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Local Daily News 24th November

Inflation will delay at least until the 2024-2025 academic year the opening of two key schools in Elche

Two of the most important educational centres that are promised in Elche will have to wait at least two more years to open their doors. The construction of the Virgen de la Luz y Els Arrels special education school (number 37) for Travalón is going to be delayed due to the escalation in the prices of raw materials, which is going to make it necessary to update the projects that have already been drawn up and to have to resume the procedures with the Generalitat Valenciana so that it can assume the increase in the cost of the infrastructures that are included in the Edificant Plan.

The 2024-2025 academic year is the last term that the government team has promised to the educational directorates of both centres so that the students have moved from the old facilities to the new ones. A new delay in the dates will mean that before the municipal and regional elections it has not been possible to start the works of some schools that four years ago received the green light from the Valencian government to assume their construction through the Edificant. In fact, for schools such as Virgen de la Luz, which has been demanding new facilities for at least 20 years, the last date they were given to be able to move to the projected building in the vicinity of the Martínez Valero stadium was December 2023. In the case of number 37, its students have taught since the 2017-2018 academic year, when the centre was created, in the old Carlos III school, in front of San Antón and Los Palmerales.

In order to unblock this unforeseen situation that extends to more works in Elche, the Education and Urbanism departments are working to bring to the plenary meeting next month the price increase for both Els Arrels and Virgen de la Luz, as as confirmed by the mayor María José Martínez. From there, the file will be sent to the Generalitat so that it can assume these extra costs so that the tenders can be carried out with guarantees. This is how other consistories have had to do, such as that of San Joan, where the plenary formally approved a redelegation of powers that meant rejecting the funds initially granted for a school and requesting more budget. For the new special education school in Elche, the Edificant Plan included a budget of 4.8 million and it is estimated that with inflation it will end up costing 7.5 million, while the Travalón nursery and primary school was budgeted at 5.9 million euros, the amount that will rise has not yet been revealed.

Once this procedure has been approved in the municipal plenary session, the aspiration of the Department of Education is that before the May elections the update of the projects has been resolved with the Ministry with the aim of starting at least the bidding for the works of the two centres. A procedure that could last at least half a year, although its duration will also be determined by the companies that want to take on contracts of this magnitude.

From there, the works could begin, between the end of 2023 and the beginning of 2024. However, the estimated term for the Virgen de la Luz is 24 months and for Els Arrels it is 35, times that the municipal administration trusts in which they can be cut at twelve months. Otherwise, the opening of both facilities could be extended even beyond the 2024-2025 academic year.

The traffic jam suffered by the processing of both schools so claimed in the city has made the educational community and the government team have to resign themselves. The mayor of Education, who has held meetings in recent weeks with the addresses of the schools, has given explanations about what happened and the road map that the City Council has to find solutions, which the centres have appreciated.

“If there had not been this impasse, with the projects delivered in August, the works could have started to be tendered, it is a situation that no one likes,” María José Martínez acknowledged.

The under-financing of tourist municipalities generates a "hole" of more than one hundred million euros

The lack of sufficient financing from the State for the tourist municipalities of the Costa Blanca, due to the mismatch between the economic item that comes from the Ministry of Finance based on the population census, and the real needs of the municipalities to attend to their floating population, every year it causes a hole of about one hundred million euros in the municipal coffers, the real amount that should be received, for example, by the ten most important sun and beach tourist municipalities in the province. The glaring example of municipal underfinancing is represented by Benidorm, which with an official census of 65,000 inhabitants -the average real population is 150,000 residents per day with peaks of 400,000 in summer- and an annual budget of 120 million, only receives from the Ministry Treasury 15% of its budget (18 million euros).

While, for example, Alcoy, which has a census similar to that of the tourist capital (65,000 inhabitants), little or no floating population, and a budget of 60 million euros, receives the equivalent of 40% of its accounts from Madrid: 24 million of euros. If the percentage were the same for both towns, Benidorm should have 30 million euros more. A gap that also affects other municipalities with it, such as Dénia, Torrevieja, Calp or, among others, Santa Pola, with population censuses lower than their floating population, and which must make an extraordinary budgetary effort without the necessary financial support.

Efforts that involve doubling services such as municipal human resources, local police officers, garbage management, cleaning and washing down streets or, simply, wear and tear on streets and street furniture. Only Benidorm, for example, has more regulated accommodation places than inhabitants, almost double. Sources from the hotel management and the affected municipalities calculate that, at least, to make a real calculation of the needs, it would be necessary to multiply by three the expenditure of the municipalities that are not tourist.

The Torrevieja City Council has entered a total of 23.6 million euros in State transfers this year and the Government forecast is that there will be 24.2 million in 2023. This represents an increase of 2.7% and represents 24% of the income budget of the municipality, which manages an annual budget of one hundred million euros.

The Councilor for the Treasury, Domingo Paredes, explains that Torrevieja has a registered population of 85,000 people and a floating population in the summer months of more than 400,000 people seems to him an insufficient investment. He does not dare to make an estimate of the income deficit that this lack of correspondence between the transfers from the State and the real population supposes for the municipality. But extrapolating the data, and with a conservative figure of real population of 120,000 residents, the city should receive 33.8 million from the State. At least nine million euros more than now.

The councilor proposes an alternative financing route: “A modification of the VAT income by the Government must be addressed. Tourist municipalities such as Torrevieja must enter a part of the VAT that is consumed in the city to compensate for those services that we provide throughout the year, since this income is conditioned to the registered population and the people of Torrevieja are harmed with this type of financing. In the case of Torrevieja, underfinancing is more pronounced because its tourism is almost exclusively residential and must provide basic public services for one of the largest secondary housing plants in the country, with an accommodation capacity of more than 200,000 beds.

The Alliance of Tourist Municipalities of Sol y Playa, a “lobby” made up of the top ten tourist municipalities in Spain, in which Benidorm is located, has commissioned, in this sense, the consultant PwC a study that makes it possible to define the concept of “Municipality Tourism” to improve the financing of these destinations that lead, according to the alliance, the economic recovery and the sector in Spain.

“Having this definition will make it possible to articulate a financing system that takes into account the resident and the visitor, and that will alleviate the enormous pressure in the provision of services for populations that have only 60,000 inhabitants on average, but that last summer they welcomed and provided services to 10% of all the tourist movement that occurred throughout the country”, according to their data. .

This initiative is developed after the signing of an agreement with the Secretary of State for Tourism to carry out this study that will allow us to delve into this definition in depth and analyse in detail the different financing alternatives for tourist municipalities, which is one of the main objectives of the AMT.

The intention is to have the document in the first quarter of 2023, allowing the sharing and development of its conclusions to establish the new financing possibilities and face the expenses that municipalities entail for having to offer services to a population that seasonally multiplies by four that of registered citizens.

With the definition of ‘Tourist Municipality’ it will also be possible to specify the unique aspects of the eight municipalities that are leading the recovery of the sector after the pandemic, recognizing the tourism industry for its economic contribution and employment, as well as the overload of financing with resources own that supposes for these localities.

The PwC consultancy has a network of firms present in 152 countries with more than 327,000 professionals committed to offering quality services in auditing, tax and legal advice, consultancy and transactions. His work will consist of defining the concept of ‘Tourist Municipality’ for its development in the joint work of the locations of the Alliance and the Ministry of Tourism.

The Sol y Playa Alliance of Tourist Municipalities was born in 2017 with the initiative of eight pioneering tourist destinations in Spain, such as Adeje, Arona, Benidorm, Calvià, Lloret de Mar, Salou, San Bartolomé de Tirajana and Torremolinos. The key objectives are the treatment of the problems that affect the financing of tourist municipalities and the commitment to the digitization of the sector, sustainability, accessibility and cooperation between destinations.

Alert for the fear and anxiety of children when going from primary to secondary school

Minimise the impact that the transition from primary to secondary school supposes for students. This is the objective that the NGO Ayuda en Acción has set itself, for which it has brought together researchers and teaching specialists in conferences held at the University of Alicante, which have highlighted the “fear, anxiety and lack of protection” suffered by children in the transition from sixth grade of primary to the first year of secondary.

It is the first step towards school failure, which originates from a volume of repeaters that in the Community affects one in three students of these ages in the first years of secondary school.

The territorial director of Education in Alicante himself, David Vento, highlights the controversial teaching by fields as pillars of the educational system to combat this situation, that is, that the same teacher teaches several subjects to make the transit of the student more pleasant, as well as the programs of educational support, but he admits that more than half of the secondary school tutors change from one course to another in a large part of the province, which deeply “frustrates” him “because we allow it from the administration but it must be corrected”, he stresses .

He assures that since 2011 the educational inspectorate controls as far as possible that this situation does not occur, since this function is left to the last interim who arrives at the centre to the detriment of the students. “Without teaching continuity there is no continuity in the transition, I would be satisfied with reaching 50% and that the students had an adequate reception because more than that it is a disaster”, he laments.

Solid references for these students are indicated as fundamental at these ages, and even more so when they come from vulnerable environments. Hence, directors of centres in the North Zone of Alicante, invited to the conference, coincide in highlighting the actions from even a decade ago, tending to remit the school absenteeism that worsens in the passage to secondary school.

“The first thing is that they come to school and that the administration take note so that the resources do not disappear because we have a 22% absenteeism rate,” emphasises David García, director of Monte Benacantil, which works cooperatively and has managed to attract families with its participation in class with interactive groups. “You have to open the centre to families and if they come everything changes directly,” he says.

At the Secondary level, Antonio Cutillas, who directs the IES Las Lomas, highlights the close collaboration between teachers from the Primary and Secondary educational area and the excellent results it gives, in addition to highlighting the multiculturalism of his centre as its great strength “with students who accompany those who arrive and incorporate them”.

The teachers themselves are in charge of registering the students to reduce absenteeism and have verified that it is beneficial to leave a specific space in the recess for the first years of ESO, without mixing them with the rest. They discovered it during the pandemic restrictions and have decided to keep it because of its good results.

The UA researcher, Alicia Ferrández, and the vice dean of the Faculty of Education, Isabel Gómez, coincide in stressing that primary and secondary schools should also share the same or similar coexistence programs to facilitate this transition from centre, as well as the involvement of the entire teaching staff, and not only of the psychotherapists.

Ferrández concludes that the anxiety of this transition affects performance and alerts to the change in status that for any student implies going from being the oldest in a centre to the youngest, so they try to find their new identity with the mismatches that this generates a situation that is minimised in subsidised centres by sharing the same building in all compulsory educational stages.

The controversy over the Francoist vestiges in Alicante returns

The Alicante City Council must remove all the Francoist vestiges that remain in the city. And it has until December 9th, one month after the last resolution of the Ministry of Participation, Transparency, Cooperation and Democratic Quality, which has published a new update of the Catalog of vestiges of the Civil War and Dictatorship in the scope of the Valencian Community.

Among those elements “contrary to democratic memory” are the Cross of the Fallen, located between Doctor Gadea and Federico Soto; the Monument to the fallen of Vega Baja, and the ‘Huella de José Antonio’ ​​Memorial in the Alicante cemetery, next to Plaza de Calvo Sotelo, which the Ministry demands that its name be changed, reopening a debate that was already discussed during the tripartite stage, when the street map was revised to remove dozens of streets in relation to the Franco dictatorship. The central government must also remove the stained glass window with the shield of the eagle of San Juan in the Banco de España building.

In this context, the municipal Vox group has decided to take the controversy to the municipal plenary session scheduled for this Thursday. A proposal that will be debated only if it passes the urgency procedure, that is, if a majority of the groups give the green light to the debate and subsequent vote. From the ultra formation it is intended that the Plenary urge the Generalitat Valenciana to “refrain from carrying out any action aimed at the withdrawal of the Cross of the Fallen from Alicante”, also showing “its absolute rejection of the intention of the Generalitat Valenciana to his withdrawal.”

In addition, among the agreements, it also appears that the Plenary exhibits its “absolute rejection of Law 20/2022, of October 19, on Democratic Memory for assuming an instrument of confrontation between the Spanish and the manipulation of history.” The Senate definitively approved the law of the PSOE and Unidas Podemos with the support of Bildu, Más País, PDeCAT and PNV, against the rejection of PP, Vox, Ciudadanos and UPN.

According to the institutional declaration presented by Vox, “the Democratic Memory Law, which came into force on October 21st, is a norm that directly attacks the truth and does so by trying to build a ‘collective memory’ based on to strictly ideological criteria, preventing Spaniards from exercising their freedom of thought and imposing a subjective and malformed vision of the historical reality of Spain”.

And the ultra group goes further, pointing to the minister: “The head of said council is Rosa Pérez Garijo, a recognized communist and, therefore, a follower of the ideology whose history lists more than 100 million murders in all over the world, tens of thousands of them in Spain, among which stands out the massacre of more than 5,000 innocent people -including a large number of women and children- in Paracuellos del Jarama in 1936, with the collaboration of the socialist government of Largo Caballero: Before the drafting of the institutional declaration, Unidas Podemos have asked the municipal government not to accept the proposal.

Through a resolution of September 2021, of the Ministry of Participation, Transparency, Cooperation and Democratic Quality, the agreement of the Technical Coordination Commission was published, by which the Catalog of vestiges of the Civil War and Dictatorship in the area of ​​the Valencian Community, together with the list of the elements contrary to the democratic memory and the dignity of the victims that must be withdrawn or eliminated for not having been voluntarily withdrawn or eliminated, and the general criteria for action on the vestiges of the Civil War and the Dictatorship.

Now, more than a year after that publication, the Ministry considers that it has been appropriate to update the Catalog of these vestiges, “including those that have been reported and suppressing those that have been withdrawn.”

The Catalogue, as the regional government insists, “is an open and non-definitive document that is nourished, in the first place, by the information communicated by the public administrations, mainly the town halls, and also by the communications and complaints made by the entities memorialists, as well as those carried out by the citizens”.

In this regard, the General Directorate for Democratic Quality, Social Responsibility and Promotion of Self-Government has sent a letter to all city councils, including Alicante, where vestiges such as streets, plaques, honours or other elements attached to public buildings or located in the public thoroughfare, of municipal competence, that have not been withdrawn. “They have been made aware, in all cases, that if they do not remove the vestiges contrary to the democratic memory voluntarily, within a month, the initiation of the procedure provided for in article 39.7 of Law 14/2017 proceeds, of November 10th”, according to the Ministry.

That article of the law states that “since the elements referred to in this article have not been withdrawn or eliminated voluntarily, the Valencian Institute of Democratic Memory, Human Rights and Public Liberties will automatically initiate the procedure for the removal of said items. This means that the Valencian Administration will act to remove the vestiges that are within its reach. In those that do not have powers, such as modifying the municipal street map, the refusal of the municipalities to comply with the law will end up in court, according to sources from the ministry.

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