Children asked the government in a public consultation for the Cottonera area not to become commercialised, Cottonera Rehabilitation Committee head Glenn Bedingfield said. 

Speaking during the launch of the finalised version of the Cottonera Strategy, Mr Bedingfield said children had expressed their wish for the area to be protected from becoming "like other places which were too commercial". 

"They want Cottonera to retain its characteristics," he said.

The Labour MP was made executive chairman of the the Cottonera Rehabilitation Committee in November, after being given a lucrative contract by the government. 

Over 200 submissions were made to the public consultation on the strategy

He also thanked the many foreigners who moved to Cottonera, noting that 3.0 per cent of the area's population were now non-Maltese.

Sixty per cent of the area's population were inactive, and many of them were over 60, he noted.

Among the recommendations, people asked for more parking spaces and open areas. They also asked for the ferry service between Valletta and Vittoriosa to be expanded to other towns like Senglea and Kalkara, he said.

The government would be looking into restoring Fort Ricasoli, the largest fort on the island, which has long needed urgent action. NGO Wirt il-Kalkara had warned it could cost €50 million to regenerate the fort.

Speaking following Mr Bedingfield, Justice Minister Owen Bonnici said authorities wanted to avoid gentrification while improving the social and urban space of the area.

"We do not want to cause gentrification - that is our red line," he said. "We cannot wave a magic wand, but we do have a clear strategy."


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