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Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Is Orihuela Costa Neighbourhood Watch a Non-Non-Political Group?

There has in the past been some comment in the local English press that the Orihuela Costa Vecinos Colaborando (Neighbourhood Watch) is not a non-political group. This has been vehemently denied by the senior echelon of the group. I have in the past written to the group representative to highlight my personal concerns that group was adopting a political stance, by only including news from the local governing Partido Popular party, in any newsletters or information circulars, to the exclusion of all other political parties. Again it was maintained that the group was and would continue to adopt a non-political stance.

However there have been two incidents in the last 2 weeks that indicate to me that the non-political stance might not be a reality.

The first happened on the 11th March as a result of a post I put on my Facebook page which linked to the article on my weblog 'CLR party accuses Orihuela Costa Town Hall press officer of Misuse of Public Administration and Trust' on the 10th March. The following comment was added to the post by the Orihuela Costa Vc: . I replied to the comment: 'Graham, I thought Vecinos Colaborando maintains it is a non-political organisation. Your posting above could be considered as deviating from that position!'. The response from the Orihuela Costa Vc was: 'Point taken but I thought that it would be best to let people have the correction'.

The second incident happened on Saturday 19th March. On that day a posting entitled 'Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony' (a link cannot be put in because the item has been deleted) appeared on the Orihuela Costa Vc Facebook page. It was a link to an item that contained nothing more than a collection of 33  photographs, taken at the inauguration of the building of a new shopping centre in Orihuela Costa, of which 24 included Monica Lorente the Partido Popular Mayor of Orihuela Municipality.

On seeing this I posted the following comments to the item as did one other person 'Gill Reynolds.

Elliot Sampford: Your fascination in photographs of Monica Lorente, our PP Mayor, is not surprising, given your support for the PP and your comment on their Populares Orihuela Costa (English) Facebook page. I believe both that and the Orihuela Costa Prensa Facebook page are managed by the same person. I have to wonder why the Orihuela Costa VC facebook page only seems to give information about PP originated events! Where is the information about events initiated by any of the Opposition parties?

Elliot Sampford: To clarify to other readers my comment above is addressed to Graham as coordinator and manager of this page.

Elliot Sampford: To Gill Reynolds: I have received emails from Facebook to say that you have replied to my comments but cannot see them on either my home page or the Orihuela Costa VC page.

Elliot Sampford: Gill R. In reply to your first comment: "Elliot anyone can post, the reason why there have been a lot of photos recently is because we have attended a lot of events, not all the photos are put on by John but as Mayor he should let people know what he is doing to promote Entre Naranjos. can't be held responsible for what other people put on including the Neighbourhood watch."
I'm not sure that the Orihuela Costa VC page should be used to promote the work of an unelected but PP appointed Mayor!

In reply to your second comment: "my understanding is that Orihuela Prensa is run by Louise and this site by the Neighbourhood Watch, the other facebook sites are by Stefan (German) and John and Louise (English)"
I was aware of Louise Clarke's, Monica Lorente's press officer, involvement in the two pages I mentioned but not of John R. thanks for the information.

Gill Reynolds: Elliot as you say your comments were aimed at Graham and not us then I retracted my statements as I do not wish to get in to any arguments, you have made your point

Gill Reynolds: and you have added your own comments to my post to make it look as though I have said it

Elliot Sampford: Gill: I have not made any attempt to suggest my own comments were from you. Your comments are closed by "speech marks" and my comments start on a new line. I don't think there can be any confusion as to who said what!

Unfortunately I cannot give a link to the posting on the Orihuela Costa Vc page to verify the above as the post in entirety, comments and all, was deleted from Facebook shortly after I made the comments. One can only guess at the reason. It is good that I had the foresight to copy the above comments before extermination.

I have of course since then posted a comment on another article (Orihuela Costa Vc ), the first posting I have seen that mentions something relating to a party other than the PP and only after my first comment above ("I have to wonder why the Orihuela Costa VC facebook page only seems to give information about PP originated events! Where is the information about events initiated by any of the Opposition parties?"), on their page asking for clarification for the reason for the deletion:

Elliot Sampford:“To the Coordinator/Editor:......where has yesterday's (Sat 19th) posting entitled 'Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony', including mine and Gill Reynolds' comments gone?
Has it been deleted because I was suggesting that the VC page was being used to promote Monica Lorente, PP Mayor of Orihuela?
Has it been deleted because my comments were considered too political when I said “I'm not sure that the Orihuela Costa VC page should be used to promote the work of an unelected but PP appointed Mayor!” when Gill Reynolds referred to the work of her husband as the PP Mayor of Entre Naranjos?
Has it been deleted because I said “Your fascination in photographs of Monica Lorente, our PP Mayor, is not surprising, given your support for the PP and your comment on their Orihuela Costa English Facebook page”?
Has it been deleted because Monica Lorente and her two paid assessors in the Orihuela Costa Ayuntamiento, Louise Clarke and Stefan Pokroppa, and her personally appointed Entre Naranjas Mayor, John Reynolds, are all registered as friends (Hi all) of this Facebook page and might be offended by any of my comments?”

The reply comment was:

Orihuela Costa Vc: criticism accepted but offensive remarks need to be removed, nothing political from me just good news of things happening in our area. The more friends the better from all alks of life , nice to see many Spanish, Norwegian and Germany friends.

Unable to make a comment reply because the facility had been stopped I sent a direct message to the Editor.

"I cannot post this on the article concerned as the comments section seems to have been closed. You posted the following in your reply to my questions about the deleted posting "criticism accepted but offensive remarks need to be removed" implying that the offensive remarks were made by me. I have checked my copy of my remarks and can see nothing that can be construed as offensive, so would you please enlighten me as what remarks you consider offensive. As Editor you have the right to delete items from OC Vc page for valid reasons!

I received the reply: "Not by you.. the offensive comment from someone else was immediately deleted and as a result the person who had just joined removed from the site. I therefore decided for time being to remove ability to comment as its impossible to police all the while. The community site is no problem though as others cannot post their own personal views". That's fine because the reply was also posted on the OC Vc page. 

However the alleged offensive comment was not on the 'Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony' article, that was deleted,  but on the article I posted my questions onto. I know because I saw it ("the offensive comment") when it was posted, before it was deleted. It was by a well known supporter of the PSOE party, the major opposition party to the governing Partido Popular party in the Orihuela Town Council. In my opinion it did not contain any language that I consider offensive but what it did do was to comment adversely about the PP. Was that what made it an offensive comment?

So my comments were not offensive. But still my questions as to why the 'Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony' posting was deleted after comments were added to it remain unanswered.
Another relevant factor, which I discovered, is that it seems that on the Facebook social network the Orihuela Costa Vc only has 'friendships' or 'likes' links to pages associated with the governing Partido Popular Mayor, Monica Lorente, and her party. There does not appear to be any social networking links with any of the Opposition parties, or their spokespersons, on the Council such as the PSOE, Los Verdes and CLR, or the local active but unelected CLARO party. Is the group only interested in hearing about and telling its Facebook friends about what the PP is doing?

This leaves me wondering.

Is the Orihuela Costa Neighbourhood Watch a Non-Non-Political Group?

Is the Orihuela Costa Neighbourhood Watch being used, or acting, surreptitiously as a publicist for the Partido Popular party?

1. For those readers interested and registered on Facebook after logging in the photographs can be seen here 'Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony' . It is on the originating source, the Facebook page of Orihuela Costa Prensa which is edited by Louise Clarke, Monica Lorente's personal press officer.
2. Graham whom I addressed my reply to is a senior co-ordinator of Orihuela Costa Neighbourhood Watch and editor of the official Facebook pages of the group. He also left a comment on the weblog article mentioned above.
3. As I understand it Gill Reynolds is the wife of John Reynolds, a supporter of the PP, who was arbitrarily appointed as Mayor of The Entre Naranjas district within the Orihuela Municipality by Mayor Monica Lorente.


  1. Sarah HillMarch 22, 2011

    I am the person who has been expelled from the Orihuela Costa Neighbourhood watch Facebook page for being insulting. All I said was that all the oppositions parties in Orihuela are campaigning against the corruption and lawlessness of the Partido Popular and its leader Monica lorente. To see the full text please consult my facebook page.

  2. Martina ScheurerMarch 22, 2011

    I can only agree - there are a few more "non" political associations, such as for example the "German table". Also I have noticed that the "free" press does not seem to be so free anymore, as it is very difficult lately to find any kind of critical article against the PP, or any kind of article supporting the opposition or printing their press releases. Hopefully not everybody in this municipality did turn blind because recently after 4 years some areas have been cleaned or some roads have been tarmarced and some foundation stones layed.

  3. Pedro ManceboMarch 23, 2011

    Elliot, this is someting I knew back in 2007 when I asked Chris Pool, a former client of my practice as well as NHW president, to meet me to discuss our CLR electoral manifesto and inform him and NHW about our proposals and he rejected as NHW was non-political and he had been told and granted that once Mr Medina (previous Mayor of Orihuela) was removed from power by his councillors lead by Monica Lorente everything would change inn OC as Medina was the sole responsible of the corruption in Orihuela and the lack of investments in OC by the PP. This was purely a conflict of private interests between Medina and Lorente as the case Brugal has now proven. Now Orihuela faces the worst corruption case in its whole history, and I must point out that NHW has supported this PP team all the time, attending the events organised by the PP everywhere and trying to back up the fake government of Monica Lorente. Last week I bump into Chris at the main gate of the Town Hall in Orihuela, he asked me how I was, I said fine, I asked how he was and he said all right, then I made a comment: I cannot understand how NHW being so successful in avoiding crime in OC and helping to the decrease of the crime rates you have not realised the criminal suspects within the local government, they were sat next to you and you did not notice it. Obviously I received a "you are nasty" as a response. I think we already talked about this sometime ago Elliot but you can now see how the PP manipulates and take advantage of misinformation and public money.

  4. Sarah HillMarch 23, 2011

    Nice one Pedro!

  5. Orihuela Costa Neighbourhood Watch is a Non-Non-Political Group there are NO posts on Facebook which can in any way be construed as politcal.

  6. Graham; A political action can be by words and or actions, in fact isn’t it said that ‘actions speak louder than words’. It would seem to me that perhaps the deletion, and by definition the exclusion, of comments that criticise the governing PP party, which I belive you support (please correct me if I am wrong) on the Orihuela Costa Vc Facebook page could be considered by some as a political action.

  7. Sarah, Martina and Pedro; thank you for your comments.

  8. There is a big difference about personal abuse and group criticism. I am in no doubt that there has been no direct political support on the new page. Just fair and just reporting of events with photos. I have no personal political views

  9. Elliot, thank you for raising this important issue and I would like to add my comments.
    I support and acknowledge the important work done by Neighbourhood Watch in the United Kingdom and until I was equally grateful for the work undertaken by Vecinos Colaborando here in Orihuela Costa. I am therefore saddened by the more recent events.
    There are 3 internet “sites” where information about Vecinos Colaborando Orihuela Costa is to be found:, “orihuela Costa Vecinos colaborando” on Facebook and “Orihuela Costa Vc” on Facebook.
    I admit that I am confused by the 2 different Facebook pages. The first (Orihuela Costa Vecinos Colaborando – Non-Prfofit organization) appears to be a one way information page, only offering the possibility to “share”. The second facebook page (Orihuela Costa Vc, Non-Political Organization ) until the past weekend was more faithful to “Facebook” and the concept of “social networking”; it was possible to request “friend” status, for most posts it offered two-way information sharing, it was possible to “share” and “like”, and for some posts, not all, it was possible to post comments. This latter Facebook page now carries NO POSTS!
    Declaration: I am a card-carrying member of the PSOE. I am a member of the PSOE Orihuela Executive, a co-ordinator for the PSOE Orihuela Costa Group and I am a candidate on the PSOE list for the Municipal Elections in 2011. I became “curious” about the way certain groups, organisations and associations in Orihuela Costa may have been wittingly or unwittingly “hi-jacked” by what I will call “The Partido Popular Orihuela election machine” . The Orihuela Costa Vecinos Colaborando are quite specific that they are a non-profit, non-political organization. Strange then that in recent weeks their 2 Facebook pages have been posting information about numerous PP Ayuntamiento activities in Orihuela Costa, many of which appear to me to have little or no connection to the STATED objectives of Orihuela Costa Vecinos Colaborando. The FB pages included numerous photos of the current mayor, Monica Lorente, much in the style of a celebrity related Facebook page. Many of the comments read like those of a Monica Lorente admiration society rather that the non-political Neighbourhood Watch, “sycophantic”.
    The VC FB “political neutrality” was challenged by Elliot and in response, possibly as evidence of neutrality or by pure coincidence, a posting regarding CLR and CLARO appeared on the page. I requested “friend” status and was immediately accepted. I then carried out what I will call “a small scale research project”. I “shared” an invitation to a PSOE “citizen participation” meeting. My post did not appear on the site. I generously concluded that I may have made an error, but I was also concerned that it may be slightly more “sinister”?” Had my posting been immediately removed from the site by a vigilant “PP supporting” editing system.
    May I use your website Elliot to remind Orihuela Costa VC that there are 25 councilors in Orihuela, each democratically elected. Where public actions by individuals, groups, organizations, associations etc. are politically motivated or sponsored I believe that this should be made clear. Any organization that declares itself non-political must indeed be squeaky-clean non-political.

  10. Sarah HillMarch 23, 2011

    So turning the page into a Monica Lorente fan club is not political,or is it? When contributors wax lyrical about Monica and go on about how lovely she is in all the photos. Is that not showing support for Monica? I think that it is political, especially when it is written by the wife of The Partido Popular (unelected) Mayor on Entre Naranjos. So if she can say that why cant I keep my comments on the page?

  11. Graham; I have noted your comment “I have no personal political views” in response to my suggestion that you are a supporter of the Partido Popular party.

    One of my reasons for supposing that you were a supporter was a comment you posted to the Partido Popular's Facebook page 'Populares Orihuela Costa ( English)' which read “ Grange Jonesy: Keep them coming lets make the site interesting 13 February at 15:29 “.

    Perhaps I put too much inference on the word “lets” which I read as 'let us', appertaining to a collaboration of like minded people. Perhaps it was an easy mistake to make!

  12. Orihuela Costa Vecinos Colaborando (Neighbourhood Watch) is a political group. !!!!!!
    And why do I say this???
    Well, up to about a year and a half ago, I used to get real current warnings about what was happening "criminal-wise"on the Costa Region, which used to be forwarded to me by a very close neighbour "JK",( I do not want to mention his full name!) and in turn I used to forward those warning-messages to about another 12 or 14 people in my neighbourhood (Los Balcones).
    But like I said before , since a year and half....NADA!!!!
    Question....Has "JK" stopped being the Los Balcones NHW, and has stepped over to the PP alliance???...Or have his Peers from the Central NHW Costa, simply cut him out??? I rather tend to believe that they have cut him out of the "warnings", (as he several times told me that he was not politically active), in which case I am now to assume that the Central Costa NHW, has definetely been manipulated by the Orihuella-Counsil i.e. PP, and is not doing the voluntary job they maintained they were doing, warning the general public about criminal-dangers on the Costa Region!
    And this to me is a very worrieng state of affairs, since with the present economical state,
    crime tends to increase hand over hand!
    In our Los Balcones Costa Area, we see more Torrevieja Police Local crousing arround (at least twice a week), and maybe once every 6 weeks we see a Costa-Police-Local coming along (at high speed), as if we just don't exist!!
    I believe firmly that....The "PP corruption" oozes from every corner, every crack & every pore! Just to win the upcoming election!!!

  13. Yes I did try to get all sorts of views to make the site worth visiting but did not expect the personal attacks at friends on the site. The official vecinos colaborando page has been ok but the one open to everyone may be the problem. There is a balance between opening to everyone or making it very secure and then it becomes boring and of no interest. Having worked in local government for 42 years and being required to implement the policies of a number of different political parties I have no problem with political views but attacking individuals who have a job to do its below the belt.

  14. Reference anonymous. JK still receives all communications from Orihuela Costa Vecinos Colaborando. He has reported in our monthly statistics no crime in Los Balcones

  15. Graham made an interesting use of the emotive words 'personal attacks at friends' and 'attacking individuals', in his penultimate comment in a generalisation rather than giving specifics.
    The definition of the verb attack would seem to relate to four areas.
    To use force against in order to harm; start a fight with; strike out at with physical or military force.
    To speak or write to criticize, denounce, or censure, etc.
    To start work on with purpose and vigour.
    To begin acting upon harmfully or destructively: (a disease).

    One must assume that he is using the words to define 'criticisms' and 'criticising'.

    I, and probably those persons who have commented above and who question the non-political status of OCVC, would be interested in his clarification of a few points.

    Firstly, what criticisms (attacks) of what friends, I made, he felt, as Editor of the Orihuela Costa VC Facebook page, necessitated the deletion of the article 'Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony', which must have been considered worthy of being posted on the page in the first place?

    Secondly, what criticism (attacks) of what friends necessitated the deletion of the comment made by Sarah Hill, and her subsequent exclusion from the OCVC page?

    There does appear to me to be a common link and that is the protection of the image of the Partido Popular party.

    Could it not be considered that his attack (censure) against the comments was a political act on behalf of Neighbourhood Watch?

    Thirdly, what part of criticising individuals who accept, or assume, a position of authority could be considered as 'below the belt' (perhaps this could be a subject for a new blog), which individuals, and by whom?

    Can questioning and commenting on the motives and action of individuals, based on facts, be considered as 'below the belt', cruel or unfair, in the political world? Hasn't the Orihuela Costa Neighbourhood Watch been acting in that world?

    My conclusion, at this point in time, is that the consensus of the comments received so far would indicate the belief that the Orihuela Costa Neighbourhood Watch is a non 'non-political' group, contrary to the image it wishes to portray. Which is the reality now and what will the reality be in the future? Perhaps the replies from OCVC 'Point taken' 'Criticism accepted ' to some of the points I've highlighted may affect the groups thinking.

    I accept my questions may be considered, or treated, as rhetorical, but hopefully they may be food for thought for readers of this article.

  16. Sarah HillMarch 29, 2011

    When I posted my comments on the site I was merely answering a question that had alredy been Posted. The Question was "What is The Clr?"-A political question as it was asking about the Clr party that has recently combined forces with Claro. In answering that I also pointed out that Clr/ Claro along with the PSOE and Los Verdes were all campaigning aginst the corruption and lawlessness of the Partido Popular council in Orihuela-led by Monica Lorente. So was my answer insulting? First of all I have to say the words" corruption" and "lawlessness" do not fit into my vocabulary when wanting to be insulting. If I had wanted to be insulting about Ms Lorente I can think of more choice expressions to use but I would not stoop that low and certainly not in public! I merely expressed an opinion based on evidence which I have to say has been born out within days of making those comments
    as Ms Lorente was charged with corruption on March 25th 2011 along with a large group of her PP councillors. So yes I was being political, no I was not being insulting.The question I now have to ask is whether all the people on that facebook page who said they werent being political when they waxed lyrical about Monica, will they be starting another Facebook face to launch the " Monica is Innocent" campaign or will they face up to the real truth about Ms Lorente and the Partido Popular.
    And By the way, I also have decades of service in local authorities in the uk both as an officer and also an elected councillor.

  17. There is an interesting letter in this weeks CoastRider paper asking the question about the political status of the OCNW from a diferent view point.

  18. Following the publication of the letter mentioned in my comment on the 5th April there is a letter entitled 'Outraged' by John Kadwell in support of the OCNW in the Round Town News local paper . I wonder if JK has read this article!


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