PABA to the people

LAST UPDATED: 27 May, 2007 @ 17:32
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Sick of the cancerous spread of “costification” in Antequera, a new people’s party will restrict luxury developments in favour of buses and health centres

A NEW grass roots political party has been set up to combat rapid urban growth around Antequera in the south of Spain.

Aiming to return “power to the people,” it will cut investments in luxury housing projects in favour of funding improvements to deprived neighbourhoods around the city.
Comprising two dozen outlying towns and suburbs, the party PABA intends to put an immediate freeze on any new golf course and other luxury urbanisation schemes.

Angry at the increasing numbers of “glamour” projects being tabled for the area, it wants to see a return of investment in infrastructure, bus services and health centres.

Destruction

Claiming the mayor of Antequera, Ricardo Millan, has consistently lied over many issues, PABA says the party has the support of 15 local residents associations in the city.

Expected to be a major force in next month’s elections, it is demanding an immediate moratorium on plans for eight new golf courses and the predicted doubling of the city in the next few decades.

The party, which launched in November, would also halt current works at Antequera Golf development until the exact legal situation is established.
“We do not believe they have the correct permission sorted out yet,” said a spokeswoman. “We want to stop the work continuing before they carve up the whole mountain.”

On top of this, it will question the exact necessity of an airport for the region when Antequera has two others – Granada and Málaga – within a 45-minutes drive.

Standing for the suburbs and neighbouring towns of Antequera, each of PABAs 20 candidates for the elections each come from local residents associations.

Carve up

Led by chemistry graduate Antonio Galvez, who comes from Bobadilla, it counts on its list of candidates Englishwoman Janet Shepherdson.

She told the Olive Press: “We want to give power to the people and put health centres and buses over golf courses and luxury chalets.”

The English teacher, 45, from Maidenhead, Berkshire, continued: “We are sick of Antequera selling out to the Costa del Sol crowd and ruining our local environment.

“We are worried about the vega being carved up. We think the history of the area and its environment is being ignored in favour of big money schemes.

“These big glamour projects with luxury homes, five star hotels and swimming pools only go to serve a few favoured developers and constructors.

“In the meantime, towns like Cartaojal and Bobadilla are falling apart with a terrible bus service, lousy roads and no healthcare.”

Having moved to Spain six years ago to live with her partner Spaniard Antonio Montenegro, she has seen a dramatic decline in the quality of life of her village of Bobadilla.
“In Bobadilla we only have three buses a day to Antequera and if we want to get to the hospital, it takes about an hour with at least one change.

“The other day when a friend of mine broke his hip there were not even enough beds in the hospital and he had to lie on a trolley in the corridor. What is going to happen when the population doubles in the next ten years?”

No investment

The party was set up after its leader Galvez – the owner of a chain of chemists in Seville and Cordoba – returned to discover his old village of Bobadilla in a worse state than 20 years ago, despite the huge advances Spain has seen in that time.

“He saw that the place, as well as many other outlying towns, had been totally abandoned while Antequera city has had a lot of investment,” explained Shepherdson.

Predicting that the situation was getting worse, he helped set up a residents association for Bobadilla Estacion in November 2005.

Dozens of letters were sent to the town hall requesting better ambulance and police services, as well as the repair of dangerous roads and an extension of its medical centre opening hours to cover weekends and afternoons. But they received not one single reply.

“We discovered it was the same throughout the whole area,” said Shepherdson. “Nobody was being listened to and nothing was being done.”

“Even when we went along to official town hall meetings – plenos – we were not allowed to ask questions. In other words, the town hall could do whatever it wanted, they were in power, they could dictate.”

This led to a series of demonstrations, such as the one to oppose the planned closure of Bobadilla station, covered by the Olive Press, and finally the setting up of the new political party.

“When we finally spoke to Millan a few months ago about our demands he said he did not care what we did it would not make any difference to him,” she said.

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