Works on a new garden in Paola, launched in April, have been at a standstill since May – despite an electoral promise to turn the area at Wied Blandun into a new family-friendly environment.

When he launched the regeneration project, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, accompanied by various government officials, said the public area in question had been left dilapidated for years.

Dr Mizzi, who was at the time Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister, also highlighted the features of the new garden, named after former Labour leader Dom Mintoff, including an observation tower.

He said work on the project would continue uninterrupted until completion. However, residents in the area told this newspaper everything stopped shortly after the ministerial launch.

“All they did so far is make a big hole to build a water reservoir and a perimeter fence on which they stuck a lot of public relations material for the minister. But nothing else was ever done,” a pensioner said.

All they did so far is make a big hole and a fence on which they stuck PR material

Another resident, who insisted the project was a good initiative because the area needed an uplift, appealed to the minister, whose constituency includes Paola, to keep his promise and ensure it was completed. “We were told before the election that the garden would be completed soon. I hope we won’t have to wait until the next general election,” he said.

According to one woman, 43, a mother who lives in nearby Fgura, the present state of play also posed a danger to children, who could easily injure themselves. “It’s not fair that they did some work and left. Things need to be completed,” she insisted.

When asked what was happening, a spokesman for Dr Mizzi said that the works had been halted to “improve the designs”, quickly adding that the project was expected to resume in the coming weeks”.

He said the material would cost an estimated €400,000 and the works would be undertaken by public sector personnel.

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