surinenglish

Costa councils to use funds from Christmas budgets to offset the effects of the pandemic

All the Three Kings parades have  had to be cancelled this  Christmas.
All the Three Kings parades have had to be cancelled this Christmas. / Ñito Salas
  • Local authorities are saving several million euros by cancelling parades and other activities and cutting back on Christmas lights

The Three Kings will still bring gifts to children in Spain in the early hours of 6 January, but for the first time there will be no parades in the 103 municipalities of Malaga province during the evening before. The Covid-19 restrictions mean that these traditional processions can't take place, so the councils are now planning to use the money they would normally have spent on them on measures to alleviate the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic instead.

One of the first town halls to announce this was Marbella, where 700,000 euros which the council would normally have spent on the festive illuminations will now be used to support local businesses, probably in the form of a Christmas decoration competition.

Even so, there will still be some lights: the two main roads through the municipality, Avenida Ricardo Soriano in Marbella and Calle Marqués del Duero in San Pedro Alcántara, will be illuminated at a cost of 100,000 euros.

The coastal resorts have been the first to do an official about-turn in their plans for Christmas, because they realise there will be few tourists this winter.

Fuengirola, Benalmádena, Torremolinos and Mijas intend to use the money they would normally have spent in other ways, either by creating a general fund to be used as needed or for specific purposes.

Fuengirola council has announced a saving of more than 600,000 euros on Christmas events this year. As well as reducing the amount to be spent on lights by 300,000 euros, several of the events which would normally take place, such as the medieval market, Christmas meals and the New Year's Eve party, among others, have been cancelled. Although so far no decision has been made about how this money will be used, it has been set aside for economic support.

In Mijas and Torremolinos, like nearly every other municipality, the Three Kings parade has been cancelled and less money will be spent on Christmas lights this year.

Benalmádena began 2020 with a budget of one million euros, but 500,000 euros of this has been transferred to other departments to offset the effects of the pandemic, such as urgent actions by the Operative Services or measures to assist people in need.

The picture in the rest of the province is similar, although not all councils announced their plans so early.

Every town hall (including Malaga city, which will still be spending over 600,000 euros on Christmas lights) has already made the decision to cancel most of its festive events, but the majority want to wait until nearer the time to see how much they will be able to spend, and also to decide how best to use the thousands of euros which this January will not be needed for floats, costumes and sweets.