The row regarding the new locations for Orihuela’s two main weekly markets continues to rumble on, and on Wednesday residents and stallholders joined forces to protest against the changes made by councillor Manuel Gallud.
Around a hundred people gathered to express their discontent in the first of a series of planned protests, including residents from the Las Monserratinas areas and from Los Andenes, where Sr Gallud proposes that the Tuesday market should be held in future. The market traders’ spokesman Roberto García criticized the “improvisation” with which Sr Gallud appears to be approaching the task of re-locating the markets, saying that by making so many changes the only thing he is achieving is to make himself look foolish.
But Sr Gallud is also now facing criticism on another front related to the changes he has made regarding the weekly markets.
On Thursday council workers began marking out the sites for the new market location in the historic city centre using the same bright green paint which had been used in Las Moserratinas a few days before, to the surprise and dismay of local residents, shopkeepers and visitors. Many were mystified at how the council reached the decision to spoil the appearance of these historic streets, alongside monuments many of which have been declared Items of Cultural Interest or National Monuments, and all of which form part of the rich historical and architectural heritage of the city.
Streets such as Calle Alfonso XIII and Calle Mayor are being marked out with stall positions and numbers right next to the historic churches and palaces, leaving some onlookers incredulous. These included shopkeepers and residents, who now realize that the stalls will block the shop windows or even the entrances to their houses, and are surprised that the markings are being painted even before the date of transferring the market has been announced.
Not long ago definitive dates were given for the transfer, which would have meant the market moving this weekend,but these dates are all now up in the air once again as the rows continue.
The response from Sr Gallud’s political opponents has been indignant. David Costa, of the PP, called the green markings “an act of aggression against the city’s heritage”, and referred to the painting around the cathedral as “madness”. While refraining from commenting on the decision to relocate the market to the centre, he said he would be talking to the regional government’s department of Culture and the heritage management board about the issue.
In addition he expressed doubts regarding the wisdom of locating part of the market on the bridge, due to the possibility that rubbish will end up in the River Segura.
Summing up, Sr Costa is of the opinion that if you’re going to do something, you might as well do it properly, “with the agreement of all those involved and with reports”, but unfortunately he believes that there is no report which justifies the changes which have been made with regard to Orihuela’s markets.
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