Poor or Pampered Pensioners?

Local pensioners are not happy with the state of their pensioners’ complex, which they claim is lacking basic services.

This complex came into being in 2005 as a novel housing solution for pensioners, providing studio flats of 40 sq/m for the elderly who preferred to retain some independence, rather than living in an elderly persons’ home, but with modern, installations for communal use: communal halls for meetings and informal gatherings, TV rooms, a laundry room, a cleaning service and a canteen for those who didn’t want to cook for themselves – sounds good, but it didn’t last.

The Town Hall let things slip, resulting in the Town Hall cancelling the contract with the firm that ran the facilities, alleging that there was a ‘hole’ of 40,000 euros. Instead, the Town Hall gave the running of the complex to the municipal-run company, Eprodesa.

Since then, life for the residents changed. It is also worth pointing out, by the way, that the said elderly residents are not from Salobreña but from other parts of Spain, attracted by the benign climate. With the change over, all communal services ceased: no cleaning, canteen, receptionist, and night staff. Now if they need to change a light bulb, they have to do it themselves, which in many cases is a physical impossibility, or at the very least, a highly dangerous task.

The Town Hall has responded to questions from the press saying that the housing was conceived as low-rent council houses for over 65’s that were capable of looking after themselves. It was not meant to be elderly-persons’ homes, they point out.

Eprodesa, on the other hand, says that the rent charged is reasonable (400 euros), but they cannot provide services as if it was a residencia de ancianos. As an aside on that point, 400 euros for a 40-sq/m studio flat is considered reasonable?

The straw that broke the camel’s back, as far as the irate residents go, was the lonely death of one of them in the middle of the night, with nobody on hand to turn to. José Martínez, an 81-year-old resident explained, “I’m 81 but the one who is in the best shape, so its up to be to help the others, some of whom find just the task of reaching the nearest bar to have something hot to eat a complete odyssey.”

But the Town Hall is not willing to be painted as heartless and have counter-attacked energetically. Firstly, Pérez Cobos, the Councillor for Urban Development, who handed the local council to the PP with his backing from the Partido Socialista Indpendiente, said that the average elderly Salobreñero would be over the moon to have this kind of accommodation, presently being ‘enjoyed’ by out-of-towners.

“All these accusations are completely false,” he claimed, adding, “these people are not lacking anything.” Oh, did I mention that Sr. Pérez Cobos is also the chairman of the municipal company Eprodesa?

He also claims that the ‘abuelos’ are being manipulated by the opposition party and the company that used to have the contract for running the complex. He also claims that although there is no canteen, the washing facilities and flat-cleaning service is still provided. The reason, he says, that there is no canteen is that of the 30 residents, only seven habitually used it and that the previous company (FOAM) had almost been undercutting local businesses.

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