C.L.A.R.O's 9th Annual General Meeting took place in the Asturias Restaurant on 28 November, 2014. It was well attended with lively debates in English, Spanish and German.
The Reports on the year's activities and the finances of the party, required by the statutes, were approved unanimously.
The agenda item on Political Strategy was the occasion for serious debate. The Annual General Meeting noted that the events of the past 12 months have been tumultuous. C.L.A.R.O. rightly and legally opposed a cynical and opportunistic attempt by the Popular Party and CLR at the beginning of 2014 to take over the government of Orihuela. 11 months after the decision not to put their motion of censure to the vote, no legal judgement has been given on the appeal by the Popular Party and CLR against this decision. As the date of next year's local election gets closer and divisive disputes are taking place in the Popular Party over whether those charged with corruption can represent the party (which is the case with 7of their presently elected councillors including the party President), there is less and less likelihood that there will be a change of government in Orihuela before the election in May, 2015.
Since January, the AGM noted that C.L.A.R.O. has pursued an independent policy, selectively criticising (neglect of street cleaning and rubbish removal) and cooperating (removal of postal service, Cala Mosca, burning waste tip and register to vote information desk) with the minority government. However, opportunities for future cooperation are likely to be few now we are effectively in the pre-campaign period. This was shown by the recent, politically motivated, broken promise and discriminatory decision of the government, strongly condemned by C.L.A.R.O., not to respect the agreed principle that 40% of the proceeds of land sales in Orihuela Costa should be invested in Orihuela Costa. Because of this politically motivated and discriminatory decision, Orihuela Costa lost €500,000 of potential investments.
Furthermore, the AGM considered that the political context is becoming increasingly volatile and unpredictable. Important divisions are present in the Popular Party. CLR seem so inextricably linked to the present Popular Party leadership in Orihuela that they might perish if there is a change of leadership. Given the problems of governing in minority, the Socialist and Green parties are unlikely to have strengthened their present political position. There is a vacuum in the centre of politics which can no longer be legitimately filled by CLR. There will almost certainly be another coalition government after the elections in May next year. But its composition is entirely unpredictable.
Significantly, in this situation, interest in C.L.A.R.O. is being shown by moderate, non-ideological opinion in Orihuela city and certain surrounding villages. They see that C.L.A.R.O. is honest and principled, has never shown hostility to the interests of those living in the rest of the municipality and has consistently supported integration between Orihuela Costa, city and surrounding villages. They see that C.L.A.R.O. could play an important party in ensuring honest, stable and efficient government after the next election.
In a motion approved unanimously, the Annual General Meeting reaffirmed C.L.A.R.O's strategy of continuing its fundamental commitment to promoting and defending the interests of Orihuela Costa while, at the same time, being ready to respond to and represent the aspirations of all those who wish to see a change in Orihuela politics, the end of unproductive, ideological, out of date divisions and the establishment of a future government based on honesty, equity and efficiency in the interests of all.
The Annual General Meeting overwhelmingly approved a proposal to renew the Executive Committee. Three of seven positions will change. Those leaving the Committee voluntarily were thanked for their services which have contributed to C.L.A.R.O. becoming the most voted party in Orihuela Costa in the past two elections, more than the two biggest parties combined.
The new members are: David Lorenzo, Jan Holden and Paul Piccio. David Lorenzo, who will become Secretary General, is a professional in the communications field who has civic experience including spokesperson for business associations in Orihuela Costa. Jan Holden has active experience in the English language written media as well as in many of the social groups in the coast. Paul Piccio, who will be Treasurer, is a local businessman who has actively supported important local charities.
The full list of the extensively renewed Executive Committee, whose members represent four different nationalities, is:
1. President, Bob Houliston
2. Secretary General, David Lorenzo
3. Norah Bond
4. Antonio Cerdan
5. Karl Failoni
6. Jan Holden
7. Paul Piccio (Treasurer)
The annual General Meeting lasted over 3 hours and was characterized by extensive debate and participation. Many congratulated the party for maintaining openness and transparency in its proceedings, with not only an Annual General Meeting, an Executive Committee elected annually, but also a consultative Extended Committee and weekly meetings open to all, not only C.L.A.R.O. members. This was considered to be the key to C.L.A.R.O's success in representing the varied, multi-lingual and multi-cultural population of Orihuela Costa - and why not Orihuela also.
The outcome of the 9th Annual General Meeting was UNITY, RENEWAL AND OPTIMISM.