An institutional meeting to promote the municipality
Arboleas is a different municipality in the interior of the province of Almería. At a time when depopulation has become a survival problem for the vast majority of small towns, Arboleas went from having 1,300 inhabitants to more than 5,000 in 20 years. The reason for this is simple: residential tourism caused the arrival of residents from other countries, mainly from the United Kingdom, to a town designed and built so that they could enjoy the sun and the good climate.
Cristóbal García (PSOE), with some interval, has been at the head of the Town Hall for 40 years and is one of those responsible for bringing “prosperity” to his town.
But for “some reason that I don’t know” in the words of the mayor, Arboleas has never been “recognised” and in comparison with neighbouring municipalities with fewer inhabitants, the people of Arboleas do not enjoy services that other localities do. I don’t want anyone to have anything taken away from them, I just want them to give us what we deserve,” says the mayor in the Plenary Hall where he received the Government Delegate of the Junta de Andalucía, Maribel Sánchez Torregrosa.
The mayor’s reflection is not a reproach because he believes – and so he says – that his party colleagues in 36 years at the head of the autonomous government, have not given Arboleas a fair treatment either.
“We have 150 workers in the Arboleas industrial estate that the Junta still does not know about. All the money that comes to us is invested in the service sector. We have worked with the idea of building welfare and development, trying to create a town that is referenced”.
But in the municipality, as in others, all money is little. In addition to this, there are those who have decided to live not only in the town centre, but also in one of the 20 urban centres that make up the municipal area. More than 50 kilometres of roads are under local jurisdiction and seven bridges, which with the heavy rains need attention and resources.
They have a recently built Health Centre but only two doctors with a ratio far above the recommended ratio of one for every 1500 inhabitants.
Arboleas has no old people’s home but a population of 3600 pensioners. “We need to acquire normality”, says the mayor who reaches out to the administrations to try to bring basic and indispensable services to his village.
Lapis Specularis mine complex
In this context, the Delegate of the Junta visited the Roman mine which the municipal government is trying to promote as a tourist attraction to attract visitors to the town. It is a complex of seven mines located in the Limaria area, one of the most important deposits of “Lapis Specularis” in the country, which the Romans exploited 2000 years ago. It was there that mirror or selenite gypsum was extracted, which was used to glaze the windows of the city of Pompeii, for example, where it was brought from the ports of Villaricos or Cartagena.
The mark of the Roman Empire is also evident in Arboleas, in addition to the Macael stone, the talc of Suflí and the iron of Serón. Undoubtedly a manifestation that brings us back to our history that should be exposed and known not only for its documentary value, but also for the possibilities it offers to local economies.
The Government Delegate has seen first hand the current state of the mine. Sánchez Torregrosa explained that “it is a jewel of geology, which has yet to be polished. From the Andalusian administration we are going to study the different possibilities to try to collaborate with the Arboleas Town Hall in the opening of this mine from the Roman period”.
Sánchez Torrerosa highlights the investment drive of the Junta de Andalucía with the Almanzora Region
The Delegate of Juanma Moreno in the province has highlighted investments “as relevant” as the works to improve the guarantee of water supply to the municipalities of the Almanzora Valley, among which is Arboleas, with resources from the reservoir of Cuevas del Almanzora and the desalination plant of Carboneras. This project has an investment of seven and a half million euros. Another important asset is the commitment to connect the Almanzora motorway with the A-7. Fifty million euros have been invested over the last three years, and the work will be completed at the beginning of 2023.
The Government delegate highlighted the Andalusian Government’s commitment to Arboleas with such important projects as the reinforcement and conservation of the rainwater drainage channel and the protection wall of the municipal WWTP in the Los Menchones neighbourhood, with a budget of more than 86,700 euros.
The Government delegate also recalled the commitment of the Regional Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Sustainable Development to Arboleas with projects such as the creation of the new sewer and the new Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) in the town centre. The projects are currently in the tendering phase for the drafting of the projects and more than 107,000 euros will be invested in them.
At the meeting, the representative of the regional government in the province highlighted the role of digitalisation in the growth and promotion of the municipality, which has been one of the beneficiaries of the aid promoted by the regional government for the implementation of technologies in municipal tourism resources and facilities (Munitic). In this case it has received an amount of almost 30,000 euros for tourism promotion through the implementation of an App and audio guides.
The delegate of the Junta has valued the support to the municipalities that the Government of Juanma Moreno is carrying out during this period with projects that aim to generate employment, such as the Air Plan, where 45,000 euros have been invested. He has also highlighted the immediacy of the Andalusian Government that after the heavy rains of the Dana in 2019, it took only fifteen days to transfer 60,000 euros to the City Council of Arboleas to solve the damages suffered.