SHE had moved to Benalmadena as a child in the 1970s from Madrid when her father got a job as the director of Torrequebrada casino.
Now after a career in law, Paloma Garcia Galvez has come full circle to serve her town.
Following a vote of no confidence two years ago, she became the town’s PP mayor and immediately rolled up her sleeves to get to work.
“I really wanted to improve the quality of the town, starting in the centre where we have worked very hard to get people up here,” she tells the Olive Press.
“Before few people knew our charming village centre, even the local Spanish, now slowly it is being put on the map.”
Undoubtedly the case, the so-called ‘pueblo’ feels decidedly different than it did half a decade ago.
There is a new swagger to the place and a different sort of tourist is looking around, enjoying the atmosphere and many good restaurants.
When not playing golf (she plays off a handicap of 24), Paloma likes nothing more than to go off on a weekend around the nearby hills ‘inspecting the footpaths and making sure the signs are all in the right place’.
“We are really trying to encourage this type of tourism, walkers and cyclists,” she explains.
There are currently four specific routes with the one to Mijas being her favourite, although she hopes to try the one to Alhaurin soon.
She is also keen to improve and enhance the so-called green corridor that goes inland from the coast into the Sierra de Mijas and is a keen supporter of organic produce.
The town hall has recently started an organic market once a month near the train station and is supporting local ecological producers.
Above all, she values the town’s large British community, that numbers up to 10,000 by official figures.
As well as speaking good English herself, she has sent both her children to private bilingual schools and spent time in the UK studying herself.
“Having another language opens the mind and gives opportunities,” she explains. “It has certainly helped me.”
She now hopes that the big expat community supports her in her many planned changes for the town.
She also wants to stress the importance of being on the ‘padron’ (or official town register) which is important for local services (see poster, left).
“If you are not on the padron by December you will not be able to vote in next year’s local elections,” she says, adding: “And it is worth signing up as you will get a 55% discount on your local IBI (rates) and water and rubbish collection.”
The fact is that Benalmadena’s economy has taken a nosedive, especially since so many expats have left the town. Friends who live there tell me it has become like a ghost town. So, this is the real reason why the generous 55% discount is being given on IBI bills – to try and get back expats.
14 years here Fred,and friend of the mayoress………you are talking rubbish………again
@pg, Benal pueblo has suffered badly in the recession, anyone who visits can see that, and I have confirmed it myself when visiting on numerous occasions and asking local people and businesses.
Please explain the massive IBI discount being offered – it’s more like a bribe than a discount. It is a large discount, is it not? And
I read the mayoress sends her children to private schools. She has so much in common with the average Spaniard. Not.
Fred its obviously passed you bye but Spain, not just benalmadena,are going,or in a crisis depending who you speak to,at the moment whoever said its a ghost town are pulling your chain………it and the whole c d sol will be back to normal in the not too distant future as the relevance of the mayoress and her kids?… you lost me…..what I will tell you is that even though she is the front for the real power there things for the foreigners are getting better,and better all the time .when live music is finally allowed back more people will not go to benidorm but stay AND SPEND HERE………….sorry for being so positive?………….?…………….?………………………….. xxxxxxx
@pg, I can only tell you what I see and hear from the people that I speak to who live in Benalmadena. Can you shed some light as to why the IBI discount is so large? 55% is a pretty big discount, when many towns are such getting such tiny discounts in 2014/15. Why is that?
Fred you’re not welcome in this country. Please leave.
fred the discount is only for those on the padron????whats your prob with that
Would Fred be welcome in any country, especially UK, where he would have so much more to whinge about ?
I bet any Spanish people that know Two-Faced Fred haven’t got a clue what he goes off and says on the internet about ‘them’ and Spain.
@pg, I just wanted to know if you knew why a 55% discount was being offered, that’s all. You seem a bit defensive about it, I must say.
I am on the padron as well, and always have been, but don’t get a 55% IBI discount. In my opinion, this very large discount is just being used as an enticement to get people to move back to Benalmadena, but that’s just my opinion you understand. Do you have a problem hearing another opinion?
@Derek, you still living with the parents? lol.
Oh please Fred!!!!
Ok pg, thanks for not answering the question.