The saga regarding the change in locations for Orihuela’s weekly markets continues to drag on, with the Town Hall announcing on Wednesday afternoon that the Tuesday event will now not be relocated to Los Andenes until all the stallholders have made their outstanding licence payments to the local council, and the courts in Elche ruling on Thursday that the council could not force the stallholders to relocate this Saturday as had been planned, as the council have given them insufficient time in which to prepare for the move.
The traders working in the Tuesday market have now been given until 31st March to settle their debts, and only then, when it is certain exactly how many of them are up to date with their payments, will the process of moving the market from Los Huertos begin. Those who have not paid by the end of the month will be fined.
On the one hand, it is clear that the Town Hall needs to set its books straight before the market starts anew at its new location: the figures being quoted in the press suggest that between 80,000 and 90,000 euros are owed in backdated payments by stallholders at the two weekly markets, and clearly Manuel Gallud, the councillor in charge of the markets department, would prefer the new locations to be inaugurated with a clean slate.
In addition, it is believed that plenty of candidates would be more than willing to take the places of any traders who fail to pay their dues, and at the moment around eight Tuesday traders are reported to be behind with their payments.
But on the other hand, it may be that part of the reason for this latest development is that Sr Gallud needs to buy a little time before going ahead with his controversial changes.
It had originally been planned for the Tuesday market to move to its new site next week, but now this will not happen before next month, in time for Easter Week. This will enable the street markings which are needed to be painted before the move takes place, and maybe for tempers to cool down a little in the dispute which has been caused by the councillor’s changes.
Despite all the protests made by both traders and the residents in the Las Monserratinas area of the city, Sr Gallud remains adamant that the new locations he announced at the end of February are final.
In the meantime, the traders at the Saturday market have taken their grievances to the courts system and the Elche courts ruled today ( Thursday) that the traders could not be forced to move on Saturday as they were only notified of the transfer on the 8th and there was insufficient time for them to prepare for the move.
The traders are still for awaiting news regarding the meeting they requested from Mayor Monserrate Guillén last Tuesday in order to find a solution which pleases all parties. However, it now seems unlikely that this meeting will be held before this Saturday, although Orihuela council has three days in which to appeal the court ruling. Traders have yet to decide if they will continue with their planned protest in front of the town hall on Saturday.
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