FRIDAY 10TH AUGUST from 6:30pm, the local neighbourhood association of La Zenia are organising a major demonstration, aiming to highlight perceived imbalances between the the city of Orihuela and the coastal areas of Orihuela Costa.
The protest is being promoted by “Movimiento Ciudadano La Zenia – Asociación de Vecinos y Comerciantes”, literally translated as “The Citizen Movement of La Zenia – Association of Neighbours and Merchants”, the local association headed by the popular, if controversial, Félix Arenas.
The local group has received plenty of attention thanks in part to their effective use of social media, and Mr Arenas has not been shy in coming forward in the past to criticise the Town Hall, and has courted controversy over what he claims are a lack of public services in the Orihuela Costa area.
The protest is scheduled to begin at 6:30pm adjacent to Cala Bosque beach in La Zenia, and protesters will march inland via Avenida de la Playa, across the N-332 over the footbridge, and on to the incomplete and abandoned Emergency Services Centre, where participants intend to hold a short rally outside the enclosed project.
La Zenia residents protest: it´s time to stand up for Orihuela Costa
Félix Arenas is reported to have said that “the residents are increasingly outraged at the lack of basic services afforded by Orihuela to the coast where the budgetary allocation shows a total imbalance with the city”, and that “most of the participants who will be marching simply because they feel that the coast deserves a much better deal from the municipal authorities”.
The demonstration will be held under the mantra “It’s time to stand up for Orihuela Costa”, and the organisers are appealing to supporters to turn up in their hundreds with drums and other loud instruments so that their message might be heard in the city of Orihuela. Quite some feat considering the city lies some 36 km’s to the north west of La Zenia.
The protest aims to highlight the imbalance between the amount of local taxes raised on the Orihuela Costa, with a campaign poster claiming that the coastal area contributes eight times as much municipal income as the city, yet receives only a small proportion of the annual budget.
Flyers produced to support the event also cite failings in refuse collection services, a lack of maintenance in communal green spaces and parks, a request to eliminate toll charges on the AP-7 motorway, and an increase in the availability of public parking spaces – especially during the summer months where many parts of the Orihuela Costa exceed capacity.
Possibly one of the most contentious issues surrounds the completion of the Emergency Services Centre, which has stood abandoned since 2011 when the original builder filed for bankruptcy.
The closed site contains the structural skeleton of the main building shrouded by a curtain of rusting corrugated iron, and the uncompleted property has become a central icon of the perceived failings of the local administration.
Orihuela Costa Town Hall: reaching out to residents in the coastal communities
For their part, Orihuela Town Hall have been making concerted efforts this year to reach out to residents, with a series of promotions and events that aim to both entertain, and to bring together the many people of all nationalities that live here in an exceptionally inclusive manner.
The Council even went as far as organising an Irish Pub crawl in April this year, and sponsored events such as the SICTED gastronomic events in June, that sought to highlight the world class food on offer from some of the finest restaurants on the Orihuela Costa.
Mr Arenas has stated that all participants should protest entirely peacefully, and he hopes that the march will apply additional pressure on Orihuela’s Councillors prior to the forthcoming 2019 municipal elections.
The demonstration takes place this Friday, with participants urged to gather from 6:30pm at Avenida Del Marin immediately adjacent to La Zenia´s main beach.