Spyridon Nikolaou, Mayor of Thebes: I try to lead my region to sustainable development and to promote its archaeological and cultural heritage
“The biggest challenge is the implementation of projects in a very difficult economic climate for Greece”
- January 24, 2019 11:30
- Monika Dimitrova
Mr Nikolaou, please describe the city of Thebes in a few sentences.
Thebes is home to the Municipality of Thebes and one of the 20 most ancient cities in the world. Its founder, according to mythology, was Cadmus, the brother of Europe, after which the European Continent was named. It is also the birthplace of the mythical Hercules, the god Dionysus, the lyric poet Pindarus (poet of the Olympic Games), and the famous general and politician Epaminondas. It is also the city that inspired the great tragic poets Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides to write world-famous masterpieces such as Antigoni, Oedipus Tyrannos and others.
The city of Thebes has one of the most important archaeological museums in Europe - the Archaeological Museum of Thebes, with rare and unique collections. Its exhibits come from excavations in Boeotia and cover the region's culture from the Palaeolithic to post-Byzantine times.
The well-known history, the abundance of archaeological sites and monuments, and especially the Archaeological Museum make the city of Thebes one of the most important cultural cities of Greece.
You are a very active mayor. What are the biggest challenges in your everyday work?
My daily work consists of improving the quality of life of the residents. Through all my actions I aim to lead my region to sustainable development, to promote its archaeological richness and the cultural heritage, while addressing the issues of environmental protection and management and the well-being of the locals.
The biggest challenge I face every day in the administration of the Municipality is the implementation of projects in a very difficult economic climate for Greece (funding cut by 50% and unemployment in our region at very high rates). We therefore strive to manage our finances properly, to implement the projects that the region really needs and to improve the everyday life of the citizen.
An important challenge is also the development of social policy in our municipality for marginal social groups and the support of our economically disadvantaged citizens.
Would you share some good practices from your municipality and explain how do you finance them?
Good practices in our municipality mainly concern the natural environment and the improvement of citizens' quality of life. I will briefly mention some major projects in our region as good practices:
“Bioclimatic upgrading of a public open space in Thebes”, a project for which the Municipality received a Golden award from Best City Awards. Under the project, the historic stream - Chrysorroa, has been upgraded to a total area of 20,950 m2. and a very beautiful park was created, which was greatly enhanced by greenery, a pedestrian street, bike path, pergolas and reinforced with urban equipment. The project was funded by the Ministry of Energy and Environment.
Yet to mention is the energy renewal of two municipal buildings, also funded by the Ministry of Energy and Environment, currently housing the Centre for the Protection of the Elderly and the Library. With the renovation of these buildings, we save extra energy and rental costs as we no longer lease private buildings for these services.
The Municipality of Thebes participates in the "Covenant of Mayors" (Covenant of Mayors and Sustainable Energy Action Plan) to combat climate change and has developed an Action Plan for Sustainable Energy. It describes the Municipality's vision and principles and the measures that the Municipality should take to reduce CO2 emissions as well as actions to mobilize the local community. Implementation of the plan will result in a reduction in the Municipality's operating costs while at the same time developing an energy consciousness among the citizens.
The Municipality of Thebes has elaborated a Local Urban Solid Waste Management Plan for integrated waste management. This includes:
- The development of separate waste stream ( blue, green, brown, yellow, red bins for separate garbage collection);
- Domestic Composting with the distribution of household buckets;
- The creation of Green Points for the collection of recyclable materials;
- Information and awareness raising actions for citizens.
The Municipality of Thebes is a member of the Regional Solid Waste Management Agency of Sterea Hellas and the Thebes area has one of the best Waste Landfills and will soon have a Waste Treatment Unit.
To continue, we have upgraded squares and buildings and playground constructions in all communities of our Municipality. These projects are funded by ESPA (National Strategic Reference Framework), the Green Fund and other financial instruments.
How do you evaluate the initiative of an unified platform for European municipalities and its main goal to keep European citizens informed about what is taking place in the European Union? How the portal can be useful to you and to the citizens of Thebes?
Themayor.eu platform is, in principle, an excellent idea and I think it is a useful tool for European municipalities, because it gives them the opportunity to showcase their work, to present news, events, initiatives and good practices, and communicate with their citizens. At the same time it helps us (the Mayors) and, in general, those who are in the administration of the Municipalities to be informed about the actions of other Municipalities in order to make use of their good practices. For the above reasons, it is useful for the Municipality of Thebes and our citizens.
What is your evaluation for 2018?
It was another difficult year for our municipality, but I think we have overcome our everyday routine and the problems in the best possible way. I am happy and optimistic a lot of project proposals have been covered by the ESPA, inspiring projects for our city and our citizens, and I believe that we have managed public money in the best possible way.
Which are the main goals and good examples you plan to develop for the near future?
The conditions under which the Municipality is expected to operate are economically and socially unfavourable, however, with consistency and dedication to our work, with a great effort and with good management, the proper functioning of the Municipality is ensured and the possibility of securing additional resources (funding from ESPA, EU operational programs, LEADER ministry programs etc.), in order to implement important projects for the Municipality that ensure safety, everyday life, hygiene and generally the improvement of the quality of life of our citizens values. As well:
- Design and implementation of development projects and integrated interventions.
- Mobilization to secure financial resources either through Operational Programs of the Region of Central Greece or through NSRF and other sources of funding.
- Concurrent execution of the Technical Program and updating it. For the 2018, the projects amount to a total of 15,112,713.36 euro. These projects are being scheduled for implementation in the year 2019.
- Responding to the needs and demands of citizens and upgrading the services provided.
- Implement social policy by strengthening the action of existing structures as well as creating new ones.
- Improvement and upgrading of the internal organization of the services of the Municipality.
- Our goal is also that every village in our Municipality has its own stadium, its own playground, its square, streets and lighting.
Find out more about Thebes here