First "Meeting with the Mayor": Barceloneta

20 November 2015



One of the main promises I made on becoming mayor was never to lose touch with the street, the neighbourhoods, or the real and specific problems faced by my city's residents.

As soon as I became mayor, however, I realised this would be no mean feat. Suddenly, my diary was practically full before I had made up my mind. The post involves institutional representation that can easily get you spending the whole day in meetings at City Hall, formal receptions, award ceremonies and a whole lot more. But people didn't vote for us just to do the same as always, so “if the mountain won't come to Muhammad then Muhammad must go to the mountain”. Without forgetting my institutional commitments, I have decided to make my regular times for meeting neighbourhood residents official engagements, to ensure they are always in my diary.

I have called it “Meeting with the Mayor”, a regular cycle of informal conversations in the various neighbourhoods, without any pre-set agenda, so I can listen and answer any questions I can but also share thoughts on the city and its priorities.

I tried out it for the first time on Friday, in the neighbourhood of Barceloneta. There we all were, chatting away with anyone who wanted to approach us, treated to fruit juice and pasta. The same old problems came up (above all, those relating to tourist pressure, illegal flats, cleaning and so on) but some very interesting suggestions were made too, such as boosting the Proa a la Mar community initiative that has been helping local residents to find work. An exemplary initiative that can provide inspiration for other neighbourhoods.

There are people who tell me that such open meetings can attract protests or that the media can easily make play with things that are said out of context. That doesn't matter. It doesn't frighten me at all. Whenever there are protests in a democracy, the only thing we need to worry about are the reasons for them. And the only thing we really ought to be scared of is ending up as too many professional politicians do, bunkered away in the institutions, hiding from the people. We must never forget who we are and why we are here. I am convinced I'll be able to do a better job with these open conversations, which I intend to be fortnightly.

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This blog features ideas, thoughts and reflections on my daily life as the Mayor of Barcelona.

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