St Julian’s has evolved over the last 50 years from a quiet fisherman’s village to becoming Malta’s main cosmopolitan centre and mecca for entertainment. Social life is good here. But St Julian’s is more than this.
St Julian’s is also a residential area. Conveniently, some fail or choose not to consider this glaring veracity. Residents have not only duties towards their community but also rights, one of which is to freely enjoy their life and property. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Life for our residents is becoming more of a nightmare.
On a daily basis, residents have to make up for the irresponsibility of the many rowdy and unrestrained visitors. Residents also have to put up with the sheer arrogance of particular businessmen. Vandalism, graffiti and theft are on the increase. Driving and parking are problematic.
To make matters worse, several parking spaces are being taken up by outside catering. Even pavements are being commercialised. Lewd and drunken behaviour is a common occurrence. Some unruly individuals go as far as depositing their human waste or vomit on residents’ doorsteps. Our elderly are feeling increasingly insecure, ending up barricaded in their own homes.
This is the dark side of St Julian’s.
To add insult to injury, St Julian’s is also turning out to be one ugly construction site; its skyline is dotted with huge construction cranes. Mega developments such as Mercury House, Villa Rosa Complex, the db monstrosity, the Corinthia development and now the proposed Regional Road 30-storey high tower are just a few examples of many.
While I am aware that it is not an easy task to balance between the interests of the commercial community and the rights of residents, we must strike a balance. If we fail, then we are risking strangling our ‘golden goose’.
It is in the interest of all stakeholders – the commercial community, the central government and residents – to come together. The degeneration of our locality serves no one any good. If we really want St Julian’s to be a high-end destination, then we need to be promoters of the common good rather than enablers of the greedy few.
On my part, I choose to be an active citizen. I am resolute to remain a steadfast voice in advocating on behalf of all our residents. I firmly stand by with them. I want to remain steadfast in representing the concerns of the many over the interests of the few.
Not voting is not an option for active citizens. Not voting resolves nothing but gives others the freedom to choose over you
It is within this context and following my experience as deputy mayor that once more I am contesting the forthcoming local council elections on May 25. I have no other motives other than to serve our community.
Humbly, I am putting forward a number of concrete long/short-term proposals that, if I am given the requested trust, I will embark on. Briefly, these are:
Further advocating the setting up of a social contribution fund. Through this fund, green wardens will be introduced, and much-needed upgrading and embellishment works will be undertaken. One way to reach this goal is to keep insisting that a percentage of the current tourist bed tax should be forwarded to the council. This is what happens in other countries. It is not right to take the flak but not the cake!
The devolution of Spinola Palace. Way back in 2016, I had proposed that the government returns this 17th century baroque edifice back to the community. Although the then council had voted unanimously in favour of my proposal, sadly the government dragged its feet. Once restored, this palace will serve as a day shelter for our elderly, a public library, a community hall, a berġa and offices for the local council.
In view of the fact that St Julian’s is made up of a number of connected areas such as the Sacred Heart area, Ta’ Giorni, The Gardens, the village core and The Village, a daily council circular bus ought to be introduced. This will alleviate transport for the elderly and promote their social/physical mobility.
The setting up of security cameras in particular areas is a must. Our residents deserve to feel secure in their own homes and streets.
An ongoing maintenance of pavements is needed, also creating more open spaces, an open gym, the continuation of our current projects and closely scrutinising projects being undertaken by developers.
Organising a public consultation over St Patrick’s Day. St Patrick’s Day is proving to be the breaking point. It has grown in popularity over the years and has become somewhat of an annual bugbear. My proposal should not be considered to be a pick-up fight with anyone, but rather giving our residents a voice to express their valued opinion.
Within this context, I humbly encourage all residents to participate in the forthcoming elections. Not voting is not an option for active citizens. Not voting resolves nothing but gives others the freedom to choose over you.
Together we all, my colleagues and I, ask our residents to stand with us and save what is left to be saved in St Julian’s. Thank you for your trust.
Albert Buttigieg is deputy mayor for St Julian’s and a Nationalist Party candidate at the local councils elections.
This is a Times of Malta print opinion piece
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