"There is much to be resolved in the Algarve, in public services and health in particular, in mobility, in the need to value their resources," said the parliamentary leader of the Left Bloc as he presented a schedule of visits in the region.
The forthcoming Algarve jolly includes "more than a dozen visits to all sectors, ensuring that there is no area that escapes proposals from the parliamentary group," said Pedro Filipe Soares.
The Bloquistas will join the Algarve colleagues and split up to cover as much ground as possible over two days of talks, starting tomorrow, Friday June 2nd, with fishermen at Docapesca in Portimão, then on to the medical centre in São Brás de Alportel, followed by a chat with Civil Protection managers in Loulé.
Importantly, the group of Left Bloc MPs will be visiting the ‘Salgados – Praia Grande ‘Eco’-Resort’ site between Armação de Pêra and Galé where MillenniumBPC intends to sell the resort at planning stage to any international investor willing to take the risk of facing stiff and well organised opposition from environmentalists and locals.
The plan to trash a much loved natural area by building yet another golf course, three hotels and the usual uninspiring collection of ‘tourist villages’ has ended up in MillenniumBPC's lap and the bank is keen to sell on the project to avoid further bad publicity which has started to affect its brand.
The Left Bloc wants "more action and fewer words to end this sort of environmental attack,” in a direct reference to the ‘Salgados – Praia Grande ‘Eco’-Resort.
Next, it’s off to the site of the Roman city of Balsa near Luz de Tavira and on to the Francisco Fernandes Lopes Secondary School in Olhão, followed by a meeting with union bosses at Faro airport, on to Portimão hospital and then to a meeting with the Firemen's union in Faro.
That’s Friday: on Saturday, there is a march on the EN125 against tolls on the A22 motorway which starts at 10:30 am in Lagoa.
"More needs to be done for greater equality among the citizens of the country. The Algarve, being a peripheral region, has difficulties with many public services. During these visits, especially to health services, we will demonstrate how more investment is needed in order to guarantee the rights of the population," said Pedro Filipe Soares.
"The Algarve has problems with its railway, with access to public transport and has problems arising from the introduction of tolls on the A22," said Soares, adding that the march on the EN125 will be attended by pretty much the entire Left Bloc parliamentary group and will show that that road "is no alternative at all to the motorway and that this march aims to result in the end of the tolls on the A22".
The Left Bloc is highly critical of a statement made by the Secretary of State for Tourism when recently she signed a protocol for the installation of electric vehicle charging stations in the Algarve. Ana Mendes Godinho stated that the region “has all the conditions to be a world leader in sustainable tourism.”
For the Algarve’s Left Bloc, "environmental sustainability, fundamental for preserving the environment, landscape and even climatic conditions that attract tourists to the region, is not limited to installing electric vehicle charging stations," which is no more than "a drop in an ocean of things to be done."
As for oil and gas exploration, "It should be borne in mind that, although several exploration and exploration licenses have successfully been canceled, there are still some that are in force and it’s essential they suffer the same fate.”
Ending on the Salgados mega-project, the Left Bloc states that “It is necessary not to try and hide the fact that real estate speculation is back in force, coveting some of the few still reasonably well preserved areas along the Algarve’s coast. There is a special urgency over the planned project for Lagoa dos Salgados, between Silves and Albufeira, which despite being presented as ‘ecological’ involves destroying one of the main saltwater wetlands on the coast south of the Tagus," read the statement, welcomed by environmentalists and the 34,117 signatories to the ‘Save Salgados’ online petition.
The Left Bloc Algarve says it would like to see the government undertake "more concrete action and fewer words to put an end to the worst offences and to actually prevent the continued degradation of the environmental and landscape quality in the region", in addition to "firm and understandable rules against construction by the sea, an elementary precautionary measure is needed against the effects of global warming, rather than the current ambiguities that seem only to be enforced when construction is not carried out by companies with economic power."
"Without concrete and effective action, one day, very soon, we will discover that the Algarve no longer has any conditions to be a world leader in sustainable tourism. Then it will no good crying over spilled milk," concludes the Left Bloc.