Fight to save Cala Mosca continues
Two important developments took place in the past week in the fight to save Cala Mosca, the last kilometre of virgin coast in Orihuela Costa from the building of 1,500 new houses.
On 15th May, Bob Houliston of C.L.A.R.O., together with Marta Guillen, Councillor of the Orihuela political party Cambiemos and the regional assembly Deputy Antonio Estañ met with the Valencia government Director General for the Environment. The purpose of the visit was to follow up the meeting of the European Parliament’s Petitions Committee at the end of February which unanimously decided to request the Valencia regional government to carry out an independent Environmental Impact Study before taking a decision on the revised plan to build 1,500 new houses on Cala Mosca.
According to the law as it stands, the developer is responsible for carrying out an environmental impact study before the approval of a building project. However, Members of the European Parliament’s Petitions Committee objected that this involved an obvious conflict of interest in that the developer’s overriding concern would be to justify his project rather than prioritise environmental concerns. The visiting delegation argued that it would be within the competence of the Valencia government to commission an independent environmental impact study which could have a broader objective than the developer’s study which had not given sufficient protection to two endangered species present on Cala Mosca, the impact of the building project on the environment in general or the social cost of adding potentially 5-6,000 more to the population of Orihuela Costa already suffering from inadequate services.
The Director General for the Environment undertook to consider these arguments sympathetically when deciding on the reply to be given to the European Parliament.
The second development in the fight to save Cala Mosca was the surprise decision of the Valencia Government to reverse its earlier decision to exclude Cala Mosca from its new coastal protection plan. Announcing a modification to its initial proposal, the Valencia government included the southern third of Cala Mosca in its coastal protection plan but as a transitional measure which would prevent construction if the developer failed to carry out a building project within a period of 5 years.
While this is a welcome recognition of the importance of protecting Cala Mosca, it does not go far enough. It does not protect the northern two thirds of the area on which, although there is no house building, the infrastructure of streets, pavements and utilities has already been provided. The decision also carries the obvious danger that the developer will accelerate his plans to build on the so far virgin southern part of Cala Mosca in order to avoid the prohibition which would be applied after the 5 year transitional period.
However, something is better than nothing. The southern part of Cala Mosca is the most environmentally sensitive part where the endangered species are concentrated. Authority to build on this area would obviously be subject to very strict conditions.
C.L.A.R.O said in a statement: “The fight to save this emblematic remaining kilometre of virgin coast continues. There is important support to prevent its massive urbanisation. It is a pity that the present Popular Party-Citizens party government of Orihuela has not lifted a finger to assist in this hugely important cause.”
The Orihuela councillors responsible for Services on the Coast, Luisa Boné, and Infrastructure, Juan Ignacio López-Bas, have announced that more people have been added to the team of municipal staff working on the emergency plan for the maintenance and recovery of Parks and gardens in Orihuela Costa. Additional support has become necessary due to the need to attend to many more public spaces than originally planned. The sheer size of the task at hand for both departments is considerable and the councillors are een to achieved as much as possible during May, with the beginning of the summer season inching closer and the coast already seeing the number of visitors increase over recent weeks.
Councillor Lopez-Bas said that “in view of the state in which the coastal parks were found it has been decided to temporarily transfer two Infrastructure staff brigades, one of four people from parks and gardens and another from works, also with four people, to expand and accelerate the task of restoring green areas in Orihuela Costa”.
Councillor Boné pointed out that “the reinforcement on the coast by the Infrastructures Department is much needed and necessary, especially at this moment in time, before the summer when the coast begins to receive more residents and tourists”.
Several public green areas have already been tackled and this has made a substantial improvement. These include Urbanisation Horizonte, La Florida, La Zenia, Los Dolses and Las Piscinas, among other areas. Both councillors said they positively value the work already done through this emergency plan for Orihuela Costa which has been carried out as the first major project on the coast since the the Ciudadanos councillors joined the government team at the end of January.
Councillor Bone said: “We want people to begin to notice an important change in the public spaces of the coast of Orihuela. This is a change of image that must be maintained and endure over time with more allocation of material and manpower from the 2017 budget.”
Do We Have to Wear a Hat?
This week, we received a question from Costa Blanca People reader, John Bevan, from Quesada.
John asked, “Is it true that drivers of open top cars must wear some sort of hat to protect them from the intense rays of the sun?”
The answer is, according to law, no, you don´t. In fact, there is a chance that wearing a hat would prove dangerous as if it is not worn correctly, the wind could catch it, and blow the hat away and this could then become a potential hazard to other road users, especially the most vulnerable such as cyclists. However, the likelihood of this happening is slim, it is still a potential risk.
Of course not talking legally, it does make sense to wear a hat in order to protect yourself from the sun and its damaging rays as you say, but it is not a legal requirement.
The question does open up other points for comment, however, regarding open top cars. As much as possible, the manufacturers of these vehicles design them to be as safe as cars with full roofs. They are often fitted with strengthened supports around the windscreen for example, and roll bars, although these are not often as clearly identifiable as those fitted in rally cars, for example, in commercially available vehicles they are often integral to the structure.
So long as we are positioned correctly, sat down, wearing our seatbelt in the correct manner, open top cars are usually perfectly safe. Like all vehicles, It is when we don´t follow the design and safety guidelines when things go wrong.
Sometimes, vehicle occupants are seen with their hands held up or out of the cars, on a rare occasion even standing. Only recently, a vehicle was observed driving along the N-332 with the passenger standing up. This was not an open top car but it had a sunroof. We don´t need to be so graphic as to describe the likely outcome if that vehicle was involved in a collision of some form. You must keep your extremities, arms, legs etc., well within the confines of the vehicle for the roll bars to provide protection.
On the subject of legs, it is an increasingly common sight to see passengers with their legs up and feet on the dashboard. This also occurs in all types of vehicles and seems to increase with the summer months. It is an extremely dangerous practice. It is also illegal. The legs and feet can obscure the driver´s view, but worse than that, in the event of a collision there are two very common injuries, both of which often result in such serious injuries, amputation is common.
In the event of a collision, the airbags are normally deployed. If a passenger´s legs are over these airbags they will feel the full force of that deployment, which normally results in fractures to the legs, sometimes pelvic damage. If airbags do not deploy it is easy for the body to be thrown forward, underneath the seatbelt, an action known as submarining. This forces the body, feet first, like a torpedo through the windscreen, resulting in severe lacerations, often accompanied by fractures.
The only safe way to sit in any vehicle is within the design of the seat, with seatbelt securely fastened. You can read more about this on the n332.es website where we have a number of articles explaining in more detail.
Those looking to explore the ‘real Spain’ are being offered tailored trips and tours that aim to offer something completely different to those organised by large tour companies. These, arranged by local Spanish lady Begoña Josa del Portillo, aim to discover the hidden gems of Spanish heritage and culture, with traditional food and wine weaved in for good measure.
For many years Begoña has been an integral link between the local Spanish and ex-pat communities offering Spanish language and Spanish cooking lessons.
It is the popularity of these courses and the influence of her students that has led to Begoña organising tailored trips and tours. The next trip organised by Begoña is to Morella and Peniscola in the north of Castellon. This region is steeped in history. In the 14th Century the was a unique phenomenon, there were not one but two Popes in the world; the Pope in Rome and another living in Avignon, France, known as Papa Luna. Papa Luna came to live to Spain in Peñiscola and Morella. There is a huge amount of history connected to this story in the region and this will form the basis of the tour, taking in the heritage he encouraged and the legacy he left behind. Peñiscola is a beautiful town on the coast and Morella is an inland medieval Town. The hotel in Morella that Begona has booked is a stunning converted palace linked directly to Papa Luna.
The trip will take place on the 8th, 9th and 10th June. The price includes coach travel, a double room, full board and local tour guides who have excellent historical knowledge and know all the hidden gems. Places are limited so speedy booking is advised; to do so please call Begoña on 622 188 772.
Begoña said: “I always like to offer something extra and special; I don’t use run of the mill hotels, but centrally located boutique-style accommodations that reflect the character of the area and I arrange meals in traditional, good quality, restaurants used by local diners. The food and wine is always excellent and reflects the typical local cuisine and traditional regional dishes. I never have more than 20 people booked, this way the group soon get to know each other and there is always a great sense of fun and camaraderie.”
Several local pick up and drop off points are available for passengers and range from Los Alcazares to Torrevieja. The first evening will be spent at the converted palace and the second at a 4 star hotel in the old town of Peniscola where the group will take a scenic evening train tour. On the final day of the trip, the group will have lunch at a privately owned traditional Spanish country house.
A burglar who forced his victims to be photographed naked has been arrested in Alicante. The thief used social media to befriend his victims, most of whom live in the Alicante region. The man’s modus operandi was to initiate contact with women on social networking sites and after a period of contact they would arrange to meet. After he had gained the trust of the victim, he would be invited to their home where he would threaten the women with a large knife, forcing them to strip naked to be photographed by him. He would then proceed to rob their belongings, threatening meanwhile that if they reported the crime to the police, he would publicise the naked photographs.
The National Police made the arrest of the 41 year old Spanish man after learning of at least three such burglaries in the Alicante zone. The arrest was backed by two existing judicial notices for false imprisonment, robbery with violence and intimidation and fraud, said police.
Officers began to look in to the man’s movements in mid April after receiving several separate reports of robberies in the area, each of which had significant similarities in how the robbery was carried out.
The perpetrator is thought to have used a number of different names on various social networks in order to gain his victims’ trust online and establish personal contact with the women. Once he had their trust, he would push to meet them at their own homes. As soon as the man gained access to the victim’s home, he would draw a large knife and the threats would begin – forcing each to strip and be photographed. He stole personal valuables by ransacking the house and also took bank cards, forcing the victims to reveal the pin number. Once he had taken all that he could find, the man would threaten that he would put the photographs online if they went to the police to report the crime and that if they had given him a false pin number, he would come back to kill them. He then took the keys of the house and all mobile phones, leaving the victims locked inside their own homes while he went to the bank to withdraw cash with the stolen cards.
Following extensive investigation and surveillance, officers from the Organised Crime Group of the Provincial Commission of Alicante were able to make the arrest earlier this month and this week, it was ruled that the man be sent to prison for his crimes. In court, it emerged that he has numerous police records for violent robberies, threatening behaviour and fraud from all over Spain.
On Sunday 28th May Torrevieja is delighted to be hosting the 2017 European National Championship of Irish dance. The event will take place at the Hotel Playas de Torrevieja (formally Cabo Cervera Hotel) and this is the 8th time that the hotel will have hosted this annual event.
It is the 15th year of the championship and the competition will be judged by a panel of very experienced adjudicators. It is being organised by Rose FitzGibbon, Stella Moore and Julie Ann Fletcher-Redfearn.
The categories of dance in the competition include Intermediate, Open, Ceili and Figure Championships. The timetable is currently provisional and spans two days; Sunday 28th May and Monday 29th May. On Sunday it is anticipated that there will be six children’s groups for the under 12s and performances for teenagers and seniors will take place on the Monday.
Dance Academies take part from England, Northern Ireland and Eire and it is a good opportunity for them to demonstrate what they have been practising during the rest of the year. For those travelling from the UK it’s also about mixing the competition with pleasure and enjoying the Spanish weather whilst they are here.
The man was unable to escape from the fire at his home due to the bars on theentrance to the flat. The barred gate, which restricted access,prevented the rescue of the 70 year old man who was disabled and needed a wheelchair. Three local police officers and six Guardia Civil were taken to hospital with inhalation of smoke during the rescue attempt.
The fire broke out on Saturday 13th May at 2.45 am in a fifth floor apartment in La Tejera building in street Bazán de Torrevieja. When the ambulance arrived it could only confirm the death of the man. Pedro was born in Madrid and had lived alone in the flat for some years according to his neighbours. He suffered from diabetes and had had a leg amputated and for this reason he was forced to use a wheelchair.
Neighbours called the emergency services immediately after hearing the shouts from the man asking for assistance. They could also see the smoke coming out of the house. Neighbours, Guardia Civil, Local Police and health services tried to extinguish the flames using fire extinguishers locatedin the corridors of the building. The victim continued to shout for help from inside but rescuers were unable to reach him.
The problem was that the grill barred entrance to the property and Pedro could not find the keys because of the smoke. Only on the arrival of the fire brigade could entry to the building be forced and the man was already dead in the bathroom with serious burns. Attempts were made to resuscitate him once the services were able to enter. The wheel chair that he used could also be seen, destroyed by the fire.
Attempts were first made to access the fifth floor from the balcony on calleTomillo and ladders were brought on a truck to enable this. However, the flames were too high and smoke prevented the rescue services gaining entry from this direction.
The fire totally destroyed the interior of the property. The cause of the fire is currently being investigated and the fire brigade did not leave the flat until after 5am, once all the flames had completely been extinguished. This is isn’t the first time that a fatal fire has occurred in this building that includes 150 homes.
Budget insult again for Orihuela Costa
The Popular Party-Citizens government has produced a draft emergency budget to be approved this week providing for what they call ‘priority investments’. Nearly half way through the year, the budget for 2017 has still not been prepared. The priority investments in fact respond to the government caving in to pressure from traditional voters in particular from La Aparecida, a 2,000 people village some 15 minutes from Orihuela city which has an unfinished multi-million euro civic centre.
Therefore, €900,000 of the €1.3 million emergency budget will go to the cost of finalising the civic centre of La Aparecida and €200,000 will go towards building a sports complex in another small village, Molins. Around €57,000 will be spent on fixing the drains in a city street. And Orihuela Costa? Orihuela Costa will “get” €18,000 of the €1.3 million to pay for technical modifications which need to be introduced to the project, still years away, for our Emergency Services Centre.
Local political party CLARO is furious about the continued lack of funding: A spokesman said: “This is a ‘real’ priority project, which will be financed by the Valencia regional government, not by Orihuela Town Hall and has been delayed for 10 years. It has denied us proper emergency services such as a local police service operating 24 hours a day, space for La Guardia Civil which are located at present in Pilar and an emergency fire service which is presently located in Torrevieja.
“A civic centre in a small village near Orihuela is apparently a much greater priority than the multitude of needs of Orihuela Costa with a population equal to the city of Orihuela. We desperately need clean streets and properly maintained parks and gardens no to mention other services and facilities including the crying need for a cultural centre providing facilities for music, theatre and space for social groups. Just €18,000 of a budget of €1.3 million is an insult. It represents just 1.4 percent of the special investment budget. It makes a mockery of the commitment made in the 2012 budget, drawn up by the present Citizens party leader, Mr.Lopez Bas, and supposedly supported by all parties, to devote 40 percent of investment to Orihuela Costa in recognition of the historical investment deficit from which the coast has suffered and implicitly, although this is never stated, in recognition of the fact that the taxpayers of Orihuela Costa provide some 60 percent of the revenue of the municipality of Orihuela.”
CLARO believes that 1.4 percent of the special priority investment budget shows just how low a priority are the needs of Orihuela Costa for this Popular Party Citizens government.
Local Drag Queen and Spanish Champion Boxer turn to spying for The Cucaracha Club
An interview by blogger Sandra Piddock
The Cucaracha Club is a remarkable film in many ways. It’s the first feature film to be produced entirely on location in and around Torrevieja, and for many of the actors and production crew, it was the first time they’d been involved in a film, either on screen or behind the scenes.
Made on a budget of just €23,000, the spy thriller showcases the talent and the beautiful surroundings that many people take for granted, and it’s a successful collaboration between expats and locals. I spoke to two of Torrevieja’s most high profile personalities who appear in the film – expat drag queen, comedian and singer Stevie Spit, and Emiliano Casal, Spanish Lightweight boxing champion and businessman, ahead of the film’s first public showing in Torrevieja on May 18.
Stevie has been in Spain for 12 years, and is probably the Costa Blanca’s busiest and best-known entertainer. Originally from Glasgow, as well as entertaining for a living he mounts lots of charity events for local children, and also entertains troops and expats in Afghanistan every year. He’s also the only drag queen who gets regular work at the famous Benidorm Palace, and stages a charity variety show there each autumn.
It was the community feel of The Cucaracha Club that originally appealed to Stevie when he was asked to appear in the film – and the stunning original songs written by Peter Taylor of Los Montesinos. He plays a transvestite vicar – talk about typecasting! As Stevie says:
‘I took on the part because of Peter’s beautiful music – and I quite liked the idea of getting into the habit, so to speak. Trouble is, in my purple and black priest’s outfit, I looked like a walking bruise. And the dress and wig I had to wear was so dowdy, I had to ask around my female friends, because all my stage costumes were too glam. Don’t tell them I said that though, will you?’
Er – it’s a bit late for that, Stevie!
Emiliano Casal really couldn’t be more different, but he also played a vital role in the making of the movie, both in The Cucaracha Club itself and in liaising with the locals. Born in Buenos Aires in Argentina, he came to Torrevieja in 1999 at the age of 18 and is the first professional boxer to hail from Torrevieja. Emiliano fixed it so that real Police and police vehicles appeared in the film, adding authenticity to the action.
Being a professional fighter, Emiliano’s favourite scene was the fight on the boat towards the end of the film. It comes naturally to him, although he did sustain an injury battling against heavy machine guns with just his bare hands. He’s also a natural actor – after appearing in the pivotal barbecue scene, which was filmed at his own house, and some crowd scenes, he’s scheduled to appear in 33 scenes in The Cucaracha Club 2: The Route of All Evil, as well as having a major part in the final movie of the trilogy.
Over the next two years, he’s scheduled to appear in six films in total. At the age of 35, he’s looking at retiring from boxing soon and concentrating on his restaurant and real estate businesses and making movies.
So, why would Emiliano want to appear in a movie produced by British expats? Two reasons really.
‘I wanted to showcase Torrevieja, because the town has given me so much since I arrived here as an 18 year old. This was a chance to give something back, and to encourage collaboration between the expats and locals. This is a quality movie, and my Spanish friends are keen to see it.’
Stevie is also set to play a meatier role in the sequel, so we’re set to see a lot more of these great ambassadors for Torrevieja on the big screen.
The Cucaracha Club is showing at Cines IMF in Torrevieja on Thursday May 18 at 17.00. Doors open at 16.30. Tickets available on the door or buy online at See Tickets.com, or these local venues:
Kennedy’s Supermarket, Los Montesinos
Venture Fleet, Los Montesinos
Centro Rural de Algorfa
The Card Place, Benimar
Express Internet, Torrevieja
The Bog Road, Cabo Roig Strip.
Back in October 2015, the Costa Blanca People began featuring our Driving in Spain column where readers were invited to ‘ask the Guardia Civil’ about motoring in Spain. The column was run in conjunction with the N332 volunteers – the group behind the hugely popular Facebook page and website.
We are delighted to announce this week that after over a year and a half working together, we have decided to further concrete our good relationship and along with our partners at Moneycorp currency exchange, the Costa Blanca People will be official sponsors of the N332.
Pride of Spain award winner, Francisco Morales, is a Guardia Civil Traffic Officer and along with his Guardia Civil colleagues and fellow N332 team member Mark Nolan, the group spends great time and energy replying to people’s questions about motoring laws. Francisco told us, “Some driving laws are universal – like obeying the speed limit, or not using your mobile phone while driving. However, some are unique to Spain – for example, did you know that if you are towing a trailer, you are obliged to carry a fire extinguisher? My colleagues and I from the N332 advice group want to ensure that drivers aren’t fined unfairly because of lack of local knowledge. We can do this through our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/DrivingSpain) and the website N332.es which is run by Mark Nolan to help us spread the word. However, as not everyone has internet access, or Facebook, collaborating with the Costa Blanca People is a great way for us to get the message out to the English speaking community on the Costa Blanca.”
What does this new collaboration mean for our readers? You will have access to more regular advice with a weekly Driving in Spain column by the N332’s Mark Nolan. Not only that, but the Costa Blanca People and N332 will be working together on a number of events and projects during the year to raise even more awareness of motoring laws in Spain among international drivers here.
The Facebook page has grown immensely in the last 18 months having increased its followers from 14,000 to 101,377 (and counting!).
The team at N332 are also holding a series of talks and presentations and recently, met with the children of Phoenix International School (See Mark’s article, below).
These local presentations are invaluable as a means of spreading correct information. Francisco told us, “There is a lot of misinformation around – for example, people think it is the law to carry spare bulbs in the car with you and that you will be fined if you don’t. However, this is not always the case as in some cars, the lights can only be fixed by a mechanic and in this case, it is not obligatory to carry spare bulbs. Bit by bit, we are trying to make sure everyone has the most up to date, correct information.”
Managing Director of the Costa Blanca People, Claire Richards said, “We are thrilled to announce this important collaboration with N332 and Moneycorp. We have always been great admirers of the hard work and dedication of the team of volunteers and are excited at the prospect of working together in the future to ensure safer roads.”
Send your questions about driving in Spain to email@example.com
Don’t forget you can find more advice about driving in Spain at www.facebook.com/DrivingSpain and from the website N332.es
APAH goes to Iceland
Once again staff at the Iceland store in San Javier have chosen to support local animal charity APAH throughout 2017 and recently hosted an Easter Fair in aid of the cause.
Luckily the weather on the day was sunny and Iceland’s staff and customers were as supportive of APAH as ever.
Thanks to the hard work of APAH’s volunteers, there were lots of raffle tickets sold for the chance to win some fabulous prizes. These included: Iceland vouchers, and meals and gifts kindly donated by local businesses. There was a Tombola stall, which proved very popular with customers, a bric-a-brac stall with a wide range of items for sale and a chance for Iceland’s customers to enjoy a coffee and a toasted Hot Cross Bun.
The raffle was drawn at the end of the fair, and the photo shows the lucky winner of the food hamper, put together by APAH, which was presented on Monday by Iceland store manager, Lisa.
The total amount raised was 871.14 euros, and APAH would like to thank everyone who was involved in one way or another for all their hard work and support.
The next fund-raising event at Iceland San Javier will be a Summer Fair at the beginning of July.
A busy Easter for the police
Alongside the Local Police and Guardia Civil operates a group called GRO or Grupo de Refuerzo Operativo (Operational Reinforcement Group). They provide extra reinforcement during peak times and were busy in Torrevieja during Semana Santa (Holy week). Over the holiday period, the GRO made a number of arrests and were out on the roads and in the streets in a bid to reduce crime.
The GRO patrolled on the sea front and in the markets. They took three statements in relation to unauthorised street trading, seized 1,754 fake goods and arrested one illegal trader. In Torrevieja market there was an increased police presence to clamp down on theft by pickpockets.
On the roads they operated eight checkpoints for vehicles in different parts of the town and this led to nine charges for the possession of illegal substances and dangerous weapons. In total, 52 vehicles were inspected and 84 people had their identity checked.
There were five check points for excessive speed and a total of eighteen vehicles were reported. The police carried out a security and documentation inspection of 86 taxi licences and 73% of these inspections revealed minor deficiencies in the paper work. In the case of 14 licences, major deficiencies were spotted. In two cases some very serious deficiencies were found.
All the different anomalies have been logged and this should lead to improvements in the taxi services in Torrevieja.
The police have intervened in two fights which included a number of people and lead to injuries in some cases. The people involved were charged with public order offences.
In only the last few days, the GRO have detained three people. The first was arrested for presenting irregular documents for a vehicle with false plates. The second case involved a person avoiding arrest who fled the scene but was later tracked down and charged with not having a driving licence and other offences.
The final arrest was of a man on probation who had barricaded himself in a relative’s home and threatened several people with a knife. After obtaining a court order, the police forced down the door, disarmed the man and arrested him without anyone being injured. The successful outcome of this was due to the coordinated work of the Local Police, the GRO and Guardia Civil.
The ORG of the Local Police would like to thank their colleagues in the Guardia Civil and those who form the Local Police’s regular shifts,for their support.