Local Daily News 28th October

The experts of the Consell in covid-19 admit that the risk of infection in Benidorm is unreal

After admitting that the real incidence in municipalities with a high percentage of floating population (tourists), the figures may end up distorted compared to reality. It is, for example, the case of Benidorm, where if instead of the census population (68,000 residents) the rest of the people who live in the city right now (180,000) were also considered, the incidence of covid would fall by half, according to the experts, as argued by the City Council and the hoteliers. Complaints from the tourism sector have not fallen on deaf ears and the Ministry of Health is already working on changing the system for calculating the incidence of covid.

Experts have noted the rebound in infections, but it is expected to be controlled with the advancement of vaccination and booster doses. Although the situation of a tourist area such as Benidorm is of concern, according to the same sources, they are aware that taking into account that the floating population of Benidorm is much higher than the real one, the real incidence levels are also lower.

The increase in covid cases in Benidorm and the controversy surrounding the method used by the Ministry of Health to calculate the incidence of covid in the population has come at the worst moment, just when the tourism sector is preparing to experience a holiday weekend that had started with an expected turnover of 20 million euros between tomorrow, Friday and Monday, and that this Wednesday began to collapse after having produced 15% of cancellations in just 48 hours in the more than 50,000 places on offer on the Coast Blanca, and 30,000 in Benidorm.

Cancellations of national tourism (the British market holds up because the news that has spread through Spain has not reached the United Kingdom), which will already take three million euros in turnover and, in addition, no one can assure that the economic losses will stop there, according to Hosbec sources. Cancellations are concentrated among potential Spanish tourists, who arrive from Madrid, the Basque Country, Aragon and, above all, local visitors, from the Valencian Community itself, who represent 60% of total national tourism. A group also very affected by their sensitivity to everything that surrounds the pandemic is the elderly who, in the absence of the Imserso, arrive from all over Spain to places like Benidorm.

“We had worked hard due to the ineffectiveness of the Government to organize the Imserso program and now we find this obstacle, just at the worst moment, when we were beginning to get out of the hole in which the covid put us,” underlines Nuria Montes, Secretary General of Hosbec. Hoteliers lament the “unjustified” image of insecurity that is cast on the tourism sector, which “has done its homework. The message is negative for hotels. Nobody remembers that in March 2020 we were the first to close out of  responsibility right when we were full, and since then there have hardly been any cases in the hotels,” asserts Montes.

For his part, the regional secretary for Tourism, Francesc Colomer, again called for “tranquility and prudence” in the face of the news about the increase in infections detected in Benidorm, and launched a message of support to the municipality “for its excellent capacity to do things well and for having protocolized visitor safety better than anyone else”. In his opinion, “Benidorm is a destination that, in the conception of hospitality, in its version most adapted to the covid world, has been exemplary, above all for the actions of its employers.” Colomer emphasizes that “the city has historically experienced great dysfunction when interpreting the data”, so “if we make a metric from the point of view of the census population, you stop noticing other more elastic characteristics of demography.”

Lawsuit against the Alcoy nursing home in which 74 people died

Relatives of clients of the nursing home managed by DomusVi in Alcoy have filed a lawsuit before the city’s Court of First Instance to claim civil liability from Quavitae Servicio Asistenciales, the parent company that manages Domus Vi, and the company Mapfre Spain, as its insurance company. Those affected denounce the “mismanagement” of the coronavirus outbreak that affected the nursing home and claimed the lives of 74 people between March and May 2020, as well as lament the “helplessness” of public administrations.

The nightmare for residents and their families began on the 8th of March, 2020, when the first infections were detected in the center. A situation of anguish, pain, helplessness and anger that, they say, was accentuated by the lack of information from the management company and the “institutional helplessness.” The nursing home didn’t have enough resources to deal with a pandemic, especially considering that a few months earlier the families had already reported “serious staff shortages”. Families are left with many questions, such as how long did it take from the first case to be reported to the Health department, why those affected were not transferred to the hospital, why sedations were applied without the necessary authorization, or under what criteria some users were treated by the Home Hospitalization Unit (UHD) and others by the center’s health personnel  – JUST some of the questions that remain unanswered 18 months later.

The lawyer José Guillem detailed this Wednesday that the lawsuit was presented in the Alcoy court on the 14th of October on behalf of 18 victims – 15 deceased and 3 injured – and insisted that they have not had “any collaboration from the public administration” and that the repercussion before the Prosecutor’s Office has been “limited”. The lawyer explained that “it has cost us a lot to substantiate the claim”, precisely because of the lack of information.

The president of the Association of Affected Relatives in the DomusVi Residences of Alcoy and Cocentaina (AFADOMUS), José Luis García, recalls that 52% of users died in this residence, “one of the highest percentages in all of Spain and possibly in all of Europe”. “We trust that the lawsuit can clarify what happened, why and who is responsible,” he insisted.

The entity presented a document a few months ago to the City Council in which they detail the events in chronological order and in which they narrate such serious events as that “in a significant number of the clinical reports – provided by the hospital to the families – the word ‘malnutrition’ appeared”, that after so long in isolation there were people who suffered cognitive deterioration and even psychotic episodes or that people with a high degree of dependence did not move with the necessary diligence and some “presented pressure ulcerations and in one of the cases, a limb was amputated”.

These events, along with other situations, “lead us to the certainty that our elders were not cared for as they deserved and that their rights as persons were violated and surely continue to be violated.”

The group also assures that the center continues to have an “insufficient” staff and that, after the intervention by the Ministry, it had difficulties to find professionals and shifts of up to 12 hours were organized.

Sacyr accuses the Torrevieja City Council of "entangling and altering" the waste collection contract

Valoriza (Sacyr) accuses the Torrevieja City Council of causing an “unjustified” delay in the award of the waste collection and street cleaning contract “which we fear does not obey the protection of public interests.” The multinational indicates “the particular interest of someone who does not like the possible result of the tender and intends to abort it at all costs.” This is what the company denounces to the Central Administrative Court of Contractual Resources (TACRC) to demand that the City Council execute a resolution of that same court last March in which the municipality was ordered to recover the procedure that it had annulled in December 2020 and opening the envelope with the economic tenders, assessing and awarding the contract, valued at 424 million euros for a period of 15 years.

Sacyr’s legal representatives assure that the City Council “must give the appropriate explanations to the Court” about “the reasons that have led it to entangle, delay and alter” the development of the tender. For the company, the local administration “does not seem satisfied” with the TACRC resolution and “is turning the tender around and around in a spiral of nonsense”, aimed “not to continue with the tender” or to “direct it to a specific winner since, although they seem erratic steps, what is really being tried is to modify and alter the technical evaluation of the offers”.

Mayor Eduardo Dolón (PP) did not want to assess these accusations and has expressed on other occasions in relation to this procedure his “respect” for the right of companies to appeal. A source recalls that the opening of envelopes with technical bonds was made in June 2020 and the report with the assessment of the five offers from large companies in the sector happened in September of that year, by the technician service supervisor. Although it was not raised to the analysis of the contracting table, its result did leak through: the Unión Temporal de Empresas Valoriza (Sacyr-STV) with 35 points appeared in first place, followed by Acciona (which now provides the service without a contract) with 34.74, FCC-OHL with 33.72, and Urbaser with 32 points. In fifth place is Actúa-3R with 31.52 points. For the company “it was public and notorious – within the City Council – the content of that evaluation report and, therefore, it was known which bidder would obtain the highest score.”

From the moment in which the result was known that puts Valoriza at the head of the scale – in the absence of the economic escrow – the entire procedure has been paralyzed through different decisions of the government team. The first was the proposal to create a mixed garbage collection management company and desist from awarding the contract after setting up a company. When last March the TACRC agreed with Valoriza in a first appeal and decided that the City Council should continue with the tender that it had suspended (with three legal reports against), it appointed a committee of experts at the beginning of August so that, again, they will assess the technical issues at the hiring table. Committee of experts that did not appear in the tender and that the contracting table has transformed into a group of “experts”. Two of them, interim technicians, appealed their appointment claiming that they do not have competence in the matter.

The neighbors of Alicante denounce the City Council in the Prosecutor's Office for "ignoring" the noise sentence

The Association of Neighbors of the Traditional Center yesterday registered a complaint in the Public Prosecutor’s Office against the Alicante City Council for ignoring “fraudulently” the court order that forces the local administration to establish noise limitations in Castaños and in another ten streets in the center. In the letter, the litigant group requests that, after almost two years of delay, the judgment of the Contentious Administrative Court that declared a part of the traditional center in which some 80 entertainment venues are concentrated, forcing the Saturated Acoustic Zone to the City Council to take a series of corrective measures. Both the local government and the Association of Leisure Venues, and some establishments in their own name appealed the sentence before the Superior Court of Justice of the Community, and are awaiting resolution.

The neighborhood association attaches to the complaint a series of documents, including the sentence, of the 14th of November, 2019; the application for provisional enforcement of the 30th of November, 2020; the brief presented to the court on the 8th of June of this year “in view of the inactivity of the administration in complying with the sentence”; and the ruling of the judge of the 21st of July requiring the bipartite government team (PP and Cs) to explain whether or not the ruling is being complied with, and to attach the supporting documentation of the measures it is taking. Likewise, they provide the City Council’s response to the request through the municipal legal service attorney, in which the lawyer explains that a census of activities in the area has been drawn up, that sonometric measurements are carried out and that “progress has been made in drafting of the projection models for the sake of the correct execution of the sentence”, points that the association of the Traditional Center questions, as they consider that these measures have nothing to do with the establishment of limitations in terms of ambient sound. They also attach a final municipal document that, in the opinion of the entity, justifies non-compliance with the sentence, because “it insists on measurement campaigns and shields itself from the health crisis, ignoring that the judicial mandate is clear.”

On the contrary, those affected accuse the bipartisan of granting more leisure activity licenses in a saturated acoustic zone (ZAS) where “it should be applying corrective measures.” The neighborhood president, Alcázar Moreno, affirms that the City Council gives a license to each commercial business that closes permanently, “but for pure leisure, for drinks. Every day there are more tables in the street, more music and venues”. “If the City Council has a saturated acoustic zone where it will have to apply the measures because the sentence was won, even if it is appealed, we do not understand why it continues to grant licenses. That is a sign that they are not doing anything and that they do not want to do it. Likewise, the neighbors complain that there have been two alternate weekends that “turn off the sound level meters and we cannot control the excesses.”

Neighbors are upset because, as a consequence of the covid-19 pandemic, “the City Council has given permission for the expansion of terraces of bars and restaurants, allowing them to invade, not only the sides of the pedestrian streets, but their entirety and the Non-pedestrian areas have been filled with tables and chairs even in the parking areas on the roadways”. They affirm that most of them exceed the facades of the bars and leave a very small space for the transit of people.

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