- Orihuela ends 2017 with less than 80,000 residents, the lowest figure in 10 years
- The municipality has lost 4,000 residents in the last 12 months which will have an impact on state revenues
- Three quarters of the decrease in population is attributed to urbanisations on the Orihuela Costa.
Orihuela has ended 2017 with the lowest number of residents in recent years. The National Institute of Statistics (INE) gave the “bad news” to the City Council three weeks ago when it announced that just 76,097 residents make up the registered population of Orihuela, although the data maintained by the Council numbers 80,140, from which 2,000 are yet to be removed as the department responsible is still to catch up with cross referencing many of the names.
So the final figure will just exceed 78,000 inhabitants, the lowest number recorded in the municipality since 2006 when the population, according to the INE, stood at 77,979 inhabitants.
The decrease in population has been apparent since 2014, when the City Council were first warned of the decrease by the INE, warning them of 8,000 inhabitants that could not be located, mainly on the Orihuela Costa.
This updates provided by the INE has seen the city population falling at a rate of about 2,000 inhabitants annually, although this year the figure is 4,000 fewer registered than in 2016, when the population was at 80,359 inhabitants.
A similar situation for other municipalities in Alicante, especially those along the coast, such as Torrevieja, Benidorm and the towns of the Marina Alta, where the foreign population is very large and many, when leaving the country, do not remove their details from the padrón. The INE now shares its data with municipalities much more effectively.
The decrease in population is especially pronounced in the Orihuela Costa where there are 28,000 registered voters, a loss of almost 3,000 inhabitants from the last census. The most pronounced loss has been of British residents which had decreased on the padrón by about 1,500 people.
Britons make up the most numerous nationality of all the coastal urbanizations, with 8,000 residents born in Great Britain who are residing continuously throughout the year, along with the Germans and, rather fewer Scandinavians. They are only surpassed by the Spaniards who, although it may not seem so, are the majority nationality on the coast of Oriola.
Brexit, although not yet applied, is taking its toll and causes a great deal of concern on the British residents, who a few weeks ago met in the Orihuela Costa with the vice consul of Great Britain, Sara Munsterhjelm. Many said that they fear losing their health rights, although the short-term solution that was given to them by the consul was simple: to register on the padrón.
Paradoxically, the water consumption data does not show a population decline. Quite the opposite. According to this data in Orihuela, there are between 8,000 and 10,000 more people residing than appear on the census, which would place the actual resident population in the town at around 88,000 people, closer to the 90,000 that was recorded four years ago.
This figure suggests that there are many people residing on the Orihuela Costa that are not registered on the padrón (most of them are Europeans), which means that fewer taxes are being collected and with less taxes the transfer made by the state to the city is smaller which also meand fewer services.
The councillor of Statistics Noelia Grao, who believes that Orihuela Costa could have two health centres instead of one, because it is measured by population and the number of health cards SIP (Population Information System) issued says “Many foreign residents forget to confirm their decision to maintain residency in Spain, which must be renewed every 2 or 5 years, depending on their country of origin. As such when they subsequently need to use the medical services and they go to the doctor they find that their SIP card has been deactivated, which would not happen if they too the time to renew.”
“The need to be registered is the responsibility of every individual which also allows residents the right to vote in municipal elections, of which many people are unaware,” says Grao.
The councillor of International Residents, Sofía Álvarez, confirms this. “If people are in doubt at to whether or not they appear on the padrón, or if they know that their padrón has expired, they should call in to the desk situated in the Orihuela Costa Town Hall. This will increase the numbers of residents who are registered and confirm their entitlement to health cards as well as increasing the income and the services available in the municipality”.