Valletta deputy mayor Ray Azzopardi has warned that tables and chairs placed in Valletta’s streets will sooner or later lead to a loss of life after an ambulance encountered difficulty navigating its way through Valletta’s streets.
Azzopardi uploaded a video to Facebook this morning showing an ambulance driving through what appears to be Merchant’s street. The street has in recent years seen an increase in tables and chairs being placed outside bars and restaurants lining the street.
The video shows the ambulance having to slow down as it makes its way through the street as people clear its path. The ambulance was able to make its way through in the end, at least as far as can be seen in the video.
Azzopardi questioned whether entities like the Planning Authority, Transport Malta and other enforcement agencies “knew what they were doing”.
“Do you know you’re endangering people’s lives? Do you know what situation you’ve placed Valletta in? Do you know that you’re so smart that you aren’t even noticing your own ignorance?” Azzopardi wrote.
He added that while he was not against commerce in the capital, situations like these risked somebody losing his life, calling on authorities to ramp up enforcement before it was too late.
It isn’t clear from the footage which part of the street the video was taken in, and whether the tables in question are covered by a permit.
The issue of outside spaces being taken up by bar and restaurant owners was raised recently after a large platform appeared in Merchant’s Street, right outside the Roselli Hotel.
According to a MaltaToday report, 67 permits for Valletta catering establishments to place tables and chairs out for al fresco dining were issued between 2016 and August this year, the majority following the introduction of a 2015 policy allowing restaurants to set up platforms on kerb-sides as long as they do not directly obstruct pavements.
The policy has been controversial with many arguing that it represents business interests encroaching on public space. On the other hand, there are those who argue that such outside dining areas breathe life into the capital.
Do you think the tables and chairs should go?