Councils clash over name of replica arch

Mock-up of what the replica arch might look like.

Mock-up of what the replica arch might look like.

The name of a replica arch planned for a Fleur-de-Lys roundabout has placed two local councils on a collision course.

Santa Venera council insisted that the upcoming structure be named Wignacourt Arch, but Birkirkara council said it should be Fleur-de-Lys Gate.

The matter between the two councils has been dragging on for months. Santa Venera mayor Stephen Sultana filed an application for an injunction against Birkirkara council.

The gate, which has already been given the green light by the planning authority, will be erected on the main round-about between St Joseph High Road and the Rabat road, close to the Bank of Valletta head-quarters. The arch will be a replica of the original built by Grand Master Adolf de Wignacourt in 1615.

David Farrugia Sacco, on behalf of the Santa Venera mayor, accused Birkirkara council of causing “historical damage” and asked the court to prohibit the council – which is the project’s leader – from continuing to call the arch with the incorrect name.

Birkirkara council is, however, having none of it and through its lawyer Richard Sladden insisted that the arch’s real name, according to historic documents, is Fleur-de-Lys Gate.

Dismissing the request made by the Santa Venera mayor, Mr Justice Joseph Azzopardi said it was debatable whether the Santa Venera Council had any jurisdiction over the project.

Without delving into the historical aspect, he declared there was no real reason to uphold the request to stop the Birkirkara council from using the gate’s name as Fleur-de-Lys.

The arch – which consisted of a large arch and two small ones – linked the aqueduct in Mrieħel and Santa Venera and was demolished in 1943 after having been damaged by a Royal Air Force crane.

The arch’s rebuilding, to be carried following an agreement between the Birkirkara local council, the administrative committee of Fleur-de-Lys and Bank of Valletta is estimated to cost some €250,000.

According to Ronald Briffa, chairman of the administrative committee of Fleur-de-Lys, the arch was “a source of pride for the people of the area”.

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