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BOULEVARD PROTESTS

Burgos mayor orders work on flashpoint road project to restart

Opposition to Popular Party-run City Hall asks for dialogue and suspension of boulevard after week of violent protests

Following a week of violent protests, resulting in dozens of arrests and a nationwide movement supporting local residents, the Popular Party (PP) mayor of Burgos, Javier Lacalle, on Friday announced that work will be restarted on the controversial road project that appears to have brought the tensions of a nation to the fore.

The Socialists in the northern city had called for work to amplify Vitoria street in the city’s Gamonal neighborhood into a boulevard -- simultaneously depriving local residents of parking spaces and increasing traffic and noise pollution, citizens’ groups claim – to be brought to definitive halt. The estimated cost of the project is some eight million euros, which protestors point out could be better used elsewhere.

Lacalle had called a temporary halt to the construction work earlier in the week because the safety of employees could not be guaranteed. All opposition political groups in Burgos urged the PP to heed the message from protestors, but after “meeting with certain groups” the ruling bloc said it had received the “backing of the neighborhood council” over the project.

Around 2,000 people gathered outside Burgos City Hall early on Friday, organizers said, in response to what citizens described as the “deaf ears” of the authorities. “There is no money for basic needs, but there is for bricks and mortar,” said one resident.

The Socialists, UPyD and United Left groups in Burgos have urged the PP to meet with residents and opposition parties to seek an alternative solution to the impasse. The PP, for its part, has called on the opposition groups to support a statement condemning acts of violence in the city and supporting a peaceful resolution.

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