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Carlos Fernández Bielsa: Participation has led us to consolidate ourselves as a community

Carlos Fernández Bielsa: Participation has led us to consolidate ourselves as a community

An interview with the Mayor of Mislata, in Spain

Carlos Fernández Bielsa (Valencia, 1981) has a degree in Business Administration and Management from the Jaume I University of Castellón. At the age of 29, he became mayor of Mislata after winning the 2011 municipal elections by an absolute majority. Since then he has been the mayor of that town. In addition, since 2019 he is Vice President of the Valencia Provincial Council and deputy of the Area of Municipal Cooperation, Institutional Coordination and Territorial Cohesion.

Mr Mayor, how would you describe Mislata in your own words?

Mislata is a very special city. It is one of the municipalities with the highest population density in Spain (45,000 inhabitants in just 2 km2), where people with very different origins live together.

It is a rich and diverse city, which has grown up with working families who are looking for a comfortable and well-connected space around the metropolitan area of ​​València. It is also a town full of history, culture and a desire to share.

What are the main economic sectors in your municipality and how have they been affected by the Covid crisis?

Essentially, Mislata is a huge commercial network replete with proximity services. Citizens have at their disposal a whole network of trustworthy companies, small businesses and services that over time have developed loyal customers.

The Covid crisis has promoted another type of consumption – online - and many of the companies are adapting to home delivery, and to new challenges. Without a doubt, the City Council's commitment has been to help them, with multiple financial stimulus programs so that they can continue to open the door of their businesses to customers every day.

Social inclusivity plays a large role in the policies of your administration. Can you share some examples of good practices in this regard?

I consider it very necessary that our cities should be spaces where we can share and create solidarity societies helping vulnerable people. In Mislata, we have long been putting these policies in value for people, to give equality and not leave anyone on the sidelines. Thus, we have been pioneers in programs such as soup kitchens for the children of families at risk of exclusion, a social plan for municipal employment, or subsidies for newborn babies in the form of a check to be spent in our shops.

How are the residents of Mislata educated to care about their environment? What is the role of the schools?

It is essential to raise awareness that we only have one planet and that we have to take care of it because our future is at stake. In addition, it is very useful to carry out information campaigns on issues such as recycling or the need to respect the green environment. In Mislata, with the help of the school fabric, we are managing to repopulate an area of ​​pine trees around a well that is emblematic for the municipality.

How do you manage to preserve your local identity despite being part of the growing metropolitan area of ​​Valencia?

We are inhabitants of a city that borders Valencia, but with characteristics that differentiate us - we have an identity of our own. In Mislata, people participate in their community throughout the year: on the streets, in customs and traditions, in very active neighbourhoods, cultural, sports and social associations. Participation has led us to consolidate ourselves as a community, with the advantages of a large city that has all the services at our disposal to train, grow and achieve challenges.

Finally, what is your vision for the future of your municipality?

We have many challenges ahead. We continue to dream of a more participatory city, where decisions are made by everyone, as we have done in recent years. I want Mislata to be an emblem of culture, and very soon it can have its own museum dedicated to Miquel Navarro, our most internationally renowned artist.

In addition, in line with the 2030 Agenda, we want to turn our city into a potential smart city that allows us to be more efficient and sustainable, generating more resources and services to improve our quality of life. I am convinced that, with daily work, we will achieve this.

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