The Malta Independent 20 October 2019, Sunday

St Julian’s local council calls for Palazzo Spinola to be turned into one-stop community centre

Albert Galea Wednesday, 2 October 2019, 10:38 Last update: about 17 days ago

The St. Julian’s local council is calling for Palazzo Spinola to be turned into a one-stop community centre which can cater for all the needs of the locality’s residents.

Since 2007, the palace hosted the Parliamentary Assembly for the Mediterranean (PAM). However, The Malta Independent on Sunday revealed that the PAM is in the process of moving out of Malta and has in fact already vacated Palazzo Spinola, with the palace itself and its lack of maintenance being one of the PAM’s main gripes.

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“[Palazzo] Spinola needed structural repairs and there was a lot of back and forth and delays in works; they were only promised another place in Paceville once they decided to leave”, sources told this newsroom last week.

Now that the Palace, which dates back to the 17th century, is vacant, the St Julian’s local council has lodged a formal request for the government to pass the property onto the council so that it can be used as a one-stop community centre.

Contacted by The Malta Independent, St Julian’s mayor Albert Buttigieg said that the creation of this centre would be a means through which something can be given back to a community which, in many ways, has lost everything that it had, with the mayor saying that residents had even lost their own pavements as they were now being taken up by tables and chairs.

Explaining the composition of the building, Buttigieg said that the council’s offices would migrate to the palace, noting that the current offices that are being used by the council are inadequate.

An information centre – which at the moment does not exist in the locality – would be set up inside the Palace, along with a public library.  Furthermore, the Palace would also host a small clinic within, replacing the one that is at the St Julian’s Police Station.  Buttigieg noted that this was quite important as it is quite common for patients, especially the elderly, to end up waiting outside the clinic in the vicinity of people who have been arrested by the police.

The Palace itself would also hold a small police station, with the police themselves asking for this as it would be situated much closer to Paceville. Finally, Buttigieg also envisions that the Palace’s hall be turned into a community hall, where performances and exhibitions can be organised for residents – and others – to enjoy.

Buttigieg said that the Palace’s gardens – which are currently a hot-spot for drug abuse and general misbehaviour – will be rehabilitated if the Palace comes under the control of the council, hence eradicating the drug abuse problem.

He also added that the project could be financed from a planning gain, with no reliance on central government funds, and noted that it would not affect the presence of a restaurant which currently takes up the Palace’s basement level.

Buttigieg said that it would be a pity to see that building become another boutique hotel in an area which is already over-saturated with such establishments. He appealed for the Palace – which he described as one of the last remaining enduring symbols of the locality for its residents – be given back to the community.

He said that the local council was united on this front, and noted that both him and the council’s minority leader – Adrian Ellul – had met with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat who, Buttigieg said, had seen the value of the project.

He noted that a formal request has been lodged with the Parliamentary Secretariat for Local Government and Communities, which is led by Silvio Parnis, to this end, and once again hoped that the opportunity to give something back to the people of St Julian’s through this project would be taken by the government.

 

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