Update 29 November: Arona Ayuntamiento has once again put the contract for the sunbeds out to tender. The period for submissions is from today, 29 November, to 13 December. For anyone who might consider taking them on, sealed bid submissions are made via the Oficinas de Atencion Ciudadana del Ayuntamiento de Arona (SAC). Further information on the procedures, and assistance for those submitting tenders, are available as links at the bottom of the council’s page HERE.
Update 8 October: The lifeguards say that they have at last, this afternoon, received the supplies donated by Ashotel, in association with FuenteAlta, Grupo Hospitalario Quirón de Tenerife, MareNostrum and Mutua 2008. They wish to express their gratitude for the collaborative effort and hope that they will soon have their salaries. I’m sure everyone will wish to express gratitude for the lifeguards own continued efforts despite Arona’s despicable, shameful and inept handling of the situation.
Update 5 October: It really is quite unbelievable. Not only have the lifeguards still not been paid, but 2013’s summer has passed completely without sunbeds and parasols on Arona’s beaches. Moreover, the procedure to award the contract to another sunbed provider had last week almost come to an end when it was called to a halt and thrown out: journalists and anti-corruption investigators are crawling all over the council and yet someone still thought they could get away with a bit of backhanded information passing to hlp one of those submitting tenders. This was discovered, of course, and so it’s back to square one with the entire procedure.
Bad enough, you’d think, but no. Ashotel, the hotel association, made a donation to the lifeguards on Wednesday of essential medical supplies including first-aid kits and medications which should, by rights, have been supplied by the Ayuntamiento. There was no doubt an element of self-interest behind the act, but we can’t look gift horses in the mouth, and it served a dire need and should be applauded. The donation was handed personally to mayor Niño by the president of the association, Jorge Marichal, himself, and it would have been expected to find its way to the lifeguards immediately. It is, however, still not delivered despite publicity photos showing the handover being published the same day.
There is a Spanish word, sinvergüenza, which designates a scoundrel who has no shame. I can’t think of a better word to apply to Arona Ayuntamiento which has either confiscated or refused to deliver these supplies.
Update 3 September: And now, with summer over, and Arona mired in corruption cases left, right and centre, it gets yet worse. The Public Prosecutor has announced criminal proceedings against 15 Arona politicians – almost the entire cohort of Arona Ayuntamiento’s governing party is going to be in the dock for corruption. This is separate to the Court of Auditors investigation of public spending irregularities. It is also separate to the Caso Arona – all five or so separate actions which comprise the whole scandal. In what is, or should be, a coup de grâce to Arona’s leaders, 12 of the 13 members of the Coalición Canaria ruling group have been indicted, including ex-mayor Reveron – who had to be forced out of office because of his own corruption proceedings – and current mayor Niño. The news has been broken by the scourge of corruption in Arona, Aquí Sur, from whom there is no doubt much more to come.
Update 5 July: The Tribunal de Cuentas is to investigate the so-called “economic black hole” of some €300,000 in Arona caused by the chaos in the contracts awarded for beach concessions (sunbeds, unbrellas, etc). It appears, now, that the three adjudications, which have brought virtually no money into Arona’s coffers during 2012 and 2013, were null and void from 2011 and renewed over the last two years in verbal form only.
The Tribunal de Cuentas is a national independent state supervisory body for the country’s economic administration, including the public sector. It appears that it will also look at Arona’s economic administration in general, in addition to investigating the particular problems surrounding the €300,000 deficit. Since José Antonio Reverón denounced the matter to the public prosecutor (as posted below on 17 June), there are now two formal investigations ongoing into Arona’s finances.
Update 1 July: The service company that has operated the sunbeds and umbrellas on Los Cristianos beach for a decade removed them this morning, as can be seen in the above photo from earlier today. Arona Ayuntamiento has been silent on the matter, so it remains speculative, but it appears that the Canarian Government has decided to enforce the multiple technical reports which showed the service on Arona beaches was illegal, and that the contractor, Nanelbrusco SL, has pre-empted the inevitable instruction to vacate. Today, Los Cristianos beach. One must presume that Troya and Las Vistas beaches will soon take on the same denuded appearance.
Update 17 June: And now, the sunbed issue is in the Courts. Councillor José Antonio Reverón (not the former mayor, who is José Alberto González Reverón) had just finished testifying in the Caso Arona (the latest in which scandal saw some 20-odd senior Arona Ayuntamiento officials have their corruption case trials confirmed and their appeals rejected just the other day), when he put what we might call the sunbeds case in the hands of the public prosecutor with a denuncia for corruption. Some are now just totting up the numbers of corruption cases in the Courts involving the Arona authorities. The sunbeds case is now popularly known as Caso Arona 5 …
Update 14 June: And so it continues. After sectioning off a part of the beach for private sunbed users, a move that subsequently saw rapid backtracking amidst allegations that the sunbed concession had repeatedly been deemed illegal, it now seems that this summer will find Arona’s Los Cristianos and Troya beaches without any sunbeds or umbrellas at all.
Apart from the questionable contracts, it appears that no money has been coming in to the council from the concession for over a year, leaving a financial hole in the council’s coffers of, in total when all services are taken into account, around €2,000,000. Moreover, the Ayuntamiento’s General Secretary confirmed that when the current contract expired – at the beginning of 2012 – the contract required the sunbeds to be removed.
The municipal legal chief says that the whole thing must now be put out to public tender according to recognized procedures, and insisted that the council brings to an end the current “irregular situation”, a situation evidenced by numerous reports issued since early 2011. With just a week or so now to go before the summer period formally starts, the chaos on Arona’s beaches shows no sign of improving. If anything, it is just getting worse and worse.
Update 29 April: Is Arona to be condemned for ever to live in the shadow of incompetence and maybe even worse? After the fiasco of the sectioned-off beach for the concessiary to exploit, it now appears that the contracting service of the Ayuntamiento has warned the environment department at least 26 times that, on the basis of technical reports, seasonal services on Los Cristianos and Troya beaches, and the sunbed concession on Playa de las Vistas, should be suspended because they are being run illegally. A report from the municipal Contratación service dated 25 March is categorical: “Since 7 February 2011 there have been 26 warnings that there is no legal basis for the provision of such unauthorized services and they should be ordered to be suspended”. And of course the lifguards …
What does it take … ?
Update 18 April: It seems that the Ayuntamiento is having second thoughts about putting up notices about “exclusive use” of parts of Playa de las Vistas because they are “rather aggressive”. Concejal de Medio Ambiente, Antonio Sosa, said that the council was now seeking alternatives to the notices, but not to the rule itself, because “that is specified in the conditions drawn up by the Ayuntamiento”. While announcing this, Sr Sosa also confirmed that his department had spoken with the Dept of Costas: it was a formal matter, he said, to which a solution is being sought. Why do I get the distinct feeling that Arona has overstepped the mark here, and that it’s more than just an issue about “notices”?
Original post 17 April: Arona Ayuntamiento has reserved a section of Playa de las Vistas for those who want to hire sunbeds and sun umbrellas from the resident concessionary company. The general public will no longer be able to use it without paying for a sunbed, and anyone who just wants to put down a towel will have to use the non-reserved part of the beach. These areas are expected to become rather packed in the height of summer, and criticism of the council’s move is widespread.
Despite such criticism, however, signs in both Spanish and English will soon bear witness to the privileged section reserved for those who are prepared to pay for sunbeds, and expressly prohibit leaving a towel or other belongings on the beach. Arona says the service is profitable, raising 1.3 million Euros a year for the concession less just 110,000 paid to Costas. That’s good for the council, of course, but not so good for the many people who actually want to use the beaches without being charged for the privilege.