The voice of the peo­ple

Malta Independent - - LETTERS -

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

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