Edition 1445
14 October 2017
Edition: 1445

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Lagoa mayor looks to build on first mandate

by Brendan de Beer, in Algarve · 21-09-2017 14:55:00 · 0 Comments

Lagoa Mayor Francisco Martins has revealed his plans for the council for the coming four years should he be re-elected in the upcoming October municipal elections.

Lagoa mayor looks to build on first mandate

After ending several decades of Social Democratic rule in 2013 when he was elected as Mayor of Lagoa running for the Socialist Party, Francisco Martins has said that while much has changed in the city the past four years, the major changes and projects for the city of Lagoa will only become visible in the coming mandate.
“I plan for the future and I’m not doing what I’m doing to win an election, otherwise I would not have programmed the major works for the second half of the project”, he explains.
As an example of what Lagoa residents can look forward to between now and 2021, he reveals: “We have been talking about parking in Carvoeiro and Ferragudo for 20 years and now I can say we will have that problem resolved in two to three years.”
He also said that Lagoa will be given back to the people.
“For years we have planning cities around cars, but we are looking to change that and plan the city for people. While we have to maintain what makes Lagoa special, we are also striving to modernise the city and its surroundings at the same time.”
Mayor Martins said that currently Lagoa has an annual budget of just over 7m per year, or €30m per mandate, and will continue to invest in projects that increase the mobility and well-being of the city’s residents.
Reflecting on the past four years in the Town Hall, the Lagoa Mayor says he has “enjoyed the job and the experience. But we lost a lot of time. I honestly felt there would be projects in the pipeline, but I didn’t even have a meeting with my predecessor to discuss work in progress.
“But all those who were there before me can take credit in what Lagoa is and what it has become since the 25 April [revolution in 1974].”
As for the increasing number of people moving to the municipality, he says: “We have large foreign community, which ranges between 10 and 15 percent. Lagoa is increasingly attractive and people are choosing to live here because of the quality of life that can be enjoyed in the city.”
He adds that Lagoa regularly participates in international shows, promoting the city and its wine, “often being the sole representative of the Algarve at these fairs and exhibitions.”
He also reveals that the Ferragudo Marina project remains on the table and is back on course.
“I had a recent meeting with the promoters and they have a number of investors supporting the project and there is a time limit for them to take advantage of the licensing which was granted several years ago.”
Renovation work will also be carried out on the nearby Angrinha beach, upgrading the fishing huts on the beach.
The Alagoas Brancas debacle has been a major issue for numerous local residents who have staged protests and drawn up petitions against plans to build on the freshwater wetlands.
When questioned on the thorny issue, the mayor explains that an urban plan for the area was approved in 2008.
“At the time, local entities and local residents did not oppose the move. In addition, environmental agencies said the land was an area of no significance in ecological terms”, he reveals, before adding: “I’ve been living in Lagoa for 42 years. That whole area used to be a lake, and over several decades that area has changed dramatically, and nobody initially opposed building back in the day as it was an area riddled with mosquitoes and had a constant stench.”
Francisco Martins says that the two separate consultations staged in 2008 and 2013 allowed for opposition to building on the wetlands, but nobody spoke up.
He says there are currently only two solutions to the problem, the first being a massive pay-out to promoters coupled with years in courts and the ensuing legal battles which the council can ill afford. Or, secondly, for environmental agencies such as the APA to step in, “and if they were to say stop, work would have to stop. But personally, I think plans to build there are an aberration.”
He insists that his hands are tied, and even though he feels there is an abundance of commercial areas in the council as it stands, only the competent environmental agencies such as the Portuguese Environmental Agency (APA) have the power to stop whatever might be built on the land.
Another issue which continues to spark debate are tolls on the A22 motorway.
“The connection between the Algarve and Andulusia, Faro-Seville, is fundamental to our economy”, says Mayor Martins: “We need to stand together as we did to fight oil drilling in the Algarve. But we don’t have the power. The whole of the Algarve has the same population as Amadora, so it is not that easy to be heard. But the manner of payment for tourists coming over from Spain is ridiculous.”
He also laments the fact that people enter the Algarve by road from all over Europe, some of whom are of the impression you have to pay to enter Portugal.
In addition, he says, roadwork on the EN125 has now seen much of the road painted with a solid white line.
“From an economic point of view, businesses have no option but to head on to the A22 motorway or face losing several hours travelling on the EN125”, he argues.
As he did four years ago, Francisco Martins underlines that his project for Lagoa is one that will require “10 to 12 years of work”, but that after four years in power, he feels the city is heading in the right direction and will only keep building on its unofficial status as an “oasis in the Algarve”.

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Edition 1445
14 October 2017
Edition: 1445

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

Twitter