Garbage is a sensitive matter in Barcelona. After all, dirt has established itself as one of the main concerns of Barcelonans, according to the city council’s biannual barometer: while the survey relegated the lack of cleanliness in the streets to the twelfth problem in the city at the end of 2019, in recent polls has shot up to perch as the second most mentioned concern by the interviewees, only surpassed by insecurity. The call for the sweepers’ strike that is still going on for the days of La Mercè -the second attempted strike so far in 2022- and the recurring criticism of the opposition delve into a flank that Ada Colau’s rivals intuit weakens the aspirations for re-election of the mayor, who defends that Barcelona remains neat “in broad strokes & rdquor ;. The perception that the care of the streets is faltering has expanded in recent years, while the spending dedicated to the effect was reduced, as reflected by official data from the consistory contrasted by EL PERIÓDICO.
The budget execution reports – which include not only the expenditure forecasts, but also the actual investment made– they show that the amount that the bipartite of ‘comuns’ and socialists has paid to keep public roads in good condition has oscillated in recent years, without equaling or exceeding the figure it paid for in 2017. That year, the municipal government put together an extraordinary endowment with which the disbursement rose to almost 274 million euros, adding the items for street cleaning and waste collection. Colau’s executive has not returned to pay so much before or after to placate the criticism of the dirt. Despite presenting budgets that were classified as expansive, the total contribution was 245.5 million in 2021, some 28.4 million less than four years earlier.
The decrease in annual spending is noted above all in the chapter on street cleaning. From the execution balances it can be deduced that the amount that the city council has paid for has shrunk since 2017. From the exceptional expense of 186.3 million euros 5 years ago, it has gone on to a sustained drop year after year, culminating in 168 .8 million settled in 2021. There is a difference of 17.5 million. According to municipal data, the expense to clean up streets and squares fell to 177.1 million in 2018 and dimmed to 176.2 million a year later. The decline continued with the scourge of the covid and 175.2 million were paid in 2020. When the coronavirus was already a factor to be taken into account in the calculations, due to the lower use of the streets, the council estimated that 185 million would be required for the care of public roads in 2021. However, it closed the year by paying 16, 2 million less than he predicted.
The council’s response
The municipal government offers three reasons to explain why the amount paid to sweep the streets has decreased in Barcelona. On the one hand, it comes to say that the contrast between figures throughout the mandate can be distorted by the exceptional upturn in investment in cleaning in 2017, intended for various tasks. Among others, Colau’s team cites that they tried to put an end to the frequent overflow of containers in the Raval, increase the emptying of litter bins, mitigate the increase in waste that is dumped in the city due to tourism or reinforce coverage in certain areas. . The extraordinary contribution was not extended in the following years.On the other hand, the executive argues that the expense was “conditioned & rdquor; due to the pandemic and mobility restrictions. “In 2020, a reduction in cleaning and collection services was in force for more than 70 days due to confinement. During the state of alarm, many of the cleaning services could not be provided& rdquor ;, remember.
Although it is true that the economic balances infer that the restrictions on social life due to Covid tended to reduce investment, it is also true that the street cleaning bill was contracted before the virus broke out. The expense in 2018 and 2019 turned out to be less than in 2015, the first year of the Colau era, in which 179.9 million were paid. In 2019, less was also paid than in 2016, when 177 million were paid.The city council attributes the cut in the last biennium to the collapse of tourism and trade during the pandemic. “It had a lot of impact on cleaning services and, especially, on waste collection, which is paid based on the amounts collected & rdquor ;, he specifies. He adds that the expense in 2021 was moderated even more than in 2020 because the fee for quality control inspections was charged to another budget item and the container disinfection contract was not made effective during the state of alarm. In addition, complaints about the door-to-door model in Sant Andreu led to a halt in the extension of the collection system, scheduled in the municipal accounts.
Unlike the drop in costs for the correct conditioning of the streets, the allocation to empty the garbage deposits increased each year in Barcelona until reaching 93.1 million euros in 2019. The trend was cut short by the pandemic and the price paid fell to 76.7 million in 2021. In the margin, the consistory alludes to the variation of the CPI. He assures that it caused “an exceptional decrease & rdquor; of the payment of the cleaning contract last year and could have altered “the amounts spent year after year without necessarily varying the services & rdquor ;.
Waiting to come back with the new contract
In the absence of comparing expectations with the real balance at the end of the year, the municipal accounts promise a priori that 2022 must be a turning point in the fall of the games dedicated to cleaning in recent years in Barcelona. In the current budget of the city council there is a record investment to take care of the appearance of the streets and collect garbage, 304.5 million totalcoinciding with the deployment of the new service contract.
If the prediction comes true, the amount would be by far the highest to clean the city since Ada Colau is mayor. Until July, the council had paid 91.2 million euros in street cleaning and waste collection. It is an amount higher than that which had been paid up to the same month in 2020 and 2021, but it is below the more than 100 million that at that point in the year had already been disbursed in 2017, 2018 and 2019. The City Council alleges that the accounting for the last few months does not yet reflect the increase in the service that is proclaimed with the new contract, which is now beginning to be deployed in Sants-Montjuïc, Les Corts, Sarrià-Sant Gervasi, Horta-Guinardó and Nou Barris.