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Friday, June 28, 2013

Three more hours of life gone!

I attended the latest Pleno meeting of the Town Council this afternoon. It was nearly 3 hours long and because of that I did not have a chance to deal with the outstanding bits and pieces I have which will have to wait for a week or two now.

The matters discussed in Pleno today amongst other things were, the approval of the Provincial Plan for Zurgena for 2012/13 (see 2 posts ago), the inventory of municipal buildings, the approval of an amendment to the IVTM (which is the local tax on cars) to allow cars over 25 years to be zero rated for this tax, the approval for our Architect Luis to work outside of the Town Hall so long as it is not in Zurgena area.

We also had a discussion on the application for the Pig Farm on land between Zurgena and Lubrin. Candido reported that we had received a number of allegations about this proposed business and that these have to be considered before the application can be considered. The applicant was in the audience and I gathered not pleased that we did not approve the plans at this stage, but it was pointed out when we have alegations against such a project we are duty bound to investigate first.

We also had a lengthy discussion about the IBI payable by the people living in the affordable houses provided by the TH.

The opposition proposed a number of motions one of which was for the children of all unemployed people in the municipality to be allowed free access to the swimming pool. Candido proposed that we should also include anyone who is working but on low income and that we should extend it to all leisure facilities. It was agreed that Social Services could authorise any application for consideration for this.

There were a number of other matters discussed but I do not think they are of much interest to our part of the community.

This was the first Pleno meeting I had been to since Sampo Pentilla had resigned from the P.P. and is now acting as an independent councillor. I noted from the minutes of the last Pleno which I missed due to holidays that he had resigned from PP for personal reasons but I have not been able to speak with Sampo to clarify.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Cuesta de los PInos Roads

I have again spoken with Candido today about the dangerous state of the following roads and asked that if we are not in a position to repair them can we not at least make them a bit safer.

Calle Escocia, Calle Irlanda and Calle Finlandia

The municipal swimming pool at la Alfoquia should be open to the public from this afternoon.

I spent yesterday morning with Candido at the premises of Pulpipart in Albox, who are going to build our street plan maps. They are going to be like the motorway signs and not, as I originally envisaged, paper maps in cases. We have agreed on the sizes but we want to make them as accurate as possible and with that in mind I am going to sit down with Luis, the Technico and Candido next week to see what is the best level of detail we can achieve. I am hoping to get the first one installed before August and the other 6 by the end of the year. Sorry it is taking so long, maybe I am getting affected by the Spanish disease!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Outstanding bits, Water Problem, La Alfoquia & Local Plan 2013.

Firstly I was able to spend some time with Candido today. Firstly he wanted to show off the works at the 'green' area at the back of the Dizu houses. It is almost complete. The workmen working on it currently are those provided by the unemployment office and they should be finished by the end of the month. Candido and I discussed the additional features to install in the area (which is a lot bigger than I thought at first). We have agreed to do a lot more planting including trees in the larger expanses and some contrasting gravel there as well. We are also to install about 10 benches along the pathway. We discussed whether it was worthwhile putting in a  picnic area but I gave my view against. I felt that such a facility would only encourage youngsters to congregate in the evenings. Candido agreed. I also suggested we need to place dog mess waste bins along the pathway and he agreed. These features together with the additional planting will be added over the next couple of months.

I then asked if we could apply any pressure to the Diputacion to complete the asphalt surfacing of Avenida Poetas. This had been agreed in the Local Plan in 2010/11 and people were fed up waiting. Candido was able to report that although not 100% it looks as though the contract will be awarded to 'Nila' very shortly and it should therefore be complete before much longer! certainly before the end of the year but maybe sooner.

I asked what the continuing problem was with the WiFi. He explained that they had had another problem emanating from the changeover to Vodafone. However, he had today completed work with the telepony engineers and could report that the as from today the system should be much more stable. The download speed will be very slightly slower but the upload speed will be much faster. So things should show an immediate improvement.

I reported the street lights which had been reported as out of order and as usual he listed them for the TH workmen to check. It is important to mention that in one case (Calle Nervion) it would appear that someone for some reason keeps switching them off. They are going to try and find a way to stop this happening.

I am going to meet with Candido tomorrow to progress the street plans by visiting the printers and case makers.

Now the bad news. There had to be some! The problem with the state of Calle Irlanda on Cuesta de los Pinos. I had spoken to Candido about that this morning but I was unaware until our meeting tonight that there was a petition from the residents affected by this road. Basically this road will be repaired along with all the others, although it will be given priority due to the situation, however, it would be pointless doing anything with the road until the sewerage pipes which run under this area are repaired/replaced. It would obviously need to be dug up again to do this work. Additionally the money for the repairs for this road have to come from the Junta and we have not, as yet, received any of the money we have requested for these type of repairs. The only good point is that the work has now commenced on the repairs to the sewerage system and the first 75m of the new pipe work has been delivered and a machine which can clear the blocked pipes, without us having to replace them, are also working on the pipework. The next larger amount of piping will be delivered next week.

Now lastly the Diputacions' and the THs' local plan for 2013 has been received and subject to a few amendments should be passed in Pleno in the next 2 to 3 months. BUT bear in mind that the project for Avenida Poetas was received in 2010/11!

Included in this plan are the following,
Asphalt surfacing of the following roads,
In Los Menchones, Calle Isaac Newton, Galileo Gellie, Ramon y Cajer
Barrio de Chicago, Avenida de las Canarias and the road (which many of us use as a short cut) from the main road throughLa Alfoquia across the main road by Cats offices and along into Barrio de Chicago.
In Los Llanos, Calle Nerva, Luis Cernuda, Frederico Garcia Lorca, Pedro Salinas, Joaquin Costa, Miguel Hernandez and a couple of others whose names I have lost.
In Cucador, Calle Galicia from the junction with the main road up to the fork, Calle Extremadura
In Cuesta de los Pinos, Calle Moldavia, the road from Calle Malta to Brians house (can't think of the name) and the stretch of road just past La Vida where there is a dig dip in the road following the paving.
I may well have missed some roads but I think these are the main ones.
Other projects in the plan are the Bowling Green in La Alfoquia and various works to the schools in the area.

Lastly the water problems being experienced by many people in the La Alfoquia area continues. It was explained to me that the reason for the problem is that the reservoir that serves this area was destroyed in the floods last year. The result is that whenever they have to cut of the water anywhere else there is no reserve to keep the pressure up and supply water to these areas. With the result that Andreas gets his water no problem bu Candido and many of the residents up by the pool bar do not! Galasa has been working on it for for over a month now and it is hoped they will complete the work in the next couple of weeks.

Just an interesting point which I discovered as a result of the research I had asked Manolo to do for the British Consulate and that is that the percentage of families in Zurgena municipality form the various countries shows that, according to the Padron, is almost 59.38% Spanish and almost 39.71% British. Other nationalities make up the remainder.

As usual any questions just email me at the adress above.


I have got most of the information the British Consul wanted re the houses in Zurgena and hope to have the last today, when I will forward it to her.

Candido said that New Horizons had managed to find a contractor who can drill some of the sewerage pipes (Cuesta de los Pinos area) free thereby negating the need to replace some and therefore keep the price down. I hope to find out when this work will be complete.

We have a pre plano meeting tonight and hopefully during today or tomorrow I can get some more answers to some of the other bits outstanding.

For information the below is a play being put on by a local expat theatrical group for anyone interested.

Two hours of comedy, that's what you will get when you go to see TWO UNDER PAR. This comedy has it all - a wayward golf ball, a man who wears his wife's knickers, a vicar and a nun, two murders, a ghost and a sexy police woman. The cast is complimented with several Spanish members, who brighten up the action with a few Spanish (swear) words. This play, written by Alison Conely and directed by Pamela Bluck, will be performed by Los Companeros del Teatro atZurgena Theatre on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th June. Curtain up at 8.00pm. It costs 5 euros to see the action - the laughter is free. Tickets are available in Albox at Girasol and at 1stop Pool shop (in front of Longos) and in Huercal-Overa at i-cafebar (opposite the bus station). For more information telephone 689 760 551. Or email

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Summer School and British Consul Supoort

Regarding the British Embassy's support (following our meeting last month) for people affected by the Juntas court action (particularly those in Calle Nervion but also the wider Zurgena municipality) the representative, Bernadette Gallagher, has responded and I have reprinted part of her response below.

""This week I have spoken in some detail to the Consul in Madrid about the Zurgena cases, and also ensured that the Ambassador is aware. The Consul is very much of a mind that where there are British nationals facing a real demolition threat, we should look to raise this urgently with the appropriate Spanish authority. It is too early to say whether this one will be led by the Consul or the Ambassador, but we will certainly look to take it up."

She has asked a number of questions which I am endeavouring to answer and one of those points some of you may be able to assist with. She has asked if there are others on the municipality of a nationality other than British or Spanish as she feels it would help if they worked in tandem with any other governmental embassies who had affected people. So if you know of anyone, from another country, but within Zurgena, who is adversely affected by the court actions by the Junta please ask them to contact me. I do already have full details of one dutch couple who are happy to have their embassy involved so any others would add weight to their efforts.

Below are details of this years summer school for kids.

2013 Summer school! Open registration period!

Limit registration date: 21 June price amount tuition: 30 euros enter: 3058 0022 83 2732000024 CAJAMAR date of celebration: 1 schedule July 31, 2013: from 9:00 to 14:00 hours directed a: children aged 3 to 12

Monday, June 10, 2013

Water & British Embassy Update!!!

Firstly due to the water quality falling below the standard for drinking, and cooking with, the Town Hall has arranged for a water bowser to be in the following locations for today. This is a one off until a water inspector visits
Zurgena Main Street 0900 x 1000
La Alfoquia by the old petrol station 1000 x 1100.

The facts are that until 2008 the water supplied to the area had to contain a figure of no more than 150 parts per ?? of sulphur. In 2008 that figure was amended down to a level of 100 parts. The recent test has revealed the water to contain 115 parts. So you can see that the water is in fact far better on this yardstick than it was in 2008. It has never been qualified as drinking water. As Maribel in the Town Hall said,"my babies drink their bath water every night. It does them no harm."

Galasa has informed the Town Hall of their findings and their proposed solution.
They state that the sulphur is not naturally occurring in the water but is formed by the interaction between organic material in the water and the chlorine used as a disinfectant.
Their proposed solution is to install new equipment using Chlorine dioxide, which has a much lower ability to produce sulphur as a by product.
This will, according to Galasa, cost 70,000 euros and will take 2 months to install and complete the process. They have purchased the necessary equipment and will be installing it soon.

The Mayor was disappointed that some rather scary stories were circulating and he asked that the public be assured that if there were any real issues likely to affect health they would have have taken other courses of action.

Secondly I have received an in depth response from the British Embassy regarding our housing court cases. They are showing support and have indicated a number of courses of action which following further information from the Town Hall solicitors. I will give a more in depth explanation once I have had time to discuss it with the TH Secretary and solicitors.

As usual any queries just drop me an email or give me a call.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Water, WiFi and sewerage. Zurgena

This is the lengths I have to go to get some time to ask questions.

Today, as I have been busy, earlier this week and am away tomorrow, I thought I had better get some answers to some questions. I called into the TH but Candido was with a man from the Diputacion at the contract near the pool bar, could we meet him there. So Andreas and I went there and saw the work that needed to be done and met with Candido but he was busy discussing the work. He then said he needed to go to another contract and would be 10 minutes would we wait in the pool bar. Which we agreed to do. Then 25 minutes later he had had a call to say that the phone company man was in the TH. So could we meet him there. Which we agreed to. Drove there only to discover that the work would take some time and Candido needed to get his laptop from home. So in order to ask the questions Andreas and I drove him home and back to the TH. During this journey I got some answers!!

Firstly the question regarding the quality of the water as had been referred to me by some concerned people. It transpires that today the TH received a letter from the Junta who regularly test the quality of the water supply and they had identified that the quality was not as high as it should be and was below the level they recommend for drinking or cooking with. They said they had no real concerns but, as most people do anyway, if you are using the tap water for anything other then washing etc then it should be filtered or you should use bottled water. Galasa are working on getting the quality back to the acceptable level as soon as they can and a meeting of Mayors is taking place today to apply pressure for this to be sorted asap. Will try and get more in depth info next Monday.

The problem with the WiFi across the area is due to the telephone company changes. We recently changed our telephony from Telefonica to Vodaphone and there has been a hiccup in the routers which needed to be replaced due to this change. That is what the man is doing in the TH with Candido now. So hopefully the system will  be back running again soon.

The sewerage problem  at Cuesta de los Pinos is awaiting a survey by Galasa to see how much repair work can be carried out by its pipe drilling machine. I again stressed the importance of getting it sorted.

I then asked about the court cases which should have been heard 2nd,3rd and 4th June and the other one today. Candido said it was the continuing usual craziness as they had now been adjourned one to a date to be fixed and the other to be lumped in with Operation Costurero. It just gets dafter.