Monday, 31 July 2023, 13:26
El Club de Hielo de Benalmádena, the municipal facility equipped with an ice rink, indoor pool and sports facilities, could be forced to close again because of an outstanding debt, which has become the focus of a political scuffle between the former Socialist (PSOE) local government and the current Partido Popular. If a solution is not found, around fifty employees could be affected by the closure.
The social security debt stood at 285,000 euros, but with surcharges added, the amount has risen to 380,000 euros.
The town’s new mayor, Juan Antonio Lara, claimed his council discovered the debt during its first month in power, despite the fact that the social security department has been demanding payment since January of this year, when the PSOE was still in government.
Since the debt was not settled, the final demand with all the deadlines already exhausted was sent out in May. Lara said that as soon as he learned of its existence, his council decided to pay it due to the risk that non-payment entails in order to receive any type of subsidy, since at the moment Benalmádena is receiving more than five million euros from European EDUSI funds.
The debt was inherited from the former UTE (temporary business union) that managed the club. The parent company was Grupo Vera, which ended up going bankrupt forcing the club’s closure in 2020.
When the club closed, the then mayor, Víctor Navas, put its management out to tender “and a company came forward made up of young people and local businessmen, who made a major investment to improve the facilities”, Navas said.
The former mayor claimed that neither “the new company, nor the town hall, knew about that debt”.
Navas hit back at the allegations, saying, “No company is going to want to pay close to 400,000 euros in debts, and, as with Tivoli World, Benalmádena will have another unused facility at the centre of a row.”
Current deputy mayor Presi Aguilera said, “The town hall is going to undertake all the legal actions that are necessary to clarify responsibility, and ask for explanations and ensure the rights of our taxpayers.” She also claimed that there is documentation that makes it clear that it is impossible that the former mayor did not have knowledge of the debt.
“It is evident that if a company owes considerable amounts to Social Security and transfers both its workers and the concession to another company, the obligation of the council is to verify compliance with the regulations and that it is up to date with all payments before the change of ownership can take place. The people of Benalmadena do not have to take on these debts,” Aguilera added.
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