Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Issues of concern

You can read the full explanations of what happened at the Council Meeting on Monday in the online newspaper Informacion. The articles include accounts from both Aurelio Murcia and Raúl Valerio Medina of the events that took place.

Basically, Murcia says that his expulsion from the meeting was a plot by the mayor to avoid the questions he was ready to ask under Item 17 and the mayor explains that he had no power to force the police to evict the PP spokesperson, he simply called them to restore order to the meeting.

The important thing is, what were the issues that Murcia wanted to raise under Item 17 before he was taken away?

The following is just my understanding from what I have read so far.

In 2004, Bigastro prepared a plan to allow 600 houses to be built on 300,000 square metres of land in Sector D-6 of the town. Of the 600 houses, 100 have been built and some are already occupied. It seems though that although the council went ahead with the development, the plan did not have definitive approval from the Generalitat in Valencia.

The Mayor of Bigastro now wants to negotiate a resolution to the outstanding issues with the chief of the main directorate of urbanism, José Maria Selva. However, several of the constructors that plan to build in Sector D-6 have expressed reservations about whether the proposed modifications are legal. Obviously, the outcome of any negotiations could have serious financial implications for those who own land in Sector D-6 ready to build on.

According to the mayor, the City Council provisionally approved the project in 2003 and subsequently submitted their plans to the Generalitat in Valencia . The Autonomous Government responded by warning of two errors in the basic infrastructure. One of these was corrected in 2004 but the other, related to Obispo Vitorio road which runs next to the new primary school, José de Calasanz, wasn’t.

It seems that the Council, having heard no more about the issues, took silence on the part of the Conselleria to signal their consent when in fact it meant quite the opposite. According to the PP, the plan that was set out for Sector D-6 has still not been fully approved at Valencia.

There are seemingly other questions related to Sector D-6 which the PP want to raise, in particular why were concessions for work licenses given for land that was not legally urbanizable and why was the land sold as urban land at urban land prices before approval was granted. And of course there are still questions about why gas tanks were installed on land that was designated as green i.e. for a park area.

The mayor has made it clear that none of this is related to other infrastructure problems in Sector D-6 i.e. the fact that there is insufficient electricity for the area which he says is down to Iberdrola who were paid 392,000 Euros to lay cable between Jacarilla and Bigastro.

Along with the issues related to the land up at La Pedrera which was sold to Idearco without consent for building from the Conselleria, the problems in Sector D-6 must present an ongoing nightmare for the council in Bigastro. However, it is only right to point out that the current mayor was the councillor for urbanism in Bigastro at the time when these questionable decisions were made and that many of the current councillors were also in office at the time.

Clearly the PP party in Bigastro are not going to let these issues go away or be swept under the carpet. As far as the opposition are concerned, the fact that the previous mayor resigned following his arrest and imprisonment does not absolve the rest of the Socialist Party from blame. Pam and I thought we were moving to a sleepy little Spanish town where nothing much happened - little did we know! From what you read in the local press, there are few towns in Spain that are entirely trouble free; perhaps it is endemic in the Spanish culture. It goes along with their desire to fight bulls and overtake every other car on the road - it is something in their blood.

Mind you, Star Sol, the company of which Aurelio Murcia was once a partner, are not exactly without issues. Apart from their responsibility for land subsidence at a number of properties at Villas Andrea, the company has caused severe problems for some wanting to sell their houses.

Although, all the houses at Villas Andrea were sold as “freehold” properties, I understand that some owners have faced difficulty when trying to sell their properties because it was claimed by the buyers solicitors that Star Sol still had outstanding mortgages on the land. I believe that these issues were eventually resolved but did cause unnecessary anxiety and holdups in the transfer process.

We English have a saying for this, "the kettle shouldn't call the saucepan black" which, for the benefit of my Spanish readers, means you should not accuse others of wrong doing when you have done wrong yourself.

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