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With no sign of the ongoing financial problems easing, 3 local towns in the area have decided to join forces in an effort to reduce costs. Yesterday the Mayors of La Nucia - Bernabe Cano, Altea - Miguel Ortiz and Alfaz - Vincent Arques held a meeting at the Palau in Altea and announced that in order to cut costs in the height of the crisis they intend to share the management of municipal services. The areas predominantly being looked at include Infrastructure, Finance, Culture and Sports.

Alfaz Town Hall
The combined population of the 3 towns in question is in the region of 100,000, with many of those being foreign residents. For example, 56% of La Nucia´s "official" population is from other countries of the EU, the top being the UK. When I say official that is those that have registered on the Padron - many do not register so the figures are probably far higher.

When you move to Spain it is obligatory to register on the Padron in your town where you reside - you do not have to own you house to register. The Padron is a means for the Town Hall to know how many people live in the area and central Government allocates money according to how many people are registered on the Padron. Therefore if you are not registered, your Town Hall is losing money for the provision of health centres, police officers, fire fighters and schools. Many people seem reluctant to register fearing that it will affect their tax position etc - this is NOT the case. It is a very easy process to register - you need to fill out a form and take it to the padron office at the Town Hall along with your NIE or passport and proof of where you live such as a recent utility bill, rental contract or escatura (deeds) to your property.

Altea Town Hall
The 3 towns in question are all within 5km of each other so it does seem logical for them to share amenities - till now they have almost been in competition, trying to out shine each other. La Nucia has a first class Sport Centre with huge indoor swimming complex which the other towns do not offer. Currently those that live in the town have a discounted rate to use the facilities and the plan would be to also include residents of Alfaz and Altea in this scheme.

La Nucia Town hall
A working party has been created to discuss other areas which could potentially be pooled together, such as refuse collection services. The combined population of the 3 towns would give it stronger negotiating powers than even Benidorm, which has a population of 70,000. The plan would be to instigate these into the 2013 budget proposals with the plus side that IBI bills could potentially come down - IBI is the Spanish equivalent of the UK´s Council tax. If for example they decide on using one refuse collection company for all 3 towns then they would have greater scope for bargaining, which is all good news for the residents.

Bernabe Cano stressed that the fundamental objective was that they can offer more services which are better and cheaper without duplicating them which is important at this time as there is little public investment. Vincent Arques also highlighted that 2 different political parties are working together for the good of its citizens, putting political differences aside -La Nucia and Altea are both PP (Conservative) and Alfaz is PSOE (Labour) and Miguel Ortiz added that they should "think of a future together to be more effective". Wow, seems like even the politicians are starting to think logically!

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