By Stavros Tassiopoulos *
As we move towards 2022 and 2023 (year of local elections) and seeing the financial situation of the Attica Region based on the new Regional Operational Program 2021-2027 with funds over 1.6 billion euros and experiencing the consequences of Covid. now in the practice of the timeless role that the Local Government plays in everyday life.
More specifically, in the area of Western Athens, which over time has received less funding and less practical interest from the central government, the role of local government is crucial to the situation in the daily lives of citizens who choose to live in Egaleo, Agia Varvara, Chaidari, Peristeri, St. Petersburg, Ilion, Kamatero and Agios Anargyros.
The western areas of the Kifissos River, were in the Covid crisis with some basic infrastructure projects in good condition, such as Metro Stations, roads, public parks, and at the same time other issues with inadequate or malfunctioning infrastructure, and the issue is what situation will be with the end of the pandemic and what will be the development this decade.
It is a fact that in most indicators of quality of life West Athens lags behind other areas of Attica and the inequalities, social, environmental and economic problems that exist and make everyday life difficult, but at the same time there is the development – positive perspective which may have specific characteristics. .
The possibility of securing funds from the Attica Region and the individual programs offers immediate solutions to the question of finding resources, but the direction of funding, implementation, quality improvement and definition of projects and actions has to do with people and the possibility collaborations between Municipalities, Region, Central Government.
Through the current programs of Integrated Spatial Investments for Municipalities, the possibility of targeted upgrades at the neighborhood level is given by strengthening social structures and services, as well as medium-scale projects that until 2024 have significantly helped the areas.
At the same time, however, as the planning and implementation for the coming years progresses, we must see carefully how exactly West Athens will be strengthened when there are total amounts of the order of: 600m available for the Attica Region. Euros for health care, education and social welfare infrastructure, 350m. Euros for energy saving projects and actions and tackling climate change, 150cm. Euros to improve infrastructure, transport and networks.
Based on modern needs, the priorities must be set, which for the people who choose and live in the neighborhoods of Western Athens, is the development of social structures and the support of vulnerable groups, the improvement of infrastructure and projects, and the improvement of the environmental situation. . , issues that are directly the axes of funding from European funds and the Attica Region.
We can briefly mention the following issues:
– Proper management of financial tools and more improvements and development skills for young people and entry into work, by strengthening business activity but also helping older people to reintegrate into work, by placing in services of Municipalities that need immediate support , such as the current program for the long-term unemployed 55-67 years.
– The support of the family and the young children and respectively the parents with emphasis on the single parent families, as well as the disabled and the elderly, through the strengthening of the present institutions and bodies and the operation of new structures such as the Multipurpose Social Center of Ilio as well creating new ones.
– Improving the environmental situation of the areas in relation to the adaptation to climate change with infrastructure and water management projects, while at the same time upgrading the lungs as is now done in Tritsi Park and Baroutadiko in Egaleo. At the same time, upgrading the smaller green countries and increasing the recycling rates and the management of the heavy waste in the neighborhoods.
– The strengthening of health structures at primary and secondary level of improvement of the Hospital of West Athens (Agia Varvara – Infectious) and with the direct support of the municipal health services and the Local Health Centers per Municipality.
– The functional upgrade of sports facilities and facilities at the neighborhood level but also of large sports fields, in parallel with the practical support of amateur sports clubs with the direct synergy of the Municipalities
Even here it needs to be mentioned that the improvement of everyday life depends on the major projects that will be completed or will start this decade that should be in harmony with the local areas, contributing overall to the development of Western Athens. Projects such as the extension of Line 2 of the Metro to Ilion, the connection of Line 3 with Piraeus, the construction of the new Intercity Bus station in Eleonas, while the landscape is still being formed for the next major projects of this decade.
It is becoming clear that the upgrading of everyday life goes through the Local Government and the European Union funding to the Regions for infrastructure projects and for actions that address social needs, economic and environmental problems. In this direction, the creative cooperation between the Region, Municipalities and the Central Government, can offer realistic results that will substantially upgrade the quality of life.
And for this we need knowledge and vision for planning together with the responsibility and will to implement the appropriate solutions so that the people of Western Athens have more opportunities and a better living overall, from the simple and everyday to the bigger and more difficult issues that judge the quality of life.
* Stavros Tassiopoulos is an LLM / MSc Lawyer – Public Policy & Local Government Advisor