Pedro Fernández returned as mayor after a vote of no confidence in November 2012. :: A. Peláez
The Mayor of Colmenar believes that political life in the town has got back to normal since a vote of no confidence brought him back as mayor
Pedro Fernández Palomo, who is a lawyer by profession, became Mayor of Colmenar for the first time in 1999. Although in the most recent elections he was the candidate with the most votes, he failed to gain an absolute majority and this stopped him from becoming mayor: the PP (Partido Popular), IU (Izquierda Unida) and CA (Convergencia Andaluza) formed a coalition, bringing about a change of direction in local politics. However, the rupture in this tripartite government left the PP mayor with the support of only two out of eleven councillors and that opened the door to the socialist councillor reclaiming his position as mayor, thanks to a successful vote of no confidence in November 2012 with the support of CA.
–What has changed at Colmenar Town Hall a year after the censure motion that enabled you to return as mayor?
–Above all, what we have achieved is that the town has returned to normality. Since the last election we have been in an abnormal situation with the tripartite government, its breakup and almost a year of government by a PP mayor who only had the support of two out of eleven councillors, but the situation is back to normal now. The censure motion brought stability to the council, and that has had a positive effect on local people.
–How has this year been, with you as mayor?
–Positive. The situation is difficult for all town halls, but we have done what we could, trying to ensure that local people continue to have the best services. There have been cutbacks on many things, but we have tried to maintain the services. That was our objective, and we have also carried out a large number of projects.
–Which were the most important?
–First, we have reduced the IBI tax, which was one of the most important promises we had made. For 2014 the base rate has gone down from 0.64 to 0.58. New valuation criteria had been drawn up and that resulted in a large increase in the bills so, by reducing the rate, what we tried to do was to counteract that rise. We have also given initial approval to the new urban plan (PGOU), which was another of our priorities and which we believe is fundamental for the future of the municipality. We are building the sewage plant, which was an infrastructure the village really needed, and we believe that will be finished by April. We have also just finished the crematorium and we have carried out improvements in many of the local streets. And another important thing is that we have approved the regulations to try to legalise properties which were built illegally in the countryside, among other things.
–It seems you have done a lot during the past year, despite having to make cutbacks.
–We have tried, despite the lack of resources and the fact that we are in a very serious economic crisis, to do everything we possibly could, but above all to be there for local people and try to help them resolve their everyday problems, of which there are many.
–What projects are you planning for the rest of this term of office?
–One important project that we have within the Sustainable Tourism Initiative is to create a recreation area in the village, and to continue improving the village streets. We also want to carry out fairly major repairs to the agricultural lanes and tracks, build new changing rooms for the football ground and finish the indoor sports pavilion. A lot of projects are needed and despite the situation we will do our best to carry them out.
–Your predecessor as mayor alleged that some grants had not been used for the purposes for which they had been intended. What is happening about that?
–That allegation was made by the previous mayor, Antonio Jesús Fernández, of the PP, when he knew that we were going to put forward a censure motion to guarantee the governing of the Town Hall. I was called for questioning about the matter and the judge shelved the case. There was an appeal but it was shelved again because the judge realised that no offence had taken place. After that, the Prosecution appealed to the regional court, which has accepted the case so it will be heard again. What I can say is that I am not concerned, because the accounts are perfectly clear and we have provided all the documentation that we have about this at the town hall because we have nothing to hide. I believe this is just an allegation for political motives and that has already been made clear on the two occasions that the case has been shelved by the court.
–What is the biggest problem here in Colmenar?
–As in many other places, it is unemployment and above all youth unemployment. What we are trying to do is support the industrial sector. Despite the crisis, there are three industrial estates in Colmenar with small and medium businesses which are maintaining jobs. In the new urban plan we have classified a substantial amount of land for industrial use.
–What are the advantages of Colmenar for companies?
–Its strategic location, especially for logistics companies. We have to take advantage of our good location and good roads. We are 20 minutes from Vélez, Malaga and Antequera and our industrial estates are very attractive. If the situation starts to improve and the businesses have financing, this will be very important for the local economy.
–Colmenar is famous for its pork products. Is there a future for the sector?
–It was the first to set up in the municipality and not only is it continuing but it is even growing, in terms of workers and market share. I’m convinced that it will continue to strengthen in the future.