Why uproot trees when you can just get rid of any number of monuments to local politicians?

No. 218 - Uprooting Disaster

File photo
File photo


What are we skinning? The surprise pruning - ahead of an initially threatened, subsequently revoked removal - of the ficus trees lining the Rotunda Square in Mosta, in what was a unanimous but uncommunicated decision by the town's local council as part of ongoing and drastic renovation works to the iconic square.

Why are we skinning it? Because it will likely remain a colossal stain - neither wine nor oil, but a toxic bit of both - on the Mosta Local Council's symbolic shirt for years to come.

Trees have been transplanted by local councils before. Past performance is no evidence of future absolution.

That sounds like a very convoluted tagline to a shelved X-Men movie. That's just the kind of vibe that the council - and the current political class in general - seems to inspire in me right about now.

But didn't you say that the decision was reversed? Only through both activists and citizens once again coming through and leading a spontaneous protest that could have gone either way.

I'm assuming the police were sympathetic to their cause and allowed them to carry on with their actions unimpeded? Sadly not: as was captured in rather distressing footage subsequently released on social media, Moviment Graffitti activist Andre Callus was physically dragged away by police officers midway through what became a prolonged action.

What was the offence? Presumably hurting the feelings of the excavator, he was sitting next to, I guess.

Sounds legit. About as legit as deciding to uproot and transplant trees that have framed one of the island's most iconic landmarks, and marked the memories of a large chunk of the population - but especially native Mostin.
But they've learned their lesson now, surely? The point is that there should not have been any lesson to learn. That public memory matters, that it's not just a case of sentimentality, nostalgia, or some gratuitous resistance to 'progress'.

The Local Council listened to the people on this though, isn't that its job? The easier way to 'listen to the people' while sparing itself a headache would have been to put the uprooting plan up for public consultation.

Like the Mayor said though, you can't possibly hold a consultation meeting for every little thing. Fair point, in isolation. But *see above* on the iconic status of those trees... and also, their removal was not included in the architects' plans for the renovation of the square, so it's not like it was even remotely flagged to the public in any way.

That does sound like a sure-fire way into PR disaster. And I didn't say anything about the quasi-viral video that went up on the night of the pruning...

Oh? Do tell. It was like something out of a horror movie. Panicked birds, freshly deprived of their homes, circling around maimed tree trunks in a hopeless, terminal whirl.

My heart. Just bear that in mind for next time. And maybe turn that sadness into civic-minded anger.

Do say: "While there is always some sentimental collateral damage when it comes to public works and renovation projects, simply deciding to uproot trees that have been there for years in favour of an allegedly less 'invasive' species smacks of an obliviousness that calls the entire council into question."

Don't say: "Why uproot trees when you can just get rid of any number of monuments to local politicians?"