SOS Hondoq News

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Il-Gvern mitlub jixtri siti storiċi mill-privat

Pubblikata fuq l-Orizzont nhar t-Tnejn 25 ta' Mejju, 2009.

L-għaqda ambjentali Flim­kien għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA) qiegħda tħeġġeġ lill-Gvern biex juża fondi mill-UE ħalli bihom jixtri mingħand sidien privati siti storiċi u ġon­na fil-qalba tal-ibliet u l-irħula li jagħtu nifs lill-istess loka­li­ta­jiet.

Fost is-siti li FAA qiegħda tħeġġeġ li jiġu salvati għall-ġid tar-residenti tal-madwar hemm Ħondoq ir-Rummien, Wied il-Għasel, spazju pub­bli­ku f’Wied il-Għajn u Villa Bonici f’Tas-Sliema (ritratt). L-appell tal-għaqda sar wara li hi ħarġet tfaħħar lil He­ritage Malta tad-deċiżjoni li tixtri biċċa art mibnija viċin it-Tempji ta’ Skorba fl-Imġarr fejn hemm tempji mhux daqstant magħrufa. L-art li xtrat il-Heritage Mal­ta diġà kellha l-permess biex tinbena.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

FAA praises Heritage Malta, slams MEPA, over Skorba temples

Published on The Times of Malta on Saturday 23rd May, 2009.

The environment NGO Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar has welcomed a decision by Heritage Malta to buy land adjacent Skorba Temples in Mgarr on which development permits had been issued.

It however slammed MEPA for not having protected the temples in the first place by creating a buffer zone around them.

“While certainly a positive development, this is also something of a desperate and costly solution, especially as once this highly irregular permit was issued, Heritage Malta had to compensate the landowners at commercial rates” Astrid Vella, FAA coordinator, said in a statement.

“If MEPA’s policies for protecting monuments and respecting the same buffer zones designated by MEPA itself were working properly, then the money could have gone into restoration and interpretation of these historical sites.

"We are very grateful to Heritage Malta for intervening in this way although it reflects how poorly our historical environment is defended by the very Authority that has a duty to safeguard national heritage,” she said.

She said that the FAA was once again calling for the activation of MEPA’s Heritage Fund which was intended specifically for the purchase and upkeep of listed buildings or neighbouring land, in order to ensure the maintenance, restoration, or preservation of Malta’s archaeological and architectural heritage.

The authorities could also use EU funds in order to purchase from landowners, heritage sites and 'green lungs' which were of vital importance to the cultural heritage, health and well-being of local residents but which were currently under threat, such as those at Hondoq ir-Rummien, Wied il-Ghasel, Villa Bonici in Sliema and the Marsascala public open space.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Words of wisdom

Published on The Malta Independent on Thursday 21st May 2009 by James A. Tyrrell.

More words of wisdom from the Parliamentary secretary for tourism Mario de Marco (Restaurants must be more price conscious, TMID, 15 May). Obviously the solution to attracting more tourists is not to do something as silly as reducing VAT in restaurants, but to keep pumping the high rates of VAT into the government’s pockets. Oh and don’t forget the proposed extra tax which they are proposing should be paid nightly by tourists.

And another gem, village cores should be made traffic free. What a great idea. Let’s inconvenience the local people and tourists alike! It’s hard sometimes to remember that this is the person who is supposed to be working on behalf of tourists like myself.

If you want to create extra revenue for the government coffers, Dr de Marco, then tax properties which are lying empty year in and year out. If property speculators suddenly realise that they will have to pay for all the ugly shells that are littering the country then perhaps they will spend the time and money to fix them up and put them to use.

As for attracting tourists to Malta and Gozo, the infrastructure to do that is already in place in the history and environmental beauty of the country, coupled with the friendliness of its people. Protect that infrastructure by going up against the developers who want to destroy it. Dismantle that ugly structure at Dwejra which is an ugly scar on an otherwise beautiful area. If you want to know what to do with it you could always dump it just off shore and create an artificial reef.

Or perhaps you could kill two birds with one stone and dump it in the hole in the quay at Hondoq. These are both important tourist destinations which you should be concentrating on putting right. If you don’t protect the tourist infrastructure then what will you have left to market?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The fastest job ever done in Gozo

Published on by James A. Tyrrell.

When I was a lot younger than I am today I can remember hearing the song, 'The Fastest Milkman in The West' sung by the famous Benny Hill. If Benny were still alive today he would have the chance to write a new song called, 'The Fastest Painter in Gozo'.

This week someone decided to write a message to the authorities regarding the damage in Hondoq ir-Rummien. The bright orange message read 'EU MONEY IN YOUR POCKETS' and would you believe that within a few hours the message was painted over with black paint by public employees. Everyone was really surprised with the efficiency.

Don't get me wrong I am not agreeing with vandalism, however what amazes me is that when there is propaganda against the Gozitan authorities everything is done very fast to remove it. But when half the quay is lying in the sea, leaving a hole you could lose Benny's milk float in, and the seabed is covered in large boulders they couldn't care less.

If the painter who carried out this express task ever changes his job and takes up construction and repair work the island of Gozo will be a much better place for everyone. I wonder if his name is Ernie?

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Does the Government care, obviously not?

Published on by James A. Tyrrell.

The news that the Maltese Government predicted a deficit of €68 million for 2008 but that by the time the budget was announced in November the deficit had reached €200 million seems to have escaped widespread comment. Even more worryingly, in the first quarter of this year, the government deficit has soared to €256 million, almost equal to the €266 million deficit in the whole of last year.

In such a situation, it is inevitable that decisions on the funding of projects are bound to be affected, however one hopes that the tourist industry, the most important contributor to the economy, will be given all the support it needs, especially in the light of the falling numbers reported at the airport and in hotels and retail outlets.

Given this dire financial situation one would think that the Government would be doing everything it could to enhance the prospects of the tourist industry, but instead they choose to turn a blind eye. Take the current situation at Hondoq where half the quay has collapsed into the sea. Not only is this an eyesore to prospective tourists, but also a great safety issue as children do not see this sort of thing as dangerous but as an adventure. Yet the Government so far have did nothing other than make the area more dangerous by setting blocks around it.

If we move around the coast to Dwejra we find the ill conceived rusted concrete structure that still graces the top of the hill leading down to the Inland Sea. How does this look to tourists? How will it look to the judges in the New 7 Wonders contest if the Azure Window gets to that stage? Does the Government care, obviously not?

What they do seem to care about however is spending €80 million on a new Parliament House. Given the present economic climate and this rather large deficit I would have thought that the last thing on the Government's mind would be splashing out €80 million on a new Parliament building. Wouldn't it be more feasible, given that the capital is littered with old abandoned buildings, to utilise one of these as the new Parliament House?

This would have the effect of regenerating an otherwise unused building at a greatly reduced cost to building a new one. The funds left over from the €80 million might then go towards the construction of a performing arts centre at the site of the old Opera House which would at least generate fresh income by attracting cultural tourists to Malta, something a new Parliament building would never do.