POPULAR PARTY’S (PP) Nogueira Pinto believes that Lisbon could compete with Madrid as one of Europe’s most successful business cities. In an interview with daily newspaper Metro, she lambasted costly projects such as the planned entertainment centre at Parque Mayer, saying Lisbon Câmara would be better placed investing its money on initiatives that would improve the city’s competitiveness as a European business investment destination.
Listing priorities, Nogueira Pinto said that the Mayor should clean up the financial mess the Lisbon Câmara was in. She also said that the city needed to be repopulated, meaning that only 35 per cent of its 500,000 working inhabitants actually lived within the city, which was one of the reasons why traffic congestion and chaos was so prevalent. “We need to bring the working middle class into Lisbon to live and, for this, we need to create several housing projects in the city and transform the Baixa zone into an affordable housing area,” she said.
The PP member claimed there was a generational disparity in central Lisbon, with many pensioners living in areas that should be commercial priorities, instead of middle class professional families, currently living as far as 50 kilometres away from the city.
She said that Lisbon’s transport congestion nightmare had two causes: the vast majority of people working in Lisbon live outside the city and the public transport network wasn’t adequate to deal with the influx of commuter traffic. Pinto said that while there wasn’t a viable public transport alternative or park-and-ride system in place, it was unfair to penalise motorists, who needed to bring their cars into Lisbon to work, by introducing London style congestion charges.
Pinto also discussed the need to prioritise urban hygiene, street lighting, parking and crèches, while looking after the city’s existing patrimony and services.
On the subject of Parque Mayer, Pinto believes the Câmara needs to rethink the initiative. “This is a megalomaniac project because the city should have collective ambitions and not just play to the whims of one single president,” she said.
Pinto also suggested that the former Expo site would be the ideal location for the Feira Popular, rather than Monsanto or any other site, and commented on the new airport at Ota, saying it was too far out.
“We must be able to compete with Madrid and Barcelona, and attract more international companies, persuading them that Lisbon is ideal to base their headquarters. The city has three advantages: climate, size and the fact that it is relatively crime free and secure. We will only do this by improving our services and infrastructure system,” she concluded.