Concession Saga: Resident of Pula Forbidden from Using a County Road

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The recently adopted Law on Concessions continues to be the talk of the town. We already wrote about how closing off beaches to the general public and charging people to use any beach in Croatia isn’t supported by law, but as expected, this week brought a couple of cases where people were turned away from places under concession or were directly forbidden to use the premises.

One such case comes from Pula, reported by iPress after they got a letter from a reader who was stopped at the entrance to Verudela, a part of town where the Arena Hospitality Group has multiple hotels and restaurants. Arena has had a gate installed at the access road leading to Verudela for a long time now, but the locals were always allowed to use the road and pass through the gate on their way to the beaches on the peninsula. Up until now, that is: the author of the letter said they wouldn’t let her through as she had local car plates and wasn’t a guest at any of the hotels.

This is her original message:

“I just tried to go to the beach on Verudela, but the gate is closed and they wouldn’t open it for the locals. If your car is registered in Pula and you’re not a guest at any of the Park Plaza hotels, it means you can’t go to Verudela by car.

I asked around and if I’m not mistaken, that’s the county road 5132 (tourist resort Verudela, junction with the county road Ž5119).

Who gave them the right to close a county road and decide on who gets to pass and who doesn’t!? I’m a citizen of the Republic of Croatia and I think I’m guaranteed the right to freedom of movement by the Constitution.

I used to support the idea of Muzil*, but now I understand the resistance of my co-citizens. The same thing will happen to us there. We’re becoming third-rate citizens in our own city.

Can the local authorities do something? Can you do something as reporters? Could you at least publish the article and let the story do the work?”

*Muzil is a peninsula in Pula that used to be a military zone back in the 19th century and was closed off to the public for more than 150 years. The City is now planning to turn the area into a luxurious tourist resort with two new marinas, multiple hotels and a golf course. In the light of current events, the citizens of Pula are now rightfully questioning if Muzil will become yet another part of town that locals won’t be allowed to visit.

The Arena Hospitality Group owns and manages multiple objects on Verudela, where it also uses a good part of the coast and the sea – all fine in theory, but they don’t have a legal right to keep locals from visiting the area. iPress is right to ask a burning question: if the owners of Arena ‘own’ the roads and the whole peninsula, how much are they paying the City and the state, and what kind of deal did they get for using the area? Even though we’re talking about public space here, no concession contract was ever published.



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