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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Help Desk Press Release

The Help Desk at Zurgena Town Hall  assists in over 500 queries in first quarter

The main areas of assistance related to health care, utility bills and the urban General Plan.

The community service to British citizens of Zurgena has dealt with more than 500 queries (520 in total) from the month of June until last September. This service referred to as the 'Help Desk', is a service offered by the city of Zurgena to English speakers to help the citizens of the municipality with different administrative procedures to the same level as that of the indigenous residents.
Most of the attention and help given related to consultations about health issues and treatments and other issues about the social care. Additionally many enquiries related to municipal matters and formalities of residence registration, real estate tax and the obtaining of the CIF, as well as claims and advice on basic services, invoices regarding electricity and water as well as claims and incidents on public transport and the municipality. Specific information where appropriate regarding the General Plan of urban management (PGOU).
Another type of consultation that has been dealt with by the 'Help Desk' in the last four months are the requests for information on opening a new business.
The Help Desk has assisted many people by providing a one-stop translation service to solve different formalities.
“The Help Desk in English is essential for many of our neighbors that, due to the complexity of many procedures or to the urgency of many situations, is a very valuable service to assist any citizen in this service," said Help Desk provider José Manuel Gómez.
The Help Desk has also been commissioned to promote classes in Spanish for citizens of British origin. A score of neighbours currently use this service that allows them to receive one free hour a week of lessons in Spanish, in order to further encourage their integration into the local community.
The Mayor of Zurgena, Luis Díaz, believes that "for us it is a priority that all our citizens receive the same service and with the same quality, including those neighbors who willingly chose years ago our town to live". The Mayor explains that in addition to"provide a great service to hundreds of people each month, the Help Desk helps us meet our neighbors and find out what their concerns, priorities and suggestions to build a better Zurgena, day after day betting on the integration of all of its neighbours”.
Councillor for the english speaking community Jim Simpson added, ¨the addition of Jose Manuel to the staff in the Town Hall has greatly improved our ability to help our 
community with a broad range of issues and to be more proactive in our future planning.¨

The picture shows from left tom right Jose Manuel Gomez, Jim Simpson, Maria Dolores Garcia (Teniente Alcalde) and Luis Diaz Garcia (Alcalde)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

New Bus Service

You may remember about 5 years ago I conducted a survey about what people wanted in the way of provision of local services. well one of the suggestions was for a bus to service all the outlying areas. Well we have at last made a provision for this.

Zurgena Town Hall are to trial for a few weeks a new bus service to provide transport from the outlying villages of the municipality to the markets of Zurgena (Fridays) and Huercal Overa (Mondays). This should be a great help to people.

This service will operate under a subsidy from the Town Hall to test the demand for such a service.

It was thought that some of our citizens were restricted, through lack of transport options, from getting out and about and visiting the markets. This service will provide them that option. 

It was also thought that not only people with lack of transport options but possibly those who see it as a social occasion may wish to make use of it and we hope that as many people as possible use the service and thereby ensure it remains as a regular service for all those in the outlying villages.

The service will be provided by Piki Autobuses of Zurgena and the provision of the service will be reviewed after one full month of operation. It will be a case of use it or lose it.

The attached document shows the pick up/drop off locations and the tariffs for the service. The service will commence on Friday 6th November for Zurgena market and Monday 9th November for Huercal Overa market.

If the service proves popular or provides a service which many of our citizens use we will look to extend the service to other days of the weeks and possibly other locations.

Disgusting Rubbish

On a recent walk I took this picture of a large amount of rubbish dumped in the rambla which runs parallel to the east of the road between La Vida and Los Llanos del Peral. If you recognise any of this rubbish or have any idea who may have dumped it please let us know.

From examination of the rubbish its looks as if it probably belonged to a British person who had a dog or dogs and a child or children.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Million Steps & Frantic Action

In order for us to address the issues raised by the regional authorities regarding our PGOU we are frantically trying to get a lot of work done so that it can be resubmitted before the end of this month. In order to do that we have to complete certain processes and official steps. So it looks like we will be  having Plenos and meetings early this week with a submission by Friday of this week. As of course the month ends on Sunday and Monday is a holiday and any delay into next month could delay action by a lot more than 1 month. Our technical architects have been amazing in their input.

My supportive wife and I went out to sample a walk of over 10kms this afternoon. I had just remembered this morning that we had not organised the million step walk that the authorities in Spain are encouraging Town Halls to organise I spoke with Lola and she aid we just needed to work out a route and then set a date. So my (supportive) wife and I went out to sample a walk of over 10kms this afternoon. So now we have a route, almost 12kms, and we will set a date and time soon and publicise it.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Wheelchair access and Pleno

We held a short Plenary session last night. This was to agree to take responsibility for sufficient supply of water to all the houses until the year 2027. The reason we had to do this was because the PGOU had included reference to the fact that the water supply was guaranteed by Galasa but that they are a private company and could (in actuality) cease to trade leaving the area without sufficient water. So from a technical point of view we had to take over that responsibility. One more hurdle cleared.

We had hoped to be able to put on a big bonfire night event but due to logistics our plans have been scuppered for this year may try again next year.

I am conducting a review of the accessibility of our streets for wheelchairs and prams. It does appear as if we fall some way short of this provision. I will submit a report to see if we can address this problem. I have already met with one wheelchair user. If you know of anyone who wishes to have some input then please put them in touch.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Enjoyable Day

Today was one of the more enjoyable days in the Town Hall.

First we were able to watch the children take part in a  Road Safety awareness course which we had organised for them with the local schools. Over 50 kids took part.

Then on behalf of the poorer families in our community we received over 15 bags full of groceries from the Church of Los Llanos Del Peral.
Then we managed to progress the idea of starting a Monday market day bus service to provide the opportunity for people from all our villages to go to the market at Huercal Overa. This service which we hope to start in a  couple of weeks will cost about 3 or 4 euros and will collect from every village area. This should be of benefit to many people but we (that is the Town Hall) will underwrite the service for a few weeks to see if it can be viable.

And finally we have a Pleno meeting this evening at 8.0pm with just one item on the agenda and that is regarding the Town Hall taking the administrative responsibility for the water supply until 2028. This is an important step for our PGOU.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Postal Boxes opposite La Vida

I have now received 3 requests from people who would like a post box in the bank opposite La Vida. This number is uneconomic to buy and install another bank of boxes but I am aware that number of people have left the area who did own boxes but whose need for them has surely passed.

If you have the keys to a postal box in this location which you have no further need for please let me know. I am sure those waiting would be willing to pay you €30 for your key.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Extension to the New Motorway

As some of you may have noticed it looks like the completion of the motorway from Cucador to Ballabona is now being worked on. I had hoped to be able to give you a time frame but, I have failed to get a commitment on that. I have however reproduced below a copy of the plan for the next section, for your information.
The plan only shows up to our boundary with Concepcion.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Traffic Office etc

It is a very hectic week this week in the Town Hall.

We have also had a number of issues around personnel and in addition to that we have meetings about the PGOU with our technical architect this morning and today and tomorrow we have budget meetings for next years budgets. So my apologies if I have been tardy in my responses.

One thing which I have been asked about is whether the Town Hall can now deal with changes to vehicle ownership and other changes regarding vehicles. The legislation necessary has been agreed and we will in the near future be able to provide this service but it will be between 1 and 3 months to get the necessary systems and processes in place. I will update when I know for sure. This will be a great help over the current system.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Market Bus

We are all in the process of drawing up our budgets for the next financial year. 

One of the ideas which I am considering is the instigation of a twice weekly bus to collect passengers from the villages and a) on a Monday to visit the market at Huercal Overa and b) on a Friday to visit the market in Zurgena.

The idea being to facilitate the access of people to the two markets. This would help anyone who feels lonely or cut off and it could also help integration with the local community who we think would use this service. Or even just as a social thing.

It would pick up from all the main villages after the school run and then return before 2.0pm.

To help me argue for the funds for this it would help if you, or someone you know, who would value such a service, let me know. I just need to get some ideas of numbers.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Fiesta de Virgen del Pilar

Today was the day of the Virgen del Pilar who is the saint of the Guardia Civil and forces own Spain.

A service was held at 1200 hours at the Ermita in La Cinta, Arboleas and thereafter a fiesta at the Cuartel (Station) of the Guardia Civil in La Alfoquia.

Note the kids and the empty paella pan. It is always delicious this one, (the paella not the kids) which is apparently provided by Ballabona.

From left to right Emelia Igea Morata, Manolo, Me, Lola Antas and Jose Manuel

Our Guardia Civil officers and 3 of our Polizia Local outside the Ermita at La Cinta after the service.

Friday, October 9, 2015

More Detail of the last Court Ruling

Below is a google translated version (for which I apologise) of an article printed in Actualised Almanzora today and gives more detail on the recent court ruling. This court has basically ruled in a  way which reflects what Candido has been telling us since day one! 

The recognition of provincial subsidiaries standards as regulations for licensing of works represents a strong backing to the performance of Candido Trabalon and questioned the thirty legal proceedings opened against its urban policy

By ratifying the ruling handed down by the Criminal Court No. 4 of Almeria which acquitted of a crime of trespass to the former Mayor and the rest of your corporation by granting licenses to build five houses in El Cucador, the provincial high instance gives a slam in noses to the stratagem of the Board and the Prosecutor's Office in all the cluster of processes that maintains against who was behind Alderman. The explicit recognition of provincial subsidiaries standards as sufficient legislation to grant licenses for works in the municipality is, moreover, an overwhelming endorsement of the urban action of corporations under the chairmanship of Mocada and questioned the thirty legal proceedings opened against the urban policy of Mocada.

The case was meant to elucidate if the construction of five houses in the neighborhood of El Cucador zurgenera between 2005 and 2006. The trial was held in Almeria Criminal Court No. 4 and concluded, in the first instance, with the acquittal of all the defendants.

Included as defendants, as well as the then-Mayor of the town, Cándido Trabalón, his Deputy Mayor, Manuel Tijeras, the councilmen Emilia Jiménez Pérez, José Antonio Ramos, Juan Morales, Aniceto López and Miguel Marín, as well as the promoter, Jose Torres, and the architects José María Urrea and Francisco Salvador, authors, respectively, of the project and technical based on that report were granted licenses.

The Court issued the acquittal because he understood that soil where the houses were built "had urban character", while the prosecution argued that, pursuant to the law of urban planning of Andalusia, the terrain was "undevelopable".

Why did no. 4 criminal judge to that conclusion? The statement argued that soil was urban based on the provisions of the transitional provision 7 of the law of urban planning of Andalusia, known as LOUA, which establishes that in the municipalities which at the time of the entry into force of the law, on December 17, 2002, "do not have general planning", may be ascribed as those soils that meet at least one of several criteria describing urban including the section 'a' indicates "be part of a core of existing population (...) and have, as a minimum, of the urban services of access rolled through urban, water, sanitation, and low voltage electricity supply."
Based on this and after practice timely test, demonstrated, according to the Court, that "the ground had urban infrastructure paved, electricity, water and sanitation until the accused developer to acquire", and ensures "that the plot is eligible to be considered as urban land" pursuant to "Annex I to the provincial subsidiary rules".

This resulted in the opinion of a judgment of acquittal, which was appealed by the Prosecutor's office before the Provincial Court, whose judges of the section 2 have ratified it. Mocada and yours was granted license correctly.

While the audience repeatedly recognized in its judgment to the LOUA as the law when it comes to classifying soils, adds that "not be ignored the normative ambiguity introduced concerning the subsidiary rules of provincial de Almería, approved by the Ministry of public works and transport of the Junta de Andalucía on 31 August 1987" which contain a list of towns or neighborhoods in Zurgena, among them El Cucador.

But it is more, section the hearing, presided over by Judge Rafael García Laraña, 2nd goes beyond and recalls that "the delegation of the Ministry reiterated later consideration of urban one of those non-core neighborhoods" main - the own village of Zurgena.

The provincial room refers in his argument that "the municipality had legal and technical reports to the licensing" and questioned the conviction of the public prosecutor on appeal the acquittal of Cándido Trabalón and the rest of the defendants when "it desisted from the action" against the technical author of the favourable report which were granted licenses.

Another wake-up call that makes hearing the Prosecutor this related consideration making this about that judgment acquitting Criminal Court No. 4 "lacks legal arguments to argue that the land is urban." Thus, the judgment of the Provincial Court affirms that the argumentation of the Court "is a brief motivation and short development, but the truth is that it expresses (...)" the reasons of fact and law"that lead to the verdict of innocence for the accused.

Cándido Trabalón is welcomed by this new acquittal. P

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Galasa Communication

By now many of you may have received your Galasa bill with an enclosure which even to the Spanish is a little complicated to understand so, to assist, I have discussed it with the councillor for Galasa.
She has informed me that the communication is basically to explain who is responsible for what relative to the pipework connecting an individuals home to the waste point, be that a pozo or a general sewerage system. Galasa are stating, in that communication, that the diagram shows a dotted red line and everything to the left of that line is the householders responsibility and to the right the responsibility of Galasa. However, we do not think they are correct. We believe that Galasa should also be responsible for a larger part of the pipework and our councillor will table it for the next meeting she has with Galasa.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Food Banks and Library

A couple of things to bring to your attention, if you are interested,

Firstly Pam Tilley has done a great job at the library over the past few weeks. She has single handedly documented all the english books and got them registered. The usual librarian Anthonia has been off sick and that left Pam in at the deep end but she has managed very well. There are now 100s  of english books available in the library which, if you do not know where it is, is where the Spanish lessons used to be held in Zurgena. If you go to the old square and take the road which runs up from the right hand side with the bar on your left, the door to the library is the one on the left of the bar entrance. It is up 2 flights of stairs but there is a disabled lift if needed.

Secondly the ladies from the church at Los Llanos are trying to establish a regular collection of items for the poor of the villages and to that end they have deposited collection boxes at CATS, Zurgena Town Hall and Bar Suizo opposite the Cajamar. If you have anything which you wish to donate please place in these boxes and the church will collect and bring to the TH for distribution to the needy.

Lastly does anyone know of Julie Ann JONES. I have a bill for her from the Diputacion which could be her IBI. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Back in the Office

I had a few days away in Galicia last week so just getting things sorted. I had a problem with my computer last week due to an OS upgrade and may have lost some data. If you have sent me an email and I have not responded please send me a reminder.