Manuel Cardeña in his office at the Mancomunidad. J. C. Domínguez
'The Mancomunidad should be leading policy decisions on the Costa del Sol'

'The Mancomunidad should be leading policy decisions on the Costa del Sol'

The new president of the key public body that pools resources between town halls at the western end of Malaga province discusses the challenges for the area Manuel Cardeña President of the Mancomunidad de Municipios de la Costa del Sol

Andrea Jiménez


Friday, 11 August 2023


For many residents and homeowners on the western Costa between Torremolinos and Manilva, the local authority known as the Mancomunidad de Municipios de la Costa del Sol may be a bit of a mystery. However it plays an important part in their lives and it has just got a new boss.

The Mancomunidad (as it is called for short) is a public consortium offering shared services to eleven municipalities on the western stretch of Malaga province: Benahavís, Benalmádena, Casares, Estepona, Fuengirola, Istán, Manilva, Marbella, Mijas, Ojén and Torremolinos.

Headed by a board of local councillors, it is responsible for managing key pooled services on behalf of all its member councils, including water supply, the environment, beaches and tourism, among others.

Manuel Cardeña, a conservative Partido Popular (PP) councillor at Marbella town hall, has just taken on the extra role of the Mancomunidad consortium's president as well.

He has committed to tackling the main challenges facing the area, which include the drought, transport and tourism, and says that the Mancomunidad should be leading policy decisions that affect the whole area and that "consensus" is key to finding solutions to the challenges.

–What are the main challenges facing the Mancomunidad?

- The Mancomunidad has an important role to play in water and waste issues. But I think we also need to take joint political leadership and debate solutions for the biggest challenges facing the Costa: beaches, transport, waste, water and drought. Serious projects must be put forward and we will work with the relevant authorities. That is one of the main objectives we have, as well as, for example, bringing together all the water-related projects in the coming weeks and the RSU (Solid Urban Waste) project to adapt to EU rules. There is a lot of work ahead to improve and solve problems that have existed for many years on the Costa del Sol and that may have a solution in this term of office.


"We can look into the idea of boats to connect towns and the possibility of a coastal train"

Manuel Cardeña

President of the Mancomunidad

–In your speech after being elected president of the Mancomunidad you made a special reference to the drought. What measures are going to be adopted to alleviate this problem?

- One of the main projects is our desalination plant, which is currently producing around eight or nine cubic hectometres. The idea is to reach 12, and with a second improvement, even up to 20 hectometres; that is the objective. We are also receiving water from the Campo de Gibraltar and those two hectometres are helping us to alleviate the situation. Furthermore, we produce 40 hectometres of regenerated water, of which 10 hectometres are produced by the golf courses. The idea is obviously to continue to promote the use of recycled water for street cleaning and watering public green spaces.


"There's no high and low season. Since the pandemic many people have come to live here all year"

Manuel Cardeña

President of the Mancomunidad

–The importance of consensus between all the political parties was discussed at a recent Mancomunidad meeting. How are you going to tackle this challenge?

-The tradition of the Mancomunidad, since its foundation, has been to reach agreements through consensus and I'm going to do my utmost to ensure that as many decisions as possible are reached this way, as has been the case in previous years. I believe that there is good will between all the political parties, we know each other and I believe that we are in a good position to be able to reach agreements.

–What are your objectives in terms of tourism?

-We want to promote it and work closely with the Diputación provincial authority. There are big events held on the Costa and the ideal is that they should also be held at different times of year to attract tourists outside peak season, although I think the figures show that this is already happening in a lot of towns. There's no high and low season, since the pandemic many people have come to live here all year round. We have a very large influx of people and a very large permanent population.

–What about transport?

-We have to look for an alternative route to ease traffic on the old N-340 and the AP-7. For example, we can look into the idea of boats that connect different towns and the possibility of a coastal train. The Mancomunidad should be the place to generate new policy ideas for the Costa del Sol; a testing ground for good practice and trying to find common solutions for town halls and other public bodies to implement. I believe that this should be its function and we are working on it.

–What is the Mancomunidad's budget and how many people work there?

The budget currently stands at 100 million euros and the team is made up of about 30 people.


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