Tuesday 8th February 2022 – CARLOS LÓPEZ with Mike Smith
The Valencian Anti-Fraud Agency has published the final resolution of the investigation that it opened at the request of an anonymous complaint regarding the premises of Punta del Arenal in Xàbia in which it has given Xàbia Council and the Ministry of Justice three months to formalize the closure of the seven premises that exist at that point on the Arenal beach since they do not have the corresponding license or report from Costas as they are in an area affected by regional department.
The final resolution was published this Monday and, throughout 39 pages, the Agency details all the research it has carried out on the situation of the opening licenses of seven businesses. According to the information in the file, none of the venues have the mandatory license nor the permission of Costas for the development of the activity, and whose closure was ordered by the local council at the end of September.
In the document, it is stated that the premises “have remained open to the public without having the mandatory municipal license”, information that is extracted from the mayoral decrees issued in relation to each of the establishments and adds that in “none of those files” contains the mandatory report from the Coastal Demarcation or the Autonomous Department of Coasts.
But it goes further and states that in the files of the seven businesses that the Agency has reviewed, “reports from municipal technicians and inspection records revealed deficiencies that could become a risk to people’s health which had to be corrected (and cites as an example systems for the evacuation of people in case of fire) that had to be resolved immediately.
As evidence, it cites an inspection report from the Policía Local of one of the businesses in 2018, in which the existence of a serious infraction of the regional regulations for carrying out its activity without a license was already recorded.
The Agency also turned its attention to the local council, which Levante-EMV revealed a month ago had not closed the premises because the Department of Justice had not yet ratified the decision. It also pointed out that “both the local and regional administrations, as recognized in one of the reports issued by the technicians corresponding to the local administration involved, promoted the administrative procedures, urging the prompt completion of the procedures initiated and compliance with the Mayor’s Decrees for the cessation of activity”.
Most of them remain open and this was confirmed by Valencian Anti-Fraud Agency: “said establishments have remained open to the public, at least, as indicated in the report to the Mayor of the Policía Local, since August 2018, until the response of the Council to the provisional report (after the anonymous complaint) issued by this Agency, in which it is not mentioned that these establishments have proceeded to adopt measures to cease activity and close down”.
It follows this line in its recommendations and in bold, the Agency underlines this same concept “it has not been communicated by the local administration at the date of preparation of this text, that the provisional measures of closure and total cessation have been complied with of activity of the seven premises and that are contemplated in the mayor’s decrees”.
It also urges the Ministry of Justice to “conclude” the sanctioning files, a process which, according to the report “is in process”, for the “different infractions committed and reported, as they are premises open to the public without the appropriate municipal license and without authorization from mandatory sector of Coasts, in addition to the serious deficiencies in safety detected as evidenced in the investigation carried out. The Agency has granted a term of three months.
After receiving the complaint, the Agency began its investigation and requested a report from the local council on the situation of the aforementioned premises. Thus, on July 23rd 2021, the superintendent of the Policía Local confirmed that the establishmentswere open to the public.
A report from a general administration technician of the local council stated that “the seven entertainment venues to which this action refers are irregularly open to the public, since, in the administrative opening files that are in process, there is no documentation that proves compliance with technical regulations, aimed at guaranteeing compliance with the safety conditions for these premises.
For this reason – the report continues – “the provisional measure of closure of the premises – which is included in the Autonomous Law – will have to be carried out after hearing the interested parties for a period of ten days.”
The municipal technician continues “with everything given that the competence to initiate, instruct and resolve serious or very serious disciplinary proceedings is attributed exclusively to the regional administration, […] it is considered by a criterion of functionality that it should be the regional department or regional administration itself that proceeded to adopt the provisional measure of closure of said premises open to the public without licences”.
In a first report sent to the local council for its reply, it responded to the Anti-Fraud Agency insisting on the arguments and that the closure competence is of the regional government. Some allegations also exposed the “lack of means” in the local council and the “cumulative issues” of the Urban Discipline service (the area in charge of technically and legally informing all licenses). These arguments were rejected “for not providing relevant data”.
To all this, a month ago, it transpired that the owner of four of the seven premises had contracted a Collaborating Body of the Administration to correctly process the licenses of their premises and comply with all legal requirements.