Jiménez was the village postman before becoming mayor. :: E. C.
Location. La Viñuela is 150 metres above sea level, beside the reservoir of the same name. It is 15 kilometres from Vélez-Málaga and 47 kilometres from Malaga city. It is one of the 31 villages in La Axarquía.
Population. 2,073 inhabitants on 1st January 2013, according to the National Institute of Statistics.
Council. There are nine councillors, of whom five are from PSOE, two from Partido Andalucista and two from the PP. Juan José Jiménez replaced Juan Millán as mayor in February 2011, after he was sentenced to 27 months in jail for town planning offences.
Juan José Jiménez Mayor of La Viñuela
The mayor believes that now, with Susana Díaz as president of the Junta, the village’s Urban Plan, which has been pending since 2006, can finally be approved
Juan José Jiménez (PSOE) has been mayor of La Viñuela since 2011, when he replaced Juan Millán; his predecessor had to step down after being sentenced to 27 months in prison for granting licences for houses on land which was not zoned for construction. The present mayor won the elections in May 2011 “by just one vote, which was mine”, he jokes. “I’m convinced that without that vote, the PA and the PP would have formed a pact and I wouldn’t be here,” he says.
–How long have you been active in politics?
– I have been a councillor for the PSOE in La Viñuela since 1991. I have always been responsible for the Education, Culture, Finance and Sports departments, but during all these years I have also worked for the post office. I am the village postman. When I had to take over at the Town Hall, three years ago, I applied for official leave from my job.
–What projects have you carried out in these years?
–All the streets have been resurfaced and we have stopped waste water from Los Romanes area being discharged into the lake. We have created an information centre and visitor centre beside the hotel. Right now, we are finishing the work on a farm school, in which we have invested 800,000 euros. We are going to contract its management to a company and it will be a new attraction for the area.
–What projects are pending?
–The principal one is to normalise the town planning situation in the village, especially the houses and developments built in the countryside. We have been trying since 2006 to get the first Urban Plan approved, but it hasn’t been possible. We hope that now, with the new president of the Junta de Andalucía, Susana Díaz, it will be possible to do that once and for all. Last year it gained initial approval. The Junta has to make the Urban Plans easier; if there is no construction the small villages die; the people move away. You have to be realistic and grab the bull by the horns. Without an Urban Plan, the only thing that can happen is that situations like those we have seen until now will be repeated, with mayors going to jail, fines and demolition orders being issued all over La Axarquía and in other areas. We are also waiting for the Junta to build a sewage plant, which would also serve Alcaucín. And we want to extend the irrigation area, so we are trying to get the Ministry to modify the rules about using the water from the reservoir. Until now, it could only be taken from below one area, but it would be a very positive thing to be able to irrigate all the land that surrounds it.
–How do people in the village make a living?
–From agriculture and tourism. Hotel La Viñuela, which is owned by the council and run through a concession, generates a lot of work, as do the many restaurants, rental properties and the campsite. There is still quite a lot of unemployment, because most people used to work in construction. It cannot be that ten years after the Ley de Ordenacion Urbanística de Andalucía came into force, councils don’t know what they can authorise and what can’t be built in the countryside.
–Your predecessor had to step down in 2011 after being sentenced for granting licences for houses in the countryside. What do you think about what happened to Juan Millán?
–I think what happened to Juan Millán is totally unfair. He has been the only mayor in Spain to go to prison and serve an entire sentence for a town planning offence. He didn’t steal or misuse public funds, as others have done; all he did was try to do what was best for his village and its people. I don’t understand why these questions have not been dealt with through an administrative process. I don’t believe there should be an amnesty for all the houses, as their owners are asking, because that would be a failure to comply with the law, but they have to be given a rapid solution to this problem.
–Do you know whether you will stand again for mayor in 2015?
–Yes, at the moment I am planning to stand again as a candidate.