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The joint PP and CLARO political groups, who hold the majority seats in the Orihuela council, although are still in opposition against the now bi-party coalition of the PSOE and Los Verdes, held a press conference this week in which they raised a numbe…



Lorente and Houliston

The joint PP and CLARO political groups, who hold the majority seats in the Orihuela council, although are still in opposition against the now bi-party coalition of the PSOE and Los Verdes, held a press conference this week in which they raised a number of questions affecting the legality of the lack of attendance of the council team to a committee set up to deal with matters of the Orihuela Costa.

Former mayor of Orihuela, Mónica Lorente, stated that the committees have been set up as part of the legal government process and the councillors who are ignoring their validity will have to face the legal consequences of their actions.

In a meeting immediately after, the serving, elected councillor for the coast, Martina Scheurer, gave her reasons to The Leader.

The first meeting of the committee for the coast, which is chaired by Pepa Ferrando of the PP, with Mónica Lorente and Bob Houliston as senior members, was held on the 19th or April, but Martina Scheurer, failed to attend. Martina states that she was away at a conference which would be of benefit to the municipality of Orihuela, as well as the coast. Martina also stated that she wrote a letter to the committee explaining how she thought most of the points they had raised were of little relevance, and would only delay the process of government.

There were a number of points which the PP and CLARO team sought confirmation on, including documentary evidence of investment between 2011 and 2013, but there is already a process in place that allows any councillor to obtain and view these documents, without the need for committee intervention, and as she only took office in February of 2013, she was not personally qualified to answer any questions relating to the activities of the previous councillors.

A request for information relating to “advisors” was also made, but again this was seen as irrelevant, as the current councillor for the coast only has one official advisor, and all documents relating to that appointment are also available for examination.

The ongoing criticism of accounting for the bus service that runs from the Orihuela Costa to the city was raised once again, with allegations that the accounting process is not being carried out correctly. As this matter has been dealt with on a number of occasions already, the councillor saw no benefit in repeating the answer.

Questions relating to the provision of lifeguards on the Orihuela Costa were also raised, especially given the previously reported news that the son of one of the councillors had already taken to Twitter to announce his employment with the contractor of last year, prior to the award being given for the service this year. However, although critical, Bob Houliston did agree that this could simply be “a coincidence”. The councillor denied any irregularities, as the contract followed all correct procedures and has been awarded to the only company who bid for the work, at a price that falls within budget, and a standard that meets the demands of the service provision.

A final, though concerning point raised by Mónica Lorente was the “policy of confrontation” with the regional government of Valencia. It was alleged that the attitude of the ruling council has caused animosity, which has a direct consequence on the Orihuela Costa, in preventing the provision of funds for completing the emergency coordination centre and the schools, drawing attention to the disagreement relating to the potential eviction of the Valencia Department of Justice form a municipal building, unless they pay the difference in value that their original building is worth, against the value of the one they now occupy. Although the councillor for the coast pointed out that she has a good working relationship with the coastal authorities under her own remit, as part of the government team, she accepted that there is an element of conflict, as the Valencia government already owe a massive debt to the people of Orihuela, and “if you represent the citizens, you cannot just let Valencia get away with it, it is our money that is being spent”. Continuing to explain that the only reason money hasn´t been provided for these outstanding projects is the fact that Valencia don´t have the money to invest.

As a conclusion, Martina Scheurer reemphasised that although an administrative role could collate all of the information that is being requested, each elected councillor has the right to find the information themselves. To assign a member of the town hall team to collate the documents would take at least 3 days for each point, days that the town hall staff are better utilised in serving the residents and visitors of the municipality, rather than being sent on a pointless paper chase.

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