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Paceville residents want bars to close before 4 a.m.

"Life in Paceville has become a misery" - resident.

"Life in Paceville has become a misery" - resident.

Paceville residents would like to see the law changed so that bars and clubs would close well before the established cut-off time of 4 a.m.

On the other hand, bar and club owners are unhappy that the authorities this year decided to put their foot down and enforce the curfew, even on Christmas Eve and tonight, New Year's Eve.

Joseph de Conti Manduca, a Paceville resident who used to form part of the now disbanded Paceville Residents' Association, said residents were "living in hell" because of the noise, vandalism and the constant inconvenience they had to endure on a daily basis.

He argued that bars and nightclubs should start closing down at 11 p.m. so that, by midnight, the place would have been cleaned up and the revellers gone home to sleep.

"Life in Paceville has become a misery. We have been here before the bars started to sprout. It's become a 24-hour city. Even getting into your own house is a nightmare. We cannot continue living this way. Paceville's name should be changed to Storbjuville (noiseville)," he protested.

He complained about "ear-shattering" music, screeching tyres, vandalism, honking of horns and revving engines very early in the morning. Mr de Conti Manduca said residents had to endure people throwing up, urinating and defecating outside their doors.

The 4 a.m. issue arises from time to time. Bars and nightclubs are bound by a permit not to play music after 4 a.m. and the Finance Ministry reminded all last week that the law had to be respected.

Philip Fenech, the president of the tourism and entertainment section of the Chamber of Small and Medium Enterprises - GRTU, said a balance had to be struck between the interests of bars and nightclubs and those of residents, both local and foreign, including service providers in Paceville.

He said that, following a series of meetings to "socially re-engineer" Paceville, bar and nightclub owners had lowered the volume of music in their establishment by two-thirds. Bar and nightclub owners invested heavily in sound-proofing and double doors so that the music would not bother neighbours.

Asked to confirm whether the police were reprimanding bar and nightclub owners whose music was being heard from outside whenever clients were leaving or entering the premises, Mr Fenech said he had received reports to this effect.

He referred to the town centre management pilot project, which was looking into such issues in detail in an attempt to harmonise all service providers in Paceville.

Mark Grima, owner of Fuego nightclub in Paceville, believed that, by enforcing the 4 a.m. law, the government was trying to "ruin the nightlife industry". Most venues, he said, did not start proper trading before 2 a.m.

He said the measure, coupled with "crippling electricity rates", would result in a drastic drop in revenue.

"Come January, we will continue to offload full-timers, probably sending them back to the government on the dole."

Jonathan Grima, who runs the nightclub Havana, said the police enforced the 4 a.m. closing time on Christmas Eve and revellers were out on the streets, leading to fights and chaos.

Mr Fenech appealed to people to be in their favourite establishment well before midnight in order to avoid the usual rush for the countdown. He also called on revellers to pool cars and to use the park and ride facility from the Luxol Grounds.

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