Loulé mayor Vítor Aleixo is in the hot seat this week after a blistering attack on the “bullying tactics” of “shameless” water authority Infralobo for charging Portuguese homeowners and expats a “pernicious” bed-tax that can add at least €1000 to domestic water bills “irrespective of occupancy or metered usage”.
The attack in the weekly newsletter of the Algarve Daily News (ADN) has been followed by a tough-talking email from residents of three urbanisations fighting the tax – a number of whom have been forcibly cut off from their water supplies for seven weeks after refusing to pay the tax, but continuing to pay for their water.
The mail – copied to mayor Aleixo – was addressed to his brother-in-law Eng.º José Eduardo Rodrigues Miguel, the man at the head of Infralobo.
As ADN explained in its diatribe: “Loulé council controls 51% of the shares in Infralobo and the Mayor Vítor Aleixo controls Loulé council. Aleixo is the man in charge and the man responsible for both bodies. But Infralobo is out of control.”
Delighted by ADN’s attack, battling residents of Vale do Garrão, Vilas Alvas and Quinta Jacinto have drawn it to the attention of both the mayor and his brother-in-law, saying: “You should read the article in the link below carefully as it seems to outline a rather more accurate picture of Infralobo than the one you try to portray.
“Most people would struggle to associate as ‘Customer Focussed’ a company that sends thugs round with axes to smash open a water meter box so they can cut the water supply to a house where one of the residents had just come home to convalesce and recover after major surgery in hospital.
“Also is it ‘Customer Focussed’ behaviour to cut the water supply to houses where there are elderly residents, disabled residents and young children particularly when all the households involved have paid their water and sewage bills in full every month?”
As the Resident has been explaining since last year, the issue of the bed tax levied by Infralobo has been tossed from court to court as no one seems prepared to deal with it.
Now, Expresso writes that an end is in sight.
Quoting municipal planning director Leonel Silva, the national weekly wrote on Saturday that Loulé was “guaranteeing” that Infralobo would “stop charging the bed tax indexed to water and sanitation services, according to the recommendations of regulatory authority ERSAR”.
But residents are not holding their breaths. As one explained: “What’s to say that that the bed tax will simply be absorbed by some other charge?”
Silva told Expresso, for instance, that the council “will continue to charge a levy for ‘quality and environment’, the value of which he has not revealed”.
News of Infralobo’s “water wars” has now extended beyond the Algarve with UK events company InFrame Media writing to us last week to say that it had taken the decision “not to promote the Algarve” anymore “based on disturbing reports presented to us about inhumane and aggressive behaviour from Infralobo directed at one of our potential villa partners in the three developments, Quinta Jacinta, Vila Alvas and Vale do Garrão”.