MPs debate legal notice extending music playing time in Valletta

No Labour MPs elected on the first district spoke during the debate

MPs from both sides of the House discussed a motion on Monday to repeal a Legal Notice allowing music to be played in Valletta until 1am.

Monday’s discussion was spurred by a motion presented by the Nationalist Party almost three weeks ago. It was presented by PN MPs Darren Carabott, Mario de Marco, Paula Mifsud Bonnici.

No Labour MPs from the first district spoke during the session.

Carabott opened the discussion and immediately slammed government for moving ahead with the legal notice without due consultation with residents living in Valletta or business owners with operations in the capital.

“This isn’t a matter of blue or red. This is a matter of whether you’re on the side of residents, business owners, culture, Valletta,” he said.

After Carabott, Culture Minister Owen Bonnici made it clear that he will take no lessons from the Nationalist Party when it comes to Valletta. He insisted that it was the Labour Party that transformed Valletta into a lively city, not the PN.

When PN MP Mario de Marco spoke on the topic, he immediately noticed that several Labour MPs elected on the first district were absent from the Chamber during the discussion, except for Keith Azzopardi Tanti and Davina Sammut Hili.

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He went on to raise several concerns of a legal nature, noting that the legal notice gives government free reign to extend the opening hours beyond 1am, as is done in Paceville.

De Marco also questioned whether the minister that signed off on the legal notice had actually walked through Valletta and asked residents about how they would feel about extending music-playing hours until 1am.

Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo reiterated that only ‘moderate’ levels of music can be played between 11pm and 1am in the respective Valletta streets, and went on to appeal to commercial establishments in the area to be respectful of residents.

“We will not let Valletta turn into another Paceville. Not now, and not for the years to come,” he said.

Several PN MPs were puzzled that the legal notice refers to a ‘moderate’ level of music. Paula Mifsud Bonnici noted that no legal instrument actually defines what could be considered a moderate volume of music.

“Let’s not kid ourselves. There are plenty of lawyers in here, we know what will happen in court. Who’s going to interpret what ‘moderate’ means?” she asked.

She remarked that neither the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association, nor the Malta Developers Association, were consulted by government before the legal notice was issued.

“I wonder for whom you introduced this legal notice. You can’t convince anyone of the reason this legal notice was published.”

The motion will be voted on next Wednesday.