You are currently viewing NGOs call for removal of planning commission chair

NGOs call for removal of planning commission chair

Eleven organisations are calling for the removal of Simon Saliba from his role as chairperson of the Planning Commission “for obstructing the right to a fair planning process”. 

The NGOs said on Monday that Simon Saliba has “consistently shown disrespect for residents and other objectors” during planning authority sittings and “has often openly and aggressively sided with the developers instead of fulfilling his role as an impartial arbitrator”. 

Saliba’s behaviour is part of a recurrent pattern, they said.

One of his first big hearings was the Balluta ferry pontoon application, when his declared decision to refuse the permit was hastily changed to an approval during a session in which he bizarrely appeared to be acting as lawyer for the developers.

On one occasion, he even asked a resident to be escorted out of a hearing simply because she insisted on her right to object. Last Friday, Saliba cut off the microphone of an activist who was finishing an intervention against the building of apartments on a site of archaeological importance in Kalkara, effectively censoring her contribution,” the groups said in a statement.

Saliba’s “openly hostile attitude” showed he had little respect for NGOs or the public, they said.

Saliba’s arrogant attitude and outdated mindset, together with his consistent defence of developers’ interests rather than the public good, contrasts starkly with the fresh start promised by Minister Aaron Farrugia“.

The group of organisations are Bicycle Advocacy Group, BirdLife Malta, Din l-Art Ħelwa,  Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar,  Friends of the Earth Malta, GreenHouse Malta, Malta Youth in Agriculture, Moviment Graffitti, Nature Trust Malta, Ramblers Association of Malta and The Archaeological Society of Malta.

PA says Planning Commission chair acted fairly, correctly

In its reply, the Planning Authority said Saliba was being unfairly targeted by some eNGOs who are not satisfied that certain planning decisions have been approved despite their objection. 

This tactic and behaviour is unjust and undemocratic, it said, as it described it as a subtle way of intimidating and putting undue pressure on the PA’s deciding boards and commissions to start making decisions solely based on the opinion of those who object to a planning application.

It said that although members of the public are not usually allowed to speak during a meeting, the practice is that these are allowed to air their views. However, when the member keeps repeating and interrupting the meeting, the chair needs to take action to ensure that order is kept and a decision taken.

The PA said Saliba acted “fairly and correctly” during the meeting when deciding on the site in Kalkara. The application was approved after archaeological studies concluded that there were no cart ruts on site. 

ARTICLE SOURCE: Times of Malta