Fabian Demicoli

Managing our Town Centres

 Our town centres are not only places where people just go for shopping or entertain themselves or reside. They are places which have the opportunity of offering an experience. Town centres have the potential of becoming vibrant areas but this needs management of existing activities, co-ordination between the various stakeholders both private and public as well as the injection of new and innovative ideas. The concept of Town Centre Management has been extensively developed particularly in the UK and the USA and is now taking a prominent place in the management of town centres on mainland Europe – Italy, France and Germany.

The Town Centre Management project in Malta was launched last October, through the collaboration between the Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism, the Environment and Culture and the Parliamentary Secretary for Consumers, Fair Competition, Local Councils and Public Dialogue, under the guidance of the Association of Town Centre Management. The three pilot localities chosen for the project are Valletta, Paceville and Marsalforn (Gozo).

The third and final workshop was held during the first week of August. During the three workshops the main stakeholders for the three localities were provided with the appropriate training for Town Centre Management. The stakeholders for the three localities included representatives of the three local councils, the GRTU, MHRA, MTA, FELTOM, GTA, representatives of the business community in the areas as well as representatives of the resident community.

The first step in the process was the Health Check. This provided information on the existing state of the locality to understand, through a questionnaire filled by stakeholders for each locality, how the locality is performing with regard to various aspects – parking, level of entertainment, cleanliness, safety, public facilities and other aspects. It is important that health checks are carried out regularly to assess the performance of the locality and identify gaps where action needs to be taken.

Another important stage in this process has been the formulation of an Action Plan for each locality. This Action Plan outlines the objectives of the Town Centre Management for the first year (2010 – 2011) in achieving the vision for the locality. To achieve each objective a number of actions have been identified. The Action Plans are currently being finalized and their implementation is targeted to commence this September.

The Town Centre Management team for each locality will also be formulating a strategy for the locality for the next five years and also aims to expand its stakeholder base bringing in other partners in the process with the aim of establishing a formal structure which would take forward the Action Plan in the future and besides being the catalyst for specific initiatives would also be co-ordinating initiatives with other public and private entities.

The Action Plans aim to address various issues relevant to each locality e.g. increasing evening activity in Valletta, transport and safety in Paceville, the seasonality in Marsalforn.

Town Centre Management is a new concept for our islands and seeks to instill a new mentality and culture towards the management of our localities. This can, however, only be achieved through the collaboration and close working relationship amongst the various stakeholders seeking to build on their common interests and objectives as well as resolving conflicts for the benefit of the locality and its users, the business community, the visitors and the residents.

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