By Humphrey Carter THE newly elected Socialist Mayor of Andratx, Xisco Femenias, admitted yesterday that while the new local authority has been left with a mountain to climb by the previous PP council, whose Mayor was arrested as part of a major investigation into planning corruption, he and his Majorcan nationalist coalition team are looking forward to the challenges ahead and repairing the damage done to the municipality by the former council.

PHOTO: Michels

Femenias, who will be mayor for the next two years and then hand over to one of the other coalition party leaders for the remaining two years of this legislature, told the Bulletin that it was the former PP council's “arrogant abuse of power” which cost them the election. “Local councils have to care about and work in the best interests of everyone in the local community, not themselves,” he said. “The behaviour of the previous council was not good for Andratx and we're still finding little ‘surprises' as we settle in which have to be sorted out before we can set about governing properly. “The former council left us with virtually no money, we're struggling to get to the end of the month. “But, I've called in the tax office and they're working round the clock to resolve the financial situation,” he told the Bulletin.
Sifting through the debris of the planning corruption scandal and re-erecting the foundations of the municipal planning and building department is one of the new Mayor's primary concerns. “Since the building and planning office was frozen as part of the investigation, people have had to deal with developments being halted, there are people paying mortgages for properties which should have been finished by now and in the meantime have had to pay rent for somewhere to live. “I have been given guarantees that within 15 days, the planning and building office will slowly start to function again - a lot of innocent local residents have been forced to pay the consequences of the former Mayor's behaviour.” A Sustainable Development department has already been set up to strictly monitor future building in the municipality and make sure it is sustainable and respectful of the environment. The council is going to finally sign up to the Local 21 sustainable development and environmental management directive.

What is more, all this is going to be done while care and attention to local residents, whatever their nationality, is going to be greatly improved with the creation of a new citizens affairs service. “The aim is to provide a service to help all of Andratx's citizens - foreign or not. “At the end of the day, wherever we are from, we are all citizens of Andratx and, as the local council, we have to start meeting the needs of all the local residents and, once the Town Hall's finances have recovered, we will start to expand the service.

ENGLISH “We will have a few German, French and English speakers on board from the start so they will be able to help,” he said. “We don't believe in distinguishing between who's a foreign resident and those who are not,” he said. “We all live here together and share many of the same problems.” He learnt this first hand when out on the campaign trail with the youngest British candidate to stand at the elections last month, Sylvia Durrant.
Yesterday Femenias paid tribute to the great work she carried out during the campaign and said that he would like to publicly thank her for her dedication. “Everybody worked hard and if I'd known before the elections the kind of welcome I would get from the community on being declared Mayor, I personally would have worked even harder,” he said.

Femenias had been planning on running his new bar which is to open in Andratx village in two weeks but admitted yesterday that his wife and family are going to have to care for the new business for the time being.