Two years after being replaced by a coalition of parties led by the socialists (PSOE), Ángeles Muñoz returned to power as mayor of Marbella at the beginning of September, following a vote of no confidence in the incumbent administration.
The mayoress, who represents the centre-right PP party in Marbella, received the largest number of votes in the 2015 municipal elections but did not achieve an absolute majority. As she was not able to find partners to make up the difference, the initiative was then taken by a number of left-wing parties to form a broad coalition alliance, which eventually took power as the new Marbella town hall administration under Mayor José Bernal in 2015.
The previous town hall under Mayor Muñoz had received recognition for its positive role during the difficult years following the international financial crisis, proving to be highly pragmatic in its drive to revive the local economy, which depends so strongly on tourism and the luxury property sector. The new 2010 PGOU planning directive that was enacted to replace the outdated 1986 plan, was however rejected late in 2015, leaving Marbella to revert to the ‘86 PGOU while a new one was to be drawn up.
The coalition town hall that succeeded Ángeles Muñoz also entered with a great desire to make positive contributions, and it has indeed built upon those initiated by Muñoz with its own improvement plans. These included a greater shift towards social programmes and comprehensive infrastructural works in Marbella town and San Pedro Alcántara, which were begun in spring and are expected to be completed later in the year.
The increasing pressure on the coalition administration, however, came from the slow-down in planning approvals, which put many a Marbella project on hold and delayed others. The town hall was accused of not being business-friendly and damaging the Marbella economy, and when comparisons were made with Benahavis and Estepona – where the process for obtaining planning permission is far quicker – the new mayor and his team remained aloof and unwilling to engage.
By the summer the situation had become untenable and a motion of no-confidence was tabled and passed, resulting in the unusual but constitutional replacement of the coalition town hall halfway through its normal tenure. As a result, former mayor Ángeles Muñoz is back in her old post and she has already vowed to do everything within her power to streamline procedures and reduce the time it takes to receive clarity on development plans put forward to the municipal planning department.
“We stay away from party politics, but naturally are pleased if a new mayor commits herself to speeding up the administrative processes upon which a good deal of the local economy depends,” says Altavista’s founder and managing director, Michael Liggan, who represents the view of many in Marbella’s property sector.