Isaí Blanco Marrero – Mayor of La Oliva
"In truth, one year working in politics feels like seven years in normal life. There are so many fronts, problems, decisions and responsibilities that you feel that many more years have gone by."
"Of course, I went from being an invisible person, with a good image and friends, I think, to being in the eye of the storm. This is part and parcel of politics."
We are meeting again the mayor of La Oliva after one and a half ...year in position as mayor of this Ayuntamiento.
What can you tell us from this period and especially since our last interview?
In truth, one year working in politics feels like seven years in normal life. There are so many fronts, problems, decisions and responsibilities that you feel that many more years have gone by.
I imagine that many decisions are tough ones?
That's true, I had to act knowing that my decisions would affect people's lives and I had quite a few to make. Even with companies in various sectors that had been doing things the wrong way for many years, I had to act so that things would be done correctly and cut or reduce their activity. We must think in the common wellbeing and if we really want to sell quality tourism that benefits us all, we must protect the basics, what we live off, which are our natural spaces, quality infrastructures and services, etc., and some activities were damaging all this. It was very tough, because we are aware of the repercussions of our decisions and because in many cases those businesses had been in that situation for many years because they were allowed before or maybe people were looking the other way and now after making investments, they are penalised. But if they were outside of the law for lack of permits or because they knew that this activity was forbidden, it is a risk they took anyway.
I imagine that this created a few enemies for you?
Of course, I went from being an invisible person, with a good image and friends, I think, to being in the eye of the storm. This is part and parcel of politics.
It is very different seeing things from outside to being involved in politics. I imagine you discovered the problems and slowness of bureaucracy involved in any action.
Indeed, as citizens, we think that such and such things are easy to solve, but later, even when putting all your energy into achieving things, you are faced with the procedures required to achieve the objectives and they are very slow. This is why from outside, it looks like politicians don't do anything. Furthermore, we are very limited when it comes to changing things such as the impossibility to employ technicians, extend existing contracts for cleaning, waste disposal, etc., the lack of staff at the ayuntamiento, between people off sick and the others, there are 20% less of already low numbers and the law forbids us to employ new municipal staff, we need firefighters, police officers, which means that we are understaffed. We know that the procedures we need to carry out for the population take an eternity to get done. I understand that waiting for a year to get a permit for a swimming pool is crazy, but if there are no technicians, who is going to do it?
This situation is exasperating...
We are a team of young people who want to do things the right way and in a different manner to how it was done before and not only for interests. We are the first ones to want to clean up everything and for the change to be appreciated, for procedures to get done within a month, but we have limitations that the population can't see. The good news is that the budget for 2019 has already been drawn up. It is finished and we are very excited. We managed to divide it into sectors, which has allowed us to get contracts in place for independent cleaning in each village, there is also a gardening company for the whole municipality that provides all the vehicles and labour for the maintenance. Because it is pointless creating a botanical garden if there is no one to water or maintain it. We have also included a lifeguard company and we are planning the asphalting of roads and the maintenance of all the municipality's infrastructures. This is why we increased the budget a lot. We have completed all the required procedures and on 1st January the budget will be in place and everything will start to work. We are really excited! This will be the result of the groundwork we have done for the past year at the ayuntamiento. People should know that there hadn't been a new budget since 2014. Everything we are doing now could have been done four years ago. Often the intention of not doing anything was to not make enemies so that they would vote for them again later. Politics is quite ugly and it shouldn't be that way, interests and jealousy come first. One day I hope that politicians will concentrate on management instead of thinking in the votes of the party.
I believe that the municipality has grown...
Of course, the population has increased by more than 10.000 registered people over the past six years, and there are many more who are not registered and there are more tourists also, whose numbers peaked last year. Because there are more people, we create more dirt and we spend more, without being able to modify public services' contracts or increase them, we haven't been able to do more.
What can you tell us about the financial side?
We have settled all the debts and sentences that we had, that were getting bigger as they were not dealt with. There were some scandalous situations of agreements that had not been honoured for 30 years, that were carrying on until the last instance, knowing really that the ayuntamiento wasn't keeping up with what had been agreed. We have paid over 20 million euros in one year and a half.