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The rise and fall of Gozo’s civic council

At a time when practically every town and village has its own local council, it won’t be amiss to take a look at the history of the Gozo Civic Council.

Things were different in the 1950s when the political turmoil in Malta relegated Gozo’s problems to the back burner. People with a sense of civic pride and awareness had felt that the time was ripe to give Gozitans a voice. The idea of forming a body elected by the people that had been in incubation for years suddenly came to the fore.

The first meeting of the provisional Gozo Civic Committee – made up of Anton Tabone, Ġużeppi Cauchi, Rikkardu Buhagiar, and Ġorġ Xerri – was held on October 30, 1958. The committee was to shoulder the task of bringing the complaints of the people to the notice of the central government, and to exert as much pressure as possible on the government to do something for Gozo.

A fully-fledged meeting with a representative from each of the 14 villages of Gozo was held on November 23, 1958.

On June 12, 1959, the second Gozo Civic Committee came into being with a membership of 17 consisting of 14 elected representatives and three co-opted.

On March 14, 1960, the government re-designated the Civic Committee as the Gozo Civic Council, with effect from the following April 4, granting it official recognition.

The Gozo Civic Council was a statutory local government. A new council was elected by general suffrage on June 4, 1961. It was officially inaugurated on July 10 1961. The council was unceremoniously dissolved by an Act of Parliament on December 4, 1973.

An exhibition retracing the life of this council is being held at the National Archives Gozo Section in Vajrinġa Street, Victoria until July 30. The showcase will be open Monday to Saturday from 7.30 a.m. till 1 p.m. Entrance is free.

A set of 20 postcards with the coat-of-arms of Gozo, the 14 districts, the three localities, the island of Comino, and a composite card with each card including their motto in Latin, Maltese and English are available from the exhibition venue.

Rev. Dr Bezzina is Assistant National Archivist.

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