A bit of history
The first municipal election where we voted was in 2007. Since the 2003 election had been a close call for the Socialist party, we had visits from the PP and the Socialists at La Pedrera. Both parties were keen to capture the votes of the new group living in their town. We, in our turn, attended those meetings in large numbers.
By the 2011 election, things had changed. It was only the Socialists and the Liberals that were interested in talking to us.
The number of Brits on our estate has dwindled and so all of the parties could be forgiven for not putting themselves out to explain to us in English what they are about for the election this May. Of course, electioneering has not started yet, the parties have to present their candidates to the public first before they can start campaigning. Yesterday though, the candidate for mayor from the PP took the trouble to speak to us at the bar La Terraza.
Teresa Maria Belmonte brought with her Samantha Zoe to interpret for her and both spoke about the plans for the next four years in Bigastro.
They explained that the last four years has been very difficult. With a minority of seats in council, it has been impossible for the PP to make any real progress. In any case, the town was drowning in debt and so the priority was to try and restore a balance. That meant painful cuts had to be made. Although the financial situation has improved, the town is far from over the crisis that it was in when the PP took over. There is still a lot of work to be done to make Bigastro financially secure.
Not all bad news
A key priority for the new legislature is cleaning. I don’t think any of us would argue with that. Bigastro was not the smartest of places when we arrived, since then though it has gone downhill. There are many things that bigastrense can be proud of, the state of the place is not one of them.
Six years ago the town signed a contract with a company to clean the town. Teresa explained, in her opinion, that has been a disaster. The contract is due to end this year which would provide the new council with the opportunity to make a change. Teresa explained that, what her party propose is to set up a completely new contract with a different company, one that would use local labour and would commit to a much better service. The hope is that a cleaner town would restore people’s pride and with that their attitude to the place where they live.
The second main issue that Teresa talked about was integration and representation. She believes that we should all feel to be part of the town where we live. Whilst foreigners want to learn about Spanish culture and in particular the language, Spaniards are equally keen to know about the British way of life and of course learn our language. Quite how we can achieve this needs to be worked out. We all remember Aurelio’s attempt to set up an exchange where we would help Spaniards with their English and they would introduce us to the culture of the country. Although many of us volunteered to be involved, the plan faltered when he tried to engage Spanish families with the idea.
Another of Teresa’s suggestions was a committee of people from the various parts of the town set up to represent the views of the distinct areas. The representatives would take issues to the council and feedback to their neighbours any decisions made.
We at Villas Andrea tried this in the early days when we were here. Allan White had the idea to form a residents’ committee for Villas Andrea and so we had meetings to put this in place. Sadly, the meetings ended up as slanging matches and even the reformed committee with Jim Ryder as Chairman faltered after a year or so. Personally, I would not want to go down that route again.
I know that many feel that this blog is now the voice of the residents here and is a source of their information about the town. I have made it clear though on several occasions that what I write is solely my opinion in other words I represent myself and only myself. If others concur with my opinions, then that is a bonus.
However, if my unofficial status was changed and I did become the person to represent Villas Andrea to the council, I would not be prepared to go back to those awful meetings and if we decide that someone else should represent us, I would suggest that they take the same stance.
Following this part of the meeting, people were invited to ask questions. More of that in another post.