Since 2020, the Planning Authority has approved almost 60 encroachment concessions that vary from the placement of ever-common tables and chairs in public areas to billboards, tower cranes and storage tanks in St Julian’s, Sliema and Paceville alone.
According to data tabled in response to a parliamentary question by Opposition MP Albert Buttigieg, the vast majority of concessions were for the placement of tables and chairs, generally indicated as T&C, taking up public land for the benefit of restaurateurs and businesses.
The 58 concessions granted since 2020 do not include the dozens of pending enforcement notices against illegal the take-up of public land for similar purposes in the same localities.
Economy, EU Funds, and Lands Minister Silvio Schembri said that additional time would be required to research encroachment concessions dating back to 2013 for Buttigieg’s question from last Monday to be answered in full.
Currently, the only requirements for applicants who submit a form to the Lands Authority requesting a concession on an encroachment basis are basic plans and photos submitted by the business’ architect, with no system for their enforcement or demarcation.
The current outdoor catering policy was last revised in 2016 with the intention of simplifying the “administrative processes for the issuing of the necessary licenses and permits for this type of development”, adopting a more business-first approach.
The previous system was characterised as “inadequate and too complex to be able to deliver the required standard of service and decisions”.
In March, the Ombudsman Commissioner for Environment and Planning architect Alan A. Saliba issued a statement lamenting the lack of demarcation and enforcement from the Planning Authority on the constant and growing encroachment of tables and chairs onto public roads and pavements.
In its reply to the commissioner’s initial consultation, the Planning Authority shirked responsibility for practice by arguing it is not within its remit.
The current unenforced system raises questions as to whether it would allow for illegal and unpermitted public land take-up to occur alongside it, given the lack of clear indications for permitted encroachments.
In his statement, Saliba said that the authorities were ignoring a section of the 2016 policy which required “specific visible markings for such areas, namely steel plates flush with the surface” for such encroachment concessions.
In conjunction with a letter sent to Speaker Anġlu Farrugia and prime minister Robert Abela, Saliba concluded by saying that “the lack of cooperation, particularly from the Lands Authority, has made it difficult to find a way to enhance its administrative role, particularly on sensitive issues where commercial interests are prevalent.”
Looks more like Labour hustling for votes from small businesses and returning the favour.
Now the mafia requires you to walk in the gutter.
U iva no prob in-nies jbghaddu mit-triq fejn il bankina tkun okkupata mil-imwejjed u siggijiet, la xorta jmorru jcapcpulu u jivvutawlu sinjal li jkunu jaqblu ma li jghamel, mhux hekk ?
U min ma vvutax ghal dan? Li missek tghid hu li min hu komdu jigi jitmejjel minn min ikollu jgarrab.
Whoever came out with the electoral slogan “Malta taghna lkoll” (Malta belongs to us all) was a grade A liar.
The elderly, mums with prams and kids, those on wheel chairs or the blind with a cane and others who walk with some difficulties, who cares at all about these, though they hardly can pass on the pavements. So first these establishments occupy the pavement then they go further and move out onto the road and take all parking spaces. All this because money talks and the neighbors have to lump it and listen to loud music, like it or not, though the law says that one cannot bother or annoy anyone. So both the establishments and the Gov are against the law as they are annoying everyone.
I love hanging out on the chairs outside. Poor business need a leg up also. So many closed down during COVID. More chairs outside. 🙌