The government agency responsible for issuing temporary tow-zone notices used by people wanting to free up parking spaces in front of their property continues to issue such notices and charge citizens for them even though they have been declared illegal by the court.
Frustrated citizens charged hundreds of euros for such notices told The Shift that the no-parking signs being handed out by local councils on behalf of LESA are not worth the paper they are printed on since neither local councils nor LESA officials can take action when drivers ignore the signs.
“Last week I went to the local council as I needed to free some space in front of my apartment and was given these permits to stick on the front of my home against a fee of €94,” an angry citizen told The Shift.
“When I called the council to ask for the removal of a vehicle as the tow-zone signs were ignored, the council representative told us to call LESA as they couldn’t do anything.
“When we contacted LESA, they told us that the signs are no longer enforceable following a court order. When I asked why we paid the fee if the no-parking signs are worth nothing, LESA just replied that they can’t do anything.”
The Shift is informed that this situation has become a common occurrence across all Malta’s local councils.
Despite a court order two months ago, LESA continues to issue hundreds of permits, raking in thousands of euros a day in fees while knowing they are unenforceable and worthless, a source at LESA confirmed.
“LESA is clearly short-changing people. Citizens are literally putting money into the government’s pocket for absolutely no service. They should be refunded,” the official said.
Last July, following a court challenge, the Administrative Review Tribunal, chaired by Magistrate Charmaine Galea, ruled the signs were illegal.
The magistrate declared that “it is illegal for private individuals to stick notices on walls warning drivers not to park in a temporary ‘tow-away zone’ until works are carried out.”
According to the court’s declaration, “the signs may only be placed on site by a government entity and certainly not fixed with masking tape on someone else’s property.”
The magistrate added that the LESA signs do not conform with the laws on traffic signs and that Transport Malta and LESA should have never allowed its administration to be passed on to the persons applying for them.
When contacted, a spokesman for the local councils admitted that these signs are not enforceable even though they are still being issued against a fee.
“We were given no direction. All this money goes to LESA, and we are just tax collectors,” the spokesman insisted.
“Still, until we have direction from the government on what to do, we are still bound to issue the notices and charge for them,” he insisted.
Law enforcement officers told The Shift informally, “since these signs are illegal, it’s not worth asking for them any longer. Paying for them is money down the drain.”
They added that it was “unbelievable” that the government has still not found a solution while at the same time charging for a service that does not exist.