The Orihuela full council (Plenary) meeting on 26 November was dominated by Orihuela Costa issues. Four of Five motions were devoted to Orihuela Costa. This was exceptional.
The two motions which brought Orihuela Costa to the forefront of debate this month were presented by C.L.A.R.O. Councillor Bob Houliston and by the Popular Party. Both criticised the government for failure to keep its promise to devote 40% of the proceeds of sales of municipal land on the coast to investments in Orihuela Costa. Bob Houliston accused the government of cheating, in denying the full 40% of the total of €4.6 millions received from the sale of land to finance projects in Orihuela Costa. They had deducted €900,000 from the total which they allocated to the completion of a civic centre in the small village of La Apericida. He argued that the project in La Aperecida should have been financed from the 30% share of Orihuela's surrounding villages in the distribution of the €4.6m proceeds from land sales. That would have been enough to finance the La Aperecida project and would have left €500,000 for other projects in other surrounding villages.
Orihuela Costa had been cheated of some €500,000 and the government claimed that not enough was left to finance a proper Civic Centre with auditorium, theatre, library and rooms for activities of associations and residents in Orihuela Costa. While La Apericida, with a population of less than 3,000 inhabitants, would have a civic centre which would cost €1.2 millions in total, Orihuela Costa with 35,000 inhabitants, 10 times greater, would not. This was politically motivated discrimination. Vote buying.
He also criticised the government for failing to include in the projects for Orihuela Costa provision to solve the problems of La Zenia. The threat of the Ministry of Transport in December, 2013 to close two roads leading from and on to the La Zenia roundabout had been suspended pending Town Hall measures to reduce congestion and improve pedestrian safety. If the closures had gone ahead they would have had a ruinous effect on the many small businesses in the area. Bob Houliston said all that had been done in the past year was to locate a tiny roundabout a little further up the Villamartin Avenue which had had no effect. A project proposed by the Councillor for the Coast but dependent on €50,000 of finance from the Alicante provincial authorities, was nothing like ambitious enough to solve the problems which would get dramatically worse when the half-built Emergency Services Centre, right in the middle of the area, would be completed, resulting in police vehicles, ambulances and fire engines using the same over congested approach from the roundabout on the N332 to La Zenia Boulevard commercial centre.
The Popular Party motion which was supposed to reflect the views of the new Federation of Associations of La Zenia was politically one-sided but nonetheless contained some additional useful points. In particular, the Popular Party recalled the discriminatory removal of another €500,000 in October, 2011 from the Orihuela Costa investment budget. This was done by the CLR Budget councillor at the time, Juan Ignacio Lopez Bas. Bob Houliston recalled that he had been persuaded that this was a necessary, temporary step which would be compensated in the 2012 budget. In fact, he had been totally misled. €750,000 of the budget changes were for a pet project of Pedro Mancebo, another CLR councillor responsible for Tourism at the time. The €500,000 were not returned to Orihuela Costa in the 2012 budget and this was one of the main reasons for Bob Houliston's resignation from the government.
Both motions were approved with abstentions from the government. Another motion urging the government to reclaim outstanding finances owed under the previous contract for Beach Bars was approved after a debate in which CLR repeated that the Councillor for the Coast, Martina Scheurer, had been taken to court by them over the award of the new beach Bar contract to the same company which had conspicuously failed to pay substantial amounts of money to the government as provided for in the previous contract.
The final motion on Orihuela Costa presented by CLR proposed the location of a heavy rubbish dump (Ecoparque) and garden waste treatment centre in Lomas de Cabo Roig off the road leading to Campoamor golf club. This motion was opposed by the government and C.L.A.R.O. Councillor Bob Houliston on the grounds that there was no supporting technical justification for the choice of this location. Bob Houliston recalled that he and Popular Party councillors had visited this proposed site some time ago and confirmed that there were strong objections to the location by those living nearby. Nonetheless, the Popular Party supported the CLR motion which was approved by their combined majority.
The 5th motion debated at the November full council meetings was prompted by a proposal by ex-CLR councillor Asuncion Mayoral that political parties should not include in their electoral lists next year councillors charged with corruption. The leader of the Orihuela Popular Party and six other PP councillors would have been affected by this proposal. To avoid this, CLR came to their rescue with a counter proposal which would have kicked the proposal into the long grass of central government consideration of legislation on the subject. The combined PP-CLR majority ensured that the original proposal was not debated or voted. But this issue is certainly not going to go away. It was revealed by a leading newspaper after the plenary meeting that the Orihuela Popular Party leader had disobeyed instructions of her party superiors in Valencia to vote for the original proposal. If so, she is in deep trouble!!
The November issue of Orihuela Town Hall's public relations glossy magazine, Orcelitania, has on its front page the announcement of €4.6 million investments for the municipality. However, the front page figure of €4.6 million is misleading An inside article details investments in Orihuela city, surrounding villages and the coast for a total amount of €3.7 million (€1.4 million being the share of Orihuela Costa). €900,000 is missing. €4.6m - €3.7m
The article claims that the in the distribution of these investment funds resulting from the sale of municipal land on the coast, the government respects the principle of 40%, 30%, 30%: 40% for the coast, 30% for Orihuela city and 30% for the surrounding villages. The principle may be respected in relation to €3.7 millions but the principle should apply to 100% of the proceeds from the sale of land on the coast, not 100% minus €900,000!
The news published in Orcelitania confirms, disappointingly, that the Mayor has not kept his promise to consult and inform C.L.A.R.O., on the investments which would result from the sale of municipal land on the coast. We think we know why! Orihuela Costa has been cheated.
The investments proposed for the coast, apart from a long delayed decision to create an Eco Park, an area for depositing bulky household objects and hopefully recycling garden waste, is mainly a series of small maintenance type improvements in selected areas. There is a project for improving La Regia park which is in addition to the footbridge over the N332 built earlier this year, Orihuela Costa's only investment project. It shows this area, with only 300 registered residents, is being specially favoured, no doubt because of perceived political support there for the Socialist party. The planned investments for the coast include an unspecified but no doubt limited amount to diversify the activities carried out in the purpose-built nursery school in Lomas de Cabo Roig. But this is far too isolated (6 kilometres from the centre of Orihuela Costa) and unsuitable to think it could ever become anything like a civic centre.
The glaring, missed opportunity is the failure to include in the investments a proper civic centre for Orihuela Costa. A proper civic centre would be a multi-purpose facility with auditorium, theatre, library and rooms for the activities of the many social groups in Orihuela Costa who have to rent space in restaurants to carry out their activities. Orihuela Costa's modest, so-called Civic Centre in Alameda del Mar, is dominated by two private associations. Partipation in their activities is open to those who pay (including residents of neighbouring municipalities such as Torrevieja).
With a population of 35,000, at least if not greater than the population of Orihuela city, contributing at least 50% of the income of the Town Hall, Orihuela Costa should have a proper civic centre with auditorium, theatre, library and rooms for social activities.
A consequence of the failure to include a civic centre with theatre or auditorium in the investments is that Orihuela Costa will continue to be completely cut off from cultural activities funded by the municipal government. These are lavish and amount to a million euros a year. Orihuela Costa taxpayers no doubt foot over 50% of this bill and get nothing in return. The reason given for the exclusion of Orihuela Costa from the cultural programme is that there are no suitable facilities on the coast for hosting cultural events!
If the investment plans leave Orihuela Costa without a proper civic centre, surprise, surprise, there is an amount of €900,000 to complete a civic centre in the village of La Aparecida with a population of less than 3,000 inhabitants. This is undoubtedly where the missing €900,000 will go. It is additional to at least €300,000 already spent so far on the building.
Civic Centre, La Aparecida, population less tan 3,000. Will receive €900,000 to complete project
This is cheating. Orihuela Costa should have 40% of the €4.6 million and if it did there would be an additional €400,000 at least, to begin the construction of a multi-purpose civic centre in Orihuela Costa – and more if less is spent on maintenance type mini-projects.
Instead, by trickery, they have taken money from the coast in order to complete an impressive civic centre for a village of less than 3,000 inhabitants in La Aparecida.
This is scandalous. The principle of 40% of investments for Orihuela Costa resulting from the sale of land on the coast is a written formal commitment of the Mayor, in the context of the presentation of the budget for 2012. To change it now in an underhand way is cynical, discriminatory and pure political opportunism. It explains why the Mayor no longer wanted to continue to inform and consult C.L.A.R.O. The truth would have been too embarrassing. Better to disguise it or attempt to do so.
The moral of this story, like so many others, is that Orihuela Costa cannot trust the political parties based in Orihuela city. They have no regard for the coast and no intention to correct the deficiencies in services and facilities which the coast suffers from. No principle is sacrosanct. Political interest will prevail and discrimination will continue until the day Orihuela Costa wakes up, politically.
Over 2,000 voting application forms are currently arriving by post at the addresses of those who have registered on the Orihuela municipal register (Padron) since 2011.
These are the lucky ones who can register to vote the easy way. For others it is proving to be a struggle. There are obstacles being placed in the way of registering to vote and, it seems, in certain places, a lack of sympathy for EU, non-Spanish residents living in Orihuela Costa, to exercise their right to vote.
Receiving the application form by post, confirms the right and eligibility to register to vote. With a cross and a signature, without going to Playa Flamenca Town Hall, the form can simply be returned with the postage pre- paid. Next May those residents who register now, will be able to vote and strengthen the voice of Orihuela Costa in the new Town Council which will be elected for a period of 4 years.
This is how the form looks. The first photo shows how it will arrive by post and the second photo how it appears when opened.
The document which arrives by post should be opened carefully along the perforations. Check the details to make sure it is correctly addressed and then MOST IMPORTANTLY put a cross in the SI/YES box and SIGN the form at the bottom Fold back together, stick down and post it free to the address which will appear when folded back into place. It should be returned without delay and well before the electoral register closes at the end of December.
For those with Internet access, the form even provides the possibility to register to vote by Internet, though a little more complex, just follow the instructions on the form.
If you have any doubts or questions, please come to the Register to Vote Information Desk in the Playa Flamenca office of the Town Hall or contact C.L.A.R.O. (TELEPHONE 661 333 593)
We urge all those who receive this application form by post to take the opportunity to register to vote. Once you do so, you stay on the voters list for as long as you remain a resident of Orihuela.
Orihuela Costa is hugely under-represented in the present Town Council with only two of 25 councillors elected from the coast and only one of the two from an Orihuela Costa-based party, C.L.A.R.O. The Orihuela city-based parties have their own priorities and spend the money of the coast on the people living in the city and surrounding villages who they hope will vote for them in future elections. If we want to make up for the inadequate services, if we want clean streets, proper parks and gardens, a police station open 24 hours, not in a patrol car after 5 p.m. when Playa Flamenca Town Hall closes, WE MUST HAVE A STRONGER VOICE IN THE NEXT ORIHUELA TOWN COUNCIL. Orihuela Costa has virtually no social facilities, no library, theatre, or meeting rooms for activities for young and retired people. All Spanish cities have these facilities and services. Orihuela city has them. But the coast, with a population of 35,000, equal if not greater than Orihuela city, does not. The solution is to elect more councillors from Orihuela Costa. NO VOTE, NO VOICE.
If a reasonable percentage of the over 2,000 who receive the voting application form by post make use of it and vote next May, these new voters could cast enough votes to elect an additional councillor. With C.L.A.R.O's campaign to get as many Orihuela Costa residents as possible to register on the voters list and to vote in May, 2015, we believe next year's elections could be a turning point. We might at last get a fair deal for Orihuela Costa!
FRIDAY, 28 NOVEMBER, 2014
Restaurante Asturias, Punta Prima
C.L.A.R.O. MEMBERS ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO THE 9TH Annual General Meeting on Friday, 28 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 8th 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
REGISTER TO VOTE FOR LOCAL ELECTIONS 2015
An EU citizen already on the Padron?
Register to vote at the Padron desk in the Playa Flamenca Town Hall, before 31 DECEMBER 2014.
Take your passport or national I.D plus photocopy).
Need for Residencia Status.
Registred on the Padron AFTER the 2011 local elections?
You should receive a pre-paid official application form through the post. Just sign it and return. No need go at Town Hall. Easiest way to register to vote. Don´t miss opportunity!
Norwegians and Citizens from Other Countries
• You have right to vote, but procedures are different. Seek further advice.
Advantages of Being on the Padron
• Access to Health Care and Social Welfare Services
• Extra Central Government funds for Local Services
• The right to vote in European and Local Elections
Need Help to Register to Vote or to register on the Padron
• Go to the Information Desk at the Playa Flamenca Town Hall. Volunteers will speak English
• Go to the C.L.A.R.O office at the Asturias Restaurant, Punta Prime or phone 661333593 between 11am and 13pm weekdays OR
• Attend one of C.L.A.R.O weekly Friday meetings at the Asturias Restaurant. Starts at 5 pm
C.L.A.R.O's initial welcome given to the Valencia government acceptance of the proposal to declare part of Cala Mosca a Protected Area to conserve the two endangered species present on Orihuela Costa's last kilometre of natural coast, quickly turned to disappointment.
The Valencia government has approved a protected area, where no building will be allowed, of less than 3 hectares whereas the proposal from the Orihuela government was for an area of 3.5 hectares. The details of the approval plan reveal that the missing half hectare is where the protected plant, the Cat's Head Rockrose (Jarilla Cabeza de Gato), is mainly found. Furthermore, the protected area is no more than the narrow strip of land following the coast used as a coastal walkway, where no plants are found any longer and where no construction would in any case have been allowed. See attached map.
What the Popular Party controlled Valencia government has approved is protection of the interests of the developer and not protection of the endangered plant. This is shameful and shows that the regional government is up to the usual trick of protecting the interests of the developer and not protecting the environment or the interests of residents and tourists who greatly value this last piece of green land on the Orihuela coast which should not be covered by 1,500 new houses or apartments.
It is very unlikely that this partial protection plan will be the last word in the fight to save Cala Mosca. This summer C.L.A.R.O. collected 2,000 objections to the developer's latest building plans which would allow public spaces, parks, gardens and car parking to be situated where the protected plant and another protected species are located. If these objections are accepted by the Valencia government, the plans would have to be changed. If the Valencia government does not accepted these objections, there is no doubt that C.L.A.R.O. will take the matter once again to the European Parliament where the Petitions Committee has had the subject of Cala Mosca on its agenda since 2010 when C.L.A.R.O. presented a petition with over 7,000 signatures to Save Cala Mosca.
The next step is for the Orihuela government to make its announced objection to the reduced Protected Area plan and to request the full 3.5 hectares be included in the protected zone. C.L.A.R.O. will, of course, support this objection. After that, decisions on the future of CALA Mosca will have to be taken by the Valencia Government but they will need to take into account that the European Parliament will be looking over its shoulder to ensure that no construction on Cala Mosca will be allowed unless fully in compliance with all urban and environmental laws.