Once again Orihuela has been awarded eleven Blue Flags that certify the quality of all its beaches -Aguamarina, Barranco Rubio, La Caleta, Cala Capitán, Cala Cerrada, Cala Estaca, Cala Mosca, La Glea, Cala Bosque, Mil Palmeras and Punta Prima, making it the most successful municipality in the Valencian Community and the second in the hole of Spain.

Unfortunately, however, the awards are a nonsense, with, according to the Cabo Roig y Lomas Neighborhood Association, AVCRL, many of the beaches falling short of the requirements necessary to qualify.

In a letter that it has sent to the Association for Environmental and Consumer Education, Adeac, custodian of the Blue Flags, AVCRL has outlined six mandatory conditions that are not being met, based on the guide that Adeac itself has published that are required to receive the award, requirements that must be met before 1 July; otherwise, the flags should be withdrawn.

Residents are aware that “the Blue Flags are an excellent tourist attraction for the municipality, which must be preserved.” However, “so that the beaches of Orihuela are truly eligible for them, the serious deficiencies that they currently have must be resolved.”

The letter raises the repair of the sinkhole on La Caleta beach which has not yet been completed as the integration of the landscape required by the Generalitat Valenciana has not been carried out.

Another requirement is that the beaches must be clean. However, there is only one tractor to clean the sand on all 11 Oriolan beaches, and “when it breaks down, which happens on a regular basis, the beaches are not cleaned. There must also be adequate and clean toilets, which is currently not the case neither is there any control of pets on the beaches, despite there being a specific area for them.

The guide also establishes adequate maintenance of the accesses, walkways and parking areas, many of which are in “a poor state of repair”.

The Association has criticised the poor condition of the beaches on many occasions and, more recently, the blue trail due to “it’s abandonment” and poor maintenance, especially in the section that runs along the perimeter of La Caleta beach.

Neighbourhood associations and beach bar workers recently demonstrated, demanding the recovery of services and improvements to the beaches, fearing that they would lose the 11 blue flags, but more recently, despite a question raised in plenary to the Councillor for Beaches, Antonio Sánchez, the situation remains largely the same.