|Wednesday, February 21, 2018
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Projects and pipedreams: all the latest from Puerto de la Cruz 

Wow, so much has happened in Puerto since I last wrote. Not actually happened – that would be too much to hope for – but there have been plenty of announcements, the PR machine must have been in overdrive, so many things being ‘bigged up’ and talked about. So much to choose from, where should I start?

Ongoing projects, always worthy of comment. The calle Quintana concrete makeover, and with the town in such an upbeat mood at the moment I’ll try to put a positive spin on it.

However, the truth appears to be just the opposite, there is very little happening and work seems to have almost ground to a halt. The work was to be completed in four phases, to minimise the disruption, over a ten month period. Yet almost five months in and phase one is far from complete.

So, what is the reason for the delay? Well, there is a consensus of opinion that they have run out of concrete slabs and are waiting for more to arrive. Hearsay maybe, but there is not much evidence of slabs being laid nor are there pallets full lying around. Absurd as it sounds, there is a rumour circulating, which I shouldn’t really mention because it can’t possibly be true, that the slabs are coming from a far eastern country which is famous for making just about anything, cheapest, but not always of the best quality.

Of course, it’s not true, I know that, but where are the slabs? We live on a lump of rock and the badlands of the south resembles quarries and gravel pits, there is no end of raw materials, they must be able to produce them locally.

Enough said, well almost, should the arrival of the slabs be imminent and they work like demons for the next month, unlikely I know, phase one could be completed in six months, multiply by four, the project could be completed in two years. Sadly that is about par for the course in Puerto.

Why do they publicly announce build times, you would have thought they would have learned by now and have they never thought to include a time delay penalty clause when negotiating contracts? They also publicly announced the project budget; do you think that will go the same way?

Car-park extension

Another project, not underway, I hasten to add, but being talked about. There has been a recent announcement of a plan to extend the parking in Plaza de la Constitucion, by adding over 300 spaces, on three levels, by going underground. Not a new project by any stretch of the imagination, this was first bandied about, three years ago, by a previous administration.

It was always considered to be a bit of a pipedream when it was first suggested and I suspect that it most probably still is. They couldn’t afford it the first time around, can they now? There is no budget for this project and no time scale.

Now, I have a question. Do you think that I could be considered a cynic for suggesting the timely announ-cement of this, so close to the re-run of the general election, could even remotely be possibly construed as an attempt to influence a voter, who may be wavering, to vote for a particular party, in a sort of, look what we are doing for the town, kind of way? Not that I am suggesting it, I just think aloud some times. I really should have more faith in my fellow man (or woman), why, do you think, am I always looking for the ulterior motive? Still, work is bound to start on the new bus station soon; I am looking forward to that.

Marketing budget

Another recent announcement, a few weeks ago now, but still worth a mention and good for the town I am sure. We may not have a bus station, a concert sized venue, or a usable municipal swim-ming pool, but all concerned parties have managed to agree on the marketing budget.

At last they seem to be dropping the sun and sand theme and the new buzz words for the town are tradition, culture and gastronomy, each of which covers a broad spectrum and quite appropriate, I have to agree.

Now, armed with this new theme, are they going to go boldly forth and explore previously uncharted territo-ries in a bid to open up new markets? No, not at all, they are going to concentrate the majority of their efforts on their existing core countries, namely the UK, Germany and the Spanish mainland. There is nothing like preaching to the converted, but then perhaps these countries host the best trade fairs, there is nothing to beat a good jolly and with a budget of 193,000 euros they are sure to be successful.

Pavement occupancy

The council is to review and consider if amendments are needed to existing legislation with concerning business use of the town’s pavements and pedestrian walkways. However, they believe they are already making inroads to curing the problem of congestion whilst taking into consideration the needs of local businesses.

This statement is representative of a recent announcement, although not quite as long winded. It is a fine example of an announcement for announcement sake and one guilty of not really saying anything. As for thinking the problem is well on the way to being solved, they must walk around with blinkers on, either that or their gafas de sol are rose tinted. Let me paint you a picture, a walk I have done many times.

As you walk into Plaza de Charco , you need to have your wits about you, have your eyes searching ahead to spot the best route to take to navigate the restaurant tables, being ever mindful that at any second a waiter can appear on a collision course laden down with plates of food or drinks.

Halfway through you reach a bottleneck, where a particular restaurant seems to be unsure of its boundary so much so that its tables are forever encroaching, making further inroads into available space as their evening gets busier. Having negotiated this bottleneck or taken a diversion, often quicker, you arrive at the next obstacle, namely handbags tastefully arranged on old bed sheets, which come with the offer of the best price guaranteed.

If you get through these without tripping over there is some respite, apart from the local drug and or alcohol abusers who seem to take up almost permanent residence in the square, but they are another story for another time. However, I will just say they seem to be very popular; people are always approaching them, shaking their hands briefly and then disappearing again.

Surely, this is a worst case scenario? Maybe, but it does happen and why is it so difficult to control, all it needs is a bit of effective policing. I am not against businesses out to make a profit, but am against those operating outside the law, at the expense of others.

What is wrong with restaurants and bars having a clearly defined area for which they pay the necessary dues and display a permit stating the number of tables permitted? It sounds easy doesn’t it, of course, because it is? Shop owners who feel there is a need to display their goods on the pavements should be treated exactly the same way.

There seems to have been a leniency towards the street vendors in recent years and as a result their number has increased. I can see no reason why these can’t be treated in a similar manner ; if they are legally resident then they should be given the option to trade in a designated area. Likewise I would apply the same rules to the flower sellers, street performers, musicians, living statues and artists. I you are trading on the street, be legal and have a permit.

Blue flag

Finally, Puerto has once again gained blue flag status for its beaches, both at San Telmo and at Playa Jardin. I am pleased for the town, especially as it is the fourth consecutive year for both, but I am once again surprised by Playa Jardin, especially the Punta Brava end. When the wind is in the wrong direction, given the close proximity to the sewage treatment plant and I can’t see how they pass the clean water standards. However, I haven’t changed my opinion of the town’s beaches; I just have lower expectations of the blue flag award