“The town is beautiful and quiet …” says Loli. Very calm. Too much even for its 170 neighbors. Prat de Comte is the smallest population center of the Terra Alta . Located between mountains, 200 meters from the Parc Natural dels Ports, 31 kilometers from Tortosa, 92 from Tarragona and 180 from Barcelona, the population ages and the school works with the minimum number of students required by the Department of Education. But the town is not resigned and after several meetings the neighbors have decided to step forward and make an appeal: They look for families with children who want to settle in the town. In return, offer housing at a reasonable price-less than 200 euros, and put on the table several options to work: from managing the shelter -with capacity for fifty people- or cultivate land that they are willing to give the City Council and some individuals.
Families with children are sought. That they are not urbanites. Or that are willing to leave the city and settle in a rural environment. Couples with children who change shopping centers, traffic and agglomerations for a locality with two bars, a hostel and a store that sells a little of everything. “We can not offer much, but a house for very little money and all the facilities that are in our hands so that families come to live here … And with the times that run that can be very attractive for families who are like the rural way of life “, insists Joan Josep Malràs, the mayor of Prat de Comte .
The drop that has filled the glass has been the possibility that the school closes. Nerea and Rubén will finish primary in June. Next year they will start the course at the Gandesa institute, 22 kilometers from home. Without them, the Prat de Comte school will be at its limit. “If another family left, we would have to close it and a town without a school is, in the short term, a people without life,” says Malràs.
The matter has been raised in the town hall and in meetings with neighbors. “We make this appeal because we believe that we have to try everything, here we live well, we have Tortosa 20 minutes away by car”, insists the mayor. To attract new families to the municipality several job opportunities are offered. One of the options is the hostel of Ca la Jepa whose management has gone to auction. “Instead of being run by a company from Tortosa or another town, we would greatly appreciate the possibility that a family would be responsible for its operation, for our location next to the natural park, in summer and on weekends this is a business that can work, “says the mayor.
Another possibility is, for example, the commercialization of the liquor that has been sold for 15 years in the town: “Until now we have done it to finance the village festivities, but it could become a business if someone wants to promote it,” he adds. Malràs, who also offers the possibility to the future inhabitants to dedicate themselves to cultivate plots that the City Council and some owners are willing to give up. “We also lend to intercede in the purchase of land or housing,” maintains the mayor, who offers a three-bedroom apartment, two bathrooms, kitchen and dining room for less than 200 euros per month.
The daughter of Loli is the girl who attends sixth grade. “It would be a pity if they closed the school, the town would do a little more well, people get older …” he says. Last year there were 164 inhabitants registered in Prat de Comte , of whom 17 were under 14 years old, 96 between 15 and 64 years old and half a hundred neighbors over 65 years During the last years, in the town they have seen how the doctor retires with a place and in his place they have a doctor one hour and a half a day. He has seen how the bank branch was closed and the postal service was in danger. The store is still open, but its owner – who inherited it from her mother – is 63 years old.
In contrast, the consistory has worked to offer maximum services to prevent young people from leaving: “We have internet and natural gas, the information point of the natural park and the pool, and we plan to make a paddle because the youth they ask for it and to offer more attractions to the people who visit us on weekends and during the holidays, “says Malràs. The goal now is to keep the school. “With four or five families, the situation would change and if they come more … much better!”, Concludes the mayor.
Follow the news of the counties of TARRAGONA through the local sections of Tarragona, Reus and Terres de l’Ebre of LaVanguardia.com. News, reports, interviews, images … the closest information!