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Juan Lozano requests Brexit meeting with Chief Minister Fabian Picardo

Martin Serrano · Photos: Fran Montes

“I’d like an official meeting with Picardo as soon as possible, because anxiety about Brexit is mounting” – Juan Lozano requests Brexit meeting with Chief Minister Fabian Picardo

The new president of the Federation of Municipalities of the Campo de Gibraltar is in a tight spot. It’s late summer and his holiday has been cut short in order to sign pay cheques – his first as the top local leader – and to speak Reach-Alcance.

Former socialist candidate for Mayor of Algeciras, Juan Lozano, is fond the institution’s headquarters, a small mansion built in the twenties, in the somewhat neglected Acacias Park (also known as Smith’s Park), a site which, however appears in the ‘Catalogue of Andalusian Heritage’ as a ‘Garden of Cultural Interest’. Juan Lozano is the regional institution’s ninth president, and the sixth PSOE member to hold this position.

Juan Lozano presidente de la Mancomunidad

How have your first days in office been?

I like this emblematic and beautiful building, but the previous team left the institution in disarray. This used to be the seat of strong political body, one that carried out the demands of the citizens, and yet we have found it vacant and in breach of regulations which require it to have electronic facilities.

We have a new general secretary who started at the same time as me, only to find she doesn’t even have a computer. Instead of being enhanced and properly equipped the building has been emptied. We want to revive its political presence as well as representing companies such as Arcgisa (the Campo de Gibraltar’s public utilities and cleaning company) , which boasts a magnificent work force but which according to the Accounts Committee has accumulated a deficit of €1,300,000 over the last two years in a trend which looks to be repeated in 2019.

Mancomunidad Campo de Gibraltar

Will the management of Arcgisa which you complain of prevent the promised lowering of taxes?

We must reduce the debt and deal with the defaulting of the city councils. There are eight mayors represented by the Council of Mayors of Arcgisa, who will have to decide on the accounts and the measures to be taken to ensure the best public service at the lowest possible cost. Having said that, I am not going to deceive the citizens. Nothing tells me that the previous team lowered taxes and rates in a manner that could now lead the water company to bankruptcy. Were these measures the sensible ones or motivated by populism?

What role will the Federation of Municipalities play with regard to the Brexit threat?

That which I have always argued for. As a body representing the entire Campo de Gibraltar, I am aware that Brexit is going to affect all of us, particularly La Línea. The “memos” agreed to respond to an orderly Brexit may well prove to be obsolete if there is a no-deal Brexit. We want to participate in all the negotiations, and we want to know now what measures will be taken by the central government in Madrid and the regional one in Andalucía.

Will you be contacting Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo?

Campo de Gibraltar Juan Lozano Fabian Picardo

I have this in mind, in fact, arrangements for an official meeting are being made even as we speak. In my opinion, we must have good relations. We breathe the same air, and bathe in the same waters. We have so many things in common, and I want institutional relations to be the same as those maintained by the people on both sides.

Is the lack of information relating to Brexit contributing to a general state of nerves?

It’s true that there is a growing anxiety among the thousands of Spaniards who work in Gibraltar, as well as the business interests of companies here and on the other side.

We must avoid those who are set on adding fuel to the fire – which is exactly what some politicians in our area do, and which I find inexplicable.

How do you envisage the establishment of Gibraltarian companies in La Línea and the rest of the Campo?

I don’t have any details, but I can already tell you that I support a special tax system for the district, particularly for La Línea. This would facilitate the establishment of Gibraltarian companies that could continue under the umbrella of the EU. We must assert our uniqueness.

Have any investments been put on hold?

I must remind you that there is a government that had budgeted one thousand million euros for investment in the Campo de Gibraltar, and the right wing parties scuppered it. We are wasting a lot of time.

The railways, land communications, access to the port, the Vejer-Algeciras road and all the paralysis currently being experienced is the fault of the PP, which budgeted 35 million euros for the train for eight years, but every time a new railway sleeper was added they were there for the pictures. It’s outrageous. There is a budget of 400 million euros, and those in the photo shoot are the ones who put a stop to it. The PP should not continue deceiving its citizens; too many photos, but…

TOURISM AND CULTURE

Lozano aims to revive the supposed languor of the Federation of Municipalities by making it more well known. They ask him what it is and what it is for, “and this is the result of the low key of recent years, because here, there is no Media Department, nor do we have a portal for transparency, and that is the first thing we must solve.”

The same applies to tourism, “we thrive on tourism, but our predecessors had not even bothered to reserve our booth at FITUR (tourism fair). We have nothing.” Even the traditional contacts which take place when there is a transfer of powers, “not for the president nor for his delegates.”

Fitur-San-Roque-Reach-Alcance
FITUR 2019

And, with regards to the Instituto de Estudios Campogibralteños, (Institute of Studies of the Campo de Gibraltar) “we want to promote it so we must seek funding to continue its improvements.” Lozano sees the IECG as a vehicle for cultural relations and the exchange of knowledge with Gibraltarian scholars, “we will always value the presence of Gibraltar as a means to work together.”

“I’d like an official meeting with Picardo as soon as possible, because anxiety about Brexit is mounting” – Juan Lozano requests Brexit meeting with Chief Minister Fabian Picardo

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