The illegal practice of parking caravans and setting up structures nearby on popular beaches has become synonymous with the summer – and the Mellieħa mayor is pointing the finger at the police.
An exercise carried out by the Times of Malta this week found that once again, scores of caravan owners had descended on popular spots, setting up structures that suggest they intended to spend the entire summer there.
Visits to popular areas, including Mistra Bay and Mellieħa Bay, following complaints from readers, confirmed the extent of the problem, with some areas found to be almost inaccessible because caravan owners took up large areas by setting up tables, chairs and other structures around their vehicles.
Motorised caravans, known as campers, are allowed at Mellieħa Bay but they cannot have any other structure set up close by.
Caravans have also been spotted on the Coast Road and the Torri l-Abjad area, with structures occupying the area immediately beside the vehicles.
Mellieħa mayor John Buttigieg admitted this was “nothing new”, adding the locality had come to expect the annual invasion and insisting the problem was lack of enforcement by the authorities.
“We always pass on the complaints to the police but they seem to never be followed up. We also never issue any permits other than those for barbecues, yet year after year, the problem persists,” Mr Buttigieg said.
He insisted that though campers were allowed in some areas, their owners could not set up tables, chairs and other structures around them.
The mayor admitted not much could be done to address the situation, since it was the authorities who had the power to act. “Every year, at the start of summer, we hold meetings with the authorities, namely the police, but to no avail. They are the ones who can act,” Mr Buttigieg said.
A spokesman for the Planning Authority told the Times of Malta the sites needed to be investigated before a reply to questions could be supplied.
The regulator’s enforcement officers last year visited the sites regularly, and while some owners would comply with their orders to move, many often returned a few days later.