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Spinola Palace garden

The picture, published in The Times, of the embellishment underway at Spinola Palace garden by the Tumas Group - the developers of Portomaso - brought back memories of what action (and not just moaning and groaning) by citizens can accomplish.

The embellishment of Spinola Palace garden would never have been possible were it not for the prompt and decisive action taken by the MLP committee of St Julians in the early 1970s, since the Spinola Palace gardens were going to be built up. Spinola Palace and its gardens were the property of the Curia. Tenders had already closed for the building plots planned for Spinola Palace gardens.

I happened to be the president of the St Julians MLP committee at that time. When we learned about the project to build around Spinola Palace, our committee raised hell with the Labour government, even if the project were on private property. We insisted that Spinola Palace and its gardens be taken over by the government in order to save Spinola Palace and its gardens from the hands of speculators who, at that time, happened to be the Curia.

We insisted that the palace - which was in an abandoned state - be restored and used for the benefit of St Julians' residents, while the garden be turned into a children's playing-field.

The late Minister Patrick Holland and the then Prime Minister Dom Mintoff realised that our request was a just one and a "possession and use" order was issued. From that day, Spinola Palace and its gardens were saved!

Perhaps Environment Minister George Pullicino and the Tumas Group would consider mentioning the work done by the St Julians MLP committee to save the palace and its surrounding gardens when the official opening of the embellishment works takes place. Had it not been for that MLP committee, today there would have been more blocks of flats instead of a splendid garden.

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