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Watch: Gżira mayor warns of bars, restaurants on main roads

Already 21 pavement cafés along The Strand

It did not make sense to have outdoor bars and restaurants next to a main road, Gżira mayor Conrad Borg Manché said.

The stretch of the Strand from Manoel Island bridge to the Ferries has already got 21 of these outdoor areas, over a dozen of which were given their permits last year. And with dozens more restaurants there, the potential for yet more to extend over the pavement to the road was worrying, he said.

The mayor was speaking in the context of two developments which have brought the issue back to the fore: the car which swerved onto the pavement on July 6, killing a 25-year-old Dutchman, and injuring seven others; and the decision on August 20 by the Administrative Review Tribunal which means the Waterfront Hotel will not be able to set up tables and chairs outside.

This could be one of the most beautiful promenades on the island

The tribunal was unequivocal in its decision to uphold the refusal by the Lands Authority board: things could have been “done better” in the past.

It said that there were two reasons behind the refusal: the already overwhelming pressure on parking spaces, and safety aspects given not only the substantial amount of traffic but also the speed of vehicles.

“I am yet to be convinced that the safety features that are being put in place by these concessions would be enough if a speeding car lost control,” he said, pointing to bollards with black and yellow tape on them, and planters.

Speed is one of his main concerns. In fact, Mr Borg Manché pulled out his phone to show a video he took recently in France, which showed a promenade very similar to that of Gżira – but with one major difference. Cars were travelling along the road at a sedate 30km an hour, he pointed out.

This is what it could look like - Sables d'OlonneThis is what it could look like - Sables d'Olonne

“This is what we need… isn’t this amazing? I am all in favour of pavement cafés as they add life to the area. But first the infrastructure has to be in place. And the cafés must abide by the conditions and leave the pavement clear. The council receives complaints on a regular basis from people who cannot get through with a pushchair, for example.”

He paused and looked at his phone again, before saying: “This could be one of the most beautiful promenades on the island.”

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