News - Costa del Sol Archive 2004-06-23

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Week June 17th to June 23rd 2004.

MÁLAGA STEPS UP SECURITY

City centre to be under video surveillance by early next year

By Dave Jamieson

MÁLAGA MAYOR FRANCISCO DE LA TORRE HAS UNVEILED DETAILS OF A PROJECT TO INSTALL A FIRST PHASE OF 17 CAMERAS IN SIX STREETS AND TWO SQUARES IN THE CITY CENTRE.
The project will now have to be approved by the Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Andalucía before implementation. Each camera will be positioned about five metres above the ground and be fitted with a fish-eye lens to facilitate vision in all directions. Four will be installed in Calle Marqués de Larios, two in Calle Strachan, and four in Plaza de la Constitución, with others spread around the old town and covering a total of 15,000 square metres.

THE BIG BROTHER EFFECT
Security councillor Antonio Cordero said that up to 300 commercial premises will be covered by the cameras in one of the Málaga’s most important and busy areas, where half the city’s crimes are committed. To respect privacy, only public areas will be monitored, said Mayor de la Torre, and control will be with the National Police from a base in Plaza Merced.
To comply with existing laws, recordings of images from the cameras will be kept for a maximum of one month before being destroyed. It will take two months and over 300,000 euros to install the first phase of the project, which the Town Hall hopes to expand to other central areas if results are successful.

NERJA TO FOLLOW SUIT
Nerja may follow Málaga’s lead and install video surveillance in problem areas. Following a meeting called last Friday to discuss security in the town centre, the councillor responsible, Rafael Rivas, said the possibility is being studied ahead of a proposal to be submitted to the provincial government in Málaga. The emergency meeting between councillors and police chiefs followed an incident 10 days ago, reported in last week’s Costa del Sol News, which took place in the late-night bar area of Tutti Frutti Square in which two young men, two Guardia Civil officers and a local police officer were injured.
Speaking for the Partido Andalucista, Antonio Navas Acosta has called for permanent measures at weekends when gangs of youths from the area congregate in Nerja, accompanied by a huge increase in the sale of drugs. He said that a proposal to mount controls at the entrances to Nerja, intended to avoid these people gaining access to the centre, was under consideration.

 

PSOE VICTORIOUS IN EURO ELECTIONS

By Oliver McIntyre

IN BOTH THE PROVINCE OF MÁLAGA AND IN SPAIN AS A WHOLE, THE PARTIDO SOCIALISTA OBRERO ESPAÑOL (PSOE) CAME OUT VICTORIOUS IN LAST WEEKEND’S VOTE FOR THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT.
In Málaga, the PSOE took 51.78 per cent of the vote, compared to 38.6 per cent achieved by the other major party, the Partido Popular. In the last European Parliamentary elections, in 1999, the PSOE received 38.49 per cent of the votes and the PP 41.43 per cent.
Nationally, the PSOE took 43.3 per cent of the vote (winning 25 of Spain’s 54 seats), the PP 41.3 per cent (23 seats), the GalEusCa nationalist coalition party 5.17 per cent (three seats), the IU-ICV-EUIA leftist coalition party 4.16 per cent (two seats) and the EdP regional coalition party 2.49 per cent (1 seat).

A RECORD LOW VOTER TURNOUT
In both Málaga and the rest of the country, voter turnout was a record low (also reflecting a generally low turnout in the EU as a whole). Nationally, voter turnout was 45.94 per cent and in the province of Málaga it was 38.97 per cent (compared, for example, to Málaga’s 73.15 per cent turnout in the general and regional elections held on March 14 of this year).
The local foreign-resident population was no exception to the rule of low enthusiasm for the European vote. Of the 78,351 EU citizens officially registered as residents in the province of Málaga, just 15,001 (19.14 per cent) signed up to vote in the European Parliamentary elections here. It was a slightly lower percentage than in 1999, when 21 per cent of the then 43,431 registered foreign residents signed up for the European vote.

BRITS TOP THE LIST OF FOREIGNERS
In last week’s election, the British were the single most-represented group of foreigners signed up to vote, with 7,050, followed by Germans (1,804) and Italians (1,004). Marbella was the Málaga town with the greatest number of foreigners signed up to vote, with 2,120 (575 of them British), while on the other end of the scale was the small town of Atajate, with exactly one foreign voter – a lone Brit.

 

BRIT ARRESTED AFTER HIGH-SPEED CHASE IN HASH BOAT

NEWS Staff Reporter

An Englishman was arrested by Guardia Civil agents on Sunday after a spectacular high-speed boat chase that was witnessed by startled beach-goers along the Nerja-Vélez coast and at times put the lives of swimmers at risk, according to Guardia officers. The chase began when a Guardia patrol boat spotted a six-metre cabin cruiser – a typical recreational motorboat – attempting to come ashore in a cove along the Maro cliffs. When the Guardia boat approached, the other vessel took off at full throttle, and what followed was a half-hour chase, often very close to shore and inside the swim-zone buoys, from the Maro cliffs to Torre del Mar.

With Guardia agents in hot pursuit, both by water as well as by land, the fleeing boat finally ploughed into shore at Algarrobo, near the mouth of the Algarrobo River. The men jumped off the craft and attempted to flee on foot. One was successful, and got away despite an extensive manhunt mounted by the Guardia Civil. The other, who was later identified as an English citizen, was nabbed by a Guardia patrol that had been tracking the chase from onshore. Inside the cabin cruiser, officers found what they described as a large quantity of hashish, possibly from Morocco, stashed in the boat’s false-bottom holds.

 

BUS PASSENGERS IN LUCKY ESCAPE

By David Eade

Dozens of passengers had a lucky escape after their early morning commuter bus between Fuengirola and Marbella burst into flames and was virtually destroyed.
The bus had travelled from Fuengirola for 45 minutes before the driver started to have problems with the engine’s power. He pulled off the A-7 (old N-340) at km 193 in Las Chapas, parked the bus in the service road and ordered all the passengers to immediately evacuate the bus. Within minutes a spark ignited a fire which practically totally destroyed the vehicle. Fortunately due to the quick thinking of the drive nobody was hurt in the incident.

The bus was operated by the Portillo bus company which sent another bus to collect the stranded passengers. The company is investigating the cause of the fire which was due to a battery fault but a spokesperson stressed that the vehicle had passed a safety test on March 25 of this year. Two fire engines, a fire brigade ambulance as well as the local police and Guardia Civil attended the scene. Although the bus was not blocking the A-7 tailbacks of up to 15 kilometres were formed as passing drivers slowed to watch the blazing vehicle.

 

CAMPO DE GIBRALTAR IS A HIGH DEATH RISK ZONE

Study published in British journal confirms ecologists' warnings

By David Eade

A STUDY BY MEDICAL SPECIALISTS AT BARCELONA UNIVERSITY, RECENTLY PUBLISHED IN A BRITISH SCIENTIFIC JOURNAL, HAS CONCLUDED THAT THE CAMPO DE GIBRALTAR HAS ONE OF THE HIGHEST MORTALITY RATES IN SPAIN.
The study states: "There exist in the provinces of Cádiz, Sevilla and Huelva areas with a poor mortality rate. Data reveals that in these dangerous areas there exists an elevated risk of death that is statistically significant and causes an enormous health problem that demands urgent attention and action."
The study, 'Atlas of mortality in small areas of Spain', was prepared by Joan Benach of the University of Barcelona in collaboration with five colleagues from the Department of Scientific Experiments and Health. It was carried out between 1987 and 1995 and published in Spain in 2000 and now again in Britain.
The study looked at 2,218 areas in Spain and revealed that, for men, a third of the areas showing a high mortality rate are located in the provinces of Cádiz, Sevilla and Huelva. Of 152 zones in those three provinces, 60 are considered to be high-risk for men and 56 for women. The area of south-west Spain contains eight per cent of the Spanish population but accounts for a third of the cases of excessive mortality.

STUDY DOESN'T SHOW CAUSE
Benach and his team have stated that these results pose important questions that need to be investigated. They stress that the study does not show the causes of the high mortality risk. However, other previous studies have shown that heavy metals carried in rainwater and atmospheric pollution in urban zones can increase the risk of death.
Javier Gil, spokesman for ecologist group Agaden, stated that the study only confirms what environmentalists have long been saying. He added that his group has for years been calling for a study on the high death rate in the Campo de Gibraltar region. To date the health authority has only agreed to carry out a study in to cases of lung cancer, but Sr Gil says "the problem is more serious than that."

 

 

LEG FOUND ON VELEZ BEACH

NEWS Staff Reporter

A foreign couple walking on the Bajamar beach in Vélez-Málaga on Monday made a grisly discovery. They found a deteriorated leg, which investigators believe may be from an immigrant, who they theorise could have died while trying to make it to the coast to enter Spain illegally. Although the size of the remains and the style of shorts they were found in suggest the victim was a young male, DNA testing is being performed in an attempt to determine further details.
Meanwhile, also on Monday, law enforcement agents intercepted a boatload of 25 illegal immigrants off the shore of Benalmádena. The passengers, all adult males, were in good health, according to the Centro de Coordinación de Emergencias, and were transferred to the Port of Málaga.

The previous day, a boat with 11 illegal immigrants was stopped in the waters off Estepona. The boat passengers were all male and included one child. They were taken to Puerto de la Duquesa in Manilva, where Red Cross personnel attended them. All were wet, but needed only basic medical attention, according to reports.

 

BENALMÁDENA PROJECTS UPDATED

Underground access to Puerto Deportivo gets big welcome

By Oliver McIntyre

IN A SERIES OF COMMUNICATIONS LAST WEEK, BENALMÁDENA TOWN HALL PROVIDED UPDATES, REVISED COMPLETION DATES AND IN ONE CASE A LITTLE BACK-PEDALLING ON MULTIPLE BUILDING OR ROADWORK PROJECTS IN THE TOWN.
In the case of the works on Avenida de la Estación, word came that, despite Mayor Enrique Bolín’s recent announcements of the imminent reopening of the road to traffic in both directions, such a complete reopening is not immediately forthcoming. The street is currently open in just one direction, and will remain so for some time due to storm-drainage infrastructure work being carried out near the train station.
On a more positive note, the Town Hall announced that the new underground tunnel providing access to the Puerto Deportivo marina is almost finished, and could be open to traffic even by the time this report is published. Also underway is the cleaning up of the construction materials and debris along the exterior of the tunnel, which will allow traffic flow to resume to normal on the surface street. The news has been roundly welcomed by shop owners in the area, who have been the most severely affected by the prolonged upheaval caused by the project.

CASA DE CULTURE TO REMAIN
Finally, the Town Hall back-pedalled somewhat last week amid the strong reactions and controversy caused by Mayor Bolín’s recent statements that he wants to build three 20-storey buildings in Arroyo de la Miel, one of which would sit on the site of the existing Casa de la Cultura and require the razing of that building. The governing team’s spokesman, Manuel Crespo, said last week that the Casa de la Cultura building will not be torn down, and that both the location and the number of the proposed buildings is undetermined. “Neither their height nor whether there will be three or one has been decided,” he said.

 

 

TARIFA PORT TO BE CLOSED FOR A MONTH

By David Eade

Spain’s Council of Ministers has approved the complete closure of Tarifa port to ferry passengers between the period from July 1 to August 5. This covers the peak period of the annual ‘Paso del Estrecho’ which seems hundreds of thousands of North Africans return home across the Straits of Gibraltar for their summer holidays.
Tarifa was granted Schengen status as a European frontier point last September but that has now been suspended for a month. However by ordering the complete closure of the port it will mean that Tarifa cannot handle any passenger traffic at all, not even Spanish and fellow EU citizens who are outside the Schengen ruling.
The vice president of the government, María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, said the move was necessary because whilst the former PP government had granted Tarifa Schengen status it had not put in to place the necessary infrastructure to handle the mass migration of Moroccans during the ‘Paso del Estrecho’ period.

The decision is seen as a hard blow to local businesses in Tarifa. Over the 35-day closure period the port would have handled around 40,000 passengers wishing to travel to Tangiers. These will now be diverted to the nearby port of Algeciras that already handles the main bulk of the 2.8 million people and 662,000 vehicles that cross to Tangiers and Ceuta in this period.

 

ALHAURÍN SEEKS TRAIN LINK TO MÁLAGA

By Oliver McIntyre

THE SOCIALIST PSOE PARTY AT ALHAURÍN DE LA TORRE TOWN HALL HAS PUT FORTH A PROPOSAL FOR THE CREATION OF A CERCANÍAS TRAIN LINE PROVIDING SERVICE BETWEEN THE TOWN AND MÁLAGA.
The proposed track would connect with the existing Málaga-Fuengirola Cercanías line, giving residents access to both the capital and other Costa towns, which the PSOE councillors say is necessary due to the large number of people that make such trips daily and the lack of sufficient bus transportation. The envisioned route of the track would take it to the University of Málaga, the industrial parks and the centre of Málaga.

BETTER PUBLIC TRANSPORT A MUST
Mayor Joaquín Villanova (Partido Popular) has indicated that he agrees that bus services are inadequate and better public transport connections to Málaga and the Costa are necessary. He said he is in favour of any measure that would contribute to better transport connections, but indicated that he would prefer to see a Metro line extended to Alhaurín. Alhaurín’s revised Town Planning Ordinance (PGOU) is currently being drafted, and the PSOE says it is crucial that the document include provisions for the appropriate zoning to allow for a train line. Despite improvements to the road networks in the area, says the party, the rapid development of the Guadalhorce Valley will necessitate its integration into the regional mass transit system.

 

BENALMADENA TO OFFER FOREIGN-RESIDENTS SERVICES

By Oliver McIntyre

Benalmádena’s councillor for Resident and Non-resident Foreigners, Francisco García, announced last week that his department has reached an agreement with the National Police headquarters in Torremolinos that will make the filing of residency-related paperwork easier. Under the agreement, the Torremolinos headquarters will set up an office in the Benalmádena National Police station two days each month, so that Benalmádena residents can file or pick up their documents there, rather than making a trip to the neighbouring town. According to Sr García, Benalmádena foreign residents applying for a residency card will now have to make just one trip to Torremolinos – for fingerprinting – instead of the three or more trips they currently have to make to carry out the entire application process. The office will be located at the Arroyo de la Miel National Police station on the first and third Tuesday of each month, from 10.00 to 13.30, beginning June 15.

Sr García also spoke on the subject of healthcare, in particular regarding EU-member foreign residents and the forms or health cards they should have. The Town Hall recommends that foreign pensioners residing here obtain an E-121 card, which transfers their social security benefits and provides more complete medical coverage than the standard E-111 card (now being replaced with the European health insurance card) for temporary stays, which provides only basic coverage. Ultimately, those making their residence here should take out a Spanish ‘Seguridad Social’ health card, said Sr García. To do so, they must take copies and originals of their E-121, passport and residency card to the Instituto Nacional de Seguridad Social in Fuengirola. Foreign residents who carry out these steps to ensure that they have the proper healthcare forms or cards ‘are going to have much, much better coverage’, said Sr García.

NEW MUSEUM FOR MÁLAGA

By Dave Jamieson

ON MONDAY, THE PRESIDENT OF THE JUNTA OF ANDALUCÍA, MANUEL CHAVES, WAS IN MÁLAGA TO SIGN THE AGREEMENT WHICH CLEARED THE WAY FOR THE ADUANA PALACE TO BECOME A NEW MUSEUM CENTRE FOR ARCHAEOLOGY AND THE FINE ARTS.
The collection is expected to cover 16,000 square metres and include an important collection of 19th century art and some of the 15,000 archaeological exhibits presently held by the city.
Málaga’s fine arts museum originally opened in the Alcazaba in 1947 and was moved to the Buenavista Palace in 1961, before merging with the archaeology museum ten years later under the name “Museum of Málaga”. The amount of renovation and preparation work to be undertaken at the Aduana Palace, however, means that it will not be open to the public for some years.

EUROPEAN CAPITAL OF CULTURE
Sr Chaves was in Málaga this week to participate in the presentation ceremony of the National Literature Prizes for 2003, but had already run into a disagreement with the city’s mayor. Speaking in Sevilla last week, the Andalucían president spoke of what the region’s policy should be over its two candidates for European Capital of Culture. Both Málaga and Córdoba have expressed their intention of vying to have the title awarded to them for the year 2016, but Sr Chaves said that it would weaken Andalucía’s chances of securing the accolade if more than one city applied. He said that much easier if there were a single candidate, which would allow support to be concentrated and make it easier for the judging panel. However, Málaga’s Mayor, Francisco de la Torre, said his view was that if there were to be more than one Andalucían candidate, the region would be more likely to win the title. He also reminded Sr Chaves that in 1999, Málaga was first to raise the prospect of becoming European City of Culture.
A recent study estimated that the city would have to invest 66,000 euros on its application, not including required infrastructure improvements and incentives, but that this could be offset against benefits generated, including new jobs and tourist revenues.

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