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An overtime bill of more than €500,000 has landed on the mat of Torrevieja council, and no one knows how it is going to be paid.

 

The huge sum has led to allegations that the town council is ignoring the austerity plan and allowing its civil servants to accumulate large amounts of extra payments in overtime.

More than half of the accumulated debt of €535,000 is destined to a small group of only 35 people which will receive around €266,772 of the whole sum, an average of more than €7,600 each.

This seems disproportionate as there are around 600 employees at the town hall.

On the list of is the deputy mayor who has accumulated €17,881 of overtime.

The biggest single group of overtime accumulators is the local police in which 12 civil servants have run up overtime bills of between €5,041 and €12,300; members of this group include the chief of police, Manuel Antonio Lopez, and his son who is a police officer.

Other functionaries to receive important sums are the head of the cemetery and the head of the zoo.

As there is no provision in the budget, it is not yet known where the money for all this overtime will come from.

 

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Gandia’s L’Auir beach, one of the area’s few untouched stretches of coast, could remain untouched.

 

The town hall has decided to delay announcing the winner of a competition to come up with suggestions for developing the 2.8 kilometres of virgin beach.

Prize money of €54,000 was to be shared amongst the most-voted plans which were supposed to include “two or three” hotel complexes, as well as single-family homes, restaurants and leisure centres.

The town hall will first wait to learn how the townspeople feel about the 13 projects now on display and for which they have been invited to vote.

The project’s future also depends on obtaining sufficient backing from private investors, the town hall admitted.

Boos and catcalls aimed at Gandia’s mayor Arturo Torro during a recent anti-development demonstration were key to the decision, local Opposition parties have claimed. 

The first round has gone to the unconvinced residents, claimed the jubilant Compromis and PSOE parties.

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Captain Jack Sparrow might not be around, but the Black Pearl is currently in Alicante.

 

This particular Black Pearl is the yacht that sailed round the world to publicise the first Pirates of the Caribbean film in 2005-2006.

The hull of the 21.5-metre boat with its 31.5-metre mast is decorated with a giant black squid on a red background.

“We wanted to keep the original Disney design because the spirit of adventure and action remain in the hearts of all the yachtsmen who sailed round the world in 2005,” said Knut Frostad, director general of the Volvo Ocean Race.

The boat can be viewed in front of the Volvo Ocean Race museum in Alicante harbour which has now received more than 20,000 visitors, the majority of them from outside Spain.

“The boat’s impressive and fantastic image is really popular with Alicantinos as well as the tourists who visit the museum. It’s another attraction for the port’s Volvo Zone,” Frostad added.

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The water at 90% of Valencian Community beaches was pronounced “excellent” for swimming.

 

A further 5.5% of beaches had water classed as “good” according to analyses carried out by the regional government, the Generalitat. These are the best results ever, official sources said.

This was particularly true of the beaches in Alicante province where 93 of the 94 that were examined - 98.9% - were pronounced “excellent” or “good.”

The water at all of Castellon’s 46 beaches was classed “excellent.”

Although only 49 of the 57 beaches in Valencia province obtained an “excellent” or “good” result, this was one more than last year.

These analyses are carried out periodically by the regional government and examine all the water that reaches the sea via natural or man-made watercourses at beaches used for swimming.

The quality of the water at Valencian Community beaches is another of the Generalitat’s economic assets, said the regional vice-president Jose Ciscar.

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The region’s Environment department is planning a cull of Barbary sheep outside the hunting season.

 

Classed as an invasive species in the Valencian Community since 2009, they devastate crops and are ousting native species, said the regional Environment department.

The Barbary sheep or arruis have been spotted in countryside around Alcoy, Benidorm, Pego, Alicante city, Elda and Petrel and the official order permitting a cull will be published shortly.

Until now there was a ban on hunting the animals outside the permitted period, with a €3,000 fine for those who ignored the regulations.

Local farmers and growers had begun to feel increasingly defenceless, the Environment department admitted.

Originating in Morocco and the Sahara, Barbary sheep are related to the mountain goat but are bigger and heavier, with adults weighing around 100 kilos.

They reproduce easily and are thriving in the province’s current dry conditions.

Although the cull will apply to all three of the Valencian Community provinces, it will concentrate on Alicante areas, the Generalitat said.

 

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Alicante city hall is searching for the best site for a recently-donated statue.

 

It was presented by a group of Pieds Noirs who settled in Alicante in the early 1960s.

Of French and Spanish descent, they fled their homes after Algeria finally won its independence from France in 1962.

“In 2012 those who came to Alicante celebrated the 50th anniversary of the French and Spanish exodus,” said a communiqué from Alicante city hall’s Urban Image department.

Now, two years later, the Alicante Pieds Noirs have presented the sculpture – “of great artistic value and emotional meaning” in the words of city hall - in recognition of the welcome that awaited them in Alicante.

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Property sales increased last March and above all in the Marina Alta.

 

Transactions tripled those registered in March, particularly in Denia.

According to Pere Cardona, spokesman for an internet real estate site, 123 Marina Alta homes were sold in March, compared with 38 in February and 41 in January. 

Ninety of the properties sold in March were located in Denia, he said, although the reasons behind the increase required closer analysis.

It also remained to be seen if this tendency continued during April, Cardona added, although it was likely that the improvement to Spain’s economy was behind the boost to sales.

It was also possible that buyers feared a “rebound effect” and had decided to purchase before local prices had a chance to rise.

Sixty per cent of those who bought Denia properties in March were non-Spanish, Cardona revealed.

The majority were French and Belgian, he said, with Russians in a minority.  “German buyers have practically disappeared,” he commented.

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Drought in Alicante province is an increasingly real threat.

 

The Valencian Community and Alicante province in particular, are experiencing one of the driest hydrological years known.

The first six months of the hydrological or water year, which begins on October 1 and ends on September 30, were extremely dry and warm, said Aemet, Spain’s Met Office.

Less than 100 litres of rain per square metre were registered in half of the region while Alicante province’s situation is worse still. 

The Medio Vinalopo and some parts of l’Alacanti received less than 50 litres per square metre in six-and-a-half months.

This figure is all the more ominous because it covers the usually rainy winter and spring.

The situation is little better in the rest of the province, Aemet said, with the exception of the Marina Alta and parts of l’Alcoia where rainfall exceeded 250 litres per square metre.

Elsewhere it varied between 50 and 100 litres per square metre.

Lack of rain was aggravated by Alicante province’s consistently high temperatures throughout the autumn and winter.

The first fortnight of April was the second-warmest since 1951, with average temperatures 3.7 degrees higher than normal.

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The Defence ministry has no plans for the abandoned Air Force base on the Aitana mountains.

 

It closed seven years ago and neither the Generalitat nor the Alicante Diputacion was tempted by the central government’s offer to accept the base in exchange for the high cost of repairing and maintaining it.   

The Defence ministry admitted in reply to questions in the Madrid parliament that once all valuable and sensitive material was removed, nothing had been spent on upkeep.

“The nearest military unit and the Guardia Civil carry out necessary checks,” said the ministry, adding that ceding the base without payment was not an option. 

“It is clear that the ministry does not know what it intends to do with the installation,” complained MP Patricia Blanquer.  “Furthermore it is not fulfilling its obligation to maintain an asset that belongs to us all.”

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Torrevieja council is working on a plan to eradicate the plague of mosquitoes that have descended on the residents around the Las Lagunas de Torrevieja and the La Mata areas in the last few weeks.

 

The company that has been put in charge of the eradication of this pesky plague has been told to take action as soon as possible.

The low rainfall coupled with the intense heat in the area of late has pushed the mosquito population to greater numbers. This has affected people and animals alike and can be dangerous as well as just itchy.

A recent school trip almost turned into a health disaster when the children were bitten on any exposed skin causing the parents and teachers much concern.

The council is taking the plague very seriously as it can interrupt the holidays of tourists as well as the locals and, for a town that derives much of its income from tourism, this is a worry.

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