Over 120 people turned out on Saturday, 12 December to protest the non-completion of the Emergency Services Centre in Orihuela Costa. The rally took place in front of the skeleton of the building where the foundation stone was laid in 2010 and the partly completed building has stood for years as a symbol of the neglect and abandonment of Orihuela Costa.
C.L.A.R.O. took the initiative to organise this protest inviting other political parties and representatives of associations and social groups. Many attended, including the Councillor for Coordination of Orihuela Costa. Several spoke at the rally. The intention was to hold a broadly based protest to express anger at the delay in securing essential emergency services in Orihuela Costa, an area with a resident population greater than Orihuela city, which increases from some 35,000 to over 200,000 in the summer months and to which must be added the presence daily of thousands of visitors to the La Zenia Boulevard Commercial Centre.
We all need the sure and reliable essential services of police, fire and ambulance which, in a heavily populated area, can only be organised adequately if locally based. The protesters were told of several regrettable recent instances where ambulances have either not arrived at all or after delays of 40 minutes. The consequences of these delays have been traumatic for those involved and even fatal. Ambulances can come from as far away as Orihuela – 45 minutes by road. In principle, there should be an ambulance stationed in Cabo Roig but it is very often not there and the night service was withdrawn years ago. The fire brigade serving Orihuela Costa is based in Torrevieja and it too is subject to delays since the fire crews are not familiar with the sprawling geography of ever expanding Orihuela Costaand cannot find their destination. Disgracefully, there is no 24 hours local police station in Orhuela Costa and after 3 p.m. when the Playa Flamenca office of the Town Hall closes its doors, the police service is provided by a patrol car with a mobile telephone number. Moreover, as C.L.AR.O. President Paul Piccio underlined, if the ratio of local police to population was respected in Orihuela Costa the number of local police should be doubled in number. The local police do a good job in Orihuela Costa but they are undermanned.
The large turnout vindicated C.L.A.R.O’s decision to organise this protest. The facts about Orihuela Costa’s deficient essential emergency services, and in particular the spate of recent examples of ambulances arriving late or not at all, are causing increasing concern. It is shameful that 5 years after laying the foundation stone of a modern integrated emergency services centre which would include a 24 hour local police station, a national police presence, an ambulance service, a fire service, the Red Cross and Neighbourhood Watch, work on completion of the building has been paralysed. Political differences between Orihuela and the regional government in Valencia, which has provided the budget for the Centre and is in charge of the project, are largely to blame. But the fact that these political differences should have resulted in such a huge delay in providing essential services shows how little Orihuela Costa counts in the minds of the relevant authorities. Until Orihuela Costa raises its political voice, this neglect will continue.
To conclude the rally, the largest seen for many years in Orihuela Costa, C.L.A.R.O’s President Paul Piccio, voiced the outrage felt at this shameful neglect and demanded that the Mayor of Orihuela make urgent representations to Valencia to ensure that the project is put out to tender again AND COMPLETED URGENTLY.