The new team in charge at Marbella town hall, made up of the Partido Popular and San Pedro party Opción Sanpedreña, have just 20 months before the town's residents go to vote once more and pass judgement on returning mayor Ángeles Muñoz.
Her team has a lot to address before then, namely issues surrounding the town’s PGOU urban planning document and construction licences, formulating a working relationship and devolution of power to San Pedro, and keeping the Starlite Festival, a big moneymaker and source of employment in the town.
The incoming team inherits a plan to draw up a new PGOU after the plan from 2010 was ripped up. Construction companies and developers have wasted no time in stressing that this remains a priority for the construction sector as demand continues to grow in the area. “They say that it will be ready in six months but I think that with the team that they have, it could be ready in three,” said lawyer Alejandro Criado.
What’s more, a number of consultants and business owners approached by SUR described the situation surrounding works licences to be “serious” with “damaging” delays, often of several years, holding up projects when, they believe, the town hall’s Urban Planning department could speed up the process in some cases.
The San Pedro question
A key to the stability of this administration is how it handles devolving power to San Pedro - a cornerstone of the agreement to return Muñoz to power.
Eighteen million euros has already been assigned in the 2018 budget and Muñoz said that “common sense” would prevail.
Defining the process will be the stumbling block and it will have to be handled carefully in order to avoid stirring up conflict between the districts.
Another issue inherited by the new local government in Marbella is to ensure that the Starlite summer concert festival continues to take place in the town. This summer, organisers had threatened to take the 45-night event elsewhere next year after clashes with the former local government run by ex-mayor José Bernal over opening hours.
The town hall announced on Sunday that its aim is to get the event declared a festival “of municipal interest”, which “could help” to allow the festival special permission to stay open after two o’clock in the morning.
The proposal now has to be studied by the council officials to see whether the solution would comply with regional legislation.
The local authority was also due to approve a request to be sent to the regional government to ask for the licence to use the Starlite venue, an old quarry in Nagüeles, to be extended for ten years.
The opening hours dispute last month wasn’t about the concert stage, but the bar and after-show area known as the Starlite Lounge.
Organisers said that as the event is a festival, the Starlite Lounge should be allowed blanket permission to close any time up to 6am. Marbella council then said no, that the law says 2am on weekdays, 3am at weekends, with only ad hoc permission to open later until 6am. Failure to give permission every day means the events cannot be planned properly and risks their viability and jobs, said Starlite.
In mid-August Starlite issued a statement in which organisers said they were considering other resorts in Spain and starting legal action for what they call “obstructive and illegal behaviour”. They say jobs were being put at risk.
Then mayor José Bernal said he was bemused by the fuss, explaining the problem is with the after-concert club lounge.
As she promised upon being sworn in, Ángeles Muñoz will prioritise public services, especially cleaning services throughout the town.
In response to residents’ complaints over refuse collection and street cleaning, Muñoz, alongside councillor Diego López, announced that budget changes were to be made to allow for the town hall to rent more machinery and vehicles that will enable more frequent and more efficient services.
Workers were out in force this week as the council put its new cleaning plan into action.