Newly-appointed PA board member involved in attempt to bury cave discovered during development

A newly appointed board member of the Planning Authority is directly involved in the loss of heritage in Xagħra, Gozo, that occurred during the excavation of the local council premises last week.

Reports show that a cave was discovered during excavation works. Yet despite the legal obligation to report the discovery, concrete was poured over parts of the cave to bury the site so work could continue.

The Shift is informed that the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage has now issued a stop notice on all the ongoing works to build a new Civic Centre in Xagħra.

Joseph Tabone, a canvasser for Planning Minister Clint Camilleri, who was appointed to the Planning Authority board last month, is also acting as the Site Technical Officer (STO) of the government-sponsored Xagħra project.

His duty is to prevent what happened.

The law states that whenever anything related to cultural heritage is discovered, works should be immediately stopped, and the discovery should be reported to the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage for further inspection.

Failure to do this is considered a criminal act.

Part of the conditions for the Xagħra development permit.

In social media posts, independent MEP candidate Arnold Cassola said this did not happen when the cave was discovered.

Following his report, the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage issued a stop notice, and all works were halted until an investigation was carried out.

Joseph Tabone, the project’s site technical officer, was among those responsible for the project and who should have been on site when a cave was discovered.

Yet neither Tabone nor the project manager, Aaron Agius, who is also the mayor of Xagħra, took any action to report the discovery and halt the works.

According to sources, instead of halting the excavation, the contractor on site, Gozitan Road Construction Ltd, was given orders to move quickly with the excavation as concrete was poured close to the cave.

This usually happens so the project developer avoids delays and changes to the project’s plans, which may increase costs.

The Civic Centre, promised in 2021, was expected to be completed by the end of this year. It’s still at the excavation stage.

Efforts by The Shift to reach Tabone for an explanation proved futile.

The site technical officer is a member of the Planning Authority Board nominated by Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri

Tabone, a person of trust at the office of Minister Clint Camilleri until a few years ago, has been working as a site technical officer on a freelance basis.

The new Xagħra Civic Centre is a project entirely financed by the Gozo ministry and is estimated to cost some €1.5 million.

Tabone was appointed to the Planning Authority board by Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri despite a potential conflict of interest as a service provider in the industry.

He joined another four of Camilleri’s nominees to the Planning Board last month, all close to the minister.

These include Architect Andrew Ellul, husband of Elizabeth Ellul, who processed the Planning Authority’s Outside Development Zone permits until she was removed a few years ago; Charles Hili, a former postman and a canvasser of Minister Camilleri; Mario Borg, the CEO at the government-financed Gozo Regional Development Authority; and lawyer Maria Borg who works at the notarial office of Kristen Dimech, notorious for the property deals made in Gozo, particularly by developer Joseph Portelli.

According to Prime Minister Robert Abela, the Gozo Minister, an architect by profession, was made responsible for the Planning Authority to instil more discipline in the construction industry.

                           

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Makjavel
Makjavel
1 month ago

As a site officer he should have stopped and reported the Heritage find. He broke the law. Where is the AG , the Place and Heritage to kick off the criminal investigation.

carmelo borg
1 month ago
Reply to  Makjavel

MİNİSTRU SERAQ MARKER ANTİK U MA GARA XEJN SE JİGRİ İSSA MA TARAX.

Julian Holland
Julian Holland
1 month ago

Tal-biki….gozitans’ love for Gozo

Nigel Baker
Nigel Baker
1 month ago

Failure to report the discovery may well be a criminal offence, but will anyone be subsequently charged or even reprimanded? Of course not. Therefore, such acts will continue until the rule of law is re-established.

Ganni
Ganni
1 month ago

Ghawdex indipendenti

David
David
1 month ago

No accountability in Gozo. Banana Republic. Everything is accepted unnoticed. Shame. Gozo is no more. Ruined forever by irresponsible people.

Danny Robinson
Danny Robinson
1 month ago

Gozo no more. Our beloved Gozitans can keep on destroying the island as much as they like by voting the likes of Clint, but in the interim we’re all finding our way further north. Which in any case, as a result of the great old ferry investment straight from the scrapyard, it is probably faster and more efficient to skip Gozo and visit elsewhere. Gozitans are digging their own grave by putting the wrong people to power.

Clap for Clint and enjoy the benefits!

Mark Debono
Mark Debono
1 month ago

He has precisely the qualifications required for this post ie no experience but connected

William
William
1 month ago

This site could have been Gozo’s very own hypogeum and yielded €millions a year in tourism and heritage funding.

Instead you’ll get a shack built by a road company, for daytime dossers.

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