At the end of last month, and to the relief of most professional working people in Marbella, the PP mayor Ángeles Muñoz, was re-elected to her position at the head of our local council authorities. I was happy to give her my vote because I honestly believe she was the best choice out of the candidates standing, and an individual who has the best interests at heart for our town.
Muñoz was able to regain an overall majority that she had previously lost in 2015, however, unlike her contemporary José María García Urbano in our neighbouring Estepona, she was unable to achieve a landslide. The remarkable Urbano is a true reformer, a man whose positive actions in his community have now led to him becoming Spain’s most voted for official mayor.
I know from personal dealings through work that Ángeles Muñoz is a person who also wants to create change where it is needed within Marbella’s town hall. However, she is fighting against a large dysfunctional workforce within our local authorities that is resistant to the implementation of reforms, especially syndicates that are very powerful.
We are all used to the slow paced culture that exists in Spain and can often work productively within or around the laid back restrictions that this entails, particularly when dealing with people in the public sector. However, the ethos and systems present in Marbella’s town hall are so far beyond restrictive that they bring important urban regeneration and development projects to a practical standstill.
Transparency and innovation are unfortunately missing from the working practices of the incredibly large number of employees that work for the residents of our community. Instead, protection and preservation of job roles appears to be the key motivation for too many people on the council payroll, an attitude that only hampers progress.
A greater number of people work for Marbella’s town hall, either as an employee or for a contracted service company, than the equivalent workforce in the cities of Seville and Málaga, municipalities that are larger and four to five times more populated than ours.
Of great concern are the financial figures, which reveal that out of the 2019 town hall budget of 284 million euros, only 24 million will be allocated to infrastructure and reform initiatives. When you compare that to the 232 million euros that will be paid for staff and services during this year, warning bells start to ring about how our taxes are being spent.
If the money was wisely allocated, there would be little room for complaint, but as a professional working within the property industry it is beyond frustrating to have to wait an interminably long time to process even the simplest paperwork. In this age of new technology it feels unfathomable that it takes up to two months for a digital document, presented to the town hall via its own official website, to reach the correct contact. It shouldn’t be a real achievement that it even arrives at all, complete with all the attached documents.
When there are council jobs available that promise a job for life, great holiday benefits and an ‘average’ gross monthly salary of over 3,000 euros, it’s no wonder the Andalusian dream is not to become Antonio Banderas, but rather a state official.
There are definitely good-minded and hard working people in Marbella’s town hall, including, and most importantly, Ángeles Muñoz herself. So what can she do to improve the status quo? Change is necessary, but change can often be considered painful because things will be different when those changes are made. Sometimes people hate change, even when it makes life better for the majority.
Somebody has to step forward and initiate essential innovative reforms within the workings of Marbella’s town hall and that person is Ángeles Muñoz. If Muñoz follows the example of José María García Urbano in Estepona she will be able to make great strides in improving the workings of her council. Alongside implementing beneficial initiatives, developments and working practices, Urbano also dismissed 200 town hall employees and non-essential contractors, an action previously no one had dared to do.
In a follow-up opinion article to be published soon, I will be exploring the positive initiatives undertaken by Urbano and how they can be applied to and benefit the town of Marbella.