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At the end of last week and into the weekend, an army of workers took to the beaches of Orihuela Costa, to start building the beach bars and relaxation areas that will be available throughout the summer.

After controversy, complaint, threats and discussions, the contract for providing beach based services on the Orihuela Costa was finally signed this week, with the company Chiringuitos del Sol being awarded the work.

In the early hours of Friday morning, immediately after the contract was signed, the workers started building the infrastructure. Their first priority was for safety, installing buoys along one the beach of Cabo Roig, where a tragedy occurred some years ago when a boat struck a young bather, with the new system already in place to keep boats away from the coastline, thus keeping the beach area safer.

There had been a delay in awarding the contract, as well as criticism over the inclusion of quality requirements to ensure that the company providing the service was of the highest possible standard. A number of companies had been excluded from the tender process as they didn´t meet the requirements set out in the tender. More recently, it was discovered that the company which did meet all of the requirements had an outstanding amount due to the town hall of around 880,000 euro, which the town hall had failed to ask for to cover previous contracts many years ago. It had been wrongly reported by some Spanish and English papers, fuelled by the political opposition, that this was a debt, and therefore excluded the company from bidding, but this was never the case on account of the money never having been claimed, a matter which caused the current government to delay the process further whilst the matter was clarified and corrected.

Once a request was made for the first instalment of that amount, it allowed the company in question to make the payment, which they duly did last week, handing over more than a half a million euro for services dating back to 2006. Neither the previous government of Monica Lorente, nor the previous Councillors for the coast, Bob Houliston and then Pedro Mancebo, apparently being aware that this money was ever due to be claimed. The amounts due for the more recent contracts will also be cleared, once the agreed timeframe for making those payments, which is now in place, has been made.

It is also true that there was a further delay caused by the administrative process, which the current Councillor for the coast, Martina Scheurer of the Los Verdes green party in Orihuela described as “very disappointing”, whilst also accepting what many believe is the norm that in Spain, many things take longer than one might hope.

The town hall has been operating on antiquated, paper based systems for decades, and it is hoped that these delays will also start to reduce as the new electronic system spreads through the town hall departments. In fact, an example of this was when Scheurer herself finalised the signing of the documents this week. Once everything was in place and set, up until two months ago, the councillor involved would have then had to drive to Orihuela city to sign the final phase of the contract, which would of course take some time, and assuming the town hall was open may well have added another day to the process. Whilst attending a presentation in the Orihuela Costa Civic Centre on Thursday, Scheurer received the documents electronically, and securely, and she was able to sign and return them within a matter of moments, electronically, proving how the process can be speeded up, once everybody is used to using the system.

Now that the contract has been awarded, the workers sprang into action, and as Thomas Herteux from Chiringuitos del Sol explained to The Leader, “Every single employee is committed to make sure that we all do the very best we can to fulfil the service over the next few years”. In fact, with their track record in providing the service already a testament to that, as well as the fact that the company prides itself on the quality standards it has achieved, the ISO 9001, ISO 14001, as well as the “Q” for quality award.

Although it is likely to take a few weeks for the beaches to be fully operational, Thomas also explains how things are now “more complicated because of the very late start”, but they are already planning lots of new features which will start to be installed once the initial equipment is in place.

One of the most exciting developments which will appear soon will be a new safe and locker system, a pioneering development from Belgium, which will be tested on La Zenia beach. Thomas explained how the security system works much like a cash machine, with valuables locked away in a secure manner, and as a bonus, the system can also give users free wi-fi access to users whilst on the beach.

In fact, wi-fi access is something else that will be developed in the future, with wi-fi zones planned on many of the beaches, which will also allow visitors to use a mobile application that the company is developing, hopefully set for release this summer, which will provide information such as the weather, sea temperature and conditions, and even the availability of sun loungers.

Many of the other proposals are subject to gaining permission from the beach authority, but there is no doubt that the popular beach volleyball competition will return, as well as the Latin and flamenco dance nights, incentives for keeping the beaches clean, a water play-park and even the possibility of massage tables with qualified professionals on hand. In addition, the company will have a mechanical digger available at all times, to ensure the beaches are kept in pristine condition, which will also be available should there be any issues such as the weather related problems as seen on the beaches in previous years.

As Thomas concluded, “We will try to do the best we can to bring loads of fun, the best food and drinks and the highest standards to Orihuela”, to which there is no doubt that with the contract finally awarded, the company running the service is of the highest standard available, and so, the services provided on the beaches of Orihuela will be the envy of many of the beaches of Spain, setting Orihuela aside as a premiere resort where quality and commitment are standard.

Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/43972/

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