The president of the Generalitat, José Montilla, has admitted that the government made mistakes in communication during the snowstorm that affected Catalunya last Monday, but denied other failings on the part of his administration (read article in Catalan here, Avui). Speaking in an hour-long interview on Catalan television yesterday, Montilla defended the general management of the crisis, which saw serious problems in transportation as well as the loss of electricity in significant areas of Girona province (see news story below). He also said that he wouldn’t call early Generalitat elections, currently set for the autumn, or reorganise the current make-up of the government in light of the problems experienced and mistakes made. Montilla was asked three times whether the interior minister, Joan Saura, had offered his resignation as a result of recent events, and each time avoided answering the question. With his television appearance, Montilla was seeking to regain the upper hand against those accusing the government of communication and co-ordination problems, both from opposition politicians and the general public.
The mayors from 136 towns that were affected by last week’s power cut following the heavy snow on Monday have launched a joint call for the electricity company Fecsa-Endesa to take responsibility for the black-out, which has lasted over a week in some places (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). The initiative has been led by the town council of Lloret de Mar, one of the worst-affected towns by the lack of power; yesterday, it approved a manifesto asking for the relevant bodies to take responsibility for the week of problems experienced by thousands of residents and businesses. The manifesto, entitled ‘Re-making the country, improving services: for the dignity of the residents of the Girona counties’, has been taken up so far by 136 towns in the Girona and Costa Brava area, according to the mayor of Lloret, Xavier Crespo, speaking yesterday morning on Catalan radio station, RAC 1. As well as the electricity company, the manifesto calls on the government to join their demand to Fecsa-Endesa that power be completely re-established (more than 3,000 people in 25 different towns are still without power) and that they force the company to do an audit of all its power distribution lines.
The platform El Torn del Born, which includes the support of former Barcelona mayor and Catalan president Pasqual Maragall, as well as residents and business-owners, and is being led by a collective of architects, was launched yesterday in protest at the current reform of the old Born market (read article in Catalan here, Avui). The collective of architects is hoping to radically influence the current reform project with a new plan: rather than construct the planned elevated walkways above the historic archaeological remains from the 18th-century that were uncovered during works to build a new library in the market, the group of architects wants the space to be totally opened, as if it were a square, and to cover the remains making them only visible underground. The Born market was closed in 1971, but following years of discussion about what to do with the space and some ad hoc events being staged there, in 2000, it was agreed that a new provincial library would be located there; however, in 2002, remains were found of the neighbourhood that had existed in the area before the siege and fall of Barcelona in 1714 and a plan undertaken to protect and preserve them. This project foresees an open-plan space that can host events and exhibitions, and is due to open in 2012. However, despite this, there have been ongoing discussions as to whether this is the best fate for the old market, to which El Torn del Born has now added its voice.
Also in the news: Fears for Costa Brava tourism as a result of power cuts (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico); Work to start on new Barcelona prison, to be located in Zone Franca, by the end of this year (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico); House prices fell by 4.3 percent in 2009 (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia)