The government has appointed José Pacheco as the new chairman of the board of directors of the discredited Sociedade Polis Litoral Ria Formosa and Rogério Gomes as a new board member. Polis is to be wound up on December 31st 2016.
The two appointments replace Sebastião Teixeira and João Alves who resigned at the end of October after their mishandling of the Ria Formosa property demolition fiasco.
José Pacheco, a landscape architect currently working at the Algarve's Regional Coordination and Development Commission (CCDR-Algarve), and was formerly at the Department of Nature Conservation and Forestry of the Algarve, will take over the Polis presidency on Thursday, according to the Environment Ministry. Rogério Gomes is a Law graduate.
The demolition plan for Ria Formosa island properties at Hangares, Farol and Culatra remains on the cards but now in consultation with those affected and will concentrate on vacant properties, leaving aside those that are lived in by islanders.
Teixeira had to resign or be sacked because he was pressing ahead with demolitions in the face of legitimate claims from islanders that they had every right to live in their homes.
Finally, Teixeira’s new boss, Environment Minister João Matos Fernandes, had taken enough adverse publicity and informed parliament that he would look at the demolition process on a ‘house by house’ basis.
This was the day before eviction notices, sent out by Teixeira, started to arrive on islanders’ doorsteps. The minister has been upstaged and Teixeira had to go, which he did but not before submitting a long letter complaining that he was just following orders and omitting to say that he was acting against the minister’s instructions.
The islanders' protest at their treatment by Polis and the demolition process left the situation deadlocked after Loulé court accepted injunctions to halt demolitions.
Polis has been responsible for the Ria Formosa Coastal Programme approved in 2005 and had ten years in which to carry out its various tasks before being wound up. In this it has failed and has left many projects still to start or half-finished in a bid to have its life once again extended and those on the pay-roll to keep their jobs.
The appointment of two new board members starting at the beginning of December, with Polis due to be wound up on December 31st, indicates a further year's extension may be applied for and granted by the Environment Minister.
If there is an extention, the reviled Sebastião Teixeira again will be in charge of the islanders' future as the Polis remit will pass to the Portuguese Environment Agency where Teixeira remains in charge of the Algarve section.
José Pacheco is arriving just in time to launch a full audit into the Society's finances with many viewing with suspicion Sebastião Teixeira's determination to push through the multi-million euro demolition prgramme as being a necessary part of a deal with the contractor.