Albert Batlle, deputy mayor for Security and councilor responsible for the Ciutat Vella district, is a fundamental part of the new municipal government of Barcelona, that of mayor Jaume Collboni. Batlle is in charge of carrying out three of this executive's main objectives for the current mandate, the Endreça Plan - the recovery of Barcelona's public space -, the reform of the civics ordinance and also a comprehensive remodeling of the neighborhoods of Ciutat Vella.
And well, how is the tidiness of Barcelona?
It's still early to take stock, we've only had a few weeks, we'll assess it when the summer is over, but the truth is that so far it's going well. The Endreça Plan is truly a comprehensive approach to all the problems linked to the use of public space in a city as dense as Barcelona. We're not just talking about security. The Endreça Plan is a transversal program. Miri, at the Gràcia festivities, graffiti was done against tourism, and the brigades cleaned it up immediately. Let's see who gets tired first, the cleaner or the dirtier. What kind of fight justifies graffiti? It seems to me a beast, the truth. And the mayor has already sung the cane to those responsible for the new cleaning contract. We are having a reasonably good summer, with a massive presence of tourists without serious incident. It should be borne in mind that the arrival of tourists attracts people engaged in illegal activities.
Now it seems that one of their priorities is the fight against illegal peddling...
We have been fighting against illegal trade for more than four years. For me it is a big priority since I was appointed Deputy Mayor of Security in 2019. Then it was residual and now it continues to be. It was not reduced during the pandemic.
But the maintainers say that they haven't been pressured in this way for a long time, doesn't the replacement at the mayor's office have anything to do with this?
The manters are under the same pressure as in 2019. What happens is that we now have more urban guards, and in this way we can have a little more impact on the issue. The fight against street vending without a permit is a long and sustained battle, a continuous pulse.
And what is the next step?
We will dialogue with the rest of the municipal groups to reform the civics ordinance. And we will also seek citizen complicity, we will promote civility among all.
People believe that most of the fines issued under the civility ordinance are not collected...
Most of these fines are processed, and we hope that they will also be collected very soon. Improving the collection of these penalties is one of the aspects we are already studying. At the moment we are already applying the highest penalties allowed by the civics ordinance. Despite this, we want to continue to differentiate a person who is quietly drinking a can of beer from others who organize large bottles and disrupt coexistence.
And what plan does he have for Ciutat Vella?
Ciutat Vella is the reflection of Barcelona. All the inhabitants of Barcelona pass through Ciutat Vella at any given time. In addition, it concentrates a large part of the city's social problems. It is a place that needs to be treated with special attention. We are meeting with residents and merchants to see how we approach the improvement of these neighborhoods.
Another shock plan?
Rather, a comprehensive intervention plan that contemplates security, urban planning, mobility... We have been strengthening the police presence for months, but this is not enough. We are considering an intervention like the one that took place at the end of the eighties.
Maybe they are thinking of opening another Rambla del Raval?
No, you don't have to. We are thinking of an intervention of a capillary character, very detailed, with a lot of dialogue and citizen participation, with a lot of attention to the rehabilitation of housing, to stopping commercial monocultures, to the fight against drugs and criminal occupations linked to the drug trafficking...
You said that Ciutat Vella concentrates a large part of the city's social problems...
Ciutat Vella is a container for the social problems of the country as a whole. We need the co-responsibility of the Generalitat and the metropolitan municipalities.
Do you know that they say Ciutat Vella is the triturarregidors district?
I know this will all be very hard, but I approach it with great enthusiasm. I'm 70 years old, but I still have rope.