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By Staff Reporter / 2016-01-17 09:12:09

Despite being seen by some as nothing more than the complaining mantra of the C.L.A.R.O., many more residents appreciate the need to not only “Clean up the coast” of Orihuela, but reverse the blatant neglect of the coastal area that is leading to this continual degeneration of one of the most important zones of the municipality, in terms of tourism and revenue generated through taxation.

This week, the Ciudadanos political group have begun to campaign to highlight the state of the area caused by unregulated dumping and lack of action by the local government to both clean up and prevent this scourge that is making many of the areas of natural beauty nothing more than a dump affecting the health and wellbeing of residents and the wealth of commercial businesses and property sales.

The representative of Ciudadanos, Luisa Boné, has this week highlighted the “many complaints” that the residents of the Orihuela Costa have brought to their attention. In particular, the group has written to the ruling Partido Popular government informing them of the existence of an uncontrolled landfill in the Pinada de Campoamor area. 

The letter requests urgent action to solve the problem that affects one of the main areas of the Orihuela coast. Boné says that the “mountain of garbage” began to appear several months ago and “bags of garden cuttings have been growing day by day into a total dump, where we also find mattresses, toilets, furniture and all kinds of junk mixed with the cuttings”.

Boné went on to say that this situation “should not be ignored” by the government team, because “there are numerous complaints from neighbours” who live and work on the coast, and many of these residents are voters, yet there has been “no communication or no response from the municipal government” to demonstrate their interest.

Ciudadanos have asked municipal officials to proceed as quickly as possible to remove this waste and clean the area, in order to protect this natural environment that is “the lungs of Orihuela Costa” and represent the touristic image of our coast. At present, “the image projected from the area gives a special feeling of neglect, abandonment and lack of respect and full awareness of the environment”.

Meanwhile, that blatant disregard of the coast continues in the way that the Orihuela government has submitted an application for European funding towards environmental sustainability projects across the municipality, which could see over 30 million euro investment to improve such areas as the San Miguel mountain urban belt, and, of course, the city, with the Orihuela Costa not even considered worthy for any of this funding.

The application has asked for 15 million euro from the European fund for Integrated Sustainable Urban Development, which provides grants up to 15 million euro to municipalities of more than 50,000 people. If successful, the total could be more than doubled by internal investment.

The mayor, Emilio Bascuñana of the Partido Popular, presented the various projects that would benefit from the funding, focusing on both urban and socially regeneration. 

Bascuñana said that the grant would increase investment to promote social inclusion and combating poverty in the San Antón, San Isidro, Capuchinos, la Calle Arriba and in the older parts of the city. For these projects, 9.2 million euro would be used to promote employment and social inclusion.

In addition, 5 million euro would be invested in a rehabilitation program of the architectural heritage, which the government feel would contribute to projecting Orihuela as a more attractive destination for tourists, although seemingly ignorant of the fact that if the plan were to work, those tourists would have to travel to the city, and although tourism is a key factor in revenue generation, it is also a key factor in creating pollution and damage to the environment, precisely what these grants are intended to avoid.

Some of the funding would be used to create a “smart city” environment. Within this remit, 6.7 million would be used for the transition to a low-carbon environment and 4.7 million euro to improve the use of information and communications technology, including improvements to eGovernment or creating a citizen´s card. This would include the purchase of new computers for use in the town hall. The project also includes 8.8 million euro for protecting the environment and promoting resource efficiency.

Bascuñana stated that it is a “huge opportunity” for Orihuela, with the European Community likely to decide within six months. Even if the application is unsuccessful, Bascuñana says that the importance of these projects will still remain, although they may then need “more time” to achieve.

C.L.A.R.O. are still continuing with their campaign to highlight the deficiencies by the ruling government, this week issuing a press release that details a “Bleak start to New Year for Orihuela Costa”, with their emphasis clearly being on of reinforcing the warning they had already made, “We cannot say we were not warned”, they say, whilst detailing the plans for the government´s priorities in 2016, which they point out delivered a worrying but expected lack of recognition for the coast, as the New Year message from Bascuñana was evident of “the complete absence of a mention of Orihuela Costa”, despite a population equal to that of the city which contributes over 60% of the income of the municipality via taxes.

C.L.A.R.O. point out an illustration of how the Orihuela Town Hall favours selected areas of the municipality and not Orihuela Costa can be seen in the decision this month to allocate 330,000 euro to improvements in a main city square, Santa Lucia, and certain surrounding villages. In Santa Lucia square the cobble stones will be replaced by tarmac. According to the Spanish press, the cobble stones were placed only 7 years ago for 600,000 euro.  

In another decision in January, this time by Torrevieja Town Hall, together with funds from the provincial government in Alicante, they allocated 826,145 euro to improvements to the Paseo Maritimo, whereas the Cala Capitan section of Orihuela Costa’s equally important seaside walkway remains closed for the third year due to failure to repair the damage and danger to pedestrians from cliff falls.

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