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Local Daily News 22nd November

The lemon trees of the Vega Baja bloom in the middle of November... and that is not good

“It looks like spring, the lemon trees are in bloom. Climate change? Does anyone doubt it? Well, it’s called climate change,” José Vicente Andreu, president of the Young Farmers agrarian organisation, said it so clearly.

The orange blossom – and its aroma – is unfolding on the terraces of the traditional orchard and the Campo de Salinas de la Vega Baja, the main lemon-producing area in Spain, with 30% of the national volume and 40% of The Billing. It is doing it in the middle of autumn, and when the forecast is that the temperatures, and the west wind, are those that correspond to this time of year in Bajo Segura. And that’s not good.

Most lemon trees have two blooms. The first between March and June and the second between July and September. November is not the month. But the extremely high temperatures between June and September and the generous rains in October and November have confused the trees.

“This translates into rare harvests. Either super-harvests or loss of very important harvests,” explains José Vicente Andreu. “These flowers came out because the summer was very dry and hot. The plant goes into a standstill due to stress. And when mild temperatures and humidity arrive, the plant thinks it’s spring and flowers,” he explains.

“The bad thing is that this implies an energetic effort in nutrient consumption. If it comes cold as expected, those flowers die and the plant is exhausted. When spring arrives, it will not have the resources to flower well, and another year lost for the farmer” .

“And expensive lemons for the consumer. Climate change that upsets everything,” he reiterates.

Rafael Bernabé is an agricultural businessman from Campo de Salinas who is facing this blooming at the wrong time. And he takes it philosophically. “After this summer of high temperatures, now, after weeks, in the last few days, the ground temperature has dropped to what must be normal, between 17 and 18 degrees.” Bernabé believes that with the professionalisation of agricultural work, it has been time for the farmer to adapt to the climate and not the other way around.

In the Campo de Salinas and the traditional orchards, the most common lemon variety is the Fine Lemon or Primofiori, but the most singular and characteristic is the Verna. This last variety of tree is the one that has begun to flourish.

“If one is attentive, dedicating to it every day, with watering, pruning and assessing what to do with the fertilisers, one can still try to make the trees that have not done so now flower in spring and obtain a good harvest” , points out.

“Agriculture, the lemon, is still profitable if the necessary time and investment is dedicated to it. And above all if we manage to ensure that the EU does not import citrus that is not of good quality and brings everything from Turkey, Argentina, South Africa or Morocco. The lemon from Vega Baja can be in supermarkets at a good price for the consumer and the producer,” he stresses.

The regrowth of the leaves and early flowering -in many months- is not only affecting lemons. It is also happening in the vineyards of the natural park of the Laguna de La Mata and other vineyard areas in the province, especially those located on the coast and pre-coastal. It is by no means common, but it has happened other times.

“The flower will fall with the first cold weather. The problem is that the effort that the plant has to make to flower must be repeated in spring,” explains the producer of the unique wine from La Mata and winemaker Hilarión Pedauyé.

A footballer, among the six arrested in Mutxamel for selling stolen luxury cars in Morocco

The Civil Guard of Sant Joan d’Alacant has dismantled a criminal group in Mutxamel and Aigües dedicated to trafficking high-end cars that were stolen in countries such as Italy and Poland, and then sold in Morocco after re-registering them in Spain. In the operation, where the Civil Guard has had the close collaboration of the Mutxamel Local Police, three men and three women aged between 21 and 35 have been arrested in the Mutxamel municipality. One of the men arrested is a 30-year-old Moroccan soccer player who led an active social life and was allegedly in charge of making contacts to release vehicles of illegal origin, sources close to the case have confirmed. Agents have recovered two cars and are investigating the whereabouts of three others.

The investigation by the Civil Guard revealed that two of the alleged suspects lived in a luxury chalet in an urbanisation in Mutxamel, where they also had another home that they used exclusively to carry out criminal activity. These homes were rented and paid for both 2,500 euros per month. Another member of the group lived in Aigües in another rental house, for which he paid another 2,000 euros per month.

According to the Civil Guard, all members had a high standard of living. They drove high-end vehicles that changed frequently, wore couture garments, and wore expensive watches and jewellery, all despite the fact that neither is currently aware of any legal paid work activity.

Once the members of the group were identified, on October 28th a device was established to arrest them and they were arrested in Mutxamel when they were travelling in two cars, both stolen, one of them in Italy in June, and the other in Poland in October.

After the arrest, the Civil Guard requested judicial authorization to search the houses and there they seized numerous documents proving the connection of the gang with the traffic of stolen cars.

La Benemérita affirms that the leader of the group was a 35-year-old Moroccan who was in charge of buying and selling the vehicles, which he acquired knowing that they were stolen. The cars were stolen abroad, transferred to Spain to “cool” them, and once they were re-registered they were sold in Morocco. For this last phase, they had contacts allegedly established by a 30-year-old Moroccan soccer player who currently does not play for any team and who played in the Luxembourg league last year.

In addition to the two vehicles in which they were travelling at the time of the arrest, watches valued at 40,000 euros, a large quantity of top brand clothing and 90 grams of hashish have been seized.

The detainees went to court in San Vicente del Raspeig on October 30th and all were released with charges. The people arrested are three women aged 21, 22 and 23, of Spanish, Swiss and Moroccan nationalities, and three Moroccan men, two aged 30 and one aged 35. The Civil Guard accuses them of trafficking stolen cars, trafficking of drugs and belonging to a criminal organisation.

The two seized vehicles have been returned to their legitimate owners, in their countries of origin, with the collaboration of the Italian and Polish Police. The agents have been able to prove that the gang would have trafficked with at least three other high-end vehicles and the investigations are continuing to locate these missing cars.

The operation, which has been carried out by the Civil Guard of Sant Joan, has had the support of the Cynological Service specialised in the search for drugs and money of the Command of Alicante, the Local Police of Mutxamel and the Police of Italy and Poland.

The reform of the Paseo de la Libertad in Torrevieja is postponed until the end of 2023 and the City Council is now proposing to bury all traffic

The mayor of Torrevieja, Eduardo Dolón, has called a press conference this Monday under the announcement of the “urbanisation project of the Port and adjacent areas”. But the proposal is still far from being a project and is more a report from the municipal technicians where the priorities of the government team are expressed when it comes to carrying it out. What the governing board did validate last Friday is the tender for the drafting of the project.

From the appearance of the first mayor, two announcements must be highlighted: the main works, in an optimistic calculation, would not begin until the last stretch of 2023 and the project wants to contemplate the comprehensive burying of traffic along the entire stretch of the promenade Vista Alegre and the seafront. The latter is a very ambitious proposal that is expensive and extremely complex.

Only the drafting of the urbanisation project has been tendered for 1.7 million euros (VAT included). If the amount of a work can be estimated that the cost of preparing a project can represent 10% of its execution, the work to be undertaken on the promenade -in the event that the burying goes ahead- would far exceed 20 millions of euros.

The mayor, however, did not want to venture a figure. He has said that any data in this regard may fall short and could later be used as an argument to blame the initiative for cost overruns. But he has pointed out that it will easily exceed the ten million in which the work was encrypted to date.

Dolón, accompanied at the press conference by the councillors of his government team Rosario Martínez, Federico Alarcón, Antonio Vidal and Sandra Sánchez, has indicated that the comprehensive remodelling works of the Levante dam promenade would be underway throughout the the next year.

The objective of this megaproject of the maritime façade, as explained by Dolón, is the integration of the port area with the rest of the city and it must be presented before its execution before the general directorate of Ports of the Generalitat if the municipality wants to validate its request for the concession of the public domain for 50 years.

The drafting of the technical documentation is included in the framework agreement for the joint commission of Project and Works Management, with an estimated price of 1,700,539 euros (VAT included); and will have a maximum execution period of 5 months. That is to say, it will be tendered among a previous stock of companies with the aim of expediting procedures.

The idea put forward by the City Council is to replace the current Paseo de la Libertad, creating in its place a large multi-use esplanade from the current line of buildings on the promenade – TM headquarters, Bahía Restaurant – to the sea, where they will relocate the funfair and the hippie craft market, “with a totally renewed and modernised image.” In all this space, traffic will be suppressed, except for emergencies, neighbours and catering services.

Dolón assures that he is committed to the gain of pedestrian spaces in the surrounding streets. The idea is that Azorín, Chapaprieta, María Parodi, Rambla Juan Mateo, Heraclio, Ramón y Cajal, Pedro Lorca, Zoa and Apolo streets could become pedestrian or semi-pedestrian until reaching Ramón Gallud street.

In addition, it is intended to carry out the integration of Paseo Vista Alegre and the surroundings of the Eras de la Sal, constituting a global action of more than 90,000 square metres of surface.

The Alicante Hospital leads the delay to operate in the Valencian Community with 140 days of waiting

The Doctor Balmis Hospital in Alicante is the hospital in the Valencian Community that has the longest delay for surgical interventions in the entire Community, 140 days from when it enters the list to operate, ten more than Fe de València and eight more than the Provincial Hospital of Castellón. The one in Sant Joan is the fourth in this list because its patients wait an average of 128 days to enter the operating room.

The wait in the General de Alicante has been relieved by 13 days compared to September and less than five months; but it is well above the average structural delay of hospitals in the Valencian Community, which is 98 days. At the Dénia Hospital there are 109 days; 108 in Alcoy; 89 in the Hospital of Elche; 85 in Elda; 65 in Orihuela; 62 in Torrevieja; 60 in the Elx-Crevillent Health department and 55 in the Marina Baixa.

In addition, hospitals in the province are having a hard time absorbing the waiting lists, at least in terms of patients pending surgery, despite the measures that the Department of Health has put in place, such as interventions in the evening, through self-concert , with an increase of 25.22% and an investment of 20 million euros, both for diagnostic tests and for the surgical waiting list; the activation in the health departments of Delay Control Units; the diversion of patients to private healthcare or the scheduling of magnetic resonance imaging on holidays or weekends. Yes, the wait is going down in days, albeit slightly.

Alicante hospitals continue to have, according to October data, 24,675 people on the waiting list to undergo surgery or see a specialist, a figure that has not stopped growing in the last two years and is 25% above the numbers 2020, before the covid-19 pandemic was declared. The bar of around 25,000 was already in July, when there were 24,770 people waiting to undergo surgery in the ten public and privately managed hospitals in the province of Alicante, according to statistics from the Department of Health.

A figure that remains high despite the fact that last month the average delay in the Valencian Community has been shortened to 98 days, that is, ten days less than in September, according to the Ministry of Health data. By health departments, those that stand out with decreases of more than 20 days in waiting times compared to October of the previous year are Alcoy, with 69 fewer days; Elda, with 46; and Alicante-San Juan, a decrease of 34. The majority of patients waiting are held by Doctor Balmis in Alicante, with 5,217; 2,869 in Dénia; 2,570 in Alcoy; 1,566 at the Hospital de la Marina Baixa; 2,675 in Sant Joan; 2,604 in Elda; 2,423 in Elche; 1,733 in Orihuela; 1,367 in Torrevieja and 1,651 in the Hospital del Vinalopó.

In contrast to the data provided by the Ministry of Health, doctors consulted emphasise that the real delay in operating on pathologies related to General Surgery, Ophthalmology and Traumatology in the province of Alicante reaches up to a year and a half.

The doctors consider that, when it comes to talking about delays, they point out that the real “plug” is in the time that elapses between the patient’s first appointment with his family doctor, from when he reports an ailment to the anaesthetist’s tests prior to the intervention, data that the Ministry does not provide. That period can exceed six months and even more; and must be added to the waiting list itself for this type of surgery, which has the handicap of being considered non-urgent.

The specialties that account for the bulk of the waiting list continue to be Traumatology, General Surgery and Ophthalmology, which account for 73% of the patients on the waiting list in the province of Alicante. The biggest traffic jam occurs in Traumatology, with almost 7,000 people waiting for an intervention.

The Department of Health is scheduling magnetic resonance imaging on holidays or weekends in public hospitals in the province to try to alleviate the waiting lists that accumulate in some specialties and that, although they have dragged on for years, have been aggravated in recent times due to the pandemic. Among them, in Radiology, where different imaging tests are carried out to detect injuries and pathologies or for the diagnosis of tumours and which, in the case of MRIs, accumulate delays of up to six months in some departments.

Some of the hospitals are quoting patients between 8 in the morning and 8 in the afternoon, and even until 10 at night, are those of Alicante and Sant Joan.

Sources from the Ministry of Health explained that the organisation of these tests on weekends or holidays is the decision of each department, which can choose to schedule more MRIs or other types of tests if it has enough personnel to attend to the scheduled activity and that you can enter through the ER door.

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