No government agency can enforce parking permit infractions pending the conclusion of an ongoing legal battle, the head of the law enforcement agency has confirmed.

“At the moment, nobody is able to enforce parking permit contraventions,” said LESA CEO Svetlick Flores.

When I called the police, they told me they couldn’t call the car owners due to a new policy- Julia Papkova

“This has been going on since September... all councils are receiving complaints.”

Permits issued by local councils are commonly used to reserve parking spaces for cranes and skips, warning motorists to steer away from parking in the spot and warning it is a tow away zone.

In the past, those parking in such reserved spaces may have been contacted by the police or LESA officials to remove their vehicle and, in some cases, may have even returned to find the vehicle towed.

One Gżira resident spent a frustrated morning contacting different government departments when two cars parked in the bays she had reserved.

The parking spaces were needed to make way for a crane she had booked to unload building materials to her apartment on the fifth floor.

“When I called the police, they told me they couldn’t call the car owners due to a new policy,” Julia Papkova told Times of Malta.

“They advised me to call the council, who told me to phone LESA. When I called LESA, I was informed that they didn’t have the phone numbers of the car owners and that I should call the police, sending me back to square one,” Papkova said.

Legality of permits unclear pending appeal judgment

In July last year, a court ruled that Transport Malta did not have the right to transfer the responsibility of issuing parking permits to local councils and directed LESA to refund a €200 fine to Reuben Farrugia whose car had been towed.

This decision has been appealed by both agencies, with a decision expected on February 15.

Until then, the legality of the permits remains unclear. 

When asked why councils are continuing to give out unenforceable permits, the president of the Local Councils Association, Mario Fava, replied: “The problem is not the councils selling the permits but a lack of enforcement. I believe it is the police’s duty and responsibility to enforce these.”

However, when contacted for comment, a police spokesperson said the enforcement of permits “is not within the remit of the Malta police force”.

Fava himself encountered the problem when booking a permit for a crane for four hours.

“When the crane arrived, there were parked cars I could not remove,” he explained.

“After several calls to the police station, we managed to contact the owners asking them to remove their cars.

“This took us almost two hours, meaning I had to pay €160 for nothing.”

'Not fair to residents'

Fava added that he is receiving complaints from various localities, describing the issue as “not fair to residents” and that the Local Councils Association has been trying to solve the issue of enforcement for the past few years.

In the past, parking permits have borne the logo of Transport Malta. On Thursday, however, the agency said their logo “has been removed… and is now replaced by the local council’s”.

Transport Malta did not confirm when the change took place and instead directed the query to the ministry for local government.

When asked why permits are still being issued, Transport Malta said this too is the provision of the same ministry.

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