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Siggiewi civic centre inaugurated

Video: Paul Spiteri Lucas

A civic centre has been inaugurated in Siggiewi by Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi this afternoon.

The centre is on a site was was occupied by a Labour Party club until August 2010, when the latter was evicted and offered a temporary five-year lease on an adjacent property.

The Lands Commissioner had directed Labour to vacate the building by the end of June but the party later filed a judicial protest claiming the eviction order constituted discrimination.

The club premises had been transferred to the party after a public tender was issued in the 1980s by a Labour government.

The property, formerly known as Villa Siġġiewi, used to belong to Mabel Strickland, daughter of former Prime Minister Gerald Strickland, leader of the Progressive Constitutional Party and editor of The Times between 1935 and 1950.

It was bought by the government in the 1960s and used as a primary school for several years. In 1969, it became a civic centre used by a number of organisations.

In 1981, Labour submitted an offer to lease part of the property. It was leased on December 11, 1981 - the eve of the general election - for Lm200 (€465) a year.

In 1983, other parts of the building became vacant and the government issued a call for those wishing to lease it. These were then also transferred to Labour.

In 1987, a few months before another general election, the government accepted a party request and extended the lease for 24 years, expiring in June 2010.

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