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He also reiterated the official stance against oil exploration in the Mediterranean

Monday 31st March 2014

javeamigos.com | JAVEA - MAYOR

Mayor José Chulvi met with residents of Jávea to talk about his work as part of the provincial government in Alicante as well as face a question-and-answer session over several subjects from the controversial IBI issue to the benefits of having parking meters in the town. Around 100 people gathered in the conference room at the Hotel Parador and listened to a short presentation by the mayor during which he explained what the provincial government does and the benefits of his participation for Jávea and the rest of the Marina Alta. After a passionate defence of the Mediterranean against oil exploration, he concluded the session by answering questions from the floor whilst those present were also invited to leave their questions to be answered at a later date. And his work didn't stop once the Powerpoint had switched off as he took time to circulate and chat with residents during the coffee served after the presentation.

The mayor kicked off proceedings by apologising for what he insisted was his "poor English" and joked that he hadn't slept for a couple of days as a consequence to which he received generous and sympathetic applause from the floor. He explained that he wanted to make the presentation because he felt that it was essential for all residents of Jávea to understand his work in Alicante.

There followed a short clip of the mayor's formal inauguration on July 16th 2011 after which he explained the purpose of the 'Diputación de Alicante' - the Provincial Government of Alicante - which is responsible for managing the economic and administrative services and functions within the Province of Alicante whose territory stretches from just north of Dénia to the border from Murcia in the south and inland to just beyond Alcoy and to the border with the historic region of Castile-La Mancha. The Diputación was established in January 1822 by a decree of the Madrid Parliament and currently has 31 MPs representing a population of just under 2 million people. Those representatives are selected from the political parties of the elected municipal councillors in the province with the Marina Alta region providing three, one each from Jávea, Benissa and Ondara. Of the 31 representatives, 20 are drawn from the Partido Popular (PP) and 11 from the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE) of which José Chulvi is a member. Individual MPs are selected internally by the vote of the councillors belonging to their political parties in their respective districts which in the case of the mayor was the Marina Alta.

José then outlined the principal areas of responsibility of the 'Diputación' which included infrastructure and roads, tourism along the Costa Blanca, equality, youth and foreign citizens, promotion and development of the region, the heritage of the region including the support of the 'Museo Arqueológico Provincial de Alicante (MARQ)', the water cycle, the environment and the provision of services to municipalities within its boundaries. Its budget for 2014 is almost 249 million euros, the majority of which is funded by Central Government in Madrid.

As for his own responsibilities in Alicante, José is a member of the Management Committee of MARQ, the archaeological museum in the city, and he implored those who hadn't yet visited it to do so (it won the 'European Museum of the Year Award' in 2004). He is also a member of the Costa Blanca Tourist Board and meets with fellow MPs to decide policies and development in the Province of Alicante as well as attending monthly plenary sessions of the provincial government. For this, he receives a salary and it has been well-documented that as a consequence he renounced his right to a salary as Mayor of Jávea, the only mayor to do so, because he strongly felt that in these difficult times no public servant should receive two salaries. Such an action received deserved applause from the floor. He also explained that he bought a new car (on credit) in 2011 - his old one had "expired" after nine years - and that he has driven almost 60,000 kilometres on business travelling to Alicante, Valencia and Madrid.

José went on to explain the benefits of his presence within the provincial government for Jávea which includes better access to grants and subsidies for projects and improvements as well as the ability to lobby provincial departments for funding. He explained that in 2007 Jávea received just over 4,700 euros in annual subsidies and whilst this did rise to over 400,000 euros in 2009, a consequence of storm damage which necessitated major public works to repair the Tosalet ravine and the banks of the Gorgos, it changed little until 2012 when subsidies climbed to just over 69,000 euros and this year they have risen to almost 490,000 euros (up to February 2014). This figure includes 393,250 euros for the renovation of the Central Cinema in the centre of the old town and 93,750 euros towards the municipal plan to improve energy efficiency. The town has also received 100% funding for several projects including 176,377 euros for resurfacing and repairs to the Carretera Jesús Pobre, 48,422 euros for the resurfacing of Avenida Colomer, which leads out of town from the olive tree roundabout, 241,395 euros for the roundabout at the junction of Carretera Cabo de La Nao and Carretera La Guardia - the Saladar junction - which has looked to both resolving congestion, especially during the busier summer months, and reducing incidents on what had become a major accident blackspot. To date, Alicante has spent just over 16.3 million euros on major improvements and infrastructure projects in the Marina Alta region, a tribute of the work done by its three representatives, including José Chulvi.

He concluded the presentation by showing a few images from the official website of the Department of Tourism in Jávea which he described as a "beautiful presentation of a town we all love" but finished with a warning that "if we wish to maintain all these beautiful aspects of Jávea and protect our environment we have to say - NO to oil exploration in the Mediterranean!" and outlined the ongoing battle against the proposed oil exploration project in the Gulf of Valencia including a visit to the European Parliament in Brussels with councillor Antonio Miragall (Tourism) - see here for more on this visit - during which PSOE MEP Andrés Perelló arranged several meetings, including an important chat with Nigel Smith MEP, head of the Marine Division of the EU Environmental Commission, Jo Lienen MEP responsible for oil exploration and fracking issues who promised to follow up the issues by visited Jávea after the European elections in May, and Linda McAvan MEP, the British coordinator of the EU Parliamentary Commission for the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. José called for unity against oil exploration just several kilometres off the coast: "Together with the citizens of Jávea we will make every effort to defend our beautiful coastline". Cue strong applause from the floor.

Those present were then invited to ask questions and the first came from a Dutch resident who asked where the Valencian government came into the picture after all the information about Alicante. With the help of George Thomas, president of the PSOE in Jávea, José explained that the position with Valencia is quite complicated and not made any easier by the fact that Jávea is owed a lot of money by the Generalitat. Two main issues are involved: education and health. With regards to the former, the eight schools in Jávea - 6 elementary and two high schools - are the responsibility of the Generalitat, including building repairs although the town hall has carried out necessary window replacements recently. With regards to health, the town hall has been pushing for assurances that medical cover is not reduced over the busier summer season and has been fighting a proposal by Generalitat to reduce the ambulance service. With regards to the latter, the town hall has agreement with the Cruz Roja to provide 24 hour cover for emergencies although it has to find 200,000 euros a year to finance that cover.

The next question concerned the marina which, once again, comes under the authority of Valencia. José explained that there are proposals to improve the port - although not to enlarge it - which would mean that more boats could use it. There are also plans to improve the marina of the Fontana canal, also under the wing of Valencia, and an assessment is to be made to identify requirements.

Cleanliness in the Arenal brought up the issue of land ownership and responsibility. The original question asked what the town hall could do to ensure that the back of the Arenal around Avenida Tamarits and Scallops was kept clean, the inquirer pointing out the return of a funfair as a cause for concern. José said that owners of private property across the municipality were requested to keep it clean and tidy and if they complied to the request then good. However he agreed that cleanliness of the town should be ensured due to its status as a tourist destination. The talk inevitably turned to the long-running saga of the roundabout at Barclays Bank which he admitted was a special problem. He explained that there were four parts that affected the roundabout, two of which have been accepted by the town hall but the other two belong to developers and they should have paid a share to develop the roundabout but have failed to do so. He added that the town hall was looking towards a solution. He also confirmed that the temporary roundabout at the junction of Avenida del Pla and Avenida del Arenal was being made permanent this year.

The issue of IBI was an inevitable query with the questioner asking when those who overpaid were going to receive refunds. José gave a long explanation about the situation which saw IBI rates rise 10% of the value of the property every year after the new rates were set in 2006. The town hall set the wheels in motion to make claims against the rises, citing 345 properties which proved that the rates had been misvalued. It seems that the problem was passed from pillar to post until it eventually came back to Jávea with the Supreme Court ruling in favour of the town hall although only in the case of the 345 properties. After the elections in May 2011, the incoming coalition decided to reduce rates for 2012 and in June the Supreme Court judgement arrived which meant that the town hall would have 8 million euros less in its pot for 2012 and would have to make adjustments. Assessments had to be made using a specialist and the town hall investigated the possibility of reimbursing any money whilst individuals set about taking the town hall to court to force a refund of the overpayment. However judgements ruled in favour of the town hall who had no obligation to repay. Once again, income had to be adjusted for 2012-2013 as rates were set to 2009 levels meaning some 6 million euros less in the pot. José acknowledged it was a long and complicated issue. At the end of the day, the money was taken, it was spent and consequently it cannot be returned. However he said it showed that there had to be good economic management in order for the eleven councillor who run the council to achieve their sole objective and that is to improve Jávea. To this end, they have also worked to bring in those people who had been avoiding paying their fair share of IBI contributions and these residents have had to pay up to four years of back-dated tax.

A question about the controversial oil exploration project brought a simple but passionate response from the mayor. The inquirer asked for a comment on the pro-lobby who said that the exploration project would actually bring jobs to the region. José quoted councillor Antonio Miragall (Tourism) who said: "Xàbia's oil is tourism" before explaining that studies have suggested that any such exploration and subsequent discovery would provide just 1% of the country's energy and it wouldn't create jobs in Jávea but rather work to destroy them, such as the fishing industry. He said that the only benefit would be to the company who would sell their findings for a profit.

The session concluded with random questions on parking meters (the cost of running them was more than the income) and the issue of responsibility for the removal of infected palm trees (which came down to Valencia once again) before it was wrapped up with another request for residents to register with the town hall and get on the 'padrón' to help make sure that the town gets the right funding for its services.

It was a very useful session and, as José Chulvi agreed during a chat afterwards, the importance of getting information out to everyone in Jávea was paramount. Chats like this serve to prove that the mayor and his councillors are moving in the right direction.

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