Category: Local

Winners of the ‘ephemeral’ architecture award

The councillor for commerce, Manuela Osuna, has announced the winners of the project ‘Ephemeral Architecture’ which saw students from Alicante University decorating 15 shops around the town centre. This is the second year that the competition has taken place and their designs have brightened up many shop windows and interiors.
The first prize was awarded to ‘Holo’ which was installed in Óptica Chantal, this group of students, led by María Antón Ripoll, picked up the €500 prize money. Their work included a tapestry showing aspects of the salt industry.
The second prize, worth €350, was picked up by a team led by Pascuel Abel Escorza who decorated the front of Nichi Seijo as well as areas inside. Their work was entitled ‘Shine’ and played on reflection and light.
The third prize went to the team led by Laura Lizcano and entitled ‘Reality’. This was placed in an Óptica Mar outlet and is an image linked to the Eras de la Sal. This team has won €250.
Around 46 students were involved altogether in creating designs inspired by the salt lakes. The students were organised into 15 groups and had four months to put the designs together with the final work being judged by a jury.

The ongoing story of rubbish collection

Once more the rubbish collection contract is in the news. For the past four years the local government in Torrevieja has struggled to find a solution that’s both good value and contracted correctly. The subject is always in and out of the papers in Torrevieja and in Orihuela Costa. The reason, is that collecting and disposing of refuse commands big money, around 16 million euros a year.
As the four party council is in its last weeks of government it is making one last attempt to put this issue to sleep. Torrevieja Town Council is planning to tender the waste collection contract, street cleaning and beach cleaning before the hand over to the next government on May 26th. The specifications for putting the contract to tender have more or less been in place since the beginning of 2017. However, the minority position of the four-party councillors has meant that they have been unable to pursue their wish to have a correctly contracted cleaning service.
Now, however, we are told that they no longer need the agreement of the majority of the councillors including those in opposition, and that they can go ahead with the agreement of governing councillors only. If this is passed then the publication of the details of the contract can take place and the process can begin.
The current cleaning service is carried out by Acciona. They have done so without a contract since June 2016. Their contract was originally first awarded in 2004 and was guaranteed for ten years. After the 10 years expired it was extended for another two years. However, the four-party government team has always had in mind to put the contract out to tender again and take over control of its management. Without having a clear majority, this has proved impossible to do.
Many people are unhappy with the current cleaning service. People complain both in the urbanisations and the town centre itself. There are concerns about insufficient containers, lack of litter bins and the use of old and outdated machinery. Certainly the need to look afresh at how the contract is carried out and the stock of trucks involved is evident.
The new contract will require environmental quality certificates and the electric operation of auxiliary vehicles. The government wants the collection to be done through a lateral loading system and street washing to be extended beyond a few areas in the very centre of the town.
The former mayor of Torrevieja and PP councillor Pedro Hernández Mateo.was imprisoned for three years for falsifying documents and had another 11 years of disqualification from public office imposed. The fraudulent awarding of the 2004 contract to Acciona was at the centre of his conviction. With such big money involved it is surely time to have a clear, transparent tendering and contracting process in place.

Tenth anniversary Walk for Life

On Sunday 2nd June Maria and the Pink Ladies is hosting its annual flagship fundraising event “Walk for Life”. This year is an extra special event as it will be the tenth anniversary of the popular event which donates every penny – or should that be cent – raised to the Spanish anti-cancer charity the AECC.
As always, the 5k walk will start and finish at the promenade at Playa Flamenca Beach front and organisers are asking the local community to join forces and make the event one to remember.
The day is always full of fun with walkers dressing top-to-toe in anything and everything pink from bras to tutus and fluffy dresses…and that’s just the men!
This is always an occasion to bring friends, family, colleagues and social groups together to put their best foot forward to fight cancer. Anyone can do the walk, men, women, adults, children and pets. You can walk, jog, run, cycle, roller skate, hover board or segway – as long as you raise as much as you can for the charity.
It costs just €5 to enter and this donation along with any sponsorship money goes directly to the AECC. All those who register to take part will receive an official T-shirt donated by Spain Property Shop and a bottle of water donated by Evolution Bar, both locally based at La Fuente Centre.
To register in advance call in to the AECC office at Flamenca Beach Comercial Centre, Spain Property Shop or you can register on the day at the venue from 9.30am onwards, with the walk beginning at 10.30 am.
After the walk there will be a family fun day with live music through the afternoon performed by some of the top entertainers on the Costa Blanca, an on-site bar, hog roast and burger bar.
The walk is supported by the Orihuela Costa Town Hall and the Local Police who will safely guide the walkers around the circuitous route.
The money raised will go directly to the AECC to help fund it subsidised Early Detection Programme and research projects. The Early Detection Programme provides subsidised private screening for male and female cancers including: bowel, skin, breast, cervical, ovarian and prostate. Since being formed Maria and the Pink Ladies have raised nearly 400,000 euros for the AECC

La Mata paseo closed

It has been in decline for years and now a 280 metre stretch of walk way on La Mata sea front has finally been cordoned off for safety reasons. The area stretches from avenidas Los Europeos to Holanda and the blame for the state of wooden planks has been placed on the government responsible for the coast.
Barriers have been placed at either end of the paseo preventing walkers and cyclists from using the stretch. The town hall is hopeful that the closing of this section of popular promenade will only be temporary and that it will be open again for the busy summer season.
The move was triggered by the collapse last Wednesday of a section of the iron railing that acts as a boundary. Now, to prevent further damage or even injury, the whole of this wooden walkway is closed. It was only announced last week that there would be no blue flag this year for La Mata-Sur beach due to the state of the walk way and its railings.
The technicians who have inspected the damaged area have come to the conclusion that it is no longer a matter of patching it up. The wooden surface has reached the end of its life and must be replaced. However, this will require a significant financial investment.
The pathway was first installed in 1999 to run parallel to the beach and since then it has been a popular walk along the sea front between Torrevieja and La Mata. It was built by the Ministry of the Environment and remains the responsibility of the ‘Costas del Estado’ which presides over all the coastal regions of the country.
Although parts of the walkway have been replaced following the storms in 2016 and 2017, the work has not continued into this section. Now some urgent action is needed if tourists and residents alike are to enjoy the sea views over the summer.

Election debates on TV

Información TV broadcasted a debate to allow the candidates in local elections in Torrevieja to share their manifestos whilst also questioning and challenging one another. Each of the candidates for mayor had one minute in which to introduce themselves and their party and make a brief case before passing on. Following this, different topical subjects were raised and candidates asked for their opinions.
Taking part were José Manuel Dolón (Los Verdes-Compromiso Municipal), Eduardo Dolón (PP), Pablo Samper (SueñaTorrevieja), Pilar Gómez Magán (Ciudadanos), Susana Fernández (IzquierdaUnida-Unidas en Confluencia) and Carolina Vigara (Vox).
The topics of conversation are familiar to those reading this paper. The town’s general plan, the theatre closure, the town’s waste collection service, health service and bus service. During the debate the current mayor, José Manuel Dolón defended the decisions and actions taken by the coalition government that has presided over the town hall for the past four years.
The general plan for the town is completely out of date and has been patched up for many years. Candidates were in general agreement that a new plan is needed. Debate continued around the subject of the lack of hotels in the town and the town’s approach to tourism. There was criticism of the plans to build houses rather than hotels in areas such as La Hoya. However, it was pointed out that some of these plans were laid during the jurisdiction of previous governments and could not be overturned.
All the parties agreed that they want the theatre to open but how to go about this was the subject of debate. The signature of the architect responsible for the theatre is needed for it to re-open. Although this was disputed by the PP who claim that it can open with existing licences. Other parties variously indicated that either there should be negotiation with the architect or he should be denounced. There was even an argument to say that the PP shouldn’t have built it in the first place.
The management of Torrevieja hospital is currently a public/ private model and the concession ends in 2021. Los Verdes, Sueña and Izquierda Unida would like to see the hospital brought back under public control. A move that is discounted by the right wing parties. However, they did agree that Ribera Salud should pay the staff over the summer.
One area that the parties all agreed on was that of the bus service. It was accepted that this could no longer continue as a free service to registered residents although there should still be concessions for pensioners and young people.
The town’s cleaning service was discussed with the PP accusing the current government of wasting two years trying to bring it back under town hall control. However, José Manuel Dolón pointed out that it was the constant voting block operated by the PP and Ciudadanos that prevented any progress being made with the reallocation of this service.
The parties were in agreement that elections are no longer a two-party affair. The dominance of the PP and PSOE is in the past. So who did the parties say they would sign up with?
Carolina Vigara (Vox) rules out any allegiance with the left. Susana Fernandez (Izquierda) has discarded the idea of supporting the three right-wing parties (Cs, Vox and PP) and PSOE indicated that they would be open to the parties of the left and possiblyCiudadanos too. Ciudadanos for their part indicated that they would not form a pact with Vox but neither with a party who wants to impose valenciano.
All those debating were quick to see the town’s problems but what is less clear is how they will work together to implement any solutions. What the town really needs are candidates prepared to put aside political ambition to ensure that decisions can be made and acted upon in the best interests of the town’s people.
The debate, Debate electoral Torrevieja, can be watched on YouTube:

A musical celebration

After a break of 12 months, due to founder and conductor Nigel Hopkins receiving urgent medical treatment in the UK, the Costa’s leading choral group Melody Makers International will present their next major concert, “A Musical Celebration” on Sunday 26th May in the Centro Ecuménico in La Zenia.
Melody Makers International will be joined by the ever-popular Orihuela Costa Male Voice Choir in a programme of songs from the shows and popular songs to suit all tastes. The performances will be accompanied by professional pianist, Matthew Hopkins, who is flying in especially for the concerts from the UK.
One of Nigel Hopkins ‘former pupils, Janelle Gaskell, who is now a professional performer on World Ship cruise liners, will appear as a guest artiste. There will be two performances on the day, the first at 3pm and the evening show starts at 7pm. Tickets for both performances are available from La Ponderosa Gift Shop in La Zenia and at The Card Place outlets in Punta Prima and Benimar.

100 days without Henry

This week marked 100 days since the disappearance of Orihuela Costa youngster Henry Jiménez Marín. Henry’s family attended a mass on Wednesday to pray for his safe return and that the security forces and residents of the area do not forget about the disappearance of Henry.
For weeks after he went missing, Henry’s family and friends organised extensive searches of the local area where bands of volunteers combed urbanisations, parks and commercial areas in a desperate attempt to find the missing 20 year old. The family has been offered some support by the local community with fundraisers taking place to help pay for legal assistance and monitoring of Henry’s case. Alejandro, Henry’s brother, explained that the family have been kept in the dark by Guardia Civil investigating the missing persons case.
The family are devastated by Henry’s disappearance and to make matters worse, were victims of an attempted fraud by two people claiming to know of Henry’s whereabouts in order to extort money from his mother. To add insult to injury, a website this week posted a ‘fake news’ story about the discovery of Henry’s dead body.
The family continue to pray for Henry’s safe return and have launched a fresh appeal to the public to come forward with any information relevant to his disappearance.

Car crashes into school

A car has crashed into a school in Elche at what has been described as a notorious accident black spot.
The accident occurred on Wednesday when a car collided with the wall of King’s College infant school in Elche, near Martínez Valeo stadium. After the crash it was revealed that local residents have been complaining for months about the danger of the junction in question. In fact, Councillor for Infrastructure Héctor Díez announced just last month that a provisional roundabout would be installed in an attempt to reduce accidents.
Luckily, no one was injured in the incident which took place at 4.20pm on Wednesday. The junction had been reported as dangerous in the past as many roads converge at one point and cause confusion to drivers. In September of last year, local residents wrote to the town hall with their concerns along with a number of photographs of accidents that happen at the black spot. An accident occurred just last week when two cars collided before this week’s incident of a car hitting the school.
The school itself issued a statement about the incident, clarifying that the accident had not caused injuries and that the damage done to one of the classrooms will be repaired as soon as possible. The damaged classroom was secured and the school opened as normal the day after the accident. The school’s statement said, “The safety of our students and teaching staff is our priority, so some of the classes will be relocated as a measure of prevention.”

Fire-fighters battle ‘bazaar’ blaze

A team of more than 15 fire-fighters battled a blaze that engulfed a Chinese ‘bazaar’ store in La Zenia, beside popular shopping mall Zenia Boulevard. Teams spent hours trying to keep the inferno under control on Thursday evening at the popular shop. Sources believe the fire started on the roof of the building, the cause of which is not yet known.
Eight units of the fire brigade were dispatched to the scene from Orihuela, Torrevieja and Almoradí with Policia Local and Guardia Civil also in attendance. Five people were evacuated from inside the store and taken to safety while emergency crews battled to keep the flames from reaching nearby homes and businesses.
No one was injured in the blaze, which took place at Oriental Market on Calle Jade in La Zenia. However, a significant amount of damage was done to the building and contents. With smoke visible for several kilometres around, there were fears at one point about having to evacuate Zenia Boulevard but luckily this was not necessary.
According to sources at the scene, there were several boxes of polystyrene on the roof of the building which could have accelerated the fire. Due to the intensity of the flames within the building, the temperature inside was extremely high, prompting fire crews to use a technique called a penetration lance, in which jets of water are guided through a hole in the wall in order to cool the building’s interior.
The blaze was finally thoroughly extinguished at around midnight on Thursday.

Dead dolphin found in Torrevieja

The body of a dead dolphin was washed up on Torrevieja’s Playa del Cura on Wednesday. The dolphin, a ‘stenella coeruleoalba’ or striped dolphin, was found mid afternoon by members of the public walking on the beach. The people phoned the local police who arrived at the scene along with the municipal marine biologist.
It is believed that the animal had become trapped and injured by industrial fishing fear, based on the injuries observed on its tail and fin.
Striped dolphins are among the most widespread dolphins in the world. They prefer deep tropical to warm temperate oceanic waters, and are attracted to upwelling areas, where deep, cold, nutrient-rich water rises toward the surface. and convergence zones, where ocean currents meet.
Striped dolphins are usually found in tight, cohesive groups of about 25 to 100 individuals and have been observed breaching, jumping, and leaping over 20 feet above the surface of the water. They display a unique behaviour called roto-tailing, when the animal leaps high out of the water and vigorously rotates its tail while airborne.

FIRE DESTROYS LA SIESTA VILLA

Fire-fighters were called to a villa in the Torrevieja suburb of La Siesta on Wednesday morning when a fire broke out. The property itself was all but destroyed by the blaze with another adjacent property also affected. The alarm was raised just after ten in the morning when neighbours noticed flames and a large volume of smoke bursting from the property. When units arrived, the property was thankfully found to be empty.
The property itself suffered devastating damage while the neighbouring property is said to have been smoke damaged. Guardia Civil and Local Police attended the scene but the causes of the fire are not yet clear.
The investigation continues.

ROJALES MURDER INVESTIGATION: ACCUSED TESTIFIES

The 49 year old Hungarian man, arrested in relation to the alleged murder of his 37 year old partner earlier this week, has appeared in court today (Thursday). The man and his partner are believed to have lived in Spain since September of last year, although not officially registered on the padrón.
The alleged murder took place on Monday when the woman’s body was found at the couple’s apartment in Ciudad Quesada. Authorities are awaiting the result of an autopsy to ascertain how the woman died. The body was discovered shortly after 9pm when the suspect phoned a friend who lives in the same urbanisation of ‘Pueblo Bravo’ to tell him what had happened.

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