Thursday, May 30, 2013

Disability, Education and Maritime Affairs

Michael Briguglio

Sliema Local Council Magazine, Summer 2013

It is with pleasure that this is my fourth legislature as Sliema local councillor since 2003. It is also very satisfying to note that the previous council won a vote of confidence in March’s local elections. The positive and forward-looking attitude by councillors and staff surely played an important role in this regard.

My responsibilities for the 2013-17 legislature are issues related to disability, education and maritime affairs. I also form part of the Council’s committees on finance, public offers and EU affairs.

In this article I wish to point out some of my priorities in the respective fields.

As regards disability, it is important to note that there are various forms of disability. Despite the increased awareness on the rights of persons with disability, ignorance still persists on this issue. For example, people with disability should not be seen as one homogenous group. There are various degrees and types of disability, from the physical to the intellectual and such identities intersect with other identities that each individual has such as gender, class, sexuality, age, and ethnicity. If one translates this to social policy, one would realize that, while all persons with disability should have their rights guaranteed, one cannot adopt one-size-fits-all policies. Persons with disability should have full access to the political, social, economic and cultural spheres of everyday life. Otherwise, it would be society which is disabling people.

One important priority regarding disability is to ensure that Sliema is a fully accessible locality. The current council is working on safer pedestrian pathways, more accessible pavements and public buildings and more accessible beaches. We also intend to ensure that all public spaces, including playing fields, are fully accessible.

As regards education, the Sliema Local Council will shortly launch the Lifelong Learning scheme for 2013-4. As was the case with previous years, the scheme was very successful last year. Next year we aim to further diversify courses on offer, where we also aim to include courses related to wellbeing, social and cultural issues and healthy living, in addition to language courses.

Following various upgrades at the Sliema Library, which is situated in the Primary School building, this year we aim to keep giving this service the importance it deserves. The library is constantly purchasing new books and also offers services such as storytelling for children, internet access and WI-FI.

As regards Maritime Affairs, one main priority is to ensure that beaches are well-organized, accessible and clean. It is for this reason that apart from the public cleaning services, Sliema Local Council works with NGOs and civic-minded persons for beach and underwater clean-ups. As regards the latter, much more awareness has to be created. This is important not only for the maritime ecology, but also for our diving industry, which is an important touristic niche. Sliema Local Council is also ensuring that beaches are not glorified carparks.

Another initiative in which I am involved with other fellow councillors is the drive to make Sliema the most bicycle-friendly locality. Last year we increased bicycle racks, but now is the time to introduce policies to make sure that this green form of transport is enhanced. Bikers’ and pedestrians’ safety is a key priority in this respect. For this reason, Sliema Local Council is regularly meeting persons involved in the field, including members of the Bicycle Advocacy Group.

I wish to emphasize that in various matters, Sliema Local Council depends on approval and/or assistance from Governmental Ministries/Departments/Authorities. In relation to local council reform, this is is a matter that in itself deserves due attention and discussion.

I invite all those who wish to give a helping hand or to send me suggestions regarding the areas I referred to above by emailing me at

Online version of Sliema Local Council Magazine - click here

Monday, May 27, 2013

Check out this Video - Sliema Street Art Festival

Check out this promotional video:

The Sliema promenade will serve as an exhibition space – and as a canvas – for a wide selection of street artists late next month, for the first edition of the Sliema Street Art Festival. It will take place between June 28-30, but the artworks themselves are set to remain on site all summer.

Facebook event page:

Check out our website to view all the artists portfolios.

If you want to participate sign up here:

Add more colors on facebook

Sliema parking scheme 'to be postponed for not more than three weeks' - council

The Times, 24 May 2013

The Sliema council said today it was willing to postpone the enforcement of its controlled parking scheme for not more than another three weeks, within which Transport Malta was being invited to make proposals for the scheme's improvement.

In a statement, the council said it disagreed with Cabinet’s decision to suspend the implementation of the trial period of the scheme and had reservations about the way the scheme was suspended.

TM had suspended the scheme a week after it was introduced on the strength of a Cabinet decision. The council was asked to rethink the scheme and revisit its plans.

The council said it only went ahead with the scheme after it obtained all the necessary permits from Transport Malta. Prior to the implementation, the council was in constant communication with TM officials. Authority officials also chipped in with their advice.

The council said while its scheme was suspended, similar ones in other localities were not.

The council said it sent a preliminary report on the improvement of the traffic and parking situation in Sliema to Transport Minister Joe Mizzi and Councils Parliamentary Secretary Jose Herrera.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sliema to host street art festival

The Malta Independent 20th May 2013

The Sliema promenade will serve as an exhibition space – and as a canvas – for a wide selection of street artists late next month, for the first edition of the Sliema Street Art Festival. It will take place between June 28-30, but the artworks themselves are set to remain on site all summer. John Cordina writes

The event is the brainchild of Add More Colors, a company which focuses on street art and graffiti and which seeks to enable artists to live on their talent. The company was founded in Sweden, but has been based in Malta since 2009.

AMC director and Sliema resident Peter Brobeck, one of the festival’s organisers, notes that the company admired the country’s attitude towards art, stating that it is “light years ahead of Sweden when it came to open-mindedness and appreciation towards art.”

The Sliema local council has already backed street art initiatives: last summer, a wall beneath the Qui-Si-Sana promenade was decorated by a number of street artists as part of the “Putting Colour in the Streets” project.

The festival came about when the company sought to obtain permits to paint the wall. In the process, Mr Brobeck met Sliema local councillor Pierre Portelli through a mutual friend, and it was through the ensuing discussions that plans to organise the festival were set in motion.

The local council’s blessing provided the organisers – a team of four, including Mr Brobeck – with an ideal exhibition space: the Sliema promenade, starting from the Għar id-Dud area all the way to Balluta Bay, including the Independence Garden.

The promenade, popular with locals and tourists alike, has hosted a number of art exhibitions in past years, but nothing on this scale.

Organising such a large-scale event brings “tons of challenges,” Mr Brobeck acknowledges, and the organisers aim to create a festival fit for people of all ages and origins.

In the spirit of street art, participation is open to anyone, “regardless of age, citizenship or education.” The only prerequisite, the organisers stress, is “quality and vigour.”

Nine foreign acts – eight solo artists and a sibling duo – have confirmed that they will be participating in the festival. They are David Walker (England), Tank (Germany), Mr Dheo (Portugal), Shaka (France), Sofles (Australia), Smates (Belgium), Steve Locatelli (Belgium), Kayo Natez (Germany) and Brohemia (Sweden).

The festival’s artworks will include traditional graffiti, stencil graffiti, sculptures, sticker art, wheat-pasting, street posters, art intervention, guerrilla art and street installations.

The Independence Garden will be hosting an exhibition area for canvas art, street art photography and sculpture, but artworks will also be set up on easels across the promenade. Over 100 easels are to be set up for artists to exhibit their work, and over 200 square metres of walls will be available for wall art.

Naturally, the street art festival will not simply serve to exhibit works: live painting – as well as collaborations between artists – will also be taking place. And the local council, the organisers note, has given its blessing for participants to colour the promenade itself.

“Every part and object belonging to the Sliema promenade is a possible piece of art,” the event’s organisers state, naming gazebos, benches and phone booths as examples.

This may sound like a recipe for disaster, but Mr Brobeck stresses that this will be no free-for-all without any rules and guidelines.

“We don’t want the promenade to look like a paintball warzone,” he adds.

What the organisers are doing is to screen applications and carefully select the ones that they think will fit on the festival. Once this is done, the selected street artists will be assigned locations – spread across the festival area – to work on.

“So far we’ve only had great ideas and suggested collaborations... there are a lot of creative minds on this island,” Mr Brobeck explains.

The festival will not just host visual arts: appropriately enough, it is set to host a large number of street performers. Musicians and entertainers ranging from solitary buskers to large groups are invited to apply to participate: a number of mini sound systems will be placed in strategic spots along the promenade to allow performers to plug and play with ease.

The organisers plan to turn the festival into an annual event, with Mr Brobeck pointing out that Sliema presently lacks an annual festival of its own, in contrast to many other Maltese towns.

They are also confident that the artwork which will be displayed – and created – during the festival will be well received.

“I have always thought of the Maltese people as very open minded when it comes to street art and graffiti. The art form has grown very popular the last 10 years all around the world, and it’s exciting to live on an island where the people aren’t scared of trying out new things,” Mr Brobeck notes.

The event should have something to offer for people for all ages and personalities, he adds. What it will certainly do, he adds, is lead to a “colourful and pleasant promenade.”

Facebook event page:

Check out our website to view all the artists portfolios.

If you want to participate sign up here:

Add more colors on facebook

Newest threat to century-old Norfolk pine alarms residents

James Debono
Malta Today 20th May 2013

On Friday morning Sliema residents were alarmed after construction engines started removing soil in the close vicinity of a century-old, seven-storey Awrikarja (Norfolk pine) tree located in a garden in Manwel Dimech Street.

In the past few years the tree has survived two planning applications which envisioned its obliteration.

MaltaToday is informed that enforcement officers from the Malta Environment and Planning Authority rushed immediately to the site when notified by residents, who feared damage to the roots of the centenarian tree.

But according to a MEPA spokesperson "the works are in line" with a planning permit issued in 2010. MEPA said no damage to the Awrikarja tree was noted, but it will continue monitoring the works in the coming days.

The permit MEPA referred to did not envision any development in the garden where the tree is located.

In the past, following reports by MaltaToday, MEPA refused two applications which would have resulted in the destruction of the tree.

In the first application, dating back to 2007, the tree's existence was not reported in the case officer report. The oversight was corrected after MaltaToday noted it.

The development application was subsequently turned down.

In the second case, following an outcry by environmental groups, the garden development was limited, and the tree was saved.

In 2013, a fresh application was presented to carry out internal modifications and to add a parking space and a reservoir to the garden.

The initial plans presented to MEPA proposed that the Norfolk pine be uprooted and transplanted to the roof of the parking area, which would probably have resulted in the death of the tree.

Subsequently the plans changed again, and the tree was again spared the axe, as the parking space and reservoir are to be confined to a separate section of the garden. But residents who spoke to MaltaToday expressed concern on Friday that excavations close to the tree would jeopardize its survival.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Will other parking schemes be suspended?

So the Government has decided to suspend the timed parking scheme in Sliema. This scheme was fully compliant with legislation and was no different from parking schemes in other localities.

The scheme has been discussed within the Sliema Local Council, also including public meetings, since 2003 and has long been approved by the Authorities. Councillors from all three parties unanimously agreed on the scheme. Being in 4 local councils since 2003, I can vouch for this.

Following Government's quick decision to suspend the scheme, the inevitable comes to mind. Will schemes in other localities be suspended, too? Are some localities more equal than others?

The fact that public transport has been the cinderella of social policy for so long does not help things.

Prime Minister stops Sliema residential parking zone

"The parking scheme in Sliema was no different from other localities" Michael Briguglio.

From Malta Today
7th May 2013

The Office of the Prime Minister has intervened to suspend the Sliema local council's residential parking zone, which only started in recent weeks.

The suspension followed the industrial action ordered by the Malta Union of Teachers (MUT) which ordered teachers working in Sliema to report for work an hour late. This morning the union said that the action was "successful," with the Forum Unions Maltin backing the action ordered by MUT.

In a statement, the OPM said it was suspending the residential parking system with immediate effect, claiming it was "introduced unilaterally without a trial period" and that it was causing problems for commuters.

The OPM said transport minister Joe Mizzi and local councils parliamentary secretary José Herrera will be meeting the Sliema local council and other business organisations to discuss the matter.

"A comprehensive plan for various parking areas across the island is in the offing as part of government's work to facilitate traffic and transport issues, to aid residents and the commercial community in various towns," the government said.

Speaking to MaltaToday, Alternattiva Demokratika's councillor, Michael Briguglio said that the parking scheme in Sliema was no different from other localities.

"The parking scheme in Sliema is not different to other schemes found in other localities, therefore if the government is consistent it should suspend the scheme in other localities too."

While admitting that he understands that the scheme could create problems for teachers and students, Briguglio said that the scheme was in line with other similar schemes found elsewhere.

Moreover, the experienced AD councillor said that the scheme had been approved years ago and was enforced recently.

"The scheme has been discussed by the council since 2003 and there has always been a cross-party agreement on the scheme, with councillors from all three parties unanimously agreeing on the scheme."

Through the scheme, half the parking bays in Sliema have become timed between 8am and 9pm and non-residents will not be able to occupy the same bay for more than two hours. Once the two hours were over, non-residents would have to move their car and would not be able to return to the same spot before another hour would have passed.


Maritime Day in Sliema - Sunday May 19th

Sliema Local Council will be participating in European Maritime Day on Sunday 19th May, between 9am and 1pm.


Exiles (Taormina area, under Peppi's):

Boat ride for kids
Fishing competition
Old boats display

Exiles & Qui-si-sana:

Underwater clean-up
All qualified divers are invited to participate.
Tanks and weights - free of charge
Drinks and refreshments provided

Balluta to Fond Ghadir:

Beach clean-up
Everyone is invited to participate
Garbage pickers, globes and bags provided.

Facebook event page:

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sliema Street Art Festival

This summer, Add more colors together with Sliema local council will host "Sliema street art festival", on Malta. The festival will take place on the 28-30 of June, but all art remain up for the whole summer.

The whole promenade from Preluna to Balluta bay will be transformed into an artpiece, with everything from traditional graffiti to stencil art and installations aswell as food, drinks, music and entertainment.

Already, the lineup is crazy good

David Walker, England
Steve Locatelli, Belgium
Sofles, Australia
Mr Dheo, Portugal
Shaka, France
Tank, Germany
Smates, Belgium
Kayo Natez, Germany
Brohemia, Sweden

Check out the website and the amazing artworks of the painters!

If you want to participate as an artist, musician or entertainer. Sign up here!

Add more colors on facebook

Alexia Mifsud
Jean Marc Galea
Christoffer Tykö
Peter Brobeck