Parliament will tomorrow debate a motion to revoke two legal notices that extend the time window within which bars and other commercial establishments may play street music from 11pm to 1am in a number of major streets in Valletta.
These two legal notices were published by stealth by the government in early June, with no prior notice and without any form of consultation with the residents and other key stakeholders or their representatives within the local council or district MPs.
This decision was so well hidden that it only came to the fore when a resident living in one of the targeted streets filed a complaint with the Valletta police station due to the excessive music being played in his street well after 11pm.
The police officer on duty referred the resident to the new legal notices and the rest is history.
The prime minister’s political direction appears to be to transform Valletta into another Paceville at all costs, completely ignoring the totally different character and specific realities and needs of our capital city.
And, so, over the past month, residents in Valletta have faced the ongoing discomfort of music blaring outside their homes till the very early hours of the morning.
This problem is further accentuated by the fact that a growing segment of the Valletta demographic is over 60 years of age and has, therefore, been completely disoriented by these developments.
As minority leader of the Valletta local council, I have been inundated with calls in recent weeks by affected residents and businesses. They are incensed that the government has taken this decision so arbitrarily and completely ignored them. More so, they are angry that our Labour-led local council has remained silent on this development and, to this day, refuses to take a formal stand on this issue.
The motion being debated tomorrow provides our MPs with an opportunity to rise above partisan politics- Christian Micallef
Were it not for the Nationalist Party and its representatives within the local council, and the ongoing support of our district MPs, this issue would not have been given the prominence it deserves and has now gained.
We have done everything within our power to raise this concern on the Valletta council’s agenda and have implored the Labour councillors occupying the majority to join us in defending the basic rights of the residents of Valletta in a bipartisan manner. Yet, the Labour-led majority refuses to budge and has steadfastly taken the side of the Labour Party and the powerful lobbies that drive it, against the basic rights of the residents of Valletta.
It is for this reason that we now turn to parliament in one final bid to ask our legislators to revoke these two legal notices and to replace greed with common sense and basic decency.
Faced with this motion and upcoming vote, my plea first goes to the five Labour MPs elected on the first district: Infrastructure Minister Aaron Farrugia, Parliamentary Secretary Keith Azzopardi Tanti, Deo Debattista, Cressida Galea and Davina Sammut Hili, as well as the MPs who contested the first district but were elected elsewhere: Parliamentary Secretary Andy Ellul and Ray Abela.
I implore you to defend the residents of Valletta, who gave you their vote and their support in the last general election, by speaking out and voting to revoke these callous legal notices.
The motion being debated tomorrow provides our MPs with an opportunity to rise above partisan politics, to give Valletta back the dignity it deserves. Above all, it is an opportunity for each and every one of us to send out a clear message against greed and to respect the basic rights of residents all over our country, including in our capital city.
Christian Micallef is minority leader and a former mayor of Valletta.
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