Valletta: capital of anarchy?
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Valletta: capital of anarchy?

Eateries inundated with irregularities

Capo Crudo

Capo Crudo

Malta’s capital city has been turned by restaurateurs, bar owners and other businessmen into a “capital of anarchy”, with many doing as they please and the authorities issuing warnings without ever enforcing them.

Documents tabled in Parliament last week show that a number of eateries, most of which opened during the past three years, are inundated with irregularities.

The majority either occupy public land or have built fixed structures – particularly canopies – or placed tables and chairs on the street without having the necessary permits to do so.

A list of the breaches identified by the Planning Authority over the past two years, tabled by Transport Minister Ian Borg in Parliament following a question by PN MP Claudio Grech, was described by Valletta residents and businessmen as “the tip of the iceberg”.

The list ranges from almost fully-fledged illegal operations to the ‘usual’ placing of tables and chairs on public streets to serve customers and passing trade.

One of the more flagrant infringements on Dr Borg’s list is by an eatery which markets itself as a high-end restaurant, Capo Crudo.

The restaurant, which according to pictures posted by owner Keith Seychell on social media enjoys frequent visits from Cabinet ministers, boasts an illegal outside roof structure complete with a retractable canopy. According to the PA, that’s just one of a litany of transgressions (see table).

Still, following an enforcement order, an appeal was filed, while in the meantime, the restaurant remains in business until further developments.

City LoungeCity Lounge

Right in the centre of the city, St George’s Square, a recently addition, City Lounge, continues serving its patrons despite its bestselling feature, a permanent tent structure overlooking the presidential Palace, constructed without a permit.

Many other restaurants which opened recently are either under an enforcement order or have requested the sanctioning of illegalities.

“The situation is beyond despair,” a businessman who has been operating a fully-permitted café in Republic Street said.

“Illegalities are the order of the day and businessmen have realised that in order to compete with the ‘cowboys’ you either join them or you’re out of business.

“It is clear that the authorities cannot cope and don’t want to cope as we now have a pro-business government. It is anarchy in action,” he said.

Another businessman, whose establishment is in Merchants Street, said that it is not only restaurateurs who abuse the system.

“Valletta has become a capital of illegalities. Cranes, construction, skyline alterations, streets turned into cafes. You name it, you have it,” he exclaimed.

“It’s true that all these things are happening across the country, but we were supposed to have our capital as a European showcase. Instead, we have a capital of anarchy,” he said, sarcastically.

In one of the cases flagged, the abuse has even involved excavations in a bastion.

The culprit, the Valletta Boċċi Club, excavated part of the bastion known as “is-Sur tal-Ġermaniżi” – a grade one scheduled historic building.

Valletta Boċċi ClubValletta Boċċi Club

Irregularities flagged up by the Planning Authority over the last couple of years

Venue Irregularity
Moo’s Turkish Kebab Tables and chairs without permit.
Kantina Cafe Structure installed on public land without permit.
Capo Crudo Restaurant Illegal internal and external alterations, retractable canopy, services at roof level including chimney, signage, lighting across facades, installation of aluminium room and planters on public land.
San Giovanni Cafe Tent structure, tables and chairs without permit.
Gunpost Restaurant Boundary wall on scheduled property without permit.
Ordnance Pub Tent structure without permit.
Scoglitti Restaurant Tent structure without permit.
Valletta Boċċi Club Excavation works without permit in bastion on schedule one building.
City Lounge Illegal tent structure at roof level, no permit for tables and chairs.

Ordnance PubOrdnance Pub

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