Thirteen parking spaces have been lost to tables and chairs in Sliema in the past three months alone, mayor Anthony Chircop said today. 

Mr Chircop said that the council wrote to Planning parliamentary secretary Deborah Schembri urging her to suspend new policy guidelines for outdoor catering areas. 

The council wants the policy to be amended to ensure councils are part of the application process from the outset. Councillors also want authorities such as Transport Malta to weigh in on applications before they are approved.

New policy guidelines, introduced late last year, have streamlined the application process, making it easier for catering establishments to apply for an outdoor area and requiring councils to do more legwork if they are to contest applications. 

The new guidelines have led to a surge in applications, Sliema councillor Paul Radmilli told journalists. 

Six applications in Sliema have been approved, leading to 13 parking spaces being lost, and three more applications are due to be decided on in the next few days. 

Councillors expressed concern that no application had been turned down, and claimed many establishment owners were applying for an outdoor catering area and laying out tables and chairs before approval has been granted.

In a statement, the Partit Demokratiku called for a revision of the tables and chairs policy.

It said permits should be issued in liaison with the relevant councils as these were more sensitive to the effect of such decisions on their locality.

It said that a percentage of the income from these permits should go to the councils to reinvest in the locality and help partly mitigate the disruption caused.

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