This follow up to my recent article about Mayor Ángeles Muñoz and our local town hall takes a look at a neighbouring example of how to instigate positive reform in Marbella.
You will now be aware that I, as an enthusiastic supporter of Ángeles Muñoz, was relieved to see this hardworking public official be reinstated to her role as Marbella’ mayor, after the recent local elections in Spain. Muñoz is a credible and experienced civil servant who has the interests of Marbella and its community at the forefront of her agenda, but who also encounters a few obstacles to climb to achieve much-needed reform within Marbella’s town hall.
In the aforementioned blog about this subject, I included details relating to over-staffing and how high wages and special benefits of municipal workers are obstructing the implementation of much-needed change. There is resistance from existing personnel and labour unions within Marbella’s local authorities, who are reluctant to accept changes to the way they work, in the event that it might affect job security or privileges.
Our council seriously needs to introduce new working practices that will reduce expenditure and lead to greater efficiency and an easier way of operating for everyone involved. Whether you are an individual applying for permission for an extension to your home, or a property developer overseeing a regeneration project, the obstructions faced whilst dealing with the town hall are equally frustrating.
In an age where technologies are so advanced and people want to deal with less bureaucracy, it’s surely time that Marbella’s town hall embraces two words: innovation and transparency.
So what can Ángeles Muñoz do to counter resistance from an extensive public service workforce that appears so reluctant to accept change to the way they function? Our forward-thinking mayoress can look towards the west of the Costa del Sol for inspiration from Estepona, and its mayor, José María García Urbano.
Urbano is an impressive mayor who, through determination and a clear plan, has been able to initiate new systems and practices that have hugely improved the running of Estepona’s council authorities. Since taking office, has also taken action on unnecessary expenditure, including dismissing two hundred employees and unessential contractors, renouncing the use of his own official car, and outlawing mobile phones for town hall staff.
With the money that is freed in this way reallocated to essential programmes, José María and Estepona’s local authorities have been able to commit to an extensive regeneration programme. Recent accounts published by the town’s administration revealed a spending of 100 million euros on public works and infrastructure since 2011.
Amongst the many facilities that have been newly built an athletics stadium and a modern hospital that received an investment of over 15 million euros. Urbano has also committed to environmental and aesthetic urban community projects, like the ‘Garden of the Costa del Sol’ scheme. Such initiatives have elevated Estepona to become one of the most popular residential an tourist destinations in southern Spain.
Estepona has proved the point that by addressing unnecessary expenditure and creating a more efficient way of working within a town hall, a municipality will actually improve and prosper. So step forward Ángeles Muñoz, let’s make that change, it’s time to make these much-needed reforms in Marbella’s governmental authorities.
What is there to lose? What exactly is the downside? After all, your counterpart in Estepona is now the mayor who received a higher percentage of the vote than other in Spain!
Fabian Delle – Director and founder of Move Projects