Children from the School of Music in San Bartolomé have written to the mayor of Orihuela asking for repairs to the school heating system which has remained broken all winter.

The lessons take place in the municipal Civic Centre which is used by people from 3 to over 70 years of age with the temperature rarely rising above 5 degrees centigrade. As such, anyone using the facility has to wrap up warm, with overcoats, scarves, hoods and gloves, if they are remaining in the building for any length of time, as is the case with the music students who can remain there for two or more hours at a time.

Being so well wrapped up can make learning difficult, since it is almost impossible to play any instrument while wearing gloves or a hood.  But the students have no other choice if they are to retain any degree of warmth.

Suffering even more than the children, perhaps, are the many members of the retired community who risk their health every time they use the centre for their meetings, their clubs or their games. 

The Musical Union of San Bartolomé uses the facilities twice a week for their rehearsals, a spokesperson from which said that “there are three government departments that are responsible for the Civic Centre, Education, Culture and Social Welfare, and they are all passing the buck to each other.  None of the departments is willing to accept any responsibility.”

“We have had this situation for 3 or 4 years, they come to fix it but it quickly breaks down again.”

Fed up with this situation, the children have now decided to take matters into their own hands and many of them have now written to the mayor of Orihuela, Emilio Bascuñana, telling him of their problems.

So that he fully understands their plight they have also drawn lots of pictures of students sitting in the cold classrooms wearing their outdoor clothing as they try to study in the uncomfortable conditions.

“Please, send someone to fix it, we’re cold. My grandfather also goes there to the Third Age club and I’m scared he’ll get sick because of the cold, “says Aitana, a music student. Another letter is briefer, but with a clear message, “we cannot study! Heating, now!

There are pictures of shivering penguins, thermometers and a brazier with everyone standing around it, and, of course, the consequences of the cold are well summarised by one young boy in his letter “we can also catch cold because of the cold conditions that we have to sit in and nobody wants to have colds, that’s why I would like you to fix the heating”. Messages that warm up even the coldest heart.

Speaking to the Spanish press a municipal spokesman said that Social welfare have asked for a budget to carry out the repairs but first they have to send a technician to find out exactly what the problems are. So it seems that whilst the council bureaucrats push around the paperwork from the comfort of their warm offices Aitana and her grandfather will have to bear the cold for a little while longer.