The Dingli local council said it is opening up to an investigation which has been requested from European Union and Maltese agencies into how an EU-funded interpretation centre on Dingli Cliffs has been transformed into a fully-fledged restaurant doing brisk business, despite the fact that the facility is only permitted to have vending machines and a staff kitchen on site.
The Malta Independent on Sunday reported yesterday that the case’s timeline shows the involvement of former Dingli mayor and current Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds Ian Borg.
In a statement, the council said that in 2002 it applied for an outline development permit with Mepa. This was issued in February 2005 following which the council called on the government to take over the property in question. This land was passed on to the council for 15 years in 2006.
That same year, the council issued its first public call for private investors to develop the project. The first applicant that submitted an application withdrew the offer a few weeks later.
A second call was issued in 2007 and, again, there was only one applicant. In 2009, the Lands Department approved the agreement between the council and the private operator who was selected unanimously by the council.
Mepa issued a permit for the conversion of the property into an interpretation centre in 2010. Since then, the private operator benefited only once from European Union funds allocated to it by the Tourism Ministry in June 2012, and which were used by January 2013.
The centre, the council said, was opened in 2012.
The interpretation centre, located on Dingli Cliffs, is now operating as a full-blown restaurant known as The Cliffs, although Malta Environment and Planning Authority permits have specifically precluded catering facilities on the property, which is valued at close to €1 million but which is being leased by the Dingli local council from the government for the paltry sum, as far as commercial terms go, of €230 a year.
The Malta Independent on Sunday report on a request for investigation