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.

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

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

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
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, suit and close-up
John Baptist Camilleri
Errol Cutajar

Not replied

Mario Calleja

Carmel (Charlot) Mifsud

Sandro Gatt

John Schembri

Mary Rose Mifsud

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?

Update 2: Jerma doublespeak

Well, that’s rather disappointing, to say the least. Following this morning’s Environment and Planning Review Tribunal meeting (more info on the meeting here and more info on the politically appointed EPRT here), developers have been given 30 days to present a method statement aimed at “minimising” damage caused by the Jerma site to Marsaskala’s coastline.

As reported on MaltaToday, “While confirming the legality of an enforcement issued by the Planning Authority against developers in which it decried the state of abandonment of the Jerma site, the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal has modified the notice giving developers more lee-way in addressing the situation.

In its decision, the tribunal insisted that due to the large size of the development, the extent of the damage, and its location on the coast, the original enforcement notice implementing the enforcement notice as originally issued (i.e. removal of the ‘damage’ within 16 days) veered on the impossible.

And that’s it folks. No mention of penalties, no discussion of what measures to mitigate/reduce the damage would be considered to be ‘satisfactory’ by the EPRT; in short, little accountability, if any at all.

To be clear, this is a step forward for Marsaskala residents. At the very least, the irresponsible owners are now obliged to actually propose measures and presumably carry them out eventually, rather than just leaving the site as it is. However, the Tribunal’s change in wording (a good chunk of the 18-page document outlining the decision is dedicated to explaining the difference between ‘mitigation’ and ‘removal’ of the abandoned building) means that developers are NOT obliged to dismantle the building, as the PA originally requested. We’ll keep you updated – more on this next month.

#ħawwadniħanifhmek #wearenotstupid #greedwins #ownerspopthechampagne #30days






Update: Jerma – the end of the line?

In August 2016 the Planning Authority issued an enforcement order against Jerma site owners Jeffrey and Peter Montebello, requiring that the “injury to amenity” be addressed after years of complaints by the local council and residents over the dangerous state of the site.

Two years later, the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal upheld an appeal by the owners and annulled this enforcement order. In the latest twist to the sage, the PA went to court to appeal the decision of the EPRT and won it.

Today, at 13:00, the EPRT will discuss the matter again and hopefully decide in favour of the residents, considering that everyone (including the owners) agrees that Jerma must be demolished.

We’ll keep you updated.