Authorities have stepped up enforcement efforts in Mistra Bay by increasing regular police patrols and instructing immobile caravans to vacate occupied spaces or be towed at their own expense after The Shift reported yesterday the complaint of a restaurant owner in the area.
Large boulders that prevent campers or caravans from directly accessing the beach have also been placed on one side of the beach, with more expected to be placed on the beachfront to prevent access to vehicles.
Police officers who happened to be on patrol during an on-site visit by The Shift stressed that only caravans or campers that do not carry a valid licence or are not parked within a white parking space can be fined or towed.
While the police officers did say that two of the vehicles that were on site were to be towed by the end of this week unless the owners moved them, the rest of the caravans seemed to be in line.
One of these two vehicles, which was not a caravan, was referred to in a report published by the Shift on Monday. The officer explained that the owner had been contacted and that they would either remove it themselves or tow it.
It is unclear why different officers had different things to say about the police’s ability to tow vehicles. According to Camilleri, officers who slapped him with fines last weekend had stated that there was no available space in towing compounds.
The officers which were on-site earlier today, however, insisted that any vehicles that overstayed past the week-long deadline to vacate the site would be towed.
The officers also said they had issued an estimated 30 fines over the last week, many of which were due to caravans and campers that were not parked in assigned spaces.
In another Facebook post on the subject, Margo’s restaurant owner Claude Camilleri claimed that some of the owners had removed some of the warning notices placed on their vehicles.
Caravan owners that were in the area argued that Mistra was not their first choice but that they had no better alternatives to consider. “We don’t want to disturb the restaurant, we don’t want to disturb other people – we just want to enjoy the beach. We don’t want to hurt anybody, all we want is to have a place where we can enjoy the peace and quiet,” one of the owners said.
However, it was also evident that antagonism between the caravan owners and the restaurant’s business interests has escalated over the last few days.
One of the owners believes that Camilleri, Margo’s owner, has been targeting them unfairly, referring to Facebook posts in which photos of caravan owners were uploaded without their permission.
The same owner also denied any instances in which Camilleri or his business were targeted, arguing that he advocated against other caravan owners confronting the restaurateur. “We’d much rather ignore whatever he says about us and try to go on with our lives,” he added.
Yet the prospect of them being removed led to some harsh comments against the restaurant owner.
In spite of Camilleri’s legal case against the authorities and the consistent reporting on the matter, the issue of restricted public access to the relatively small beach remains unresolved, with caravan owners insisting that they will simply take up valid parking spaces instead of parking along the roadside.
When asked about whether they feel like large, loud groups of people gathered around caravans and taking up space in the area is fair on the restaurant owner, the owner argued that “everywhere is crowded”.
“Are the beaches at Għadira or Riviera quiet beaches? Is any coastal area in Malta actually quiet? What does he want from us, to clear out of his way so his customers can look at the sea? What right does he have to do that?” another caravan enthusiast said.
“Everyone keeps throwing us in a bad light but the reality is that there is nowhere to go and that everywhere is crowded,” she added, without questioning the limitations caravan owners are imposing on the public at large that wishes to access the beach.
According to the notices that were still on-site, which were put in place yesterday, anyone slapped with such a notice will have to vacate by 21 June.