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

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