Half of the Valletta residents who took part in a survey about the city’s community believe changes in the capital over the past five years have been negative.
Only a third perceive the changes as positive, according to research carried out post-V18 – Valletta as a European Capital of Culture during 2018, which drew huge investment, cultural and business activity, trade in property and influx of people to the city.
The study highlighted residents’ everyday struggles.
They identified parking as the most urgent matter to be looked into.
That was followed by the need for clean and accessible pavements and streets, more enforcement, elderly and welfare services, improved public transport and convenience stores.
The project was led by Prof. Andrew Azzopardi, dean of the university’s Faculty for Social Wellbeing.
The pride of identity felt by Valletta residents came out strongly in the study. Agreement with the statement ‘I am proud of living in Valletta’ was significantly higher than that of other four statements, namely the importance of the parish feast or the Valletta football club, the effectiveness of the local council and the positive effect of V18 on residents.
Nearly a fifth of respondents said Valletta was part and parcel of their identity, with special references to being born and bred there.
The study suggests that the residents’ critical stance towards V18 is rooted in an understanding that foreigners, not native residents, featured on its agenda.
Notably, for the ‘Beltin’, foreigners are those who have not been born or bred in Valletta, not just Malta.
The study recommends enhancing integration between Valletta stakeholders, involving the younger generations in the city’s activities and investing in research and infrastructure that would support an ageing population, which has experienced very rapid economic growth and social change over a short span.
The research, Understanding the Valletta Community, was carried out by Dr Maria Brown and Dr Andrew Camilleri, in collaboration with the Valletta local council.
It was funded by Inspirasia.
Beltin: in their own words
“A lot of chatter about businesses and this and the other. I’m sorry but do you know that people live in Valletta? Most were foreigners. This was what V18 was.”
“There are six Maltese shops beneath my property and Maltese persons work in them but none of them are ‘Beltin’.”
“If I had children, I could not afford to find a place for them in Valletta even if I wanted to, and this is leading to an exodus.”
“If a person from a hotel complains because it might impact tourism, this is given more importance. Same street, same meeting …but the hotel person was given more importance than the resident.”
“Before, Valletta was dead but now there is noise…”