As mayor of Orihuela he has always defended the agriculture of the Vega Baja. How would you assess the current situation in the sector?
Very disturbing. Our agriculture needs water from Tajo-Segura transfer, you need recognition of the quality of your products and you need the defense of our products by the European institutions. In addition, for the Oriolano municipal government, the priority is not to spend 800 million euros on desalinate sea water, when we already have good water from the transfer in quantity and at a competitive price, but the necessary hydraulic works to avoid another DANA.
What would you say are the most important projects that the Orihuela City Council has developed in recent years?
From the City Council, during the past legislature and the current one, we have made a considerable effort in different actions such as the recovery of the Castle of the Moors, of the Palmeral, from House of the miners, the Iberian deposit of los Saladares, The Norias, the Costa Emergency Center, Smart lighting, more than twenty works of the Building Plan, Civic Center of La Aparecida and other multiple performances. We are working on modernization and digitization, participating in different Hubs, in truly being a SMART City, in developing the Creative Industries. I would highlight the recovery of the Historic Center with the ADVANCE, the Kiosk Network in key points of the city, the Bussines park equipped with more than 2 M m2 of industrial land, new sports facilities … We are already in the process of bidding and awarding the recovery of the Rubalcava Palace, the old Box of Monserrate, the Old Courts, the AVE slab, the project of the Civic Center of the coast, different sustainable urban drainage and rainwater works on the coast, in districts and in sensitive neighborhoods of the city, sports facilities, among others.
“We are working on modernization and digitization, on truly being a SMART City”
However, in his latest statements he demanded greater funding from public administrations …
Yes, to fully develop our potential as a municipality we need the help of other administrations in needs such as improving road communication (CV-95, CV-91, CV-930, eliminating the AP-7 toll, actions on CN-340 and CN-332). In addition, it is essential to also improve communication by rail, enhancing the AVE Madrid-Orihuela stop, with a minimum of 14 frequencies, although the optimal figure would be 28 and avoid passing through Alicante and Villena that makes you lose competitiveness. On the other hand, it is necessary update the Alicante – Murcia Cercanías line, and create the Orihuela-Torrevieja line (Train of the Coast). Orihuela has to be the node of travelers by rail, joining us with Andalusia, Madrid and the Mediterranean arch.
What else does a city like Orihuela need to progress as a municipality?
Among the most important needs in terms of Industry and Social services I would mainly emphasize equipping our municipality with industrial land to avoid losses of opportunity and business leaks and the consequent employment, to neighboring municipalities or to Murcia. We need health and educational services in equity with the rest of the Valencian Community and we also demand the recovery of Social Services damaged two years and two months ago by DANA, such as the Oriol Residence, the Oriol Occupational Center and the CRIS, and the acquisition of the facilities of the previous Asylum to house them adequately.
“Our agriculture needs water from the Tajo-Segura transfer”
How do you see the future of Orihuela?
The future of Orihuela It is undoubtedly very promising, but an important aspect must be taken into account for the future of our city. While it is true that the Plan of Territorial Action of the Valencian Community (Patricova) states that our municipality, for the most part, is in flood zone or with geomorphological risk, it is also true that all this can be saved by carrying out the pertinent studies and as long as the competent authorities execute the hydraulic infrastructures to alleviate floods. So in no case are we going to give up anything, any project that will lead us to the progress of our city, projects such as the Fire Station or the new Business Park.
Do you consider that your municipality receives fair financing according to the needs of its population?
As to financing, the poor brother of all administrations is municipalism, those who receive the least funding are the municipalities and yet, being the closest to citizens, we have to respond to their needs, assuming competencies that correspond to the autonomous administration . The financing of Orihuela and Vega Baja is not fair, it is very unfair. If the Valencian Community demands that “fair financing”, Orihuela is literally “the south of the south” of the community, being the region that has received the least investment, generating that recognized historical debt.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.