly review rather than once a year. Thus, I am more interested in widening the community participation relatively then they just speak.  

2. Will you make an effort to regularly notify citizens of important council matters via the (thus far) rarely updated website, official FaceBook page, and any other means?
 
Yes. Should I be a part of the council it means the residents have granted me with their trust, thus I strongly believe that our followers and residents have a right to know what is being debated for their community. So I will make the effort and I will also keep updating my personal page in order to be hands on with who wishes to contact me directly. I would also suggest a platform or application where regular updates of things concerning the community would be updated.

Generic

1. Give me one good reason why you deserve the vote and the trust of the residents of Marsaskala.

I was born and raised in Marsaskala and it has been my hometown for the past 29 years. I am particularly in love with our bay, St Thomas Bay and thus want the best for our locality. I want my daughter to have a wonderful childhood here like I myself had and want to prosper her in loving the Environment and the outdoors and not fixated to electronic devices and the only way I can safeguard this for her is to be in a position to vote for what is best for Marsaskala.

2. If you were granted three personal wishes for Marsaskala – no limits, everything is possible. What would those wishes be? What is your vision for Marsaskala?

o Hot Air Balloons (similar to Cappadocia, Turkey) – Marsaskala is a popular tourist destination, as it has many areas with unique historic features, caves, sea and valleys one can see.

o Horse Riding around the Munxar coast

o An adequate, fully controlled, equipped, energy efficient and self-sustainable Camping Site, thus also promoting ecotourism, with wooden huts with solar panels, which would not be an eyesore for the locality.

3. What result do you want to achieve, if elected for the coming five years for Marsaskala residents?

If the result will get me to be a part of the local council I would like to achieve a greener and better Marsaskala by safeguarding our Environment and promoting ecotourism wherever and whenever it is possible.

4. What can we hold you accountable for?

Community Activism

Candidate Responses – Daniel Desira

Development

1. What is your stance on the Jerma proposal as it currently stands? Should the LC be asked to vote on this in the future, how would you vote if the residential apartments remain part of the proposal?

There is a consensus that the hotel ruins should be demolished. However, as I have previously written, the proposed 15-storey building would further degrade the view from the nearby Saint Thomas Tower and deteriorate the parking situation. A hotel within the current height of 5 storeys would be a less harmful option, but the developers are obviously not very keen on negotiating about heights. Moreover, authorities have been dragging their feet for too long to order for demolition, which should not turn into an excuse for the proposed monster. The most realistic and positive option is to turn it into an outdoor space. Furthermore, the acquirement of land surrounding the tower including part of the road, should be remedied. While it is true that the hotel has had an important economic contribution in the past, we need to look forward and propose incentives for eco, agro and cultural tourism in Marsaskala.

2. What are your thoughts on the takeup of public land to build the Żonqor branch of the AUM? If you had to vote again in the future, would you be in favour of, or against the irreversible destruction of that area of Żonqor?

I would vote against as Zonqor should remain a natural park. The land transferred to Sadeen should be returned back into public hands in order to assure this, as well as promoting Inwadar Natural Park as an open space where families may enjoy nature.

3. What are your thoughts about excessive development in general in Marsaskala? Our infrastructure is struggling to cope – how will you ensure that Marsaskala remains a residential village for families, as opposed to becoming another Sliema?

Unfortunately, the LC only has a vote upon development requiring an EIA. If elected, I would vote against large developments which do not respect Marsaskala’s social and environmental character, taking gentrification, height and environmental impacts into account. I would also make it a point to protect old buildings from demolition. The council should also oppose any attempts to increase the height of the local plan should this be brought up by the central government.

4. What is your opinion on the preservation and creation of public open spaces in Marsaskala? What do you think about the building of new LC premises in Ġnien Sant’ Anna in the face of residents’ opposition?

Marsaskala has the blessings of Munxar and Zonqor on its boundaries. Yet, Inwadar Natural Park which was promised years back is still on the drawing board and the council has shamefully voted for the development of a private “University” in Zonqor which would diminish the original plan for the park. As mentioned earlier, I would push for Jerma to be demolished and turned into a public space which may be used for cultural activities and recreation. Regarding Saint Anne’s garden, it is one of the few spaces within the community for children to play and it would be a pity for the new council office to built inside it. I propose that a vacant building is refurbished and used as an alternate space for the new offices while catering attentively to accessibility.

5. What is your stance on the construction of an ODZ petrol station just opposite the Family Park

Completely against. First of all, ODZ (Outside Development Zone) is ODZ and it will be useless once more vehicles in circulation are electric.

6. What is your vision for the Sant’Antnin recycling plant once it it phased out? What would you wish to have instead of it?

I would like to see multi-storey parking at the place, together with a rent-a-bike and/or park-and-ride schemes. Of course this would require more funding from central government. It would also make sense to build a centre which may be used as a meeting place for voluntary organisations.

7. Noise disturbance is an increasingly problematic issue. Would you consider fining contractors who disobey basic rules like working outside permitted hours?

LCs cannot fine over noise pollution. However, this it is regulated by law as follows:

Should I notice any breach or be informed by residents, as a representative, I would inform the police and the Planning Authority for enforcement.

8. How will your service as a councillor improve the health of residents?

As mentioned below, if elected, I will work to encourage walking and cycling and thus promoting more exercise. I would also work with sport organisations to promote the take up of sports especially among youths. Protecting existing and creating new open spaces, together with the introduction of community gardening, would also lead to an improvement on both physical and mental health of residents. On another note, I would also work to maintain Marsaskala’s open gyms and the swimming facilities. Moreover, the LC should push for the relocation of fish farms and oppose additional cages in order to diminish sea pollution.

9. Parking is increasingly a problem, yet measures to promote active means of transport such as cycling have thus far been actively discouraged (e.g. removal of the cycle lane along Triq is-Salini). Will you actively encourage cycling and walking in Marsaskala? How?

I like the way you have framed this question, as policies aiming towards the reduction of cars from our streets are the way forward. I would push to reclaim the cycling path along the coast and add more cycling racks. Moreover, I would also propose to connect Xaghjra and Marsaskala through a cycling path in Inwadar. I would also make proposals for pedestrianisation of the center to Transport Malta, which is likely to result in more revenue for restaurants as more people would be walking by. In addition, I would push for better public transport. It is quite puzzling that people are nowadays almost required to have a car with the expenses that come with it, due to the ineffeciency of public transport.

If elected, I will also come up with initiatives like a farmers’ market or outdoor art exhibitions, practiced in other localities, which would at least provide an experience of pedestrianisation at least a few times a year.

My agenda also includes measures for safer roads through the proposal of tighter speed limits and sleeping policemen in roads prone to accidents and areas frequented by children.

Litter

1. Do you think there is a problem with rubbish and dog litter in Marsaskala? What do you plan to do about it?

Definitely. I would liase with the respective enforcement authorities as well as push for the introduction of ibins, which as in other localities, would send out a notification for collection when full.

I would also propose that the local council informs residents about collection times more often and in multiple languages.

2. Will you be willing to speak to restaurant owners and require a bin outside their premises?

Unfortunately, enforcement does not fall directly under the remit of local councils. However, the council may call for more frequent collection and having bins designated for restaurants.

3. What effective enforcement strategies would you put in place for those who do not follow rules?

As already mentioned in my reply above, I would cooperate with the respective authorities in order to better deal with littering and dumping.

Citizen involvement

1. Currently, groups of residents are only allowed to speak at local council meetings once a year. Will you consider the possibility of engaging more publicly with groups of citizens during local council meetings once in office? How would you do this?

First of all, given Marsaskala is now host to a number of non-Maltese residents, I would stress that minutes from council meetings should be made available in English so as to enable all residents to follow. Similar arrangements should also be explored for the Annual Locality Meeting.

I would also be working to restart subcommittees and enable residents to take part by making sure that meetings are held at times when more people would be able to attend.

2. Will you make an effort to regularly notify citizens of important council matters via the (thus far) rarely updated website, official FaceBook page, and any other means?

If entrusted to office, I will make it a point to communicate important information to residents through every means possible, even by personal contacts. I would also work with more organisations around Marsaskala, helping them promote their activities through the council’s media.

Generic

1. Give me one good reason why you deserve the vote and the trust of the residents of Marsaskala

Coming from civil society and having the best interest of Marsaskala at heart. I have been active in several voluntary organisations related to the environment and social causes.

To name a recent example, I was the only new candidate present for the LC meeting (open to residents) where issuing a PR was discussed and adopted. If entrusted with your vote, I will be a firmer voice for Marsaskala as an elected official and will also keep taking part and/or leading in civil society initiatives.

I am also ready to listen to any Marsaskala resident’s concerns or ideas and act accordingly. Your voice matters.

In other words, by voting for me, you would be voting for one among you.

2. If you were granted three personal wishes for Marsaskala – no limits, everything is possible. What would those wishes be? What is your vision for Marsaskala?
a) Make Marsaskala more inclusive and help promote active citizenship. Supporting and devising initiatives aimed at improving literacy and courses to learn languages or new skills.

b) Make Marsaskala the perfect place for families with children by promoting and organising activities, as well as better city planning.

c) Make Marsaskala greener and more sustainable. Planting more endemic trees, protecting and creating open spaces.

3. What result do you want to achieve, if elected for the coming five years for Marsaskala residents?

I want to organise new yearly events including a swap shop and a farmers’ market, plant more trees, install cat feeders and shelters and make Marsaskala feel more inclusive, more sustainable and healthier in a general sense. Another one of my proposals, would be to come up with and support initiatives promoting the town’s historic and natural assets, in collaboration with resident organisations and surrounding councils like those of Zabbar and Zejtun. I would also push for the maintenance of infrastructure and firmly stand to keep Marsaskala the quiet and beautiful village I have known since my early childhood.

4. What can we hold you accountable for?

Like I have already pointed out above, I come from civil society and this is the first time I am even contesting an election.

When in University, I was involved in the sub committee of a student association, ICTSA, where I was assigned a major role in a stand for Science in the City, which has attracted many visitors.

Later, I have entered the environmental movement, starting with campaign to ban spring hunting and have then been on the executive board of Y4TE, an NGO focused on raising awareness among young people, for a few months. This experience has taught me a lot about digital marketing.

I have also dedicated some of my time to social causes. A few years ago, I was active in one of Third World’s projects where I have encountered vulnerable children coming from harsh backgrounds. Such an experience has helped me realise and learn about the realities still in Malta today.

Together with a handful other residents, I have also organised a couple of cleanups over the past 2 years, and as stated earlier have also contributed to our beautiful village in other instances.

If given your trust, I would be a voice in favour of environmental sustainability and social justice within the limits of the local council.

Candidate Responses – Ryan Portelli

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Development

  1. What is your stance on the Jerma proposal as it currently stands? Should the LC be asked to vote on this in the future, how would you vote if the residential apartments remain part of the proposal?

    It is the local council’s (hereinafter referred to as the “LC”) duty to duly inform the Community of Marsascala (hereinafter referred to as the “Community”) about the advantages and disadvantages of the development, especially considering that here we are speaking about a very large-scale project. In light of the aforesaid therefore, my primary suggestion to the LC would be that of creating a mechanism in order to facilitate communication with residents (for example, through a suggestion box and/or via social media) to ascertain that the resident’s views and wishes are always kept at the heart of all discussions and more importantly, at the core of each and every decision made in this regard. This would serve as the most relevant guideline for both the private developers and the LC (in representation of the community), to achieve the best possible outcome i.e. that of designing the project in such a way that the natural flora in general and the residents’ interests are safeguarded.

    On a personal level, I am in favour of having a commercial and touristic resort. I believe that Marsascala longs for such a type of activity. A negative consequence brought about by the non-operative Jerma Palace Hotel is that for the past years we have been witnessing a lack of dynamic and losing out on tourist potential of our locality. Thus, it is time that as representatives of the Community, the LC should collectively and actively strive to address this shortcoming in our locality.

    On the other hand, I am strongly against the development of residential apartments because in my opinion, the main issue for residents living in the Siberja area (hereinafter referred to as the “Area”) is being bypassed completely. During an Annual General Meeting when the public had the chance to meet the developers and raise its concerns, I had put forward the suggestion that the complex should provide adequate parking spaces most of which will be reserved for the residents of the Area so as to compensate for the lost parking spaces in the streets due to an increased number families inhabiting in the Area. We need to strike a balance between private commercial interests, and the interests of the local community.

    Should the majority of the local council members are granted another vote, and the majority vote in favour of this project as it is being proposed, I would strongly insist that the private developers and the LC enter into contractual agreement, wherein it would be stipulated that basic rights such as access to the sea and all public spaces are granted to the Community. Moreover, the private developer shall be contractually-bound to duly complete the public spaces around St. Thomas Tower by a stipulated date and in case of default, a penalty will be imposed on the said private developer.

  2. What are your thoughts on the takeup of public land to build the Żonqor branch of the AUM? If you had to vote again in the future, would you be in favour of, or against the irreversible destruction of that area of Żonqor?

    I categorically object to such a project where a large area of land with such a huge environmental potential would be destructed.

  3. What are your thoughts about excessive development in general in Marsaskala? Our infrastructure is struggling to cope – how will you ensure that Marsaskala remains a residential village for families, as opposed to becoming another Sliema?

    Since there is little control over private developments, the LC must at least monitor the developments’ heights and make sure that the local plans are adhered to. The LC must ensure that if the government brings to a discussion the possibility of raising the height limitations, it will oppose to such a proposal. The LC is obliged to tackle such

  4. What is your stance on the construction of an ODZ petrol station just opposite the Family Park?

    I am against the construction of a petrol station primarily because same is in an ODZ area. Moreover, I believe that such a project does not correspond to and address the locality’s present needs (especially when considering that there are five petrol stations within five minutes of Marsascala). While acknowledging the importance of petrol stations during our daily and economic life, we need to bear in mind that same may be regarded as a threat to the surrounding media i.e. the surrounding land (including the soil and any living organisms inhabiting therein) as well as users (i.e. particularly those individuals living close to the area and families visiting the Family Park). Research on this subject-matter clearly demonstrates that petrol stations are a source of soil, air and noise pollution. In turn, these may lead to very serious health and environmental issues. Due to the gravity of the risks imposed by virtue of this project, I believe that go-ahead cannot be granted in this respect.

    When dealing with particularly complex proposals as this, I believe that the LC should also carry out its own research and also, seek guidance from independent and impartial professionals and/or authorities on the subject prior to taking a position. Such decision-making should be fact-based and not politically oriented.

  5. What is your vision for the Sant’Antnin recycling plant once it is phased out? What would you wish to have instead of it?

    The present LC and voluntary organisations state that there is a lack of space for operating their duties. I believe that this could be one of the alternative solutions that I have mentioned in question four above.

    Given that here we are speaking about a very large area of available land, we will also have the opportunity to explore the possibility of embarking on an afforestation project.

    Something else that I envisage to have in the area under discussion is a cultural and social hub for local voluntary organisations. I believe this is lacking in our community and would like to give such organisations the space wherein civillians may cultivate their talents and work for the local community at large.

    The Sant’ Antnin area is a potential for the creation of a green sustainable communal-oriented hub. This means that it could also consist of the provision of a park-and ride facility, in which visitors (nonMarsascala residents) will be able to park their car and make us of a shuttle-service which will take them to the centre of Marsaskala.

    This would give us the opportunity to give back the parking spaces to the residents, by adopting a system in which only residents are allowed to park in the centre of Marsaskala; by using a system just like Valletta’s parking strategy. This strategy would keep cars from entering the village core, provide a good service to the visitors, and provide adequate parking facilities to the residents.

  6. Noise disturbance is an increasingly problematic issue. Would you consider fining contractors who disobey basic rules like working outside permitted hours?

    Firstly, I will do whatever is needed to limit noise disturbance as provided under the Maltese Code of Police Laws and any other relevant regulation. Moreover, in the event that any person who ever s/he may be, exceeds the rights granted to him/her by virtue of the law in this regard, then I would take the necessary actions to ensure public peace.

  7. How will your service as a councillor improve the health of residents?

    In addition to what I stated in previous questions, I believe that in order to promote a healthier lifestyle for citizens, we need to focus more on youths and sports. We need to establish fresher ideas and incentives to attract more children as well as youths to increase physical activity, sportsmanship and activism in general.

    Should I be granted the opportunity to serve in the LC, I would definitely work with national sport organisations and collaborate with same in order to organise sport activities for the community at large.

    Improving the quality of the air surrounding us is also vital. We need to look into the idea of carrying out infrastructural changes to the landscaping so as to plant more trees and bushes. Another issue which was not given its merited attention is the fact that the bicycle lane along parts of the promenade was removed to increase parking. While I do understand the rationale underlying such a decision, I believe that the parking issues should be addressed by adopting more permanent measures. One of my proposals would be that of re-introducing the cycle lane back to the promenade from Jerma to Zonqor and change the time of parking so that during the weekend (particularly in the evening), there will still be parking spaces available.

    I would also look into the possibility in collaborating with Inspire to offer residents the incentive (and also attract new guests), to use their facilities with a reduced price.

    We have a good number of elderly in our community. I would work with related organisations in promoting healthy lifestyles by organizing informative sessions and discussions on various topics of interest to this age group.

  8. Parking is increasingly a problem, yet measures to promote active means of transport such as cycling have thus far been actively discouraged. What are your thoughts about this?

    Further to the ideas provided in my answers above, as many touristic localities in Malta, I would also like to introduce the Rent-a-Bike facilities. There is no shame in adapting positive strategies which have already been tried and tested in other localities and establish same in our locality.

    Furthermore, we also need to encourage the use of public transport by educating the public about the positive outcomes of such usage and organising discussion-meetings (especially for students and the elderly citizens) in order to clarify any possible misconceptions and hear out concerns that civilians might have.

    Environment and litter

  9. Do you think there is a problem with rubbish and dog litter in Marsaskala? What do you plan to do about it?

    We definitely need more dog litter bins around our locality, not just the promenade. We also need to promote the family park facilities close by since it is more adequate for dogs. Having said that I understand that if not continuously taken care of, such an area may be a source of infection and disease for our pets. Consequently, it is the LC’s duty to ascertain that pet areas are cleaned and treated properly on a regular basis.

    With reference to domestic waste, in my opinion the LC had every chance promote the new collection days and times by distributing literature in households and via social media. I believe that such campaigning should remain constant. Enforcement should commence with immediate effect and the LC must cooperate with the authorities to fine whoever breaks the law. In this regard, the LC members must work together as one and avoid exonerating persons from the aforementioned fines (as a political favour).

    The local council can also work with the authorities such as the Cleansing Authority, to clear major rubbish from our locality. Some voluntary organisations organize cleanups around the year. The local council needs to endorse these organisations and promote their work, in order to engage more people in working for the benefit of this community.

  10. Will you be willing to speak to restaurant owners and require a bin outside their premises?

    The collection of rubbish from restaurants must essentially be more efficient. I would suggest increasing the frequency of rubbish collection, especially during the weekends. The promenade can also have designated areas in which the restaurants have their rubbish gathered together in such a way that the aesthetic impact of same on the surroundings will be kept at a minimum.

  11. What effective enforcement strategies would you put in place for those who do not follow rules?

    I will work thoroughly with the enforcement authority to firstly educate when needed and fine if and whenever deemed necessary. I will give priority to enforce environmental laws and construction laws.

    Citizen Involvement

  12. Currently, groups of residents are only allowed to speak at local council meetings once a year. Will you consider the possibility of engaging more publicly with groups of citizens during local council meetings once in office? How would you do this?

    In the past, LC members had sub-committees to consult on different topics. It is of utmost importance to not only restart these sub-committees but give them the authority to inject new ideas and work in achieving better communication and work. As an example, the LC can get the youths LC involved in applying for funds in relation to youth projects and exchanges.

    Another sub-committee could take charge of the organization of cultural and social events.

    Another strategy could be that of organising independent focus groups to be requested to provide their feedback regarding ongoing and long-term projects. This not only gives residents more chance to speak but also, to actively participate and contribute towards the embetterment of the community. We cannot have only politicians running the locality. We have a lot of valuable people in our community whose input would greatly help us to make the most of our locality’s potential.

  13. Will you make an effort to regularly notify citizens of important council matters via the (thus far) rarely updated website, official FaceBook page, and any other means?

    It is of utmost importance to relaunch the website and keep it as informative as possible. This is one of the ways in which voluntary people can engage in (as mentioned in question 13), with the help of technical support. We need to create an interactive and user-friendly website to attract users from each and every age-group.

    We need a system in which forms are easily downloadable and the public can monitor what is being done in the local council. Live streaming of the LC meetings was a good start, but it is not enough. While I do acknowledge the great impact of Facebook and similar social media, I believe that these do not give the website its deserved prominence.

    When the website is launched, the Facebook page has to promote the website. Having the mayor using his personal Facebook account to publicize what is being done in the local council is not the right strategy in notifying the community. We need to standardize this approach by having the local council website and official Facebook page to circulate information, and the councilors would have the duty to share and promote the said pages.

    This would reduce partisan opportunities for politicians and citizens would be given the adequate knowledge regarding what is going on in Marsascala.

    The LC magazine cannot be published whenever the LC members decide to. The issuance of same must be streamlined (for instance, on a quarterly basis) and distributed in every household. This would also give the opportunity to both the LC as well as communal voluntary organisations to promote their activities, work and upcoming projects to the community at large.

    Generic

  14. Give me one good reason why you deserve the vote and the trust of the residents of Marsaskala

    As I will be outlining in question 18, for the past three years I have been working closely with the local community through various voluntary organisations. From my experience, I have learnt that people deserve to be heard. This is my primary goal: that of being a true and genuine representative of the residents. People’s concerns, opinions and ideas are key to unlocking the full potential of our locality.

  15. If you were granted three personal wishes for Marsaskala – no limits, everything is possible. What would those wishes be? What is your vision for Marsaskala?

     A green locality, where infrastructure is also given environmental priority;
     A touristic get-away having a balance between commercial and residential sustainable
    development;
     An active community having voluntary groups working together in synergy.

  16. What result do you want to achieve, if elected for the coming five years for Marsaskala residents?

    After gathering feedback from residents during past door-to–door meetups, I will publish 20 proposals in the coming days, and if elected, I will work to achieve what I will promise. These results, together with ongoing support to the residents’ needs, is the result I want to achieve.

  17. What can we hold you accountable for?

    I do not hold a political track record since I will be contesting the election for the first time.

    However, in the past years I have been involved in various voluntary organisations. I was a member of the cultural subcommittee in the LC through which we used to organize frequent events such as Arti filBeraħ, Iljieli Skalin and the Chinese Festival.

    I have also been a member of the Douzelage (a town-twinning organization between twenty-eight localities i.e. one from each European Member State), as a Vice-President of the youth committee, where I actively applied for Erasmus+ projects and hosted youths from the European Union.

    For the past three years, I have served as the secretary of Saint Anne’s Band Club, during which years we have increased popularity amongst members, improved teaching practices and applied for various cultural funds.

Candidates and their responses

Following up on our previous post with the questions asked to prospective new councillors, we approached the candidates via e-mail on 18th April. This page will list the candidates we approached. Those whose name is a link will point to a post showing the answers given by that candidate. The order of the candidates’ names is indicative of when each candidate replied with his / her answers:

Respondents

Image may contain: 1 person, glasses, suit and close-up

Ryan Portelli
Daniel Desira
Janice Falzon
Patrick Camilleri
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John Baptist Camilleri

Not yet replied

Mario Calleja

Carmel (Charlot) Mifsud

Sandro Gatt

John Schembri

Mary Rose Mifsud

Errol Cutajar (Contacted 06/05/2019)

Questions for Marsaskala Local Council Candidates – Elections 2019

Development

  1. What is your stance on the Jerma proposal as it currently stands? Should the LC be asked to vote on this in the future, how would you vote if the residential apartments remain part of the proposal?
  2. What are your thoughts on the takeup of public land to build the Żonqor branch of the AUM? If you had to vote again in the future, would you be in favour of, or against the irreversible destruction of that area of Żonqor?
  3. What are your thoughts about excessive development in general in Marsaskala? Our infrastructure is struggling to cope – how will you ensure that Marsaskala remains a residential village for families, as opposed to becoming another Sliema?
  4. What is your opinion on the preservation and creation of public open spaces in Marsaskala? What do you think about the building of new LC premises in Ġnien Sant’ Anna in the face of residents’ opposition?
  5. What is your stance on the construction of an ODZ petrol station just opposite the Family Park?
  6. What is your vision for the Sant’Antnin recycling plant once it it phased out? What would you wish to have instead of it?
  7. Noise disturbance is an increasingly problematic issue. Would you consider fining contractors who disobey basic rules like working outside permitted hours?
  8. How will your service as a councillor improve the health of residents?
  9. Parking is increasingly a problem, yet measures to promote active means of transport such as cycling have thus far been actively discouraged (e.g. removal of the cycle lane along Triq is-Salini). Will you actively encourage cycling and walking in Marsaskala? How?

Environment and litter

  1. Do you think there is a problem with rubbish and dog litter in Marsaskala? What do you plan to do about it?
  2. Will you be willing to speak to restaurant owners and require a bin outside their premises?
  3. What effective enforcement strategies would you put in place for those who do not follow rules?

Citizen Involvement

  1. Currently, groups of residents are only allowed to speak at local council meetings once a year. Will you consider the possibility of engaging more publicly with groups of citizens during local council meetings once in office? How would you do this?
  2. Will you make an effort to regularly notify citizens of important council matters via the (thus far) rarely updated website, offical FaceBook page, and any other means?

Generic

  1. Give me one good reason why you deserve the vote and the trust of the residents of Marsaskala
  2. If you were granted three personal wishes for Marsaskala – no limits, everything is possible. What would those wishes be? What is your vision for Marsaskala?
  3. What result do you want to achieve, if elected for the coming five years for Marsaskala residents?
  4. What can we hold you accountable for?

Concert and exhibition organized by St. Anne’s Band Club

St. Anne’s Band Club will be organizing 2 events this April 2019 to mark Easter festivities.

The first one is a concert, Sanguis Amoris, to be held on 7 April, 19:00, with details as per below:


A second event is In hoc Signo Vinces, an exhibition of various statues, paintings and works of art related to the sufferings, death and resurrection of Christ, starting 11 April, 19:00. The exhibition is going to be in the hall beneath the parish church. More details in the official poster below:

Get to know your candidates: Marsaskala Local Council Elections 2019

A little bit of perspective…
Did you know that voter turnout for local council (LC) elections in Marsaskala has ranged between a low of 56% in 1997 and a high of 84.9% in 2003? The last LC elections, held in 2013, saw almost 80% of MSK’s 9,371 registered residents turn out to vote. On Saturday the 25th May 2019, thousands of Skalin will once again make their way to the local Primary School to exercise their right to vote for their favourite LC candidates.

Local elections are often dismissed as being “irrelevant” elections with little at stake. This is not helped by the perception that local councils have relatively little power, or when it becomes apparent that many LCs are effectively dominated by the same political party, year after year. Turnout can often be low, although holding LC elections alongside European elections probably guarantees that this won’t happen in 2019.

Marsaskala Voter turnout, 1994 – 2013

Why Bother Voting?
In our increasingly materialistic and individualistic world, duty and service are unpopular words. But little in public life would get done without them. People should be proud of where they live and take an interest in their community. Elections provide voters with a choice of competing candidates, platforms, and parties. They provide a mechanism for holding representatives to account for their performance in office and allow residents a degree of control over their elected representatives. If you don’t like what they are doing, don’t just stay at home, get out there and vote for a candidate who may do a better job.
In Malta, people may know their councillor personally, and despite all its harms, social media has proven to be a boon when it comes to putting residents in direct contact with their elected representatives. Political parties care about who controls local councils: this is why they spend time and money standing for election to them. Holding them accountable for their performance is vital, as the control and leadership of a council can lead to very different public policies being pursued. Think about what is happening elsewhere on our islands – LCs in towns and villages across Malta and Gozo – from Żejtun to Pembroke to Gżira have been instrumental in helping to defend towns and villages from rampant overdevelopment and destruction of the natural environment; in mitigating negative effects of poor planning and policy; in the provision of services, the organization of cultural events, the embellishment of village cores etc. In Marsaskala, the track record is rather mixed. Without going into too much detail about who voted for what, the council has at various times asked for a holistic plan to curb overdevelopment in our village, fought to prevent restaurants from taking up valuable parking spaces, opposed an ODZ petrol station extension, objected to ODZ greenhouses in Munxar, came out against a car park proposed in St. Anne’s Garden and insisted that the abandoned Jerma Hotel be demolished…. yet a majority of councillors voted in favour of building new offices within a public open space in St. Anne’s Garden (a move opposed by many residents as it will remove precious open space in the centre of the village), voted against a motion asking the government to give back Żonqor land to the public (instead voting in favour of the infamous AUM project), removed a cycle lane in Triq is-Salini… there’s quite a lot going on in Marsaskala!

It’s just one vote…what difference will I make?
Councils respond to policy demands expressed during elections. Public pressure matters, and voting in elections is a key part of that. Local elections also provide voters with a chance to pursue change. Fed up with how one party runs the council? Then vote for something different. Unfortunately, voting in Malta has always been along party lines, but we’re hopeful that there will be an independent candidate or two running for the Marsaskala LC election. Failing that, we look foward to seeing a healthy mix of fresh and experienced, young and old, female and male councillors from all parties. More detailed information on the results of past elections can be found here.

Where does Marsaskala Community & Friends come in?
Following our last blog post on how to register to vote, we believe that all Skalin should be able to make an informed decision about their preferred candidates. With this in mind, over the coming weeks each candidate, from all parties, will be sent the same list of questions related to their vision for Marsaskala. The final list of candidates will be available on the 15th April, but in the meantime we will be sending this list of 18 questions to those candidates who have already come forward. Some questions are generic. Others are hot topics. All are important, because they help residents hold their representatives accountable, now and in the future. They are designed to lead to candid, straightforward answers as much as possible, rather than politikspeak. Candidates will be asked the following:

Development

  1. What is your stance on the Jerma proposal as it currently stands? Should the LC be asked to vote on this in the future, how would you vote if the residential apartments remain part of the proposal?
  2. What are your thoughts on the takeup of public land to build the Żonqor branch of the AUM? If you had to vote again in the future, would you be in favour of, or against the irreversible destruction of that area of Żonqor?
  3. What are your thoughts about excessive development in general in Marsaskala? Our infrastructure is struggling to cope – how will you ensure that Marsaskala remains a residential village for families, as opposed to becoming another Sliema?
  4. What is your opinion on the preservation and creation of public open spaces in Marsaskala? What do you think about the building of new LC premises in Ġnien Sant’ Anna in the face of residents’ opposition?
  5. What is your stance on the construction of an ODZ petrol station just opposite the Family Park?
  6. What is your vision for the Sant’Antnin recycling plant once it it phased out? What would you wish to have instead of it?
  7. Noise disturbance is an increasingly problematic issue. Would you consider fining contractors who disobey basic rules like working outside permitted hours?
  8. How will your service as a councillor improve the health of residents?
  9. Parking is increasingly a problem, yet measures to promote active means of transport such as cycling have thus far been actively discouraged (e.g. removal of the cycle lane along Triq is-Salini). Will you actively encourage cycling and walking in Marsaskala? How?

Environment and litter

  1. Do you think there is a problem with rubbish and dog litter in Marsaskala? What do you plan to do about it?
  2. Will you be willing to speak to restaurant owners and require a bin outside their premises?
  3. What effective enforcement strategies would you put in place for those who do not follow rules?

Citizen Involvement

  1. Currently, groups of residents are only allowed to speak at local council meetings once a year. Will you consider the possibility of engaging more publicly with groups of citizens during local council meetings once in office? How would you do this?
  2. Will you make an effort to regularly notify citizens of important council matters via the (thus far) rarely updated website, offical FaceBook page, and any other means?

Generic

  1. Give me one good reason why you deserve the vote and the trust of the residents of Marsaskala
  2. If you were granted three personal wishes for Marsaskala – no limits, everything is possible. What would those wishes be? What is your vision for Marsaskala?
  3. What result do you want to achieve, if elected for the coming five years for Marsaskala residents?
  4. What can we hold you accountable for?

One last thing…
Getting out to vote shows an appreciation of what representatives do – which is mostly unpaid and on our behalf. It confers legitimacy on the local council and shows how much residents care about what goes on in their local area. Voting can be habit forming. It can also make a difference. Be that difference.

Marsaskala Local Council Elections 2019: your right to vote.

A recent Times of Malta article stated that over 18,000 EU nationals are registered to vote during the European Parliament (EP) elections in Malta. What does that have to do with Marsaskala, you might ask? Well,  Local Council (LC) elections are due to be held on the 25th May 2019, at the same time as the EP elections . Anybody residing in our locality (be they Maltese or non-Maltese) who has an ID or eResidency card with a Marsaskala address is eligible to exercise their democratic right to vote for one or more of the candidates and have a say in determining the future of our beautiful village.

A good proportion of Marsaskala’s growing population was not born in Malta, but that doesn’t mean they can’t also vote in the LC elections. Indeed, we were always taught that it is one’s duty – as well as one’s right – to vote.  Just follow these three easy steps:

1. Visit the Electoral Registry website and enter your personal identifier details (see screenshot). These should match those on your ID/eResidence card. Click ‘Submit’

Insert your personal information in the fields as requested

2. If you are eligible, you should see a statement like this:
[Name], holder of ID Card Number [1234567M], is registered to vote in the following electoral register/s: LOCAL COUNCILS ELECTORAL REGISTER  published in OCTOBER 2018. You may also be eligible to vote in other elections, as in the example below.

Ensure that you are eligible to vote in the LC elections

3. If you see the above statement and your name is on the register, then all you need to do is wait. Police Officers will attempt to deliver your voting documents to your registered address starting from Sunday 14th April 2019. If no one is at home when the Police Officer calls, you will be able to collect your voting document/s by calling personally at the Police Station (or Local Council in certain localities) of the town or village where you are registered, on presentation of a valid Identity Document (Identity Card or Residence Card) issued by Identity Malta, between Thursday 9th May and Sunday 19th May 2019 (last day till noon). You may also personally collect your voting document/s from the Electoral Commission at the Counting Complex (ex-Trade Fair grounds) in Naxxar between Monday 20th and Thursday 23rd May 2019 (last day till midnight), if you are registered in Malta.

If you do not see the above statement, then have a look at the Electoral Commissions FAQ section. You may also wish to see this list of FAQs for the MEP elections. When one applies for either the e-Identity Card or the eResidence Card, one is automatically applying to be registered as a voter when one completes the relevant application forms.

Happy voting!