Fabian Demicoli

GRTU Position: CVA and Parking Schemes

 GRTU, as the
only national organization that has a strong representation in all of the
localities in Malta and Gozo, has written to the Government with its position
on the CVA and Parking Schemes.

GRTU
stated it gives the utmost importance to economic activities in the
localities.  GRTU enjoys an excellent relationship with the association of
Local Councils and with individual Local Councils. Together, currently, we do
our utmost to facilitate better traffic management, project building and action
that enhances the viability of private services in the Community. This is the
prime reason as to why GRTU gives the utmost importance to the potential
economic benefits our localities can generate.

CVA and parking in Valletta

GRTU has
held various meetings to discuss the issue of the CVA and parking in Valletta
with Hon Joe Mizzi, Hon Christian Cardona and the  Chairman of Transport Malta.

The CVA
launched in 2007, has been introduced because parking spaces were previously
all taken up in early morning by employees who work in the capital, leaving
hardly any room for shop owners or people who wanted to do shopping and other
errands.

GRTU is in favour of timed-controlled parking in
Valletta, especially during peak hours, due to the limited number of parking
spaces available. It also emphasised that it has long been in favour of a
capital project for underground parking, stating that Valletta will not be able
to get back on its feet unless there is a turnaround on the parking issue.

CVA did not
fail because it was technically wrong or because of a lack of parking meters,
but because of the rushed implementation of the system by the government and
the Valletta Local Council. GRTU insists that the controlled vehicular access
(CVA) system in Valletta should remain and that its administration should be
improved.

It is not acceptable for MPs and Ministers to take up a substantial
number of parking spaces without paying their dues to Transport Malta, pointing
out that at this age, it was easy to park outside the city and call a driver
using a mobile phone. GRTU also proposed that MPs should be offered free battery
run taxi service from reserved car parks outside the city.

Anyone who seeks to organise an activity in Valletta  even high authorities  should be made to pay for the parking spaces
which are taken up as a result, adding that the same situation should apply in
the case of other permits which involve the loss of parking spaces. Reserved
parking without exception, including residents' 
must go.

CVA system's operation in the afternoons is unnecessary and
that during the morning peaks, rationing and turnover of available parking
spaces must remain under one method or another and against payment and subject
to time limit.

The association is surprised 
to see teachers exempted from CVA charges together with street

hawkers and MPs to the detriment of business owners,
professionals and other workers based in Valletta.

Parking Schemes

GRTU is informed that for the time being Residential Parking
Schemes are on hold and that other solutions would have to be explored to
address the parking problem.

Studies are at present being carried out by Transport Malta
and they were sparked by the controversy which led the government to suspend a
parking scheme which Sliema Council had intended to introduce.

St Paul's Bay Council and Naxxar Local Council were also
stopped from introducing residents' parking.

GRTU believes that given the multiplicity of problems caused
by excessive road transport and the over utilization of Localities, Government
should launch attractive incentives so that more work and enterprise is generated
in the Localities.

Government needs to create incentives so that work in
Localities is strengthened, spending is done in one's own locality and the
locality attracts tourist and other activity, which makes the locality more
sustainable. 

This will strengthen employment and relieve environmental problems and
facilitate the employment of women. Women, especially those with children, most
times can dedicate only a reduced working day. The closer the job is to the
household the lesser time is spent on travelling. 

GRTU is
proposing that each Local Council establishes a Core Consultation Group which
will meet on a monthly basis minimum to discuss proactively, projects and
incentives in the Locality with a view to minimise problems at implementation
stage of projects of whatever nature. Experience has shown that plenty of time
is currently being wasted on unnecessary reactive meetings which most times
create antagonism between parties involved at Local Council Level.

GRTU proposes
that financial Awards will be given to Local Councils who prove successful in
the introduction of projects that support enterprises and economic growth in
their locality.  A Local Authority Business Growth Incentive (LABGI)
package should be designed in consultation with GRTU and the Local Councils
Association so that Local Councils will benefit on their initiatives in favour
of economic sustainability of the locality.

GRTU
specifically wants to see an extension of tourism to reach also the Localities.
Other services in the localities such as Cafés, B&B and Restaurants and
many retailers will benefit if tourists accommodation spreads from the
traditional tourists areas to the localities. The spread of tourists amongst
Malta's localities will ease the increasing pressure on the infrastructure.

Host Families
for instance are a valuable resource. These are dedicated individuals who open
their homes to total strangers and welcome them and do their best to provide
cheap lodging at a good standard while providing the experience of the Maltese
way of living. The GRTU knows of minor shortcomings in the sector however the
whole cannot be made to suffer for it.

GRTU therefore
proposes to further incentivise the sector and help it become more competitive.
The hotel industry and the host family sector are currently in competition and
we think that it is only fair that they compete under the same rules. 

Transport Malta
needs to work more to ameliorate the new public transport system and to create
more awareness as to how the public transport is operating. The aim is that
this reform will become more convenient and hence car owners will distance
themselves from the traditional form of transport and start using public
transport once again especially during working hours. GRTU proposes that all
stakeholders will participate in the discussions, namely Local Councils, GRTU
and Transport Malta.

Conclusions

CVA: The GRTU, is
at present consulting all business operators in Valletta to arrive at the best
advice it can give to the government about the controlled vehicular access
(CVA) to the capital. It transpires that the system is not giving good results
as it has been operated wrongly and there is widespread dissatisfaction with
it.

This situation is not only
detrimental to the government but also to Valletta's commercial sector, as
every lost parking space means a loss of trade. GRTU insists that the city
deserves serious traffic and parking management and that underground parking
should be taken into consideration. There is scope also for investment in the
open spaces in the ditches and in lifts to the city. GRTU has also asked
government to reconsider fresh negotiations regarding the Floriana  park and ride, as this could be an asset to
the parking problem we have in the Capital City.

The argument is not about the system, but about how the CVA
is operated. The worst thing that can happen, is to remove what is ultimately a
good system, even though it has been administered in a very loose manner, and
introduce a free-for-all, or revert to requiring a special car licence to enter
Valletta.

Parking Schemes: Utilisation of funds from the Commuted Parking Payment Scheme to provide
adequate parking facilities close to town and village cores as these will
facilitate more business support to the shopping centres in city cores. Few
towns and villages can support the wide range of retail and other services
provided in city cores if traffic and parking management does not facilitate
the use of these services by other customers who do not reach the centre on
foot or by bus.

Additional
capital grants to Local Councils to encourage the promotion of private parking
facilities to service clients utilizing the new or the extended enterprises in
the city core.

Reduced rates of withholding tax on
property developed by private investors for parking complexes that service the
community.

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