Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Very interesting

Quite a few people turned up at the meeting last night with Aurelio, the PP candidate in the forthcoming elections. It must have been very encouraging for him to see so many people showing an interest.

Initially here was a bit of a delay getting the key for the room so Aurelio sent us all off to the bar to have a drink on him. That was a good start. How many election candidates do you recall buying you a beer?

Once the meeting started, Aurelio pointed out that he did not want to use this time to canvass our votes rather he wanted to find out what our concerns were about living in Bigastro. He would use the points we raised to help him set out his agenda.

There were many interesting points expressed, some which were related just to Villas Andrea but amongst them were a number of genuine concerns about living in Bigastro.

Some examples:-
  • The noise from the Metro disco club.
  • The problems in communicating at the Centro de Salud without an interpreter.
  • The cleanliness of the streets.
  • The difficulties in finding parking.
Aurelio explained the problems that Bigastro faces under the present administration:-
  • The council's expenditure exceeds its income. Municipal land has been sold to offset the deficit. This is born out by the Council's own accounts which show that 2,530,249€ of land was sold off in 2005 to balance the books.
  • The council is overstaffed in some areas and understaffed in others e.g. there are too few police officers for the present population.
  • The town is being allowed to grow too fast. Services cannot keep up with the population growth. Again this is born out by the statistics which show that in the five years from 2000 to 2005 the population increased by 1,408 - almost 28%. A bigger problem is that this growth is accelerating - e.g. from 2004 to 2005 the increase in population was 849.
He explained that it was not possible to raise the local taxes which were already at the limit. The only way to balance the books is to reduce council expenditure. Once all the "family silver" i.e. the council land is sold there is no other way to prevent bankruptcy.

He also suggested that many of the plans for development proposed by the current administration should be stopped or at least slowed down so that the provision of services could catch up.

Aurelio told us that once he had formulated his plan for Bigastro he would ensure that we would all have copies written in English. He encouraged us to read carefully the policies of the other two parties in the election and to make up our minds then based on their proposals. Most important though, he encouraged all us to exercise our right to vote.

So many thanks to Aurelio for a very informative meeting and of course for the beer!

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