Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The case continues

The ex- socialist mayor of Bigastro José Joaquín Moya, the councilman of Culture, José Espinosa Espinosa, and six ex- councillors from the previous socialist government made their declarations yesterday in the courts of Orihuela concerning the investigation of supposed irregularities in the auction of municipal land at the Pedrera to the construction company, Idearco.

The group of ex-councillors admitted, that in dealing with this sale of land, they had committed possible administrative irregularities in so much as sale and use of the municipal ground was approved in a Council session before the term for public consultation had expired.

At the council session on the 8th of August 2005, following a proposal by the Mayor, pedre2

The artist's impression of the original plan

35,000 square metres of land was sold to Idearco for 2.1 million Euros. An additional 45,000 square metres of land was later sold to the same company for 600,000 Euros to build a golf practice course. According to the denunciation made by the PP, when the Council granted the city-planning to Idearco they modified “de facto” the use of the land from rural to urban to allow a hotel complex to be built without having the the procedure mediated.

Moya has said in their defence that, in the case of the land auction, it was not necessary to make any change to the ground use “because it was predicted in the General Plan of Urban Arrangement” and added that they had to correct, at the request of the Catalan Autonomous Government, a problem in the procedure that had been followed.

Moya says the aim of auctioning the land to Idearco was to diversify the local economy, which is mainly based on construction by adding the leisure tourism model and the development of tertiary activities.

Nevertheless the project that was eventually presented by the company, far from being a complementary model, was to build an urbanization of 260 flats (60 of which would be in the form of an aparthotel), netting Idearco a profit of 18 million Euros , according to the PP party. The revised artist's impression, which appeared on Idearco's website was very different to the one above.

I can understand why Idearco would want to change their plans for the land they'd bought. I don't believe that Bigastro (as it stands) has the necessary attributes to be a tourist town. It is neither on the coast nor has it a patrimony that might be of interest to tourists. Added to which the route to the hotel would have been "rustic" to say the least.

In my opinion, an aparthotel in Bigastro would have struggled to survive.

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