Valletta mayor, councillor clash over Peter Andre debacle

The controversial decision to nominate former British (he’s actually Australian...) chart-topping singer and reality TV star Peter Andre has revealed a rift within the Valletta Local Council.

Proud as a peacock with Peter Andre: the minority leader who chastised Valletta mayor for choosing the celeb as cultural ambassador appears pleased to pose for a snapshot.
Proud as a peacock with Peter Andre: the minority leader who chastised Valletta mayor for choosing the celeb as cultural ambassador appears pleased to pose for a snapshot.

It has inspired a 1,600-strong petition, got Malta some questionable press in the British tabloid media and now, it appears that the controversy surrounding Peter Andre's nomination as Cultural Ambassador to Valletta has even revealed cracks in the local council itself.

Valletta Mayor Alexiei Dingli and minority leader within the council Ray Azzopardi (PL) are presenting two seemingly contradicting versions of how the Peter Andre nomination story unfolded.

In comments to the original MaltaToday story which revealed that former British chart-topping singer Peter Andre was given the title to help promote the city abroad, Dingli said that the decision was a "unanimous", taken by the council "during its last meeting on the 29 January".

However, after the story inspired vociferous backlash among Maltese social media users - a petition to strip Andre of his 'honours' even made its way to British tabloid newspapers The Sun and The Daily Mail - Valletta council minority leader Ray Azzopardi said that no vote had been taken in the council for Andre's appointment.

Writing on MaltaToday's comments board, Azzopardi said that "the decision was taken by the mayor the week before, and he informed us about the decision, which he took on his own. There was never any discussion about it".

But a snapshot of Azzopardi's Facebook page sent by Dingli to MaltaToday reveals that, far from opposing the nomination, Azzopardi appeared enthusiastic about meeting Peter Andre, and in a comment under the same photo, wrote: 'Ghamilnieh Ambaxxatur tal-belt valletta fejn jidhol il kultura... nahseb kienet idea tajba' ('We have made him into a Cultural Ambassador for Valletta... I think it's a good idea').

READ MORE: BLOG – Peter Andre: the Ambassador nobody asked for

Contacted to elaborate on the reason why he chose to distance himself from the decision after he appeared to endorse it, Azzopardi explained that he had "nothing against Peter Andre per se".

"I chose to take the photo with him because - who wouldn't? Meeting him was a once in a lifetime opportunity. And I think that the idea to nominate him was a good one. It just irked me that there was no proper consultation on it."

Describing the 'timeline' of events that led to the decision, Azzopardi said: "On the fateful Tuesday [January 29] when the fateful appointment took place, I happened to be at the Local Council to oversee a few matters when an employee introduced me to a promoter of Peter Andre's. I began to suspect that, what with Enrique Iglesias being made into a Valletta Honorary Citizen when Paul Borg Olivier was mayor in 2008, something similar was going to happen now too.

"After the local council meeting had concluded, it was clear to me that the mayor had made the decision to appoint Andre as Cultural Ambassador. The only thing I sought to question him on was whether this would incur any expenses from the local council.

"He told me there wouldn't be, and that all the council would have to do would be to present Andre with a commemorative plaque. But I never got the impression that the decision was in any way open to discussion."

Asked whether he thinks the Dingli will think twice about making a similar decision on his own steam after the furore that the Andre nomination stirred up, Azzopardi predicted that this wasn't likely. "The mayor is certainly not one to shy away from constructive criticism, but this isn't the first time that he took a decision without proper consultation," Azzopardi said, citing the renovation of Valletta's Peacock Gardens as another example.

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The Mayor must be a fan of the singer!
48 years after Independence we are still well and truly entrenched in our colonialist-era mentality.
This really is the tip of the iceberg. An unelected mayor who thinks Peter Andre should be our country's capital city's ambassador and a bunch of idiotic councillors who agree, who think taking a photo with this dork is 'a once in a lifetime opportunity'. Facebook is dotted with pictures of these idiots getting their 2 seconds of fame. Ditto the executive secretary posting 'publicity photos'. She is paid by our tax money. These people represent US? This is the council of Malta's capital city? Also we now know why so many times decisions that effect our life in Valletta are communicated to us via 'it was a unanimous decision by the council' when half the councillors would not even know of a meeting. And where are the minutes?! Pathetic bunch of twits.
Joseph MELI
Regarding these contradictory versions of whether or not Andre's acceptance as "ambassador" surely this may be easily resolved and confirmed by the Mayor making public the minutes of the Valletta Local Council meeting of 29th January which "unanimously " approved this nomination?In any event, as Peter Andre is of Greek stock,wouldn't he be better served to represent the city of Athens and his ancestors in their fight against austerity and why not ask his ex-wife -the erudite and retiring, always fetchingly dressed, Jordan -what she thinks of his appointment.Just a thought!
How sweet to see real-life elected councillors bicker over who liked a non-entity ex-shooting star first. How coy to see them gloating over getting international negative press for free. Perhaps when we all grow up we should considering choosing an ambassador who is an internationally recognised personality of the calibre of the Lateral Thinking originator Edward DeBono or Metropolitan Opera tenor Joseph Calleja or better still the theatre-designer genius Renzo Piano.