Local Costa mayors kick off their new terms in office with no sign of the usual raft of megaprojects

Estepona's new hospital, pictured during construction, is still not open for patients.
Estepona's new hospital, pictured during construction, is still not open for patients. / CHARO MÁRQUEZ
  • Expansive sports complexes, extravagant auditoriums and new hospitals have fallen off Costa town halls' budget plans for the time being as they focus on patching up what they have

Patching up roads, renovations, a quick lick of paint, with grandiose plans on hold for the long term. That's how the mayors of the bigger councils on the Costa have started off their new terms in office following the local elections at the end of May.

They've left behind their campaign promises of mega initiatives, most of which were unachievable and with sky-high costs.

Central government spending restraints on local councils, the financial crisis and a change in attitude by local voters, who don't expect as much as they used to, seem to be behind this dampening of expectations.

The huge sports complexes, Olympic-sized swimming pools and plush auditoriums are no longer even on the drawing board in many town halls in Malaga province, as they aren't considered a priority.

Malaga city

In Malaga city, the lion's share of the promised investment for the coming years is in the mayor's plan for a road tunnel to hide traffic from west to east along the shoreline of the city and the port.

Extension plans to the city's metro and a third general hospital planned for the city need local council support but won't be funded by the city hall. For good reason, spare cash in the dying days of the last term in office, ahead of the local election, went on sustainable projects tidying up parts of local neighbourhoods which would be seen by the voters.

Mijas and Fuengirola

The bigger municipalities on the Costa del Sol have seen the same pattern. In Mijas, a "great park", (the largest in the province we were told), was planned in the last council term of office, from 2015 to 2019. With a budget of almost 10 million euros, it never saw the light of day and doesn't currently form part of any political manifesto in the town.

In Fuengirola, the opposition criticised the mayor, Ana Mula, for spending all her time mending the streets; although this didn't go unoticed by voters who returned her with another thumping majority. There's a plan out there to improve the port area, but so far it seems to be going the same way as before the election.

Benalmádena and Estepona

In Benalmádena, the mayor himself, Víctor Navas, admits that what is needed more than megaprojects are "repairs and renovations". In his case, this policy was also rewarded at the ballot box.

One of the biggest building projects undertaken in the last four years and paid for by the local council was in Estepona. Building the town's new hospital -it is finished but not yet operational- saw the council paying out 15 million euros that mayor, José María García Urbano, decided to invest, even though building a hospital isn't the responsibility of the council.

Although he has now shown interest in building a private university in the town, so far he hasn't made a move on the subject.

Marbella and Torre del Mar

The second biggest town in the province, Marbella, has announced a new competition-level swimming pool costing eight million euros. A significant amount of money but a long way off the cost of a major sports complex.

In Torre del Mar, part of Vélez-Málaga municipality, there has been a plan around for a while to build an eight-million-euro auditorium with 550 seats. But not even the contract tender process for the plan has begun.

In Alhaurín de la Torre, the promised theatre has disappeared from the political agenda, while in Cártama, in the Guadalhorce valley, their star project, an aquatics centre, is nearing completion and another similar-sized investment isn't expected for a long time.