Location. The village is in La Axarquía region. It is 50 kilometres from Malaga city.
Population. 1,300 inhabitants. The main problem in this municipality is unemployment, because many people are moving elsewhere in search of work.
Tourist attractions of Alfarnate. The ‘Cherry Festival’, which takes place in June and the festival in honour of the Virgen de Monsalud in September, which also includes the Moors and Christians festival (also known as Embajada).
The Town Hall. There are nine councillors of whom six are from PSOE, two from IU and one from the PP.
The new mayor says he will not decide whether to stand again as the PSOE candidate until he sees how people respond to the work he carries out
Salvador Urdiales was chosen as mayor of Alfarnate on December 7th last year after his colleague in the party, José María Ruiz Lizana, gave up the post for personal reasons. Little more than a month after taking office, he admits that he never thought that he would be mayor one day and that he will decide whether or not to head the PSOE list of candidates in the next council elections when he sees the results of his work at the Town Hall and how he is accepted by local people. As a new mayor, he says that his main concern is unemployment, which is resulting in young people leaving the village, and he is calling on the authorities not to forget about small municipalities.
–You’re not new to the Town Hall, you’re only new as the mayor.
– That’s right. I have been on the council since 2003. In that first term of office I was an opposition councillor, and then I became a member of the governing team. I was the delegate for Agriculture and the Environment until I was elected as mayor on December 7th.
–Has your life changed much since becoming mayor?
–A little, because I’m accustomed to always being in the countryside - I am an agricultural engineer and business owner - but now I have to go to the Town Hall every day, whether I want to or not.
–Does it take up much of your time?
–I thought it would be less, but yes, it does. It needs a lot of time. If I’m not signing documents, I have to go to Malaga or somewhere else to seek assistance for the village, or there are meetings to attend.
–Did you ever think you might become mayor one day?
– Not at all. And I admit that even the thought of it made me panic.
–Why is that?
– Because I have never wanted to be on the front line of politics. Now, however, things are different. I have come to terms with the idea and I admit that it pleases me to see positive results beginning to show from the things I have done. I like being able to do things for the village.
–How do you see the Town Hall, as its mayor?
–It’s good. There are no major debts and there are projects. We have enough to go ahead with things, we are not too squeezed financially.
–Do you intend to stand as candidate for mayor at the next municipal elections?
–I want to see how things go in the village and how I do in the remaining year and a half of this term of office. At the moment people seem to be very happy. At least, that is what they tell me and I believe most of them are being truthful. At the moment I feel fine and up to the task.
–What projects do you want to carry out during the remainder of this term of office?
–We want to finish the ones that have started, namely two streets in which we are changing the infrastructure and replacing the pipes. Then there will be another street to do, and other small things like building niches in the cemetery, replacing a part at the sewage plant to stop it breaking down, repairing the roof of the Town Hall and the cover of the sports centre, and some small roads.
–What worries you most?
–Unemployment, because although a lot of people have work collecting olives, the reality is that this is only short term because there are not that many olive groves in the municipality. People go to work in other places, but once the olive harvest is over there is nothing else. We now have an employment workshop, but only 10 people at a time can take part in that.
–What steps will you take to ease this situation?
–I want to encourage people to grow more profitable things, like cherries, custard apples, truffles and even saffron, and for there to be organic farms and snail farms. The problem is that it needs money and may not do well. Any new cultivation needs several years to grow, and I understand that people don’t want to risk the little they have on something if they do not know whether it will work out. But anyway, I am convinced that we have to concentrate on more profitable crops to generate wealth.
–Do you think your municipality has a future?
–I believe that we have a fantastic location. We are a stone’s throw from Granada and the Costa del Sol. Here, in the summer, it is not hot. Even in August we have to sleep under a sheet, and that is unthinkable in other places. I am convinced that we have huge potential for tourism and we have to develop that.
–What do you want from the public administrations?
–I want them to do more for the small villages because otherwise we will end up with no population. More and more people are finding it impossible to go on, and are having to leave to look for work elsewhere. The public administrations must not be allowed to forget about small villages.