The truth about Orihuela Costa - 'jewel' of Spain's Costa Blanca - homed at: http://orihuelacostaspain.blogspot.com/
I write as an ex-pat with 9 years of experience of life in this part of Spain.
I am so shocked about what is happening here now that although I am now retired and a former journalist and a bit before the days of the computer and internet, I have started what they call a 'blog' here: http://orihuelacostaspain.blogspot.com/
I am not using many of my own words because I want people's comments to speak for themselves.
I could write about my bitter experiences but no, let the people who took the big leap to that new life in the sun say it as it is in their own way:
Orihuela Costa is situated just a few miles down the coast from Torrevieja, in Alicante Province of the Valencian Community of Spain. It shares a strip of the coast line more commonly referred to as the 'Costa Blanca' ('White Coast')
This part of the coast is actually administered by the inland city of Orihuela.
Orihuela Costa is the home a a fairly mixed group of international residents from all over northern Europe and has been subject of unbridled development, mass house building on huge estates called 'urbanisations' with accompanying shopping malls.
The local authority controlled by the 'PP' party (which are fairly right wing) are noted for their corrupt practices which are not uncommon in Spain.
Crime is rife and now that the bottom has fallen out of the housing market, unemployment rises causing even more criminal activity.
Residents lead a life from homes which are heavily alarmed, security barred and enclosed and if they venture out, they are frequently mugged and attacked.
The authorities have not developed the infrastructure to deal with the mass increase in population and so raw sewerage flows across the nearby La Zenia beach but is concealed from tourists by bulldozers covering it with sand. Rubbish collection is poor and fly tipping common. Indeed, such is the waste and sewerage problems, that cockroaches are now common three, four and five storeys up in apartment blocks where they climb up the drain pipes.
This from 'The Leader' ex-pat newspaper:
By Alex Watkins (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Published: 22/05/2006 Edition No.: 110)
Residents have been left up the creek without a paddle as sewerage floods the streets
For the last seven years there have been a series of problems with the depuradora (sewage treatment works) situated on calle Unamuno in La Zenia. It has frequently broken down causing sewage to be discharged into the street, then through the barranca (flood channel), under the N-332 bridge into calle San Antonio and eventually on to La Zenia beach. This has caused ongoing contamination of the environment and a danger to public health in the area.
The building promoters, that are constructing the still expanding Colinas de La Zenia urbanisation, have cracked the sewage main that connects the area to the system. This has caused the vacuum within to fail and makes the pipes block up causing overflows when it rains, which then mix with the water that collects at the end of the flood channel, in front of the depuradora.
Last year a large flood pipe was constructed from Colinas de La Zenia, under calle Unamuno to allow flood water to be sent down the creek to the sea. The residents of Zenia Golf and Golden Zenia have spent time, money and effort to convert the banks of the ravine into beautiful park area. Now this has become a beautiful park with a lake of sewage, and even the surrounding gardens are unable to be enjoyed because of the smell.
Despite frequent calls to the Policía Local to arrange emergency call outs of Aguagest engineers, only the immediate problems of restarting pumps and cleaning streets are ever dealt with. The lake of sewage then remains until further rain washes it down to the sea, or the sun dries it to a flat layer of contaminated paper residue.
Twice in the last week this has occurred as a result of the heavy rainfall, and the action taken was simply to pipe the waste into tankers. A large quantity though still remains stagnating at the bottom of the barranca, leaving a terrible smell and a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Although repair work is being carried out on the sea wall there, the beach is still enjoyed by tourists and residents who have been walking unaware of what they are wading in and the hazards involved. Until 2004 La Zenia beach held the prestigious blue flag award for cleanliness, which is unlikely to return until this problem is addressed. It seems it would take an outbreak of malaria, e-coli or salmonella for the inherent danger of the situation to be recognised.
Last year residents of Leonardo Da Vinci, right next to the depuradora, suffered the indignity of their own homes and gardens being flooded with the waste. Despite assurances that the problems had been solved, as featured in the ‘Leader’ at the time, repeated correspondence with Orihuela Costa town hall and the sanitation department in Orihuela was not even been answered. Efforts are now being made by the Orihuela Costa Presidents association, made up of all of the presidents of the urbanisations in the area, to coordinate pressure on local government to ensure that the builders and Aguagest take action. They are also considering involving the Guardia Civil’s environmental protection agency, Seprona.
The website www.orihuelacostapresidents.com is regularly updated and they have now been assured that the town hall will contact them to arrange meetings for residents to put forward their concerns about the area. They can be contacted from this site for any of your thoughts on local issues or for help organising the running of your own urbanisation’s residents meetings."
Local opposition parties, notably 'The Green Party' and 'CLARO' fight a losing battle against the PP Party who use illegal methods to secure their re election to power.
Despite well organised local protests, the situation has not improved and much of the cash raised by taxes gather from ex-pats is spent on the inland city of Orihuela, where most of the occupants are in fact Spanish.
Recently, a large building firm called 'Urbanistica Technologia' suppliers of housing through many agents including Atlas (known locally as 'At Last'!), Masa and so on, went bankrupt leaving many purchasers with no electric or water supplies and incomplete properties. Now, an even larger developer, 'Promosol' who trade under many names including 'San Jose' have also announced thirty million euro debts again leaving people who have ploughed their life savings into what was meant to be a dream retirement in the sun with little or nothing. A case came to light recently where one retired couple, having been abandoned by their builder were living their days in an incomplete house with no water supply, with candles for light and a camping gas stove for cooking.
This from the 'Costa Blanca News':
"Buyers panic as developer suspends payments
By Dave Jones and Nuria Pérez
HUNDREDS of property buyers were left fearing for the future of their investments this week following the financial implosion of a Costa Blanca construction giant.
San José Inversiones y Proyectos Urbanísticos S.A has applied to the courts to enter into voluntary suspension of payments.
Numerous expats living throughout the Costa Blanca and many UK buyers have invested in San José urbanisations which are under construction or waiting to be built.
These include the half-finished El Pinet in La Marina village, Albatera Golf and Santa Ana del Monte resort in Jumilla, Murcia.
Buyers’ dreams will now be put on hold while the courts establish how to proceed.
A lawyers and consultants company based in Benidorm and Jávea told CB News they have already been approached by several residents in the northern Costa Blanca and UK buyers who have been affected by the San José crisis.
One retired couple from Northern Ireland, who bought at Santa Ana del Monte resort, told CB News: “As you can imagine we are in pieces and our dreams are in tatters.”
Orihuela-based San José Inversiones y Proyectos Urbanísticos S.A is bidding to face up to a 30-million-euro debt by going through the ‘Concurso de Acreedores’ (formerly known as ‘suspension of payments’) process.
By law it is the obligation of administrators appointed by a judge to try to keep the company afloat in order that creditors can be paid.
In due course they will decide whether the company can continue as a going concern – although there is no set time frame for this course of action.
According to San José, the suspension of their principal building projects – in particular El Pinet urbanisation in La Marina – has led to the current financial crisis.
Despite the fact that many buyers have handed over tens of thousands of euros each as down payments for properties, the company has been unable to meet its financial obligations.
In a statement sent to CB News this week company bosses state that they are seeking to protect the rights of both company workers and creditors by applying for the voluntary suspension of payments.
They also hit out at the banks who ‘incomprehensibly’ failed to back the company when they needed their support – even though the financial institutions knew the company possessed valuable land assets.
Antonio Navarro, president of Procosta – the association which represents Vega Baja construction companies – said he was confident buyers will either be refunded or have their properties built.
However clients of the company were not so optimistic.
In all dealings with officialdom, ex-pats meet a wall of paperwork, spend hours in queues attempting to sort out bills and are often sent away to return and start the whole process of registration off again the following day.
Indeed, in an adjoining area, the public water supplies were determined to be unsafe such was the pollution.
Parts of the area are now 'no go' areas with car burning recently appearing on the scene. Shoppers are frequently mugged in the supermarkets and tourists are targetted on arrival at the nearby Alicante and Murcia San Javier airports and rammed off the road and robbed at knife point or worse.
This from the local ex-pat press:
A worrying incident which took place on 12 May reminded us of the dangers and insecurity of Orihuela Costa.
A car was set on fire only a few metres from the Playa Flamenca office of the Town Hall. In the same area another similar incident occurred only a few months earlier. A press release from local political party, C.L.A.R.O., proclaimed, “We hope the police will investigate this incident urgently and tell the public what lies behind these acts. One such incident might suggest vandalism, two would indicate criminality of a much more serious nature”.
There is a growing concern among citizens and business people that crime is rising. All the indicators, ranging from examples of house-breaking, bag snatching and delinquency point in this direction. And in the background, prostitution and car robbery are reminders that organised crime is present in Orihuela Costa. Residents do not doubt that the police are doing their best but this is within the limits of their capacity. C.L.A.R.O. commented, “Overall security policy is primarily the responsibility of the Orihuela municipal government. They decide the number of police in Orihuela Costa and they are responsible for a concerted strategy to reduce crime. They do not seem to be doing a good job”.
Experts in security consider that the optimum ratio between the number of police and the size of the population is two police officers for every 1,000 inhabitants. In the rest of Orihuela with some 50,000 inhabitants and 100 police officers this ratio would seem to be respected. But in Orihuela Costa, with 30 police officers and 40,000 regular inhabitants the ratio is equal to only one police officer for every 1,300 inhabitants. We are reminded that in summer, the population of the coast exceeds 200,000 and the opportunities for crime multiply accordingly.
C.L.A.R.O. said they were “concerned that the governing party in Orihuela is once again ignoring the interests of Orihuela Costa,” they continued, “ It is not only services and infrastructure in general which have been subject to underinvestment and neglect. Security would seem to fall within the same category”.
Sean McSeveney "
"Owners of a house in Guardamar were robbed whilst they slept. Entrance to their property was forced at around dawn last Wednesday morning with thieves stealing 1,500€ in cash, two phones, a video camera, digital camera, MP3 player and the owner’s Seat Ibiza.
It was the second property to be robbed that night with police also receiving reports of a break in in Orito, showing this type of crime whilst the owners are sleeping is on the rise. Already it has caused social alarm with people checking their security, especially as the summer draws closer when crime is on the increase."
"Probably you are by now, sick of hearing of the crime (mainly burglary) around here and this morning the house next to ours was done, the 7th in ten days! ours last year.
Our president has been to see the police with help from a Spanish resident and been told by them that this sort of crime is not on the list of priorities and nothing will be done about it – nothing!
A lot of people have become very rich due to us ‘victims’ and still are, we deserve better. I think the only way left is to organise some people (me included) to stand at Alicante airport with a big banner saying ‘Don’t bother to invest here, you will lose, crime pays on the Costas’ and then you might see some action from the hundreds of vested interests here, because nobody cares about the situation, they have the dough.
The property market will soon be badly affected by crime.
"I am writing this letter hoping you would publish it. I am sure it will be of interest to your readers and remind shoppers at Supermarkets to be on their guard.
My wife and I have lived in Rojales for over five years and although we have suffered some rip offs etc we thought we had escaped the dreaded brief case or hand bag snatch until last Wednesday.
My wife set off to do her shopping at Consum supermarket at Dona Pepa 2, I normally always accompany her, but on this occasion because we had visitors from the UK she went alone.
After she completed her shopping she transferred her shopping into the car, shut the boot, got into the car and put her handbag on the right side seat. Still with one leg outside the door, a young Spanish man approached her.
In his hand was a euro, he showed her the euro and pointed under the car saying that there was more money there. She told him she would move the car forward, but as she turned her head to start the car, she saw another Spanish youth with her handbag. He had just that very movement took the bag by opening the front car door. This happened within a second or two.
For some unknown reason he immediately handed the bag back to her and then requested two euros which she refused to give him. She arrived home in a distressed manner. I can only assume these Spanish two lads were amateurs as no professional bag snatcher would have handed the bag back. She was indeed very lucky. So shoppers beware."
Many ex-pats are now in the terrible situation of negative equity, having been sold property at a grossly inflated price, with no home to return to in their homelands, and with the house value in Spain no where near matching that required to purchase back in their original country.
Now suddenly, those who have paid out up to 500 Euros for television channels have suddenly been cut off due to illegal transmissions by those agents selling ex-pats the service.
See here: http://www.yourlocalnewspaper.info/
"TV Or Not TV
That’s been the burning question this week as thousands of you have been left without many of the UK Sky TV channels. Confusion arose early last week as customers of companies supplying Sky television via a re-broadcast system experienced the big switch off when programmes were cut without warning. The ‘Leader’ was alerted to the situation when one of our advertisers who provides a television system came in to our office saying broadcasting of Sky subscription channels will cease and a Guardia Civil team was in place to carry out inspections. He said that BSkyB had been in negotiations with and joined forces with Canal Plus, meaning Sky would now have a presence outside of the UK and would be able to enforce a clampdown on the rebroadcast of its programmes with the rights now going to Canal Plus. However, there was no announcement of this merger on their website and the rumour was denied by a Sky spokesman in London."
The situation is further aggravated by a weak Pound Sterling against the Euro for those from Great Britain. What this effectively means is that over this past six months, people have experienced a 15% drop in their spending power. (If only the Pound had joined the Euro years ago and how shortsighted are those who said the Euro would not last ! A currency which is soon to be used by 700 million as opposed to the massively smaller number using the Pound is hardly likely to fail !) Add to this an inflation rate of 15% in Spain, and one can easily see how people on pensions are really struggling now.
The message has got to be 'buyers & those leaving for Spain to beware' and to think long and hard before committing hard earned cash and life savings to a dream which can very easily turn into a nightmare.
NOW VISIT THIS LINK FOR A SHORT MOVIES OF THE AREA:
THINKING ABOUT BRINGING THE CHILDREN ? THIS WILL BE THEIR SCHOOL - EVEN THE SPANISH COMPLAIN:
GERMAN TAKE: 'LITTLE GUANTANAMO' : http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=4vOqeAHE8ag&NR=1
The pictures attached to this article show the state of pavements, rubbish bins and so called 'green areas' which are the only places for children to play. Also pictured are drain covers where toilet paper and sewerage can be seen which overflow into public and children's play areas.
This blog may be worth a visit:
More to follow.....