Will it be all change for Puerto under new regime?
So, now the dust has settled on the local elections and it is all change in Puerto’s town hall.
Although most of the same old faces are still there as councillors, those who for the last four years held positions of power now find themselves occupying the opposition benches and vice versa.
One thing that this election has taught us is that as far as the two mainstream political parties are concerned, support in Puerto de la Cruz is quite evenly divided and whilst numerically PSOE polled the most votes, both they and PP won 8 seats each. Almost a carbon copy of the last election in 2015 when once again they tied with 7 seats apiece.
Obviously then to break the deadlock in both elections, the smaller parties held all the trump cards. In 2015 CC held 4 seats and went against a nationally agreed coalition agreement to instead side with PP and the rest as they say is history. This year, however there have been internal squabbles in the local party, with only 1 of the 4 sitting councillors on the party list for the re-election I suspect this had a negative effect on their share of the vote as this time they only secured 2 seats. If you do the maths the remaining 3 seats of 21 both in 2015 and again this year fell to ACP.
Eight plus 3 gives you 11, enough seats for majority rule in the council, so the decision was which of the 2 main parties would ACP form a coalition with. Given the level of protest while in opposition and their political bent there was only ever going to be one logical fit, which is why we now find ourselves in Puerto de la Cruz embarking on 4 years of PSOE/ ACP rule , and I for one am looking forward to the change. I am what I suppose could be deemed as a floating voter, I have no affiliation to any particular party and disenchanted with the last 4 years this time I voted for the party who I thought were making all the right noises. Under no illusion they could ever win, I was sure this time they would be involved in the decision making and I am happy with the result.
Right now I have a dilemma, not unknown for being a critic of the local administration I find myself in the position of having little to say. It would be unfair, given that they have only just got their feet under the table, to go straight for the jugular, as it were, metaphorically speaking, of course. No, they deserve a honeymoon pe-riod, but how long should it be? A few months at least, so I could soon find myself scratching about for content. On top of that I have this little niggle at the back of my mind asking what happens if I start to like what they are doing and saying. After all they are promising to be more open and transparent and are keen to involve the citizens in the decision making. Plus they are already talking about tackling a long outstanding problem, one which the previous administration chose to ignore during their 4 years tenure. Could this really be a defining moment? Could this column be on the threshold of becoming su-pportive? Am I about to start dishing out praise? Can I even do that? Interesting times ahead for Puerto de la Cruz I think.
So whilst the new team get to grips with the inner workings of the town hall where I am sure they will find a few skeletons in the cup-boards I will just sum-marize a few of the ongoing capital projects in the town they have inherited most of which should have been long fi-nished.
First and foremost I guess must be the new bus station. Talked about for many years this project must surely have become the nemesis for the outgoing mayor who fresh from the polls in 2015 took it as a personal challenge to right the wrongs and get the bus station built. I am sure it didn’t quite happen as he would have liked and it took outside involvement to finally get the project of the ground. Due to be finished in April, but it didn’t quite happen, but never mind it will be in use in July, or will it.
The cliff top walk in La Paz, the so called ‘coastal path’, another project plagued with problems and delays, not helped by the appointed construction company choos-ing to walk away from the project. Following a long period of inactivity, a new contract was awarded and work restarted, but not in earnest as you would expect, quite the reverse in fact, progress was painfully slow, until in January, when it was announced that the walkway would reopen. About time, but of course, being Puerto this story does not end here. After all the back slapping and promotional pictures were taken it was revealed that the walkway was not finished, you could join it at each end but you couldn’t walk its entire length as it didn’t meet in the middle. The two ends had been opened at the earliest opportunity, if you can believe that, to facilitate the businesses that had been affected by the long closure, quite rightly so. The remaining bit would be completed in a couple of months; it was not a big deal, so the whole path would be open by the end of March. At the time of writing work is ongoing, although I have just read it will be finished this month. So soon you will be able to enjoy the path from end to end, but only if you are able-bodied. Access to the path for anyone who needs to use a wheelchair or a wheeled walking frame and parents with pushchairs will only be able to enter via calle Agatha Christie, the street which the same constructors have just started digging up, but then that is an entirely different project.
The new children’s play-ground in Parque El Laurel, a project which was scheduled to be completed last November, but still a long way off , at least it looked that way when I last walked past a couple of weeks ago. To be honest I can’t see why there should be such a long delay, a lack of workers on the site, possibly, but then there never seems to be any urgency to complete capital projects on time.
The restoration of Casa Tolosa in San Antonio, phase one of which started in March 2018, another project which has overrun and bear in mind this is only phase one. Phase one is to secure the existing structure so it doesn’t deteriorate further before renovation. Latest news is that this is taking longer than expected. It is very hard to judge progress as the building doesn’t look much different from day one, except that existing rendering has been stripped away exposing the original stonework to the elements. They could well be fighting a losing battle. It will be a few years yet before this building becomes the promised cultural centre.
Why so many delays and who is to blame? I am not sure if fault can be levelled at the outgoing administration , not that they are totally blameless, they appeared to me to have lost control of projects in the town to the Consorcio de Rehabiltacion Puerto de la Cruz an unelected committee who appears to have the final say on what gets done and when. I wonder if this situation will continue under the new regime.
Just one more project to mention before I go and one which I don’t thing has a timescale so it can’t have overrun. The removal of the long defunct fountain on the San Antonio roundabout, they don’t seem the much luck with fountains in Puerto, very few of them are working, strange really when all they involve is a pump and a bit of plumbing and a water supply. Anyway the fountain is to be replaced by a large sculpture of a fish, a fish out of water I assume. Meanwhile while the roundabout is reworked the two ‘Puerto de la Cruz – Parte de ti’signs (which always look half finished to me) were removed. Now the question is will they be returned or will they detract from the view of the sculpture, or perhaps they will be conveniently lost, I hope so. Or perhaps the new administration in the climate of new beginnings will veto their return; it is an outdated slogan after all.
Finally, is it only me, or does the town look cleaner already? A case of ‘a new brush sweeps clean’, maybe? Sorry couldn’t resist that.