The voice of the people
Although the Planning Authority (PA) had initally turned down the St Julian’s Local Council invitation to participate in its public consultation meeting, last Monday the PA finally found the courage to face the residents and the NGOs over the Paceville master plan proposal.
Although the PA is obliged by law to hold such public meetings, it did its very best to limit our participation. For a start, the chosen venue was not ideal. The location of Hotel Meridien in Balluta was far from Paceville. Various elderly residents who wanted to participate were unable to do so. In fact, during the local council’s public consultation meeting held at the Millennium Chapel Hall the week before, many elderly residents were present and voiced their concerns.
Secondly, the PA wanted to separate the participants in small clustered groups. Although the PA did its best to adopt a ‘divide and rule’ tactic, it failed miserably. We stood our ground. All present participants refused. The PA’s CEO, Mr Buttigieg, had the cheek to say that it was the local councils which requested that participants should be divided into small groups! This is unfounded and dishonest to say the least. It was admirable then to see that all those present remained seated as one group. It was a classic example of a collective passive resistance. I admired and thank the many young university students and
others who were present for standing with us. Together we stand and together we fall.
One speaker after the other decried this master plan, or shall I call it a master flop? On my part, I restated that the community is not against a master plan per se. Our concern is about this version which was exclusively drawn up to satisfy the wish list of particular ‘fat cats’ that want to become fatter at our expense. My
opinion, supported by many, is that this master plan is a desktop exercise that safeguards the interests of the few over the interests of the many. It was made clear that we are also against the expropriation of private property and the land reclamation as being proposed. I insisted that this master plan is flawed on the basis that no social and other technical impact assessments were commissioned and presented. It is
unacceptable that a small number of people decide on the fate of others. This might be a dangerous precedent and a thrown back to an era when our country lacked democratic credentials.
The voice of the residents was and is loud and clear. This master plan must be aborted. Residents are demanding that the PA should draw up another master plan and involve all the stakeholders. We want to be an
integral part of the decision making process rather an appendix to the said project.
My sincere appeal to the PA is to take note of our assertive feedback. Residents have spoken. It is now up to the PA and the government to listen to our voice. Not doing so would be very undemocratic.
Albert Buttigieg Deputy Mayor St Julian’s