IN the recent local elections there has been a major change in the structure of the council of El Ejido.
In 2007 PAL (a local Almerían breakaway party from the PP) had an overall majority. They had 15 councillors, PSOE had 6 and the PP had 4.
In 2011 the result was very different. The PP now has an overall majority with 13 councillors with both PAL and the PSOE dropping to 4 councillors each. The other 4 positions for councillors were split between the UPyD and IULV, 2 a piece.
During the period from 2007 to 2011 there was an alleged local corruption scandal in El Ejido involving 150 million euros. The then mayor, Juan Enciso, who is the leader of the PAL party spent a number of months in jail for his possible involvement in the scandal.
As yet the case has not come to trial so it is not clear whether Juan Enciso is guilty or not.
One thing I was surprised at was that when Juan Enciso was released on bail he went back to work as mayor of El Ejido. In the UK you would have expected that he would have been sent on gardening leave.
What surprised me even more was that he led the PAL campaign in the recent local elections. In the lead up to the elections there was a suggestion that perhaps he may retain his position. In the end this was not the case but he is still a member of the local council in El Ejido. We will have to wait and see what happens when the case comes to trial.
It is early days for the PP leadership of the council in El Ejido. However in the lead up to the elections the local party leader and new mayor of El Ejido, Paco Góngora, talked a good game.
He came down to hold meetings in Almerimar twice, once specifically with foreign residents in the town. Here is a letter he provided in English to people who attended the meeting:
“Partido Popular de El Ejido
Almerimar, 23 de marzo de 2011
Good evening ladies and gentlemen,
I am here to put myself and my team forward for the service of the community of Almerimar. We share some problems but I am here to hear from your selves about your concerns and needs.
Our aim is to make Almerimar’s tourist future stronger and brighter. We plan to promote new infrastructures which will return Almerimar to the place we feel it deserves to be. This includes fiscal advantages for companies that bring both work and people here. We will dedicate ourselves to better conservation of the roads and pathways, general cleanliness, gardening and safety. We want to carry out an effective fight against the mosquitoes. We would also like to create a tourist information office bringing certain services to Almerimar such as the post office. We need a centre of interpretation and visitors reception in Almerimar. We are also going to promote Almerimar with its sports port and golf course across a web page in several languages.
We are going to promote the creation of a tourist observatory as a tool to make decisions that serve the citizens, local businesses and public organizations.
Francisco Góngora “
At that meeting he listened to concerns of the foreign residents and made a number of promises for what would happen if he were to become mayor. These included:
“- Promote and exploit the name “ALMERIMAR” as a tourist destination
– Appeal to the relative administrations to improve communications to Almerimar either by air or road ie finish the motorway between Almeria and Malaga
– Promote and exploit the “Nature Reserve: Punta Entinas”
– Improve tourist information using the “internet” and having a tourist office in Almerimar all year round.
– Encourage the necessary entity to create a centre, to give information to the visitors coming to the Nature Reserve.
– Improve the accessability, services and quality of our beaches in Almerimar.
– Resolve the problem of the flies and mosquitos.
– Make known the cultural, historical and archeological wealth of the area and publicise the festivals of theatre, music and the gastronomy, local customs and restaurants in the area.
– Promote sporting activities on the beaches.
– Develop activities associated more with the environment ie pathways for walking, and those for cycling, tourist routes to be seen on horseback.
– Encourage the installation of a private nautical club, where among other activities, a sailing school could be founded.
– Encourage the creation of sporting centres for schools of golf, horse riding, canoeing, deep sea diving and other aquatic activities.
– Encourage the setting up again of a camp/caravan site in Almerimar or Guardias Viejas.
– Negotiate and renovate the old police barracks at Guardias Viejas (near the castle) to be used as a tourist center for all kinds of activities.
– Support and encourage “street markets” especially during the spring and summer months.
– Popularize and support the art of” Flamenco” Recognised by UNESCO…and to give life and cheerfulness to our much appreciated sunny coast line.
– To have an area especially for young people, where they can gather and enjoy themselves.
– Incentives to make people support restaurants , hotels and incentives to have the beach bars (Chiringuitos) open and functioning all year round
– A local branch of the El Ejido Town Hall in Almerimar for people, to communicate on a personal basis, their problems and needs and those of the community of Almerimar to the representatives, who are running the local council.”
I, for one, will be reminding him one way or another if he starts to renege on these promises.