A thorough rehaul of the planning policies

I read with interest what Robert Musumeci had to say on planning policies and the Planning Authority as well as his quote in the last paragraph.

I am an ordinary person and my interests are solely those of any Maltese citizen; I have no qualifications on development planning and/or public policies.

However, I have my own opinion, spurned on by the interests of the population at large and people living in a locality; definitely not by interests of particular sectors.

My first suggestion is that no architect, designer, engineer, lawyer, politician, contractor or developer should sit on the Planning Authority board to vet development applications. It should also be made illegal for the above to have connections in any way, directly or not, with any of the members on the PA board.

Secondly, if in doubt about a particular law, it should be submitted to the policymaker or legislator at the time it is drawn in parliament. If it is an old law or the legislator is deceased, the courts should do so, whatever time it takes them to do so. The razzett example is a case in point. I lived in a rural area throughout my childhood and adolescence and I beg to differ about the final interpretation of the actual meaning of razzett. “Sejjer sar-razzett biex ngħalef il-bhejjem,” explains it all.

Thirdly, the case officer who visits and inspects the site should not be alone. There should be three and not always the same three.

Fourthly, all the PA board should be made solely of members who are disinterested in development and land exploitation for personal gain, namely representatives of Heritage Malta, Din l-Art Ħelwa, local councils (depending on the locality of the development application), local neighbourhood watch, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar, Friends of the Earth Malta, Graffitti and, possibly,  one or two more from organisations I may have missed out. And if any of these members allow themselves to be approached to be influenced or bribed, the members will be struck off the board and fined. And the persons who approach them should be fined and have their licence suspended.

Fifthly, the chairperson should be chosen by two-thirds of the members of parliament and be answerable only to the courts of justice.

Sixthly, if there is still any doubt about the meaning of any particular word in the law, the interpretation should be submitted and left in the hands of the relevant association.

Finally, any development application, after approval by the board will be submitted to a technical/professional board, to examine it from, the safety, aesthetic, legal and civil engineering point of view.

In this way, development permits will not be issued like pastizzi, doubts about bribes and influence will disappear and politicians will have no say.

Most importantly of all, Malta and Gozo will not be raped further in the interests of the few.

Roy Schembri Wismayer – St Julian’s

Public transport scheme and Tallinja cards

Reference is made to the letter ‘All is not well at Transport Malta’ (October 7). Malta Public Transport would like to clarify that the government free travel scheme is processed by the company and not by Transport Malta. The customer has been contacted and the issue, which was tied to a particular Tallinja card, has been resolved.

Tallinja cardholders who are between the ages of 14 and 20 years, full-time students aged 21 years and over, in possession of a European disability card issued by CRPD and aged 70 years and over are eligible to benefit from free public transport. All these customers automatically receive a refund for the bus trips made throughout the previous month.

Over the past year, over 3,000 customers successfully received refunds as part of this scheme each month. We kindly request anyone who faces issues with their refunds to contact our customer care agents, who are always happy to assist.

Reference is also made to the letter ‘Tallinja card system’ (October 7). Malta Public Transport issues an average of 1,500 Tallinja cards each month. Since its launch in 2015, the Tallinja card has been increasing in popularity as it allows customers to benefit from reduced rates on the bus fare and other mobility services.

Unfortunately, it appears that the author experienced some difficulties during the registration process for the Tallinja card. While we extend our apologies, we encourage anyone who requires assistance during the registration process to contact our customer care agents, who will be able to guide them through the process as required.

Diane Oswald, head of communications, Malta Public Transport – Luqa

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