The Popular Party/Citizens government has announced a programme of investments to be approved in a plenary meeting of the Orihuela Town Council this week. The investments result from the sale of municipally owned land, almost exclusively in Orihuela Costa, before 2005 and in the period 2012-2014. The total is €6.3 million.
The Mayor stated in his announcement that these important investments would respect the agreed distribution of 40 percent for Orihuela Costa, 30 percent each for the city and surrounding villages of Orihuela.
This sounds like good news. However, local political party C.L.A.R.O claims that this is not the case. The formula of 40 percent for Orihuela Costa will only apply to the land sold between 2012 and 2014 for a value of €3.7 million. The land sold before 2005 for a value of €2.6 million will be, in rounded sums, distributed as follows: Orihuela City – €1.36 million which is 52 percent, surrounding villages – € 755,000, 29 percent and Orihuela Costa – € 385,000, just 15 percent.
The so-called sacred formula for Orihuela Costa’s share of investments, agreed by all parties in 2012, with strong support from C.L.A.R.O’s councillor at the time, to compensate for the historic discrimination against Orihuela Costa, with the resulting deficiency in infrastructure and services, is being completely ignored.
This should not be a surprise to those living in Orihuela Costa. A package of so-called “priority investments” for €1.3 million announced in May, allocated Orihuela Costa with the derisory amount of €57,000, equal to 1.3%.
Discrimination is one thing Orihuela Costa is used to. The coast contributes something like 60 percent of the total revenue of the municipality and receives in return less than 10 percent of expenditure.
A C.L.A.R.O spokesperson said: “To pretend that the governing Popular and Citizens parties are respecting the agreed formula of 40 percent of investments for Orihuela Costa is shameful deception. It is equally shameful that municipally owned land in Orihuela Costa was sold to developers for house building when more houses are not needed and will only lead to a greater number of people sharing the existing inadequate services and infrastructure.”
As to the investment projects themselves, Orihuela Costa will have nothing to compare to the major project to convert the concrete cover over the high speed rail lines in Orihuela city into a leisure and green area at a cost of over €1.5million. The investment money coming to Orihuela Costa will be spent mainly on upgrading streets and pavements and parks and gardens. A strong argument can be made that this expenditure should not be regarded as investment but should instead come from the normal budget for maintenance. After decades of neglect instead of proper maintenance, this new money will amount to no more than a drop in the ocean.
Around €500,000 will go towards improving the coastal walkway between Cala Capitan and Cabo Roig. No one can question that this is necessary; part of this coastal walkway was closed for 4 years because of the danger to pedestrians from falling rocks. A considerable sum has just been spent to prevent future rock falls. C.L.A.R.O and other associations on the coast will be watching carefully to see that the €500,000 is additional money and results in real improvements.
It is bad news that the principle of a 40 percent share of Orihuela Costa in investments is not being fully respected by the PP/Ciudadanos government. It is even worse that the government parties are claiming that they are doing so while, in fact, they are slicing and dicing the principle and in the process, merrily cheating Orihuela Costa out of its rightful and necessary share of municipal investments.