Event organiser Andrea Britton is refusing to divulge details on permits for a party set to be held at the historic Qolla l-Bajda Battery in Qbajjar, Gozo, despite concerns about the abandoned and dilapidated Knights-era battery.
Britton, who runs a so-called “digital wellness platform” named Gozo In The House, did not clarify who was authorising the event, despite claiming that “there are various permits/licences in place that have taken months to collate” in response to questions from The Shift.
Despite repeat questions sent for her to explain, Britton refused to clarify. She even expressed her irritation at being asked too many questions.
“I will kindly remind you I asked for an explanation for your questions,” she replied.
Britton, a British expat, recently received UK£30,000 (€34,000) in funding from Shark Tank Malta investor Christabelle Camilleri, using the September party as a selling point with the panel of investors.
The Knights-era battery has been abandoned since 2003 when a temporary emphyteusis granted to Rook Ltd in 1981 expired. The emphyteusis was granted to George “id-Diaz” Said of La Grotta, who was evicted in 2007.
The Planning Authority issued infringement procedures due to illegal works carried out on the battery when used as a nightclub known as Rook.
Said fought to retain the battery with years of legal action to stall the process, causing delays in handing it over to heritage organisations for its restoration. The current state of the battery raises health and safety concerns for any event organised there.
Guardianship for the battery has been promised to national trust Din L-Art Ħelwa (DLH), which has been waiting on bureaucratic governmental delays to begin its restoration for years, having already secured the permits and funding.
Company ownership raises questions
The Liquid Spirit Festival, set to be held in September, will take place at the Qbajjar Battery, Villa Fiorita and Club Paradiso, also known as La Grotta, which also happens to be owned by Said.
During her Shark Tank Malta appearance, Britton promoted her website as a unique marketing platform, pegging it as the “soul-ution” to increasing “wellbeing tourism to Gozo”.
The event she plans will see more than 20 “UK heavyweight DJs playing House, Disco, and Old Skool Anthems” in what she describes as “exclusive takeovers” of the locations, with “momentous boat parties” and “summer festival vibes”.
In promotional material on Britton’s website, which hosts content ranging from accommodation and restaurant guides for Gozo, to wellness, fitness and spirituality blogs – the “festival” is said to be hosted in collaboration with Online PR MT UK.
Yet Online PR MT UK, another company owned by Britton, was struck off the UK Companies House register in 2013. Britton made no mention of this fact during her appearance on Shark Tank Malta.
Further searches conducted by The Shift do not list other companies owned by Britton with a similar name mentioned in her promotional material, either in Malta or the UK.
Need for the site’s urgent protection
Din L-Art Ħelwa has been waiting to be granted guardianship for some time to proceed with restoration works on the historic battery, along with several other sites. When asked about the government’s bureaucratic delays, DLH president Prof. Alex Torpiano said, “I simply do not understand them”.
In response to a parliamentary question by Opposition MP Graziella Galea on 27 February, National Heritage and Arts Minister Owen Bonnici said that the Qbajjar battery custodianship request had been processed by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage and passed on to the Lands Authority, headed by minister Silvio Schembri.
The battery and several other national heritage sites, such as the iconic “Razzett tax-Xitan” in Mellieħa and the Chapel of San Ċir in Rabat, continue to deteriorate as the government continues to delay.
Torpiano explained that the delays imply “losing more original material and making the cost of restoration even higher”, with the added risk of sponsors losing interest in the projects and not following through with their support.
Shameful government that impedes genuine organisations to restore historic places thanks to sponsors due to the government’s unscrupulous behaviour.
Note the government is in duty bound to restore, preserve and maintain such sites.
Jidher li Christable ghażlet champion minn got-tank tax-xarkijiet.
Iva Bediqqinu semmietu
Taf min ghamilha nies lil dik hu! L ministru Borg!
I’M GUESSING THE DELAYS ARE CAUSED BY DELAYS IN BROWN ENVELOPES NOT BEING PASSED UNDER HANDED TO THE MINISTER!!!👎
THAT’S HOW THIS CORRUPT FASCIST LABOUR GOVERNMENT WORKS!!!🤑🤢👎
That building is in the worst state its EVER been in. A death trap waiting to happen!!! Health & Safety take action!