Meet the Mayor

When the PS won the recent Legislative elections, sitting Lagos Mayor, Dr Joaquina Matos resigned her post to take up a new position in Lisbon. Tomorrow magazine sent Milvia Félix to meet Hugo Pereira, the new Mayor of Lagos City Council.

Hugo Pereira is forty-three years old, although born in Lisbon he was back in his home town of Lagos within a few days. His youth was divided between Praia da Luz, where his paternal grandparents lived, and Lagos, where his maternal grandparents lived, and where his parents worked.

“I have a younger sister, together we had a happy childhood, playing with friends on the street, spending time with family and practising handball.” Today, Hugo is the father of a 22-month-old baby.

A background in finance, he started working at the Ministry of Health, at ARS do Algarve, later becoming the Chief Financial Officer of the Hospitals of Portimão and Lagos, and later of Faro too. At the same time, he taught at the Department of Health, Graduate Studies at the University of Algarve, was an accountant, and was responsible for the accounting department of Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lagos.

In 2001 he began to have a closer relationship with politics, becoming a member of the Lagos Municipal Assembly, while continuing his professional activities. His participation in the Assembly lasted three terms. It was through this experience that in 2013, Dr Matos invited him to join the executive as Vice President. Abdicating his professional career, “facing the new position as a mission, to take a short amount of time has been proving more lasting.”

“The desire to be Mayor was not something on the table. Despite being on the electoral lists, it was always as Vice President. However, the current position was not won, it was inherited. This heritage is seen as a challenge, a mission, demanding an even greater responsibility to the citizens, by myself, and the entire city council executive.”

Tomorrow – Based on the political philosophy of the socialist party, and the fact of being the President of a Socialist City Hall, do you have any projects for your term?

“My team will develop the electoral programme presented in 2017 by Dr Matos in its various aspects. Despite the resignation of Dr Matos, the new President and his team’s job is to implement the approved electoral programme, only its management may be carried out differently.”

Tomorrow – The city has a shortage of affordable housing, are there measures that CML can develop to bridge this situation?

“This question is a big challenge for any City Hall and Lagos is no different. This challenge becomes more visible when we have competition with the quality of life, with a university, or with tourism, such as Lagos. A touristic city by excellence, with a very large foreign community, which led to an imbalance in the law of housing supply and demand.

This situation was further accentuated, with the tourism boom, with new foreign communities emerging, notably from northern Europe, France, and Italy who joined existing communities in the city. The emergence of local housing, the increase of the average price of construction, the end of the recession in the real estate market, has led to the real estate market and the builders focusing on the middle to upper prices. This has created a void between homes for rent at reasonable prices, or for affordable purchase.

CML is preparing a study to understand what are the real needs in terms of family typology, whether they are buyers, or in need of social housing, the percentage of young couples and single parents.

City Hall also intends to develop an injection of new homes. To this end, several projects for the acquisition of land for the construction of houses have already started, mainly in Sargaçal and Bensafrim, new homes are planned for next year. On other acquired land, which belonged to a cooperative in the area of ​​Júlio Dantas Secondary School, there are plans to build another 100 apartments. In Chinicato too, CML will develop a self-built semi-detached housing project so that people can buy and build their own home.

At the same time, CML, through dialogues with some investors of the area, are trying to reach an understanding, not only to develop luxury housing, but also to build more affordable housing. In tax terms, the reduction of IMI for those who own a second home, and intends to lease it, and also a regulation to support urban lease, in order to help households to pay rent.”

Tomorrow – Considering most jobs are seasonal, what is the role of CML, in order to captivate young people not to leave the city or return after their studies?

“The CML has had several meetings with local employers and is aware that the big problem that appears is the shortage of human resources. The resolution that those companies are providing is to move some of their human resources between stores to fill and reinforce their teams, even helping them with their accommodation and other expenses they may have.

On the other hand, another big question that CML has been facing is: what can the city offer to graduates? Following this, there has been an effort on the part of CML to try to run competitions that can captivate graduates, and what you have noticed is, a high number of candidates with higher qualifications that apply for jobs where the remuneration is equal to a worker with completed secondary education. Alongside this, we have the reverse of the model, where we lack human resources, with professional technical training, in the area of construction, hotel and catering. The City Hall, for its part, has been supporting entrepreneurship, creating value with the finalists of the professional courses, creating co-work spaces with the purpose of attracting investment, in which there is a huge licensees membership. At this point, CML has been developing entrepreneurship workshops inviting several entrepreneurs to assist and help future entrepreneurs develop their ideas.”

Tomorrow – Given the pressure that tourism places on natural resources, does the Câmara intend to develop more measures to combat the pressure?

“The city of Lagos has, in a way, been able to withstand this tourist pressure, which, over the years has been increasing, namely with the increase of Local Accommodation and services. The urban cleaning, the collection of solid waste and other materials generated by the tourism business is performed not only by municipal services, but also by companies that are hired by the City to provide such services.

Regarding natural resources, besides the area of Ponta da Piedade, another tourist spot that needs intervention is the Meia Praia dune cordon area. 

As such, we requested the collaboration of APA (Portuguese Environment Agency), so that we can move forward, with an application for community funds, to protect this dune cord with the construction of a footbridge from Barra de Bensafrim to the last part of the beach.

Finally addressing the issue of the caves of Ponta da Piedade, and particularly the huge number of boats that do the tour, the Câmara has had several meetings with tour operators, APA, Port Authority of Lagos, the Portuguese Board of Tourism, in order to raise awareness among these stakeholders that this area is very sensitive and that it is necessary to protect, for example, the boats could use alternative energies in order to minimize the impact of pollution in that area. 

Unfortunately, the role of the Câmara is merely a mediating role. Only in an exceptional situation can the City Hall, play a tougher role by invoking a protection mechanism in that area, allowed by the POC( Plano da Orla Costeira)- shoreline plan, which prohibits access to that area by sea, which the Câmara hopes not to use, because this type of tourism is one of the business cards of the city.”

Tomorrow – Are there any special projects that you want to fulfil ?

“Yes, no doubt. From a personal point of view, it is housing. But along with this, we have others, among them, the resurfacing of Estrada da Luz. A new tender will open, and if all goes well, the works could start after the summer of 2020.

Another project that I would like to see completed is the resurfacing of the Meia Praia Road, namely the stretch between Hotel Vila Galé and the Palmares.

Finally, the other project concerns the surrounding area of ​​Ponta da Piedade, namely the beginning of the second phase of intervention in that area, which encompasses the Farol area and Praia do Pinhão, with the laying of walkways, the reinforcement of security, the rehabilitation of the road, the creation of parking areas near Praia do Camilo, thus restricting car access to Praia D. Ana.

Along with these projects, we want to rehabilitate the area of ​​the walls as well as access to the ramparts and turrets, with the possibility of implementing an elevator outside the wall, so that anyone interested can appreciate the entire surrounding area of ​​the wall. Alongside this, we are also rehabilitating the Dr Formosinho Municipal Museum, which is expected to open next year, and the expansion of the Archeology Museum is underway. These projects are supported by Community Funds.

The City Council is developing a project of remodelling the roundabouts, in which they will change the grass, for one that does not require major maintenance and each will have an element alluding to the discoveries.”

Tomorrow – How can you strengthen the ties between the Lacobrigense population and the foreign community?

“We must emphasize the role of the English community since it was the first community that started here, and helped the city to develop in terms of population and economy.

It should be emphasized the emergence of the Brazilian community, in terms of the search for better living conditions. Finally, the emergence of the French, Italian and Swedish communities in the post-crisis, which first visited the city for tourism purposes, but today choose the city to live in and in some cases for investment.

The City Hall continues and will continue to provide all the necessary support to these communities, setting the example that the French and Italian communities hold various meetings, using the facilities of the Municipal Chamber for this purpose.

Although we have such a large foreign community, the English community remains the most important, both in terms of population and in terms of investment and wealth, for our county.

On a practical level, Câmara Municipal de Lagos website will soon be available in the English language version.

It is important for these residents to register to vote, it is your town too and you should have your say.”


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