The first debate in the meeting was on the results of the municipal elections in May. Although not as good as hoped for, the AGM stressed that for the third time C.L.A.R.O. had won the majority of votes cast in Orihuela Costa, nearly 50% again, and missed securing representation in the new Town Council by the narrow margin of some 30 votes. It was acknowledged that the main reason for not doing as well as hoped for was low voter participation by non-Spanish residents. It remains a challenge for the party to motivate residents on the coast to realise that in return for contributing the greater part of Orihuela Town Council’s income, they receive wholly inadequate and insufficient services.
Confusion and changes in the polling stations on the coast, in particular use of the little known, isolated and badly sign posted Reading Point, affected hundreds of voters and was another important reason for falling short of the votes necessary for continued representation.
Finally, among the adverse factors affecting the result for C.L.A.R.O., the AGM stressed that the official name and the description on the voting forms of C.L.A.R.O. “Party for Orihuela Costa” was used by C.L.A.R.O’s opponents to smear the party as separatist and uninterested in other parts of the municipality with a consequent loss of potential voters.
The AGM overwhelmingly affirmed that C.L.A.R.O. WAS HERE TO STAY and must continue to promote and defend the interests of Orihuela Costa. It also agreed to change the statutes and official name of the party dropping “Party for Orihela Costa” to encourage wider support for the party outside of Orihuela Costa.
An important debate took place on the need for C.L.A.R.O. to be more proactive and better project knowledge of its aims and activities on the coast. To achieve this objective, in addition to continuing our mainstream, essential political activities, it was agreed to launch a series of initiatives. The weekly Friday meetings, open to all, which take place in the Asturias Restaurant and which characterise the transparent nature of the party, would, in future, also be used to enable guest speakers, hopefully once a month, to address issues of interest and concern to those living on the coast, A programme of speakers would include representatives of local charities, campaign organisations like the Pink Ladies, a representative of the Residential Care Home in Villamartin, newspaper editors, environmental organisations and real estate agents. The first speaker, on a date to be announced, would be a representative of the Guardia Civil Traffic Corps. These Friday Forums will be in English and where possible also Spanish.
Also at least once a month, the Friday meetings would take place in different parts of the coast and would be informal and social in character, not political. They would be Tapas and Chat events.
Finally, to underline C.L.A.R.O’s strong commitment to social welfare on the coast, which the local government neglects so conspicuously, it was agreed to hold an important, annual fund-raising event for the charities and social groups who do so much for those living on the coast.
This debate was also marked by resentment and indignation at the fact that Orihuela Costa with a population greater than that of Orihuela city, which increases to some 250,000 during the summer months and to which must be added the thousands of visitors daily to La Zenia Boulevard, still lacks a 24 hour local Police Station and locally based ambulance and fire service. The skeleton building of a future Emergency Services Centre, near La Zenia roundabout, paralysed for years because of political inaction, is a testament to the neglect and lack of concern of the local government and competent authorities for the health and safety of Orihuela Costa residents and visitors. There was outrage that at least 3 recent deaths on the coast have been associated with delays in the arrival of an ambulance. The AGM demanded action on this major priority.
The Annual General Meeting decided important changes in the composition of the party Executive Committee. Paul Piccio was elected President of the party. After holding this office for 9 years, Bob Houliston stood down but will remain a member of the Executive Committee where, with his knowledge and experience, he will continue to contribute to the party. Paul Piccio is a well known businessman in Orihuela Costa. He has an international background and is bilingual in English and Spanish. Another party veteran and leading figure in local charities, Norah Bond stood down to make way for Paulina Wysokinska. Paulina is very involved in Orihuela Costa’s social activities including the La Zenia church and Parents Association. She is fluent in several languages including English and Spanish.
The list of members of the Executive Committee decided by the Annual General Meeting is as follows:
The new Popular Party government in Orihuela, with the support of the ex CLR Ciudadanos party, has decided to pay a total of €3.5 million for a huge concrete roof over the new high speed rail (AVE) track in Orihuela city and for preparing it for a future, but as yet undecided, use. The main opposition Socialist party did not support the decision because it was insufficiently ambitious.
The new high speed train will not stop in Orihuela city. Originally, the company which is carrying out the works on this stretch of track between Alicante and Murcia did not intend covering this nearly 1 kilometre section which is deep in a cutting. But previous governments of all political colours have decided this should be done. Why?
Not because it is necessary for pedestrian to cross over – a foot bridge, or several, do not require nearly a kilometre of concrete base. Few people would in any case need to cross over the tracks at this point because on the other side is agricultural land and some industrial buildings. It would not, as it has been suggested, cut Orihuela in half since it is on the southern outskirts of the city and it would not prevent future expansion since Orihuela city is not expanding.
It will not be used as a new shopping mall because the economy of Orihuela city could not support such an investment. The existing, small commercial centre, Ociopia, is hardly a success. The main weekly market is reducing the number of stalls because of lack of demand by traders. And shops in the historic centre are currently organising a special promotion with the Town Hall in an endeavour to boost demand. Compare and contrast with the tremendous success of La Zenia Boulevard in Orihuela Costa with millions of visitors every year!
The giant concrete overpass which will cost €1 million is nearly completed. €2.5 million is provided for its development but, in the years which have elapsed since the beginning of the fast train works, there has been no specific proposal for its use. In a public consultation launched by the new government there were only 59 respondents and no consensus on what should be done with this huge space.
€3.5 million is a lot of money for Orihuela and is likely to consume much of the investment funds available for several years. It is irresponsible to commit such an amount without a clear justification of the needs and use to which it will be put. The truth is that it is only possible for the government to go ahead with such an extravagant and unnecessary project because Orihuela Costa will pay for it! After all, with a population greater than that of the city and the proceeds which the Town Hall receives from each new property transaction, we contribute some 60% of the income of Orihuela and depriving Orihuela Costa of a fair share of expenditure ensures that Orihuela can indulge in such excesses.
The only funds which might be available in the Town Hall coffers to pay this €3.5 millions are the €4.6 million proceeds of land sold in Orihuela Costa some years ago to developers to build more houses. 40% was promised for investment in Orihuela Costa. If this money is available, which is doubtful since it was not used by the previous government, little would be left for Orihuela Costa after deducting at least €3.5 millions. If the amount is not paid in the next 3 years, as compensation, the Town Hall will be obliged to provide 5,000 square metres of land to the company building the high speed rail track which it could sell or use for urban development. The land in question has not been identified and there is a possibility that in the end, this could be land in Orihuela Costa which is currently experiencing a mini house building boom. But there is little municipally owned land left in Orihuela Costa which has a deficit in social, sporting and cultural facilities which increases as Orihuela Costa continues to expand.
If the passage of the new fast train does not cut Orihuela city in half as alleged, it is a FACT that ORIHUELA COSTA IS ALREADY CUT IN HALF by the widened N332 road between the coast and areas where most residents live. We have too few footbridges and underpasses over the N332 and the AP-7 motorway. People risk their lives crossing the N332 to go to the beach. In the case of residents of Lomas de Cabo Roig, they have no pedestrian crossing over the motorway and risk their lives to go to the health centre in Campoamor or to Cabo Roig. There is also a serious problem of congestion in the summer months on the N332 caused by the traffic going to La Zenia Boulevard. This is already proving dangerous to pedestrians and ruinous to local enterprises in the area of La Zenia roundabout. It will only get worse when the long delayed Emergency Services Centre located in the same area is finally completed and we get a 24 hours local police station. An overpass on the N332 at this point would be a solution.
It is obvious that the governments in Orihuela do not give a fig for the needs of Orihuela Costa. Out of sight, out of mind. When will they wake up to the fact that the future of Orihuela depends on Orihuela Costa? Instead of spending millions on an extravagant and unnecessary project in Orihuela city, investments should be made where needs exist and the economic future of the municipality lie, IN ORIHUELA COSTA.
FRIDAY, 13 NOVEMBER, 2014
Restaurante Asturias, Punta Prima
C.L.A.R.O. MEMBERS ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO THE 10TH Annual General Meeting on Friday, 13 November. Members who need to update their subscriptions in order to participate in the meeting can do so between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. in the room where the AGM will take place.
1. Approval of Minutes of the 9th Annual General Meeting - document available together with party statutes in the meeting room
2. Report to Annual General Meeting with Financial Report
3. Political Strategy and Organisation
4. Election of Executive Committee
5. Any other business