|The Benidorm Fallas located at the Rincon|
The traditional Burning of the Fallas on Monday night almost didn't take place in Benidorm! The City Council owe the fire service 549,000 euros from 2011 and last Friday the Provincial Fire agency sent a fax to the Town Hall announcing that they would not be sending fire crews to the annual burning's until it had been paid. The following day they rellented as they were informed that the socialist Mayor of the town, Augustin Navarro had promised to pay the debt "immediately" on Tuesday morning - literally with cash to avoid this crisis. This would have been a disaster for the town and for all those that had come to Benidorm specially to watch the burning at midnight. This does not affect normal cover of emergencies - only "special events" such as this and other occasions where the "bomberos" are required. Can you imagine the embarrassment to the Council if they had had to cancel the burning due to an unpaid bill and what the press would have made of it!
Well Tuesday morning arrived but surprise surprise, or perhaps not, the Mayor didn't show up. The president of the Provincial Fire Institute Luisa Pastor was somewhat puzzled that firstly he didn't show and even more annoyed that he had not even bothered to call and cancel.
The Mayor gave a different version of events and denied that he had made a promise to pay the outstanding debt claiming to have called to cancel the meeting and re-schedule for today, Thursday. Navarro is due in Alicante at 11.30am but will he turn up is anyone's guess.
The City Council also have outstanding debts with the fire service from 2010 and the total amount stands at 820,000 euro's. The Mayor stated that in a meeting held in December it was agreed that they were granted an extension until April to pay the outstanding amount due - quite where they plan on finding this money is any ones guess.
|Fire fighter tending to a burning palm in Valencia|
The Council owe money to a host agencies and suppliers including the electricity companies - many schools have no heating or lighting for part of the day and Town Hall workers have to personally go to the Post Office to send official documentation and pay in cash!
Its somewhat worrying to see what will happen with the Fire department and whether they can, or will stop providing "special event" services until paid. It will certainly have a damaging effect on the town if it is not sorted out quickly.