By Bill Anderson
ON July 5, 2019, I became the first foreigner to hold the post of Town Councillor in Mijas. I wasn’t sure what to expect as an opposition councillor, as I had no experience in government.
I have a contract (of sorts) but it didn’t come with a job description, other than I have to work 18 hours a week. Done!
So what do I do? Basically, whatever I want to. But, I’ll come back to that.
I decided to write a memoir to record the work I was doing; the title of the said Opus Magnus being the title of this column. It is less a record of what I do, than it is a reflection on what life in the back end of local politics is.
Seeing as my third novel has been on hold since I entered the political arena, perhaps this will get published first. Or maybe not, in order to protect the guilty.
I don’t see myself as employed by the council so much as the residents whose taxes essentially pay for my salary. What I set out to do was to be accessible to Mijas residents, and to see what I could do for them or how I could reasonably advise them. This was done with a series of surgeries around the municipality. They were busy, but COVID-19 put paid to that.
So, by March 2020, I was under house arrest like everyone else. I start doing videos to explain the conditions set by the Official Bulletins, and BANG! Some of the videos are reaching over 40,000 people. So much for 18 hours a week.
Then, I find out that I am answering queries from residents in Almeria, Costa Tropical, Costa del Sol, and all the way to Cadiz’s Costa de la Luz, and also many inland municipalities. Even some from Catalunya.
What do I deduce from this? That although councils have a designated councillor for foreigners, they are clearly not making themselves known or being accessible to residents, nor are they providing them with what they need. I think there are lessons to be learned here for Foreign Residents’ Councillors regardless of what party they represent. I know that foreigners’ departments do a great job helping with administrative matters, but here I am referring to the elected members and their direct accountability to the people.
Please don’t think that I am holding myself up as a shining example of how to work with foreign residents. This all happened by accident, and I was making it up as I went along, but the driver has very much been the people and their needs.
I want to add just an epilogue to this. I work for the people, but I am still a private individual, and I was disappointed to see how easily people got offended by my last article, which was merely thought provoking.
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, states that: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression”. Please bear that in mind in future before you start calling me irresponsible, and a disgrace as a public figure!!