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