Local Daily News 18th June
Experts criticise the lack of "ambition" in the redevelopment of the surroundings of the Esplanade for the transformation of the coastal façade of Alicante
Narrowing the four existing lanes and enabling two more pedestrian crossings on the Paseo de los Mártires de la Libertad, next to the Esplanade of Spain, is not a project in keeping with these times of urban transformation, according to authorised voices in Alicante when talking about the past, present and above all the future of the city. Many of these professionals, urban planners, engineers, architects and sociologists, consider that the Alicante City Council has been “conservative” at a time when cities are committed to sustainable mobility and to generating more and more spaces for pedestrians in search of increasingly friendly environments for the citizens.
Introduce a 1.5-meter-wide landscaped median, narrow the four traffic lanes (to 3.50 metres at the ends and 3.15 metres inside, in both directions) and generate more zebra crossings (two more for a total of five), in addition to the resurfacing of the road, are the main novelties included in the redevelopment project of the Paseo de los Mártires, in front of the Esplanade. An initiative, recently tendered at an emergency meeting of the Governing Board, which has an initial budget of 2.6 million euros and an execution period, once the contract is awarded, of eight months. It is one of the twelve projects that have a European subsidy as it is linked to the implementation of the low emissions zone in Alicante.
“There is no solution to this city. There are many years of lost opportunities,” says urban planner José Ramón Navarro Vera, who describes a project as “very little ambitious” that, he adds, “doesn’t solve anything.” “It is inexplicable that after so much time talking about what to do with the coastal façade, talking about burial and bridges, the solution proposed in the end is to narrow the lanes”, says Navarro Vera, for whom the only “logical” solution would have been bet “on leaving two traffic lanes and take advantage of the remaining space to create a platform for the TRAM and expand the space for pedestrians”. It seems paradoxical to the urban planner that the bipartisan approves such a conservative project days after presenting to great fanfare, in an act that was intended to be massive, the Alicante Urban Agenda, which must be aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.
Just as critical, or more so, is the architect Javier García-Solera, author of the redevelopment project for the port of Alicante, which is currently being carried out. “I don’t understand the City Council. It tries to change everything so that nothing changes. To open two pedestrian crossings it is not necessary to spend 2.6 million euros, 100,000 euros would be enough,” says García-Solera, who considers that this action “consolidates ” a city model on the coastline that will be difficult to reverse in a few years: “It would be embarrassing to do anything else after the planned investment now. If they want something very provisional, they would have opted for tactical urbanism,” he adds.
The architect, author of key projects for the city after four decades of profession, regrets that the government of the PP and Ciudadanos has been left with the least ambitious proposal of all those that a group of professionals put on the table after commissioning the City Council a project to transform the maritime façade of the city of Alicante. “Among the options that were proposed there were some that proposed almost the abolition of traffic in the area, others that defended that it was not yet the time and that they proposed leaving two lanes for cars and a shared platform with the port promenade, thus doubling the width of the promenade”, relates the architect from Alicante, who adds that there was a more “conservative” design: “A project with three lanes for vehicles, leaving the remaining space for pedestrians, gaining four metres for people. That third traffic lane could even be closed on special days.
This last proposal, according to García-Solera, was a “compromise solution with traffic and with the future”. However, he continues, “the City Council has opted for the least ambitious idea, the most conservative, which is useless”. In reality, he adds, “2.6 million are invested to consolidate what there is”, which, in his opinion, also clashes squarely with the Urban Agenda promoted by the Alicante municipal government and with the words of the mayor, Luis Barcala: “What does a friendly city with more space for pedestrians want? Words and deeds are not on the same line.” García-Solera regrets that the voice of the municipal traffic technicians, in order not to leave the comfort zone, has been imposed on the initial position of the government, “where at certain levels they liked more ambitious projects, as also happened in the Port”.
Nor does the sociologist Carlos Gómez Gil share the City Council’s lack of ambition, who laments that “for a long time, very important interventions have been carried out in Alicante on relevant spaces in isolation and without interconnection with the rest of the city, without dialogue and without a global strategic project for the future”. For the professor at the University of Alicante, “the relevance of Mártires de la Libertad, in the city as a whole, is of such a calibre that promoting isolated punctual actions without understanding the need to break with the spatial and social segmentation that Alicante suffers would amplify other problems of mobility, cohesion or uses and enjoyment of the city”. For Gómez Gil, “the actions that are carried out have to be in dialogue with the rest of the city and in close connection with the port and the coast.”
And it is that, according to the professor, “it is not only mobility that must be taken into account in this relevant space, it is the social importance that it has in an Esplanade as an intergenerational space for coexistence par excellence in Alicante to which people go to walk, enjoy and live together, but with a busy road axis that splits that space in two and that at its ends has an unfinished southern access and a scalextric that are decrepit plugs sunk in abandonment”. Gómez Gil reproaches the City Council that when the city has recovered from the “shock” of covid “everything still needs to be done”, compared to what happened in other places. “We have lost the two years of the pandemic in which the City Council has done nothing, while other municipalities have taken advantage of that time to move towards modern cities on a more human scale, respond to climate change and make them more comfortable, here we have wasted time”, defends Gómez Gil.
More moderate in the immediate criticism is the engineer Armando Ortuño for whom the action proposed by the City Council on the surroundings of the Esplanade “goes in the right direction” because by narrowing the width of the lanes “the capacity of the road is reduced” , especially if the traffic light phases (the green of the traffic lights) are generous for pedestrians (with a minimum of 40-50 seconds), although, yes, it stresses that the “city must aspire to reduce lanes” in search of the objective end of “completely pedestrianising the coastal façade”.
For that milestone, Professor Ortuño admits, the Vía Parque must be completed, which is still halfway done despite being projected decades ago, pending the expropriation of the City Council so that the Generalitat executes it, although the route to connect the road to its south end, having to approach its route in the surroundings of the Sierra del Porquet, a protected area.
Finally, from the Platform for Sustainable Mobility, Iñaki Malluguiza laments the “provisionality” of another action in the city. “It is money that, given what is going to be done, it is not necessary to invest. To calm traffic, it is not necessary to spend 2.6 million euros, it would be enough to change the traffic light phase,” they add from the entity, where they bet on the “reduction of lanes, always promoting public transport in order to make it easier to take the car less”. Malluguiza points out that it is complex to bet on transformative interventions in the city when, as experts point out, there is a “conflict between departments” with a municipal Traffic area that “demonstrates that it is in favour of the car.”
The Torrevieja City Council will spend one million euros in three months on contracts for covid "controllers" on walks and beaches
When finding a citizen with a mask on a promenade or beach in Torrevieja has become an exercise in visual acuity, the City Council has launched, once again, the provision of the ordering and control service for access to beaches and promenades in Torrevieja “due to the sanitary measures derived from covid-19”.
The young people hired for this purpose began on Wednesday to walk along the coastline without a clear mission. The contract extended from the previous season with the Broccoli service company is going to cost the City Council one million euros for three months of service – until September 15th.
In this case, the means – the hiring of personnel – has become the very end of the service. The municipal technicians have had to modify the contract to withdraw from the service the personnel who were going to be in charge of the division of the beaches and the control of their access – a total of 17 fewer workers. A modification that will hardly mean a saving of 131,000 euros on the initially planned budget: the disbursement will be 1,094,000 euros compared to the 1,225,526.93 initially set by dispensing with 17 jobs.
The task of the groups of workers “will be to prevent unnecessary crowds, inform and advise preventive measures and responsible attitudes to the users of the beaches and sandbanks, especially those who are particularly vulnerable.” This is on beaches full of the public, in which the City Council itself has avoided covid measures, and walks in which the occupation of public roads by uncontrolled terraces and street vending without a licence leave a minimum margin to avoid “crowds”.
The hoteliers insist on their unanimous rejection of the tourist tax and ask to withdraw the Botànic bill
“Not to the tax” was the most repeated phrase in the annual meeting of the Hosbec hotel management where the businessmen of the sector showed a unanimous rejection of this tax and where the withdrawal of the bill to implement it in the Valencian Community was requested. The sector considers that this measure “misfits” in the current economic scenario and that it would mean one more stick in the wheels of the sector after two years of pandemic.
The entity has brought together more than 250 businessmen and tourism managers at the Meliá Villaitana hotel in Benidorm to celebrate this annual assembly that has dominated the first part of the day. Thus, after this meeting, guests and authorities joined the act, including the regional secretary of Tourism, Francesc Colomer; the president of the Diputación de Alicante, Carlos Mazón or the mayor of Benidorm, Toni Pérez; as well as part of the municipal corporation of the tourist capital or the vice mayor of Alicante, Mª Carmen Sánchez.
The hotel management has once again been very vindictive as it does in each assembly, above all, before the political representatives who attend this tourist event. This year, the main issue has been that unanimous rejection of the tourist tax. In fact, the posters rejecting it have been seen throughout the room and the attendees have each raised theirs at one point in the act to show their position. Among them, Colomer himself and also the general director of Turisme, Herick Campos.
Hosbec’s general secretary, Nuria Montes, was in charge of putting that “No to the rate” on the table and, immediately afterwards, it was the entity’s vice president, Federico Fuster, who read the manifesto that has been created to reject this tax that the Botànic government wants to implement, although the hoteliers made an assessment: “It does not come from the Valencian Government. It does not come from a consensual tourism and tax policy, but rather from a night transaction between 3 deputies from 3 parties who intend to mortgage the future of the Community’s economic engine.. However, the withdrawal of the bill that intends to implement the tourist tax in the Valencian Community has been strongly requested.
The manifesto has marked point by point the reasons for the hotel sector to reject it. First, because they consider that the fiscal pressure in the Community is the second highest in all of Spain and “this additional punishment is unnecessary and unfeasible.” The employers’ association ensures that “we will always bet on better management of spending, greater efficiency of services and better regional financing. At that point any Government of the Valencian Community will have us by their side”.
Thus they stressed that “it is not a municipal and voluntary tax” but “autonomous that will be collected in all municipalities and in all companies.” However, they stressed that “in 2019, the taxes collected by the Community linked to tourist activity totaled almost 3,900 million euros, nothing more and nothing less than 15.3% of the total taxes collected”.
The entity considers that this “proposal is out of place in the economic scenario as unfavourable as the one we currently find ourselves in.” And that it is an “economic drain on consumers, harshly punished by inflation, and therefore irresponsible and reckless.” Because they consider that “14 euros per person and trip does not discourage hiring” which is a “little verified assumption and without any type of economic study”.
To finish, Fuster gave a piece of information: “only 44% of tourists and 23% of overnight stays in the Community are made in accommodation that would pay this tax” which makes “manifestly clear that the proposed law does not want to ensure tourism as a phenomenon, but to severely punish a certain business model, precisely the one that creates the most value, the one that contributes the most and the one that maintains and creates the most jobs”.
In the same line of demands, the president of the employers’ association spoke with his traditional speech. After two years of pandemic, the tourism sector is immersed in economic reconstruction “not without difficulties”. Among them, an inflation “so great and so unpredictable” as the one that is “hitting” and that “our generation has not known before,” said Toni Mayor. The president of the entity recalled how “during the two years of tourist paralysis due to covid, we have heard how some politicians, economists and pundits were dedicated to predicting that tourism had to be changed for industry” but now, a few months later, “it is tourism the one that returns to pull the car of the economy and it is the industry that is going through very complicated times”.
Mayor put on the table the courage of many entrepreneurs who are still at the bottom of the canyon despite the moments lived and who continue “investing tens of millions of euros in transforming products” while the tangle of bureaucracy and lack of definition is depriving us of the manna of European Funds”.
The underfunding and lack of investment by the State in the Valencian Community “is a joke that is not even compensated with strategic connection infrastructures such as the expansion of the Alicante bypass and a solution to the collapse that is coming with a liberalised AP7 that increasingly supports more traffic and that is already a major bottleneck for mobility”. And regarding the stoppage of the Tren de la Costa to prioritise a tram that connects Denia with Gandía “is not a presentable option” for tourism entrepreneurs.
Mayor had time to review history and referred to the Centenary of Pedro Zaragoza to remember “that spirit that made us be at the forefront of Europe. Free height, innovative design, groundbreaking architecture, are the values that have made us different and that they have to continue to be the ones who guide us to the Benidorm of the future” also claiming the completion of the works of the Benidorm Cultural Center “for whoever is doing business precisely with the assets of Benidorm”.
For Hosbec, “businessmen have to continue to be actively involved in the fight against climate change”, although the Government and the Electric Companies have borne most of the “weight of the increase in the cost of energy in companies and the policy of combating fossil fuels and demanding aggressive and rapid decarbonization has generated a significant imbalance”. Europe “has no choice but to undertake a revolution so as not to depend on energy or other strategic matters from regimes such as Russia or China and must accelerate the ecological transition by investing in nuclear power plants and in the supply of gas and clean renewable energy”.
And among so many claims, one that has been a worrying issue for weeks, Imserso: “The marginalisation of the Government of Spain not seeing the opportunity that was opening up for the entire sector with a program of vacations for the elderly that, reformulated and modernised, would have given an important boost to next winter”.
After a speech that is usually customary of the president of Hosbec, his intervention ended with the announcement that he will leave office next fall after 14 years as president of the hotel entity.
The Local Police of Callosa locates 5 people in an irregular situation and issues several complaints
The Local Police of Callosa de Segura has located five people in an irregular situation and filed several complaints after a police operation deployed this past Wednesday with four patrols commanded by two recently appointed officers, located in different parts of the municipality.
The operation focused both on traffic control within the urban area, as well as on the inspection of public establishments. Special attention was paid to the circumstances associated with the identification of people in relation to possible violations of the Immigration Law or the Organic Law on Citizen Security.
Mayor Manuel Martínez Sirvent has indicated that “it has been an operation of more than 4 hours of our Local Police in different parts of the city and focused on various aspects such as the immigration law or the possession of narcotics. In these 3 years we have opted to increase security measures in Callosa with more agents and more resources. And so we are going to continue, working to preserve the safety of Callosinos, because we understand that it is a highly demanded need in our municipality.”
In the inspections of public establishments, this time bars and cafes, they produced five reports of complaints. The competent Ministry has been informed so that, based on these complaints, they initiate the corresponding disciplinary proceedings.
During the inspections, multiple identifications were carried out that have led to complaints of violations of the Immigration Law, by locating five people who are allegedly in an irregular situation in Spanish territory. Likewise, there has been the intervention of narcotic substances that have been denounced before the Subdelegation of the Government for its corresponding sanction.
“The continuity of these actions is key in the policy carried out by this government team. We are going to continue on the path of increasing security measures for the well-being of all calluses”, says the Councillor for Police, Rocío Cuadrado.
In relation to traffic, three checkpoints were established: two at the entrances to Callosa de Segura from the ring road (Avenida Víctimas del Terrorismo) and from Redován (Glorieta de la Noria); the third was held in the centre of the city, on the Paseo de la Estación. The results that these actions have yielded are specified in 25 JPT complaints; 5 municipal traffic complaints in which the ones extended to scooter drivers who circulated on the sidewalks stand out; and a vehicle withdrawn when circulating lacking compulsory automobile insurance.