Residents at the heart of the Local Councils vision for the next four years
Local Council Mayors have met around a table to discuss their vision for the next four years. During the meeting, a number of Mayors raised issues they are facing, which they pointed out are upsetting their long-term plans.
The vision, which will lead to the next Local Council elections, plans for residents to feel not just part of the locality but also of their Council.
The residents are at the centre of this vision. Association President Mario Fava explained that the vision up to 2024, when the next elections will take place, is based on four main pillars.
“You have transport and sustainable mobility in the localities; open spaces for social and recreational purposes; smart cities, with certain technology used in the localities with the aim of giving more recognition to what is ongoing in the locality and also in the country on a national basis; and naturally, one also has the urban environment.”
Mr Fava explained how this vision, launched last October, is the same for every locality, whilst simultaneously respecting the identity and needs of every locality.
This vision was discussed by all Mayors in Malta and Gozo, during a meeting in the presence of non-governmental organisations and Government entities, with the aim of decision-making, when required, being done in the residents’ best interests.
During the meeting, a number of Mayors complained of time wasted when they try and solve problems on a daily basis. Among them the Mayor of Ħ’Attard, who stated that before talking of visions they have to sort out basic issues, as Councils are not given their due, and three-quarters of entities just don’t care about the people’s needs.
The Qala Mayor mentioned that the Council is forking out big sums to contest applications for development in their localities. The Mayors of St Julian’s and Ta’ Xbiex suggested that Mayors or locality representatives should sit on the Planning Authority board when decisions are about to be taken about some development. Other Mayors complained they are not even consulted on infrastructural projects in their localities.
Aware of these many frustrations, Mr Fava stated that the vision takes all this into account.
“No one knows the particular needs of the localities more than the Local Councils, and for this reason, they have to be listened to and consulted, and they also have to be a part of decision-making, as very often, being consulted is not enough, but consultation is important and is part of the decision-making, as an example where certain Planning Authority permits are involved, or in the case of waste management issues, but particularly where these issues affect the citizens.”
Local Government minister Jose’ Herrera recognised this frustration. The Minister declared that Councils should have a stronger voice with regulatory entities. Dr Herrera added that he is working on a document about how Councils generate funds autonomously. The Minister described the Councils as the fourth pillar of governance in the country.