The Sliema Local Council today filed a judicial protest against Transport Minister Joe Mizzi, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Transport Malta for issuing a legal notice which repealed a residential parking scheme for Sliema specifically, allowing other localities to make use of the scheme.
The judicial protest (signed by Dr Ian Spiteri Bailey and Dr Victoria Cuschieri of SB Advocates) explains that the Council had started to implement the residential parking scheme in line with the law, however in early June 2013 the Sliema scheme was suspended and Transport Minister Joe Mizzi hinted that such schemes were to be revised.
It must be noted that other localities still have residential parking schemes in place to date. In June 2013, the Transport Ministry issued a legal notice to “specifically target only Sliema and legally annul the right for the implementation of a residential parking scheme.”
After opposition for the “discriminatory” move, three meetings took place with Minister Joe Mizzi, where Mr Chircop said that it had appeared as though a parking scheme was being developed for all localities. It was then revealed that this was no longer a priority.
According to the judicial protest, in one of the meetings between Minister Mizzi and the Sliema local council, it was revealed that the parking scheme to be implemented in all localities, inclusive of Sliema, was suspended due to the introduction of a new public bus system. The impact on traffic and parking through this new public bus scheme could not be ignored, therefore the parking scheme was suspended.
“We waited a long time in order to see the parking scheme that the government was supposed to be coming up with. Nobody can say we were not tolerant and patient. At this stage, with the findings of such a survey in our hand, we reserve the right to take legal action,” said Mr Anthony Chircop in a previous press conference on the matter.
A study was commissioned to MISCO, according to the judicial protest. The very same press conference which took place on April of last year, revealed the results of the survey. It showed that the overwhelming majority of Sliema residents are in favour of implementing such a scheme.
Findings of the survey were sent to the Prime Minister and to the Transport Ministry.
One of the founding partners of MISCO explained that 300 Sliema residents were included in the survey, representative of age and gender of the locality.
It was found that 72 per cent regard the scheme proposed by the Council as positive, 19 per cent negative, and 8 per cent evenly split between ‘indifferent’ and ‘don’t know.’
Respondents were also asked to provide a rating from one to 10 to establish how favourable they are. In total, the scheme was given a ranking of 7.25. Mr Zammit said that this shows how not only that the majority of respondents are in favour of the scheme, but that they are “very” in favour of it.
Respondents were then asked to state why they perceive the parking scheme to be positive or negative. Out of those who perceived it as negative, 43.9 per cent found that it would be a problem for visitors to residents, 29.8 per cent cited problems for the commercial sector, 19.3 per cent said the time allotted in the scheme is too restricted (120 minutes) and another 19.3 per cent said they did not know why they perceived it as negatively.
In the judicial protest, it states that it is “unjust” and “unacceptable” for a legal notice to be issued that specifically precludes Sliema from making use of the parking scheme. The only two streets in Sliema that are permitted to use such a scheme are that of Dingli Street and the Strand.
The Sliema local council takes issue with the fact that no valid or justified reasons have been given to the local council for being stopped from making use of tools that good mitigate the parking problem in Sliema.
The protest states that the principle of good governance is not being followed, and demands that discussions immediately reconvene in order to reach an understanding/agreement, that a concrete and tangible parking scheme be implemented in Sliema – as was promised by Minister Mizzi – and that effectively and practically mitigates the parking problem in Sliema and lastly the council is holding Mr Mizzi, Dr Muscat and Transport Malta responsible for the damages and inconvenience caused to the residents of Sliema.
Sliema Residential Parking Scheme explained
Turning to what the scheme actually entails, the Mr Chircop said that 50 per cent of all parking within Sliema would be reserved for residents. That same 50 per cent would also be available to the public for not longer than 120 minutes.
The other 50 per cent would be available to the public at all times, unreservedly. Mr Chircop explained that different zones in Sliema have different parking needs, for example one particular area is heavily populated by schools so parking issues emerge at certain times of the day. It was said that the scheme would be improved as time went by in order to make it more and more effective.