The Nationalist Party is proposing 16-year-olds be allowed to take up the post of mayor if elected to their local council. 

The proposal was one of many put forward by the party in a document detailing a reform in local governance. 

If 16-year-olds are allowed to contest for a council seat, they should also conversely be allowed to serve as mayor, according to the PN. Any legal anomalies that impinge a 16-year-old from fulfilling all their duties as mayor should be addressed in tandem. 

In 2019, 17-year-old Carlos Zarb received the second-highest number of first-count votes in the St Paul’s Bay local council election but was unable to take up the post of deputy mayor due to his age. He contested the elections on a PL ticket.

The PN has also proposed that every person elected mayor should have the option to take on the role on a full-time basis and be free to devote more of their time to the locality should they wish to. Councillors who spend more than 10 years on the council should be considered for some sort of financial compensation, they proposed. 

Broadly, the PN argued that more responsibilities should be allocated to local government and regional councils and that the government should undertake a five-year plan to devolve more responsibilities as well as financial backing to these entities. 

A portion of VAT collected from commercial entities as well as the bed tax collected from tourists should also be diverted towards councils, according to the PN.

Councils should meanwhile focus on becoming more digital, by creating an online system as well as a mobile app that allows residents to lodge complaints or apply for permits. Council meetings should also be streamed for the public’s benefit from an online platform. 

'Councils rendered toothless' 

Local councils, the PN said, deserve the power to decide and implement things in their locality, however, the central government has created an environment in which councils are bypassed or have their hands tied on crucial decisions. The party condemned the consistent chipping away of responsibilities related to enforcement, planning, waste collection, street cleaning, traffic management, street lighting and vaccination against the flu. 

The PN also proposed a new mechanism that would allow local councils to petition the Parliamentary Committee to allow important or serious issues in their localities to be discussed in parliament. 

Additionally, councils should have a bigger say on major development projects in their locality through a larger representative vote at every stage of the planning process. Funds should also be made available for councils to be able to consult with architects and lawyers on a regular basis about the planning applications filed in their localities.

The PN also proposed the creation of a cultural heritage register in every locality for information and transparency reasons. 

“The primary reason people have been losing confidence in their local councils is that residents were not receiving basic services because councils have become effectively toothless,” the PN said in a statement. 

“This is why the PN has always been in favour of decentralisation and for residents to choose their local representation.”

You can read all of the PN's proposals in the document below.

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