A group of Marsascala residents are calling on the government to call off a "sham design contest" launched in Marsascala by the Malta Tourism Authority.

The residents had already demanded an immediate halt to the design contest which they fear was conceived to benefit businessmen and not locals. 

They have now joined forces with local councillors and written to Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo, Prime Minister Robert Abela and Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia, Moviment Graffitti said on Friday.

The letter expresses residents’ concern that the MTA design contest "is a cover-up for changes to ─ánien Sant’ Anna and surroundings that had been planned by a defunct sub-committee to further the members' own business interests".

"Almost a year ago, the mayor announced a sub-committee for the regeneration of Marsaskala. The people forming this sub-committee were chosen by the mayor himself, and for over two years, they met and worked on a variety of proposals behind closed doors, in liaison with Infrastructure Malta and the MTA.

"This sub-committee was chaired by Ray Abela. Other members included his cousin, Eric Abela, with business interests in the Marsascala square and surroundings, Joseph Farrell, also with business interests in the Marsascala square, Angele Abela, head of a minister’s secretariat, and the mayor himself. Angele Abela and Farrell left the sub-committee soon after its creation," they said in the letter.

According to the letter, the proposed embellishments would necessitate the construction of another concrete hardstanding facility on the other side of the bay, involving land reclamation with unknown environmental consequences and further take-up of Marsascala Bay.

The subcommittee's proposals also include redirection of traffic in and out of Marsascala, right beneath the public school and in front of the parish church, exposing community members, particularly children and the elderly to high levels of traffic danger.

"We are demanding the cancellation of this sham design contest. Long-term plans must be made in full consultation with residents and be fully transparent," they insisted.

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