Cleanliness and quality of life among the main priorities in Labour’s local councils manifesto

People wanted to live in localities that were cleaner and had more open spaces, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said

The Maltese public is desperate for the quality of service offered by the central and local governments to improve, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Monday.

Updating the country’s infrastructure was also a priority, Muscat said, as he launched the party’s electoral manifesto for this month’s local council elections.

“There is the desire for a great leap in quality, above all in cleanliness. People rightly expect us to have clean localities,” Muscat said.  

The manifesto, Muscat said, was based on seven main pillars: the environment, alternative transport, modern infrastructure, security, a society that cares, active communities and culture.

The Labour Party will be presenting a set of proposals for each individual locality, with a number of other proposals which are common to all localities.

Muscat said that the proposals were the product of months of consultations within the party’s structures as well as work within the communities.

“We found the common points from the consultations carried out in all localities,” he said. “The manifesto is a result of grassroots action carried out within the community, and not limited to the Labour Party.”

The consultation, he said, had showed the party that quality of life and the time available to people to spend with their family had become a major priority for Maltese and Gozitan families.

On the environment, Muscat said that the main drive would be towards increased cleanliness, conservation and an appreciation of the natural heritage and open spaces in each locality.

He said that now that waste separation has started he also saw local councils playing a big role in waste management, including the plastic bottle refund scheme which is to be launched later this year.     

“We are also looking to have better enforcement of laws on construction,” Muscat said.

He said that after giving local councils the right to vote on big projects at the Planning Authority, it was now looking to strengthen the manner in which the local council carried out consultations with citizens to arrive at a decision on how to vote.

Local councils, Muscat said, will also be at the heart of the country’s shift to electric vehicles. Councils with a Labour majority would be giving preference to electric vehicles when buying new cars.

They would also be working with the central governemtn to increase the number of charging points for electric vehicles, Muscat said.

Another point expressed by many communities is the creation of better facilities for pets, including with Muscat pledging more “dog parks and cat cafes”.

Labour-led councils will also be working with the government to identify sites for the government carry out its pledge of planting a tree for every child born in Malta.

On transport, Muscat said councils would be entering into discussions with the public transport operator for the introduction of new routes to better serve the locality. A service of clean public transport for the elderly will also be extended, he said.

Having relieved councils of the burden of road work, Muscat said local councils were now free to, and would be investing in smart parking technologies and more parking facilities through partnerships with the private sector.

Muscat said government would also be emphasizing community policing and would be extending its Safe City proposal to those localities were it is wanted.

Localities that elected a Labour Party local council would also benefit from a fight against inequality. These councils, Muscat said, would be demanding equality in wages and working conditions offered by contractors working for the government to their employees.

Finally, Muscat said that government was proposing that like Europe has a different capital of culture every year, so too will Malta, with a different town or village being made the focal point of cultural events every year.