Costa del Sol News - 31st August 2005

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

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In association with

The Costa del Sol weekly newspaper, on sale at newsagents.

Week August 25th to August 31th 2005.

Mijas concert ticket-holders to fight Seabreeze for refunds

NEWS STAFF REPORTER

TICKET-HOLDERS FOR THE CANCELLED CONCERTS AT MIJAS HAVE BANDED TOGETHER TO LAUNCH A CLASS-ACTION GROUP TO REPRESENT AS MANY AS 6,000 AFFECTED CONSUMERS WHO PURCHASED TICKETS AND HAVE YET TO RECEIVE ANY INDICATION THAT A REFUND IS FORTHCOMING.
The remaining shows of the summer concert series – Jamiroquai, Bryan Adams and two performances of the English National Orchestra – were cancelled suddenly and with no explanation just before the Jamiroquai show, which was scheduled for August 6. Since then, ticket holders claim it has been impossible to contact the company responsible for the concerts, Seabreeze Productions.

CONSUMER ACTION LAWYER STANDS UP
The group of ticket-holders has hired consumer-action lawyer Francisco Damián Vázquez Jiménez, who says the group’s goal is to ‘recuperate the money paid and damages done’. As much as 600,000 euros or more was paid by would-be concert-goers who now hold worthless tickets.

Sr Vázquez Jiménez urges anyone in possession of one of the tickets to hold onto it, and invites all affected consumers to join the class-action group by sending an e-mail to afectadosconciertosmijas@gmail.com. Those doing so should provide their personal information and the identification number and price of their tickets, as well as any other related expenses they incurred (travel, accommodation, etc.)

OPEN TO NEGOTIATIONS
Sr Vázquez Jiménez says he and his clients will be open to out-of-court negotiations with Seabreeze if the company makes itself available and is willing to come to appropriate terms. But if not, ‘we will have to file a lawsuit or even charges for fraud’, he says.
He has also not ruled out action against Tick Tack Tickets, the vendor through which the tickets to the concerts were sold. The lawyer says Tick Tack has told him that it, too, is a victim of Seabreeze’s failure and disappearance, but he insists that as the intermediary which sold the tickets, Tick Tack also shares some responsibility to the ticket purchasers.

 

Only half of Málaga’s golf courses use recycled water

BY DAVID EADE

AS THE DROUGHT FOCUSES ATTENTION ON WATER SAVING IT HAS EMERGED THAT JUST HALF OF THE GOLF COURSES IN MÁLAGA PROVINCE USE RECYCLED WATER AND HENCE DO NOT DRAW ON VALUABLE WATER STOCKS.
Acosol, the municipal water company of the western Costa del Sol supplies recycled water to 22 courses in Estepona, Marbella, Benahavís, Mijas and Benalmádena. The remaining golf courses either irrigate by using their own wells or take water from the general supply network.

The recycled water comes via a process known as ‘third treatment’ that takes sewage water and treats it to a level that makes it suitable for irrigation or street cleaning but not for human consumption. The major treatment plant is at Guadalmansa in Estepona but a lower capacity facility is also located at Peñón del Cuervo.

Since last Friday the water treatment plants at Vélez-Málaga and Rincón de la Victoria also have the capability of processing ‘third treatment’ recycled water but at present there is no pipeline connection to the golf courses at Añoreta or Baviera. However the association of town halls of Costa del Sol Axarquía will supply water free by tanker to those who request it.
The spotlight is very much on the water consumption used by golf courses especially at this time of drought. An 18-hole course uses on average 500,000 cubic metres of water each year and on a daily basis uses enough water to meet the needs of 10,000 people.

ENVIRONMENTALISTS PROTEST
The environmental organisation Greenpeace has protested on numerous occasions at the amount of water used by golf courses. In its 2005 annual report the ecologist group has denounced the future saturation of golf courses on the Spanish coast and is predicting that the 300 golf courses currently existing will increase to 500 in the next 10 years.

The golf courses currently using recycled water are: Estepona – El Paraíso, Atalaya, El Campanario; San Pedro – Guadalmina; Benahavís – Los Arqueros, Monte Mayor, Benahavís Golf, La Zagaleta; Marbella – La Quinta, Los Naranjos, Las Brisas, Aloha, La Dama de Noche, Magna Marbella, Cabopino, Santa María; Casares – Doña Julia, El Cortesín; Mijas – La Cala, Calanova and Benalmádena – Torrequebrada.

 

IRA bomber arrested in Torremolinos

By Oliver McIntyre

Police in Torremolinos have arrested alleged Irish Republican Army (IRA) terrorist Leonard Joseph Hardy, the Spanish Interior Ministry announced last week. Hardy was wanted on an Interpol warrant issued by Britain and a European arrest warrant from Germany for his alleged participation in the placement of five explosive devices at a British Army base in Osnabrück-Eversburg on August 16, 1989, and the attempted murder of a worker who discovered him and his accomplices in action. At the time of the incident, Hardy was a member of the IRA, according to the Interior Ministry.

British authorities had reportedly alerted Spanish officials of their suspicion that that Hardy, described as an explosives expert and as ‘very dangerous’, could be hiding out on the Costas. It was a routine review of hotel guest lists that tipped off the National Police in Torremolinos, who discovered Hardy was staying in Torremolinos. They connected him to the international arrest warrants and moved in to make the arrest, capturing him in the hotel lobby at 11.00 last Wednesday, according to police sources.
Hardy, born in 1961 in Antrim, Northern Ireland, has been transferred to Madrid for hearings on his extradition to Germany. Spain and Germany have recently sparred over extradition, due to Germany denying the extradition to Spain of German-Syrian Mamoun Darkanzali, wanted by Spain in relation to the March 11, 2004, Madrid bombings. Spain’s National Criminal Court responded by saying that it would refuse to authorise the extradition of Spanish citizens to Germany. But as the Irish Hardy is not a Spanish citizen, it is expected that his extradition will not be affected by the dispute.

 

Torrequebrada health centre opens

NEWS Staff Reporter

The new Torrequebrada health centre in Benalmádena has opened its doors and begun seeing patients, despite the fact that its official inauguration is not scheduled until September. Initially Town Hall officials had aimed for the centre to open before summer, but a legal challenge by the Junta de Andalucía’s Public Works delegation regarding a land deal made by the Town Hall for the creation of the health centre delayed its opening. Now it has been opened, though with only partial staffing, in order to alleviate overcrowding at the Arroyo de la Miel health centre.

For now, only four of the centre’s 12 surgeries have been opened and staffing is at less than 20, including doctors, nurses and administrative workers. But that could be increased, depending on demand, leading up to the official inauguration, say officials.
When it opened last week, the centre’s first scheduled appointment was with a Filipino resident of the town. Shortly afterward, despite the fact that the centre does not yet have an emergency room, a tourist walked in for treatment of a jellyfish sting. Once in full operation, the Torrequebrada centre will have 12 surgeries, with paediatrics, gynaecology and dentistry departments, among others.

 

Torremolinos protest over marina expansion

Protestors will target Benalmádena Town Hall and Junta de Andalucía

By Oliver McIntyre

THE OPPOSITION IZQUIERDA UNIDA (IU) PARTY IN TORREMOLINOS HAS CALLED ON ALL PARTIES AT THE TOWN HALL TO COME TOGETHER IN A UNITED FRONT AGAINST BENALMÁDENA’S PROPOSED MARINA EXPANSION PROJECT.
At the August 8 Town Council meeting, a protest against the marina expansion was scheduled for September 17, and now the IU wants all the political parties to meet and hammer out the details. The idea, according to IU spokesman José Luis González, is to come up with specific slogans and signs that can be used by all the different groups involved, creating a consistency of message and drawing attention to the entities responsible for approving the marina expansion, Benalmádena Town Hall and the Junta de Andalucía.

Once the parties have met, the information will be shared with the town’s citizen groups, associations and other groups before the protest, said Sr González. “Political and/or social division could result in the protest becoming a crude partisan confrontation,” he said.

Benalmádena Town Hall announced in early July that, after eight years of municipal efforts to get the project off the ground, the Junta de Andalucía’s Public Works Department had finally approved the inclusion of the marina expansion in the town’s new local development plan (PGOU). Torremolinos Town Hall has always opposed the project, citing negative impacts it could have on Torremolinos traffic, business and beaches.

MÁLAGA MARINA OPPOSITION
The IU in Torremolinos has also called for the Town Hall to take a firm stance against the proposed Arraijanal marina project recently approved by Málaga Town Hall and already facing stiff opposition from many fronts. The Torremolinos IU’s position will come as good news to the Los Verdes (Green) party in the city of Málaga, which has called on the city’s PSOE (Socialist) and IU parties, as well as local environmental groups, to join together to create a platform against the proposed marina.

 

Businesses call San Pedro ‘abandoned’

By David Eade

The Small and Medium-sized Business Association (Apymespa) in San Pedro de Alcántara, after studying the level of investment made in the town, is angry at the negative results it found.
Apymespa claims that San Pedro has been abandoned to such an extent that many local businesses have been forced into bankruptcy. The findings of their study will be presented at a meeting on September 22, where a programme of protests will be drawn up, aimed principally at Marbella Town Hall.

Business leaders say it is ironic that this summer San Pedro has hosted more benefit galas for good causes than any other area of the municipality yet whilst local companies have been generous they have received little support in return.
One of the main complaints is a lack of parking in San Pedro, aggravated by problems with the problems surrounding the construction of the underground car park in the central Avenida Marqués del Duero, which has badly hit local shops and restaurants. Apymespa also says there is a lack of infrastructure for pedestrians and people have to risk their lives to cross the A-7 (old N-340), especially those staying in hotels in the Río Guadaiza area.

The association claims that the area between the dual carriageway and Nueva Alcántara has been converted into a rubbish dump and cemetery for cars and the Town Hall has done nothing. Another complaint is the lack of progress on building the urgently needed second health centre, as the current facility is insufficient to meet the needs of local people and the influx of visitors. Apymespa also points to a lack of educational facilities in San Pedro, which it says has led to classrooms being set up in prefabs or the school library or laboratories.

 

Fuengirola mayor might not seek re-election

NEWS Staff Reporter

Esperanza Oña, who apart from being mayor of Fuengirola is also vice-secretary general of the Partido Popular in Andalucía and a member of the regional parliament is considering whether she will stand as the party’s candidate for mayor in 2007. She is ambitious to promote her career at the regional level, and a similar debate took place before the 2003 local elections. Now she has stated that she does not know if she will be a candidate again in Fuengirola and added that serious discussions would be held to mull over the pros and cons.

The mayor said she would be discussing the matter with the Partido Popular’s president in Andalucía, Javier Arenas. Whether she stands in Fuengirola again would very much depend on what role he wishes her to play in the front line of Andalucía politics in opposing the Socialist PSOE-led government in Sevilla and whether that requires her to be freed from the responsibilities of running Fuengirola.

She added that she viewed her position of mayor as a very important one and had made a promise to the town and her party that she would set aside her personal ambitions for what was best for the municipality. At the same time, she admitted she enjoyed her senior party position and her role in the Andalucía parliament, saying: “I am a very active deputy and I do not think it is necessary to give up the regional responsibilities.”

 

Nerja bans live entertainment on Burriana beach

Bar owners upset over Town Hall action

BY DAVE JAMIESON

AS THE FIRST RAIN FOR MONTHS SPRINKLED NERJA, SPIRITS WERE DAMPENED AMONGST BUSINESSES ALONG THE TOWN’S BIGGEST BEACH WHEN LOCAL POLICE DELIVERED A SERIES OF DENUNCIAS FROM THE TOWN HALL.
Several bars and restaurants on Playa Burriana were startled to receive a visit from officers last Friday morning, presenting them with formal notice that they were being denounced for a number of alleged offences.

Typical was the three-page document presented to one bar owner stating that local residents had complained about noise from live music performances. The owner made immediate representations to Nerja’s Town Hall, where he was advised that, the formal denuncia having been delivered, the issue had become “very serious”. He was told that his premises did not possess a licence for live music performances – which was defined to him as “anything with a microphone” – and that the Town Hall had no intention of issuing such licences to any business on Playa Burriana. No option for appealing against the decision was offered.

A neighbouring restaurant owner was denounced on a technicality concerning his opening licence – a matter quickly resolved – but was told that live music must cease. He told Costa del Sol News that he was presented with photographs of the outside of his premises, showing an advertisement for “Live music on Fridays”. However, he said, there had been no such performances for at least three months.

The bar and restaurant owners hit by the latest sanctions from the Town Hall are angry for a number of reasons. Firstly, that the events which appear to have prompted the denuncias appear to date from many weeks ago. Secondly, that the formal paperwork received last Friday was date-stamped August 5 by the Town Hall, meaning that it has taken two weeks to reach them. The timing of the action has also raised concerns because, with most legal representatives on holiday until the end of August, some say that they cannot formally respond for another fortnight.

PROPRIETORS DISCOURAGED
Proprietors are discouraged by the latest development which has only added to their discontent with the Town Hall. Several have complained about the on-going and frequent failure of street lights in the area, and the regular failure to provide the zone with decorative lighting at Christmas, as happens in other commercial areas throughout the municipality. In addition, surprise was expressed that, while they were being sanctioned by the Town Hall for staging live entertainment inside their premises and ending by midnight, the municipality itself staged a live music concert on Burriana Beach last Thursday, only metres from their front doors, with noise from the open-air event continuing from 23.00 until 2.00

 

Mobile phone payment scam detected

Bogus websites offer online payment service

By Oliver McIntyre

 

THE INTERNET USER'S ASSOCIATION (AI, FOR 'ASOCIACIÓN DE INTERNAUTAS') HAS WARNED OF A SCAM THAT MAY HAVE AFFECTED SOME COSTA RESIDENTS. The scam consists in bogus websites offering an online payment service for prepaid mobile-phone cards. In addition to using e-mail spam to lure victims, the sites also manage to get themselves highly placed in Internet search-engine results (the most recently identified site was one of Google's 'sponsored links'). They also often use imagery, icons or logos to make it falsely appear they have some affiliation with well-known banks or legitimate phone-charging services like Bankinter's Epagado.com. Once users enter the bogus Web site, they are asked to enter personal and banking information, says the AI. This can include things like their bank-card PIN codes or online-banking passwords, items which the AI says would not be required by legitimate phone-charging services and should never be provided by Internet users making purchases or payments on the Web. The fraudulent site most recently identified by the AI was www.recargas-epagado.net. Other bogus sites identified over the last few months include www.recarga-t.org, www.recarga-prepago.com, www.recargatusaldo.com, and www.regargas-express.com. Often, when the user finishes entering his or her data, the Web page tells them the transaction cannot be completed due to a temporary technical area, but the fraudsters have already captured the user's banking information.

 

Bil Bil hosts first same-sex wedding

By Oliver McIntyre

The Bil Bil Castle, the most popular location in Benalmádena for civil wedding ceremonies, last weekend became the site of the province of Málaga’s first same-sex marriage since such unions were legalised in Spain on July 3 of this year.
The two blushing brides, María del Mar López and Emilia Nevado, were wed at 13.30 Saturday in the mosaic-bedecked neo-Arabic-style municipal facility on the shore of the Mediterranean. They exchanged ‘I dos’ in a ceremony officiated by the town’s deputy mayor, José Nieto.

Town halls in some parts of the country have balked at performing same-sex marriages since the passage of the new law, in some cases even filing legal challenges to the constitutionality of the law in order to avoid performing the unions. “At Benalmádena Town Hall we believe the situation must be normalised and this type of weddings treated as naturally as possible, with no discrimination and, naturally, in compliance with the law,” said Sr Nieto.

Even before the new law, say municipal sources, the Bil Bil Castle had been the site of dozens of symbolic ‘commitment’ ceremonies for homosexual couples. Since 1996 the town has had a registry for common law couples, including gays and lesbians.
Though the ‘castle’ is by far the most popular place in town for non-church weddings (some 400 are expected this year alone), Sr Nieto, who this year has officiated 42 weddings, more than any of the other local councillors, does not confine himself to ceremonies held at Bil Bil. He recalls one wedding right on the beach in one of the town’s small coves, in the flickering light of open-flame torches. “I understand it is a very important day in the couple’s life and if they ask for something special, I try to deliver,” he said. But Saturday’s event, as the province’s first-ever official same-sex marriage, was surely his most unique ceremony to date.

For the newlyweds, the day was “a dream come true,” in the words of Emilia. Her new wife, María del Mar, said, “It is a joy that they allow us to do what everyone else does.”

Banderas confirms Málaga shoot

‘El Camino de los Ingleses’ filming to start in November

By Dave Jamieson

ANTONIO BANDERAS HAS CONFIRMED THAT HE WILL START SHOOTING SCENES FOR HIS NEW FEATURE FILM, “EL CAMINO DE LOS INGLESES”, IN THE CITY DURING NOVEMBER.
The Málaga-born actor has been visiting the area in recent days to choose for himself the places where he will be working, and told journalists that filming will start in the week starting November 14. With a break for Christmas, it will continue until February.
The film has a budget of 5.5 million euros and is based on Antonio Soler’s novel, “El Camino de los Ingleses” which takes its name from a street in the city and which last year won the Premio Nadal, one of Spain’s most prestigious literary prizes, for its author. Banderas will make almost the whole movie in the city, although a few interior scenes will be shot in Madrid and Alicante. It will be his second offering as a director, after “Crazy in Alabama”, the 1999 hit which starred his wife Melanie Griffiths, and is expected to be on cinema screens by July or August of next year. The story is of group of young people growing up in 1977, just after Franco’s death, and moving from adolescence to adulthood. Banderas himself was in his teens at that time, “when Spain was changing politically and the country was moving towards democracy,” he said, adding, “It’s pretty much my story.” He confirmed that some of the principal parts would be played by unknown 18–year-old actors, selected from some 1,500 hopefuls who attended casting sessions in Málaga, Barcelona, Madrid and Sevilla.

NEW PROJECT
While Griffiths is not part of the present project, Banderas hinted that he would like her to be involved in another, presently in development, for which he is trying to obtain the rights. Called “Málaga en llamas” (“Málaga burning”), its is based on memoir by Gerald Brennan’s wife, the poet Gamel Woolsey, of what it was like in Churriana when the Civil War broke out in 1936.

Fires hit north of Spain

Iberian peninsula ravaged by blazes

By David Eade

WHILST FIRES HAVE HIT ANDALUCÍA AND THE COSTA DEL SOL THIS SUMMER THE MAIN FOCUS FOR THE DEVASTATING BLAZES HAS BEEN THE NORTH OF THE COUNTRY WHILST PORTUGAL HAS ALSO BEEN BADLY AFFECTED.
At the time the Costa del Sol News went to press the north-western region of Galicia was on high fire alert. The president of its regional government, the Xunta, Emilio Pérez Touriño, advised that 38 fires were currently being tackled, of which eight threaten lives and property. The province of Ourense was worst hit with 19 blazes followed by Pontevedra (12) and A Coruña (6). The more central region of Castilla y León also had 10 active fires plus two more in Tarragona that have so far destroyed 300 hectares. A blaze was also reported on Monday in the Saler National Park in Valencia although it is believed that is now under control.

The period between January and mid-August of this year is the second worst for major fires in the last ten years with 22 catastrophic fires destroying 107,524 hectares of forestland. According to the Ministry of the Environment only 2003 surpassed this year’s total when there were 38 large-scale fires and 125,388 hectares of land were razed to the ground.

Portugal declares state of emergency
Across the border in Portugal more than 3,300 firefighters backed by hundreds of vehicles and 38 aircraft and helicopters, are struggling to contain dozens of fires across the country. The situation is so bad that fire fighters have been rushed in from other European countries.

According to officials 32 fires are out of control and a national state of emergency has been declared in the central Coimbra region. There the fire is advancing on several fronts including on the outskirts of the tourist resort of Miranda do Corvo, not far from Coimbra, the parched nation's third-largest city.

Spanish ‘Vuelta’ to start at Alhambra

By Oliver McIntyre

The 60th edition of Spain’s biggest cycling race, the Vuelta de España, will get off to an enchanted start this Saturday, August 27, as the ‘prologue’ time trial in Granada sends riders on a seven-kilometre scurry through the streets of the city, in the shadow of the majestic Alhambra palace. It is the kick-off of a three-week, 3,373-kilometre (2,096-mile) race circling almost the entire country.

There are 22 teams from nine different countries scheduled to participate in the race. The greatest showing is from Spain, with six teams, while major cycling countries France and Italy have four teams each. Other squads hail from Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United States (though for the Vuelta, the U.S. Discovery Channel team does not include Tour de France legend Lance Armstrong).

One of the Spanish teams, Liberty Seguros-Würth, includes the man who might be considered the ‘Lance Armstrong of the Vuelta’, Spaniard Roberto Heras, who has won the Vuelta three times (2000, 2003, 2004). Other Spanish riders to watch in this year’s race include Francisco Macebo (team Islas Baleares), who finished fourth overall at this year’s Tour de France, and Oscar Pereiro (riding for the Swiss team Phonak Hearing Systems), who took 10th overall at the Tour de France.

On Sunday, the second day of the race, riders will pump their way 189.3 kilometres from Granada to Córdoba. The next day they head north, out of Andalucía and into the La Mancha region, or ‘Don Quixote’ country, where the race will pay special tribute to the 17th-century Miguel de Cervantes novel, which this year is celebrating its 400th anniversary.

The following weeks will take riders up through Cuenca, over to the eastern coast, through Lloret de Mar and into the Pyrenees, passing through Andorra. They then travel on to Burgos and head north to Cantabria and Asturias, with spectacular hill climbs at ski stations and through famous mountain landscapes like Lagos de Covadonga. Finally, passing down through León and Valladolid, the riders will pedal their way to the final stretch in Madrid, including two laps around the in-city route that seven days later will be the site of the 2005 World Cycling Championships. (Details of the routes and schedules of each stage of the Vuelta are available at www.lavuelta.com.)

 

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