SAFETY RE­VIEWED ON COSTA PROMS

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - By CBN News­desk team

EX­TRA se­cu­rity mea­sures - in­clud­ing the plac­ing of bol­lards and planters - have been taken to pro­tect Costa prom­e­nades and pedes­trian streets from po­ten­tial ter­rror­ist at­tacks.

In the light of what hap­pened in Barcelona last week, and more specif­i­cally the at­tack along the prom­e­nade in Cam­brils on the Costa Do­rada, lo­cal coun­cils have acted promptly to re­duce the risk in th­ese ar­eas.

Benidorm was one of the first coun­cils to re­act by plac­ing ex­tra planters and bol­lards to block ac­cess to prom­e­nades and main shop­ping ar­eas such as Calle Gambo.

Al­tea, Al­faz del Pi, Dé­nia and other towns have taken sim­i­lar ac­tion.

Although the ter­ror­ist alert level has not been in­creased by the Min­istry of the In­te­rior, the pres­ence of ex­tra, heav­ily armed po­lice has been no­tice­able.

CEN­TRAL gov­ern­ment has de­cided not to in­crease the level of alert for ter­ror­ist at­tacks to a max­i­mum of five and in­stead keep it at four.

How­ever, in­te­rior min­is­ter Juan Ig­na­cio Zoido said ad­di­tional po­lice would be drafted in to tourist ar­eas and for spe­cial events.

He also noted that the gov­ern­ment will in­crease co­op­er­a­tion with Lo­cal Po­lice forces so they can help out with pro­tec­tion and pre­ven­tion.

In the case of Barcelona, se­cu­rity ex­perts had strongly sug­gested that anti-ter­ror­ist bar­ri­ers be in­stalled along the iconic Las Ram­blas walk­ing streets. But the ad­vice was ig­nored by the may­oress, Ada Co­lau. Ac­cord­ing to the may­oress, “pro­to­cols were re­vised” which in­cluded an in­creased po­lice pres­ence, but no bar­ri­ers were ever in­stalled.

On Wed­nes­day, it was an­nounced that the may­oress had re­con­sid­ered that de­ci­sion and will be plac­ing ob­sta­cles at the en­trance of Las Ram­blas shortly.

Costa au­thor­i­ties do not wish to make the same mis­take.

Ali­cante

This week, Ali­cante coun­cil has placed huge planters to block any pos­si­ble ve­hi­cle ac­cess to the pop­u­lar Pos­tiguet beach prom­e­nade (see front page).

Na­tional Po­lice pres­ence has also in­creased along the Pos­tiguet and the Es­planada prom­e­nades.

Benidorm

On Fri­day, fol­low­ing the five min­utes si­lence at Benidorm town hall, mayor Toni Pérez spoke to CBN, who raised ques­tions and con­cerns about se­cu­rity in the re­sort.

He said that mea­sures had been on­go­ing and im­ple­mented since De­cem­ber 2016. "We do not pub­li­cise th­ese se­cu­rity mea­sures as it would de­feat the ob­ject. We are util­is­ing free re­sources when and if pos­si­ble, such as ad­ver­tis­ing trail­ers, to place ob­struc­tions at pedes­tri­anised ar­eas."

This was ev­i­dent through­out the re­sort.

How­ever some peo­ple did not wel­come the ac­tion. One res­i­dent posted a com­ment on Face­book, ask­ing: “Why is there an ad­ver­tis­ing trailer re­strict­ing an al­ready nar­row road, used by thou­sands of peo­ple on the street? Is it a favour to the ad­ver­tiser?” He was re­fer­ring to a Benidorm Palace trailer po­si­tioned at the bot­tom of the walk­ing street by the Par­que de Elche.

Rapidly, fel­low com­men­ta­tors jumped on his back, crit­i­cis­ing his re­mark, say­ing they wel­comed any bar­ri­ers that would hin­der a sim­i­lar at­tack here.

In other ar­eas gi­ant planters have been po­si­tioned, but space still needs to be left to al­low for ac­cess by the emer­gency ser­vices. The aim is to erect ob­struc­tions to make it dif­fi­cult for a ve­hi­cle to gain mo­men­tum and speed in a busy area.

One of the ar­eas that has been pro­tected by plac­ing planters this week has been Calle Mal­lorca (com­monly known as The Square among Brits, and the ma­jor­ity of Bri­tish bars and clubs are lo­cated in this area).

Na­tional and Lo­cal Po­lice are also car­ry­ing out more spot checks, es­pe­cially on those driv­ing along the prom­e­nade.

Many have ques­tioned why ve­hi­cles are still al­lowed along the Le­vante front, but the nu­mer­ous bars and res­tau­rants need de­liv­er­ies and there are garage en­trances for all the front­line apart­ments, so this is vir­tu­ally an im­pos­si­ble sit­u­a­tion se­cu­rity wise.

How­ever, a line of cast-iron knee-high lamps sep­a­rates the cen­tral driv­ing lane from the rest of the prom­e­nade on ei­ther side.

Through­out sum­mer, Na­tional Po­lice have set up ran­dom check­points at main ac­cess roads to the re­sort. Yes­ter­day (Thurs­day), they were lo­cated at the exit of the AP-7 toll road and on the ac­cess to Benidorm from La Nucía and the N--332 by­pass.

Al­tea

In Al­tea, the se­cu­rity coun­cil­lor stated that large planters and dec­o­ra­tive iron and gran­ite el­e­ments have been put in place in cer­tain ar­eas as a pre­cau­tion.

He also said: "Guardia Civil and Lo­cal Po­lice will have a more vis­i­ble street pres­ence to serve as a de­ter­rent. The town hall do not wish to alarm cit­i­zens, all we are do­ing is look­ing out for their safety."

Dé­nia

A cen­tral Dé­nia street has now been en­tirely blocked off to ve­hi­cles for 'safety rea­sons' – although the de­ci­sion to keep vans and lor­ries out com­ing at the same time as the Barcelona ter­ror­ist at­tack may be purely co­in­ci­dence.

Calle La Vía, which runs par­al­lel with the main Mar­qués de Campo boule­vard and opens onto the port, has long been shut to traf­fic, but de­liv­ery ve­hi­cles ac­cess it through the ad­join­ing Calle Car­los Sentí to un­load.

Now, the load­ing bays have been moved to the slot be­tween the Car­los Sentí and Calle Pa­tri­cio Fer­rán­diz, which is not pedes­tri­anised, and fixed bol­lards pre­vent any ve­hi­cles en­ter­ing Calle La Vía at all.

Ac­cord­ing to the coun­cil, the move is in re­sponse to res­i­dents' com­plaints about hav­ing to share walk­ing space with lor­ries.

But th­ese be­ing fit­ted in the wake of the Barcelona mas­sacre has sparked spec­u­la­tion that their real pur­pose is to pre­vent a sim­i­lar at­tack in Dé­nia.

Whether or not this is the case, lor­ries and vans be­ing kept out means lo­cals and vis­i­tors now feel safer walk­ing in the area.

Al­bir-Al­tea prom­e­nade

Al­faz del Pi and Al­tea coun­cils have also placed planters along the prom­e­nade link­ing both towns this week.

The largest have been placed at the end of Al­bir's Paseo de las Estrel­las on the Camp­ing Cap Blanc round­about.

Oth­ers have been placed on the sec­ond round­about, within Al­tea munci­pal­ity, next to El Chirin­guito.

Again, ex­tra po­lice and Guardia Civil pa­trols are vis­i­ble in the­ses ar­eas.

South­ern Costa

In Tor­re­vieja, large con­crete bol­lards have been in­stalled at key points in the town cen­tre, with an em­pha­sis on the prom­e­nades of Juan Apari­cio, Vista Ale­gre and Lib­er­tad.

Mayor José Manuel Dolón de­scribed th­ese as ‘emer­gency mea­sures’ which will be in place at least un­til the end of the sum­mer sea­son.

Other ‘more per­ma­nent struc­tures’ will be pur­chased by the town hall to re­place th­ese bol­lards in the near fu­ture, he re­vealed.

The mayor said that ad­di­tional Lo­cal Po­lice of­fi­cers are pa­trolling seafront ar­eas and po­lice cars are be­ing parked along Paseo Juan Apari­cio as a pro­tec­tion mea­sure.

Santa Pola may­oress Yolanda Seva also an­nounced that ad­di­tional po­lice of­fi­cers have been drafted in to pa­trol the prom­e­nades.

Sra Seva noted that the coali­tion coun­cil is ‘con­sid­er­ing the in­stal­la­tion of con­crete blocks or large flower pots’ in th­ese ar­eas, with the walk­ways cur­rently pro­tected by po­lice ve­hi­cles.

In San­ti­ago de la Rib­era, large metal flower pots have been in­stalled at the en­trance to the prom­e­nade at Playa Bar­nuevo by San Javier town hall.

The pots have been lined up in a row, block­ing en­trance to ve­hi­cles.

Read­ers' opin­ions

“They re­ally should have had safety bar­ri­ers up, iron posts on the pave­ments like the ones they set up to stop peo­ple park­ing,” says Jean Adams.

“Be­cause it could hap­pen any­where. It's been hap­pen­ing all over the world, in Lon­don, Paris, and now even Fin­land. But you can't just stay in­doors and let them scare you; Spain hasn't had any­thing like this since the Madrid bomb­ing in 2004.

“I think we're pretty safe in Pego, though. It seems to be mainly big ci­ties or big events.

“And it's noth­ing to do with re­li­gion. I can't be­lieve there's any holy book that tells you to go around killing peo­ple, and there are killers in ev­ery re­li­gion and athe­ists, too. I hope the Mus­lims here don't get any back­lash, be­cause they al­ways seem to suf­fer when­ever there's some­thing like this, and it's not their fault, it's noth­ing to do with them or their re­li­gion.”

“Where is it go­ing to end?” won­ders

Mar­ian Rus­sell from Oliva. “It's been Lon­don, Paris, Ger­many, Fin­land, Manch­ester, and now Barcelona, but I don't think it'd hap­pen around here – it's not a well known enough area. There's prob­a­bly more risk in ci­ties like Barcelona and Madrid.

“It could hap­pen any­where, but it's in­ter­est­ing that the places in the UK, for ex­am­ple, that have es­caped are those where ev­ery­one just lives side by side and gets on with life to­gether. Like in Liver­pool, it's re­ally cos­mopoli­tan and ev­ery­one's ac­cepted, you hardly ever hear of racism and most of the black, Ir­ish and Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion are more Liver­pudlian than the Bri­tish there be­cause they go back so many gen­er­a­tions. Ter­ror­ism seems to hap­pen where there's racism and dis­crim­i­na­tion.”

Photo by Án­gel Gar­cía

Heav­ily armed Na­tional Po­lice and planters placed at the ac­cess to Pos­tiguet beach in Ali­cante

Photo by Irena Bodnarec

Planters pro­tect­ing ac­cess to Calle Mal­lorca in Benidorm

Planters in Al­tea at the end of Avenida Jaume I

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