My neighbour, Eddy Robberecht, has heard some rumours circulating about the Roman remains next to Los Baños de la Reina.
Also, we had both wondered about the excavations on the waste ground next to the remains that took place last year. We had asked the contractors working there what was happening, only to be told that they were ‘just looking for any important archaeological features that might have not yet been excavated’. We were told not to worry, nothing was happening, no building was taking place.
Talking to the Spanish locals, no one else seemed to know what was going on either. The landowners were still in discussions with the council, and the council were adamant that no building was ever going to take place. It was too important a site. Significant mosaics had already been sent to Madrid’s Museum of Archaeology. The Romans had built the Salinas and that land was already protected.
Imagine our surprise and consternation when we found an article in ‘Las Provincias’ (Spanish newspaper) at the end of January saying that ‘the landowner has now been granted permission to build over the remains another bland high-rise set of four apartment blocks. There will be a compromise! The remains will be preserved under the buildings’.
How the High Court of Madrid came to this decision we do not know.
In Britain, a site like this – basically ‘green field’ – would be carefully preserved, researched, and made an open-air feature for the interested public and schools to visit. Herculeum in Cumbria and the Roman remains in Chester are just two examples!
For an outsider like myself, only living here temporarily six months a year, it smacks of corruption in high places. At the very least, it shows that money talks. And long-term retrospective planning has muddied the waters. Chaotic planning permissions are yet another can of worms bleeding the council’s coffers dry in litigation. As a big contractor, if you do something illegal, all you have to do is pay a small fine. Doh!
And WHY has Valencia’s government rescinded the law not to build within 100 metres of the salt strand. It has opened an unwelcome floodgate for greedy builders.
In the name of progress and profit we destroy all those things we love.
I must declare an interest here. Both Eddy and myself live in Las Garzas, and being second line, the view over the remains is the only view of the sea we get.
But HEY! Do the Spanish people place NO VALUE on their social history?
I addressed the monthly meeting of the U3A of Calpe last Thursday. Not one of the 150 members present knew a thing. They were all astounded and concerned. Imagine how the local Spaniards will feel.
César Sánchez Pérez, the fine mayor of Calpe, has been let down: by the media for ignoring this minor news; by the government of Valencia for political infighting, and ignoring a non-party issue in a faraway place; finally, by the courts, who place no value on heritage, and stick to strict rules of law no matter what!
As a little pawn in the war, my only options are to inform the public as best I can. I have started a petition to see if the people of Calpe, including non-residents and visitors, actually care a stuff.
The petition. Click here:
You can use my letter if you like, but at the least, please publicise the petition. It will help.
Dear Mr Williams
We fully support your cause and the petition, and we are sure our readers will contribute too.
Having said this, you may or may not see that we have published your letter as we realise you are not a reader of Costa Blanca News, because despite what you imply that César Sánchez has been ‘let down by the media for ignoring this minor news’, we have covered the issue profusely over the past months – with main headlines in many cases.
You obviously missed the latest that article appeared only last week as the main news story on page 4 (north edition) under the headline ‘Seafront construction halted’. It explained Mayor Sánchez’s refusal to grant building permission on the Casa Neptuno site, which directly affects the Baños de la Reina, as our reporter Jo Pugh pointed out in her story.
And the issue is again a main story on page 9 this week (north edition), underlining the concerns expressed by both the council and Calpe residents.
Of course, if we only rely on the ‘freebies’ as our source of information, we will ‘miss out’ on these important issues. Costa Blanca News has an excellent relationship with both Calpe council, the provincial government and César Sánchez, who has personally congratulated us many times on our news coverage regarding Calpe and the provincial government, of which, as you may know, he is also president. We recommend that if you really want to keep abreast of the important issues affecting not only Calpe but the whole Costa Blanca, and especially those that affect expats directly, you should get a copy of Costa Blanca News every Friday.