Fabian Demicoli

Guidelines for Outdoor Catering Areas on Public Open Space

GRTU has replied to a public consultation by MEPA on the Guidelines for Outdoor Catering Areas on Public Open Space.

While welcoming the consultation, GRTU has however suggested that this should be regarded as an initial step and once concrete proposals are in place MEPA should carry out a more in depth consultation explaining in detail the policy changes that are envisaged and any proposed change in procedures.

GRTU does however in principle agree with the objectives outlined by MEPA. We believe that a clear set of objectives is essential to implementing a system that is fair to all the stakeholders involved, including the commercial establishments. GRTU feels that this element of fairness is currently lacking because today, due to a number of reasons, different commercial establishments benefit from different permits when it comes to tables and chairs placed on public open spaces. This variation does not only apply in cases where establishments are found in different localities but also between establishments that are situated next door to each other. GRTU therefore believes that whatever guidelines are established they must be clear and available to any commercial establishing holding the relevant license.

One of the main problems emanating from the system today is that a large number of entities are involved in the decision of permitting and these entities serve the commercial establishments with different interpretations and points of view, which in actual fact makes the acquisition of a permit very time consuming and difficult. The current bureaucratic system should be replaced with a one-stop-shop system that still incorporates the views of all the stakeholders however is able to act according to a clear set of guidelines that limits the level of interpretation, gives commercial establishments equal opportunities, as much as possible, and the permit is issued within a reasonable timeframe.

GRTU feels that when deciding on permitting, the one-stop-shop system should bring together all the stakeholders involved and this includes not only representatives of the various entities but also a business representative, such as a representative from the GRTU. The business perspective is normally lacking within decision-making structures and it is important that the new system caters for such a perspective. In addition the commercial establishment should also be given a right to appeal a decision and be granted an opportunity to be heard by an appeals board.

 

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