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Is Puerto de la Cruz getting value for money? 

This year seems to be flying by; what happened to January? I can’t believe we are in February already and that Carnaval is upon us. Once Christmas finally ended (it seemed to drag on for ever) and the wheels of the local government PR machine started turning again, information started to flow, albeit very slowly.

Where should I start, on a positive note, perhaps, although one which, is not without its disappointments?

The Cabildo bean counters have finished their number crunching and have announced how this year’s budget is to be divvied up. As you would expect, the northern municipalities have fared very well and Puerto in particular. Along with a sum to upgrade some of our roads, Puerto’s ‘projects’ have been earmarked to receive the following sums.

707,000 euros goes to the calle Quintana makeover. This is money already being spent as this project has started; obviously they didn’t think it prudent to wait until after Carnaval. Still an early start makes for an early finish and as the initial eight month schedule has already slipped to an eight and a half month build, I await, with bated breath, its completion is in the third week of August. The work is to be completed in four phases to minimise disruption, so work has started at the top end, as those staying in the hotel Monopol must be all too aware.

800,000 euros has been allocated to the new bus station. A similar amount was pledged last year although of course it was not needed. Latest news on this project gleaned from Spanish newspaper reports is that ownership of the plot has been finally transferred from Madrid to Cabildo, but there is a slight hiccup. It seems ownership of a part of the plot has been retained until outstanding debts rumoured to be in the region of 30,000 euros have been settled. News from Cabildo is the project can’t start until this is resolved. News from our local Ayuntamiento is that everything is paid, all the I’s are dotted and the T’s crossed and they are good to go. I can only surmise that if this needs some negotiation with Madrid work on the new bus station will not be starting someday soon.

500,000 euros is offered for the Playa Martiánez facelift, the same amount which has now been pledged for years (surely it must have earned some interest by now). Last reports were that the project was to be completed in phases yet there was no money for it in the Coastal depart-ment’s 2015 budget. I guess they are once again waiting on Madrid; however, a new twist has reared its ugly head. It is being suggested that work on the beach cannot be started until a solution is found to the barranco Martiánez floodwater which currently runs straight through it, not a new problem, incidentally.

No money for Puerto’s New Port, but then this project requires private investment to get it underway. No recent news on any progress, post election promises, that is. Yet there was a very interesting post recently on the Ayuntamiento’s social media page. Puerto was the driving force on this project until a few years ago when a previous Alcalde handed the project over to Cabildo to pursue.

I can only assume there has been some recent progress as the present incumbent and his deputy are now stating that Puerto should have the final decision on any plans, they should have the final say. I am sure, that in doing so, by trying to gain ownership, they only have the best interests of the local residents at heart.

Another project, one that has already started and one that I have to admit completely slipped under my radar, as I had previously heard nothing about it. An 800 metre stretch of The Coastal Path in Puerto is being renovated at a staggering cost of (say it quick it doesn’t sound much) 1,000,000 euros. Yes, there are six zeros!

Now before you exclaim, what coastal path, I will fill in a bit of the background. There has always been a wish in some circles to create a coastal path to link the municipalities from San Juan de la Rambla to Santa Ursula. Much of it already exists in some shape or form, I have walked it, but of course, the worst bit, in my opinion, is Puerto where the coastline is developed. Here part of the route becomes a cliff top walk and the path they are improving is in La Paz, stretching from the Mirador overlooking Martiánez to the Hotel Semiramis.

Ok, it is a bit rundown and in need of a bit of TLC, but come on, what a sum of money, I suppose we are going to see fancy railings (gold plated I wouldn’t wonder).

I often wonder where the priorities lie in this town, is it with the grandiose schemes needed to appease the demands of present day tourists, or with the local population, somewhere in-between I would hope. Yet when I look at some of the local facilities and compare them with those enjoyed by residents of the surrounding municipalities it seems to me we are very much the poorer neighbours.

I will use as my example the municipal swimming pool, most of our neighbours have covered, heated , well managed facilities, now compare it to what we have. Our pool is closed at the moment, it sprung a leak in the pump room in the middle of December and now nearly two months on there does not seem to be any news of when it will reopen.

I am not surprised, it has suffered from neglect and underfunding for years. Just one example, add other sports and entertainment centres to the comparison list and I will let you draw your own conclusions. I can’t fail to find it a bit ironic that Puerto’s Carnaval theme this year is The Cinema, when very Puerto’s own has been closed for years, but then perhaps the local dignitaries like the idea of walking down the red carpet.

I am sorry, but I can’t finish an article without talking about the underground bins. I am sure I have already mentioned there was to be a council meeting (involving everyone and his uncle) in a bid to resolve the problem. They are very good at announcing meetings yet seem a bit shy of telling you the outcome and of giving details of what had been decided; still it must be good to talk.

I see some of the bins are now sporting signs which inform you of the times you are allowed to deposit your rubbish, but in truth it has made no difference. Visit the town early any evening and you will see piles of rubbish stacked up against the rubbish chutes. I am sure they think it is just a case of education, or more likely one of enforcement to solve the problem.

I am more pragmatic and sympathise with shop and restaurant owners, I am sure I to would spend the time needed to break my rubbish down small enough to post through what is an oversized letter box. Bring back the wheelie bins. Don’t try to sweep rubbish under the carpet.