Hawkers say they had not been consulted before the decision to relocate them to Savina Square was taken and claimed that the new location is not as central as their current one.
The Victoria local council has been stopped from transferring the location of the town’s open-air market after a court upheld a request for a warrant of prohibitory injunction filed by a group of hawkers.
The hawker’s lawyers, Ian Spiteri Bailey and Victoria Cuschieri, told Magistrate Joanne Vella Cuschieri that they had applied for the injunction after their clients were informed that the open-air market would be moving from Tokk Square to Savina Square.
The hawkers had been setting up their stalls in the Tokk square for many years and that this had been stipulated in their annual licences. They said they were aggrieved by the fact that they had not been consulted before the decision to relocate them to Savina Square was taken and claimed that the new location is not as central as their current one.
They also claimed it was too small and very difficult to reach by van. This would make it more difficult for them to set up and dismantle their stalls in the time allocated, they argued.
The plaintiffs also pointed out that the income of at least forty families would be affected by the council’s behaviour.
Victoria’s mayor, Samuel Azzopardi, did not deny that the council had not consulted the hawkers, but said that it had every right to relocate the market, as the two locations were both listed in the licence.
The court however noted that, using the council’s reasoning, the hawkers actually had a right to set up shop at both locations and not just one.
In upholding the application for the warrant, the magistrate said that, while the decision to change their licence conditions could not be described as causing damages, it did infringe several rights belonging to the hawkers which should be addressed before the plan is implemented, if it is to be implemented at all.
Lawyer Georgine Schembri represented the council.