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I believe that a Council is not there to simply govern, but to work hand-in-hand with citizens

I believe that a Council is not there to simply govern, but to work hand-in-hand with citizens

Interview with Edward Said, Mayor of Nadur, Malta

Edward Said was elected as Mayor of Nadur in 2015 at the age of 28. He was then re-elected for a second term in 2019.

In this conversation, he outlines the challenges that the small island of Gozo faced during the coronavirus pandemic and what tools he mobilised to overcome them in his municipality.

Mr Said, how would you describe the town of Nadur briefly? Which is your favourite spot?

Nadur is perched on a plateau on the North Easter side of Gozo, Malta. The town encompasses scenic views, fertile valleys and promontories as well as beaches and a tiny fishing port.

The centre of the town is dominated by the Roman Catholic parish church – the Collegiate Basilica of St Peter and St Paul. The urban centre of the town is characterised by typical Maltese architecture brimming with history and character. Throughout the year, lots of activities keep the town alive, notably the renowned spontaneous Carnival.

My favourite spot is the area known as Ta’ Kenuna, comprising of a mid-nineteenth century communications tower surrounded by a botanical garden. From the site, one can overlook over the rest of Gozo as well as the Gozo channel with Comino and the north side of Malta from which the town’s motto Vigilat (Vigilant) is derived. This is where I grew up as a boy.

You have been elected as Mayor of Nadur at the young age of 28 in 2015 and were re-elected in 2019. How did you manage to earn the trust of your fellow inhabitants?

The locality of Nadur has always been close to my heart. In 2015 I decided to run for the election to continue improving the town and the inhabitant’s lives. Being still young, I had, and still have the energy needed to undertake such a post.

Once elected, I immediately started working tirelessly and continued to enhance the work done by previous mayors and councils. I believe that this energy and motivation was the reason why the electorate decided to elect me for this post. At the end of the day, this is what the citizens look for: people who take action, are motivated to implement measures that effectively improve their lives and are there to listen to each and everyone’s needs and concerns.

For me, the fact that after the first term, the people chose to re-elect me for the mayorship is a certificate of approval for all the work and energy I have put into this position of responsibility, as well as a vote of confidence towards the continuous efforts to make Nadur a better place.

Among the most successful actions that were mostly noted was the unity among the council members, a fresh way for the council’s proceedings, more initiatives and events organised, the outreach to involve more young people and residents from all classes, and local groups, as well as the good relationship with the central government entities.

This relationship resulted in the collaboration between the two parties to realize several projects through schemes and grants. Having the needed support from the citizens, I am determined to continue working tirelessly for the greater good of the locality and its inhabitants.

Would you tell us more about the most important projects you initiated since stepping into office?

As soon as I took over the Nadur Local Council leadership as Mayor I started working. The first task was to assess all the projects initiated by the previous Council and work towards completing them.

The largest project was the completion of the renovation of St Peter and St Paul Square – the main square of the town. The square was remodified to include a larger car-free space for the public to use as recreation and interact socially. Not everyone believed in this project, yet, upon completion, the project was a success and is now being utilised for its originally planned scope and for holding activities.

The Council which I lead has sought to invest in rural roads which are of great benefit for the local farmers and public alike. This work was partially funded by the European Union. These roads now form part of the Nadur countryside walks which consist of planned routes or trails that can be followed by locals and tourists.

Additionally, the Council invested in the upkeep and renovation of public gardens and parks, including the installation of outdoor gym equipment and safety cushions. Related to this, the Peter Paul Camilleri football ground in the town was fitted with a new synthetic turf carpet, railings in several scenic roads and investment in Urban Greening around the locality.

The Council maintains a good working relationship with the Central Government which enables collaboration in many projects for the benefit of the public. This collaboration was essential especially for the resurfacing of several roads around the town.

The coronavirus pandemic certainly changed the priorities of local governments in the short term. What projects are you looking forward to implementing once everything settles down? Did you implement any measures locally to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, and protect the economy and the vulnerable groups of Nadur?

The COVID-19 pandemic affected the entire world, and not least Nadur. This went especially for planned events, activities and the usual daily business of the town.

Throughout the year Nadur is normally very active with several annual events taking place, notably Carnival, Easter, the traditional feast of St Peter and St Paul, a summer Wine Festival, Halloween, Nadur 8K marathon, traditional feast fo St Coronato and Christmas. All this was interrupted because the Council believed that the public health of the locality’s citizens needed to be a top priority.

Several other groups and activities such as courses and the day centre for the elderly were also sadly halted. We honestly hope that this pandemic is surpassed soon so that we can return to some degree of normality.

In the meantime, the Council is using this difficult period to analyse its performance and plan ahead with new projects and initiatives such as maintenance, works on public parks, installation of more outdoor gym equipment and restoration of monuments and historical sites.

Finally, is there a successful project or initiative from your locality that you would like to recommend to the other mayors in the European Union?

For me, the highlight of this Council is the effort being made to involve as many residents as possible in the running of its different events or initiatives throughout the year. This is a good practice which I like to recommend to every other Council.

This is because I believe that a Council is not there to simply govern but to work hand-in-hand with all the citizens it is representing. The residents do appreciate this effort and willingly cooperate with the Council, even on a voluntary basis.

On its part, the council is always grateful for the residents’ involvement and makes sure to show all the appreciation towards them. The more we value the citizens, the more effective our work will be.

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