Mayor meets Facebook Friends 2013

Official Report

Dear Facebook Friends,

It is a real honour for me to be with you here today in the Parador. 

I really appreciate your coming along, and giving me this opportunity to meet you and listen to your questions and suggestions.
Some of you will be wondering why I wanted to have this meeting with my English Facebook Friends, and why I wanted to meet a group of residents with whom I only have virtual communications, and who may have some controversial questions. The answer is clear, direct, and simple … A mayor should be close to all the citizens of his town, and when I say everyone I am talking about those born here, those from other parts of Spain, European residents who have decided to spend their well-deserved retirement in this wonderful town, those who have decided to look for work and fulfil their lifelong ambitions, and also those who just come to spend their well-earned holidays with us.

Because of this, when my schedule allows, I never miss the opportunity to attend all the events to which I am invited. Because listening, replying and standing side by side with the people of my town is something which enables me to develop policies which are more relevant and realistic.

I also wanted to be with you today so that you can meet three people who help me with my communications in English, because as you can see I still have my limitations when I speak … but I am persistent and continue to learn. I hope soon to have improved my English, and I want to stress that my colleagues help me personally with my communications to provide a better service to you all.
I think we've created a good communications system and most importantly, we have managed to contact and connect with you.

Now I would like to introduce my English speaking team who help me with my communications in English and my English Facebook page.
First of all may I present Doris Courcelles who is the Councillor for Services, the Environment and Beaches. She often provides me with answers to your many questions.

DORIS Courcelles.
Buenos Dias, Good Morning, Bonjour, Guten Morgen, Yes, my name is Doris and I am Belgian (a Flemish mother and a Walloon father!) but have lived 35 years in Xàbia, If you really want to know my age, I can confess that I have just celebrated my 60th. I have a son of 30, who also lives here which means that I am used to facing up to the generation gap! During these years I have seen many changes and met a lot of people of different nationalities, this is the opportunity we have in Xàbia we can travel, learn a lot of languages, mix cultures and traditions without even leaving our town!!!

When José asked me to join his team, I didn't hesitate and here I am quite proud to sit next our Mayor……. The problem (if there is one!) is that I am in charge of a department which is more involved in complaints, criticisms, requests and daily jobs rather than in exciting new initiatives. Mind you, after 5 years, I am quite used to it and keep doing my best to please all our citizens.

Now I would like to introduce Mayka who in addition to being my secretary at the Town Hall often directs your messages and questions to the departments who can best answer your questions posted on Facebook.

Good morning everyone, my name is Mayka and as the Mayor said I am his secretary and try to keep track of his very busy and crowded agenda. Although I was born in Matamoros, in Mexico; my grandfather and my mother were from Xàbia, and I have lived here for more than 40 years, so my heart belongs to Xàbia…
I have always worked with the public, in Estate Agents, as a hotel receptionist, in Tourist Offices, and as a Tourist guide. I just love helping other people. I do my best to follow up all the questions asked on José’s Facebook, so please if any of you need any help, I’ll be very happy to attend to your calls or visits to my office.

JOSÉ. Finally I would like to introduce George Thomas, who helps me in improving communications with our foreign residents. He is also the President of our local branch of the PSOE my political party; he is the first foreigner to be elected to this post in the whole of Spain. As he did much of the work with me on the presentation he will assist with the commentary.

GEORGE. Thomas
Good morning, Buenos Dias, Guten Tag, Bonjour. I am originally from Scotland but have worked and lived in a number of countries across the globe, including Spain where I spent 1 year in Madrid and 4 years in Barcelona. I have lived for 14 years in Xàbia and have been a friend of José’s for around 8 years.

Thank you George. The first slide explains the principal objectives I set out as my electoral programme. I have been a relatively short time at the forefront of politics.  But I am one of those people who believe in politics, politics in capital letters, in politics which puts the citizen first, in politics as a service to others.

When I took on the responsibility as mayor I did not know exactly what I would find, but it was clear from the start that I had to do three things, work, work and more work.

The three political parties who formed the coalition government in Xàbia, the PSOE, Xàbia Democratica and Ciudanos por Jávea, put together a team of serious and responsible people, and maybe my coaching experience helped me. Each councillor was given the area of responsibility, where they could best contribute their personal knowledge and experience and through this, work with much more enthusiasm. And I believe I was right.

I wish to take this opportunity to highlight and show my appreciation and respect for all the work that is being carried out by the 11 councillors who form the government team, and especially my sincere appreciation for the work of the two party leaders with whom I govern, they are Oscar Anton and Juan Ortolá.

Our first major objective was to make our Town Hall, more approachable, more transparent, more helpful, a Town Hall for all the citizens of Xàbia. 

For me, as I said earlier, a citizen of Xàbia is not just one born here, but also all those who one day, for one reason or another decided to come and live here.

I am proud to be the mayor of a town where around 90 different nationalities live. I have always seen this as an opportunity and it makes us better as a society, more open and more tolerant.

Now is not the time for grand public works, it's the time for our people. Our obligation as a local government is to make life easier for our citizens. We have achieved between us and I repeat between us, many successes in these 18 months of government, which are difficult to summarize, but I will give you a few examples. 

In terms of infrastructure we have carried out the largest operation ever made in our town by repaving 26 (twenty six) kilometres of roads including many streets in urbanizations.

After nearly 30 (thirty) years of waiting, we are renewing the Paseo del Arenal. We are also building a very low cost bus station, which was the project most voted for by citizens in a participatory budgeting session. We have made an attractive new entrance to Xàbia, and completed many smaller works.

A multilingual Citizens Advice Bureau has been opened; where you can process virtually all Town Hall procedures, payment facilities, etc

These are difficult financial times and we have drastically reduced expenditure and budgets in the Town Hall, and with the cost controls in place we hope to end the year on a positive note.

We have developed a strategic plan containing twelve action points which are already under way. Our commitment to citizen participation has been clear, and so we have created bodies such as municipal councils for town planning, tourism, trade, culture, agriculture and even a children's committee, by which even the youngest of our citizens has a voice in the Town Hall.

My office in the Town Hall is always open to any citizen who wants to come to explain their problems, make complaints or proposals. 
In one year alone my diary had around 1800 (one thousand eight hundred) entries.

As you know I use Facebook to explain the day to day events of my work and to keep the public informed of all kinds of issues.
As you can imagine not everything is perfect. We would like to go faster to resolve the many issues outstanding for the past 20 years. There are some things which we honestly wish would function in a better way. So we will continue fighting and working to improve every day, and I apologize if sometimes we fail, but I guarantee that we will learn from our mistakes and put things right.

I am convinced that Xàbia has much more to offer. In addition to its natural charms, its sun, its light, its sea, its people, we want to add better and more effective services, be prepared for the challenges that we face every day and offer a better quality of life for all who live here and for those who choose us as their holiday destination.

I am convinced and sure that we will reach our objectives, but I'm also sure that if we did not have such impressive human resources at our disposal it would be much harder to achieve.

Work, humility, enthusiasm, passion, effort and conviction this is the formula which motivates me.  The road on this journey isn’t flat but full of potholes but I hope that I can count on your help too.
Thank you very much.

And now George will continue with the slide presentation. We will finish with some questions we have received, and then you are welcome to have a coffee.


Key Questions submitted by FB Friends

Rob Jones asked whether there were any plans for additional football pitches in Xàbia due to the large number of children who like to play football.
This is an interesting question, unfortunately in the last 20 years there has been no medium or long term planning for our sports infrastructure. It is true that we need more soccer fields and other facilities, as the Palau d'Esports has become too small for all sports. We are studying the possibility of a new football field next to the current one. As soon as we have more news we will inform you.

Lynn Cobb asked when the new library would be opened in the Port.
The completion has caused us many problems because the contractors did not meet their commitments.  After many negotiations and penalties imposed on the company, we finally reached an agreement. Within a few weeks the outstanding work will be completed and the library ready to open.

Several FB Friends have asked about the major works on the Cami de Cabanes. A new roundabout and a supermarket?
I have been able to resolve the problems with the Alicante Diputación, enabling the completion of this project, with the roundabout being constructed at no cost to the Town Hall. The construction of a supermarket is in an advanced stage creating more than 40 jobs. The opening, and completion of the roundabout are scheduled for June.

Any news about the renovation of the Central Cinema in the Pueblo?
The cinema has been closed for many years and with no project for future development. Now as a deputy in the Alicante regional government, I have been able to have the refurbishment project included in the plan of work and services of the Alicante Provincial Government. 
We will receive a grant of €600,000 (six hundred thousand euros) for the repairs to this landmark cinema, which will then become a venue for cultural activities of all kinds, with seating for 300 people.

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