VISITORS to Orihuela Costa’s beaches this summer(and all year) have been greeted with the unusual sight of closed beach bars and no basic facilities like toilets, sun loungers or equipment hire.

The Lomas and Cabo Roig residents association have been told by Orihuela’s new coastal councillor, Manuel Mestre, that nothing will happen this year, leaving visitors to bring their own refreshments for a day out by the sea.

Areas like Campoamor, La Zenia, Mil Palmeras and Cabo Roig have been left in the embarrassing position of offering little or no beach services due to a legal row that started under the previous council.

The old beach contract was operated by Chiringuitos del Sol for a number of years at 11 beaches in the area.

Disputes between the firm and Orihuela council are nothing new and a disagreement led to a delayed tender process in 2018 which didn’t see bars open that year until early August.

There had also been previous allegations from rival bidders saying that tender processes in the past were unfair.

When the current franchise came up for renewal in January, progress on a new tender was almost non-existent as Chiringuitos took legal action to claim for losses caused by Storm Gloria damage and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite the hitch, the former beaches councillor, Antonio Sanchez, promised that everything would be open in early April in time for Easter, but nothing happened.

Manuel Mestre told the Lomas and Cabo Roig residents association that a ‘new kind of tender will be drawn up’ where beach bar contracts will not be advertised ‘en bloc’ but split into groups or staggered over different time periods with separate contracts for activities like water sports.

Mestre did not rule out food trucks being able to provide a service at some of the beaches this summer, but none have been spotted.

In May, all of the Orihuela Costa’s beaches kept their 11 Blue Flags for the sixth consecutive year, and its possible that a lack of services may threaten that status for next year.

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