At half gas. The Torrevieja Town Hall maintains since December one of the main markets in the Valencian Community 50% of the supply of positions on the grounds that it does not have the means to control capacity. At the beginning of December, and despite the measures that were adopted to face the third wave, the autonomous administration changed its strategy when it came to raising the restrictions for the covid in these traditional commercial spaces: from limiting the number of positions located to reducing capacity. It left the option to the city councils to allow the installation of one hundred percent of the positions in exchange for guaranteeing that a capacity not exceeding 50% was met. Almost all municipalities have adopted this last measure. But not Torrevieja.
The nearly five hundred merchants who are awarded public domain space at the city’s Friday market must take turns every week. It is a fact that is unreal because the trickle of casualties is constant due to the impact of the pandemic and since the municipality decided to maintain those limitations. Something that has happened at the same time that large shopping centers, supermarkets, the rest of the markets of the Vega Baja region in almost all municipalities -a very relevant sector in Bajo Segura- and small businesses have recovered, in different phases, certain normality in schedules and capacities.
The delegate councilor of Markets, Antonio Vidal, to the claims of the associated vendors, many of them autonomous from municipalities of the Vega Baja, he has limited himself to giving the same answer in all the plenary sessions in which he has been asked: the City Council is processing a security contract for access to municipal buildings and precincts that include the market place to avoid the division of services: hiring for different locations and events. The processing of this contract, which takes place in a dozen acts of the contracting table for different procedures, is still under evaluation of offers.
After the first wave, the City Council recovered the capacity of the market for the summer season. And he publicly sold that he could do it with the reinforcement of the Local Police and the help of Civil Protection volunteers, in addition to an emergency private security contract that ran out at the end of last year.
“Are we being taken for a ride”
“The Torrevieja City Council is kidding us, it is cheating us … They do not put any will and we do not know why. Things can be done in many ways,” he explains Antonio Aguilar, President of Associated Merchants, that brings together many of the merchants of the Vega Baja. This group has once again reiterated its request for an urgent meeting with the mayor Eduardo Dolon (PP) and the mayor Vidal, for which there is still no answer.
“It cannot be that all the markets in the Vega Baja, such as Almoradí, Callosa and the eleven of Orihuela are one hundred percent and Torrevieja does not. It seems incomprehensible to us that this continues like this, that we continue to pay the same rates and because we do not have three or four people guarding the capacity, this does not start. We do not know what reasons this responds to, ”Aguilar explains. This platform came to ask the municipality to pay for the security necessary to control the capacity, without success – as it is a municipal market it is a discarded option because the services must be provided by the City Council.
Prepared to receive thousands of people
The Torrevieja flea market is one of the most prepared in the Valencian Community to host this type of activity and do it in a big way without risks. It has an area of approximately 80,000 square meters, fenced and with three identified entrances for vehicles and the public and designed to carry out this weekly market: the site cost five million euros with the aim of removing the market from the urban area.
Within those 80,000 meters, around 15,000 are now being used as parking, in addition to another 15,000 outside that correspond to the fairgrounds and concerts next to the water park. There is plenty of space and means to reopen 100%, according to merchants who also question that Torrevieja exempts other sectors from the payment of the public domain, such as the hospitality industry and does not do it for markets.
The one in Torrevieja is a flea market that now attracts mainly residents in the urbanizations of the city and other municipalities, very popular among the retired population of Europeans and where you can still find the best value for money in fresh products and clothing. Also, although now to a lesser extent, after leaving the town, it is a market where a lot of Torrevieja population is supplied.
Vidal has explained that the municipality is still waiting to make improvements in this space, such as the installation of a canopy at the bus stop of the special line that provides service every Friday to bring the commercial space closer to the residents of the urban area . In addition, to adapt the enclosure to the COVID measures, the planters that prevented a more regular distribution of the space were removed.
On the other hand, while Torrevieja’s weekly market, which is held every Friday, languishes while the control of some of those that take place in the region and that are not municipally managed apply the measures more loosely. This is the case that takes place every Sunday in Campico de Guardamar, within the protection of the natural park, with the arrival of hundreds of vehicles that invade the terraces just 300 meters from the shore of the Laguna de la Mata, Without the administration of the natural park, the Seprona or the Guardamar City Council acting because the management company maintains a judicial dispute to preserve its activity.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.