Our localities are the backbone of our society and provide us with the space where to work, live, study and play. Maltese local councils perform an important role in the successful functioning of our towns and villages, from waste collection to cultural activities that all residents can enjoy. In essence, they are at the heart of our communities.
The Local Government System in Malta
The Maltese central government is responsible for the implementation of a large number of critical administrative duties at the national level, while local councils are responsible for tasks that are of importance to their respective localities. They are also distributed in five regional committees which provide a structure within which they can discuss issues of regional relevance.
Local Government Services
Local councils are usually situated in core areas of their locality such as the principal square and some occupy beautiful historical buildings that have been repurposed for civic use. Opening hours may vary from locality to locality, but the large majority are open during the morning and afternoon during winter with reduced hours for the summer months. It is, nonetheless, advisable to contact the specific local council prior to visiting.
Waste Collection Services
The collection of waste is a key responsibility held by local councils in Malta. All localities have established rubbish collection schedules that differentiate which type of refuse can be collected on which days. For instance, some days residents may only be allowed to take out organic waste or mixed waste only, whereas other days may be dedicated to recycled material, while on particular days it may be possible to take out both organic and mixed waste. The collection of glass items is usually conducted once a month on a specifically designated day. If you are new to a particular town, you can ask the council for a waste collection schedule that you can keep in a handy place until you get used to it.
The councils also offer a bulky refuse service for heavy items such as domestic appliances, furniture or mattresses that are no longer required. This service is offered free of charge but pre-booking (typically over the phone) is required.
Services to the Community
Local councils fulfil an important social role within the community and provide services that are indispensable to particular groups. Many councils run a daycare centre where various social activities are organised for elderly residents, while a number also offer a night shelter service for senior citizens who still live in their residencies but require monitoring during the night.
Courses for computer literacy and hobby topics are organised by the large majority of councils and many also manage the public library within their locality with some organising activities (such as storytelling) to encourage reading for pleasure among children.
Local councils are directly involved in the enforcement of offences within their communities, which could include, but are not limited to, parking contraventions, littering, driving safety and smoking restrictions. This is done in conjunction with the regional committees, community officers and enforcement agencies that operate in this area.
This ensures that local councils are directly involved in the safeguarding of the community's well-being.
Several outdoor activities are regulated by permits issued by local councils. These activities may include open-air markets, kiosks, outdoor events for public entertainment and construction work that blocks access in the streets. Moreover, some seaside localities require permits for barbeques.
The fees related to these permits are standard but vary according to the type of activity that one would like to apply for and different conditions may apply for different activities. For this reason, it is recommended to contact the local council in advance to obtain the necessary guidance on the specific permit that is required.
Local councils organise regular cultural activities that are not only entertaining but are also attract numerous visitors from outside the locality. In fact, many activities become much anticipated annual events that may highlight a characteristic that the locality is known for or its historical features.
While large infrastructural projects are typically implemented by central government, local councils carry out smaller projects to embellish and upgrade public areas (such as playgrounds and recreational spaces) within their locality.
Did You Know…
- Local government was introduced in Malta in 1993.
- There is a total of 68 local councils of which 54 are situated in Malta and 14 are situated in Gozo.
- The size of a local council ranges from 5 to 13 members and varies according to the size of the locality.
- Local councils are elected for a period of 5 years.
- Many councils have town twinning agreements with villages and cities in other countries to foster closer cultural ties.
- The latest statistics indicate that the most populated locality in Malta is St. Paul's Bay and the least densely populated locality is the former capital city of Malta, Mdina.