FRANCO’S legacy may have been dismantled with his high-profile exhumation last October, but in Benidorm a 52-year battle with the remnants of his dictatorship is still raging.
The case concerns the Cervera family, who illegally built a restaurant on the protected Benidorm Island in 1968 in collusion with local authorities.
But two new rulings from the Valencian Community’s High Court of Justice have finally banned Cervera-owned boat services from taking passengers to the island from Benidorm’s port area.
It follows a series of legal battles brought on by local business groups, complaining that illegal Franco-era concessions have been honoured by Partido Popular regional governments since the transition to democracy in 1975.
Jorge Palacios from Costa Blanca Marine, one of two Benidorm businesses fronting the legal actions, said the tourist destination was still ‘plagued’ by these concessions.
“They have made it impossible for other businesses to compete on a level playing field,” he added.
The businesses taking on the action have also complained that Benidorm Island is part of the Serra Gelada national park, and has been subject to a European Commission investigation into environmental damage caused by business activity.
It comes after a legal win in 2018 that saw Benidorm town hall close down the Cerveras family’s restaurant on Benidorm Island, known in Valenciano as l’Illa de Benidorm.
The town hall ruled that, despite 50 years of business, the restaurant still did not own a legitimate ‘operating licence’.
Not that this was hidden knowledge – the island is colloquially known as ‘pirate island’ because of the blatant illegal activities ignored by politicians for decades.
But the four-year battle to shut down boat services run by Cerbuques and Excursiones Maritimas Benidorm has seen them now shut for unauthorised and illegal trading.
The judges said that the area occupied by Cerbuques was never even put out to a public tender, despite written claims to the contrary from a port official employed by Valencian government.
The matter though is not yet closed, as an appeal can be lodged against the court rulings.