Jason Azzopardi proposes government fund to help evicted band clubs

The scheme would see governments purchasing band club property from its owners, while then receiving rent from the band club itself

Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi is proposing the setting up of a financial fund that would allow governments to buy the property of band clubs facing eviction. 

Under the proposed scheme, any band club facing eviction by its property owners would be able to pay the market price of the property in question, and then rent out the property to the band club at a below-market level price. 

This proposal is Azzopardi's solution to one Paola band clubs eviction debacle. In 2018, the owners of the De Paule band club in Paola won back their property, which stands in Paola Square, in a legal battle that spanned 20 years.

However, this win was followed by a proposed law aimed at protecting band clubs from court-ordered evictions, but only if the owners pay a rent 10 times higher than they were paying prior to the order.

The owners argued they were being discriminated against, after winning a case to evict the band club from their property only for government to introduce a new law disallowing evictions of band clubs.

The De Paule band club had been taken to court by its landlord after it demolished a dividing wall to join its main premises with an adjacent building it had purchased, and failed to inform all the parties who owned a share of the property it was renting.

Under Azzopardi's proposal, government would purchase the property from the owners, and have the band club pay rent to the government through a 99-year emphyteutic lease. In this case, a court-appointed architect valued the property at €1.6 million.

"Government found €2 million for the Egrant inquiry, €7.5 million for the Pilatus inquiry, and €275 million for the illegal management contract of St Vincent de Paule - can't we find €1.6 million for government to buy the Paola band club from its owners?" he questioned.

Prior to proposing this scheme, Azzopardi paid tribute to Hibernians FC President Tony Bezzina, and called for a monument in the Paola Square to be set up in his memory.

"Let's honour the memory of this humble giant by putting up a monument in Paola in his memory," he said.