Drive along the N332 and you will see a lot of ugly, unsightly and illegal billboards that present a negative urban image on one of the most popular tourist areas of the province, and to which a succession of mayors and Councils have shown chronic incompetence and indifference in tackling.
Despite the promises of successive councillors and municipal authorities it is abundantly clear that neither the Ministry of Development nor the bordering City Councils have been able to address the chaos inflicted by hundreds of illegal advertising billboards along the N-332, especially, the section that runs between Cabo Roig and Punta Prima.
In February 2017 the Association of La Zenia Residents and Traders issued a complaint to the Directorate General of Roads of the Ministry of Development. The group say that they have proof that Fomento told the city council to remove the hoardings that are located on public land, where they are expressly prohibited by highway legislation, reminding the council at the same time of the authority they have to impose sanctions.
The highway legislation expressly prohibits this type of advertising, where it is forbidden to advertise on any site that is visible from national roads, in general any advertisement that can distract drivers. The prohibition applies to all signs, posters, inscriptions, forms, logos or images, regardless of their type or size.
In Orihuela the council is said to lack an ordinance that can regulate the location of this type of street advertising where there are many open records of urban infringement against the illegal hoardings which often presents a negative urban image in one of the most popular tourist areas of the province. They say that they are unable to act as the means used to sanction and force the removal of these signs are limited, and are supported by administrative procedures that are slow and complicated.
So their lack of control continues to be exploited by many of the companies responsible for such forms of advertising, regardless of the legal breaches.
The bizarre lawlessness has gone on for so long that Orihuela council has no idea if the hundreds of illegal billboards are even safe, but on the evidence of the number of hoardings that suffer serious damage during winter storms the answer would seem to be fairly clear.
So not only are the hoardings unsightly and a major blot on the image presented of the Orihuela Costa but many are also unsafe. In a normal world a building inspector would be required to look at any installation and sign it off before further use was approved. But of course this never happens so there’s no way to know if they have the proper structural integrity and won’t topple onto the road.
Similarly, on changing the advertisements that the billboards carry, many of the previous posters are simply dumped by the side of the board adding further to the unsightly clutter that many of them present.
As a succession of mayors and Councils have shown chronic incompetence and indifference in allowing the billboard industry to flout the law, Politicians know there’s just one way to wrest back control of the streets: by getting their hands, once and for all, on an inventory list of the owners and locations of thousands of illegal billboards and then forcing the companies to remove them, something that is unlikely to happen any day soon.
In the meantime, Billboards must get public approval otherwise they don’t pay their way and are removed, so if you feel strongly about the way the law is being flouted by the agencies that erect the boards, and their supporters that use their services, the answer is quite simple……don’t buy the product!
In encouraging the disastrous mess that borders this busy coastal thoroughfare the advertising industry is doing itself no favours at all.