Ombudsman rebukes Johann Buttigieg for flying in board member in DB meeting

'Board members should be left at liberty and under no circumstances should they succumb to pressure to attend board meetings'

The Planning Ombudsman has rebuked PA executive chairman Johann Buttigieg for his decision to fly over board member Jacqueline Gili from Sicily to participate in a vote on the 38-storey high rise DB project, which was approved in September.

In his reply to a complaint filed by Alternattiva Demokratika MEP candidate Arnold Cassola, planning commissioner Alan Saliba concluded that PA Board members “should be left in liberty to attend meetings” and should not be subjected to any pressure to attend meetings.

“Any interference in any part of this whole process can be interpreted as if there were an unwarranted influence on the said member of the Board,” Saliba said in his reply.

The ombudsman also issued a direct recommendation to the PA’s Executive Chairman to limit his role in board meetings “to answering questions by the board” and to refrain from “any other role which can be interpreted as impinging on the vote of board members.”

READ MORE: PA member jetted in to vote in favour of DB high-rise was absent on 29 decisions in 2017

The ombudsman also called on board members to do their best to attend board meetings and to inform the board secretary whenever they cannot attend within a reasonable timeframe. 

“Still board members should be left at liberty and under no circumstances should they succumb to pressure to attend and not attend board meetings.”

The PA’s Executive Counci,l chaired by Johann Buttigieg, has accepted these recommendations.

The Planning Authority had spent at least €8,750 on a private jet to bring PA Board member Jacqueline Gili to Malta to attend the meeting in which the PA issued a permit for the DB Group’s City Centre project in Pembroke. 

Gili was one of 10 board members who voted for the project.

The decision by the PA board to approve the DB group’s 38-storey high-rise hotel angered residents of Pembroke, whose Labour-led council opposed the project. 

An appeal is still pending against the project.

READ MORE: PA board approves 38-storey db Group development

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