St Ju­lian’s Deputy Mayor in­sists PV mas­ter plan re­sult of pre-elec­toral agree­ment

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Gabriel Schem­bri

Deputy Mayor of St Ju­lian’s and can­di­date for the Na­tion­al­ist Party Al­bert But­tigieg in­sists that the res­i­dents of this lo­cal­ity were not prop­erly con­sulted about the pro­posed Paceville mas­ter plan which he de­scribes as the re­sult of a pre-elec­toral agree­ment.

“We be­lieve that a mas­ter plan for Paceville is needed. The in­ten­tion is good but if this is the end re­sult, we are not happy with it,” he said when speak­ing to The Malta In­de­pen­dent.

Ad­mit­ting that even the pre­vi­ous PN ad­min­is­tra­tion only took a piece­meal ap­proach to the grow­ing dilemma in the Paceville area, the Deputy Mayor says he be­lieves this is the re­sult of a pre-elec­toral deal.

Sim­i­lar to what PN leader Si­mon Busut­til said when de­scrib­ing the €300 mil­lion pro­posed plan, Mr But­tigieg said this mas­ter plan is a ‘wish list for devel­op­ers’.

Ear­lier this year, the Plan­ning Au­thor­ity launched a pro­posal for the Paceville Mas­ter Plan, a pro­ject which, if given the green light, will cost no less than €300 mil­lion. The plan in­cludes nine sites which were iden­ti­fied for devel­op­ment and a tun­nel to be built to ac­cess the area.

Com­par­ing it to other devel­op­ment projects pro­posed by the Labour ad­min­is­tra­tion, Mr But­tigieg said that the gov­ern­ment al­ways presents the ini­tial pro­pos­als to look very big, so that when the pro­ject’s gran­deur is re­duced, the ad­min­is­tra­tion will say that “this is a gov­ern­ment that lis­tens”.

“This is what the gov­ern­ment did with the Zon­qor pro­ject. They never planned to build a mas­sive devel­op­ment there. But when the au­thor­ity re­acts af­ter pub­lic out­cry, the gov­ern­ment can say that it lis­tened to the plea.”

He crit­i­cized the way this plan is be­ing ad­ver­tised. “Do we want Paceville to change? Of course we do. But be­sides devel­op­ment, there are also is­sues re­lated to safety, traf­fic and clean­li­ness. Why aren’t those wishes be­ing ad­dressed?”

Mr But­tigieg said it is clear that ev­ery­one is on an equal foot­ing only when the de­vel­oper’s wishes were heard.

“We have never been ap­proached by the Plan­ning Au­thor­ity. We only met with two rep­re­sen­ta­tives who we in­vited as we wanted to ask a lot of ques­tions, but their replies were very vague. We asked, for in­stance, where these open spa­ces will be, and re­alised that they have very clear plans for the devel­op­ment zones but replied very vaguely on these spa­ces.”

The Lo­cal Coun­cil plans to or­gan­ise a pub­lic meet­ing on 28 Oc­to­ber to keep the pub­lic in­formed. The Plan­ning Au­thor­ity will not be at­tend­ing. He ex­plained that this is not a po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­ity and en­vi­ron­men­tal NGOs will also be at­tend­ing.

Be­sides the com­plaint on the lack of con­sul­ta­tion, the deputy mayor has a long list of ques­tions which still need to be an­swered.

“How will the gov­ern­ment ex­pro­pri­ate the land for pub­lic spa­ces? Will they re­main so or will these spa­ces be taken up by kiosks and small shops?” he asked, among other things.

On the time­line pro­posed, Mr But­tigieg has some se­ri­ous doubts on whether the 2021 dead­line is reach­able or not. “Pen­der Gar­dens alone has taken eight years to build and it’s not yet fin­ished. I can­not imag­ine the time it will take to con­struct all those new build­ings. And let’s face it, this gov­ern­ment has no cred­i­bil­ity when it comes to keep­ing dead­lines. The power sta­tion was sup­posed to be de­liv­ered within two years but it wasn’t. Same thing hap­pened with the Coast Road.

“I have no prob­lem walk­ing out of the shad­ows of the past, and we do want and need a mas­ter plan. But this is a step back­ward, even though PL had the chance to make these changes hap­pen in a good way.”

Mr But­tigieg wants his Lo­cal Coun­cil to re­ceive more funds from the tourism tax be­cause most of the tourists who come to Malta live in this area. He also pro­poses the idea that, maybe, it is high time that Paceville falls un­der the re­spon­si­bil­ity of a coun­cil of its own.

“The strain on this Lo­cal Coun­cil is huge and there are a lot of projects which need to be done. St Ju­lian’s lacks a pub­lic hall and a clinic. Maybe these should be the first pri­or­ity.”

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