Category: Local

European Championship of Irish dancing

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.
Suzanne O’Connell

Disabled man dies trapped in Torrevieja fire

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.
Suzanne O’Connell

Budget insult again

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.

The Cucaracha Club

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, or these local venues:

Kennedy’s Supermarket, Los Montesinos

Venture Fleet, Los Montesinos

Quentin’s Algorfa

Centro Rural de Algorfa

The Card Place, Benimar

Express Internet, Torrevieja

The Bog Road, Cabo Roig Strip.

N332 secures new sponsorship

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 ( and the website 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
Don’t forget you can find more advice about driving in Spain at and from the website

APAH goes to Iceland

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.

Busy Easter for police

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.
Suzanne O’Connell

Salt production in jeopardy

The extensive rain in Torrevieja this year has had repercussions much greater than just that of flooded roads and premises. It has meant that the salt beds from which the salt is usually harvested have been flooded too, to the point that there are concerns about how much salt will actually be harvested this year.
In order to address the issue, the salt company had asked the town hall to drain the extra water from the beds into the sea. However, permission has been denied by the Ministry of the Environment who fear that doing so would alter the balance of salinity in the areas where the water would be deposited and so affect marine life.
The company had requested that 3.6 million cubic hectometres of water be removed as excess from the salt lagoon. They proposed to do this in stages in order not to affect the area of the sea where it would be deposited. However, the plan has been rejected as potentially detrimental to the local environment.
Altogether there was rainwater of more than two hundred litres per square metre between December and March. This excess water meant that not only was the brine diluted but also some of the industrial site itself was flooded. The company has proposed that there would be three channels used to transport the brine water into the sea to prevent environmental problems being encountered. The water contains 170 grams of salt per litre and the sea contains around 30.
Suzanne O’Connell

HELP Vega Baja Torrevieja opens again

HELP Vega Baja are delighted to announce that their office in Torrevieja is now due to re-open. The centre in Calle Rambla Juan Mateo Garcia closed temporarily in December 2016 for a period of re-structure and review. The Torrevieja office was opened over 35 years ago and was the first base for HELP. Since then they opened their office in San Miguel de Salinas 10 years ago and also have a helpdesk in La Marina.
The official re-opening of the Torrevieja office was held in April and it will now be open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10am until 1.30pm. The intention is to extend these opening hours to Mondays and Fridays too when sufficient volunteers are available.
President Michele Masson, is delighted at the new developments; ‘As a charity it is important that we keep up with the needs of the local community and although many people will always prefer to discuss problems face to face with our volunteers, we are also conscious that there are other ways we can offer support such as through our website, Facebook page and the talks that we offer to local groups.
We therefore took the decision to close the office, completely renovate it and prepare for the next chapter of the charity and its link with the town of Torrevieja. Our volunteers now have a very professional and comfortable environment with all the latest facilities they need at their fingertips. We aim to continue offering the advice that people rely on us for, particularly as we enter what, for the British community, can be worrying times.’
HELP Vega Baja are keen to continue to work closely with Torrevieja town hall and good links have been made with Councillor Carmen Morate who is the councillor for charities and the foreign community. ‘We are very positive that working relationships with the town hall will be strengthened and we will be able to support the OARI office in offering advice to visitors,’ explains Michele.
The office in Torrevieja will also be used for training courses, craft classes, Spanish conversation classes and they are also looking into the possibility of having a book club there. They would welcome any further suggestions from members of the public.
The Torrevieja office is the base for the welfare officer, Wendy, and solicitor Jordi Sole who will be able to make appointments and utilise the facilities for those people who live in the town. There is additional space available in the office for any charity who would also like to have their base there. There are three desks but volunteers only occupy two at the moment, leaving one free for another charity who would perhaps like to raise their profile in the town. For more information about this please contact Michele:
‘There is never a dull moment at HELP,’ says Michele. ‘So much is going on and it would be impossible without the support we receive from everyone in the community and our great team of volunteers. We would love to hear from anyone who has a few hours a week to spare and who would like to join our team.’
For more information about HELP Vega Baja and details of their membership benefits, events or how you can help, contact their San Miguel Centre on 966 723 733 or visit their webpage  .
Suzanne O’Connell

Hunger strike by angry father

Carlos Montesinos from Torrevieja is carrying out a hunger strike in front of the justice building in Torrevieja in order to protest at his lack of access to his daughter of seven years old who has been living during the last three years in Santander (Cantabria) with her mother.
Carlos maintains that he hasn’t been able to see his daughter since August because, according to his words, the girl’s mother has been obstructive in enabling him to carry out his part of the access arrangements. Visits have also been hampered due to the difficulties resulting from the distance the parents live apart.
‘I feel helpless,’ says Montesinos, ‘and my hands are tied.’ He only found out that he had a daughter when she was six months old. After tests to confirm that the girl was his, he has always wanted to take a full part in her life but he states; ‘During those seven years I have only spent 20 days with her.’ He now only maintains contact with his daughter through minimal telephone conversations.
Montesinos has also put up a petition on and is collecting signatures in front of the justice department too. He wants a modification of the access arrangements to ensure that it can actually take place. ‘I feel desperate,’ says Montesinos. ‘I’ve exhausted all legal remedies.’
He has already collected 869 signatures online and there has been a lot of interest in his case.
Suzanne O’Connell

Easter Celebrations

The Tourist and International Residents department has launched a special program for Holy Week 2017 in Orihuela.
 For the routes (The Holy Week in Orihuela Step by Step Route, Holy Shroud Route and Seminary Route) and for the processions.
Bus timetables:
Holy Tuesday 11th April: 8pm
Holy Wednesday 12th de April: 5pm
Maundy Thursday 13th April: 8pm
Good Friday 14th April: 4:30pm
Easter Saturday 15th April: 5:30pm
Price: 5.40€
Departure: Playa Flamenca
Return: Ociopía
For further information and bookings, contact the tourist info Orihuela Playa.
Telephone: 96 676 00 00, EXT. 32
10 pm: PROCESSION of the Brotherhood of the Pardon and the Ecce Homo Brotherhood.
6:30 pm: PROCESSION of the Secular Franciscan Order and Illustrious Stewardship of Our Father Jesus.
10:30 pm: PROCESSION of the Brotherhood of the “Last Supper” Eucharist and the Royal Brotherhood of
“Jesus Washing the Feet”.
11 pm: PROCESSION of the Brotherhood of Silence.
2 am: PROCESSION of the Penitential Brotherhood of the Holy Christ of the Good Death.
6:30 pm: GENERAL PROCESSION of the Passion, organised by the General Easter Week Brotherhood,
Sisterhood and Stewardship Board.
7 pm: PROCESSION of the Holy Burial of Christ, organised by the City Council. Civil-Religious Procession
with the _oat of the She-Devil.
12:30 am: PROCESSION of the Brotherhood of the Resurrection.

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