The Malta Independent 21 May 2024, Tuesday
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TMID Editorial: Moderation needed

Tuesday, 9 April 2024, 15:53 Last update: about 2 months ago

The summer months are approaching, and as they do, more tourists will undoutedly flock to the country to enjoy Malta’s good weather.

As the sun shines, people will look for outdoor seating when dining out, or when sipping on a cocktail or granita. Tourists come to Malta during these months, at least partly, for the island summer experience, and so it is to be expected.

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But here in Malta, we tend to go to extremes. The issue of pavements being gobbled up by tables and chairs is one that is of constant debate. How much is too much? The answer can clearly be seen in certain areas like parts of the pavement between Gzira and the Sliema ferries. Structures have been built right over the public pavement. Similair arguments can be made for parts of Valletta for instance.

The ADPD party issued a statement last week, saying that Today we are witnessing a situation whereby public land, such as pavements, streets, and town squares are covered in chairs and tables, creating multiple problems for residents and communities across Malta and Gozo.  There is the need for residents to have clear access to open spaces, and for local councils to main a healthy balance between the needs of the residents and the those of the business community.” The party is of course right in what it says.

There are areas around the islands where the pavements are already small, yet tables and chairs are placed there nonetheless. This is not to mention the bad state of pavements in general throughout the country, and their small size in many locations. This is already problematic for parents with a pushchair, or persons with mobility issues, forcing them to walk on the street which is a safety concern.

The authorities need to be more aware of these issues.

It is unfair that public open spaces be practically completely gobbled up by tables and chairs owned by private establishments. This is unfair on residents who might want space to breathe.

Catering for businesses to have tables and chairs outside is understandable, but at the same time residents and the public in general also have a right to that space. The authorities need to be more considerate of this, and allow for more open space to remain just that, open space.

There are two things that need to be done. Firstly, whjen it comes to issuing permits for tables and chairs on public spaces, the authorities need to act with more moderation, and ensure that the residents of the area get to enjoy open spaces and have easy access to pavements. Secondly, pavements around the country need more care and need to be fixed up. Some are in such a state where it would be easy for someone to break their ankle.

 

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