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Blog de discussão política do concelho de Silves. - "Porque um concelho que exige mais dos seus políticos, tem melhores políticas e é um melhor concelho."
New Silves Mayor vows to protect Salgados Lagoon
In one of her first interviews since taking the reins at Silves Council, newly-elected Mayor Rosa Palma addresses the surprise victory of her Communist-Greens alliance (CDU) and tells The Portugal News she will endeavour to protect the Salgados Lagoon – “one of the Algarve’s last remaining ecological oases” – from mass construction.
After sixteen years in Silves’ driving seat the PSD social democrats were ousted in this year’s local elections, on 29 September, by CDU, a coalition made up of the PCP communist party and the greens ‘Os Verdes’.
It was seen by many as a surprise result, but not to the new Mayor of Silves Rosa Palma, who was sworn in last week Monday (21 October).
“Throughout the electoral campaign we noticed more and more that it was in fact possible for us to win Silves, which proved right”, Rosa Palma tells The Portugal News.
Known for “keeping their word” and being “entirely immune to corruption and promiscuous connections”, Palma claims CDU candidates highlight the party’s “uncompromising defence of public interest and spirit of mission.”
Their victory in Silves, she says, is “mainly due to the quality and credibility of the team, as well as CDU’s credibility as a political force and broad coalition (made up by an independent majority), which stands out for the humble and serious way it makes contact with the population.”
Given that the CDU coalition also incorporates green party ‘Os Verdes’, many were quick to question whether this would bear any influence on the advancing of a controversial development project at the Salgados Lagoon in Pêra, or Pêra Marsh, which falls under Silves’ domain.
It was announced last year that the local authorities had given their backing to a massive tourist resort including three hotels and a golf course, to take shape at the natural beauty spot, which is popular among bird-watchers and nature lovers from all over the world.
“Evidently it will [influence the on-goings]”, Rosa Palma replies, pledging that the party’s position on the matter has not changed in light of the electoral win; “Rather the contrary, it has only further legitimised our aspirations to safeguard one of the last ecological ‘oases’ in the Algarve.”
As the Mayor of Silves, Rosa Palma vows she will “seek to protect the unique ecological habitat which, from a tourism point of view, should be valued and used in a way that does not involve mass construction.”
She continues: “We know there are urban commitments for that area, but we will keep an eye on the situation because the community has realised that building for building’s sake does not necessarily bring wealth and employment, particularly when we are referring to worn-out formulas that imply the destruction of areas that are ecologically sensitive and which, for being so rare in the Algarve, justify being safeguarded and protected.”
News of the project caused an immediate backlash, with the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (spea), part of global organisation Birdlife International, calling it a “mega-attack on the environment.”
A petition was launched in June last year to protect the Salgados lagoon from any development and has so far amassed more than 22,000 signatures.
On Wednesday this week a spokesperson for CCDR-Algarve, which was responsible for carrying out an Environmental Impact Study (EIA) on the project, told The Portugal News that the finished file has been dispatched to Lisbon and is currently waiting to be signed off by the State Secretary for the Environment.
Once it has the State Secretary’s stamp of approval construction can begin.
The EIA’s initial conclusions were vehemently contested by those opposing the project during a phase of public consultation which ended earlier this year on 26 July.
Meanwhile, Rosa Palma says her immediate priority is “getting to know, in a thorough and detailed manner, the economic and financial situation of Silves, so we can restructure municipal accounts and elaborate, from here on in, serious, credible and transparent budgets.”
Once that objective has been achieved the Silves Mayor believes it will help “wipe out the bad image” that has been built up of Silves “over the past 16 years, of a county with pot-holed roads, with rubbish to be picked up, with a lack of cleanliness and public hygiene, and degraded or abandoned places of collective use.”
She is also aiming to boost the local economy “which at the moment is paralysed”, to guarantee more job opportunities and help the underprivileged, “limiting as much as possible the harmful effects of the serious and profound economic and financial crisis affecting our country and the county.”
The restoration of degraded areas such as the Caixa d’Água neighbourhood, the Silves castle hillside, the renovation of Armação de Pêra Casino and interventions in the historic centres of Silves’ parishes will happen, Mayor Rosa Palma says “as and when the council’s financial difficulties are resolved.”
Um texto publicado no Portugal News (site e jornal), onde a nova Presidente assume a vontade de proteger a Praia Grande da betonização. Resta saber se terá força e condições para travar a malta "dos aventais"... é que nesta matéria, e neste ponto de situação, o poder local pode fazer muito pouco. Por isso mesmo inventaram os PIN - Projectos de Interesse Nacional, uma "inovação" de José Sócrates que permite ao Governo fazer aquilo que as autarquias não querem fazer.