The Malta Independent 19 June 2021, Saturday

PA says recusal of board members could only be made public on day of decision

Friday, 11 June 2021, 12:47 Last update: about 7 days ago

The Planning Authority said that the recusal of board members from the decision on the db project in Pembroke could only be made public on the day of the hearing.

Following the recusal of five planning board members for yesterday’s public meeting which decided the DB City Centre development application (PA 3807/17), the Planning Authority said it wanted to clarify the situation with regard to the recusal of five of the members.

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Board members Perit Vincent Cassar, Prof. Victor Axiak,  Joseph Brincat and Annick Bonello decided to recuse themselves from attending the board meeting and deciding upon the application after thorough consideration of the specific concerns raised by the Court of Appeal in its decision on 19 June 2019. This decision annulled the original permit of this same project based on a conflict of interest of former Planning Board member Matthew Pace.

Judge Mark Chetcuti in his decision had pointed out that Planning Board members who had already expressed themselves on this same project, through their vote in the public meeting held on 20th September 2018, must carefully consider their position when the same application comes again before them for a decision so that there will not be a repetition of the same episode. So as not to create a potential disregard of Judge Chetcuti’s statement, the Board members took a conscientious decision not to attend the meeting.

The recusal could only be made public on the day of the first board hearing during which the Board was able to inform the parties involved and the public prior to the commencement of the public meeting.

Board member Dr Chris Cilia recused himself due to a professional conflict of interest.

The project was approved with four votes against three.

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