C.L.A.R.O. HOLDS 11th ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
C.L.A.R.O. held its 11th Annual General Meeting in the Asturias Restaurant on 18 November against the background of uncertainties resulting from the Brexit referendum. A hard Brexit which endangered access to free public health care and pension levels would have severe consequences for British citizens individually and since British residents in Orihuela Costa account for nearly 50% of the resident population, if large numbers were to leave Spain and return to the UK, the consequences for the local economy would be very serious. Although, according to the government's declared timetable, British withdrawal from the European Union would not take place before the summer of 2017, and existing rights would not be affected until then, the Annual General Meeting, in the interests of preserving these rights, urged all British citizens living in Orihuela Costa to make sure they have "residencia" status and are registered on the local municipal register (padron), as advised by the British Consulate. Registering to vote and voting in the next municipal election in 2019 would be another way of safeguarding rights.
Members of the newly elected Executive Committee with new President Karl Rainer Failoni in centre, left
The Annual General Meeting considered a Report on the activities of the past year with notable successes including the firm commitment to complete construction within the next 2 years of the long delayed Orihuela Costa Emergency Services Centre with a 24/7 local police station, the sealing of the burning waste tip in Campoamor which no longer emits toxic fumes and the increase in the number of polling stations from 3 to 7 which will greatly facilitate the exercise of the right to vote at the next municipal elections in May, 2019, at which time British residents will still have the right to vote.
The Annual General Meeting adopted unanimously a motion on political strategy for the forthcoming year. It will be C.L.A.R.O.'s aim to continue to fulfil its role as the only political party dedicated to promoting and defending the rights of residents of Orihuela Costa. The minority Popular Party government continues to deny Orihuela Costa adequate services and investments despite receiving some 60% of its revenue from the coast and the minority government, with the support of the Citizens Party, continues to discriminate financially in favour of Orihuela city, their political stronghold. It is vital for C.L.A.R.O to continue to campaign in favour of obtaining a fair and proportionate share in the municipal budget for Orihuela Costa, indispensable for assuring clean streets and maintenance of all our so-called parks and gardens.
Two specific priorities will mark C.L.A.R.O. action in the coming year. Orihuela Costa should have a purpose built Cultural Centre including an auditorium for at least 500 people and rooms for the many groups which organise cultural activities such as choirs, theatre groups and a variety of activities which currently take place in bars and restaurants often at considerable cost. The Cultural Centre should include a professionally run Library to cater for leisure reading ad study facilities for the growing population of young students. Orihuela city has three such Libraries. The Cultural Centre should be located on municipally owned land in the centrally placed parking area of La Zenia Boulevard Commercial Centre.
The second priority will be to campaign for the scandalously delayed pedestrian footbridge over the AP-7 motorway between Lomas de Cabo Roig and Cabo Roig. Despite wide support for residents who risk their lives dodging traffic crossing the road bridge, and despite the fact that funds for the construction of a footbridge exist and were identified by the then C.L.A.R.O. councillor as a bank deposit by a Lomas de Cabo Roig developer, the government continues to delay realisation of this vital infrastructure investment. Extensive new house building in Lomas de Cabo Roig make this an even more urgent priority.
Other priorities will not be ignored by C.L.A.R.O. including its campaign to Save Cala Mosca, the last green area on the Orihuela Costa sea front, from the construction of over 1,500 new houses. As in the past year, C.L.A.R.O. will continue its social activities in the form of Tapas and Chats events in local restaurants and Forums of special interest to coastal residents. All these activities will be accompanied by media action in the press and social networks to promote knowledge of what role C.L.A.R.O. plays in the local community.
Finally, the Annual General Meeting decided unanimously to renew the present members of the Executive Committee for a further year, the only change being that Paul Piccio stands down after a successful year as President and will be succeeded by Karl Rainer Failoni, a long standing member of the Executive Committee, of Austrian nationality with fluent English as well as his native German and knowledge of Spanish.