Category: Social Services

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Guidelines on Parking Management

The Local Councils’ Association launched the Guidelines on Parking Management for Local and Regional Councils on May 31st 2023. The document is one in a series of documents on Sustainable Mobility and includes other important subjects such as: walkability, accessibility, shared transport, last mile transportation, and EV changeover.

This document centers on understanding further the parking issue and proposing strategies, in the form of steps, that could lead to potential solutions in the short-medium-long term.

These strategies must be understood and considered together with other complementing steps found within the other Sustainable documents mentioned above.

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Public Consultation: Sustainable Public Transport and the re-introduction of Bus Lanes

The Local Councils’ Association is publishing this document in order to provide information on the subject of Sutainable Mobility and the means that could be of assistance in achieving the goal of sustainability. This document focuses on the re-introduction of bus lanes as a method of increasing transit speed and reliability hence this would decrease the amount of private vehicles on the road and also traffic congestion. 

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A Career within the Local Government Sector

Why should the resident consider a career within the Local Council?

The Local Council is the closest authority to the resident.  The primary role of any  Local Council is to create a positive experience in the life of its residents while assisting them and the community to develop in a  sustainable manner. This leads to a higher sense of belonging from the residents towards their locality.

Each resident could actively contribute towards this change in three particular ways:

  • By contesting the local elections
  • By applying to any of the vacancies within the Local Councils
  • By participating in any voluntary work and other initiatives organised by the Local Council
  • By participating in the various discussions and consultation processes which eventually could be part of the decisions taken by the Local Council

Today, I would like to focus why an individual should consider a career within one of our Local Councils.

Like in all other employments, most employees would look into the financial package of the job.  However, on the same level of importance is the level of personal satisfaction that same job would give to the individual – the take home feeling after a day’s work with your colleagues.

Local Councils offer the unique opportunity to satisfy these two important criteria. The fact that the role of the Local Council is there to help you accomplish the above mentioned also leads to the fact that it offers the opportunity for direct contact with other residents who most of the time approach the Local Councils for help and assistance.

Working with the Local Council  offers an opportunity to meet with different people with different challenges – something that makes daily work less monotonous and more challenging.  This type of employment gives you the opportunity to be in touch with that senior citizen who needs assistance when completing an application, the opportunity to meet that person with special needs who needs assistance for a reserved parking, the opportunity to assist other residents who need special permits to carry out works in their residences. Above all, employment with the Local Council provides you with the opportunity to work on different areas namely social, cultural, animal welfare, active ageing, refuse management, infrastructural and environmental sustainability, village exchanges and improvement in traffic systems. All of these different sectors would eventually help you develop different skills and abilities for an improved life style.

Local Council elected members do spend less time with their staff the latter considered to be the face of their locality. One must understand the important role Local Council employees play within their area; this all boils down to the positive attitude and right frame of mind they have coupled with the urge to improve the quality of life of their residents.

This is undoubtedly sheer job satisfaction and despite that not everything is plain sailing there would be the days where one has to face irritated residents who would either lack some sort of basic understanding of how Local Councils work or else would be innocently blamed for any outcome which eventually would not fall into the Council’s competency. It’s hard to explain to the residents when for example they would have an issue and would pretend the local council to solve it for them; it is during such circumstances where the skills and abilities of our employees need to be highlighted. There are situations where a resident would approach the Local Council in sheer frustration and would end up leaving much calmer as he would eventually understand that certain things are not always as one would think they are. Only those attending to the residents’ needs within the Local Council could actually provide the residents with further assist the same residents to gradually change their perception on the Local Council.  This goes hand in hand with the way staff assist the residents through the telephone nowadays.

Is employment within the Local Council a bed of roses and provides you always a sense of satisfaction? Surely not.

Employees within the Local Councils go beyond their call of duty, making sacrifices and work long hours due to their sense of commitment towards their locality and councillors. Others go out of their way even on matters that do not fall within their remit to handle and explain processes; this is due to lack of resources.

Employees, often face uncomfortable situations; situations where they would feel threatened or hardly recognized for their efforts from those who could barely reason things out.

A career within the Local Council provides you with the opportunity to help you enhance your skills through training and a number of courses; this training would not only be beneficial for the current employment but would serve to enhance you holistically

overall throughout your personal and private life. The experiences one would collate from working in different local councils would definitely provide you with different perspectives of what the general public needs and the way they think about certain matters.

All-in-all I still believe that there are many valid reasons why one should consider taking a career within the sphere of Local Government namely:

  • To have the ability to actually make a change in the life of people within your locality
  • Have the possibility to actually spend the day’s work to affect positive changes within the same locality
  • To be part of a change which actually brings a bigger change in people’s lives
  • To get the opportunity to actually implement one’s own ideas coupled with those of the local council for better leadership within the locality
  • To be in a better position to actually understand the rationale why the Local Council does take certain decisions or environmental initiatives of which one could be part even during the initial stages
  • To rekindle passion and appreciate the effort done for certain tasks which take place and which most of the time would have been taken for granted
  • To be part and parcel of a needed socio-economical change while having the opportunity to meet with different people
  • To, along with other colleagues be in the right position to instigate and enforce pressure for certain changes to happen both at a national and local level
  • Local Council enriches the individual; it would give you the right dose of exposure to certain experiences which would actually make a tangible change in people’s lives
  • Would give you the opportunity to implement the electoral manifesto which in itself provides a massive challenge

Work within Local Councils offers a unique opportunity to the ones involved to plan ahead for their communities.  The projects involved could vary from culture and arts, from having a central library to environmental initiatives, enhanced security within the area, long life learning opportunities, providing social assistance, improved infrastructure and an endless list of benefits.   All of this contributes towards the residents’ aspirations.

Since Local Councils are part of the public sector, this would serve as a key indicator about how this same service could reach people’s expectations.  Employees constitute a crucial part of this whole process by the way they work and operate one day after the other.

Undoubtedly, work within the Local Council does not only test one’s abilities but is a test to one’s skills and characteristics. It is an opportunity of how one could directly participate in the decisions and implementations where individuals have a right to air and voice their opinion.

 

 

Mario Fava
President

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A crucial government decision – national political decision on the use of caravans

During the last days we have assisted to a very important decision taken by the central government towards the suspension of an application by Infrastructure Malta for a temporary caravan site despite the various comments on the rights and obligations of caravan owners. On the contrary one would also listen to various residents’ rights towards a free access to our beaches. Many are those caravan owners who during the summer period would occupy our beaches without leaving any foreshore access. For the general benefit and interest there should be various open discussions with different stakeholders the outcome of which could lead to better solutions in the interest of everybody.

 

Introduction

One needs to kick off from the point that not each locality has the benefit of open recreational spaces for its residents.  Moreover, there are a large number of families who live in apartments without an adequate balcony, yard or garden for their children to recreate themselves; therefore, the number of recreational zones is somehow imperative. We need to understand and take care of the social and recreative aspects of our residents; it transpires that a number of families can’t afford  a decent residence and would instead publicly occupy caravan sites, with the latter being their only shelter.

One has to exercise caution and adopt a wider approach to avoid conflicts amongst those with different priorities for the use of the same land including farmers.

Rural zones with lesser population, agricultural zones and natural resources are very scarce in Malta hence we should focus more on our priorities.

In order to avoid conflict, there should be a holistic plan in place when dealing with protected land, camping, hiking and picnic sites.  There needs to a clear distinction between open country spaces and coastal area spaces to avoid undue pressure on the latter.

This is considered to be a seasonal pressure; coastal areas might bear higher undue pressure during the summer months and could be the cause of conflict amongst those occupying the space with caravans and other residents who would visit the area for a couple of hours for recreational purposes. It would be unfair that the same individuals would hijack public zones and grounds for long periods.

One has to distinguish between structures that are trailer driven and electric camper vans.

 

Priorities

Undoubtedly, many believe that there has to be particular spaces allocated for this type of hobby. If this would be the case, there has to be an understanding of what is best for our country, especially for localities which are designated to host this recreational concept. Are we opting for smaller spaces in a larger number of sites or are we going for fewer but larger sites? Would we be seeking and understanding the impact this would have on the tourism industry? Are we seeing to the fact how these coastal sites could create conflict with the use of slipways not just because these would be obstructed, but also because of the additional issues of boat trailers’ owners who would want to take their boats to and from the sea through the boat ramps. Are we planning law enforcement?  This should be the point for a holistic discussion which the government has wisely decided upon.

Undoubtedly, smaller spaces scattered around the island create less impact than larger ones which are however fewer. This consideration is not just about the visual impact but also about the impact on the infrastructure, the overall upkeep, drainage system, water supply etc. I believe that in larger sites one needs to carry out an environmental impact assessment.  On the other hand, smaller sites scattered around the island are more difficult to be managed by the authorities.

 

The Local Council’s involvement

As like other matters happening in our localities, we have to understand the involvement of our Local Councils. It is a fact that caravan sites do create certain issues and very often police forces would need to be called in to take over situations which at times would go beyond control.

We, as a nation and society, are barely disciplined to protect the heritage that we own and which we are our bound to pass on to our future generations.

It is highly important that the Local Councils are to be involved in the making of such policies.  This is due to the fact that the Local Councils are the closest from all entities to the residents and their locality; elected members can easily understand the challenges of their residents since they reside with them round the clock. These situations are to be used to our advantage thus, because whatever is implemented can then be rarely opposed.

Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq, Salini, Żonqor and Żejtun are some of the few challenging zones that come to mind. We have to carefully keep in mind other camping and picnic zones where in most of the situations one finds illegal structures that were meant to be temporary however ended up being permanent. These situations create conflict with the daily temporary users of the area.  This brings us back to the argument on the importance of law enforcement for the right balance of land usage.

 

Land permits and usage

One must clearly differentiate between temporary and short-term permits.  According to my current understanding, nowadays, there are only temporary permits without a clear indication of their expiry.  When considering a national policy will we be delving upon the issuance of daily, weekly or monthly permits? Should granted permits be automatically renewed following their expiry? Is it just that a caravan owner would leave his own car parked in the caravan space so that same would self-reserve his own space upon his return the following weekend? Is it fair that there isn’t better use of such public spaces with a fair chance of the same space being enjoyed by the public at large? Is it fair and just that some may choose to literally hijack the coastal area for the summer period leaving no proper access to the residents and hotel guests? Should there be an effective alternating system in the issue of permits, with a proper and organized waiting list for each indicated caravan site?

Each site has to be managed by an appointed site manager who will ensure that such abuse won’t happen. This role will be the communication link between the Local Council, the authorities and the caravan owners themselves. The latter should appoint an Administrator from amongst themselves for the sake of a faster and more efficient level of communication. I strongly believe that the Administrator and the site Manager can very efficiently coordinate a booking system that allocates booking slots and thus avoid over-crowding; this is beneficial both for the caravan owners and for the same site to be publicly enjoyed.

One should consider how this model could be jointly developed with the private sector where the government would appoint private companies to administer these sites.

I believe that these questions could stir a sound and interesting discussion for the proper identification of the most suitable mechanism for the running of similar sites.

 

New niche in the tourism industry

A holistic plan for this sector in the long run could create a new niche for the tourism industry. For this to be operationalised there needs to be a sight energy plan which should preferably be derived from clean and alternative sources, an infrastructure of rapid charging pillars, new drainage systems, water supply and other sanitary services including strong internet connections and other daily necessities for individuals to avoid unnecessary daily commuting.  It would be ideal should these camping sites be promoting local produce; this would give higher visibility and promotion to the local culture and traditions.  Such authentic promotion would give Maltese sites added advantage over European ones.

Should Malta be looking towards such concept we have to ensure a safe and sound transport connectivity between the airport, the caravan sites and Malta’s main attractions including Ċirkewwa, Valletta, Mdina and Kottonera.

These sites should bear sufficient information on pathways and rural cycling routes leading to certain areas of interest like Rabat, Dingli, Qrendi/Żurrieq, Siġġiewi/Għar Lapsi, Marsaxlokk/Tas-Silġ and others.

In such zones one could possibly consider the cultivation of fresh herbs for self-consumption.

All of these initiatives give our sites a local particular identity which would eventually attract tourists who would be specifically looking for these types of surroundings for their vacation.

 

Conclusion

These sites could provide a twofold experience to the tourists and local travellers; it’s either an unforgettable positive experience or otherwise a totally negative experience even to those who would not make use of such space.

Therefore, in each intervention one has to ensure that spaces which are designed to specifically cater for caravans should ensure higher standards of hygiene, protection of the environment, security and accessibility.

I believe that everyone should be given the opportunity to hobby caravan enthusiasts to be out and about, however this hobby has to be in conformity with the natural surroundings and those living in the area.

In all this there has to be total synergy and communication between the government entities and agencies for works to be carried out during the most appropriate periods. It would not make sense at all that structural works and sites identification are carried out during peak months when such sites would be high in demand and full of people as this could unnecessarily leave a negative impact.

I must say that political commitment coupled with proper planning and total synergy between all parties involved, towards this ever-growing sector could undoubtedly expand and generate public revenues.

 

 

Mario Fava
President

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Electric Vehicle Public Infrastructure

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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