|Friday, February 26, 2021
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Let there be light in our “intelligent destination” of Puerto de la Cruz 

There have been a lot of news items coming from the town hall lately, so much so it has been a job to keep up with them all. It is hardly surprising, the clock is ticking, we are into the last six months of this council’s four year term and after three years of a great deal of promises, but relatively  little activity, there has been a lot of catching up to do. 

So there has been information overload on their social media sites, much of which was hardly worth a glance, for instance how many more photos are they going to take of a man cleaning the streets with a pressure hose? An ‘extraordinary clean’ they call it, however, it doesn’t look that extraordinary to me and to be honest it is quite ineffective. Still it is good PR to be seen to be doing something, cleaning the streets has long been a hot topic amongst the council’s antagonists, and remains so despite the town hall’s best efforts. Sometimes your best is just not good enough. Although some of the news has been quite positive, or at the very least worth a mention, so for the want of something more interesting to write about I’ll give you my take on a few of them.

Firstly, let’s return to the new streetlight contract, I know I talked at length about it last month, but I just have a few more comments to add. I must say for me this is a positive for Puerto de la Cruz,  and great visual PR , the team can always be found  working somewhere in the town, and afternoons as well, almost unheard of when streetlights were covered ‘in house’.  Ok, so their uniforms and vehicles now carry the town’s corny and totally inappropriate logo, but I suppose you can’t have everything your own way and I guess there was a clause to the effect written into the contract. One negative however, unless it is only me, or my eyes to be exact, ( I don’t often venture out after dark)  but to me the new lights throw out far less light.  I know these low energy bulbs are supposed to last longer, but do they have to be less illuminating to make them cost effective?  Oh, and I see the team have started putting up  the Christmas lights, Bah Humbug,  I hope, at least, they are low energy. Of course, all the photos were taken long ago at the start of the project, so now the council have released a video, just to keep it in the public eye, and not a video taken by the councillor with his iphone, something more professional, so it seems they are already needlessly spending some of the money the new light bulbs are saving.

Next the new contract for the town’s gardens, another positive for the town I am sure, providing that is this time it covers all the gardens and all the gardeners. There was evidence last week of the new ‘work ethic’ as a large team in new uniforms, with new equipment set about the long overdue task of trimming the palms within the town. Long may it continue in the same vein.  At the launch of the new contract it was announced that there would be a ‘blitz’ on all the weeds growing on the towns streets, something which in the past has been carried out spasmodically in some areas and not at all in other areas. About once a year in my street, which in the grand scheme of things I don’t think is too bad considering it is a dead end street. I wonder if a person of influence lives nearby, it can’t be a councillor, I would recognise any of them.  Another video was produced to herald this initiative showing gardeners strimming weeds with any electric current effect ‘zapping’ at the weeds. Honestly it is that bad, you really have to see it to believe it.

The ‘weed eradication’ team visited my street a few weeks ago, just two men, one who was  armed with a strimmer the other with one of those blowers they seem so fond of here.  I’ll take you through what they did, it is quite representative I think, I have since seen them working elsewhere.

But first I have to set the scene. My street backs on to a field that is full of ‘rabo de gato, which for those who don’t know is a fast growing evasive grass, not native to the island. As a consequence windblown seeds have spread the plant to our street and it is now growing quite happily and flourishing in the gaps between the kerbstones and the tarmac. It is a very hardy and quite sturdy plant so I was interested in how the weed team would deal with it.  So I watched them attack it. No, I wasn’t blatant about it, but neither was I hiding behind the curtains, I was standing quite openly looking out the window. So along came ‘strimmer man’ and cut the tops of the plant, leaving the bottom few centimetres (the tough bit) in place.  Job done, he then moved on to the next plant while ‘blower man’ followed behind  blowing what had been cut every way and which way so they would not have to sweep it up, and so they went on down the street before returning to their van for a much needed break. Needless to say the plants survived their ordeal and now a few weeks later after some sun and a bit of rain have almost grown back to how they were and I am sure that some of the seeds that have been scattered will find somewhere else to take root.

Despite the promise of the video, there was no ‘zapping’ of the weeds and our street is not weed free, but  what they did was about what I expected, although I thought they might have cleared up their own mess. Let’s hope this was teething problems as far as the gardens contract goes.  So now I am wonde-ring how long it will be before they come back to have another go, same time next year I suppose.  Incidentally a nearby street where they weeds are almost waist high hasn’t been touched, but then it is even further off the beaten track.

Don’t drink the tap water, sound advice I think, at least in Puerto de la Cruz. Not anymore, if our Mayor is to be believed, new filters recently installed at the water plant in La Vera means our water is now, at long last, safe to drink. So much so, the town hall launched an initiative to reduce the use of plastic bottles by issuing refillable glass bottles to all it employees. Not exactly an original idea, but then cutting down on plastic is currently a ‘trendy’ idea and more importantly it did create yet another photo opportunity, ‘that’s right hold the bottle up in front of you and smile for the camera’. How did we all survive before social media, I sometimes wonder? The water leaving the plant may be deemed as ‘safe’ to drink, but does it carry the same guarantee after it has negotiated the town’s network of pipes? I am not convinced, so I am sorry Mr. Mayor, but I for one will continue to drink my water from a bottle, a plastic recyclable one, until such time there is a convenient and more affordable alternative.

I would like to say I have saved the best for last, unfortunately I don’t think that’s the case. On a recent trip to Madrid our mayor signed Puerto de la Cruz up to become members of a group of likeminded towns and cities in a central government incentive which goes by the title of ‘Intelligent Tourist Destina-tions’.  I have read most of the online blurb and I am still none the wiser as to what this actually entails. I think it is an initiative to encourage administrations to improve through changes to their infrastructure, to better communications, to greater transparency, to more public involvement and greater public awareness, and by an exchange of ideas  and methods with other members of the  ‘intelligent group’.  However, what is unclear is the exact criteria needed to qualify for membership of this esteemed club. Do you have to already be an ‘intelligent’ destination or do you have to be an administration with aspirations of becoming ‘intelligent’. I suspect in the case of Puerto de la Cruz it must be the latter, because surely an already ‘intelligent’ admini-stration wouldn’t be  so keen to sign up for the installation of a mains gas network when so many other  destinations are looking towards implementing clean energy resources.