Incensed by tables and chairs blocking their path, residents of villages and towns across Malta are trying a novel approach to the problem.

People have been plastering stickers - reading 'pavements for citizens' or 'no pavement, no vote' - on public spaces that have been encroached upon by restaurants' tables, chairs and canopies.

The stickers have appeared in Valletta, Sliema, Mellieħa, Marsascala and Buġibba over the last few days.

Moviment Graffitti has co-ordinated the campaign but Ruth Mercieca, from the NGO, stressed that the stickers were being affixed by residents who had enough of being ignored and "ping-ponged" between the authorities. 

It follows a demonstration in Valletta on Saturday, when residents took to the street to protest over having to grapple with encroachment in the capital city. 

But the situation has been played out across Malta and Gozo, where the archpriest of Victoria slammed a land grab by restaurants outside the square in front of St George's Basilica. 

In a Facebook post, Moviment Graffitti, said the "invasion" of public spaces had "exceeded the limit".

"The responsible authorities, that is the Planning Authority, Lands Authority and Tourism Authority are turning a blind eye to this chaos and the great inconvenience being created in these localities," it said. "Residents’ basic rights to safe public access keeps being ignored".

Mercieca said the sticker campaign was the first step in further planned action. She stressed that they were not against having social spaces outdoors. This was a fight against abuse and lack of enforcement.

Valletta residents protested on Saturday. Photo: Matthew MirabelliValletta residents protested on Saturday. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Last year the Ombudsman went to Parliament to demand proper rules and procedures for outdoor catering areas that take up public land, handing the House a set of recommendations for better enforcement.

But a year later, those plans and recommendations have remained shelved, with the Ombudsman last month slamming the authorities for delaying tackling the issue. 

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