While 19 other localities have schemes for residential parking, Sliema has been battling to be included for over a decade.
“Sliema residents’ pleas for residential parking have been ignored for far too long,” Mayor Anthony Chircop lamented, adding his constituents have been fighting for it since 2008.
The busy seaside town had originally been given the go-ahead for extensive residential parking plans, with the exclusion of one or two streets.
It was delayed after internal issues in the local council, and in 2012, they sought to revive it. The local council finished the preparatory work, including signs and a system which would give half of parking spaces in each road to residents, in which non-residents could park for a maximum of two hours, and others which they could park in at any time.
“Everything was all set, and we even sent wardens out to inform people about the changes. All seemed all right, but when we placed these notices near our local council, we had a delegation from the Malta Union of Teachers (MUT) that objected saying ‘what about us’?” Chircop said.
“We suggested they carpool, some teachers even lived in Sliema or Gżira and San Ġwann,” the Mayor continued, adding that all the surrounding towns have their own residential parking systems.
MUT objected and threatened to call a strike, saying they would not come to school early so parents couldn’t drop off their children.
Then, Joe Mizzi, the minister responsible for planning at the time, suspended all applications for additional parking in Malta.
“But we already had our grant, so he came out with a legal notice specifically cancelling the two legal notice that entitled Sliema to grant the scheme.”
It’s been an uphill battle ever since.
“The fact that other localities have residential parking shows the move was illogical, it’s either good or bad, you can’t pick and choose like this,” Sliema Councillor and lawyer Paul Radmilli added.
“We need to plan with all stakeholders and form pressure groups to deal with this. We were even ready to talk with the teachers’ union but there wasn’t a willingness to compromise,” Chircop lamented.
“The Minister took us for a ride. He said he would come up with a holistic plan. We were promised that there was a national plan but nothing ever came to light.”
Since then, there have been three ministers of transport, but the councillors say they have never managed to formally discuss reviving the scheme.
And with coffee shops taking up more road space, more garages and electric cars taking existing spaces, parking in Sliema has become more and more of a nightmare for residents.
Do you think Sliema should get residential parking?