Category: Local

Animal rescue

Wild animals rescued in Torrevieja
Much publicity is given to the rescue of dogs and cats in Torrevieja but what about pythons? This is just one example of a wild animal that has had to be rescued by the town hall during 2016. Altogether there have been 32 different types of wild animals that have had to be caught and reintroduced to their actual habitats.
Other examples of rescued animals include a number of reptiles, seagulls, owls, bats, kestrels, snakes and eagles. All of these ‘wild’ animals have been rescued in urban areas and many of them are in fact protected species. The total number was announced on Friday 24th February by councillor Fanny Serrano. The number of 32 is, in fact, five more than had been saved the previous year.
The python was perhaps the most unusual of the animals to be rescued and it is likely that it had previously been a pet that was then abandoned. An eagle was also one of the more unusual animals to find their way to the Wildlife Recovery Centre of the Environment Department.
The exact number and breakdown of the rescued animals can be seen on Torrevieja’s website and includes:

Three snakes
One exotic snake – a python
Two mammals – a dormouse and a bat
24 birds including a hawk eagle, a young owl, a common quail, ten Audouin seagulls, two yellow-legged gulls, two more gulls, a kestrel, three common swifts, a pale swift and a common cormorant
two swarms of domestic bees

In the case of the python, people living in la calle Hierro close to IES Mediterráneo alerted the Guardia Civil that the reptile was approaching down the road. This particular reptile is not native to the Mediterranean climate and cannot withstand the low temperatures at night. It is usually only found in a domestic context in Spain.
Seagulls feature heavily in the list of rescued animals. An Audouin gull was found with a hook in its beak during a routine ringing of some of the birds near the salt works. The bird had to be transferred to the Wildlife Recovery Centre.
Another example was a common kestrel nest with four chicks which was found on the ninth floor balcony of the Hotel Playas. An expert was able to help hotel staff to move the nest to a terrace on the building from where the parents could resume their care of the chicks.
It’s not always the experts that do the rescuing. A resident of Aguas Nuevas rescued a bat and the town hall would like to remind people that if they do find any injured specimen outside their natural space that they can contact the local police on 092 or contact the zoological centre on 670 027 853 or, if it is a marine animals, they can call 112.
Suzanne O’Connell

Drug driving crackdown

The Local Police in Orihuela revealed that authorities have put officers through an intense training programme aimed at detecting drug use in drivers. The aim of the course was to enable officers to evaluate the signs and symptoms displayed by drivers. Officers covering the city, coast and parishes can now carry out the relevant tests and controls which provide an effective system to detect drugs in drivers who show signs of consumption of illegal substances.
The Councillor of Citizen Security, Mariola Rocamora, stressed the importance of the training course “for the updating of knowledge to ensure a better service to citizens”.
The course was taught at the premises of the Local Police, in Orihuela, and was taken by the officer responsible for training and controls from the Local Police in Elche, José Sánchez; the Deputy Attorney for Road Safety in the province of Alicante, and the psychologist of the Addictive Behaviour Unit in Elche after being approved by the Valencian Institute of Public Safety (IVASPE).
The training “consisted of theory and practice in order to comply with the legal objective of the criminal procedure of the law, which states that only officers who undertake this training may conduct the required tests to detect drugs in drivers,” explained the Councillor. Officers can now conduct the tests at the roadside by which you can detect the consumption of substances and that if it is positive, it will then be sent to an authorised laboratory to confirm the result.
The main objective of these controls is to raise awareness about the risk of driving, having consumed drugs. These substances alter the physical condition in drivers and increase the possibility of accidents, said the Councillor.
Within the practical training, preventive checks were carried out by the officers, both in Orihuela Costa and in Orihuela City. As a result of these controls, in addition to reporting various administrative offenses, a total of 17 positive tests were reported on drug use, a fact that is even more worrying because the controls were performed on weekdays and not just on weekends.
In addition to the preventive nature of the checks carried out, the training officers also made two important arrests. Firstly, that of an individual from Kosovo with an international search and arrest warrant, and secondly a man of Albanian origin with a ban on entry into Schengen territory, as decreed in Italy.
Mireille Toddington

Did you know?

Underground shelters in Torrevieja
It’s not commonly known but below the streets of Torrevieja there are five anti-aircraft shelters that were constructed during the civil war. One of them is under the Plaza de la Constitución opposite the Inmaculada church and has the capacity of holding up to 600 people.
Under the square in the centre of Torrevieja there is a shelter of about 20 metres long. The access to it is on calle Caballero de Rodas and it is one of five defensive infrastructures created during the Civil War. The shelters were constructed after the first bombing by Franco’s troops on the coast of Alicante in November 1936.
According to official sources, the shelter’s structure was not destroyed during the civil war and was conserved in a good state beneath the banks and palms of La Glorieta. Opening up the history of the civil war is something that Torrevieja is considering doing as part of its tourism initiative with Cartagena.
After the bombing of 1936 the governor of Alicante, Francisco Valdés Casas increased the installation of anti-aircraft defences and the construction of shelters for the population throughout the province. In addition, more weapons and telephone facilities were purchased so that there was a network of surveillance posts along the coast. It was expected that there would be a landing at some point between Benidorm and Torrevieja.
Following the attacks on the 28th and 29th November in 1936 the defence work was accelerated and trenches were built on ‘Ferrís’ and ‘La Mosca’. Information about the anti-aircraft shelters is located in the municipal archive and the plans for the shelters can be seen along with details such as the height and access points. Alongside these public shelters, many people build their own private shelters too. These were often below the ground floor of private houses.
Work on the public shelters was begun after the summer of 1937. A lookout was also positioned permanently on the outskirts of the town and from this observation point information could be transmitted about approaching aircraft. The original warning bell was later replaced by a siren from the salt factory as a better method of alerting the town’s people.
It is hard to imagine now that our holiday town ofTorrevieja was once a republican stronghold under attack from Franco’s armies. Alicante was the last retreat for republicans before defeat on March 28th1939. Rather than be arrested by Franco’s troops some of those who couldn’t escape on overloaded ships leaving Alicante port, chose to take their own lives.
It is estimated that there were 14,000 republicans trapped in Alicante port and Franco would not let them leave. The British Government refused to assist in evacuating those left to certain death or incarceration in one of the many concentration camps constructed by Franco. The full story and awareness of the depth of atrocities of the civil war in Spain remains uncovered.
Suzanne O’Connell

Language exchange

Chance to practise English at the Natural Park
On Saturday 18th March the students from the English conversation classes held at CIAJ in Torrevieja will be able to practise their listening and speaking skills at the Natural Park of La Mata. An information day has been organised which will mean that the students can hear more about the natural park and the work of the volunteers in English.
The day will begin with a brief talk about the park and there will then be a presentation about the volunteer work that is done by the Asociacion de lasRutas y Caminos de la Sal. This group helps to care for the park by undertaking various activities, such as making new signs, restoring bird boxes and helping to monitor the park during the day.
The volunteers will then take the students on a brief tour of the park. Crystal East organises the English language classes and is delighted by this opportunity for her students: ‘I think it will be a great opportunity for young Spanish speaking volunteers to practise their English and improve their vocabulary,’ explains Crystal. ‘They will also see first-hand the work of the volunteers and if anyone then feels they would like to become a volunteer they will be made very welcome.’
It is expected that the event will take about two hours and will start at 10am.  The whole activity will be in English but there will be Spanish speaking volunteers onhand if there are any problems with the vocabulary. The event will be publicised by the CIAJ, now called the Concejalia de Juventud.
Crystal has been organising the classes at CIAJ for five years and they continue to be a very popular way of helping people in the Spanish community practise their English whilst also enabling volunteers to meet others and contribute in return.
Suzanne O’Connell

The battle for Cala Mosca

Brussels battle for Cala Mosca
At a decisive moment when the developer is determined to get the final green light to build 1,500 new houses on this last kilometre of virgin coastline, the European Parliament Petitions Committee has intervened to safeguard the interests of environmental protection.
The previous intervention of the European Parliament in 2012, after local political party CLARO presented its Petition supported by over 7,000 signatories, effectively paralysed the developer’s building plans by insisting on an Environment Impact Study. However, the Developer can lawfully carry out this study, and when it was presented in 2014, it was seriously deficient. Despite repeated objections, at the end of 2016, the developer presented a final revised project which contained no significant changes. It maintained the objective of building 1,500 new houses and continued to locate the two endangered species found on Cala Mosca in public spaces where they would be exposed to obvious and no doubt definitive destruction.
At its meeting recently on 28th February, the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament intervened again to help save this emblematic last green, open area from being concreted over. Bob Houliston, who presented the original CLARO petition and Marta Guillen, Councillor of the Orihuela Cambiemos Party argued for support to counter the formidable power of the developer who has a huge advantage in the approval process; to ensure protection of the special environment of Cala Mosca; and to prevent those already living here having to pay the price of a deterioration in public services which would result from the mega building project and perhaps a 20 percent increase in the population of Orihuela Costa.
The Petitions Committee unanimously decided that the Cala Mosca issue was sufficiently important to be kept on its agenda. The President of the Committee said she would write to the Valencia regional government, which is responsible for the final decision on the building project, to insist that the proposal be subject to the most rigorous examination before any decision is made. Finally, the Committee President said she would request the European Commission, responsible for the application of environmental law, to carry out its own investigation of the Environment Impact Study.
The decisions of the European Parliament Petitions Committee are very important. They ensure that no quick approval will be given to the building project which, before the meeting in Brussels, seemed imminent. The decisions ensure that the regional government of Valencia is aware of the political importance of the future of Cala Mosca and that the European Union will be watching over their shoulders to ensure that a rigorous examination of the building proposal be carried out before any decision is made. Implicitly, the decisions imply that before any final decision, the Petitions Committee should consider the issue again at a further meeting.
Those opposed to the development have gained valuable support and time to ensure that the struggle to save Cala Mosca continues.

APAH at Zenia Boulevard

APAH awareness event at popular shopping centre
Animal rescue charity APAH was recently invited by the management team at Alcampo in Zenia Boulevard to hold a three day pet awareness event at the supermarket.
Every week, volunteers from APAH visit the store to buy food and cat litter for the cats and dogs in their care, which led Marie Carmen the department manager for the Pet Supplies Section to invite them to host the event. Tables promoting the work that APAH does were placed at the store entrances giving information on the work APAH does in rescuing, rehabilitating and re-homing abandoned, neglected and abused dogs and cats in the South Costa Blanca.
It was a great opportunity for the charity to raise awareness and funds and the weekend was a huge success. As well as informing people about the work APAH does, they charity asked for volunteers, had empty trolleys for people to donate pet food and supplies and there were also photos of APAH’’s cattery, kennels and charity shops – as well as pictures of some of the dogs and cats which are currently being cared for, in the hope that some of them would be offered homes. Gary at Kameeleon, did a great rush job at short notice, printing T shirts with the APAH logo on, so that all the volunteers would be instantly recognisable.
Volunteers were overwhelmed by the amount of food donated by Alcampo’s generous shoppers both those from the expat community and Spanish. Lots of Spanish shoppers went out of their way to buy food for the charity’s dogs and cats and praised the work local charities do in the community.
Over the three-day event, trolley after trolley of food was donated and at the end the charity calculated how much money had been spent on APAH’s behalf – amount spent on food was 585.70 euros, and the amount of money donated was 290.15, making a total of 875.85, all of which will be used for the animals in the charity’s care and is a huge saving.
APAH would like to thank the staff and management of Alcampo, the shoppers and its own volunteers for making the weekend such a huge success.
Mireille Toddington

Allegations of corruption

The mayor of Torrevieja, José Manuel Dolón, has asked that contracts linked to previous tourism fairs be investigated for improper allocation and processes. The same business organisations were given the contracts between 2005 and 2011 across Alicante province and in Orihuela.
TurismoFitur was a campaign during this period to promote tourism in Spain. Torrevieja town hall contracted stands at the tourism fair and this is now being investigated for impropriety. The mayor said: ‘If there is a crime here we will demand that those responsible are brought to justice.’
Torrevieja paid out  €1,207,408.65 to the same company that is now being investigated in Alicante. It is believed that the proper contracting procedure was not applied. During the years 2005, 2006 and 2007 this would have been under the jurisdiction of Pedro Hernández Mateo (PP) who has already been convicted of corruption.
The tourism fairs were held in Madrid, Valencia and Bilbao and huge profits were made from them. The same company, Equipamiento Integral para Stand Molinos, received the contracts but there was no one else who appeared to be offered the opportunity to bid and there was no publicity surrounding their appointment.
In 2010 and 2011, the process of allocating the contract was modified and at least three companies were invited to bid. However, it is alleged that there was insufficient time for them to apply and ultimately only one company was able to put forward their proposal in time. The information is due to be presented to the Public prosecutor’s Office.
Suzanne O’Connell

Samaritans in Spain

Samaritans is a charity established in the UK by Chad Varah in 1953. Since then it has grown exponentially and more recently, has spread even to countries like Spain.
The Samaritans’ main function is to listen to anyone who is experiencing distress. Communication is mostly via telephone, free of charge. There is also an opportunity to speak to front line staff at the shop, and in the privacy of the Samaritan’s drop-in centre at Punta Marina commercial centre. Samaritans are also accessible by email. All listeners are trained volunteers who serve in rotas and are available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. How many hours or how often they offer their services (‘listen’) is up to the individual volunteer.
Samaritans listen to people who are either lonely, or feel themselves unable to express their feelings, concerns, or problems to those around them. They do not ‘counsel’, but provide an empathetic ear. Volunteer listeners are drawn from all backgrounds, all ages, and all walks of life. After initial training all new listeners are supported with mentoring. It is not only those who face life traumas, bereavement, or those burdened with guilt, who contact Samaritans.  Anyone who feels the need for emotional support, encouragement and lacking confidence will benefit by talking to a Samaritan. A call to the Samaritans could last a few minutes or much longer, since callers are never rushed.
The need for this type of help in the community is exemplified by the rapid expansion of Samaritans in Spain since its inception in September 2005. Increasingly, Samaritans in Spain not only require more volunteer listeners for its primary function, but also to help in administration, publicity and other varied roles. With branches in Madrid, Denia and a charity shop and drop-in centre in Punta Marina (Punta Prima), the latter established in 2013, Samaritans in Spain are now a regular feature as a charity in Costa Blanca (North and South).
Participants at a meeting on 13th January 2017 at the drop-in centre were unanimous in expressing their own sense of fulfilment and joy in serving as Samaritans. Thank you to the following volunteers.
Fionnula Fitzsimons, Elizabeth Rushton, Pamela Russell, Helena Smith, Jane Troubridge
Come and meet us at the Recruitment Day, Wednesday 22nd from 10.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. at the Samaritans Centre, Punta Marina Commercial Centre.

III Charity Race

Torrevieja primary school, Las Culturas, held its third annual charity race last week with children, teachers, parents and friends participating in the race for a good cause.  As always, the race was held to coincide with international Day of Peace and once again, was used to raise money for a local cause. This year, the cause was CDA Torrevieja – the adaptive sports club which helps people with disabilities participate in sporting activities by providing specialised equipment and training.  With the sponsorship of children and their parents, and further collection on the day, over €1000 was raised.
Each class ran in turn, starting with the three year olds, right up to year 6 (12 year olds) with the speed and competitive spirit seeming to rise with each year group.  The crowds of school children, families and friends lining Calle Las Tortolas screamed encouragement and offered ‘high fives’ for the duration of all races ensuring that no participant was short of encouragement.  The beginning and end of each race was accompanied by the hypnotic beat of drums by the school band, under the direction of popular music teacher Vicent.
After running, each of the children was offered a piece of fruit and bottle of water organised by Grupo Scout Las Culturas, and on hand to help with the organisation of the race were Torrevieja Triathlon Club and Puerto Athletics Club.  Offering first aid support was a team from Hospital Torrevieja.

New International library in Blue Lagoon

Las Filipinas Neighbourhood Association, which covers the area between Orihuela Costa and San Miguel de Salinas, has spearheaded a number of new activities at Las Filipinas Social Centre, which is located in Blue Lagoon. These include: Spanish lessons, fitness classes and community groups – and now thanks to the agreement of San Miguel councillor María José Costa, the building will now also house an international library.
Although there is no funding to buy books, the association hopes that local residents will donate books that they no longer need, in any language, to get the collection started.
The centre already hosts a fun community Mother and Toddler group each Wednesday and Fridays from 10.00am to 12noon, which costs only €2 per family, for details call 654 457 743. Every Tuesday there is a fitness class which is ideal for those with limited mobility or movement issues from 10.30am, for more details call Sue on 692 354 295 or email
The association has arranged for Spanish lessons to be taught at the Social Centre from yesterday, Monday 6th February, and there are favourable rates for residents. There will be two beginners’ groups and two intermediate, with the beginners’ classes taking place on Mondays and Thursdays from 09.30am to 11.00am and intermediate on the same days from 12noo to 1.30pm. The teacher is Terri Hughes, and for more information call on 672 836 539 or email:
The centre also has petanca courts, computers with internet access and wi-fi and table tennis and the association is encouraging residents to submit their own suggestions for events and activities at the centre that will help to bring the community together. Please submit any ideas either to the Facebook page ‘Asociación Vecinos Las Filipinas’ or email Sra Costa (in Spanish) to:

Exciting new addition to the local dining scene

Zenia Garden – Asian Restaurant
(Located at The Celtic Isle, where the Saturday Market Starts)
Friday 10th February
So what to expect…
Cooking over 100 varieties of different style meals requires a good memory, to do so efficiently and most important with excellence requires a Chef of exceptional talent. Chef Guan our head chef is such a man. Chef Guan explains, “I started my training as a fifteen year old, where it was instilled in me to produce good food, the most important starting point is cleanliness, a clean kitchen is an efficient kitchen. In this regard I believe customers have a right to check my kitchen if they wish.”
Now in his fiftieth year, Chef Guan has thirty-five years’ experience in cooking Asian food, twenty one as head chef, initially in Xia Men China, than Hong Kong where he catered for the expat (mainly British) comunity.
As a consequence he knows the requirement of the British, Irish and North European palate. He moved to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria some twelve years ago, where the clientele was mainly British and North European tourists. Along the way he was awarded the Chef de-excellence London China Town 2012, so his knowledge of what you the customer requires is extensive. Chef Guan will be supported by three additional Chefs, all of whom meet his standard of excellence.
Management is under the control of Lin Jin Wei, many of you will recognise him from his work locally over the years. Lin speaks Spanish, English and as he says German with some difficulty, his jovial nature and consideration for customer satisfaction, will add to your dining experience.

World Cancer Day raises much-needed funds

Maria and the Pink Ladies hosted a local World Cancer day event at Zenia Boulevard on Saturday to mark the occasion. World Cancer Day takes place annually on 4th February and unites the world’s population in the fight against cancer. It aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and education about the disease, pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action.
The local event attracted hundreds of well wishers and the warm sunny day encouraged people to join in the fun and help raise funds for Spanish anti-cancer charity the AECC. This was Maria and the Pink Ladies fifth World Cancer day event and it relied on members of the public making donations in return for an Iris plant or AECC merchandise such as keys rings, pens or unity bands. The iris plants that Zenia Boulevard provided proved very popular and helped to raise 1,784.16 euros and thanks goes to the shopping centre management team for the generous donation of the plants and for letting the Pink Ladies, yet again, take over the shopping centre for the afternoon.
Thanks also go to Tony Horrocks from Sunshine FM, who supervised the outside broadcast for the day and to Stevie Spit for comparing the e vent. The crowds were entertained on the day by local performers who gave their time and talents for free and these included: Rob Sweeney, David Williams and his Rod Stewart tribute, Suzy.G and Jaz, The 2 Ton Spice Girls tribute, Janelle Gaskell, Nikki.G, Kylie Burgazzi and saxophonist Stuart Sinclair, Just Ollie, Kevin Tyler and Luis Blacknight as Flashback and Totally Dance with their fantastic troop of 2-16 year old girls and boys.
Of course, as well as fundraising and having fun, there was a serious side to the event and lots of appointments were taken for subsidised cancer checks which form part of the AECC’s Early Detection Programme – and is always the most important part of these events. The Pink Ladies volunteers also answered people’s questions and queries and worked tirelessly all afternoon giving more of their time to the charity.
The next event hosted by Maria and the Pink Ladies in aid of the AECC will be held at the The Emerald Isle, La Florida, on Thursday 2nd of March. The event will run from 12noon to -5pm and as always will be a great fun day out.
Mireille Toddington