C.L.A.R.O’s 10th Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 13 November was well attended and positive, adopting innovative plans for the future and electing a new President.
The first debate in the meeting was on the results of the municipal elections in May. Although not as good as hoped for, the AGM stressed that for the third time C.L.A.R.O. had won the majority of votes cast in Orihuela Costa, nearly 50% again, and missed securing representation in the new Town Council by the narrow margin of some 30 votes. It was acknowledged that the main reason for not doing as well as hoped for was low voter participation by non-Spanish residents. It remains a challenge for the party to motivate residents on the coast to realise that in return for contributing the greater part of Orihuela Town Council’s income, they receive wholly inadequate and insufficient services.
Confusion and changes in the polling stations on the coast, in particular use of the little known, isolated and badly sign posted Reading Point, affected hundreds of voters and was another important reason for falling short of the votes necessary for continued representation.
Finally, among the adverse factors affecting the result for C.L.A.R.O., the AGM stressed that the official name and the description on the voting forms of C.L.A.R.O. “Party for Orihuela Costa” was used by C.L.A.R.O’s opponents to smear the party as separatist and uninterested in other parts of the municipality with a consequent loss of potential voters.
The AGM overwhelmingly affirmed that C.L.A.R.O. WAS HERE TO STAY and must continue to promote and defend the interests of Orihuela Costa. It also agreed to change the statutes and official name of the party dropping “Party for Orihela Costa” to encourage wider support for the party outside of Orihuela Costa.
An important debate took place on the need for C.L.A.R.O. to be more proactive and better project knowledge of its aims and activities on the coast. To achieve this objective, in addition to continuing our mainstream, essential political activities, it was agreed to launch a series of initiatives. The weekly Friday meetings, open to all, which take place in the Asturias Restaurant and which characterise the transparent nature of the party, would, in future, also be used to enable guest speakers, hopefully once a month, to address issues of interest and concern to those living on the coast, A programme of speakers would include representatives of local charities, campaign organisations like the Pink Ladies, a representative of the Residential Care Home in Villamartin, newspaper editors, environmental organisations and real estate agents. The first speaker, on a date to be announced, would be a representative of the Guardia Civil Traffic Corps. These Friday Forums will be in English and where possible also Spanish.
Also at least once a month, the Friday meetings would take place in different parts of the coast and would be informal and social in character, not political. They would be Tapas and Chat events.
Finally, to underline C.L.A.R.O’s strong commitment to social welfare on the coast, which the local government neglects so conspicuously, it was agreed to hold an important, annual fund-raising event for the charities and social groups who do so much for those living on the coast.
This debate was also marked by resentment and indignation at the fact that Orihuela Costa with a population greater than that of Orihuela city, which increases to some 250,000 during the summer months and to which must be added the thousands of visitors daily to La Zenia Boulevard, still lacks a 24 hour local Police Station and locally based ambulance and fire service. The skeleton building of a future Emergency Services Centre, near La Zenia roundabout, paralysed for years because of political inaction, is a testament to the neglect and lack of concern of the local government and competent authorities for the health and safety of Orihuela Costa residents and visitors. There was outrage that at least 3 recent deaths on the coast have been associated with delays in the arrival of an ambulance. The AGM demanded action on this major priority.
The Annual General Meeting decided important changes in the composition of the party Executive Committee. Paul Piccio was elected President of the party. After holding this office for 9 years, Bob Houliston stood down but will remain a member of the Executive Committee where, with his knowledge and experience, he will continue to contribute to the party. Paul Piccio is a well known businessman in Orihuela Costa. He has an international background and is bilingual in English and Spanish. Another party veteran and leading figure in local charities, Norah Bond stood down to make way for Paulina Wysokinska. Paulina is very involved in Orihuela Costa’s social activities including the La Zenia church and Parents Association. She is fluent in several languages including English and Spanish.
The list of members of the Executive Committee decided by the Annual General Meeting is as follows:
President Paul Piccio
Secretary General David Lorenzo