Back in 2008, I successfully contested my first local council elections. At the time, the Nationalist Party was at the helm of the country. We had a change of government in 2013. Ten years down the line, I have witnessed the difference in the way the two parties in government treat and tackle local councils.
My home town village, Żurrieq, is a Labour Party stronghold. This fact did not stop the Nationalist government from carrying out an exhaustive list of projects to the benefit of all residents. The Wied iż-Żurrieq belvedere, the sports facilities, the rebuilding of Valletta Road, which is the main road leading to Żurrieq, and the Ġnien il-Ġibjun projects are few of them and have been realised prior to 2013.
Presently, political interference is the norm in almost every key decision in Żurrieq. I write this with a heavy heart. You can never take the right decision when the decisions as to what’s good or not good is only in relation to the few chosen ones, while the rest of the citizens are blissfully abandoned.
The recent inherently wrong decision by the Labour government to eliminate the administrative committees will directly lead to negative repercussions on the residents of Bubaqra, a sizeable hamlet in Żurrieq.
This area of Żurrieq has developed considerably in the last 10 years. It has managed to reach areas where the council would not dare be involved. A large amount of roads were completely rebuilt, new open air areas were created and the continuous attention to the environment are some of the many good actions taken by the administrative committee.
In this regard, I welcome the Nationalist Party’s motion, recently presented to the House of Representatives, whereby a debate on the matter has been requested.
Another concrete demonstration of how the government has lost faith in the local councillors is the recent legislation with regards to the tendering processes. This was completely taken away from democratically-elected residents who definitely have their locality at heart just to be given to some so-called ‘experts’ that know nothing about the locality’s real needs.
The concept of decentralisation has come to an end thanks to the policies of this government. Local councils are now at the mercy of ministers
A mere annual average increase of one per cent in government funding to the Żurrieq local council over the past years has led to stagnation. The local councils have been turned into garbage collectors and form collectors offices. The concept of decentralisation has come to an end thanks to the policies of this government. Local councils are now at the mercy of ministers.
The much promised additional funding by the Labour government to Żurrieq residents has not materialised. Such funding should have come from the Individual Investment Programme scheme, better known as prostitution of our passports-cum-bribes scheme. Had one tree been planted for every passport sold, Żurrieq would have benefitted from better air quality.
I advocate that the route is changed to the better. The Nationalist Party has a totally different view of how to give people the power to live a better life through the decisions taken by the local councils.
It strongly believes in them and has all the credentials to do so, being the party who first introduced them back in 1992.
My aim, both as a sitting councillor and now as a candidate again for Żurrieq’s local council is to make sure these values are at the centre of every decision, so as to make sure that all decisions reach a large degree of residents, mostly the vulnerable that are present in almost every locality.
A Żurrieq resident deserves much better. You should benefit from better environment surroundings, more open air areas, more sports related incentives, added control over traffic congestion, controlled noise pollution, a night shelter for the elderly, a viable project to control the rainwater flooding and an adequate new police station to continue to safeguard the life of all citizens. This gem in the south of Malta deserves it.
Working as a team should be the starting point. Confronting ideas is healthy. Let’s make this happen!
Dino Bonnici is a Nationalist Partycandidate in Żurrieq for the upcoming local council elections.
This is a Times of Malta print opinion piece
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