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Bob Houliston

The Orihuela full council (Plenary) meeting on 26 November was dominated by Orihuela Costa issues. Four of Five motions were devoted to Orihuela Costa. This was exceptional.

The two motions which brought Orihuela Costa to the forefront of debate this month were presented by C.L.A.R.O. Councillor Bob Houliston and by the Popular Party. Both criticised the government for failure to keep its promise to devote 40% of the proceeds of sales of municipal land on the coast to investments in Orihuela Costa. Bob Houliston accused the government of cheating, in denying the full 40% of the total of €4.6 millions received from the sale of land to finance projects in Orihuela Costa. They had deducted €900,000 from the total which they allocated to the completion of a civic centre in the small village of La Apericida. He argued that the project in La Aperecida should have been financed from the 30% share of Orihuela’s surrounding villages in the distribution of the €4.6m proceeds from land sales. That would have been enough to finance the La Aperecida project and would have left €500,000 for other projects in other surrounding villages.

Orihuela Costa had been cheated of some €500,000 and the government claimed that not enough was left to finance a proper Civic Centre with auditorium, theatre, library and rooms for activities of associations and residents in Orihuela Costa. While La Apericida, with a population of less than 3,000 inhabitants, would have a civic centre which would cost €1.2 millions in total, Orihuela Costa with 35,000 inhabitants, 10 times greater, would not. This was politically motivated discrimination. Vote buying.

He also criticised the government for failing to include in the projects for Orihuela Costa provision to solve the problems of La Zenia. The threat of the Ministry of Transport in December, 2013 to close two roads leading from and on to the La Zenia roundabout had been suspended pending Town Hall measures to reduce congestion and improve pedestrian safety. If the closures had gone ahead they would have had a ruinous effect on the many small businesses in the area. Bob Houliston said all that had been done in the past year was to locate a tiny roundabout a little further up the Villamartin Avenue which had had no effect. A project proposed by the Councillor for the Coast but dependent on €50,000 of finance from the Alicante provincial authorities, was nothing like ambitious enough to solve the problems which would get dramatically worse when the half-built Emergency Services Centre, right in the middle of the area, would be completed, resulting in police vehicles, ambulances and fire engines using the same over congested approach from the roundabout on the N332 to La Zenia Boulevard commercial centre.

The Popular Party motion which was supposed to reflect the views of the new Federation of Associations of La Zenia was politically one-sided but nonetheless contained some additional useful points. In particular, the Popular Party recalled the discriminatory removal of another €500,000 in October, 2011 from the Orihuela Costa investment budget. This was done by the CLR Budget councillor at the time, Juan Ignacio Lopez Bas. Bob Houliston recalled that he had been persuaded that this was a necessary, temporary step which would be compensated in the 2012 budget. In fact, he had been totally misled. €750,000 of the budget changes were for a pet project of Pedro Mancebo, another CLR councillor responsible for Tourism at the time. The €500,000 were not returned to Orihuela Costa in the 2012 budget and this was one of the main reasons for Bob Houliston’s resignation from the government.

Both motions were approved with abstentions from the government. Another motion urging the government to reclaim outstanding finances owed under the previous contract for Beach Bars was approved after a debate in which CLR repeated that the Councillor for the Coast, Martina Scheurer, had been taken to court by them over the award of the new beach Bar contract to the same company which had conspicuously failed to pay substantial amounts of money to the government as provided for in the previous contract.

The final motion on Orihuela Costa presented by CLR proposed the location of a heavy rubbish dump (Ecoparque) and garden waste treatment centre in Lomas de Cabo Roig off the road leading to Campoamor golf club. This motion was opposed by the government and C.L.A.R.O. Councillor Bob Houliston on the grounds that there was no supporting technical justification for the choice of this location. Bob Houliston recalled that he and Popular Party councillors had visited this proposed site some time ago and confirmed that there were strong objections to the location by those living nearby. Nonetheless, the Popular Party supported the CLR motion which was approved by their combined majority.

The 5th motion debated at the November full council meetings was prompted by a proposal by ex-CLR councillor Asuncion Mayoral that political parties should not include in their electoral lists next year councillors charged with corruption. The leader of the Orihuela Popular Party and six other PP councillors would have been affected by this proposal. To avoid this, CLR came to their rescue with a counter proposal which would have kicked the proposal into the long grass of central government consideration of legislation on the subject. The combined PP-CLR majority ensured that the original proposal was not debated or voted. But this issue is certainly not going to go away. It was revealed by a leading newspaper after the plenary meeting that the Orihuela Popular Party leader had disobeyed instructions of her party superiors in Valencia to vote for the original proposal. If so, she is in deep trouble!!

Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/45764/

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