Local Daily News 24th January

Torrevieja: the work of the San Luis park begins with an investment of 4.2 million

The heavy machinery has begun this Monday the work of clearing the land that will house the San Luis park. A large green and sports area of 44,000 square metres in the heart of the San Luis-El Chaparral macro-urbanization, very close to Limonar and Las Torretas, in which the Torrevieja City Council is going to invest 4.2 million euros. The plot is nestled between Matisse, Granados and Guridi streets. The remodelling of the park began at the beginning of 2015 but had to be stopped months later due to problems with the procurement of materials.

Mayor Eduardo Dolón (PP) did not want to commit to an answer when it came to anticipating a completion date, although he assured that the winning bidder had already lowered the expected term of 20 months that appears in the project with his offer. He has indicated that this period can be reduced by half and even that the ideal is that it could be finished throughout the next summer, although he has insisted that it is something that he cannot guarantee.

The park will have a pump truck for the practice of skate-skateboarding and BMX biking at children and intermediate level, as well as a professional track in its main access area from Guridi street that connects with the CV-905 roundabout. In turn, three paddle tennis courts, bio-healthy areas, petanque, indoor soccer, basketball, soccer, hockey, children’s games, agility area -for small and large dogs- and callisthenics will be installed. The project also includes a large central garden area that divides the park with two circular squares and skating circuits. This new leisure space will have a perimeter fence along its entire length.

A new additional road will be built that the General Plan provided in the area to close the plot and that the developer did not execute in the eighties either. It will generate new parking spaces and will be the extension of Ravel street.

In an act of full pre-election atmosphere, this Monday the government team of the PP has summoned more than fifty neighbours so that the person in charge of the Urdecón contract, Enrique Fernández, and the editor of the project Eva Fernández, could give an account of the characteristics from the park in a public meeting with a PA system, a methacrylate lectern and a large explanatory poster.

The green area should have been built more than 35 years ago by the residential development company, which sold the houses and left without the local administration demanding anything more.

Urdecón, specialising in public and industrial works, has won the contract with a discount on the bidding price of 463,000 euros in the public tender procedure by framework agreement promoted by the local administration. It is an experienced company founded in 1979 and whose reference actions are, for example, the emergency work that plugged the break in the Segura riverbed in Almoradí in September 2019 by DANA.

The project company Xuquer Arquitectura e Ingenieria, when asked about INFORMATION, clarified that the large carob and olive trees -remnants of the dry land farms of yesteryear in this area- that are currently located on the future pump track, will be transplanted to relocate them in other landscaped areas of the park, where picnic areas will also be set up. He affirmed that “they have taken it into account” when identifying each of the specimens to carry out a topographic study from the first moment in which the initiative began to be written.

The Ministry of Health manages to reduce the surgical waiting list by a thousand patients due to referral to the private sector

The referral of patients for surgery to private clinics arranged with Health has managed to absorb in a month just over a thousand patients from the province who were waiting for an intervention. Even so, there are still 23,773 Alicante residents who are pending surgery, 35% of the existing delay in the Valencian Community, according to official data on waiting lists from the Generalitat Valenciana corresponding to December 2022.

Of those who have not yet left that list, one in four has been waiting for their intervention for more than six months, specifically 6,097. The autoncierto, that is, the operations in the afternoons are also helping to reduce those waiting lists.

The reactivation of the Shock Plan, that is, the sending of a greater number of people pending surgery to a private clinic, is one of the measures approved by the Department of Health to reduce the lengthy waiting lists. Health has increased the budget for interventions in collaborating centres in 2023 to 22 million, compared to 15 million euros in 2022.

The diversion of patients to the private sector has grown by 30% in the province of Alicante, which would explain this decrease in the waiting list in the province at a time when, at the Community level, it has, however, grown by another 6,000 patients. By specialties, Traumatology, General Surgery and Ophthalmology account for seven out of ten pending interventions in the province (74%) while the pathologies with the longest delay are knee and hip operations, with up to 15 months waiting to have a prosthesis placed in the Hospitals of Alicante, Elche and Alcoy.

Gibraltar in Brexit limbo as EU border negotiation enters third year

Alberto Valdivia’s work WhatsApp group was ablaze on the evening of 14 December. The working day had ended hours previously, but he and his colleagues were still online, closely following a press conference in Madrid held by Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs José Manuel Albares and his UK counterpart, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs James Cleverly. Their livelihoods depended on it: of the nine employees of the Gibraltar-based shipping company Incargo, five are Spanish nationals who cross the border every day. “We follow every Brexit development and this time it seemed that, at last, they were going to say something about the treaty on Gibraltar’s relations with the EU,” says Valdivia, a 33-year-old accountant from Algeciras. But soon disappointment soon set in. “After a while, we were all commenting that they weren’t saying anything new. We were left waiting, and we are still waiting.”

Spain and the United Kingdom have been negotiating the agreement that will govern the EU’s relations with Gibraltar following Brexit ever since a pre-agreement was reached on December 31, 2020. The talks have no clear timeframe but adding to the uncertainty are Spanish and Gibraltarian elections in 2023.

The Spain-Gibraltar border is crossed every day by 15,000 workers, 11,000 of whom are Spanish, according to figures from the Cross Frontier Group, an organisation made up of businesses and trade unions. For months, the daily migration has been carried out peacefully and with fluidity. But Valdivia knows what it is like to find himself in lines of vehicles waiting half an hour or 45 minutes to cross over, at the whim of any conflict, be it as worldly as a strike or as ethereal as a diplomatic misunderstanding. He also knows that if no agreement is reached and Gibraltar becomes a hard border with the EU, his livelihood will hang by a thread. “We’re trying to be optimistic, but it’s worrying. We don’t even know what they are negotiating now. Everything is up in the air, even my job. And that’s despite the fact that Gibraltarians and Spaniards are mutually dependent on each other,” he says.

Speaking after the meeting in Madrid, Cleverly said “significant progress” had been made but alluded to points that still needed to be ironed out over the text and implementation of the treaty. Since then, silence has reigned. “There are constant conversations,” a source close to the UK side of the table said. Gibraltar’s First Minister Fabian Picardo said during his New Year speech that what is being debated is primarily agreements on immigration and the movement of goods. The former issue was addressed in the New Year’s Eve agreement-in-principle, whereby “maximised and unrestricted mobility of persons between Gibraltar and the Schengen area” will be conditioned by the presence of Spanish and Gibraltarian police at entry points and overseen by Frontex, the European Union’s border and coast guard agency, for a period of four years.

How and where that presence will materialise without clouding the opposing stances of Spain and the United Kingdom on sovereignty have been the focus of negotiations since then. While the UK narrowly voted in favour of Brexit, 95.91% of Gibraltarians supported remaining in the EU. Now, residents of the Rock have gone through all the psychological phases of a duel: from initial shock to acceptance and learning. The New Year’s Eve 2020 agreement provided a measure of relief. But two years later, with no definitive treaty in sight, Gibraltar remains at an impasse. “It’s a pain, but we’re used to it,” says Salomon Massias, who together with his brother Daniel owns four franchised Eroski supermarkets in Gibraltar.

Although Gibraltar has managed to avoid the consequences of a hard Brexit, departure from the EU has been felt in details such as the impossibility of importing food products by land from the UK, as there is no Border Inspection Point (BIP) in La Línea on the Spanish side to check goods after their transit through EU territory. The only solution is for these checks to be carried out at the BIP in the nearby Spanish port city of Algeciras and then transported to Gibraltar by sea. “Now we are bringing in fewer of these products, but culturally we need our tea and our English biscuits. We can only receive goods every two weeks. You put in an order and it takes 20 days to arrive, so the shelf life has to be longer. Plus, prices have gone up,” says Massias.

Gibraltarians, however, view such issues as a lesser evil that the prospect of a hard border with Spain. As such there are those who choose to resort to pure pragmatism, such as Marlene Hassan-Nahon, a member of the Gibraltar Parliament and leader of the progressive party Together Gibraltar: “Having a new infrastructure to be part of a Europe that will bring us prosperity will not destroy our identity,” she says. Picardo spoke in a similar vein in his televised speech: “An agreement might initially be uncomfortable in some areas. Just like signing up to membership of the EU might initially have felt uncomfortable in 1972. But ‘no deal’ will also be very uncomfortable.”

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