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Sunday, 21 June 2009

Recycling Collection Depot - Entre Golf/PAU26

Following my article announcing my Resignation from Los Verdes it seems further clarification is needed in respect of my stance on the subject of the establishment of a recycling collection depot on land next to the Entre Golf residential urbanization and the policy and actions of Los Verdes.

What I find unacceptable is the policy decision of the Executive Committee of 'Los Verdes of Orihuela' to put forward a proposal that is based on the continuation by the Ayuntamiento, and its new contractor
UTE-SUFI-LIASUR-GOBANCAST, of the use of land in sector PAU 26, which was agreed in writing in 2007 by PP Councillor Abadia as being illegally used for a rubbish transfer depot. The land in question is designated in the Plan General for Orihuela as a Green Zone, not for industrial or Town Hall use. In order for the location of the recycling depot to be moved to the illegal tip site there would have to be a change of use of the land agreed by the full Town Council. I do not believe that Los Verdes should have suggested or be part of this action. Under no circumstances should the party be prepared to accept either a recycling depot or rubbish tip or both being sited in the centre of a residential area.

In addition to this I believe that the treatment of the residents of Entre Golf R6B, who will be drastically affected by the location of these facilities, by Los Verdes is not acceptable. The basis for this view are as follows.

On the 22nd April 2009 an article was posted onto the Los Verdes in Orihuela weblog announcing the proposed action of the Town Council and the alternative proposal put forward by Los Verdes. I was asked to post a translated version of the article onto the Los Verdes in Orihuela Costa blog which I did under the title Another Environmental Barbarity by the PP . This article was picked up by some of the local English press and published the following week.

On learning of the proposal for the first time through the article on the 22nd April I asked who was the originator of it. It was confirmed to me that it was Gérard Perret, Coordinator of the Orihuela Costa Working Group. As a member of the group I was surprised! (The significance of who originated the idea is relevant when considering the first meeting with the residents of Entre Golf R6B on the 4th May)

On Sunday the 3rd May 2009 the President of the Entre Golf R6B, Wally Stewartson, called at my home to seek clarification of the information on the weblog and in the papers as this was the first the residents had been made aware of the future problem. He asked if representatives of Los Verdes could attend a community meeting to be held the following day to explain the situation to the residents. I confirmed that Los Verdes would attend.

On Monday the 4th May 2009 I, my wife Natalie, Gérard and Ulla Perret, as members of the Orihuela Costa Working Group, attended the meeting on behalf of Los Verdes. The following is a copy of the relevant section of the minutes of the community meeting.

"Visitors: Elliot & Natalie Sampford and Gerard & Ulla Perret (from the Los Verdes party);

The President opened the meeting at 7.30pm by welcoming and introducing the four representatives of Los Verdes (the Green Party), who had been invited to address the committee following the recent press announcement that the ruling PP party on Orihuela council had approved the construction and installation of an ‘ECO-PARK’ on a parcel of tree-covered land, registered as I-EQ-1, on the East side of Calle Ebro, and only a road’s width away from our urbanisation. The building and operation of the Eco-Park is to be carried out by the council’s new refuse contractor, UTE-SUFI-LIASUR-GOBANCAST, who have contracted to have the facility operational within 6 months of their commencement of contract, i.e. by November 2009.

Gerard, ably assisted by the translating capability of his wife Ulla, first explained that the Eco-Park was a municipal facility for the recycling of unwanted household items such as furniture, white goods, television sets and the like, and NOT a refuse dump for domestic and garden rubbish, as had earlier been feared by many people. (Note: The reference to domestic and garden rubbish was based on the unsubstantiated assumption that the illegal refuse transitional dump being carried out on the PAU 26 plot of land would cease and be moved to another location)

As it was now a virtual impossibility to obtain a reversal of the council decision, the way forward was to achieve the best possible situation available to all concerned which, Gerard explained, was to try to get the PP to agree to ‘swap’ this parcel of land with an adjoining area of similar size next to the motorway AP-7, which has already been ecologically destroyed by the illegal activities of the previous refuse contractor, Colsur SL. The proposal to exchange the two areas of land has been put to the PP party and it has now been accepted, much to the relief of everyone. This now means that the site will not be visible from Entre Golf, as it is at a lower level than the original area, and the trees and associated wildlife can remain.

Whilst the detailed plans have not yet been made available to Los Verdes, they understand that the entire site will be fenced and secured at night, with daytime operations during normal working hours only.

The representatives of Los Verdes answered several questions from the members and, after being thanked for their time by the President, left the meeting at around 8pm."

I said in my resignation letter; "During a later meeting with some of the concerned residents, unconfirmed assurances were given by Los Verdes that the Ayuntamiento had accepted the suggestion. This led the residents to believe that the sighting of the recycling collection depot would not have the high level of detrimental effect on their lives they feared and that the illegal rubbish transfer point within PAU 26 was to cease. This I believe gave them a false sense of hope." and the highlighted quotes in the minutes of the meeting clearly show that the meeting was given unconfirmed assurances by Gérard Perret, originator of the Los Verdes proposal, on behalf of the party. Natalie and I were only informed of the supposed decision of the PP a few minutes before the start of the meeting. Had we been given greater notice and the opportunity we would have strongly advised against stating uncomfirmed information to the meeting.

On the 5th May 2009 I sent the following email to Gérard and Ulla Perret (members of the Orihuela Costa Working Group);

Hi, Is Monserrate going to issue a press release about the change of location of the ecoparque and the removal of the illegal tip to a new site, or are you going to write something for me to put on the blog? Elliot

No press release or draft article was ever received. I was not prepared to personally write an article based on unconfirmed information.

On the 15th May I sent an email to my erstwhile colleagues asking them if;
  • Los Verdes had had a meeting with PP Councillor Abadia about the recycling collection depot;

  • had he confirmed the change of location from the I-EQ plot of land to the PAU 26 sector and the removal of the illegal rubbish tip / transitional depot;

  • does Los Verdes have a letter of confirmation or only a verbal assurance (noting that in September 2007 Clr Abadia wrote a letter stating that the illegal tip on PAU 26 would be closed and yet is still open);

  • are we going to issue a press release with all the details yet, so that I can write an article for the weblog. We don't want to say something that isn't the truth

On the 16th May 2009 I received the following email from Councillor Monserrate Guillén, spokesman for Los Verdes de Orihuela in reply to mine of the 15th May 2009.

¡Hola Elliot!

No. No hemos tenido todavía esa reunión. El Sr. Abadía es un concejal muy "ocupado" y no me ha recibido aún. Espero que el lunes podamos tener la reunión. Hasta que no sepamos cuáles son sus verdaderas intenciones no heré un comunicado de prensa; quizás es lo que él está esperando, pero no podemos caer en su juego. El lunes te diré cómo ha ido.

Un abrazo.

This translates as:

Hello Elliot!
No. We still have not had that meeting yet. Sr. Abadia is a very 'busy' Councillor and he still hasn't met with me. I hope that on Monday we can have the meeting. Until then we don't know what their true intentions are, we will not issue a press release, perhaps that is what he is waiting for, but we can not fall into their game. On Monday, I will tell you how it went.

This clearly shows that 12 days after the meeting with the residents Los Verdes still did not know what the actions of the Town Hall would be. Yet the minutes of the meeting with the residents states; "The proposal to exchange the two areas of land has been put to the PP party and it has now been accepted" I believe that statement should never have been made to the residents during the meeting
by Gérard Perret on behalf of Los Verdes.

As far as I am aware at this time it would seem that the Ayuntamiento has not accepted the Los Verdes proposal and is intending to continue to operate the illegal rubbish transfer depot and the planned recycling collection depot from the land currently occupied in the PAU 26 'Green zone' land. With the two functions being carried out at one location this will result in a 24 hour a day operational site not as the residents were told "daytime operations during normal working hours only."

In conclusion the reasons for my dissatisfaction with Los Verdes de Orihuela on this matter are:

  1. Los Verdes should pursue the closure and removal of the illegal rubbish dump and transfer point in the PAU 26 sector.

  2. Los Verdes should have discussed the planned site of the recycling collection depot on the I-EQ-1 plot of land with the property owners of the Entre Golf urbanization, and others close by, who will be affected before putting forward their alternative proposal. It is their (residents) lives that will be directly and drastically affected and they weren't consulted.

  3. Los Verdes should have rejected outright the planned site of a recycling collection depot (industrial site) on land next to peoples homes.

  4. Los Verdes should not have told the residents at the meeting on the 4th May that the PP Council had agreed to their proposal, and other assumptions, without factual confirmation. This led the residents to a conclusion of a false sense of hope and security.

  5. Los Verdes should not be adopting a 'prudent silence', as they did with the European election campaign, but should report back to the residents to warn them that they (Los Verdes) have reason to believe that the PP Council is in fact looking to operate both the rubbish transition depot and the recycling collection depot from the land close to their properties 24 hours a day. (As at the 16th June Los Verdes had still not warned the residents that the information given on the 4th May was most probably, in my opinion almost certainly, invalid. On that date, having resigned from Los Verdes, I was free to inform the President of the community the latest information I had received from my former colleagues.)

There is an additional question to be considered; why Los Verdes, through Gérard Perret, were so anxious to tell the residents that the alternative proposal had been accepted when they really didn't know whether it had or not? Is this the way to treat the electorate? I sincerely believe the answer is NO and for that reason amongst others I resigned as a member of Los Verdes and local English contact and spokesman in Orihuela Costa.

Is the intended action of the PP Council to locate the rubbish transfer dump and the recycling collection depot on this site the thin end of the wedge?

Once a precedent has been created to use this land in the middle of residential areas for industrial use will it become a MEGA RUBBISH COLLECTION AND HANDLING CENTRE for Orihuela Costa?

I most sincerely hope my fears for this area are wrong but knowing how the PP Council works I don't believe I am! Please let it be that I am wrong.

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