Pictures - Police may allow limited access to certain parts of new Parliament building

Pictures - Police may allow limited access to certain parts of new Parliament building

Video: Darrin Zammit LupiVideo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

While vehicular access near the new Parliament is to be completely banned, access for pedestrians around certain parts of the building will be allowed at the police’s discretion, Speaker Anġlu Farrugia said today.

Speaking at the end of a media tour of the new Parliament building, Dr Farrugia said a permanent public exhibition outlining Parliament’s history is being set up at the ground floor level of the administration block, right next to City Gate steps.

The new building is to be inaugurated on Monday, when the first sitting will be held.

The Speaker was asked by Times of Malta to clarify what security arrangements would be taken following the concerns raised by the police who recommended banning access to the public along the building’s perimeter.

This announcement raised questions as the design of the building, by Renzo Piano, was aimed to leave public access underneath the building by creating a structure on stilts.

Dr Farrugia said details on how the security arrangement would be implemented would have to be fine tuned in the coming weeks possibly by installing a system of bollards.  However, he reiterated that in this day and age no risks could be taken which could jeopardise the building’s security.

The Speaker lamented that the security aspect of the building was not taken into consideration during the planning stage.

Though its controversial design has been hailed by many, the Piano building has been criticised for some shortcomings. It does not have a car park or even a cafeteria for MPs. Moreover, parliamentarians will have to brave the rain in bad weather to go from their office to the plenary chamber, as the bridge linking the two massive blocks is completely exposed.

As for the plenary chamber, which can handle up to 80 MPs at a time, space comes at a premium to the point that desks are foldable.

The new set up includes an indicator at the centre of the chamber which will light red, when the MPs run out of speaking time.

Apart from offices for the Prime Minister, ministers, and the Opposition leader, the building includes separate common areas for government and Opposition MPs from where they will be able to follow proceedings via a live stream.

Away from the public eye, right in the middle of both blocks at basement level there is a small garden which is surrounded by the offices of parliamentary staff.

The move will see Parliament getting its own television channel on the Melita network.

It will also be available to GO subscribers having an interactive service.

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