Emilio Bascuñana, the mayor of Orihuela, joined with coastal associations, residents groups and local citizens on Thursday at a hastily arranged meeting in the Alameda del Mar Civic Centre, where he hoped to soothe waters that have been growing increasingly stormy on the Orihuela Costa in recent weeks.
Following local demonstrations, which are being joined by an increasing number of dissatisfied residents, Bascuñana seems finally to be realising that the support his Partido Popular Party has with coastal voters is not as assured as it once was, and that with the influx of Spanish citizens, many of who have moved into the coastal zone in recent years, there is much more interest in the local political scene, resulting in a gradual decrease in the number of followers that now seem to support his constricted view of fair play.
Neither was the mood helped by his unpunctuality, when, despite calling the meeting himself, he kept the 70 or so residents packed into the centre waiting, for almost 20 minutes.
Items to be discussed – we expected an update on the Emergency Centre, medical support for costa residents, the pedestrian bridge over the AP7 and a report on increased spending on local infrastructure and whilst many of the points were glossed over the meeting was largely high jacked by individual residents with their own agenda’s.
As such the mayor was required to spend too much time responding to individual complaints rather than focussing on the main reason for the meeting, that of addressing the lack of services caused by the unfair division of budgetary spending in the municipality.
However as he attempted to appease the audience there were some items of good news for Orihuela Costa residents.
The mayor confirmed that the La Zenia Emergency Centre is scheduled for completion in June next year and that and that a mandatory feasibility report is being prepared for the pedestrian crossing over the AP7.
He explained that items contained in the 2018 budgets include the installation of a football field, a skate park; the execution of the project for the new multicultural centre, improvements to parks, refurbishment of the coastal walkway between Cabo Roig and Cala Capitán, additional facilities on beaches; tarmacking and paving; as well as the refurbishment of the Alameda del Mar Civic Centre.
Councillor for the coast, Luisa Boné said that in the next Governing Board it is hoped to approve the start of paving and asphalting, at a cost of 570,091 euros, in Campoamor, Los Dolses, Villamartin, Playa Flamenca, La Zenia, Citrus and La Florida, as well as the start of additional works and improvements in parks and gardens, budgeted at 300,000 euros.
Whilst the importance of a second medical centre on the coast was stressed by some members of the audience the mayor explained that it is something that depends on approval by the Consell. Currently there are only 17,000 medical cards issued on the coast and there should be at least 25,000 to justify the second centre. He stressed the importance of all residents being registered to ensure that better services can be validated. We all know that this is currently not the case!
It was also unfortunate that, in an area where a large majority of the population is non-native speaking, the two-hour meeting was conducted entirely in Spanish which meant that a lot of the expatriates in attendance were unable to keep up with many of the exchanges taking place between the mayor, his councillors and the audience.
Opinions on the mayor’s performance varied enormously depending on who was asked but I think that all agreed that it was a meeting well worth holding which, with better management of the question and answer session, could be worth repeating in the future.