Nearly a hundred residents of the Orihuela Costa gathered in front of the Playa Flamenca Town Hall on Monday morning to protest against the closure of the facilities of the CDM Municipal Sports Centre by the management service UTE.
Many were dressed in sports clothing and swimsuits, carrying sports equipment as well as banners in both Spanish and in English. “PP and C’s, do not play with us”, “CDM, we have lost one more service on the coast, it is shameful,” as well as “CDM, this is a robbery”.
Following the rally the protestors handed in a petition to the Town Hall staff demanding the municipalisation of the service, and that the Orihuela Council take back the direct management of the centre.
The Leader was once again the first English language newspaper to report on the shutting down of the centre last week when it described how the management company UTE had written to members and users notifying them of it’s intention to close to the public with effect from Monday morning.
As such the indoor and heated pool, the paddle and tennis courts used by hundreds of local residents and their children every day, were no longer available. The closure also generated a lot of confusion among many other users who arrived at the facilities on Monday morning and found them closed.
Although the football schools continue, the changing rooms are now without electricity and hot water, according to Yolanda Fernández, the President of AMPA. “The remaining facilities will no longer be available and as such there are a number of children who were enrolled for an hour of swimming therapy in order to treat their injuries and medical conditions who are also no longer able to use the pool”.
Claro’s spokeswoman, Helene Akerman, criticised “the extortionate prices” charged by CDM and said “it is time for the City Council to take back the management of the service”.
Cambiemos, who have been very critical of the service contract, insisted on the need to “reverse the privatisation that we consider a scam of the people who live in the Orihuela Costa,” according to its spokesman Carlos Bernabé.
Since last August the City Council has not paid any of the UTE invoices as it alleges breaches of the management contract which includes the failure of the management company to build a multi-purpose gymnasium. As such the Council is currently attempting to terminate the 12 year contract which currently has another 4 years to run.
The councillor for Sports, Víctor Valverde, who is still to respond to questions put to him by this newspaper, criticised the closure stating that “nobody from the company has been in touch to notify us of the closure” announcing that his staff are currently preparing a report to claim damages for the inconvenience caused. “My staff are currently studying all possibilities, both the municipalisation of the centre or a new management.”
Meanwhile the people of the Orihuela Costa are once again being penalised with the loss of this extremely important facility and as the ‘blame games continue’ it is anyone’s guess as to if, and when, the centre will reopen.