Fairy lights - a stark reality for Victoria council
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Fairy lights - a stark reality for Victoria council

Court said it deplored the way the council had treated this case

Independence Square in Victoria.

Independence Square in Victoria.

A court has dismissed a claim by Victoria local council, Gozo, that it was not liable for an electricity bill for fairy lights installed on trees in its main square. 

The council had sued Arms Ltd to insist it was not responsible for the electricity meter the lights were connected to. To back its argument, the council secretary said the lights used to come on with the street lighting.

Arms Ltd countered that the meter had been installed at the council’s request and a bill was actually paid several years ago.

The court heard how Arms Ltd had billed the council for €13,663 for electricity consumption and meter rental.

The council sued the company and argued it had no connection with the meter at issue or the fairy lights which it supplied.

But in its reply, Arms Ltd said the meter connection had been requested by the council secretary herself.

In its considerations, the court observed that the first words uttered by the council secretary in her testimony were that the lights "were installed by the council…"

Documents presented by the council secretary also showed a call for tender issued by the council for the installation of fairy lights in Independence Square, Victoria, Gozo, July 2005.

The documents also showed how provision of electrical source of supply by Enemalta is to be procured by the local council.

Other correspondence showed council instructions to an engineer to connect the fairy lights to the power supply.

The council had for years ignored the bills. It did not contest them and did not even seek disconnection of the meter when the lights no longer worked. The court said it was not convinced the power supply was used only for the fairy lights.

The court noted inconsistencies in the testimony by the council secretary, who had first claimed that the council never received any bills and never paid anything, only to then result that a payment was made in 2010.

Mention of the matter could also be found in the council minutes, where it was stated that the council was refusing to pay the bills because the lights no longer worked.

The court said it deplored the way the council had treated this case, having, through the secretary, started finding information about its own affairs after the points raised by Arms Ltd.

Magistrate Joanne Vella Cuschieri rapped the council secretary for not even knowing what was in the council’s own files, causing the case to be repeatedly put off while information was dug up.

The court, therefore, dismissed the arguments raised by the council.

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