LCA launches its first Good Practice Guide

The Association of Local Councils launched its first Good Practice Guide on Monday 13th September 2021 – Electric Vehicle Public Infrastructure. 

This document is one of the twenty-four documents the Local Councils’ Association, the assistance of several experts, is publishing under ‘ResidentFirst’, a multi-year project in partnership with the Local Councils.  ResidentFirst focuses on Sustainable mobility, Open Spaces, Smart Cities and Green Environments, further identifying how these pillars may improve the quality of life of our residents in their respective localities. 

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Local Councils Association enters into a Strategic Partnership with the Ministry for Social Justice and Solidarity, the Family and Children’s Rights and ĠEMMA on financial capability education

The Ministry for Social Justice and Solidarity, the Family and Children’s Rights and the Local Councils Association today signed a strategic partnership to jointly work together, through ĠEMMA (the government’s financial capability education platform), to improve the financial capability of Maltese and Gozitan residents during life-events, including retirement.  The outcome resulting from this strategic partnership between the Local Councils Association and ĠEMMA is to ensure that people are better informed in matters that affect their finances and thus can make the right decisions that fit their personal circumstances.

Through the Local Councils Association, ĠEMMA will work with regional and local councils to carry out financial capability programmes – which range from budgeting to protection against scams and frauds – within the communities.  ĠEMMA will also make resources – such as videos, handbooks, etc. – on financial capability available to regional and local councils so that these are accessible to persons within the communities from their offices, or as may distributed within the communities.

The Local Councils Association will make its digital resources available to ĠEMMA – including its You Safe portal, Facebook site, the LCA website as well as faciliting partnering between ĠEMMA and respective regional and local councils digital resources – to assist ĠEMMA in broadening its reach with regard to financial capability knowledge and information amongst Maltese and Gozitan residents.

This is the 11th strategic partnership that the Ministry for Social Justice and Solidarity, the Family and Children’s Rights entered on behalf of ĠEMMA with other institutions and bodies.  The other strategic partnerships include the Central Bank of Malta, the University of Malta, BOV, MAPFRE MSV Life, the General Workers Union, the eSkills Malta Foundation, Mental Health Malta, the Malta Chamber of SMEs, and the UĦM Voice of the Workers. 

Dr Michael Falzon, the responsible minister, stated that this strategic relationship between ĠEMMA and the Local Councils Association is a game changer with regard to bringing financial capability knowledge and education closer to Maltese and Gozitans persons.  Through this strategic partnership, ĠEMMA is now able to inculcate financial capability education and knowledge in the heart of local communities.

Mr Mario Fava, the President of the Local Councils Association underlined that the Association is proud of this relationship with ĠEMMA and the Ministry as it allows it to continue to build on previous and current initiatives to build up within Malta’s and Gozo’s communities understanding of money management and planning for one’s future – and thus directly contribute to the financial wellbeing of residents.  Mr Fava stated that the first initiatives between the Association and the regional and local councils and ĠEMMA will be rolled in early autumn of this year.

Mr Mark Musu, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry, and who is responsible for the stewardship of ĠEMMA, emphasised that building a Malta that is financial capable is a societal objective – one in which government must play a key role, but an objective that a government on its own will not be able to reach.

Mr Musu expressed his satisfaction that the joining up of strategic partners, such as the Local Councils Association with his ministry and ĠEMMA, shows that there is a strong understanding from societal players of the importance of such a joined up approach towards instilling a financial wellbeing in Malta.

The ĠEMMA’s financial capability platform can be viewed at www.gemma.gov.mt.

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Valletta,,Malta,-,September,23,2016:,Auberge,De,Castille,Dates

Good Governance – Local Level

In 2019, 456 Councillors were elected in order to form 68 new Local Councils. This was after the population of every locality in Malta and Gozo voted to appoint their representatives on the local level.

Although we are talking about Local Councils and Councillors, they still have to work and operate responsibly. They need to realise that once they are working with the people’s money, they have to do so with good governance. What is this good governance that we hear so much about?

Good Governance

That one operates within the framework of good governance is something that comes naturally to those who work genuinely and with the best interest of those they represent. This is something obvious, no guidelines are needed for this principle to be embraced. Nonetheless, back in 2008, the Council of Europe embraced the decision of the Council of Ministers, with this decision being taken on 15th October 2007 in Valencia, Spain, where twelve principles for good governance were adopted.

In simpler words, good governance means that there must be responsibility and good conduct in matters related to the public and public management. The twelve guiding principles are:

  • Representation and Participation
  • Responsiveness
  • Efficiency
  • Transparency
  • Rule of Law
  • Ethical Conduct
  • Competence and Capacity
  • Innovation and Openness to Change
  • Sustainability and Long-Term Orientation
  • Sound Financial Management
  • Human Rights and Diversity
  • Accountability

This agreement was endorsed by all the member states of the Council of Europe, with the aim of strengthening the will to ensure that this key democratic principle is protected. Let us take a deeper look at the principles that form the basis of this value.

Representation and Participation

The first principle towards good governance is founded on the importance of free participation and an open democratic process. This is a process which must be worked on at the local level of that particular country. At this stage, citizens are the core and the centre of activity because they are directly involved in choosing their representatives. Every man and woman should make their voice heard in this democratic process and nobody should try to deny this fundamental right. This participation is based on freedom of expression. This also holds true for those who might feel less privileged or vulnerable, because in a process such as this, everyone is and should be considered as equal. In this whole process, while the will of the majority is carried out, one must also consider and respect the opinion of the minority.   

Responsiveness

With responsiveness, reference is being made to the way the elected politician has to respond, in a way where the objectives, the rules, the structures and the procedures are adopted in a legitimate manner and as expected by citizens. Excess bureaucracy or reluctance to enact reforms or strategies which are beneficial to the population should not be allowed.

This is particularly true for public service, where we must ensure that this is served and performed. Apart from this, we must also ensure that citizens’ complaints are looked into within an adequate and reasonable amount of time, and that they are given a timely response.

Efficiency

This principle ties well with the prior principle. Efficiency means that there must be results for the objectives that have been agreed upon. This materialises by using the resources available in the best way possible, be they human resources or financial. There should be clear indicators of management so that it is possible to evaluate and measure the efficiency and effectiveness of the services offered. An auditing exercise should be done on a regular basis so that assessments can be made on what can be improved in operational matters.

Transparency

Every decision that is taken must be made within the framework of the regulations and the legal framework within which we are working. We must ensure that every citizen can freely access any type of information. This access must be available whether or not it is mandatory for it to be specified within the same regulations. At the same time, data protection must be ensured as required by law, such as in a process of competition for procurement. This helps foster trust between the Council and the residents because it would be clear to everyone that the intention of the Council is to put the best interests of the citizens at the forefront.

Rule of Law

We have heard a lot about this principle in the last few months, but it is perhaps only few who have managed to explain in a simple manner what these two words mean. Rule of law means that we must have trust in and follow what the law says and what is decided by our Courts. On the other hand, we must ensure that laws are being adopted in the same way for everyone, with impartiality and equality. 

Ethical Conduct

That one behaves ethically is not listed in any law. There is what we call moral, fiscal and political ethics. The three of them carry different weight, but all three have the same importance. The common good must always come before personal interests. Ethical conduct should ensure that there are strong measures in place so as to leave no room for corruption. One must be clear when it comes to conflict of interests. These must be declared from the start and there cannot be any involvement of that person; not in the discussion of the subject, and even more so in the process of decision making.

Competence and Capacity

It is necessary that the abilities of those that have the power to act and bring about change are constantly strengthened. This is so that a superior and up-to-date service is always given. This should lead to the continued motivation of people, especially public officials, to continue improving the service they offer. Practices and methods to assess people’s ability should be maintained, resulting in capabilities that can lead to more efficient results. 

Innovation and Openness to Change

New and efficient solutions are the answer to the problems that our residents frequently present to us. It is crucial that we are innovative in the way that we provide the service asked for, and we must always be open to change. Many times, even in a Local Council, you will find administrations that, due to a certain amount of experience and due to the adoption of the same systems that have always worked well in the past, are resilient to change and the introduction of new methods. A change in the mentality of leadership is not the easiest thing, but we have to ensure that we work in an environment where we are continuously encouraging and promoting the necessary changes. Yesterday’s problems deserve yesterday’s solutions. Today’s problems require a different and more flexible approach.  

Sustainability and Long-Term Orientation

We need to ensure that in the policies we adopt we take into consideration the needs of future generations. The politics we adopt need to look to the future so that we can ensure the sustainability of the locality we reside in. The decisions we take cannot create tension or shift problems from one place to another, because we would be solving today’s problems without looking at what effect our decision will have in the long run. The decisions must be sustainable environmentally and structurally, as well as financially and economically. We need to be proactive and, in consultation with people, see what the needs for the future are. The social fabric must be protected, and most importantly, we must act in ways that guarantee that what is ours today will be enjoyed by those who will come after us. Therefore, we have to shoulder this responsibility and ensure that we act in this regard.     

Sound Financial Management

We need to remember that we are operating with public funds. Therefore, each decision taken on spending needs to be in the best interest for everyone and, above all, to achieve the best result. Changing things just to increase the value of what we’re spending on does not justify the change. Neither is acting to reduce the cost by reducing the services on offer or by offering a mediocre service. Caution should be observed at all times, especially when it comes to decisions that will leave an impact on future generations; for example, borrowing, debt etc. The risks that we take need to be calculated and approved. No spending or borrowing can exceed the income of a Local Council. Therefore, it is crucial that there is a long-term business plan and that this is updated from time to time. The same for the financial estimates of the Council. Here, the question that needs to be made is this; “If this was my money, how would I act?” 

Human Rights and Diversity

In the scope of local regulations, these rights are protected. This is not enough. As a local authority, we need to ensure that these are safeguarded and that they are implemented without any form of discrimination. Participation is necessary in order to be ready to tackle instances where this does not happen. Cultural diversity is an asset for every locality. Therefore, it is crucial that everyone has the opportunity to participate in the locality. This is especially important for those who are the most vulnerable in society. Social inclusion and integration are essential to have strong and tolerant societies. These are principles which should be protected at all times. 

Accountability

Whoever finds themselves in a position to take decisions, whether it is collective or individual, needs to act responsibly when they take these decisions. It is important that every decision taken is backed up by evidence as to why it was decided. This information must be kept so that if there are any enquiries, the information is accessible in order to ensure transparency. There should be, and they exist, ways of how one can fight against decisions that have been taken secretly. These should be transmitted clearly to make them known, and they should be available to the citizen as well as to the competent authorities. 

Conclusion

Without a doubt, if as elected councillors we keep these principles which assure good governance in mind, we will then have assurance that citizens are at the centre of our work. We will also be assured that citizens’ trust in our work will continue to grow and multiply. Participation will also grow and the public will have a sense of belonging in the locality. This sentiment will then help increase the collaboration between the Council and its citizens, and this will automatically result in fewer problems and more collaboration in the broadest sense possible.   

Article by Mario Fava – President of the Local Councils’ Association

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Burgas collects old clothes for an ecological art installation

“Hugged nature” reminds of the connection between environmental issues and the fashion industry

A new campaign for collecting clothes has started in Burgas, which will then be used to create an ecological art installation. The campaign runs until 15 June.

“Hugged Nature” is the name behind which a future art installation will be made with the support of the Municipality of Burgas. With this work, the young artist Bozhana Slavkova will raise questions about “fast fashion”, the felling of urban trees and forests, as well as the relationship between environmental and social issues and the fashion industry – the second largest polluter on Earth.

Nature and art connected in one

Through the artistic method of yarn-bombing, which involves dressing elements of the urban environment in specially knitted “clothes” – in this case, the trees on a main street in the seaside town.

Residents of the city and anyone else who wishes can join the initiative by sending their non-usable clothes, especially if they are colourful, to be used for this project. All colours without black are welcomed. Knitted materials will also be accepted, such as cardigans, sweaters, blankets, duvets or crocheted tablecloths. Old fabrics, yarns and ready-made knits will also be accepted.

Those who have the time can prepare yarn from old materials, which will help the initiative. The participants do not need to be from Burgas to participate in the collection of materials. But those from the city can get involved in the whole project as volunteers.

The installation is expected to be installed in Burgas on 1 July, and at the end of August the clothes will be removed from the trees.

The organizers welcome citizens to participate in the project to show concern for nature, create urban art and get rid of unnecessary old clothes. The duration of the installation may vary depending on its condition. The organizers will constantly consult with an expert opinion so as not to cause any damage to the trees.

It is not clear at this time what condition the “clothes” of the trees will be in, but if they remain in good condition, they may then be placed on trees in other cities or sent to people who wish to put them on. When their lives come to an end, the clothes will be given for recycling.

Article taken from https://www.themayor.eu/en

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SeedGreen Programme

Do you have an idea that can potentially reduce the effects of Climate Change? SeedGreen is your chance to obtain assistance so that your green idea becomes a reality!

As part of the  #ClimateOn National Campaign the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Planning together with the Junior Chamber International Malta and the support of Malta Enterprise has launched a program for those individuals wishing to develop their idea into a start-up or potential project.  

Those interested are requested to visit www.seedgreen.org or else email: info@seedgreen.org or call 23316229 for more information.

Do not miss this opportunity!! Applications close by Friday the 28th May 2021.

Check out the SeedGreen video for more information and follow the #ClimateOn Campaign on Facebook and Instagram for more updates!

#ClimateOn – Turn on The Power For Change”

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Paris plans to pedestrianise historic centre

A limited traffic zone would restrict most vehicles from entering the central arrondissements by 2022

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s crusade against air and noise pollution plaguing the French capital took a fresh turn on Wednesday, when she unveiled ambitious plans to pedestrianise the historic centre of the city by 2022.

Ban on through traffic, limited vehicle access

The plan envisages introducing a Limited Traffic Zone (LTZ) where most vehicles, including all transiting cars, would be denied entry. The proposed zone would encompass the four central arrondissements (administrative districts) and part of the 5th, 6th and 7th arrondissements.

Public consultations have now been launched and residents’ feedback is deemed crucial to fine-tuning the project. Parisians can help define the LTZ contours, specify the categories of vehicles authorized to enter the zone, or even identify the streets that should be paid special attention to.

The Limited Traffic Zone is a tool employed by several large European cities such as Madrid, Milan, or Rome to reduce the flow of vehicles in the city center. This system makes it possible to reserve the road for pedestrians, bicycles, public transport, and certain categories of users (residents, delivery men, artisans, etc.). On the other hand, traffic is generally prohibited. 

“Embellish your neighbourhood”

In parallel with this project, the City of Paris has initiated the “Embellish your neighbourhood” approach to transform the spaces of daily significance to locals. More greening, pedestrian areas, cycle paths, or even furniture adapted to new uses could be installed following consultation initiatives at the district level. 

Green crusader

Mayor Anne Hidalgo has made improving air quality and reducing noise pollution a centrepiece of her agenda, recalls thelocal.fr. Her administration has already banned old diesel cars, pedestrianized the quays of the River Seine and launched a car-free scheme called “Paris respire” (“Paris breathes”), which sees certain districts made pedestrian-only on Sundays.

Air pollution levels in Paris actually declined by 20-30 percent during last year’s three-month hard lockdown. When the city reopened, 50 km of coronapistes (coronavirus cycle lanes) were built as a provisional measure, and later made permanent.

The Mayor’s green ambitions gained her many friends, and quite a few foes. The new plan to pedestrianise the city centre was generally lauded by downtown residents, outdoor eateries and shops which see busy car traffic as detrimental to their living and business. Opponents, however, view her transformation of Paris as chaotic, claiming hundreds of inexperienced cyclists and electric scooter riders are wreaking havoc on the city streets.

Article taken from https://www.themayor.eu/en

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Santander boasts the largest indoor vertical garden in Europe.

Starting on 19 April, it will be freely open for viewing

Vertical gardens and foliaged walls are increasingly becoming a common architectural solution in search of marrying environmental harmony and architecture – a way of bringing nature back to our urban lives. But how about letting nature indoors, too?

That appears to be the proposal of Santander’s newest addition – an interior vertical garden inside the Castilla-Hermida Civic Centre; a garden that is reportedly the largest of its kind in all of Europe. As of 19 April, between 8:30 and 21:00 anyone can visit the centre and admire the installation without a need for previous registration or entrance fee.

Nature aesthetics to bring a green therapy benefit

The project was part of the reconversion of the old Tabacalera building in the northern Spanish city into a modern civic centre. Last year, part of this transformation was the design of the vertical garden by FDA Arquitectos. The size of the installation is almost 600 square metres (17 metres in height and 32 metres in width).

In order to make the garden a reality some 22 300 plants from 26 different species have been planted. Given the size of the wall some planning, and adjustments needed to be made in order to make it work. Plants that are nearer the top can enjoy natural sunlight thanks to the glass ceiling but those placed in the lower half will be aided in their photosynthesis with artificial lighting.

The foliage is rooted in a semi-hydroponic textile system, which has been designed at the University of Seville, and which allows for optimal aeration of the roots without losing necessary nutrients.

The mixture of different plant species from different climate zones has been thought out so that no matter what season it is there will always be some plants that are blossoming, in essence creating an ever-changing mosaic.

Santander officials are of the opinion that this blurring between the boundaries of nature and interior design will increase the attractiveness of the city for tourism.

Article taken from https://www.themayor.eu/en

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Interactive screens enhance the tourism attractiveness of three Croatian cities

In addition to providing information, the screens have built-in chargers for mobile phones, electric vehicles and bicycles

The Istrian Development Agency (IDA) has set up three interactive screens in the areas of Pula, Poreč and Rabac in Croatia. The installation of these screens was carried out with the aim of enhancing customer service and boosting tourism.

What do the interactive screens offer?

The three screens have been designed to inform citizens and tourists about transport options as well as what areas have to offer in terms of attractions, sights, beaches, restaurants, hotels, etc. Due to the current epidemiological situation, the screens also provide information on the virus and the current measures which are in force to prevent its spread.

What is more, all interactive screens have built-in side shelves for charging and storing mobile phones, reported the IT engineering company PENTA d.o.o on its website.

The METRO Project

It is important to note that the installation of the interactive screens is part of the METRO project (Maritime Environment-friendly TRanspOrt systems). The aim of this project is to improve the quality, safety, and sustainability in maritime and coastal transport in the cross-border area of Italy and Croatia, reported the Croatian newspaper Glas Istre.

As such, it is not surprising that the interactive screen in Pula is located in the area of the Rijeka pier which is in the vicinity of the border crossing for passengers coming by boat from Italy as well as the railway and bus stations.

The Mayor of Pula, Boris Miletić voiced his satisfaction with the project as he noted that the interactive screens make Pula a smart city with modern infrastructure. Furthermore, he shared that this investment would undoubtedly improve the experience of tourists and thus, promote Pula as a travel destination.

Similarly, the screens in Poreč and Rabac were placed in the bay of Peškera and the Rabac waterfront, respectively. However, it must be noted that they are different from and more advanced than the screen in Pula as they come equipped with a charger for electric vehicles and bicycles. The Mayor of Labin Valter Glavičić and the Mayor of Poreč Loris Peršurić both highlighted that tourists and citizens will greatly benefit from the installation of the screens.

This investment cost just over 300,000 Kuna (46,228 Euros) and the IDA collaborated with PENTA d.o.o, the cities of Pula, Labin and Poreč, local tourist boards as well as port authorities to install the screens.

Article taken from https://www.themayor.eu/en

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