On 1st February of this year, the media reported that the Sliema Local Council complained regarding the loss of on-street parking due to permits being issued by the Planning Authority for tables and chairs. The council also called on the Hon Dr Deborah Schembri to suspend the new policy guidelines for outdoor catering areas.
According to the Transport Malta website (and also the link to the manual itself as below), the Manual for Operating Procedure for Permanent Traffic Management Policies and Guidelines was revised in June 2016 and the original Tables and Chairs Policy was removed. The proof can be found on page 7 of this document where it makes the following comment:
ERROR! REFERENCE SOURCE NOT FOUND. PLACING OF TABLES AND CHAIRS
This comment is automatically generated by the software. This is because the list of document contents on page 7 was programmed to automatically update itself according to the updates of the Manual itself. Hence, when Transport Malta officials removed the original policy regarding tables and chairs they did not realise that on page 7 there would be an automatic message that the source could no longer be found!!!
This document may be downloaded from the Transport Malta website from this link. http://www.transport.gov.mt/admin/uploads/media-library/files/Policy%20Guidance%20TMRSD%20OPERATING%20PROCEDURE%20-%20Revised%20June%202016.pdf
Obviously, I delved further. After contacting a friend of mine, who is an Executive Secretary in a local council, I managed to take a photo of the original Guidance Document which contained the text of the original Tables and Chairs Policy which read as follows:
One can notice that this policy was issued when Transport Malta was still known as ADT. The policy made reference to tables and chairs occupying EXISTING footpaths. It was not even contemplated that the footpath is extended to take up existing parking to accommodate tables and chairs instead.
This original policy was a balance between the needs of businesses and the needs of the residents. Where the footpath was wide enough to have tables and chairs on it, these were permitted.
The new policy, which the Sliema Local Council requested to be suspended, safeguards only the interests of businesses to the detriment of the residents.
When the authorities give a permit for tables and chairs to occupy a parking space, it means that the authorities are handing over €35,000 worth of car parking space to the business owner to the detriment of the taxpayer. That is what a parking space in a prime site in Sliema costs a resident if he were to buy one.
It is now all about being pro-business. Cin Cin!