Valletta mayor protests at lack of funds for capital's upkeep

Justice minister says government to announce new initiatives for upkeep of Valletta by end of the year

Valletta mayor Alexei Dingli today complained that his council does not have the necessary funds to clean the city’s roads and expressed his concerns about the situation with only three years to go for V18.

Addressing a meeting held by the Parliamentary Group on the European Capital of Culture, which Valletta will celebrate in 2018, Dingli explained that as things stand the Valletta council is struggling with its budget for the upkeep of the roads in Valletta, after expenses tripled in recent months.

Asked by chairman Deo Debattista whether this would create a problem during the V18 events, Dingli said “we are already facing a problem and unless our budget is increased we’ll have a problem.”

He added that all stakeholders have one common aim,” but we need resources and legal tools to deal with the challenges we are facing.”

However, justice minister Owen Bonnici reassured that by the end of the year, government would be announce a number of initiatives regarding V18, including new arrangements for the cleaning and upkeep of the capital.

The mayor also spoke about the need for an accessibility audit, to ensure that the capital is accessible to all. He also said the council proposed a number of projects, including a lift at Marsamxett Harbour to facilitate the access to the Sliema-Valletta ferry.

V18 chairman Jason Micallef explained that there was a regeneration master plan in place, and a number of projects had been initiated, including a pier at Barriera Wharf to serve the Cottonera- Valletta ferry.

Dingli also complained of a number of by-laws, including a law to binding owners of properties in Valletta to maintain the facades of properties in a good state, were “stuck” at the local council department level.

In reply, Bonnici, also responsible for local councils, acknowledged the situation and said “I cannot accept a situation where by-laws proposed by local councils are blocked once they arrive at  the local council department,” adding that he had made it clear with the department that the situation was no longer acceptable and within a few weeks these by-laws would be enected and enforced.

The committee members agreed that  the by-law should go beyond the up keep of the exterior of properties, and ensure  that properties are not purchased and abandoned for speculative purposes.