Candidate Responses – John Baptist Camilleri

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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?

To start with, I honestly believe that a high rating hotel is an asset for Marsaskala. My top concern is to have a hotel that will replace the vacuum felt in the area after the Jerma closure. If I had the option to choose, we definitely have enough apartments and I prefer that there will be NO apartments. But in today’s trend of hotels, most hotels are opting to have a mix of apartments and hotel; if a small number, say, not exceeding 10 to 20 percent, might be considered as a last option. However, this would better be discussed in more detail as the size of the apartments plays a big part and they must not be of an eyesore nor be tall buildings.

The Jerma area will be embellished and all the vacated open space and shore made open to the public.

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?

Regarding Żonqor AUM, I was opposing this since it was announced and will not stop opposing it, come what may. Also against the dormitory as this is NOT mentioned here.

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?

When Marsaskala was being planned on the drawing board it was surely not the idea to have all this development with so many medium-rise buildings. Unfortunately, the building heights are controlled by the PA; if I was given a chance as a local Councillor, I would have objected and will object to the addition of more floors within a span of a very short period of time in most of the streets.

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?

Public spaces should be preserved and if possible embellished. Regarding building the L/C office in a part of this open space, it merits a detailed reply, not just a “yes” or “no”. First of all, when this was being converted from an abandoned field during my childhood, it was always planned to have a civic centre build adjacent to the Boċċi Club. This was evident by the paved area and sewage connection to prevent from digging the area for the service connection once the building is complete. At the beginning of the first local council it was already felt that this will be transformed into an L/C office to serve the needs of today; the plans were improved again to incorporate a small clinic.

Building permits were issued, funds accumulated and the land was devolved to the LC. However, we have studied the possibility to host this in an already existing building in nearby areas to serve this purpose; I believe that this is still on the table if an alternative site that will be made available for this is found; I urge you to come forward if it’s the case. I strongly believe that our residents and the elderly merit to have a decent office to serve the basic local council needs, not to mention other issues like say, the high rent being paid to keep our current offices open.

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

Regarding fuel station, although the permit for the petrol station is already approved, despite the fact that the fossil fuels will be phased out, I have objected to have it extended when it was discussed at the L/C. The permit for the extension is still not approved.

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?

If the plant is removed I think it will be ideal to make a skate / BMX park and similar sports, outdoor sport such as tennis and similar sports. A type of open space with pet friendly locations, possibly a good car park and offer a type of an electric driven park and ride to nearby areas.

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

Noise pollution is a national level problem and the state must build the necessary legislation and tools to monitor the DB level and be more vigilant on abusers. Those contractors who abuse will lose the money deposit (bond) they have to pay before commencing the project, and be black-listed for abusing the law.

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

I will work for better accessibility on pavements, monitoring air quality and clamping down on polluters. I will work harder for a better public transport service, promote healthy eating by educating the old and the new generation alike. Also, I will encourage more walking and cycling.

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?

In the past I have actively worked hard until a good footpath was established that links the Żonqor HOS area with the village centre; this promoted walking to the school and church rather to go with private transport. Also pushed the LC to lay a good surface in another footpath between Maħsel and Qaliet street.  Regarding the cycling lane, it was a beginning for Malta and I think it could have been improved as it was not extensively utilised. I was abroad when this was discussed and removed; I honestly wish that cycling can be promoted better. As a local council we have installed a number of bicycle racks which again are hardly used. Maybe we can invest or promote the renting of bicycles or similar gear.

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?

Yes, more than 1 problem. We need better education and eventually fining the abusers of pet owners leaving a mess all over the place. Secondly, the bins must be emptied and cleaned /disinfected much more frequently.

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

As far as I know the laws regulating their waste are there, they just need implementation and communication with the owners is a must.

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

Who does not follow the rules will be fined and if the abuse is not stopped, the L/C will recommend that the competent authority will not renew the licence to operate if they persist with the abuse.

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?

The rules that are stipulated with regards to meetings are quite clear and I think they must be respected. However, if certain issues are being discussed during a normal L/C meeting and residents would like to give their views, it happened a few times where I requested the suspension of the meeting to allow the residents to speak; once they air their views then the sitting will continue as usual. However, I am not happy with the number of residents attending the L/C annual meeting. I wish more residents participated.

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?

Definitely a more efficient website/page can help this communication issue.

Generic.

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

I have proven that I am committed to my home town for the past 22 years.

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?

Wish one is a new underground road to be built to make way for traffic flow and closing Marina street for pedestrians only.  This will be coupled with a good sized underground car park between the church and St. Anne’s Primary school and Ta’ Monita. 

Wish 2 will be to use a good part of the vacated promenade for artists performing their pieces such as paintings and similar hand crafts while the pedestrians / visitors can also see and purchase the goods. NOT A MARKET. Solely hand crafted goods.

Wish 3 will be to upgrade and restore all the sites of historical importance; buildings and fortifications from the small sites to the St. Thomas tower and the Magħluq and restore them to a very high level of safety and easily visited and compile a booklet coupled with modern applications on mobile phones to explain the details of such buildings.  

I wish I had more wishes, but you asked for 3.

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

I want to see a cleaner, more organised, and safer Marsaskala. Also, as mentioned in a previous answer, an improved public transport schedule / system, and associated infrastructure like bus shelters.

4. What can we hold you accountable for?

My past, working unconditionally with more than 25 elected Councillors and 3 Mayors. I will continue to help all the cultural and sport organisations including the Parish and feast organisation groups.