The interview with the Mayor of Almuñécar, Trinidad Herrera, was given in her office at the Town Hall on the 26th of January 2012.
TSG: You are the first female mayor in the history of Almuñécar, congratulations. Is being Mayor as you expected?
Mayor: Things are never 100% how you expected them to be. It’s a great honour and responsibility to lead a municipal council. The post provides both satisfaction but also frustration for the things you are not able do or everything that people are asking of you.
At the moment the main problem is unemployment and the administration doesn’t have the capacity to absorb all the unemployed. (at present the Town Hall is giving one month contracts on a rotational basis to as many Almuñequeros as possible on public works, such as the work being carried out on the street leading up to the church.)
Really, the economic situation does not permit much public outlay but we would be willing to facilitate things for anybody interested in investing in a project that would create employment.
TSG: Will the attrition against rotational parking (began under the previous mayor) continue?
Mayor: Well, the problem with parking in Almuñécar is that it has always been a problem. At the moment there is public parking that in some ways goes to satisfy that demand but one must take several things into account. The Altillo underground car park is 100% public (rotational) but the underground car parks of Velilla and San Cristobal were built for areas to be sold off for private use, which denies these parking spaces for public use. We are aware of this problem.
The Town Hall owns a considerable amount of space in both which will continue to be available for rotational parking, but we shall have to see if in the future the Town Hall has to sell them off. But we shall have to make an effort to provide alternative parking areas to solve the lack of rotational parking.
TSG: Under the previous administration there was a constant policy of destroying rotational parking to widen the pavements – will you continue with this policy?
Mayor: We, or any responsible administration, cannot continue to diminish rotational parking spaces without providing an alternative. Therefore before eliminating such parking spaces we would make sure that alternative spaces are provided elsewhere.
TSG: This brings us on to Blue Zones. Your administration has already improved the situation by reducing the paying times. We understand that progress in this sense is coupled to existing contracts with the company that runs the Blue Zones expiring, so that new terms and conditions can be laid down. Will there be any more changes along these lines in the near future?
Mayor: We are modifying one of the contracts at the moment as it has expired, but the other one won’t expire until January next year. We shall be reducing the paying hours. We understand, however, that Blue Zones are necessary because parking must be rotational – you just can’t come along and park your car without moving it for a month, for instance. Nevertheless, in the contract that has already expired and is being renegotiated with the company, the times and areas will be reduced.
TSG: Very recently the Plaza de Madrid was turned into a Loading & Unloading area from a normal rotational Blue Zone… has this lost parking space been made up elsewhere?
Mayor: Of course, we swapped two areas on the recommendation of the Policía Local, who considered the existing L&U area too small and not central enough.
TSG: In a town like Almuñécar, where there are no big companies so that self-employed workers make up the vast majority of workers here, do you envisage any help for this sector?
Mayor: We shall try to support any proposal put forward by the business sector in Almuñécar. We are carrying out promotional campaigns, urging Almuñéqueros to spend in Almuñécar, where it is possible. If there’s something that you can’t find here, obviously you will have to look for it elsewhere, but where possible, support our local business when you do your shopping.
TSG: The bus service here hasn’t changed in 30 years – there is a deficient service between Salobreña and Nerja? Can the Town Hall demand a better service from the bus companies?
Mayor: Well, we could ask them but they operate completely outside our competence, basing the services on their viability studies. It seems that there isn’t sufficient demand to maintain a more ample service between Salobreña and Nerja (i.e, operating between Almuñécar and these two towns.) We are certainly not in a position to subsidize such a modification to the existing bus schedules.
TSG: How’s the PGOU going?
Mayor: We all know that the provincial approval of the PGOU was achieved but we are also aware that at the beginning of December the Regional Government approved a regional development plan, so the PGOU will now have to be adapted to that. The trouble is that the regional plan has been approved, but it has not been published, so we don’t know exactly what we are dealing with.
Whatever happens, however, I believe that our PGOU will be definitively signed, stamped and approved during this year, 2012.
TSG: Do you have any news concerning the work on the A-7 between Taramay and Lobres?
Mayor: It seems that certain complaints have been made, claiming that all work had been stopped, which have proved to be completely false…
TSG: Funnily enough, the same accusation was made by your party when the socialist were running the Ministry of Public Works in the Central Government, so it turns out that in both cases the claims were unfounded, which is good, I’m sure you will agree.
But do we have a definite termination date for this particular stretch of the A-7?
Mayor: Well, the new Central Government will have to make a detailed study of where things are and what money is really available, so until they have done that, I don’t think that there will be any announcement on this subject from them.
TSG: Live Music. in other tourist-orientated towns, bars and pubs don’t need to obtain a licence as long as it winds up before midnight – Could the same be permitted in Almuñécar?
Mayor: This is a suggestion, rather than a question?
TSG: Admittedly, it is.
Mayor: We see no inconvenience in that a pub or bar puts on live music as long as the neighbours aren’t put out by it…
TSG: Legally, you can make pretty much as much noise you want, as long as it isn’t after midnight, so if bars and pubs stick to that…
Mayor: OK we will consider it because we understand that any activity that can make Almuñécar more attractive as a tourist town is positive and we should all make an effort to work towards it.
TSG: Would you like to make any points that we haven’t covered?
Mayor: Well, I would just like to finish this interview by asking our citizens to be a little patient because we have taken up office in a very difficult time for all but despite this we are working flat out so that things work out; there are good projects in the pipeline. We shall do our very best with the few resources that we have to hand.
TSG: Thank you very much for your valuable time, Trinidad.
Mayor: You’re welcome, Martin.