Chulvi Interview August 2017

From: Javeamigos
Local social media has been ripe with rumours and counter-rumours, inaccuracies and allegations about a number of issues, particularly to do with the draft General Plan which has been available for public scrutiny since June and the Granadella shuttle bus project which has enraged many residents in Costa Nova. In response, mayor José Chulvi offered to try and answer some of those queries and questions in a special interview provided to We have provided the text in both English and Spanish below.

Over the past few months, cranes have returned to the Xàbia's skyline. Is this a return to the great construction projects of yesteryear?

Absolutely not. The plots have been available for development according to the General Plan that was approved back in the 1990s and is still in force. As you know, the General Plan is the document with outlines the uses of the land and can't be changed at will. If one doesn't agree with the town's development model that has been proposed in that plan, then it must be changed as a whole. This is what we are doing with great effort at the moment. We are preparing a document - the guidelines of which have already been available for public viewing - that aims to reduce the construction planned for Xàbia in the future from almost 10 million square metres to little more than two million square metres.

So why is the change required?

From the beginning we realised that we needed to take hold of the rudder. We are convinced that it is the best way to maintain our quality of life and the good economic recovery of the town without putting at risk that which characterizes us. As we have said on many occasions, now is the moment to seek the driving force for sustainable actions: environmental, culture and economic. We love Xàbia and we don't want to change it.

So, the General Plan is something that is going to affect all of us in one way or another. How have you been publicising it amongst residents?

We have made a great effort to reach everyone. And this has meant going beyond what is legally required for public consultation of the documentation (which is 45 days) and doubling that period. We have also spread the message via the website of the Ayuntamiento and on social networks as well as through the radio and in the press, both printed and online. Two town planning advisory committee meetings have been held as well as three informative sessions for residents which took place in the town, port and Arenal zones of Xàbia which also had an English translation option available. In addition, an information pamphlet was published in the Spanish, Valencian and English languages. The plans have been available for public scrutiny in the Casa del Cultura since June 7th and can still be viewed until September 8th. If any resident needs addition information, they can head to the HelpDesk at the OAC at the Portal del Clot offices where their questions can be answered in their own language, or visit the Department of Town Planning. As you can see, we have done as much as possibly to ensure that everyone knows about the contents of this draft General Plan which will govern the urban development of Xàbia in the coming years.

One of the more controversial elements of the General Plan is the future development of Camí de la Soberana. What is going to happen?

Nothing for the moment. It's not correct that a 20 metre wide road will be built through this area as I have read somewhere. This would be outrageous and we simply wouldn't allow it. What the General Plan outlines is that in the future (and that could be 10, 15 or many more years to come) if it was necessary to alleviate heavy traffic through the urban centre due to the growth of Xàbia, there is a potential to create a relief road to the port. But it does NOT mean that it will be done. It is not an open door to create more potential for construction in a semi-urban attractive and charming area. Residents can rest easy. It is not something that will happen soon or even at all. It's simply a proposal that can set aside for many years if necessary. Consider it like buying health insurance. It doesn't mean that you have planned or want to get sick but that you have simply prepared in the best way to act if required. In any case, the General Plan is open to debate and for the presentation of comments and suggestions which will be studied carefully to seek the maximum possible consensus before making a final decision. We are also going to meet the residents of this affected zone to hear their opinions first hand. As I have said, it is fundamental to keep the spirit of our town alive.

How does the proposal of the Diputación de Alicante to build several roundabouts along the Carretera de Jesús Pobre fit in with the Plan?

As you say, it is a project proposed by the Diputación (the regional government of Alicante) since this road is their responsibility. The only thing I can confirm is that we have received the project details and our technical staff are studying it to see if we have to make any statement. Until I have these reports, I can't give my own assessment on whether it's a good or bad thing but I can assure you that we will take advantage of the interest of the Diputación as an unbeatable opportunity to achieve what we have been asked many times by residents in the area: to improve safety for both drivers and pedestrians along a road that, although it is link road, it provides access to many residental areas of Xàbia and enters the outskirts of the urban centre. I should add that as a provincial deputy in Alicante, I have worked hard to encourage improvements to the road and in fact significant investments have been made in resurfacing projects in the past few years.

So let's talk about another hot topic: the Costa Nova car-park for the Granadella shuttle bus project. Can you explain why it was created there?

Simply because it was the best location, the most reasonale from the point of view of the organisation and the one which we had been told by the technical staff and those responsible for safety was the best option. I realise that it has caused a nuisance to some residents in the area but you have to think that we govern for 30,000 people - up to 100,000 in the summer - and the benefit generated for the whole of the population and visitors to our town has been much greater. We have recovered the Granadella cove to return it to a tranquility, security and satisfaction for visitors that has not been experienced for some years. Not to mention that the flooding after the heavy rain earlier this month demonstrated quite clearly that you could not allow cars to continue to park in the ravine.

Sine we started the pilot project on July 3rd, we have been listening to suggestions to adapt it to balance the general interest which I believe is to protect this cove from the mass use of the past few years with businesses by the sea having a sufficient flow of people to be able to maintain a good economic activity.

In the case of the parking in the Costa Nova zone, a great effort has been made so that it doesn't generate problem with police working to ensure that there was no parking outside of the car-park and trying to avoid conflicts. Councillor Kika Mata from the Department of Services even offered to attend a meeting with residents to hear their comments but was prevented from doing so. That was a shame. However we remain committed to finding agreements.

After Granadella, are there any plans for the other coves and beaches?

We have a year to fine-tune measures that we have already taken and to analyse how to complement others that are necessary. For example, in Barraca we are very aware that a saturation point has been reached and that we have to address the issue for safety and conservation reasons as well as guarantee a better experience for residents and visitors.

When considering more rational access, public transport can play an important role. Will there be improvements to the Xàbia bus services?

The current bus service is an independent concession on which unfortunately the Ayuntamiento does not have a direct decision-making capacity. We do forward all the requests we receive as well as all the shortcomings that we have observed to demand that buses, frequency of services and routes are more in line with the characteristics of our town and the needs of the users. However it is an issue that must be resolved. We are now negotiating the new contract and hope to be able to guarantee improvements.

What is the future of tourism in Xàbia?

It is excellent if it we strategize. Once we have managed to be recognised as leaders on the Spanish coast in a stable way and our numerical results have reached the maximum, now is the time to realise that it is not about quantity but quality. Of course everyone is welcome in Xàbia and we want to remain a destination appreciated by the majority but for that to happen we have to take good care of what we have and understand that our resources (energy, economic, human and territorial) are not infinite. Again it the challenge of sustainability. We must create an economic model that doesn't affect the model of life because if we lose the essence of this town then we will lose everything. But let me be optimistic at this point. We are working well and making important progress. With the help of everyone, we will achieve our aim. I'm sure. Xàbia is worth it.

Finally, would you like to add something to this interview?

Yes. I would like to thank you for the opportunity to speak about these issues. I think it's important that we talk clearly about them as they affect us all. In that sense, social networks are a fantastic tool but sometimes half-truths, rumours, self-interested versions and inaccuracies are written and shared across it. To avoid this situation and unnecessary alarm, I invite any resident to come to the Ayuntamiento to corraborate any information. There are many facilities at their disposal, including the HelpDesk, the staff of the different departments, all the councillors of our government team and of course myself as mayor. In the end, we all want the same thing: the best for Xàbia.

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