C.L.A.R.O. Councillor Bob Houliston presented a Motion in the full Orihuela council meeting (Plenary) on 25 March calling for a campaign to remove the ugly, illegal waste tips which are widespread throughout Orihuela Costa and elsewhere in the municipality.
These tips, which are on public as well as private land, contain everything from builders rubble, discarded furniture, sanitary ware, television sets and, in Orihuela Costa, garden waste. It is of course illegal to dump waste and the Town Hall has a clear legal obligation to remove what is dumped. However, over the years, those who dump have not been caught and the Town Hall has been half-hearted in clearing up the mess. Once they are allowed to appear, further rubbish is dumped on top. They grow to an unsightly size and attract vermin. The result is a whole series of eyesores which are offensive to residents, a danger to the environment and present a negative image to tourists and holidaymakers.
Illegal waste which has been almost permanently dumped in La Florida
Bob Houliston’s motion called for a crash programme to clean up these illegal waste tips before the holiday season starts and measures to prevent dumping in the future, including information campaigns, a recycling centre (ecoparque) away from housing and applying the fines provided for in the local by-laws. The motion was presented in a moderate manner not criticising and putting the blame on the current government since the problem goes back many years.
In the course of the debate both the government and the opposition Popular Party expressed their support. The only party which opposed was Pedro Mancebo’s Centro Liberal Renovador Party (CLR). They adopted their usual negative and critical attitude, rejecting the proposal simply because it was put forward by C.L.A.R.O.
The motion was overwhelmingly approved and it is now up to the government to try and follow up their support by taking measures to clean up these unwelcome, unhealthy eyesores.
On Thursday 26 March at 1 p.m. the press and media are invited to the inauguration of the CLARO ORIHUELA headquarters in Orihuela. You are cordially invited to this public relations event. The more who attend the better.
Shared transport will be organised at 11.45 a.m. in front of the Asturias Restaurant, departing at 12 noon, so that those who doe not know the address will have no difficulty in finding it. For anyone wishing to go independently, the address is: Calle Obispo Rocamora 4, 1st floor, left. It is just above a bar "Chiquita". Calle Obispo Rocamora is very central, near the riverside parking, close to the Casino.
Hope to see as many of you as possible on Thursday.
On 17 March, C.L.A.R.O. President Bob Houliston and members of the C.L.A.R.O. Executive Committee presented to the press "C.L.A.R.O. ORIHUELA", a group of supporters of the C.L.A.R.O. political party from Orihuela city and neighbouring villages (pedanías).
This group, comprising people of different professions and experiences, has come to believe that C.L.A.R.O. has a future, not only in Orihuela Costa but in Orihuela city and neighbouring villages. The political situation in Orihuela has become increasingly confused with division in the Popular Party and fragmentation among parties of the left. Pedro Mancebo has announced that he is standing down from front line politics and his party, Centro Liberal Renovador (CLR), has not clearly stated that they will contest the local elections in May. New parties are emerging which will further confuse the situation.
In this context, C.L.A.R.O's image and reputation as a non-ideological party from neither the left nor the right, formed by those living in Orihuela Costa to correct deficiencies in the political management of the coast and based on principles of honesty and efficient government, has attracted increasing support in Orihuela and surrounding villages. After several months of contact and participation in C.L.A.R.O. open meetings on the coast, an impressive number of influential people publicly announced in the press conference their support for C.L.A.R.O. and their commitment to campaign for C.L.A.R.O. in the elections on 24 May.
C.L.A.R.O ORIHUELA has opened a headquarters office in one of Orihuela's most important and central streets. It has weekly, open meetings like C.L.A.R.O. on the coast. The group has organised its work in sections covering the economy, social affairs and relations with surrounding villages and outlying districts of Orihuela city.
Bob Houliston welcomed this new important step in the development of C.L.A.R.O. He said he was convinced that with C.L.A.R.O. Orihuela and C.L.A.R.O. on the coast the party could elect a sufficient number of councillors to ensure that the next government of Orihuela , which will inevitably be another coalition, should be honest and efficient and would run the municipality on a de-centralised basis, close to the people. A decentralised form of government is the only way in which a municipality with such a diverse population and so geographically dispersed could be governed fairly.
The Orihuela-based Spanish press gave good and fair coverage to the presentation of C.L.A.R.O. ORIHUELA believing that C.L.A.R.O. could gain support from the traditionally strong, moderate centre in Orihuela politics and could hold the key to the formation of the next government after the 24 May elections. They commented that among C.L.A.R.O. ORIHUELA members they recognised the presence of a cousin of former Popular Party Mayoress, Monica Lorente and a cousin of the former Socialist Party leader, Antonia Moreno. This gives an indication of the broad, potential support which C.L.A.R.O. can hope to attract in Orihuela.
Not only are there difficulties for non-Spanish EU residents to register to vote in local and European Parliament elections. Those who do register, and turn out to vote on the day of the election, may find queues and, as we saw in 2011 in the middle of the day, they may have to wait up to an hour in the midday sun.
To avoid a repetition of this situation, C.L.A.R.O. Councillor, Bob Houliston, presented a Motion in the full Council meeting (Plenary) at the end of February. The purpose of the Motion was to increase the number of voting stations and improve their geographic distribution. His Motion stated that in the last 8 years, the number of eligible voters in local elections in Orihuela Costa had doubled – up from just over 4,000 to over 8,000 in 2015. The number of voting stations, however, had not increased from the traditional three – the Playa Flamenca Town Hall, the nearby Civic centre and now the reading point in, for many, far away Calle Cipres in Lomas de Cabo Roig. Moreover, because of the extended nature of Orihuela Costa, some voters have to travel several kilometres to cast their votes. The average number of voters in each of Orihuela Costa's three voting stations in last year's European elections was over 2,300, more than the 2,000 maximum fixed by law. In Orihuela city and surrounding villages, the average number of voters per voting station ranges between 850 and 1,200. The solution proposed in the Motion was to have additional voting stations better dispersed in Orihuela Costa.
In the debate on the Motion it was obvious that other parties would not vote against such a reasonable and democratic proposal and the Motion was passed unanimously. However, there were a number of grumbles about the procedure and responsibility for making the voting day arrangements. One startling fact which emerged in the debate was that the legal maximum of 2,000 voters per voting station only applies to the number of Spanish voters. The number of non-Spanish EU voters does not count. This is an incredible admission. In Orihuela Costa there are more EU registered voters than Spanish voters. Article 19.1 of the EU Treaty stipulates the rights of EU citizens resident in another member state to vote and stand as candidates for municipal elections "under the same conditions as nationals of that State." It is almost certainly a contravention of EU law that a legal maximum on the number of voters per voting station only applies to Spanish nationals. It is also illogical. Spanish voters as well as EU voters have to queue in the same queue to vote and they suffer the same consequences of this unfair provision of Spanish law. C.L.A.R.O. will certainly consider a complaint on the matter to the European Parliament.
The fact that the Motion was passed unanimously did not convince C.L.A.R.O. that any action would result, especially since it emerged in the debate that the arrangements for 24 May would already have been agreed at the end of 2014 and that there would be the same traditional 3 voting stations in Orihuela Costa. Therefore, on 11 March, C.L.A.R.O. Councillor Bob Houliston visited the Alicante head of the Electoral Registration Office to check the situation. It was confirmed that in calculating the 2,000 maximum of voters per station, only Spanish voters counted. It was also confirmed that arrangements concerning the number of voting stations and the number of voting tables had been agreed with Orihuela Town Hall in December. However, Bob Houliston was told that if it was too difficult and too late to increase the number of voting stations, it would still be possible to increase the number of voting tables in voting stations which would speed up the voting procedure and reduce and possibly avoid having to queue to vote. However, only 3 to 4 days remained in which to consider a new proposal from OrihuelaTown Hall. The day after Bob Houliston's discussion in Alicante, the Electoral Registration Office and Orihuela Town Hall modified the December proposal and added 3 new voting tables in the two voting stations where the highest number of voters will vote: Playa Flamenca Town Hall and Calle Cipress in Lomas de Cabo Roig.
This is a small but significant victory and all that is possible for the forthcoming local elections. The Councillor for the Coast, Martina Scheurer, will publicise the final detailed arrangements closer to the date of the election. Registered voters will also be informed in due course by post as to which voting station and which voting table they should go to on 24 May.
C.L.A.R.O. hopes that with these improved arrangements, voters will be reassured that they should not be confronted with queues and the need to stand in the sun on the day of the election. We will need as big a turnout as possible on 24 May and a vote for those who will defend our interests. A stronger voice for Orihuela Costa in the new Town Council and in the next government in Orihuela is the only way the many improvements we need will be carried out.
The burning waste tip on the border of Orihuela Costa and Pilar, which has been spewing out toxic fumes for the last several years, was back in the news again this week.
A team from the National Channel 1 TV was in the area investigating illegal waste tips and thanks to cooperation between C.L.A.R.O. and the action group against illegal waste tips, VERTIVEGA, after filming in La Murada, next to Orihuela city, they came to report on the burning waste tip on the border of Orihuela Costa and Pilar. This illegal waste tip pre-dates the La Murada tip and for many years was used to dump waste of all sorts from all over the area. It is a big financial advantage for those in charge of waste disposal to simply dump whatever they collect wherever they can rather than paying to have it disposed of and treated legally. For perhaps 20 years that was what they were doing on the Orihuela Costa-Pilar border. Years after they stopped dumping, the process of natural internal combustion resulted in the mountain of rubbish beginning to smoulder and flame and spew toxic gases into the atmosphere.
The national TV team were impressed by what they saw and filmed. The mountain of waste, perhaps 20 metres high and covering an area of some 50,000 square metres, the equivalent of 30 football pitches, contains waste of all sorts. Visible are remnants of tyres, plastic and metal and below the surface is decomposed and smouldering domestic waste. It is speculated that dangerous medical waste could also be buried in the depths of the mountain. The publicity which should come at national level from this visit could be most useful in getting the authorities to accept responsibility and decide to do something about this danger to the environment and public health.
The visit coincided with the arrival of a reply to the denuncia elaborated by Las Ramblas Urbanizacion President , Bob Hammond with the help of C.L.AR.O. Although it has taken since July last year and a reminder, the Guardia Civil environmental branch, SEPRONA, has formally reolied that the complaint made was investigated by them and their report was submitted to the criminal court in Orihuela which has accepted to investigate the complaint. Furthermore, SEPRONA, after confirming the facts detailed in the denuncia, have submitted a report to the Environmental Prosecutor in Alicante. Both their action in informing the criminal court in Orihuela and the Environment Prosecutor in Alicante have been reported to the regional government in Valencia.
The reply to the denuncia is formal and authoritative. The complaint is now not only in the hands of the criminal court in Orihuela but also in the hands of the Environmental Prosecutor. There can be every confidence that these proceedings will, with time, lead to a solution to the problem. The political authorities alone have not been willing to accept responsiblity for what will be a costly process to remove or make safe the waste tip. But with the court and prosecutor service seized of the matter, there is good reason to hope that a solution will be imposed on them by the courts.