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Promises made, projects started or stalled: so far, so good? 

Half of 2015 gone already! It is hard to believe, isn’t it? Where does the time go? Six months in, so perhaps a fitting moment for a quick round up of what’s been going on in Puerto, so far, this year.

The projects, either started, finished, or ongoing. A review of the promises made, versus the ones which have come to fruition and a brief look at those which remain a distant pipedream.

Oh where to start, that’s the problem. I know, why not go straight for the jugular, the new leisure cum cruise liner port, or whatever it is going to be depending on what plan is flavour of the month at any given time.

This year has seen many promises, but then there has been a recent election, even one that said work would commence this year. One, which I am sure no one ever believed and which has since been rescinded.

Even the combined might of most of the northern Mayors who gave the project their support, does not appear to have advanced the project one iota. Good publicity though, however, I must check to see how many of them are still in office. I remain convinced this project, in some shape or form, will start at some date in the future and will then be plagued with problems and delays. Perhaps I should review it again say in ten years time and see how much further on we are.

San Telmo is as good as finished, but has the makeover received rave reviews? In the official corridors of power I am sure it has received a very positive thumbs up, but to the average man on the street, those that have a opinion, I think it would be more subdued response.

I have, for what they are worth, mixed opinions. The area is certainly roomier and open and at least there is now wheelchair access along its entirety, incredibly not part of the original plan, and a reason quoted for the delay in completion.

I like what they have done with the beach area, much more practical, though not everyone is as pleased; there have been claims that the area is much smaller following the intrusion of the concrete slab.

The wall versus the railings argument, is it a change for the better or for worse? I am not too worried; the wall certainly offered more protection from the winds and spray, just how much I am sure the adjacent businesses will find out over the next winter. At least the much talked about glass screens did not materialise.

I do wonder about the wooden handrails and will be interested in how they weather and stand the test of time. In summary, it is a typical Puerto ‘Concrete Slab’ makeover, featureless, and for me the area has lost what little character it once had.

What of Playa Martiánez and the planned 5 million euros improvements? After years of there not being any money in the budget, we were promised last year that the project would now be phased, with phase one starting after the summer (2014) of course, nothing has happened, Although the area has had a bit of a spruce up recently, particularly the seating platforms, but don’t confuse this as part of phase one, the money came from a different source, more on that later.

The new bus station was planned initially for 2013, but there have been a succession of excuses for its delay. First there was a dispute about ownership of the site, once resolved plans had to be submitted to the government department that proved to be the owners. Then there was a central government ‘red tape’ delay. More recently plans had to be resubmitted as they had not previously been included in the overall master plan for Puerto’s regeneration. This done, we are now simply waiting for the starting date, and funds, I suspect.

In with the new, out with the old, so when are they are going to knock the old bus station down? Recognised by everyone for the eyesore that it is, surely to demolish it is the obvious plan, well, one would think so. The old site is, sensibly, a separate project to the new one and there has literally been a cover up, or at least a partial one. No, nothing underhand has gone on, the plan to remove the eyesore, a 35,000 euros plan, was to cover the building with a selection of giant pictures, scenes of the island.

The result, as you would expect, is best described as a giant advertising hoarding, but providing it covers the building, surely even that is an improvement. Yes, I would probably grudgingly agree, but whoever did the measurements must have made a mistake, as, far from covering the building, the bottom metre or so remains exposed. Worse still, all the supporting cables for the canvasses are in full view.

Call me cynical if you like, however, I can’t help thinking that £35,000 would have made a serious ‘dent’ in the cost of knocking it down. One man with a wrecking ball would have made an even bigger dent with the same amount of money. The bus station has to come down eventually so why try to hide the problem?

A project closer to home, for me that is, it’s just up the road. Our gold-plated, 73,000 euros, say it quick it won’t sound so much, footbridge has been completed and contrary to my expectations is being well used, but then it does knock 50 metres off the alternative route.

Now work has moved on to the road in an effort to resolve the real problem. In simple layman’s terms all they need to do is dig a trench across the road, install pipes to take away the flood water, fill it in again; add a bit of tarmac, job done.

If only, I have lost track of how long the jack hammer has been chipping away at the rock. I live over 100 metres away and not only do you hear it, but you can feel it as well.

Neighbours much closer have fared far worse and are missing out on their siestas. It does give a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘did the earth move for you’. As far as I am aware no budget has been published for this one. I would be interested to know just how much it is going to cost, as so far instead of digging across the road, all they have succeeded in creating is a huge crater to one side and a long trench ALONG the road, which after having spent weeks removing the bedrock from it they now appear to filling some of it back in and are happily pouring concrete into the remainder, if that makes any sense. Sorry, you do have do bear with me; I do like to have a bit of a whinge. Back to more important issues.

The old Taoro hotel building, surely the most prominent and iconic building in the town was rumoured to be about to be given a new lease of life following the return of the casino to it. It was more than a rumour, but it was dependent on a company having funds to both pay for the rights to run the casino and to restore the building to its former glory and return the remainder of the it to its original use and reopen as a hotel.

Given the state of the building, it appears to have not been an altogether attractive proposition, as there are no takers, and the rumour has gone cold. Not that the building is completely empty, these days it hosts the offices of various ‘quangos’. What is a quango? Well in the UK it is a body or committee of people formed by the government solely to create highly paid employment for family members, colleagues and friends, at least, that’s my interpretation, so don’t quote me on it, as the official definition might be worded slightly differently. However, I suspect Spanish quangos are run along the same lines.

However, it is not all doom and gloom, the Cabildo recent injected in excess of 500,000 euros of much needed funds with the proviso that it was spent on ‘tarting’ up the town a bit. Some went on the wooden seating at Playa Martiánez, some on repainting the football stadium wall, which has now been given the ‘Street Art’ treatment; some went on the advertising hoarding, sorry, the 35,000 euros decorative (partial) cover for the old bus station, and most probably, the rest is being spent on (my pet hate) putting more wheelie bins underground.

Another positive, Puerto Street Art has become a tourist attraction in its own right; the series of murals in the San Felipe area attract a great many visitors. I like it and think it is good for the town. Rumour has it there are to be further additions to the collection later in the year if sufficient blank walls can be found. I hope they find them, but if not there are one or two of the existing ones I would be quite happy to see painted over, I guess there is no accounting for taste.

I could go on, but this is already in danger of being cut, so finally, after all the dust has settled from the local elections, Puerto has a new Mayor, our third within the last year. Another new broom, I am hopeful of big changes. Really!

No, just kidding.