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Thursday, June 30, 2011

WiFi Problem

There is a interruption to the WiFi today (Thursday 30th). They are working on it and it should be back up soon.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

1st Meeting of PP and PA Zurgena & Translation Medical Service for info

Tonight we had the first meeting between the PA councillors and the PP councillors.

A few problems had been discovered in the paperwork for tomorrows Pleno and there were some discrepancies that needed to be resolved. I have to say that my thoughts on the future of our alliance were greatly improved. I found Kiko, Anna and Sampo to be considered and thoughtful people and we worked through the issues without a problem. All 3 of the PP councillors were, as I had hoped, patient with me and ensured that I understood all that was said. I feel much happier, now that we have done a bit of work together, that we can continue to do so in the future.

Unfortunately, due to the amendments we need to make to the paperwork, the Pleno has had to be delayed, but it is obviously important that we get things right both legally and administratively. It should only be a matter of a couple of days.

I am indebted to Bruce Hobday for the following reminder regarding the Health Service translation service,

Telephone translation service in all Andalucian health centres (Reminder
The Junta has a simultaneous translation service for non-Spanish speakers in all it’s medical centres. (I do not believe they will translate for you at doctors etc, just make appointments and health advice
The system currently supports 46 languages, and consists in the doctor and patient being able to talk via a translator over a conference call from a central call centre.

The Junta de AndalucĂ­a and Andalucian Health Service have launched a new service for non-Spanish speakers who need to visit a doctor.
Currently, doctors will not treat non emergency cases unless the patient speaks Spanish or brings a translator.
The new Salud Responde service allows a doctor to make a conference call to a translation service, whose operator will translate to and from the patient.
The new service will be available in 46 different languages and has a budget of 450,000€ a year.
Currently, the Andalucian Health Service estimates that it serves some 500,000 residents of Andalucia a year who do not speak Spanish, plus a further 9 million tourists a year.
Out of the 46 languages on offer, 11 will be available 24 hours a day every day of the year, the other 35 will be available from 8.00-18.00 every working day.
The main eleven languages are: German, Arabic, Mandarin, Bulgarian, Slovakian, French, English, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian and Russian.
Since the translators are all professional medical translators, the patient is guaranteed a professional, reliable free and confidential service, which will prevent them having to find a medical translator and receive full impartial medical information.
Salud Respondeis a unique service in Spain that has never been tested before.
It also allows patients to book appointments with their GP or medical centre in their language by calling 902 505 060; faxing 953 018 715; visiting their webpage online at or sending an SMS to 600 123 400 with the word CITASAS followed by your medical card patient number.
It is also trialling a telephone health system whereby citizens can call for free medical advice on trivial symptoms.

At Last

Looks like things are at last moving. I am to meet with Candido tonight at 4.30pm and then all the councillors for PP and PA are to meet at 5.0pm in advance of our meeting tomorrow.

I picked up a copy of the agenda for tomorrows meeting and it does show that we will be discussing/agreeing the various roles etc for each of the councillors amongst a number of other items.

Lets hope we can form a productive, sensible and beneficial administration to improve Zurgena over the next 4 years.

Friday, June 24, 2011

!st Pleno

The first Plenary session of the new administration is to be held next Wednesday the 29th June at midday. That is when we will find out how things are going to be organised for the next four years. I hope!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Some of you may be aware that Andreas has moved from his reception post to one upstairs. This is only temporary, as he is having to cover for Maribel, who is pregnant, and due to leave to have her baby soon.

It will cause a few problems on reception but we will just have to try and muddle through. I suppose it does help Andreas in his career as he will be learning additional skills.

It is hoped that the first Pleno will be held this coming Friday but that is of course down to the new Mayor.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Link re Paramount & No News

No news on when the first Pleno of the new administration is to be held and therefore we are no further forward yet in knowing what everyone will be doing. I await this with baited breath.

It was good to see that one of the primary issues, which people reported in the February survey, was the messy state of the embankment when approaching Zurgena from La Alfoquia. It was pleasing to see that our old administration managed to get this problem tackled. And whilst it is not completely finished, it is a good way towards that end. If you look down to the bottom you can see the tons of rubbish so far removed.

I do have to thank all those of you, who took the time, to pass on their appreciation for Candido's attitude in standing down from the Mayoral election to allow some form of alliance to take place even though his party had the most votes. I have provided him with a synopsis of the content of those emails.

The below link is an interesting article on the proposed new Paramount theme park in Murcia.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

New Administration

Today was the day for the inauguration of the new Council. It was a bit strange, as, after last nights meeting, there were still some suggestions that the pact may not take place and we were still discussing issues until the last possible moment. However, at 11.0am we opened the meeting which was attended by about 2-300 members of the public.

As is the law, the eldest elected councillor (me), takes the presidents role and the youngest (Noelia) sits at the presidents right hand. Fortunately Isa (our Town Hall secretary and a really kind and helpful lady) confirmed for me that she would do all the necessary bits as long as I responded in the correct places with a nod or agreement. This I happily agreed to do! After reading out the results of the elections, each of the elected councillors had to walk to the front of the top table and repeat the oath. Which is basically to promise that to fulfil your obligations to the Council. We then went to the process of electing the Mayor. Candido informed the meeting that he would not be standing for election as Mayor, which left it as straight race between Francisco of the PP and Luiz of the PSOE. It was agreed that it should be decided on a show of hands and, as we had discussed, PA all voted for Francisco, meaning he was elected on a majority of 7 to 4. Each party leader then said a few words and the meeting was concluded.

Then, previously unknown to me, all of our party and some of the PP adjourned to the animal park in La Alfoquia for a BBQ and small celebration of the new administration. I had other plans so was only able to enjoy the first couple of hours.

From the PP members I was able to talk to I think (and hope) that we will be able to work together for the betterment of our village, but time will tell. The next Pleno will be where we discover who is to hold which posts and how the administration is going to work. This should be next week and I will post once that becomes clear.

Talk about Last Minute

As I mentioned in the last post I was called to a meeting at La Vida Restaurant last night. When I got there I discovered that all the Partido Andalucista members had been summoned and the purpose was for Candido to put to us the latest developements regarding the new administration.

Candido opened the meeting and explained that the past 2 weeks had been the craziest he had been involved in in politics. Up until Wednesday, he explained, that PP and PSOE had a written agreement to take control of the council for the next 4 years with the PP mayoral candidate being Mayor for all 4 years with no cost to PP! Candido did say that he had one option left as late as Wednesday and that was to go directly to the PP regional political masters, which is what he did. When he entered the negotiations he knew that the only way to make progress was to accept the PP candidate as mayor for the full term. He was willing to do this and thereby forfeit his potential to be mayor if three conditions were met. These were that a) no Town Hall workers would be sacked, b) the funding for the solicitors, who are defending all property owners, be continued and lastly that the PA councillors had meaningful roles. The first two of these matters were things, we were concerned, that PSOE would do if they had control. He revealed that the PP politicians in Almeria agreed to this. As a result of that and some other things which he later explained to us we have shaken hands on an agreement to form an alliance with PP.

There are certain benefits which could come out of such an affiliation, none least of course, the benefit of regional government looking more kindly on our decisions. I immediately asked if this would have any impact on the PGOU and Candido said that that nothing could really hamper the PGOU as any amendment to it requires a Pleno with a majority of 6.

Candido revealed also that the 4 representatives of PA, would each be given a role with autonomy e.g. each would have the ability to, in their field, exercise the rights as if he were Mayor e.g. to agree or not to agree to undertake things without having to refer to the Mayor. He explained that PA would have control of the following remits, Public Services and Works, Culture, Sports and the 3rd Age. These would have to be finalised at the first Pleno after the inauguration Pleno probably next Monday.

He said he felt this was a strange situation because he was asking the PA councillors to vote for the PP candidate and yet he has not been able to talk directly to him since the election. All the negotiations have been done through Almeria. He said that this deal helped PP show that they had another council under their control, by having the Mayor but of course we still have the 4 votes he would need to progress anything. He then put this agreement to the members and asked if anyone thought we should not go through with this deal and after a debate the consensus was that this was the best we could do and we should work with it.

I suspect that this mornings inauguration meeting in the Town Hall could be quite explosive as a number of people do not know what the outcome is likely to be. The Police will be in attendance and I hope we do not see the kind of tricks employed on Election day!

I will update the blog later today with the outcome of this morning meeting which is really just to inaugurate the administration and elect a Mayor. At the conclusion of the meeting I thanked Candido for being big enough to turn down the Mayorship in the wider interests of the town.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Hold the Press!!!

I was out on a trip today and at 6.30pm I got a phone call from Candido to tell me that he wanted to speak with me, regarding some very late and dramatic developements regarding the new administration for Zurgena. He asked when I could be available and I have agreed to meet him at 8.30pm. I have also invited Mike Foulkes to come along as well.

I will post any news as soon as I get home.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Last Pleno for PA

Well that was sad. We held the last Pleno of the previous administration this morning, which basically was to sign off the minutes of the previous 3 pleno meetings. This just involved the secretary, Isa, reading out the wording from the minutes and the meeting approving them.

At the conclusion Candido, quite emotionally, gave his thanks to the councillors who would no longer now be a part of the Town Council. That was Manolo, who had agreed to stand down this time, Franscico, who we did not get enough votes to keep on, and who obviously loses his job, and Jose who, likewise, we did not get enough votes to keep on the council.

Candido thanked them all for their contribution to the villages' developement and, as he did so, I swear there was a tear in his eye. I kind of felt a bit guilty as I thought I should have maybe been more aggressive in the election campaign but I always felt that negative politics was not something I wanted to be a part of and also, I believed that people would see the benefits that PA had brought to the village. However, obviously the electorate wanted a new administration and that is what will be formed at the Pleno on Saturday and it will be PSOE and PP who will be controlling the council from then on.

I have to speak with Candido about how it will be best for me to serve the expat community when not in a position to influence decisions etc. I was going to speak with him after todays Pleno but given how he and everyone else felt I decided to leave it until later.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Looking Bad

I received a telephone call from Candido this morning asking me to attend a meeting in the Town Hall. I went straight in and found many of the Partido Andalucista party members there.

Candido explained that the reason for calling the meeting was to inform us of how the negotiations, for agreeing a new administration, had been progressing. He explained, day by day for the past week or so, what we and our negotiators had been doing. He also explained that, he had been aware of many meetings between PSOE and PP, which apparently many members of those parties (PP and PSOE) were not privy to, and that included the PPs No 2 on the list! He understood that rumours were going round the villages that PA had refused to deal with PP. He wanted us to know that that was a complete lie and he detailed all the efforts both he and our negotiator Manolo had made in attempting to speak with them and the offers they were willing to make, such as 2 years for each party as mayor, and support for PP as president of the Valley of Almanzora Communidad (the body which oversees all 14 of the municipalities in Almanzora valley). We had not got anywhere in trying to speak to them about our offer.

Rather than bore you with all the details, suffice it to say that it looks very much as if personal ambitions are trumping good local governance. It would appear that PSOE have agreed to support PP. Of all the likely outcomes this was the one I was most fearful of for many reasons, none least the attitude of the more powerful PSOE figures, to the expat community. There is little time left for any other negotiations to take place. The reason for this being that the appropriate fields of responsibility and plans for the next 4 years have to be formulated, by any other affiliation of parties, prior to the 1st Pleno of the new administration (this coming Saturday). I am led to believe that the PP party will be quite riven by this decision as many of their long standing members will be very much against such an association.

So it would seem that the party which gained the most votes in the elections (ours) will have no say in the government of the village for the next 4 years. The reduction in votes cast for PA, from the last election to this years, has obviously had a big impact on what the future holds for our village. I do hope that it is not too detrimental.

There is one last vestige of hope, which for obvious reasons I will not detail on such a public forum, but we will pursue that avenue.

I will obviously keep you posted as to any further developements and will keep the blog going until such time as it is of little or no value.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

No News

Unfortunately no news yet regarding the formation of the new administration for Zurgena, other than PSOE have had published in the press the fact that they would not form any joint administration with pour party (P.A.) which is just as well because I would probably walk from such a situation.

Still one week left for the decisions to be made. We have to have the decision by a week tomorrow.