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Torrevieja Mayor Springs Into Cleaning Contract Action

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Following last week’s revelations by the opposition parties in Torrevieja about the state of contractual compliance of the waste disposal contract, documenting what the residents who have to put up with the appalling service already know, in the middle of this week spokesperson Bárbara Soler of the PSOE invited everyone to the town hall on Friday to observe a meeting where the matter would formally be discussed, the contract analysed, and the failure reports scrutinised.

The result of that meeting call, and the public pressure on the town hall, is that after just 14 months of audit-proven poor performance, the mayor of Torrevieja, Eduardo Dolón, has sprung into action, and will do what he has always had the power to do, financially penalise the contractor, Acciona, to the tune of almost a million euro.

On Thursday, the day before the planned PSOE-led meeting, Dolón signed the resolution that will apply a reduction of 548,000 euro in the billing submitted to the town hall by Acciona for the month of July, for the contract that commenced in June 2022 and swallows up a quarter of the entire municipal budget, representing a 27% reduction on the monthly cost established by the contract, which amounts to 2,030,000 euro, and so the company will now only receive 1,482,283 euro, the value of the work the town hall believes has been carried out. Of course, the service has been deficient since day 1, and although a penalty is appropriate, it still means the company has provided an inferior service for the full monthly fee for 13 months, other than an additional penalty for subsequent deficiencies of 319,000 euro.

The measure is adopted based on the conclusions of the external service quality control audit carried out by the Quipons company, as initially highlighted by Soler, which Dolón already had access to, and the criteria of the municipal technicians themselves, who have also carried out their own inspection in which they have detected up to 50 breaches of the specifications.

It should be noted that although this current contract was negotiated into being last year, the operator, Acciona, have been running the service for around two decades, and has been to court a number of times to fight discrepancies in billing, and mostly won, and their appearance in court is most likely once again as they have the right to appeal the fine, first with the town hall itself, and then the administrative courts, although on this occasion there is considerable evidence of their failings reported by the independent auditors.

In addition to the failings in basic services, such as the collection of garden waste, paper and cardboard, amongst many others, Acciona also fails to comply with 16 of the 34 improvements that it proposed in its specifications and that conditioned the award in its favour in the tender -365 million euro for fifteen years-, improvements that are not being carried out.

Aside from the material provisions needed to satisfy the contract, Acciona have also failed to provide sufficient staffing, as the report points out the lack of minimum staff in high season – especially in Urban Cleaning where 193 of the 228 planned operators work – as a “fundamental cause of non-compliance with the service.”

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