"We want British residents to be more integrated in the municipality"

González was PSOE deputy mayor for part of the last term of office.
González was PSOE deputy mayor for part of the last term of office. / I.G.
  • After his surprise appointment as the new mayor of Mijas, Josele González says there should be a rethink on the exclusivity of many new housing developments

Josele González is the first born-and-bred Mijas boy to be mayor of the municipality in modern times. Born in 1982, he has worked as a lifeguard, administrator and taxi driver.

He's now getting used to being head of the sprawling municipality that has the third largest population on the Costa, and with a high percentage of foreign residents, especially British.

In his first interview with SUR, he tells us about his plans for the municipality.

Were you expecting it?

No, no way. I know that there are people who think these things are cooked up beforehand. But the truth is that all came about in the 20 minutes right before the council meeting. It was a bittersweet moment as I'd told my parents not to come and watch Nozal becoming mayor.

There's a more logical pecking order with this result. Who governs will be who got better results. Do you get the feeling that this will make the pact with Cs more stable?

What's important here is that the pact is going to work better because we've both learned from our mistakes [in a previous coalition with Cs for part of the previous legislature].

We have to try to make the agreement work for the four years to bring stability. That's what the public want for sure.

What do you want to do in your first 100 days?

An action plan on street cleansing.

Are you thinking of bringing the service under municipal control?

The first thing is to solve the dispute with the company and the workers. You know what, when people congratulated me on the result in the chamber, the only thing they said was to please clean the streets. There's a view that the municipality isn't clean and in a tourist town that can't be allowed to happen.

What would you like Mijas to look like in four years time?

In terms of tourism, we don't want any more hotels to close. We've got to create a local model where there's enough hotel beds. At the moment there's a shortage. Moreover, we've got to put the brakes on huge growth in new housing developments.

You think it's a lot?

Totally. All we're doing is encouraging people to reside in Mijas without putting down real roots. Many spend eight months of the year here, perhaps not even joining the 'padrón' register. They pay taxes, but they aren't linked to our traditions and way of understanding our municipality. We need a sustainable model with more neighbourhoods where everyday people have more housing options to buy or rent.

Do you think more can be done to help inform the British about Brexit?

There is already a full-time staffed foreign residents department in La Cala de Mijas. In the previous term, successful efforts were made to present to Britons on Brexit and also encourage Britons to join the 'padrón' municipal census. Perhaps the real need is to work in achieving the true integration of the British community in Mijas. Some, not all, stay mostly in their houses and go out to eat at English friends' restaurants. We have to help and encourage them to live and breathe our municipality more.