Xabia Democrática - First policy talk

Notes from the first of a series of talks that Xàbia Democrática organized to publicize their ideas on how to manage the municipality.

March 2011

The key to governance is everyone deciding on a consensus model for the Town . This is the main message that Xàbia Democrática would like to make known to the public

It is no longer enough that aspiring municipal representatives present their projects, if they do not take into account the views of citizens . "The current political system Xàbia is not right," said Juan Luis Cardona , vice president of Xàbia Democrática Cardona was charged with introducing this new political group, which has only one member who has political experience. The group feels " disappointed by today's politicians "because" we have been manipulated, lied to, and not heard "by them .

Cardona also stressed that members of XD are closer to the common people than other parties , and that its members are part of various associations and businesses, and composed of people from different nationalities. Residents that share the same concerns as native citizens i.e. that the Xàbia administration does not work, that politicians do not listen as well as the problems facing the municipality.

The formula for wagering on Xàbia Democrática is as simple as listening to the citizens, take note of what they say and respond . So now this group wants to communicate the ideas they have, and above all listen to the ideas and proposals of citizens, now and after the elections.

Create a community town through a Strategic Plan and the General Plan

Pere Sapena, architect, president of the residents of the Old Town and member of XD, (who has experience working in public administration, particularly in Pego), advocated that an Advisory Council , should be created composed of members from all walks of life, both citizens and entrepreneurs, who would work on the development of a 15-year Strategic Plan .

Xàbia Democrática  believes that we must follow the model of a low density town, with spread out individual houses, which is compatible with dispersed  low-intensity residential use, i.e. no conglomerations of 1,500 to 2,000 apartments.

"We want to continue to grow, but our children and grandchildren must be able to continue to work and not exhaust the land , "says Sapena,

But this is not returning to the General Plan of '90s. "We do not agree with what has been done, but we have to utilise what has been done. Sapena also argues that we should not continue with the suspension of licenses , nor allow time for approval to extend for years, when the legal limits are one month for minor works and two months for major works.

However, Xàbia Democrática understood that the monoculture of the brick is over , and you cannot try to depend on this sector which has provided nearly 60% of the local economy. Therefore, we must find an alternative economic engine , related to tourism, which contributes to reducing seasonality.

To put this in place you need a permanent Consultative Council with representation from all Xàbia social actors, to meet periodically and whose decisions were binding.

The town model which has been agreed upon should be reflected in the General Urban Plan , and then it would specify and regulate the development process . The builder cannot be the one to decide how and when he wants to build, but the General Plan should define the order in which projects are implemented and developments planned. Nor can houses be built unless they have completed the services and public facilities, as failed to happened in the Via Augusta.

The General Plan must also be outline elements that contribute to the quality of life, such as green spaces. Sapena cited the plan of Gandia, which included the creation of green spaces which connects the beach with the town across the river Serpis. In Xàbia this could be done with the river Gorgos , but in addition we also have to think about how to connect the three urban centres so as to create a more decent town.

And this includes the improvement of public transport , so people do not have to depend so much on private vehicles. Speaking of which, Sapena explained that while "we like the pedestrian areas, but not those that are used neither by cars nor people." i.e , it is useless to pedestrianise if pedestraians don't go there. XD advocates to first support both pedestrians and cars, until people move away from car use , "having a vacuum is not a solution."

Also, the group advocates the creation of a Special Plan for the Old Town, including seeking grants to fix the facades, increased use of municipal buildings, and encouraging use of the town which respects both the citizens and traders through regulations that everyone can meet.

A Town to live and work in

For his part, Javier Mata added that the Strategic Plan should define a town in which to live and work, an attractive place that has an industrial zone that allows the municipality to generate resources.

But the town must also have an efficient and accessible governance, and it is essential to curb government spending, starting with the salaries of politicians. The town should be fair and give equal opportunity to all without distinction. A town with active employment policies, where everyone works, and has the necessary infrastructure to live well. A town that integrates all the cultures that inhabit it, the young and the elderly.

The citizen has to refer to the municipality in the first person

The President of XD, Óscar Antón , expressed concern about the small details that remain unresolved, and which cause the frustration of citizens. The citizen's voice must be heard, and not just the political visionary who is voted for every four years, and who then ignores the people's opinion . "No more blank cheques," said Anton.
Citizens must feel they are part of the municipality, so we must "create mechanisms so that people can participate in decisions and feel ownership." This is achieved through participatory democracy , is that "politics must be supervised by the citizens."

When citizens participate in decisions, they feel part of the municipality, and when they speak of municipal projects, they refer to them in first person: Teulada-Moraira says that "we have an Auditorium." But in Xàbia they are not in tune with the politicians " I have not heard anyone say 'we bought the car parks' , "quipped Anton.
The XD President also referred to the Xàbia municipal budget of 42 million euros , whose only source of income is taxes. It is worth trying to generate income through municipal resources. In Gata, they have created a municipal WiMax network, which provides reidents with a 2MB internet connection for 25 €. But here they have not even counted the municipal assets.
"We need to plan, and all that is needed is the desire, concerns and the will", added Anton.

From XAD: http://www.xabiaaldia.es/politica/xabia_democratica_aboga_por_crear_ciudad_entre_todos-4092.html#comments

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