A Valletta council meeting descended into chaos on Wednesday afternoon as residents asked councillors to intervene and ask for the repeal of legal notices that allow music in the capital to continue until 1am.
In a meeting characterised by shouting, banging on tables, and constant booing, the council struggled to keep a tight reign as they it heard angry residents express outrage that the new rules had been approved without them being consulted.
The councillors themselves had a number of heated exchanges, as the Nationalist ones accused the mayor of ignoring their calls to address the issue urgently, while the Labour representatives pushed back that they were being “overdramatic” and “performing for the media”.
Residents who thought they might be placated by the council did not find a sympathetic ear from mayor Alfred Zammit, who bristled at every taunt and accusation from residents in attendance and constantly threatened to end the meeting if both councillors and the public did not behave themselves.
Resident James Vella Clark presented a position on behalf of the resident group Valletta Residents Revival, calling for the revocation of the legal notices and demanding that residents be consulted as equal stakeholders to develop policies that impact them.
However, before the statement could be read, the mayor interrupted to ask if the group intended to run for public office.
“Before you start, tell me, are you going to contest any elections?” Zammit said.
“No, we’re not politically affiliated at all,” replied Vella Clark.
“Okay, because it's important that we know if you are,” Zammit replied, eliciting a round of groans and eye-rolling from the audience.
The position paper described the rules as “obscene” and demanded that residents be treated as equal stakeholders on matters that impact them.
“This legal notice, written and presented to Parliament without consultation with us residents, as an affront not only to all us who for years have had to contend with the constant degradation of Valletta as a habitable city, but a slap in the face of all those who for long have been advocating for a unique approach towards making Valletta a superior entertainment venue in Malta,” Vella Clark read.
The legislation flies against the WHO’s night noise guidelines for Europe and betrayed a lack of vision by public officials in preventing the degradation of Valletta, the position paper added.
“The lack of consultation with residents is causing an unnecessary rift between the commercial community and residents who, notwithstanding their different political views, are now uniting as a common front,” he continued.
“In fact, the VRR group makes it categorically clear that Valletta’s residents are not against businesses or any activity that contributes to bring the city to life. Indeed, we acknowledge the investment by most businesses which over the past few years has contributed to making Valletta a sought-after entertainment hub.
“What we are against is the lack of balance that seems to persist between the needs of the business community and that of residents.
“We are against the lack of consultation with us residents when major decisions are taken that ultimately impact our daily lives, in this case, residents’ mental health and wellbeing, especially families and the elderly.”
The group, Vella Clark continued, was willing to sit down and hold discussions with all stakeholders involved to find an amicable solution to the issue.
The council also heard from other residents, who highlighted how they were already facing issues when establishments were allowed to play music till 11pm. The new legal notices had left them unable to seek help from the police as loud music blared while they are trying to sleep.
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