Local councils: a new chapter in a changing Malta

Let’s embrace the term “resident” rather than “citizen”. Not all residents hold citizenship, yet they are integral parts of our communities.

The recent local elections were a testament to our residents’ faith in shaping a better future for their localities. This, however, comes with a responsibility for us local councillors – to deliver on that trust over the next five years.

Last Saturday, on behalf of the Local Councils Association, I had the pleasure to welcome both veteran and newly elected councillors together with those who contested but were not elected. The latter’s contribution remains valuable, and their skills can still be harnessed by councils in various ways.

Mario Fava, President of the Local Councils Association – Malta, addressing outgoing and current local councillors last Saturday. Photo: Mark Testa

The cornerstone of our communities

Local councils play a vital role in our communities. We provide leadership, ensure sustainable services, promote socio-economic development, foster safe environments, and encourage inclusive participation in decision-making. To achieve these goals, we must constantly adapt to meet the evolving needs of our residents.

Earning and keeping the trust

Our primary objective is to strengthen public trust in local councils. This requires fostering open dialogue, where residents feel heard and valued. Effective communication platforms that reach everyone, regardless of age, belief, or background, are paramount.

Resident participation: the key to success

Resident involvement is crucial at every level. When residents feel like stakeholders in shaping their communities, opposition wanes, and the perception of local councils transforms. How can we design inclusive playgrounds without understanding children’s needs? How can we develop youth-oriented projects without collaborating with youth associations?

Fostering inclusivity

We must ask ourselves why young people often gravitate towards local clubs and associations but remain hesitant to engage directly with councils. Are we meeting their expectations? Similarly, how can we encourage more women to participate in local politics? Perhaps flexible council meeting times would be a step forward.

Investing in people

These measures require minimal resources. Our most valuable investment is in the people – the very residents we seek to represent every five years. By actively engaging them throughout the legislature, we solidify trust and empower them to contribute meaningfully.

A call to action: increased voter participation

Our next challenge is fostering a climate where even more residents feel comfortable exercising their right to vote. By consistently creating a space for their voices to be heard, we encourage regular participation, not just during elections.

Beyond citizenship

Finally, let’s embrace the term “resident” rather than “citizen”. Not all residents hold citizenship, yet they are integral parts of our communities. We must acknowledge and value their contributions.

As we embark on this new five-year chapter, let’s work together to build stronger local councils that truly represent the vibrant tapestry of our communities.

“The unelected councillors’ contribution remains valuable, and their skills can still be harnessed by councils in various ways.” Photo: Mark Testa

Mario Fava is the President of the Local Council Association – Malta.

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