A bug on the Planning Authority website’s ‘advanced search’ facility leading to missing information on enforcement notices issued by the authority was fixed following queries from The Shift.
The issue prevented cases from being listed when searching by locality, despite being otherwise accessible if searched for directly on the PA’s map server or through their case number, with a spokesperson for the authority initially telling The Shift that the issue was not a bug, but a feature.
The cases were not viewable “simply due to the way the search function is coded”, with the spokesperson saying a 16-day grace period was applied to the enforcement cases within which contravenors could legally align themselves before being listed alongside other pending enforcement cases.
Merely two days following The Shift’s queries with the authority, the issue was remedied with the search function now displaying all enforcement cases.
When The Shift asked why the grace period would apply to the website’s locality search function but not other areas of the site, the PA was not able to provide an answer.
Aside from issues displaying the enforcement notices publicly on their website, The Shift has reported on how the authority continues to allow impunity to the contravenors themselves, with little to no enforcement being carried out.
Contraventions by restaurants and other businesses encroaching on public sidewalks for the placement of tables and chairs have made a mockery of the authority’s notices, with businesses continually flaunting the rules both in the Sliema and St Julian’s area, in Valletta, and across the island.
The authority has also refused or delayed the issue of notices against select offenders, such as Foreign Affairs Minister Ian Borg, whose illegal swimming pool at his Santa Katerina home is yet to be issued an enforcement notice despite simultaneously being recognised as a recreational pool on the authority’s server.
Planning Authority enforcement notices are denoted by a case number, preceded by ‘EC’ and succeeded by the last two digits of the year in which they were issued. They may be accessed on the PA website pa.org.mt or the authority’s planning applications portal eapps.pa.org.mt.