Gzira Mayor Conrad Borg Manche’ has gone through thick and thin to resist the government’s inexplicably steadfast intention to hand over approximately 1,000 square meters of the crowded locality’s only green lung for the relocation of a petrol station and the health hazards that come with it.
Those efforts came to final fruition today when Mr Justice Lawrence Mintoff presiding over the Court of Appeal threw out the Lands Authority’s last-ditch efforts to force the fuel station’s relocation to part of the Council of Europe Garden.
The court found the Lands Authority’s actions in this case lacked the principles of natural justice and reasoned decisions that public authorities need to ensure correctness and transparency.
The issue has seen the Labour Party mayor at loggerheads with people from his own party and against the government itself over his refusal to buckle to the relocation plans.
“I would have been a useless mayor had I not put up a fight,” Borg Manche’ told The Shift this afternoon.
“They tried so hard but they failed,” he said of the Lands Authority’s insistence and the political pressures that were brought to bear against him to try to push the deal through seemingly at all costs.
The case has been ongoing for a year, since April 2022.
The Council first won it in the court of first instance presided over by Magistrate Charmaine Galea on 1 November 2022. But the Lands Authority appealed the ruling, seemingly bent on pushing the deal through at all costs and against stiff public opposition.
The petrol station’s relocation to the garden, it seems, was to be presented as a fait accompli and there had been no consultation with the local council, which has been administering the Council of Europe Garden for the last 22 years.
“I managed, with God’s help, to have noticed the plans when I did,” Borg Manche’ said of the genesis of the legal battle against the Lands Authority’s intent to relocate the petrol station and its accompanying carcinogenic fumes to Gzira’s only green lung.
Since then, the issue has seen the young mayor increasingly at odds with the powers that be, especially those within the party.
Asked about relations with the party on whose ticket he ran for election, Borg Manche’ showed little sign of concern, saying, “I don’t really care, I’m just doing my job.”
Borg Manche’ last month took aim at Labour Party President Ramona Attard, who, as a lawyer, represented the Lands Authority in the case.
Borg Manche’ laid into Attard, saying, “I remind her that destroying a garden that has been serving the people for more than 120 years so it can be given to a petrol station to render it unusable because of the high levels of carcinogenic fumes is the most anti-socialist thing one can do to.
“Do we value the people so little? If this is not madness and a betrayal of the people, then I don’t know what could be.”
He noted how the law governing the Lands Authority stipulates the government’s obligation towards the people to ensure the best possible use of public land.
“That’s exactly what I’m fighting for,” Borg Manche’ said, “so land that belongs to the people and is used by the people is not destroyed through greed.
“That is what I am doing as Gzira’s mayor even though I am being attacked from everywhere, as anyone who is following Council meetings knows. But I will work for the trust voters have placed in me without fear or favour.”
Borg Manche’ said he is well aware he is upsetting some circles within the party for not toeing the line.
“Can someone explain to me what the party’s line is and why, as a representative of the people, I should betray those who voted for me?” he asked.
“What I have done in the last seven years has been pure Socialism and I think the actions taken concerning Manoel Island and the petrol station saga are proof enough of this.
“What is socialist about sacrificing people’s health and land so a businessman who has already been occupying public land for more than 60 years can continue to dominate us?
“Could it be that we have lost our soul, reason and all we say we believe in?”
The Shift has reported how the Lands Authority had summarily informed the Gzira Local Council that just under 1,000 square metres of the seafront garden were to have been allocated to the Manoel Island Service Station, which at present lies just 100 metres from Gzira’s last remaining area of greenery.
The petrol station is owned by businessman Muscat. Through another company, Cubed Turnkey Projects Ltd, Muscat and its partners have received numerous direct orders for work connected to the Authority, including the refurbishment of its headquarters at the Auberge de Bavière in Valletta.
“I don’t really care, I’m just doing my job.” If only we had more people doing just that. The place would be the best place on earth.
Sew qed tghid, bhal Paul Buttigieg Sindku tal Qala…. U Chris Zammit tax Xaghra…hemm aktar????
Ramona Attard has been screwed twice.
Rosianne Cutajar kept her place in Parlament and Ramona OUT.
Conrad Borg Manche , sent her back to her paymaster with a bagfull of shit and to an empty brown envelope?
Prosit Sur Manche hekk ghandhom ikunu il laburisti ta veru. Sfortunament il partit li xi darba kien jiftahar li hu laburist spicca partit ultra kapitalista mimli b nies afamati mejtin bil guh u irvinaw din l art helwa. Fejn spicca is slogan Malta l ewwel u qabel kollox.
They’ll let it lie for a while, then resurrect it under another flag, meantime they will shred the Mayor. No one defies the Mafia.
A thumbs up to the Gzira Mayor. Stand up and be counted for the public interest, this is was politicians are expected to do.
Ms Attard is self centered and useless to this country and FAKE