Nationalist MP boycotts Valletta 2018 ceremony over deleterious state of residents’ amenities

Gentrification stops at Valletta 2018: MP Claudio Grech says capital city’s residents still live in “Third World” housing and walk on pavements not fit for animals

Nationalist MP Claudio Grech
Nationalist MP Claudio Grech

Nationalist MP Claudio Grech will boycott Saturday evening’s opening ceremony for Valletta’s European Capital of Culture year, citing the city’s “Third World” housing conditions.

The MP said hundreds of housing units inside the capital city were still in unsound conditions for a “city worthy of being capital of culture”.

Valletta tonight celebrates the start of a year of cultural events as ECOC for 2018, although debate still rages on in the artistic community as to whether the ‘year-long celebration’ will bestow any legacy for Malta’s artistic community.

On his part, Grech complained that the capital city had seen a mushrooming of reserved parking spaces for ministries and government departments, and that restaurants and shops had taken up kerbside space for their patrons.

He contrasted the gentrified spaces for commerce and culture in Valletta with the deprived areas were pavements were “not even decent enough for animals, let alone for the city’s aged population”.

Grech said the Valletta local council had been “abandoned” by the government after not having been giving a cent to invest in residential infrastructure. The council only recently moved into the former Café Premier, the site of the controversial €4.6 million ‘bailout’ paid its former leaseholders by the Office of the Prime Minister.

MORE [WATCH] Valletta residents proud of V18, but say they have been neglected

On his part, Valletta 2018 Foundation chairman Jason Micallef responded with a terse Facebook statement, dubbing Grech's stance a "cheap, shallow and stunt... An [sic] Valletta MP conspicuous by his absence and he knows it."

 

Grech also complained that Valletta remained without its own football ground, its waterpolo pitch was still in a state of deterioration, and had a playground “full of scaffolding”.

“This does not take anything away from my appreciation of those artists who have given their contribution. It is a pity that ‘culture’ has turned into a ‘party’ with the consequence that it has not been integrated in a framework of respect and recognition that the residents deserve,” Grech said.

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