If you wish to add a comment to any of my articles please do so as I am always pleased to have a contribution from any reader as this increases the interest for other visitors.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Bob Houliston resigns postion as Councillor for the Coast

Councillor Bob Houliston
When I wrote my articles 'Will CLARO partner the Partido Popular in Orihuela?' followed by 'Together we can! - Oh Really!' , and 'CRAPPOL party inauguration' I never thought I would be reporting on the resignation of Bob Houliston so soon.

Today Bob Houliston leader of the CLARO party resigned as Councillor for Orihuela Costa and as a member of the tripartite government team of the Orihuela Town Council.

His letter of resignation to the Mayor of Orihuela issued as a press release reads as follows:

Dear Alcalde,
I regret to inform you of my decision to resign, as of today, from the municipal government of Orihuela and from my post as Councillor for the Coast, Beaches and International Residents
My decision has been caused by the present near paralysis of an important sector of the administration of the coast resulting from the sudden and abrupt transfer to Orihuela on 23 January, 2012 of the Resident Engineer. With this transfer, I have lost the services of a competent and very experienced officer. I have also lost the only technical officer working on the coast, dedicated to the supervision of works and contracts and authorised to co-sign with me, work completion certificates and bills essential for the payment of invoices. For this reason, in the course of the past month since her transfer a number of invoices have not been authorised for payment. The legal, administrative and financial problems which this creates are already considerable. I am not prepared to take political responsibility for resolving problems which others have caused..
As you know, this situation is the latest in a series of incidents resulting from the systematic refusal of an element in the government to cooperate and coordinate their activities which concern the coast with me, the councillor geographically competent From the first day I have been aware of their opposition to me and to my having the means necessary to carry out my work for the coast. In the meeting of the councillors forming the majority on the council, the government group, held on on 16 July, 2011 of which I was not informed and to which I was not invited, the conclusions of the negotiations for the inclusion in the government of the Centro Liberal Renovador (CLR) party were presented. Needless to say, I was not informed either of these negotiations or consulted on aspects relating to my responsibilities.
Arriving at this meeting by chance, I was obliged to block a proposal to divide the responsibilites which you granted to me as councillor for the coast on my entry into the government and to share these responsibilities with another councillor. I also had to block a proposal to remove the post of personal advisor to help me with my work on the coast, a post which you had previously agreed to, on a full-time basis and which was subsequently reduced to a part-time basis at the insistence of Pedro Mancebo and the CLR party. Finally, at the same meeting I was obliged to object to the title of the responsibilities to be given to Pedro Mancebo as Councillor for the Coordination OF the Services of the Coast, considering that as councillor for the coast, I should be responsible for the coordination of my services. The title of Pedro Mancebo's responsiblities was changed to Councillor for the Coordination of Services WITH the Coast..
While the preposition in the title of Pedro Mancebo's competences was changed from “of” to “with” I am convinced that the intention behind his original proposal remained unchanged. To illustrate this belief, you will remember that I objected to the definition of his competences included in Decree 513 signed by you on 16 September, 2011 which gave him responsibility for approving (visto bueno) all proposed agreements, decisions (resoluciones), decrees and other documents relating to the work of the councillor for the coast. At the same time the Decree gave him responsibility for “optimising” all resources be they personnel, material, economic or budgetary of the municipal office of the Town Hall in Orihuela Costa.
These responsibilities created in effect the post of a “Controller” (Concejal Controlador) of the councillor for the coast. Regretably, despite my proposals aimed at seeking a consensus on the text, these responsibilities remained essentially unchaged in the modified Decree which you signed on 16 December, 2011 and which I was notified of on 6 February, 2012,
An example of the “optimisation” of the human resources of the coast can be seen in the decision taken by two CLR councillors and, I suppose, the Councillor for Coordinating Services with the coast, to transfer with 6 minutes notice for “organisational necessity” the Resident Engineer who had worked for 12 years on the coast. The officer in question was of such importance, given her responsibility for supervising contracts for basic services, the quality of the beaches and the budgetary procedures, the coast is suffering from her removal. The contract engineer who was appointed in December as a reinforcement, cannot be expected to fulfil all these functions. He does not have power of signature. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any serious effort to solve this problem or the more general problem of insufficient staff, by providing the coast with the appropriate number of qualified, permanent officials needed to look after the needs of 35% of the population of Orihuela, almost the same number as those living in Orihuela city.
I do not wish to go into the detail of all the incidents of non-cooperation and the placing of obstacles to the carrying out of my work which have been caused by the CLR element in the government over the past 7 months and which continue to this day, The consequences have been to divide and weaken the management of the coast against the interest of the people living on the coast and their democratically expressed wishes as to who should represent them.
This long and painful experience convinces me of the impossibility of carrying out my work in the interest of Orihuela Costa. I am therefore obliged to resign from my post as Councillor for the Coast and as a member of your government. I will, of course, continue as an elected member of the Corporation. to work for the interests of Orihuela Costa.
I should like to state that during the past 8 months, I have formed and will retain the highest appreciation of your personal and professional qualities and those of the majority of members of your government”.

This will mean that the town council is now split into two distinct armies; the tripartite governing team of the PSOE, Los Verdes and CLR will now only have 12 Councillors, whilst the PP oposition party will have an equal number of Councillors; with Bob Houliston holding the balancing council seat bringing the total to 25. Monserrate Guillén Sáez as Mayor of Orihuela, and leader of the tripartite alliance will have a difficult time with getting legislation approved through the Town Council with Bob Houliston having the floating, deciding vote.

The alternative, feared by many who have experienced the previous government periods of the Partido Popular party in Orihuela, is that Bob Houliston will give his permanent allegiance to the PP in return for being giving total Councillor responsibility for the Orihuela Costa area. This would be the achievement, pinnacle, of his personal ambition for totalitarian control of the coastal region. What cost for power!


  1. John CarrollMarch 03, 2012

    In recent months it has become clear that Bob Houliston was not up to the task of running the Playa Flamenca town hall. Although Bob blamed everybody especially Pedro Mancebo for his inability to perform, it is now clear that his own inabilities have led to his resignation from government.

    One of Bob’s most recent gripes was that Rosa Garcia moved from the town hall in Playa Flamenca where she had worked for 12 years. What he did not say was that she requested to be moved back to Orihuela. She was a competent, experienced and valued member of staff but since the election she has been very stressed working under Bob Houliston and his side-kick Antonio Cerdan, who she felt did not know what they were doing, putting extra pressure and stress on her and the other staff in the town hall at Playa Flamenca.

    Following a stress related illness that caused her to miss work for a month; she could not face working under the unprofessional leadership prevailing in Playa Flamenca town hall. She contacted the human resource department in Orihuela and requested to be moved from Playa Flamenca to Orihuela centre, her request was granted.

    To avoid embarrassing Bob Houliston about public disclosure of his incompetence and lack of skill as councillor for the coast, another member of staff another member of staff took up the slack and kept the ball rolling and nothing was said to the media that might embarrass Mr. Houliston.

    Unfortunately Bob Houliston believes that everybody is out to get him and take his toys (competencies and in this case staff) from him and in true paranoid fashion he has moaned about an ongoing conspiracy against him each week at his weekly media briefing. Instead of consulting with the other members of the government team that he belongs to, he yet again broke ranks, spoke out and this time shot himself in the foot.

    Bob Houliston says he has a clear mandate from the 35,000 people living Orihuela Costa. He probably received 60% of the 1,383 votes cast on the coast for the CLR / CLARO alliance, this is not even enough to win one seat. So Bob Houliston got about 800 votes out of the coastal population of 35,000, hardly a mandate Mr. Houliston.

  2. Peter KingMarch 14, 2012

    Most of my urbanization voted for the CLR- CLARO party last May in the belief that this alliance would bring change and some hope to our coast. We were fed up of the many corruption cases affecting the Town Hall in Orihuela and we wanted more resources for Orihuela Costa.

    The CLR party’s elected councillors have proven to be capable, intelligent and in tune with the people. They stuck to their word and their election manifesto. In the coast the two CLARO councillors have proven to be the opposite. Nothing has been done in Orihuela Costa by the Claro party since they got into power, except moaning and complaining about their alliance partners and fighting for exclusivity and more power for Mr Houliston. Is power all that is important to the Claro leader?

    For four or five years Claro have been offering a way to “change” the coast, we gave them a mandate to do it with the CLR but now it seems that all that they are concerned about is ego and personal ambitions. What about the promises and the trust of the good people who voted for you? We feel frustrated and disappointed that all the CLARO promises have been spoilt by the greed of two fake politicians who have now resigned after proving that they were incapable of doing the job they coveted so much. All that is bad enough but now we hear that all the rumours about an agreement to bring back the PP to power are true.

    I know that most of the good hardworking members of CLARO are stunned by the dramatic resignations of Bob Houliston and Antonio Cerdan in the last two weeks especially as this happened without asking the opinion of the Claro members which they should have done if they were honest democrats.

    Monica Lorente vowed after the May 2011 election to destroy the CLR-CLARO alliance because it took two PP seats away from her. She set out to divide the alliance with Cerdan’s help. They succeeded in isolating Bob by convincing him to desert CLR at the first opportunity. The PP has been supportive of Bob by not criticising him or CLARO since the election despite the lack of work done in the Playa Flamenca Town Hall.

    Already Bob is seen as betraying the electorate by resigning his post but if he joins forces with the PP, CLARO will probably not survive the next three months let alone the next three years. Mr Houliston has confirmed to CLARO members that will vote against the government and with the PP in the budget debate next month.

    The reward for facilitating the disruption of the legal government we voted for, has come in the shape of a black Range Rover worth more than 70,000€ driven shamelessly by Bob’s right-hand-man Cerdan, up and down Orihuela Costa, since they both agreed to resign. Many supporters cannot understand how Antonio Cerdan, who is known to have been unemployed for a number of years, except for a brief period as Bob’s assistant in the town hall, can acquire this luxury car on the same week that he resigned his employment.

    If this is what we can expect from CLARO, then we should feel embarrassed for trusting their word. If Bob Houliston acts against CLARO principles and aims and supports Monica Lorente against the coalition government he should pack his bags and go back to Brussels.

  3. Raymond KearneyMarch 24, 2012

    In the 14 years I have lived in and run businesses in Orihuela Costa there has been very little effort by the town hall to provide the coastal businesses and residents with the facilities or infrastructure that one would expect in a western European country. For this reason I campaigned shoulder to shoulder with Pedro Mancebo and Bob Houliston to try to change our future in Orihuela Costa for the better.

    After the election last May I was filled with hope because we had a new government, our government. To my delight an Englishman received the honour of being appointed councillor for the coast. Since those early days of optimism, I and thousands like me have been bitterly disappointed at Mr. Houliston’s lack of courage and commitment by resigning his post before he achieved any of his party’s promises.

    His widely publicised comments about his former political ally seemed to be incredible and it has drawn me to examine this so called demon more closely. Is this man Pedro Mancebo a liar and a cheat? Does he spend his time blocking progress? Is he out to line his pockets and do nothing to help the people of Orihuela Costa who voted for him? Does he break his promises?

    From what I have seen with my own eyes, from what I have been told by those who have local businesses and from those who work in the community quite a different picture appears of Pedro Mancebo than what I read that the former councillor for the coast has widely publicised. Pedro Mancebo:
    • Meets regularly with business associations, residents groups, parent’s associations, churches and community leaders.
    • He is actively looking for a location for a new library
    • He has instigated a plan to eradicate graffiti from our area
    • He has kept his election manifesto promises by reducing town hall salaries and by making sure that there was more than one elected councillor operating in the Playa Flamenca town hall.
    • Organise the best St. Patrick’s Day parade and other fiestas to promote tourism to our area.
    • He has organised the beautifying of La Regia Park.
    • He has organised the donation of 6,000 palm trees for public use.
    • Is available day and evening to speak with people who need to meet with someone in authority.
    • He works round the clock in our interest.

    Raymond Kearney
    Business Owners of Orihuela Costa


Please be courteous and add your name rather than 'Anonymous' to your comment, as it may not be published. In the 'Comment as' box above use the drop-down menu and select 'Name/URL'. In the 'Edit profile' pop-up enter your name and press continue. There will be a period of delay before your comment appears on the article until I receive the automatic notification that you have made one and can authorised its publication.

Any comment that includes vulgar language, racist remarks or anything of that nature will either be edited or not published at my discretion.