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Friday, March 30, 2012

Pleno 30th March Zurgena

Wow what a Pleno that was. Just short of 3 hours long. Many political arguments and suggestions which appeared to upset some of the councillors but hey ho.

The main point was the agreement of the Financial Plan which PP and PA supported and PSOE voted against. My understanding was that they objected to the people of the municipality having to pay for the extra money we need to borrow. However, the financial changes, which will allow us to borrow the money we need, are things like the IBI bills, closer management of monies due to the Town Hall for things such as market licences, garage licences (the no parking outside type) etc. We are also to ensure that the few people who are living rent free in property owned by the Town Hall start to pay their rent. All of which I thought was sensible measures in this climate.

The heated discussions arose during the other matters and PSOE made some allegations/suggestions about the bills which arose just prior to the election last year, how the Banks which will receive EEC monies will be PP controlled and therefore of financial benefit to PP, about a mistaken belief that the Mayor had refused to provide free food for the Gitanos, and queried why the Tantatorio had not yet opened. All of these were rebutted by PP and PA with sensible points.

I was questioned by PSOE firstly, on why the Police performed one duty but failed in another. I had to explain that I no longer had this responsibility in the current administration! Secondly I was asked what my plans were for the 3rd Age. I had to explain that we could not even envisage what the available budget would be like and Candido confirmed that we would have a better idea of the budget within a month or so and we would then make our proposals. We do already have a few ideas which we hope we can progress. If anyone has any ideas which they feel would be worthy of consideration please let me know. We are thinking of things such as more trips, organised walks, cinematic events, photographic events but anything other suggestions would be welcome.

So after the Pleno I had a quick word with the other councillors and asked when the surfacing of Avenid Poetas would get done as we had previously said it would be in 2011. Candido explained that because PP now being having the Mayoral role it was a project which, although we had proposed and agreed, had been withdrawn. However, it was now being redrawn with a small alteration including more finance, and in a different name and he said that even with this it should be done within 3/4 months.

I asked if the Bowling Green had become a casualty of the financial difficulties, and he said that it would depend very much on what monies we end up with after submitting our agreed plan

I had been asked to clarify if there was any protected land on our proposed PGOU in the Los Llanos area. Candido told me that there was one small area but it was nowhere near any of the houses and so there was no impact from that.

As mentioned above the Tanatorio has not yet been opened due to a problem with the electricity but it is hoped this can be resolved in the near future.

I also asked when we could expect people to start getting their expedientes and was told that due to the huge amount of work needed to prepare fr the above Financial Plan all the TH staff had worked solely on this but as soon as they can submit this plan they will get back to dealing with their normal duties.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pleno Tomorrow & Street Repairs

We had a pre pleno meeting today (was informed at 1230pm that the meeting was at 1.0pm!) Usual plenty of notification.

Our meeting tomorrow at 12noon is the result of the past 4 weeks of very intense work that the Town Hall staff have had to do. Apparently the Central Govt. under Mariano Rajoy has passed a number of laws, which should lead to greater transparency and accountability (about time I hear you all say) and amongst this legislation has been a requirement for all Town Halls to compile a list of what they owe to businesses etc and once that has been compiled and, accompanied by a plan of how we propose to be able to repay, an application can then be applied for to help us pay those bills.

One little nugget from these discussions was that for the purposes of calculating our income the Councillors used as an average a figure of €250 per house per year. Obviously that is a very 'ball park figure' as some will be greater and others less.

I appreciate that a number of you are awaiting various papers from the T.H. but again this work has had to take precedence. It involved all 3 of the main TH staff working very long hours for the past 4 weeks, to get this ready for the Pleno, so that it can be completed in the timescales set by Government.

One bit of good news was that Candido informs me that we are to get a delivery of tarmac on Monday or Tuesday and so the repairs to the streets can be carried out.

No news yet on the Los Carasoles Court Case however, I have been served with my Court Sentence! It says I have been absolved but there is a 5 day period during which he/I can appeal.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Care homes for the Elderly & Anyone for a job

Following my previous post regarding care homes for the elderly I have discovered that there are in fact a number of options. This surprised me as I always thought that in Spain there were none and that it was always left to the family to sort out.

With thanks to Andreas for giving me a lead on these. The following are the closest to us and the last one is one which operates nationally.
Further information can be obtained through the following website which is quite good.

1. Grupo Care, "Presta Servicio en Almeria" Cartagena CP 30202, Murcia. Still trying to locate a phone number for them

2. Residencia Nuestra Senora del Rio, Huercal Overa 04600, Almeria. (this is one run by the church)

3. Residencia y Centro de Dia para Mayores, Artevida Angeles Parra, C/Molino Huercal Overa 04693, Almeria. tele 902 095310 ext 08275

4. Caser Residencial, various 902300390.

These are homes which provide care at varying levels and also for varying fees.

A colleague of mine has asked that I enquire if anyone in the North of Almeria province is interested in a job. The only details I have at the moment are that it is for a group of solicitors who specialise in property issues and it is in sales. If anyone is interested please email me and I will provide details of the contact number.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Andalucian Election Result

Well it seems our worst fears may be confirmed with regard to the Junta elections.

The results show that PP won 50 seats, PSOE 47 with Izquierda Unida 12 seats. I fear that the most likely outcome of the horse trading now taking place will be a coalition between Izquierda and PSOE. This does not bode well for the future of PGOUs etc but, you never know, maybe even PSOE will realise the futility in continuing with the old policies.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Busy & Homes

I tried to see Candido today but he, and the other paid councillors, were involved in very deep meeting, discussing the state of our finances and what we need to pay out, how much we have coming in and what is the best way to move forward financially. I realised that it would be a waste of time trying to discuss other less important topics today, so will keep them until next week.

Needless to say I have not yet found out the result of the 2 Court cases regarding Los Carasoles but will chase up next week.

The questions that many of you provided for us to put to the representative for Social Services from Almeria have been recorded. I have provided a copy to Sampo but will discuss with him before we meet with the gentleman from Almeria, which will be after the elections.

With regard to the elections, which will be held this Sunday, the polls suggest that the PP party will win but the majority may not be sufficient to have an outright majority. The other main parties contesting the election to the Andalucian Parliament are PSOE, Izquierda, and P.A. I think our best hope would be a PP win and if necessary a coalition with PA as is the case in the Town Hall. However I think the worst case scenario for us would be that PP and PA have insufficient seats to form a majority and PSOE form a coalition with Izquierda. I think that that situation would be the most negative, for our hopes of progression, on things like the PGOU etc.

Lastly I have been asked a couple of times in the past few weeks about what care homes are available in Spain for such things as people requiring full time care. From my enquiries so far it would appear that there is a home in Huercal Overa which is run by nuns and which takes paid residents to care for them. I am awaiting more details on this. There is however the main Social Security dept which handles such scenarios but from what my Spanish friends have told me there are very few opportunities for full time care through that avenue.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Recommended Home and Health Assistance

Due to a level of service which went above and beyond I was asked to draw peoples attention to this company.
Apparently when an elderly expats wife succumbed to serious illness this company gave excellent assistance to them, attended at all hours of the day and night and, when the end came, provided all the help and assistance needed.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

New Padron checks

As usual I got the job of chasing up those names on the latest Padron check list today. I managed to contact most people by telephone but the following people I was unable to reach. If you are one of them or know them can you please ask them to pop into the town Hall when they get a minute with their NIE or passport to confirm they should still be on the padron,
Maxine Cottrill, Jack and Valerie Lendill, Martin and Michelle Short and a Sarah Steel.

I was unable to see Candido today so will try and catch him before the end of the week.

I had been asked to check on the rules re dangerous dogs. I am informed that the rules are very strict in Spain and the owners of such dogs need to apply for what amounts to a licence. They have to obtain a copy of their Police records to ensure they are fit people (I remember one of my neighbours having to do this some time ago). I also understand that they should be on a lead and muzzled when in public.

Thanks for your comments on "My Story." in the side margin glad you enjoyed it. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Los Carasoles Cases & A Story

I forgot to mention that whilst I was with Candido last week he informed me that the had been to a Penal Court at Almeria with Anthonio of New Horizons last week. The cases seem to have gone well but the result is not expected for another week or two. As soon as these decisions are made I will post on here.

I did not get into the Town Hall yesterday due to various reasons. Will have to get in Monday or Tuesday as there is another Padron list to work on.

For anyone interested I have put a link to a story I have written about my Police life. I did it mainly for the family to see what weird and wonderful things the average copper gets to deal with. It can be accessed  through the link at the side of this blog under 'My Story.'

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Free Man & Bad things bring good

Thanks for all the messages of support prior to my court appearance today at Huercal Overa.

It was all a bit silly. On arrival with my solicitor and Candido, our ex mayor, and Andreas my Town Hall interpreter, we were told that I could not use Andreas but a court appointed interpreter already in attendance, a lovely young Spanish lady who had studied at the University of Salford and spent time in Edinburgh. So I thanked Andreas and left myself in the hands of this lady!
My solicitor asked to speak with the judge where he explained that I was an honourable man who was a councillor in Zurgena and who had never insulted anyone, in fact I did not even know the plaintiff. Also that all I had been doing was to communicate events, in the Town Hall, to ex pats in the area.
The judge then asked the plaintiff to attend the court and, apparently, when he went in, he told the judge that he could not remember even making the denuncia. The judge ruled that there was no case to answer and also ruled that, should the plaintiff make any allegations against me, in the next year, I could obtain recompense.
A lot of trouble and expense for Spain for nothing although not for nothing because from everything bad comes something good.
This time it was in the form of the restaurant that we repaired to after the court case. We went to Bodegas Labios in Huercal Overa. The first thing I noticed was the many photographs of famous current footballers including Cesc Fabregas, Iniesta, Pepe Reine, Puyol etc and signed shirts from Real Madrid and Barcelona. Apparently the brother of the owner of the restaurant is well known to these players. So that was my first impression, then came the tapas. Firstly they brought out Montadito de Lomo. This was a slice of Pork on crusty bread but with cheese, a tangy sauce and some other ingredients. Mouthwateringly lovely. Then the proprietor asked if we wanted to try Buffalo hamburgers (Hamburguesa de Buey). I quickly responded in the affirmative. They were as fabulous as the 1st tapa. Finally he brought out there home made Pate Perdiz (Partridge Pate) which was delicious. The proprietor then showed me his dining room at the back of the restaurant and it looked really posh and whilst the menu is dearer than many I will certainly be frequenting this restaurant in future. So it wasn't completely a wasted day. (although I did have to pick up the tab it was worth it)
Fran, our solicitor also highly recommended the following should I return, Roscos de croquetas, Buey Americano and Pate de Pichon.
Can't wait to go back.

My Court Date

Well my court date arrives and I am to meet Candido and the solicitors for the Town Hall at 11.0am before my appearance at midday. Wish me luck.

I have printed off all the blog entries for the 2 months prior to the elections as I feel sure it is something within those that have caused the denuncia to be made but having studied them I cannot see what anyone could take offence at but no doubt I will find out.

As Robert Falcon Scott so infamously said,"I am just going outside and may be some time"

Monday, March 12, 2012

Courts Again

Did not get to the Town Hall alst Friday as Sue suggested I get on with some jobs at home!!

Called in today and firstly spoke with Candido regarding the recent article in La Voz regarding details of a Court Case in November regarding the houses at Barranco de los Pinos and Cortijo Zurano. It also made reference to operation sewing box, the case where a number of local officials were arrested some 4 years ago. I asked him what his thoughts were regarding the article and I think I could have guessed the answer. He informed me that it was nothing new and he had no concerns. He said that the case they were referring to was another of those spurious allegations regarding the grants of building licences which have been going through the courts for the past few years. He felt confident that this would end the same way as the others. He also highlighted the timeliness of the article coming as it does 8 months before the Court case but 2 weeks before the elections!

We then discussed the case, for which I have to appear, before the Courts on Wednesday. He told me that the Town Hall, solicitors would take the case and we faxed, to them, all we knew. He said he would get them to ascertain if there was anything else to this case and we would meet just before the hearing at 11.0am Wednesday. Should be fun!

Left details of the issues re the roads near Palaces and the lights at Calle Rosal for their attention.

Regarding the questions for the man from Almeria re help for the elderly I saw Sampo and asked him if we were still going to have the opportunity to put those questions which people had provided to this man. He informed me that it was still intended to have him come to Zurgena but that it would now be after the elections.

Also I have taken to trying out Twitter for those of you who use it. Don't know if it will be ny use but will see.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Legion Visit

We had an excellent trip to the Spanish Legion base at Viator, today.

The group with some of the officers

A very young General Franco (the 3rd Commander of the Spanish Legion)

We arrived at 1000 and, after a little hiccup with security, a thoroughly interesting and enjoyable morning was spent under the accompaniment of officers of the base. Their friendliness, openness and candour was most helpful and we all, I think, got a good insight into the workings of the legion and their officers. We had a tour of the museum with explanations, a tour under the supervision of the commander of the logistics branch and watched some of them preparing their marching manouvers for the parade season. The trip ended with us all having an officers barracks lunch which surprisingly included a nice red wine (from the Almanzora valley). A really nice day out with a difference.

If anyone else with a group who may be interested in attending a future similar event just let me know and I can put them in touch with the appropriate person.

Will hopefully get back into the Town Hall tomorrow.

Monday, March 5, 2012

My Latest Denuncia

Well as they say if you stick your head above the parapet expect to get shot. I called into Number 1 Court at Huercal Overa today to ascertain the detail of why I have to go to that court on 14th on this month. Thankfully Andreas was allowed to accompany me. After speaking with one of the secretaries she allowed us to phatocopy the denuncia.

It transpired that the denuncia was allegedly made by one Domingo Pardo Navarro from La Alfoquia. I was aware from what I had been told in the Town Hall that this man denied knowing anything about this denuncia! However, I think he has a brother who is in a Political Party which contested the last election and, given that the denuncia was made on 29th April last year (usual prompt legal action), it seems likely that the timing is of importance. The specifics of the denuncia are that I have said some things on the blog which he objected to and also that I had something to do with the disappearance of the bins at Cuesta de los Pinos! The last paragraph was interesting in that (I think) it says the complainant is so worried that he is asking for the safety of Police custody. Never knew I could engender such fear.

I took the detail back to the Town Hall and discussed it with Candido who said that he will attend court with me, together with the Town Hall's solicitor and we will refute the allegations. All good fun!

It seems there is a small problem with the WiFi and that has been caused by the burning out of a part. This is being attended to and should be sorted soon. The only effect should be a slight reduction in speed.

The Town Hall workers have managed to find and install a few more of the missing street signs.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Back Home

Just returned from a short break in the UK and will get back into the Town Hall next week.

I guess I had better ensure though that my first job is to call into Court No 1 at Huercal Overa to find out what on earth my court appearance, scheduled for the 14th March is all about. Could be interesting.

Looks like about 150 attended for the Andalucia day celebrations. Hope it went well.