The mayor of Ustrzyki Dolne, a town in south-eastern Poland, has put up 22 billboards to protest what he sees as the distribution of state grants to local communities based on the political sympathies of their leaders. - A prominent PiS member has told me that I won't get any money until I calm down and start begging- the mayor claims.
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"Dear local members and supporters of the Law and Justice party. Don’t you feel sorry? Your party has left you out of the Polish Deal Investment Program"- Billboards with this kind of message appeared in the town of Ustrzyki Dolne and surrounding villages in southern Poland. They were paid for by the town’s mayor, Bartosz Romowicz.

22 billboards in (and outside) Ustrzyki Dolne

The billboards have been put up last week. - I ordered 20 billboards measuring 2 x 1 meter and two 4 x 2 meter billboards. I financed them myself- explains the mayor. The smaller ones stand in surrounding rural areas. It is on them that Romowicz asks supporters and members of the Law and Justice Party whether they don’t feel sorry. On the larger ones, he states: "Here could have been a sports hall for your children. There won't be one, at least for now. The ruling Law and Justice party does not care about child and youth development. It has once again treated you and your municipality unfairly. The elections are coming soon. Think about your child. Treat the Law and Justice party the same way it treats you".

A hopeless fight for a new sports hall

The town has been trying for several years to get a grant for the construction of a sports hall. Why exactly is it an important investment for the local community? - The School of Sports Championship and the High School of Sports Championship in Ustrzyki Dolne are the only schools of this type in the entire Subcarpathian region that provide education in various types of ski disciplines- explains mayor Romowicz. Since 2019, the local government has made four attempts at receiving funding for the hall. Twice at the Ministry of Sport (the Sportowa Polska program), once from the Government Fund for Local Initiatives, and most recently, from the Strategic Investment Program under the "Polish Deal". Building the hall would cost PLN 9.5 million. - We received nothing. Everyone around us was getting several million zlotys each under the Polish Deal program, we got PLN 400,000 to build a road. Now, another tranche was distributed. Every local community got two or three million, we got nothing. This was already after the billboards were put up. I thought that they would spark some awareness on the part of those in power, and they’d give us the money if only to spite me- says the mayor, not even trying to hide his bitterness.

„If you want money, you’ll have to beg for it"

Mr. Romowicz believes that such unfair treatment of his town is due to the fact that he is not a member of the Law and Justice party, and has dared to vocally criticize the central government. - I heard from a prominent PiS member that I won’t get any money until I calm down and start begging. Let me say it publicly: I will not. This is not MPs' money, this is not ministry or government money. This is our collective money. Someone wanted to punish me, and they punished the entire municipality- he explains. He admits that he tried to be conciliatory, but this has also failed. - When we applied to the Ministry of Sports for funds for the hall, we wrote that the hall would be named after Lech Kaczyński. It didn't help either- he says.

A positive response from the local community

Mr. Romowicz has repeatedly spoken about the fact that Ustrzyki Dolne is treated worse than other local governments in the Subcarpathia region. With the billboards, he wanted to reach local residents. - The response to these billboards exceeded my expectations. Only the most devoted PiS electorate didn't understand anything- he says.

- This is not my last word. There will be more. Let the Law and Justice party wonder what else I have in store for them- the mayor warns.

*** 

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