Friday, June 22, 2012 by
No discrimination in PL billboards removal
Transport Malta yesterday denied allegations of political discrimination in the planned removal of Labour party billboards, saying they posed a hazard to drivers. The matter was taken to court after the Labour Party received information that the billboards depicting Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi covering his ears and closing his eyes were about to be removed. They are requesting an injunction against the removal. Lawyer Franco Vassallo, appearing for Transport Malta, said Labour had not filed an application for the billboards to be installed and, more importantly, they were distracting and could cause an accident. Lawyer Paul Lia, for the PL, argued that the billboards posed no threat whatsoever and asked if it was Dr Gonzi who was the one feeling threatened. He asked, for example, what was so unsafe about the one placed near the Turkish cemetery in Marsa, which was situated away from the road. Dr Vassallo said that it was at a junction where people had to manoeuvre in different directions. Traffic engineer and head of transport research Audrey Testaferrata De Noto said that she had given advice that the billboards posed a danger. As a 14-year veteran of the field and knew exactly where every billboard was placed and followed safety guidelines before allowing them. The guidelines dictated that billboards should be placed on a junction at least 50 metres away. Transport Malta CEO Stanley Portelli testified that he issued the order for the removal of the billboards after seeking advice and made no distinction between whether they were political or not.
Saturday, June 23, 2012 by
PL allowed to keep its political billboards
Labour has been allowed to keep its billboards after Transport Malta failed to prove its claim that they were a danger to drivers. The transport watchdog argued that the billboards displayed around the island posed a danger because they distracted motorists, adding that they were placed there without appropriate permission. The Labour Party claimed this was political discrimination and sought an injunction to stop the billboards being removed. In a judgement handed down yesterday, Madame Justice Anna Felice said no reason was presented in court to show that the billboards were illegally situated on a road. Furthermore, the court was not satisfied that they posed a danger because although Transport Maltas architect Audrey Testaferrata De Noto testified that the billboards breached established guidelines, no evidence had been brought in court to prove this.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012 by
New protest over Labour billboards
Despite a court ruling declaring the Labour party free to place its billboards around the island, Transport Malta yesterday filed a judicial protest reiterating its argument that the boards posed a hazard. It said the protest was a declaration that it was not responsible if an accident should happen. It called on Labour to remove the billboards. Last month the party managed to secure a warrant prohibiting the authority from stopping them placing the billboards at traffic junctions and other areas. The authority had argued that besides the risk they posed, the party had no permission to install the billboards and that according to law, political billboards may only be installed after an election is called.