Protests continue in Orihuela as the market traders fight against the local council to remain in their current location in the centre of Orihuela, in Los Andenes.
The dispute has been rumbling on for some time now, the councillor for markets, Manuel Gallud, determined to move the market from its current location next to the Glorieta Gabriel Miró, the vast open plaza in the heart of the local shopping area to a new area near to Calle Mayor, an area closer to the old quarter, which tends to be more residential and less commercial.
Market traders said on Saturday that they couldn´t understand the logic of why the market had to move, disputing the argument that shops lining the streets they occupied lost trade because the centre of the roads were filled with their stalls. They maintain that the market attracts a larger number of shoppers to the streets and that the space they occupy is not restricting the ability of potential shoppers to park, as the streets are no-parking throughout the week.
Indeed, bar owners maintain that the market attracts more clients to their bars, one man stating that his takings are tripled on a Saturday due to the presence of the market.
The stallholders are determined not to back down, and last week presented a petition of over 1500 signatures to the concejal as part of their campaign to remain in situ, and this weekend passed the petition around shoppers at the market and the local shops in an effort to gain more weight to their campaign.
In addition, placards and banners were prominently displayed on the central roundabout in the heart of the market and on roadsigns, affirming their determination to stay put.
The traders are unhappy that the proposed location to which they must move is on the edge of the old quarter, and say that the proposed move is more about trying to attract more people into the old quarter and less about generating revenue for them. The old quarter is noticeably quieter on a Saturday than the main shopping area of town, tending to attract more tourists and less residents.
These street markets are an absolute joy for tourists undoubtedly, as well as for locals, the pleasure of wandering around a street market and picking up fresh produce and bits and bobs at attractive prices making shopping so much more of an enjoyable morning out than battling the trolleys of the masses in a soulless striplit supermarket, so there is some logic in trying to make the markets appeal to a tourist audience, however traders maintain that there is no sound basis for this proposed change of location other than “capricho” or mere whim.
To them, there is no clear justification for the move, and they want to stay exactly where they are now.
And for the punters……those fresh strawberries at just over 2 euros a kilo in February and four good little lettuces for a euro? No complaints. Other than from the man who had to lug the impulse purchases back through the Mediaeval market to the car.
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