Wardens ‘ordered’ to issue three tickets an hour

Parliamentary secretary says proposed centralisation of wardens system to be announced in early 2015

A warden assists a motorist in Valletta. Photo: Mariza Dunham Gaspar
A warden assists a motorist in Valletta. Photo: Mariza Dunham Gaspar

Justice and Culture Minister Owen Bonnici faced complaints from his audience at one of government’s public consultations on Budget 2015, over delays in court processes.

“I have put forward a motion whereby magistrates will be able to proceed in family-related cases in the absence of a party who doesn’t turn up at court despite being notified about the hearing,” Bonnici said.

“People who admit to a crime are now handed sentences a month after admitting. Guilty parties are also able to agree on a reduced sentence with the Auditor General in return for their admittance of guilt.”

Bonnici said he was no considering extending the powers in the Whistleblower’s Act to criminal cases, and not only work-related ones.

Bonnici also allayed fears expressed by a concerned father who said new drug decriminalisation laws would encourage youths to experiment with drugs. 

“You have no need to worry, because we’ll offer help to people who fall into drug vices through a specially set-up tribunal board,” Bonnici said. “I don’t believe that this new law will encourage youths to experiment with drugs,” the minister said, explaining that decriminalisation would not mean a legalization of drugs but a more effective due process for drug use offences

On his part, parliamentary secretary for local councils Stefan Buontempo signalled the government’s displeasure over the present warden system, saying the privatised system ordered wardens to “hand out three tickets an hour”.

“We can’t accept the system as it is,” Buontempo said. “We don’t want local wardens hiding behind corners waiting to hand out tickets or giving tickets to people who park for a minute just to go to the pharmacy. We published a White Paper on reforming the local warden system and we plan to make an announcement on this paper early on in 2015.”

Buontempo criticised the previous administration for leaving local councils with €22 million in debt. “We began restructuring the local council department so that local councils are able to make better use of EU funds, and we’re organising a diploma course for executive secretaries, planning training courses for local council staff, while 16-year-olds will be allowed to vote in local council elections for the first time in March,” Buontempo said.

More in Budget 2015