Councillor for the Coast, Beaches and International Residents of Orihuela, Martina Scheurer, announced the immediate construction of the footbridge to go over the N-332 road at La Regia. Scheurer has said that the work will be completed in early 2014, at a cost of 231,900 euro, but the inconvenience of the construction work will be kept to a minimum as the structure of the walkway will be built in a warehouse, whilst the support pillars are constructed off the main road.

Finally, the prepared elements will be put into place by a crane, overnight, which will result in the closure of the road for a few hours. In a press conference, Scheurer said that, “I am pleased to announce the execution of this project because since the N332 developed, there was no bridge to cross at this point”, then detailing the importance of the development which is in an area where many older people need to cross the main road to visit the health centre.

Whilst the footbridge plans are going ahead, the Councillor was also able to offer full details of the proposed development of the parkland at La Regia. The plan aims to satisfy two very clear objectives, the control and passage of water which naturally runs through the area in the event of rain, and the need to make the area more attractive and useful for residents after years of neglect.

The lower part of the area, nearest to the N-332, will be completely cleared, which includes the removal of the current sports pitch, which notoriously floods during the rainy season. As plans have been submitted, it transpires that this particular piece of land is currently subject to a legal battle over ownership, and so, the town hall must wait for a court decision to clarify whether the land is in fact owned by the municipality, or the property developer who built the urbanisation many years ago. That said, one element that the town hall can and intend to carry out is the installation of trunks which will control the flow of water from its natural route, directing it away from the land, fixtures and fittings, to provide a clear route through towards the sea.

The next park of the parkland, from the footpath up to Calle Caliza, forms the most exciting part of the development program. The water flow will be maintained again from the higher ground, but this area will feature a dog agility and training park, fenced off and in its own area, and the site itself will be surrounded by an American style walking and running track, which will not only provide a circuit around the plot, there will also be various health and fitness points surrounding the route. In addition, within the central area, there will be another track built, on more rough and mound like ground, which is designed to be used by cyclists looking to partake in lighter mountain biking activities.

In the third section of the land, beyond Calle Caliza, a new multipurpose sports facility will be constructed, on the higher ground so as to minimise the risk of damage from this weather affected area, just beyond the current children´s play area, which will also be completely regenerated. As the footpaths meander through this area, those walking through their coastal created countryside park will be able to enjoy a variety of plants and flowers, all native to the area, but some at considerable risk, which will be planted in key points to nurture their natural development in an area which has also become somewhat depleted of the native flora.

However, although these plans sound somewhat idyllic, and will be welcomed by the countless residents and businesses, but there is one major hurdle that would have to be leaped, if the plans are to become a reality. Because of the amount of work involved in this project, the budget required is considerable. Therefore, in order to get clearance, the project has to go to the full plenary meeting and the majority of votes would decide if it will be approved or not. We know through recent months that the Partido Popular, although in opposition, hold the majority of votes, and have actively vetoed every proposal suggested, in what is believed an attempt to force the government out, but this park project contains elements that they have wanted for some time. In fact, the project contains elements suggested by all political groups, the PP, CLARO, CLR, psoe and Los Verdes, and should, therefore, meet with approval without question.

It is a lot of money to spend, and the question as to where that money is coming form is of course a valuable one, but it is to come directly from the money earned by selling plots of land on the coast. In other words, this is money from the coast, for the coast, so any arguments that the political opposition levy that all the money from the coastal sales goes to the city are clearly void, in this case.

However, the allegations of lack of coastal investment have been a claim for many years before this government, with the PP, along with CLARO now arguing that the government team are still continuing the legacy of their neglect, but it would only seem fair to question their intentions for the money from coastal land sales. A considerable amount of money has already been diverted by the Partido Popular majority vote to the health centre at Rabaloche, which nobody could question is in need of a new building, but the investment liability is with the Valencian government, not the local municipality. Valencia already has a massive debt that it owes to Orihuela, so by funding this project exacerbates that position.

Calls for investment in a library on the coast have echoed through recent campaigns, but in reality, on the one hand the government team are investing a minimum amount on a trial “Reading Point” to test if a huge investment would be viable, and on the other, the PP have announced their intention to use their majority vote to divert money from the sale of the coastal plots to finish building a civil centre in the small Orihuela village of La Aparecida, claiming that as the 1,350,000 euro is now available from the sale, they could finish that project immediately. To complete a building in a village of little over 2,500 residents might well be a project worth considering, but not when criticism is being levied to a lack of investment on the coast, nor when the complaints that the money from the sale of coastal plots is not being invested back on the coast.

Therefore, with a project that will improve the coastal area, with a maximum budget of 350,000 euro, containing elements asked for by all political groups, with money from the coast being spent on the coast, it seems like this project presentation will be the easiest for the government team to pass, but we shall have to wait and see if that is the case when it comes to the plenary.

A third project which has also progressed, one which falls within the financial limits that do not need majority approval, is the development of walkways on the road in the area of La Fuente commercial centre. The technical plans have now been returned which will see pavements created all along this road, with a number of crossings, all of which will be accessible to those with reduced mobility, as well as making the whole area tidier, nicer and safer for those who use this notoriously poorly planned road.

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