Thursday, 30 June 2011

Interview with Jimena Mayor Guillermo Ruiz

The Mayor is a very busy man. When we arrived for the interview at 8.30 this morning (without an exact time, admittedly, but told that 'the earlier the better') he wasn't in his office. The evening before, there had been a Plenary Session, the first such for the new team (more on this later), so that may have been the reason. The fact is also that he had pressing business before he could see us, including a lengthy meeting with a Telefonica man (the Mayor told us that the Council is cutting back enormously on their phone bills, mobile and otherwise, which he had already said at the Plenary Session last night). Anyway, the interview got under way.>>>

JimenaPulse: Mayor, thank you for seeing me. I know you've only just moved in here but there are a couple of things that I hear from our readers that I'd like to ask you about.
Mayor: Yes, you're the link between the English-speaking foreigners and the Town Hall. Thank you for that. I know that we sometimes just don't get through to them but you can help.

JP: Thank you, Mayor. The first question is about the municipal swimming pool. Is it going to open or not? There's a rumour that the power's cut there...
M: We're negotiating with Endesa right now; we owe them a lot of money. It is true the light's been cut off, so we can't use the pumps. But we are aiming at opening on Monday (July 4).

JP: As you know there are often problems between neighbours. The British seem to have it worse because they don't speak Spanish, which makes it difficult for both sides to come to any agreement. Is there an official policy on what happens if things get out of hand?
M: The policy is the same for everyone. The procedure is the same, too. The thing is, to make an official complaint (denuncia). Without it, we can do nothing. But you can help by translating, can't you?

JP: Yes I can, and do, when I'm asked, though sometimes the Local Police seem reluctant to ask me for help in these things, I'm not sure why. But, Mayor, I'm supposed to be asking the questions ... Another thing I get asked a lot: Is there any thought about reviving the Music Festival?
M: At the moment, it is simply not financially feasible. But we've always thought it is a good way of promoting the municipality. If we can ever find the money, we might try to create something a lot more modest and build up from there. But that's way into the future.

JP: One of the Council's problems has always been to communicate with the citizenry. Until this new Council came in, there was a Press Officer, and the media was well taken care of, but he, being Personal de Confianza (employee of trust, to the Council, usually of the same political opinions) has left, and you said at the Session last night that you would not be taking on any personal de confianza at all. How do you propose to communicate with people?
M: Yes, it's always been a problem. In fact, we're looking into it. TioJimeno and you do a good job but we have to communicate with you, so you can pass it on. We're working on it.

JP: One of the complaints we hear about is how long it takes to get anything done in the Town Hall. Any thoughts on this?
M: Everything has its process. Some things can get done faster, others we will be pushing along. But nobody should expect instant results. On the other hand, one of our main policies is to promote business, and therefore employment. We realize that to get business moving, we have to make things here more agile, and we're working on that, too.

JP: Apropos of business, how is the thorny matter of Town Planning coming along? Is there any news on any of the many problems in this department?
M: We inherited an enormous number of problems. This very morning, I was given a list ofthem but I can't give you any specific details (the Mayor reveals three pages of A3-sized paper with columns and columns of apparently small print - and a lot of red underlining). There are many problems, including quite a number of houses that will be getting demolition orders, too, including at least two belonging to foreigners.

JP: Can you tell me where?
M: No.

JP: Presumably there are legal procedures about them, and I assume you are receiving legal advice...
M: Yes, I am, but what I need right now is a specialist lawyer by my side all the time. (Said with a smile.)

JP: Changing the subject: Can you foresee any changes to the Local Police or the Servicio de Recaudacion (provincial tax collector)?
M: Not at present. I have instructed the Police to be flexible about the way they work -give warnings rather than immediate fines, for example- but they do have to do their job.

JP: Mayor Ruiz, thank you very much indeed for your time. I know you're a busy man...
M: I've never been so busy!

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