Without significant executive issues to vote on, the March plenary session of the Barcelona City Council had as its main interest this Friday the amendment to the city model of the Government of Ada Colau launched by the opposition groups. Just after ten days horrible in which the commons have seen how the courts overthrew the Catalan rental law (which is no longer in force) and the Low Emissions Zone (still in force because the sentence is not final).
The weekend auction came in the form of texts in which the Junts and Ciutadans groups asked to suspend, respectively, the veto of the most polluting cars; and the Eixample Superilla, another of Colau’s star projects.
Once again it was ERC who saved the mayor with her political support for the two plans. The tripartite resurfaced (common and PSC in the municipal government, with the support of the Republicans) that has never officially been but that so many votes have saved Colau. Ciutadans, the PP and Valents voted in favor of suspending the two projects.
It was also a plenary session plagued by crossfire between the parties. The republicans were especially critical and launched harsh reproaches at Junts, with whom they govern in the Generalitat. “I always see them very close to the Barcelona of the PSC yes”, said the ERC councilor Jordi Coronas. Perhaps it was influenced by the fact that Junts dropped Thursday night from the broad agreement on language policy reached in Parliament. But ERC also attacked the commons and their PSC partners. “A partner is always late and spoils good ideas; the other focuses on making the establishment happy”, launched the mayor Eva Baró.
The leader of Junts in the consistory, Elsa Artadi, and the person in charge of Urban Planning, Janet Sanz, maintained a tense give and take. “You ask for reports, but this is about a city model. Say that they are right-wing, deniers and that way you will have guaranteed the votes of the extreme right”, Sanz snapped. “Man, knowing that they govern thanks to Manuel Valls, it’s not bad,” replied Artadi. And Artadi herself sought a melee with the PSC, asking her where she was in a plenary session where there were no differences between socialists and ordinary people.
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A cocktail of 25 minutes of debate by theme made it clear that the municipal elections are approaching and it’s time to show your nails. Because, seeing the show, it is good to remember that the ordinance of the Low Emissions Zone now annulled by the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC) did not have a single vote against when it was approved in 2019: 80% of the councilors they voted in favour.
The Councilor for Climate Emergency, Eloi Badia, recalled it. “It had no votes against, it had the consensus of the Generalitat, the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona and five municipalities: the ZBE has many fathers and mothers,” he said. He also argued that Barcelona has not complied with European pollution limits since 2010, and that the ZBE was announced three years before it was implemented. The exceptions for special cases or vulnerable groups, he settled, allow “17-year-old cars without a label to circulate.”
None of these arguments avoided criticism. “In the concretion has acted with improvisation, imposition and lack of rigor”, accused from Ciutadans Luz Guilarte. “We doubt if the sentence is for the substance or for the form. Too many times they have implemented good ideas in a disastrous way”, pointed out Max Zañartu, from ERC. “They will be turned against them” warned Francina Vila, from Junts, asking for consensus. Junts, Ciutadans, PP and Valents recalled that the Urban Plan for Hotel Accommodation, the PEUAT, was also annulled, and warned of how expensive it could be for the city if the ZBE fines had to be returned or those affected compensated.
The resources against the Via Laietana slip into the debate
There was no point to deal with the renovation works on Via Laietana, but the announcement by the Fomento del Trabajo employers’ association and the Barcelona Oberta merchants to file legal appeals to stop the works slipped into the plenary session. And if it happened, it was because when discussing other projects such as the Eixample Superilla or the Low Emissions Zone, the opposition criticized the forms and what they understand to be a lack of rigor in the processing of the files. “You and Sánchez Llibre [presidente de la patronal] they are Junts pel no”, said Janet Sanz to Elsa Artadi.
Celestino Corbacho, from Ciutadans, said that he had looked at the “thousand pages” of the Via Laietana file. “There are reports about how the axis has to be for the bus to turn, the height of the streetlights, but not about mobility about what will happen to the 25,000 cars that will stop passing or what their impact will be on the environment.” Corbacho suggested that in files that are in question, a legal report be commissioned to determine if things have been done well.
The proposal of the ‘Amazon tax’, before July 1
Barcelona has been turning around for years on how to create —because it would be unprecedented in the world— a tax levied on large internet commerce companies that make deliveries in the city but neither have premises open to the public nor pay taxes.
It’s not proving easy. who flags the amazon rate within the government of Ada Colau it is the PSC and specifically the councilor Montse Ballarín. Among the allies it has ERC, which this Friday in plenary asked what about a rate that does not arrive. Ballarín boasted of having addressed other complex phenomena such as ghost kitchens and supermarkets with an urban plan that expels them from the city. She admitted that local competitions are limited and that, although they have studied it backwards and forwards, the amazon rate They are big words. What the council is clear about is that the formula is to tax the use of public space by vehicles that deliver purchases made online. Before July 1 there will be a first proposal, he announced.
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