Council stands up to ‘al fresco’ nightmare as restaurants take over parking spaces

The Marsaskala local council is calling on parliamentary secretary for lands Deborah Schembri to suspend rules regulating outside catering establishments after a restaurant permit caused parking issues

Local councils say planning policy is allowing restaurants to chop off parking spaces to place tables and chairs outside (File photo)
Local councils say planning policy is allowing restaurants to chop off parking spaces to place tables and chairs outside (File photo)

The Marsaskala local council has approved a motion calling on the parliamentary secretary for lands, Deborah Schembri to suspend rules introduced in 2015 regulating outside catering establishments in public spaces.

The motion, proposed by Nationalist councillor John Baptist Camilleri, and seconded by Labour mayor Mario Calleja, refers to the increase in applications by restaurants to place tables and chairs outside, taking up more public parking spaces.

The council referred to the issue of a permit for a restaurant, which was allowed to take two parking spaces to put up four tables. This has prompted other shops to apply for the same treatment.

“Until a solution is found to the locality’s parking problems no such permits should be issued,” the councillors said.

In February, the Sliema local council had also written to Deborah Schembri to request that she suspend all pending applications, until a sustainability study is carried out on the removal of parking spaces in residential streets.

Sliema mayor Anthony Chircop warned that some of the restaurant extensions are being built over parking spaces, adding to the town’s already notorious parking problem.

The problem stems from a recent policy aimed at encouraging café and restaurant owners to place tables and chairs on platforms outside their establishments. 

However, the Sliema council has accused the Planning Commission of misinterpreting the policy – which states that the removal of parking spaces will be ‘considered’ – as allowing a blanket approval for all applicants.

Since the policy was approved, 12 parking spaces have been removed through the granting of permits to five establishments by the Strand and Tower Road – including La Cuccagna, Table One, Black Gold, and the soon-to-be-opened Zebra Health Centre.

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