Tense debate this Monday during the Mobility and Environment commission, on account of municipal car parks. Three of the opposition groups raised questions about the change in trend in the Madrid City Council when dealing with the end of the most profitable concessions in these public endowments while the area delegate, Borja Carabante, defended privatizing its management for decades as a political action that “is causing benefits”.
Million-dollar operations in the Madrid subsoil
Both PSOE and Más Madrid asked about “how much money the Madrid City Council will stop receiving, through the EMT, due to the political decision to exclude it from the management of public rotation car parks that are about to expire their current concession” . Far from answering with these figures and between constant interruptions, the Mobility delegate tried to escape from the management debate and put the costs at 40 million euros to fit out the eight municipal car parks that he plans to dispose of, in addition to doubting that “some mayor of the left” undertakes reforms of this type without resorting to private management.
“They have decided to steal at least 100 million euros from the people of Madrid,” protested PSOE councilor Esteban Benito, reminding Carabante of the profit figures for the car park in Plaza del Carmen -which has just been put out to tender- and the other three that are in process: the one in Santo Domingo and the two promoted by Real Madrid together with the Santiago Bernabéu. “It is an embezzlement in the future,” stressed the socialist representative, reminding the delegate that he had not justified why he preferred to privatize the benefits instead of undertaking the investment so that it would later revert to the public coffers.
“This is guaranteed profitability. Everyone knows that the Bernabéu car parks are going to be full on match days,” recalled José Manuel Calvo, representative of the Mixed Group, when Carabante compared this concession with that of a cafeteria in a public building . At the same time, he wondered “why that benefit prefers to be in the coffers of an individual before in the coffers of the City Council or the EMT”. The mayor, who was a Town Planning delegate in the last legislature, accused the PP councilor of giving up making “mobility policy with car parks” and of “laziness” when managing.
Más Madrid denounced for its part that the concessionaires will obtain an income of 140 million euros while the privatization of the four car parks of which the economic figures are known lasts and that the City Council will only receive 20 million in exchange for the transfer fee . “We are giving away enormous benefits to private companies,” lamented councilor Esther Gómez, who is committed to direct management by the EMT, as happened in five concessions that ended in the last legislature. In addition, she recalled that the construction of new car parks in the center such as those at the Bernabéu will attract more traffic to the city: “What you are promoting is that people enter Madrid by car,” she said.
Inspections with 9,763 false residents
Carabante tried to escape from the privatization debate by offering data on inspections of the use of spaces for residents in municipal car parks. The delegate explained that since February 2020, 173 of the 297 currently in existence have been reviewed. Irregularities have been detected in them in 24,333, 60% of the parking lots for residents, as the car intended for them did not occupy the space.
Although most of these cases can be regularized -Carabante explained- in 9,763 cases the individual beneficiaries will lose their right to the place, either because they were subletting it to third parties (a practice not allowed) or because they are no longer registered in the area of influence of the car park in question.
“This is what is relevant and important,” insisted the Mobility delegate in the face of criticism of his management by the municipal groups, to whom he warned that he wants to re-privatize the management of the parking lots that expire their concession period in brief: those of Cortes, Luna-Tudescos, Santa Ana and the three car parks under Velázquez street. At the moment it has already done so in Santo Domingo and Plaza del Carmen, with open tenders. The most advanced is the one located next to the Gran Vía. There the City Council will give up at least 18 million euros of benefits by handing over the management to a private operator, who will also be in charge of remodeling the entire surface.
It is not the only example of public-private collaboration in the place in which companies obtain notable benefits: the luxury hotel located next to the square will obtain several advantages after having “donated” the works project, made up of four volumes, to the town hall , more than 2,000 pages and that includes a connection tunnel with the aforementioned hotel establishment valued at 136,000 euros, for which the council will not enter anything.
“Taking charge of the deficit and dispensing with the profitable is a strategy that would make him fired from any company. In 2023, the people of Madrid will be waiting for him with the settlement prepared,” said PSOE councilor Ignacio Benito to end his speech.