Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The calm before the storm

The latest session of the Bigastro Town Council passed by calmly until item fourteen. At this point the Socialist group proposed that all councillors make a declaration of their goods and patrimony on a public web site. They argue that people in the town have the right to know what motivates the decisions these people make on their behalf.

Aurelio Murcia, for the opposition party, took up the challenge of this motion by suggesting those things which are not registered should also be declared. He was alluding to the properties and luxury cars that the relatives of the mayor own.

The mayor, who has twenty years experience in office, was not going to be easily drawn by Murcia's suggestion. Frustrated by this approach, one of the members of the public started shouting "dictator". The local police were called and the session was closed.

The topic of how and what councillors should openly declare will have to wait until another day.

Lack of transparency is an issue for many Councils in Spain. In Torrevieja and Orihuela for example, the same problems that face Bigastro are being hotly debated. In both cases, the opposition parties have commissioned reports of Transparency of City councils (ITA).

Clearly there is progress that needs to be made in this area of local administration.

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