Thousands of locals from the Gamonal Quarter of Burgos took on riot police over the City Hall’s decision to remodel their main street, which included taking away 400 free parking spaces.
But it’s not so much rage against this seemingly nationwide vendetta against free parking, but what many in Burgos consider to be the squandering of scarce financial resources on a “Pharaonic whim.”
At the moment this street has 2-lane traffic in either direction, with in-line parking on either side. The City Hall intends to do away with most of the parking and make the street into a sort of boulevard, with single lane traffic and a central reservation containing a bicycle lane. The project has a budget of 8-million euros with a planned construction phase of 14 months.
It’s not the first time that this densely populated area of Burgos has confronted municipal plans to bring about changes there: in August 2005 there were several ‘violent acts’ carried out against a project to build an underground car park, resulting in the then mayor backing off and shelving the project.
Back to the protests, over two consecutive nights disturbances involving up to 5,000 people have lead to injuries (both amongst the police and protesters) and arrests. Protesters have managed to completely disrupt building work during the day, too, by preventing earth-moving machinery from operating and by night, acts of arson against construction machinery.
Another point to be taken into consideration that the construction work is being carried out by Antonio Miguel Méndez Pozo, who was found guilty of forging public documents in the 90’s and sent to prison. In 1995 he was released on parole.
The Mayor, Javier Lacalle, has refused to give in and is determined to go through with the project, despite this very visible opposition to the move and claims that the money should be spent elsewhere, such as on social services, which have received drastic cuts over the last two years.
(News: Burgos, Spain – photo: Google Streetview)