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Meeting of 23rd February 2012

Meeting of 23rd February 2012

Alicia Jimenez Gomez led the tour group with her staff interpreting.

A group of 20 members and guests of the Rotary Club Marbella-Guadalmina assembled outside the entrance to the Marbella Town Hall in Orange Tree Square. There we were met by Alicia Jimenez Gomez and Paul (Pablo) her interpreter from the administrative staff of the Town Hall. They took us on an extremely interesting tour of the official rooms in the Town Hall and explained the history and present political and executive functions of each room.

The ground floor, inside the main entrance, was extremely busy and we were told by a lady of the administrative staff that the officials at various desks are there to help Marbella residents with their problems relating to living and owning or renting property in Marbella. Some employees read and write good English and will assist foreigners with completing forms. This area was extremely busy. Many of the people were there to complete their application forms requesting a reduction in the new, extra assessment of Property Tax - IBI - which will be enforced after March 31st 2012.

We were taken to the 1st floor rooms overlooking Orange Tree Square. This is the private office of the Mayor - Angela Muñoz. It is an old, very beautiful room. Pablo explained the history of the room from its origin in the 16th century. There are frescoes from the time when the Catholic Kings replaced the Moslem Caliphs in Andalucía. We were all amazed at this very special place that provides the seat of our town government.

Next, we went to see the Council Chamber on the 2nd floor. In this room the Town Councillors sit around a great ring of tables covered in worn, red leather. The Mayor and town officials sit across one end. Here the council decides which topics should be discussed in the Public Debating Chamber. The room has a beautiful mudéjar style, timber, vaulted ceiling designed in the times of the Moslem rulers and there are some very attractive paintings hanging on the walls.

The last official room that we visited was the Public Debating Chamber where the Mayor presides over council debates. The representatives of opposing parties should sit on opposite sides of the chamber but the PP has such a large majority now that some members have to sit on the wrong side. The debates are televised and broadcast on the local Marbella TV station and members of the public can attend on the last Friday of each month from 10.0am.

After our tour, Alicia joined the Rotary Club Marbella-Guadalmina for a 5 course lunch at Santiago's famous beach-front restaurant on the Paseo Marítimo.