The improvement of public space – from physical aspects to coexistence – is the number one priority of Jaume Collboni, the flag he has raised to distinguish the beginning of his mandate. From the first minute as mayor he conspired to turn around a situation that was undoubtedly unsatisfactory. The polls reflected this, but it was enough to take a trip to any neighborhood to check it. With the Endreça plan, the municipal government has aligned all the areas of the City Council that affect this area. And ten months later, the indicators he has show that things are changing. The latest data show for the first time in a long time that citizens perceive this. There are already a clear majority who claim that two basic elements, maintenance and cleaning, are better when not long ago it was just the opposite.

The Endreça plan meets its steering committee every Friday. In the sessions, led by the municipal manager, Albert Dalmau, and in which the technical managers of urban services, cleaning, security, prevention and coexistence, communication… and also of the Urban Guard participate, their application is evaluated, they review the measures in progress and plan future actions.

There are weekly trackings on a large number of aspects that allow you to see how you are doing and where you are going. Collboni presides over some meetings, such as the last one, held on Tuesday, in which the latest data was presented. “We set out to turn the situation around and we are succeeding. This is the way. I congratulate you”, said the mayor, satisfied, to the attendees. He also encouraged them to continue working to consolidate this trend. Because it is one thing for the people of Barcelona to say that, in terms of cleaning and maintenance, things are now better and another for them to be perfect. “The objective – reminded the mayor – is excellence”.

The change in perception in these two key elements (see chart) has arrived in the first quarter of the year and has reoriented the chart towards record values. According to the survey of urban services – quarterly internal analysis instrument; not to be confused with that of municipal services, which is public – 41% of Barcelona residents state that maintenance and cleaning have improved in the last year. For 26% they have worsened and 29% consider that they remain more or less the same. In the last tracking of 2023, the opposite poles were practically tied, with the positive view already ahead -37% and 33%, respectively-. But in the previous one, that of the third quarter, just half a year ago, those who saw that things were going badly were 42% compared to 28% who said they were evolving in the right direction.

“This is the most transversal project of the City Council, the largest, the one with the most people involved”, highlighted Dalmau, for whom there are three keys to this change: that the companies that deal with cleaning comply ; that the Urban Guard has intensified surveillance and sanctioning activity for those who break the rules and the amounts of the fines are the highest possible, and that complementary impact actions have been launched, such as the new contract for remove graffiti.

The assessment of Major Intendant Pedro Velázquez, head of the Urban Guard, was forceful. In his opinion, the police force that he directs has gained ground in authority in the fight against problems such as noise, nuisance at night, consumption of alcohol or defecating in the street, street vendors, conflicts with animals company… Proof of this is the significant increase in penalties for breaching the coexistence ordinance. In the first 18 weeks of the year, 23,292 were installed, 44% more than in the same period in 2023. And the forecast is that this summer they will rise even more. In the first week of January, 343 were imposed and the last with data – from April 29 to May 5 -, 2,626. They are 7.6 times more. In 2023 the figures, much lower, remained fairly stable, between 708 and 1,069 per week. The fact is that 44% of citizens are in favor of penalizing uncivil behavior more.

The Urban Guard is also more visible, Velázquez added. “You see more agents on the street and we try to have them in the right place, at the right time and with the right intensity.” For this reason, 89 points in the city have been defined that have added risks, on which more attention is being paid. Finally, the municipal police have intensified their communication tasks, through short meetings, with a thousand contacts (a hundred per district, between residents, traders, entities…).

The work of the cleaning concessionaires – there are four, spread across the city – has reached optimal levels, according to municipal officials. The start, in 2022, of the new contract – the City Council’s most expensive, valued at around 300 million euros a year – could clearly be improved. Shortly after arriving at the mayor’s office, Collboni summoned these companies to a meeting in which they were urged to fulfill what had been contracted. Inspections and penalties for not doing the job well were increased. “We carry out a proactive, non-reactive task, using the data we have”, explained Xavier Patón, manager of Mobility, Infrastructure and Urban Services, at the Endreça plan meeting. Everything is sensorized, we know if the vehicles have completed the route or if the container has been emptied.” Gemma Arau, manager of Territorial Coordination and Proximity, highlighted the “importance of maintenance” so that citizens perceive the public space in better condition. “The rapid provision of financial resources is being key”, he added. The comprehensive maintenance plan has an allocation of 450 million euros.

The newly launched graffiti cleaning contract, awarded with 16 million, is another outstanding performance. Albert Dalmau gave Carrer Princesa as an example: “Before it was continuous graffiti, now it almost doesn’t have it, it looks like a different place”, explained the municipal manager. Immediate response, cleaning soon after painting, is key. In these cases, in order to be fined, the perpetrator must be caught red-handed. In the first four months of the year, there were 152 complaints and 151 files were processed for this type of act. And 109 penalties have been imposed, of which 37 were paid voluntarily. It is a high subscription level compared to other behaviors. The collection of fines related to incivility remains a pending subject.