DRAMA AT THE PLENARY AND SURFERS ON THE BEACH LEAD ORIHUELA NEWS

ORIHUELA NEWS

This week´s plenary meeting in Orihuela met with an initial 30 minute delay, after the Mayor of the municipality, Monserate Guillén, refused to allow Pedro Mancebo to raise a number of points relating to the N332 roundabout closure. According to Guillén, Mancebo did not have the right to raise the issues in the manner he attempted, as he is not part of an assigned municipal group, following his ejection recently, and the questions over the legality of the censure motion, for which a preliminary statement is expected on the 6th of February. A member of the public was also escorted from the hall by the police, after apparently refusing to remain quiet as a protest, despite the requests of the Mayor.

Two main points of national interest were presented by the governing board at the meeting, one for supporting evictees who have lost their home, the other relating to the change in the laws governing abortion. Both of these notions were objected to by the PP and Pedro Mancebo, who later tabled their own version of the same motion. One of the most significant oppositions was a demand to include a clause which “supports” the actions of the central government, whilst creating a committee which would be chaired by a local PP member. A group of protesters who had gathered outside the town hall to raise awareness of those suffering repossession and eviction were said to be “bemused” by what had happened, with a representative of the group saying that “we are just being used as a political football”.

The councillor for social welfare, Emilio Zaplana, has announced that a long halted development of social housing for the elderly will become available in a matter weeks. The properties, which are located near to the Villamartin golf course, have been standing vacant for many years, but the final stages of an agreement between the commercial promoter and the town hall over shares in revenue looks set to be made, resulting in the homes becoming available to move into, and a new community of senior citizens, becoming a reality. However, the administration of the building is not quite as simple as might be hoped, after numerous documents seem to be missing and there are discrepancies over agreements made during the previous government´s term in office.

Surfers look set to take to the waves of La Zenia beach, after the councillor for the Orihuela Costa, Martina Scheurer, announced plans to change the municipal regulation which ban water sports, so as to allow surfing during certain times of day, during the off-peak season. Although many surfers have used the beaches of Orihuela for some years, the practice is currently illegal, a situation highlighted recently when a group of surfers rescued and saved a man who was drowning in the sea. This matter was seen to strengthen the case for leniency, and the subsequent, soon to be implemented change.

The mayor of Orihuela, Monserate Guillén, and the Councillor for Education, Rosa Martínez, hosted a meeting at the town hall which was attended by some 60 students and teachers who are involved on a Europe wide educational initiative on climate change, known as the Comenius Project. Grants are available from the EU in a program which aims to “bring learning alive for pupils and staff alike”. Locally, the IES Thader is involved in the project, with Orihuela students joining 34 of their international colleagues from 11 different countries, including Belgium, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Romania, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Estonia and France. After the meeting, the group were taken on a guided tour of the city, delivered in English, as well as visiting numerous sites of local interest, including the Orihuela Costa on Sunday. Students involved in the scheme from Orihuela are already involved in planned trips to Slovakia in September, Italy in March and the Czech Republic in April, amongst other initiatives.

In a special meeting this week, the governing board of Orihuela approved 26 grants of 1,125 euro each, which will be awarded to various companies for hiring local workers through a Joint Employment Plan. The funding will provide work for 26 unemployed people and a third of the budget is financed by the municipality, another third by the Province of Alicante and the rest by the Generalitat Valenciana.

The councillor for Social Welfare, Emilio Zaplana, revealed this week that the not for profit company Ildo had been working for the town hall without a contract, and therefore billed the municipality for various jobs completed without the funds being set aside in the budget. The situation has now been resolved by the currunt government team, according to Zaplana, who states that the municipality still owes 727,009.31 euro of unpaid bills from the previous legislature, because of the lack of budget provision, in addition to a debt of 327,000 euro for work done between January and May 2011, after they had not been advised that the work had already been contracted to another company in 2010, which was for a four-year contract at a rate of 836,847.98 euro per year, including IVA. Zaplana states that the debts owed to the company, made the position of the company “unsustainable”. Zaplana also states that an agreement has now been reached to clear this historic debt, so that the company which specialises in ensuring work for disabled people could see resolution of the past and hope for the future.

The Councillor for Commerce has presented a new initiative in which some thirty Orihuela traders have already got involved, which will enable them to sell their products via the internet, under the banner, “Descubre Orihuela”. With both Android and Apple apps, free to download, the information on store location and opening hours is available to browsers, along with details of the products on offer, which can then be purchased by credit card or PayPal and collected or delivered to your home.

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