SAFETY REVIEWED ON COSTA PROMS
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
Heavily armed National Police and planters placed at the access to Postiguet beach in Alicante
Planters protecting access to Calle Mallorca in Benidorm
Planters in Altea at the end of Avenida Jaume I