Category: News

‘La Ballena’ bites the dust

 
It’s been a monstrosity for some time now. The building, known locally as ‘La
Ballena’ or the whale, has finally been demolished. It has been a long process
to bring down this abandoned and dilapidated block with its town centre
location. The need for caution in the demolition process has been part of the
problem.
It has taken four months of work from a specialist company to make sure that
this five storey building was finally laid to rest. It has been abandoned since
2006 when those living in it had an eviction order placed on them due to the
precarious condition of the building. From then until 2011, efforts have been
made to ensure that the 29 different owners either put forward a renovation
project or had the building demolished.
However, as this was never achieved the local government began the process
on its own and accepted that it would also have to pay the bill along with it.
The building may now be down but the job isn’t quite complete. Anyone
passing by the site will notice the tonnes of rubble that are still there and will
need to be removed. Dividing walls will also need to be secured and a new
fence erected. All this work is already included in the price of the contract.
It has been a difficult operation for the demolition company who had to
complete the work by hand to avoid the structure collapsing. There was also a
hold up when Iberdrola had to come and disconnect the electricity. The fact
that this has also taken place during the holiday season has not helped
matters.
However, for those neighbours who have lived with vandalism, infestations of
mice and a colony of cats over the years, the removal of this eyesore will be
very welcome. The town hall has had to foot the cost of the demolition ata
cost of €230,000. They will attempt to pass on some of this to the owners,
whoinclude some banksas well also second-home owners. However, it is
unlikely that they will have much luck with this and are likely to remain out of
pocket.

Hundreds search for missing boy

Some 1,000 police officers, firefighters and volunteers searched on Saturday for an eight-
year-old boy whose disappearance four days previously in Almeria has gripped the country.
Gabriel Cruz was at his grandmother's home in the small village of Las Hortichuelas when he
left to go play at a friend's house nearby last Tuesday afternoon. He has not been seen
since.
His relatives alerted police who published a missing person's alert with a photo of the
smiling boy, which went viral in Spain via mobile messaging services and social media.
Since then, police and volunteers have been combing the countryside in the area on foot
and on horseback, using helicopters and drones to try and locate him. Interior Minister Juan
Ignacio Zoido said police were also searching waters off the coast nearby.
Cruz's parents have given several tearful interviews to Spanish media, saying he knew the
area well and could not have got lost.
“We hope we will get Gabriel back soon and that he will return home with his family, which
is where a boy who is only eight should be," his father Angel Cruz told reporters at a press
conference, before breaking down in tears.
In a twist on Friday, it emerged that a man had been detained this week for stalking
Gabriel's mother Patricia Ramirez, though authorities stressed he was not held in
connection with the disappearance of her son.
The man, named as Diego Miguel, had become "obsessed" with Ramirez and in 2016 was
ordered by a judge to stay away from her and given a three-month suspended jail sentence.
However, he broke this order several times, including in the hours when Gabriel
disappeared, and was detained for this reason authorities said. Police said they are
investigating the circumstances, but Angel Cruz stressed Saturday he believed the man had
nothing to do with his son's disappearance.
Latest development
A child’s vest was found in the rural area near Níjar where Gabriel disappeared. His father
identified the item of clothing as being his son's, and on Monday the Guardia Civil carried
out DNA tests which confirmed that the garment was indeed Gabriel’s.
They say the report of the clothing Gabriel was wearing when he vanished – a red jacket
and black Adidas tracksuit bottoms – did not mention a vest, although as it is an
undergarment, it may have been forgotten.
The search has now become more 'selective', say inspectors, who have cordoned off the
area around the reservoir pools and water treatment plant in the Las Negras sewage
works close to the footpath which leads to the San Pedro bay.
This time, the search continued in the dark, and detectives were out all night trying to find
the little boy.
They are accompanied by the now-famous 12-year- old Belgian Shepherd Elton, one of the
Guardia Civil's 550 sniffer dogs, who was key in helping to find the body of Madrid sixth-
former Diana Quer on New Year's Eve in a disused warehouse in Galicia, where she had
been dumped after being raped and murdered 16 months earlier.

Habaneras is 13

 
To mark their thirteenth birthday, Habaneras is offering its customers chance
to win one of 13 prizes. They will hide 13 unusual ‘cats’ around Torrevieja
which will appear each day between 1 st to 13 th March. If you are one of the
lucky people to find one then you should bring it to Habaneras and claim your
prize.
On the 17 th March there will be a grand prize draw at the centre when the
winners of the 13 raffle prizes will be announced. Prizes include tickets for the
musical Tadeo Jones, a getaway for two and many gifts from their stores. This
will be accompanied by a matsuri-style cocktail party with an opportunity to
taste sushi and other Japanese delicacies. You can even try some ‘golden’
wine.
The birthday of Torrevieja’s commercial centre comes at a difficult time. With
the new Sunday trading hours commercial centres like Habaneras will find
themselves losing out. A particular concern is that the restaurants and cafes
that are based in their facilities will not attract customers on their own.
Although they are not obliged to close during the Sunday shut downs, there
will be few people in the centres to use them.
In order to still keep people coming when shops are no longer trading,
Habaneras is advertising ‘Family Sundays’. The shops may be closed but
there will be a range of fun family activities to take their place. The activities
include recycling workshops, a city vegetable garden from 12pm until 3pm
and games, competitions and crafts for children.
From 4.30pm until 8.30pm there will be a free zip wire and salsa and bachata
dance classes from 5pm until 6pm on Sundays. From 12pm until 6pm there
will be a free nanny service with professional childcare for children and
toddlers for those wanting to take part in these activities. Through adopting
these measures the centre hopes to keep people coming to its shops, cafes
and restaurants.

Goodbye and thanks to the Flower Club

Torrevieja Flower Club has been a very popular local club, operating in the
townfor the past thirty years. The organisers have arranged floral
demonstrations and coach outings at regular intervals and it has been a major
fund raising organisation, not only to keep themselves going but to donate to
worthwhile causes.
Most recently the club presented a cheque to Councillor Carmen Morate of
€1,500 to benefit the organisation Animalistas Torrevieja which helps provide
care for the lost and found animals in Torrevieja. Animalistas Torrevieja were
founded in 2012 and volunteers help at the animal shelter and in other ways,
supporting the welfare of animals. They assist with the adoption of animals,
the castration of cats programme, animal foster homes and help the animals
to socialise.
A cheque was also presented to the Stroke Support group. The group are
based in La Siesta and has offered support since 2007 to those people who
have suffered from or are supporting someone who has had a stroke. They
help provide advice and assistance with the rehabilitation process and help
with the purchase of wheelchairs and orthopaedic beds. Sandra Lambe is the
chair lady of the Flower Club. She is particularly appreciative of what they
have done in supporting her son who had five small strokes in two months
when he was in Torrevieja.
Unfortunately, it now looks as though these may well be the last donations
that the club is able to give.
A loss to the local area
Torrevieja’s Flower Club was started thirty years ago by Margaret Atherton
and Alma Villiers. Over this time it has brought a lot of pleasure to those
attending the regular flower demonstrations from September to May.
However, unfortunately, the club is now having to close. As its members have
got older, the number taking part has reduced and some of them have
decided to return to the UK as a result of the uncertainty of Brexit.
As a result, the committee has found it more difficult to recruit and it’s not an
easy job to make sure that the club continues to be a success. There is a lot
of hard work and fundraising involved including supporting and entertaining
the flower demonstrators who must be brought over from the UK and are
accommodated during their stay.
Sandra Lambe joined the Torrevieja flower club 25 years ago and has been
the chair lady over the past 12 years. She is sad to see the club fold but no
one has been prepared to step into her boots. She has decided to step down
in order to spend more time with her husband who has suffered from ill health.
‘I do hope that someone will in the future start the club again,’ says Sandra. ‘It
is a shame that the club has had to close.’ She hopes that there will still be
opportunities to enjoy floral demonstrations, however. ‘There is a floral club in
Moraira so I will get a coach organised for their demonstrations now and
again.’
On behalf of its readers, Costa Blanca People would like to thank the Flower
Club for the enjoyment it has brought its members and the donations it has
made to the town.

Corvera airport to open in December

Murcia’s new airport will be ready for commercial flights to operate from this December,
although its actual launch date will depend upon when the various airlines running from it
are ready to start.
Chairman of airports governing body AENA, Jaime García-Legaz, says the process of
checking and signing off the various parts of the future Juan de la Cierva terminal for
health, safety and completion will take several months, having started around a week ago.
The next step will be drumming up interest from airlines.
This new terminal, in the village of Corvera near to Murcia city, will replace the existing
terminal in San Javier airport, and will be further away from Orihuela Costa and the
surrounding areas for locals to travel to, making Alicante the closest airport.
Corvera airport will not start to operate until the last plane has flown out of San Javier,
García-Legaz confirmed. The airports will not overlap. He also sought to reassure staff at
San Javier that their jobs were safe, as they would continue in their roles but at the new
terminal in Corvera. In fact, García-Legaz explained that the new airport is much larger and
will create even more jobs than San Javier, especially as it will be open and running
'morning, afternoon and evening, 365 days a year', and will not have to share its space
with military aircraft, as is currently the case at San Javier.
Regional government president Fernando López Miras says the Corvera terminal will
create 500 directly-linked new jobs and another 4,000 indirect positions for every million
passengers who fly into or out of Murcia.
Initial forecasts suggest Corvera airport will transport around four million passengers
annually, helping to give the region's economy and tourism industry a huge boost.
The new terminal will be named Juan de la Cierva airport after the Murcia-born engineer
who invented the gyroplane, or autogyro, which first took off 95 years ago last month, in
February 1923.
García-Legaz believes that Murcia's new airport will rival that of Alicante, just 80
kilometres north in the next province – a major international terminal which serves the
Costa Blanca holiday belt and the whole of the province of Alicante and part of that of
Valencia.

A new beginning for the Royal British Legion Concert Band Spain

One of the Costa Blanca’s favourite band’s has decided to change its name and reform as the Royal
British Legion Concert Band Spain.
The original band was formed in 1993 when seven musicians from various musical backgrounds
came together and formed The Oompah band. With no other bands in the region they were in great
demand so the Oompah Band formed two additional bands, The Vega Baja Big Band and the Phoenix
Concert Band.
Since those days, the band has played at hundreds of events around the Costa Blanca. It has also
seen the arrival of their new Musical Director, David Last.
David has vast experience of the music world, including service with the Queens Own Buffs and at
the Royal Military School of Music at Kneller Hall. He was also the principle at the Lyceum School of
Music in Manchester, he had his own youth band and for a time he was also a woodwind player with
the Territorial Army Band of the Royal Artillery.
Following the arrival of the new MD, many of the band members felt that a new stimulus was
needed for the band, so after consultation with senior members of the Royal British Legion, the
decision was taken by the band to reform under their new name.
However the transition is not quite complete as the MD is determined to provide the band with a
completely new image as they join the long list of bands that are currently affiliated to the Military
Charity. He is now in the process of having formal jackets tailored for every member of the new
band, together, of course, with new banners for their music stands.
It is hoped that the costs of the new clothing and equipment will be covered by sponsorship and
donations from local businesses. Already, two pledges of 500 euro each have been made by 'IBEX
Insurance' and by the UK company 'Surface Protection'. More funds are still needed though to cover
the remaining costs, so the RBL are now seeking any company or business that might like to help
with those costs. Additional information can be obtained by email at:
orihuelacosta.chairman@gmail.com
We do know that the music of the RBL Concert Band Spain will be wide and varied, ranging from
swing, through classical to musicals.
Since their new launch, the Royal British Legion Concert Band Spain continue to rehearse every
Tuesday 1.30pm – 4.30pm at the Municipal Library in San Miguel de Salinas.
Currently there are a number of vacancies in the band for musicians of all nationalities and in all
sections.
For more information please call David Last on 638 10 80 78 or Gloria on 679 576 591

Body found at Cala Mosca

The Maritime Service of the Guardia Civil has this evening recovered the lifeless body of a man found floating in the rocky area of Cala La Mosca, on the north coast of Orihuela Costa. The body was discovered shortly after two o’clock in the afternoon today (Monday). Local Police and Guardia Civil were deployed to the area immediately, once they received the call.
Initially, the fire service was also mobilized. The cliff terrain where the body was found is very steep, and the body appeared to have become trapped between the rocks. The difficulty prompted the Guardia Civil call on the Special Subaquatic Unit (GEAS).
With the various emergency services working in tandem, it was a patrol boat from the Maritime Service of the Guardia Civil that finally managed to recover the corpse just after 6pm local time.
The body, that of a middle-aged man, was brought to the marina of Cabo Roig.
The Judicial Police of the Guardia Civil have very little information yet and are investigating matters to identify the corpse and clarify the cause of death.

3.6 metre shark found in Santa Pola

Passersby were astounded when a huge 200 kilo shark was pulled from the waters of Levante Beach at Santa Pola. The body of the already dead shark was moved towards the shore by Urbaser workers and was then removed from the water using a powerful crane.
The shark was spotted for the first time on Wednesday evening near the shoreline, but it was not until Thursday that the Policia Local got in touch with Urbaser and organised for several workers to meet at the beach to begin the process of removing the shark from the water.
With the help of a small motorboat the body was nudged towards the shore and a crane was then used to take it out of the water. The remains of the animal are believed to be still at the Urbaser facility as details are being finalised to transfer it to the Coastal Ecology Institute of the Generalitat Valenciana.
The exact species of the shark is yet to be confirmed.

Woman arrested for prostituting 13 year old

A woman has been arrested, accused of attempting to arrange the prostitution of a minor –
her own 13 year old niece – at a coffee shop in Elche. Officers investigating the case are
currently looking in to whether the incident is linked to a wider sex trafficking network.
The woman was arrested on Thursday at a cafe in Elche and appeared in court on Friday
morning to make a statement before the judge.
The incident itself took place on February 10 th when officers received a call from an eyewitness
to the alleged incident. The witness called the National Police emergency number, 091,
following concerns about what was taking place in the cafe.
The witness told the officers that a woman was trying to convince three men in the
establishment “to accept the sexual favours of her 13-year- old niece.”
A unit was dispatched to the scene to intervene. When the officers arrived at the cafe and
entered the establishment, they observed three men sitting next to a woman and a younger
girl sitting on one of the tables.
The officers decided to transfer the woman and the girl to police headquarters and commence
an investigation by the Judicial Police of Elche National Police Station to find out what had
really happened inside the cafe.
Once the appropriate investigations were carried out and once all parties involved were
brought to make a statement, the necessary information was compiled verifying that the facts
as they were reported were indeed true. Investigators were given the go ahead to arrest the
girl's aunt for the crime of prostitution, sexual exploitation and corruption of minors.

Torrevieja requests clarity on Plusvalía

The local council has presented a motion to the national government in Spain
asking for clarification of the situation regarding collection of Plusvalía tax.
This is the tax collected by the town hall from the seller when a property is
sold. How much Plusvalía is payable depends upon the property’s rateable
value and the estimated increase on the land’s worth since it was first
purchased.
There have been problems with the tax in that it has been charged even
where people have not made a profit on selling their property. However, they
have still had to pay the tax on an alleged increase in the value of the land
even though this has not translated into a capital gain for the person selling.
Recently cases have gone to court and some sellers have received their
money back. Now, tax collection agencies such as SUMA are refusing to
collect the tax due to the uncertainty of the situation.
This loss of tax revenue is having a major effect on town councils, particularly
ones like Torrevieja where the transfer of property has always been a major
source of income. In 2016 the town council collected €18,970,765 and this
reduced to €8,785,960 in 2017. A loss of €10,183,611. In 2016 the collection
of Plusvalía represented 19.5% of the total revenue of the city to 9.68% in
2017.
The situation has become even more acute because not only are collections
reduced but money has been paid back. In the last four months of 2017,
€282,964 was collected but €980,509.82 had to be returned which represents
a loss of €438,430 to the local budget. The continued loss of this income will
have a significant impact on the town’s ability to finance its projects.
The motion that the town council has submitted, supported by SUMA,
requests that the Spanish government amends the current law to better reflect
the actual increase in the price of the land, where such an increase exists.

Three accused of rape ten years ago

Prosecutors have asked for seven years prison for three men accused of
raping a young woman ten years ago in a club in Torrevieja. It is claimed that
the young woman was drunk and abused in turn in a car by the three young
men. The young woman was 18 years old at the time of the alleged attack
and the car was parked in the disco car park. The offence took place in
August 2008.
It is alleged that the young woman first started talking to the men inside the
discotheque and seeing the state she was in they took her outside to the car
of one of the accused. It is alleged that one of them put her on the back seat,
took off her clothes and raped her, then leaving the car whilst the second and
third man took their turn.
The case is being tried in Elche and one of the questions being asked is why
it has taken ten years to come to court.Sexual offences are supposed to be a
priority when it comes to finding court room time. The reason given was the
delay in forensic and DNA testing, which was particularly difficult to collect as
the men were all still at liberty.
The accused yesterday assured the jury that the intercourse was consensual.
However, friends of the girl, including her cousin, maintain that she was in a
very drunk state and when they pulled her out of the car she could barely
move. As such, it will not be accepted as a consensual act. However, the
accused have continued to blame the young woman claiming that it was she
who asked them to have intercourse with her.
The victim could not remember the rape following the incident as a result of
the large quantity of alcohol she had consumed. The young men, were aged
between 20 and 25 years old at the time. Two of them talked to the woman
inside the disco at around 2.30am. The third joined them outside and took part
in the attack which is claimed to have lasted around two hours. Eventually,
her friends found her and took her out of the vehicle.
The trial continues and the statements of the forensic doctor and the details of
the emergency forensic report will be heard. During the medical examination
the semen from all three defendants was found in the young woman’s body,
confirming that there was penetration on all three occasions.
In addition to the request of a seven year prison sentence, the prosecutor is
asking for €10,000 compensation for the victim with the payment being shared
between the defendants. A restraining order has also been requested for 10
years prohibiting the accused from coming within 500 metres of the victim’s
home. As the three men are from Alicante this would not cause great difficulty.

The budget is approved!

 
And finally, Torrevieja has a budget for 2018. This year’s budget was at last
agreed after months of debating when the two small opposition parties, Sueña
and Ciudadanos, agreed to back the proposals of the current town council.
The PP party continued to oppose the budget until the very end.
The final decision that the budget could go ahead was made on Monday 12 th
February at the town hall’s plenary session. The budget amounts to 90.6
million euros and received the final approval it needed to allow the council to
begin to make the changes they are hoping for. As the current government is
still in a minority they depended on the two parties of Sueña and Ciudadanos
joining them to provide 14 votes in favour.
The Popular Party (PP) remained the only party to oppose the budget but
their 11 councillors were insufficient to prevent the budget from going through.
They had raised a number of legal issues to try and prevent it being agreed
but these were insufficient to see its passing quashed.
Two unresolved issues were used by the PP to freeze agreement on finances
for the coming year. One was in relation to Torreta III where a case had been
brought by the residents for renovation of the estate. However, a court ruled
that this appeal be suspended. Another hurdle had been the Sustainability
Mobility Plan which the PP demanded be included in the budget. However,
the opposition were unsuccessful in holding this as an impediment to the
budget being agreed.
The arrival of a new budget to work with is a significant relief for the local
council. It should enable them now to go ahead with their plans and make
some improvements to the town. It should allow them to address issues to do
with the rubbish collection service, the cleaning of public buildings and urban
transport.
Explaining their support for the budget, Ciudadanos spokesperson Pilar
Gómez Magán explained; ‘We can not hinder the normal development of town
hall projects. If we do not support the budget we will be harming the citizens of
the town.’
Speaking for the Sueña political party, Pablo Samper recognised that this is a
budget with cross party support. It is the first budget where those in opposition
have also had opportunity to make a contribution. There was criticism of the
PP’s attempt to block the budget. However, they remain resolute in their
objections to it.

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