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The councillor for the coast of Orihuela, Martina Scheurer of the Los Verdes green party, has hit back this week over allegations made by Bob Houliston of the CLARO political group, that the streets of the Orihuela Costa are “filthier” than ever before.

The press release from CLARO stated that “There is widespread anger at the filthy state of Orihuela Costa. C.L.A.RO. has never heard such strong feelings expressed. The streets are dirty. Litter is everywhere. Garden rubbish accumulates and accumulates sometimes not being removed for weeks. The beaches are cleaned superficially, scratching the surface of the sand but not being cleaned in depth. To save paying overtime, they are not cleaned after their busy use on Saturdays and are consequently left in a filthy state for their even busier use on Sundays. Seaweed is s allowed to stay where it is deposited along the beaches and not collected and left to dry in proper piles until it can be removed. Shamefully some people have to scavenge for food from rubbish containers beside supermarkets. Since the streets are not cleaned, the remains of food are left to litter these streets thereby encouraging the appearance of rats.”

Whilst accepting that there is still a lot to be done to solve the problem of clean streets, Scheurer laments that this has always been a problem, “It was a problem before, when the PP were in charge, it was a problem when Mr Houliston was in charge, it was a problem when Mr Mancebo was in charge, it”, a testament which is clear from the countless reports and complaints on the website of the PP in Orihuela complaining about the same, and the numerous reports in the press.

“It was a problem last year when I was in charge”, continues Scheurer, “but I can honestly say that I think things have improved over last year”. Acknowledging that there are a few “black spots” around the area, Scheurer also points out that Houliston has not approached her or the town hal with the current list of issues he sent to the press, nor, according to the town hall records, have the residents themselves reported the problem before and requested cleaning.

Scheurer has also defended her position by hitting back at Houliston´s lack of action. “It is far too easy to complain when in opposition, but not so easy to take the action necessary to make the improvements. Mr Houliston knows the difficulties we have in changing staff numbers or rotas, transferring resources from the city to the coast etc, but all he did was leave the post without fighting for the coast, which he had promised to do. Nobody pushed him, he had the opportunity to make the changes he complains about, but he gave up and left”.

That said, the department has been able to call on resources from other areas, a time consuming and bureaucratic process, but a process which has seen the powerful water jet machine and its crew brought from the city to the coast, a move which was planned some time ago, which is now working its way around the coastal zone cleaning some of the most stubborn areas such as near commercial zones, and cleaning the bins and other elements of infrastructure.

Tipping has been reduced in a number of areas, and, although Scheurer agrees “there is still much to be done”, test areas where the town hall has focused on have resulted in owners of some private plots fencing off their land, as is a requirement, preventing tipping on these sites. Having proved a success in the test phase in Mil Palmeras, that process of requesting cooperation by land owners will now continue in some of the other most hard hit areas on the coast. In the land where signs and barriers are removed, action is being taken to replace those blockades and reduce tipping once again, as soon as the areas in question are cleared.

The team of workers provided under a scheme which offered unemployed residents the chance to work are continuing on the coast, clearing streets of weeds and rubbish, a service never provided before on this scale, and which can be seen by simply driving around the coastal zone where the men and women have been working tirelessly throughout the summer months.

Seaweed is collected on a regular basis, “of course if I go to the beach and see seaweed it may not be collected as often as I would like”, explains Scheurer, but the collection service has already picked up some 1,404 tons off the beaches, more than last year, which is piled up before removal to allow it to dry, partly to avoid the additional and historic cost of transporting sand and water with the seaweed, and partly to ensure that the sand returns to the beaches, as is a requirement of the beach authorities. That said, the service has already cost in excess of 70,000 euro for the processing alone, not including the staff, vehicles and fuel to transport it, which can only be done in Crevillente, due to the restrictions of Orihuela being tied to a so called “Plan Zonal”. A restriction that the town hall are trying to get out of, so as to avoid the reality that treating seaweed costs more than disposing of the green waste due to the monopoly of the company in Crevillente which charge an “abusive” rate.

With many residents and visitors apparently still complaining to CLARO about the state of the Orihuela Costa, there are numerous who have also agreed with Scheurer that the streets are a lot better this year. It is perhaps obvious that perfection is a long way away, but we can all do our bit by not throwing litter or rubbish in the street, putting waste and clippings out at the appropriate times, and, perhaps more importantly, contacting the town hall for advice as to when to put rubbish out, and reporting problems, so that everybody can contribute to a cleaner Orihuela Costa in the future.

Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/44721/

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