Costa del Sol News - 21st December 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 December 15th to December 21st 2005.

LOS CLAVELES CHARITY CLIMB

By Josephine Parsons

 

Some 22 people of all age groups recently climbed the Marbella mountain 'La Concha' for the charity 'Los Claveles' who are raising money for a radio therapy unit to be sited at the Costa del Sol Hospital so that cancer patients will not have to travel to Malaga for treatment.

It was a very successful day and all the climbers made the pre-summit with the younger set climbing all the way to the top! Trudi and Co. from Ground4orce raised 715 euros, Josie 370 euros, Alistair 300 euros and last but not least Lucy from Easy Computers raised a staggering 1,640 euros making a grand total of 3,025 euros. A fabulous day and a fabulous total. Well done to all of you.

 

PROPERTY PENSION PROMISE BROKEN

SIPP benefits for property purchases withdrawn

By James Parkes

THE UK GOVERNMENT HAS SCRAPPED ITS PLANS TO GRANT TAX BENEFITS TO PROPERTY PURCHASES ABROAD VIA PENSION FUNDS DISAPPOINTING POTENTIAL BRITISH BUYERS AND DEVELOPERS.
Since the Self-Invested Pension Plan (SIPP) benefits were revealed a year ago, developers, estate agents, investment firms and pension advisers have been pushing the benefits.
Costa del Sol News reported on November 10 that the new rules would have spelled yet another boost for the Costa property market as experts forecast around 30,000 new properties would be purchased on the Costa del Sol through SIPPs.
However, in his pre-budget report chancellor Gordon Brown said this would not be allowed.
Pension simplifications will come into force as scheduled on April 6, known as ‘A-Day’ in the industry, allowing SIPPs to include more asset classes, but these will not include residential property as initially announced by the government.

FORECAST STILL HIGH
Despite the disappointment, developers are still confident that the property market will continue to grow in the next few years.
Attractive prices, ideal location and increasing availability of low-cost flights and new airports continue to lure foreign buyers, say experts.

The timing of the decision (just a few months before the property pensions were to come into force) annoyed estate agents who widely advertised the benefits of the scheme. Experts had forecast up to £15billion could have been invested in property through SIPPs.

The amendments would have mainly benefited those who had invested heavily in SIPPs, effectively meaning that higher rate taxpayers would enjoy 40 per cent tax relief whilst standard rate taxpayers would have made a saving of 22 per cent.
Investment firms regret the decision as heavy losses in the stock markets in recent years have seen small investors favour the property market – the expected changes to SIPP rules would have opened another door for investors.

 

Quarry strike grinds construction to halt

Striking workers set up camp outside Alhaurín Town Hall

By Oliver McIntyre

THE ALHAURÍN DE LA TORRE QUARRY WORKERS’ STRIKE WAS ESTIMATED EARLIER THIS WEEK TO BE AFFECTING 90 PER CENT OF ONGOING CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS IN THE PROVINCE OF MÁLAGA, INCLUDING 2,000 RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENTS CONSISTING OF AROUND 30,000 HOMES.
The strike action of the quarry workers, who are protesting the court-ordered closure of four of the town’s quarries due to lack of proper licences, entered its third week on Monday after a meeting between the Town Hall, worker representatives, the Junta de Andalucía and the quarry companies failed to produce an agreement or solution regarding the quarry closures. In addition to residential construction projects, some civil works have been halted or slowed due to the lack of materials caused by the strike. Affected or soon-to-be affected projects include work on the Málaga Airport expansion, the Málaga port, the AVE high-speed train line, and the construction of parking garages in Málaga and Fuengirola.

Meanwhile, hundreds of quarry workers mounted a sit-in at Alhaurín Town Hall on Monday and after eight hours those who were inside the Town Hall were removed peacefully by the police and Guardia Civil. Others pitched tents and camped outside the Town Hall to keep pressure on officials to find a solution to the quarry situation. At press time, the camping protesters and their tents remained and no solution appeared imminent.

TOWN HALL v. JUNTA
Alhaurín de la Torre Mayor Joaquín Villanova has stated that, despite the Junta de Andalucía’s indication that the Town Hall could legalise the four closed quarries by conceding municipal licences, it is in fact outside of the Town Hall’s jurisdiction to do so. It is the Junta de Andalucía that must establish a solution to the problem, he said, indicating that the Town Hall is in favour of a plan that would call for the relocation of the quarries and for restoration work to be carried out on the existing sites.

 

'Hacienda' to target non-residents for tax evasion

By Oliver McIntyre

IN THE DRAFT FISCAL FRAUD PREVENTION LAW IT EXPECTS TO SUBMIT TO THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS TOMORROW, THE SPANISH TAX MINISTRY (‘HACIENDA’) HAS INCLUDED VARIOUS MEASURES TO TARGET NON-RESIDENTS WHO LIVE IN SPAIN BUT USE OFFSHORE BANK ACCOUNTS OR PROVIDE INCOMPLETE REAL-ESTATE INFORMATION IN ORDER TO EVADE SPANISH TAXES.
In the case of offshore accounts – frequently associated with athletes, performers and financial professionals, but also used by many others – Hacienda proposes a “presumption of fiscal residence in Spain” if the individual’s “primary assets” are in this country. In addition, it proposes expanded legal capacity to identify holders of offshore accounts through affiliates of Spanish financial entities.

In real-estate transactions, Hacienda proposes a requirement that the official paperwork (‘escritura’) contain detailed information regarding the method of payment, the cadastral reference number of the property in question and the tax identification number (NIF) of all the parties involved in the transaction. This requirement would need to be met in order for the property to be registered in the ‘Registro de Propiedad’.

The aim, says Hacienda, is to address the “serious problem” that sometimes arises when non-residents buy property. Currently, they often provide only their passport number, which “in practice is nearly impossible for us to identify” due to the way census data is managed, says Hacienda. It proposes the creation of a census of non-resident individuals and entities holding property in Spain.

FRAUD-PREVENTION LAW
The portions aimed at non-residents are just part of the fraud-prevention law Hacienda is developing. Among other things, it also aims to address business-to-business transactions, where ‘fake billing’ and IVA tax reimbursements are considered potential areas of accounts fudging and tax evasion.

 

Elderly Briton left stranded at Málaga Airport

NEWS Staff Reporter

On Monday a 70-year-old British man, apparently suffering from Alzheimer’s or senile dementia, was discovered lost and confused at Málaga Airport by workers whom he approached for assistance. The man, L.B., reportedly told a worker at a check-in counter that he could not find his grandchildren. He appeared to believe that he was in England.

The airport workers soon discovered that the man had a ticket for a plane to the UK that had already departed. Further checking revealed that the man had arrived in Málaga on Sunday with his wife and that the following day, Monday, she had boarded their flight back to Newcastle, leaving him behind at the airport.

Some reports indicated that the man may have been intentionally abandoned at the airport, but sources at the British Consulate in Málaga, consulted by Costa del Sol News, could not confirm this. The consulate sources said that the Foreign Office had been able to contact the man’s family back in the UK, and a family member flew to Málaga on Tuesday morning to pick him up.

 

Estepona set to have Spain's biggest leisure complex

Complex to include an 18-screen cinema and a Carrefour hypermarket

By David Eade

THE MAYOR OF ESTEPONA, ANTONIO BARRIENTOS, HAS SIGNED AN AGREEMENT WITH A GROUP OF PROPERTY DEVELOPERS THAT COULD SEE THE MUNICIPALITY BOAST THE BIGGEST LEISURE COMPLEX IN SPAIN.
A jubilant mayor described the scheme as the most important in the last 20 years in Estepona and also in the next 20 years to come.

The total investment in the development will be 360 million euros with 240 in the first phase and 120 more in the second. In will eventually cover an area of 170,000 square metres with the first phase accounting for 100,000 square metres. It will be known as ‘La Lobilla commercial and leisure park’ and be located to the north of the by-pass. If it passes all the planning processes it will include an 18-screen cinema complex, a bowling alley, go-kart tracks, children’s play zones, a Carrefour hypermarket plus numerous shops and restaurants as well as bringing more than 4,000 jobs to the municipality.

MAYOR CANCELS MEETING AIMED TO BEAT NEW LAND LAWS
Sr Barrientos caused a second major surprise by cancelling at the last minute the extraordinary council meeting called for Saturday to approve a large number of planning projects including, it is believed, that for ‘La Lobilla’. He did so just two days before the new Land Law came into force and his decision could have an immediate impact on the Town Hall’s coffers.
Had the local authority approved the various schemes on the agenda the town hall would have received immediately around 24 million euros generated by the approvals. However the new ‘Ley del Suelo’ forbids town halls from receiving money from property developers until authorisation for the change of land use is obtained from the regional government’s provincial town planning delegation.

Opposition councillors in Estepona voiced their satisfaction at the Mayor’s decision as some were concerned that it was an attempt to beat the new law and argued that would not have been appropriate. Nonetheless other town halls, such as Casares, had no such qualms and approved developments ahead of the new law taking effect.

 

Iberia flights to London may be cut

By Dave Jamieson

Iberia Airlines flights between Málaga and London are likely to be hit by new cost-cutting measures by the company. The Spanish national carrier has been suffering from increasing competition by budget operators and, with recent rises in the price of aviation fuel also taking their toll, says it may suspend a number of low-profit routes which do not pass through Madrid-Barajas airport.
Although Iberia has not spelled out details of the cutbacks, experts widely regard the four daily flights between the Costa del Sol and the British capital to be a likely target. According to the airline’s own estimates, low-cost carriers will control around half the short and medium-haul routes within five years. In addition, Iberia’s new strategy for the period 2006 – 2008 does not rule out the closure of loss-making routes.

Aviation experts say that, while the news was not unexpected, if Iberia goes ahead with its plans, it could trigger a “revolution” in the airline industry with other major carriers abandoning Málaga Airport in an attempt to reduce costs. Air France announced last month that it would cease operating flights to Málaga after 40 years of flying to the Costa del Sol.

Domestic Iberia flights from Málaga would also be cut back if the airline’s plans go ahead, with routes to a number of destinations affected including Barcelona, Bilbao and the Canary Islands.

 

New mayor of Manilva under the spotlight

By David Eade

Questions are being asked by the ASM opposition party in Manilva over the business affairs of the new mayor, Salvador Zotano. The Socialist Zotano was elected mayor on November 8 after his predecessor, Pedro Tirado, was arrested and detained in jail for his alleged part in the ‘Ballena Blanca’ international money laundering scam.

The ASM stated that Sr Zotano is a representative of a company known as Rafalux and that during the period June 2003 to October of this year the company invoiced Manilva Town Hall for 753,539.63 euros. The opposition party is suspicious because, it says, it has not been allowed access to the Rafalux invoices that were sent to three municipal companies. It describes the transactions as being shrouded in secrecy.

Apparently the ASM has received documentation from the Town Hall’s accounts department but not from the three municipal companies and this, says the opposition, is a serious offence under the law governing contracts with public administrations. Sr Zotano has rejected the ASM claims, stating that Rafalux has worked for Manilva Town Hall since its formation more than 20 years ago.

The ASM governed Manilva until the 2003 election under its present leader Emilio López Berenguer. The PDEM then came to power and the party has been able to continue to govern despite now ex-mayor Tirado’s arrest and resignation, because Sr Zotano broke ranks with Socialist PSOE party and agreed to lead the PDEM administration.

 

Ikea giant superstore for Jerez

Store to be the Swedish multinational’s largest complex in the world

By David Eade

IKEA IBÉRICA, THE SPANISH-PORTUGUESE SUBSIDIARY OF IKEA, THE SWEDISH MULTINATIONAL FURNITURE GROUP, HAS ANNOUNCED THAT IT IS TO OPEN A SUPERSTORE IN JEREZ.
It will be the most ambitious project undertaken by the company and when it opens its doors it will be Ikea’s largest complex in the world.

The Jerez development was announced on the same day as the company committed itself to a store in Granada and there will be four in total in Andalucía with other outlets in Sevilla and Málaga.

Ikea has asked Jerez town hall for 340,000 square metres on land close to the western ring road near the future Centro Comercial Área Sur. The site will not only house the main Ikea superstore but also outlets for two of its subsidiaries that trade under the name of Inter Ikea and which offer complimentary products.

Agreement has been reached with both the regional government and Jerez town hall and an accord will be signed this week by representatives of Ikea and the two governmental bodies. The document will set out the amount the multinational will be investing in Jerez and also the number of jobs to be created.

The reduced cost of the land and the lack of any delay in amending the local development plan to accommodate the superstore were just two of the reasons that Ikea opted for Jerez over other potential locations with El Puerto de Santa María being amongst those to lose out. If all goes to plan the new Ikea should be open to the public by Christmas 2008.

 

Marbella residents back dissolution of council

NEWS Staff Reporter

Marbella Town Hall seems to be loosing the support of the local people. The Federation of Residents of Marbella and San Pedro has stated that the only solution for the municipality’s problems is not only for the regional government to take over jurisdiction for planning matters but to dissolve the council as well.

The Socialist-led regional government has already announced that it is to take over planning matters and the spokesman for the Andalucía administration, Jasper Zarrías, has stated that this should be achieved by next summer. However, it has rejected a call from the Partido Popular for it also to dissolve the Town Council, arguing that this should have been done when the tri-party coalition took power at the Town Hall in 2003 when the PP was in power in Madrid.

This argument is not accepted by the Federation of Residents. President Ana Más stated that the taking over of the town’s planning and the dissolving of the council are “perfectly compatible” and are “desirable for the good of our town.”

The federation met with Sr Zarrías last week when he spoke with various groups of people living in Marbella. Twenty residents’ associations, ecology groups and the Cilniana heritage association handed the regional government’s spokesman a letter demanding that the Junta de Andalucía use the introduction of the new land law as a means to halt all the developments in Marbella that have been declared illegal by the Andalucía high court (TSJA).

 

'Grande' budget for Alhaurin

Thirty five per cent rise from 2005

By Oliver McIntyre

ALHAURÍN EL GRANDE TOWN HALL HAS APPROVED ITS 2006 MUNICIPAL BUDGET, THE LARGEST EVER FOR THE TOWN AND NEARLY 35 PER CENT BIGGER THAN THE 2005 BUDGET. Including municipal companies and agencies (Alhaurín TV, the Municipal Housing Board, etc.), the overall budget for 2006 is 27,655,057 euros, compared to the 2005 budget of 20,543,255 euros, according to data provided by the Town Hall.

Municipal officials say revenues to meet the budget will come from local taxes and fees, the sale of municipal property, government subsidies and loans. Local taxes and fees will go up an average of two per cent, meaning “we will achieve a large growth in the budget without increasing economic pressure” on local taxpayers, says the Town Hall.

Municipal real-estate sales are scheduled to generate almost 6.8 million euros, of which about a million euros will come from the sale of property for the creation of subsidised housing. Of the 6.8 million euros coming in from real-estate sales, 1.2 million euros will go to the purchase of new property.

Central, regional or provincial government subsidies for local programmes or projects in 2006 will come in at almost 1.4 million euros. Officials did not specify the exact amount to be garnered through loans, but indicated that some of the borrowed money will represent only temporary debt because it is for projects – like school or health centre repairs, the construction of a Guardia Civil station and the municipal theatre – for which the Town Hall will later be reimbursed by the central, regional or provincial governments.

SCHOOLS AND HEALTH TAKE PRIORITY
The biggest expenditure category in the budget is for capital projects, at a total of 13.7 million euros, or roughly half the entire budget. These include things like school enlargement projects, work on the new health centre, improvements on roads and pavements, the municipal library and the sports centre. This portion of the budget is up 3.87 million euros from the 2005 budget, a 39.5 per cent increase. Another major expenditure category is municipal personnel, which at 6.65 million euros represents roughly 25 per cent of the total budget.

 

Seven arrests in big game ranch closure

By Dave Jamieson

A ranch in Extremadura which offered a taste of big game hunting has been closed by the Guardia Civil. Investigators said that lions, tigers and wolves bought clandestinely from zoos were shot by clients in exchange for money.

In a statement, officers reported finding a freshly killed tiger and then surprising a group who were about to shoot a lion and another tiger. Seven men were detained last week on charges of hunting endangered species and now face three years in jail and an eight-year ban on hunting, if found guilty. The remains of white wolves, a protected species in Spain, were also discovered, while lynxes, also protected and illegal to hunt, are also believed to have been offered as game. Local people spoke of a pit filled with bones of wolves, while environmentalists said the huge expanses of private land in the region, accessible only by miles of dirt tracks, made it impossible to know what had happened behind the ranch’s heavily guarded fences.

The private farm, situated on a vast private estate near Monterrubio de la Serena, a sparsely populated village in Extremadura, was apparently established to accommodate those who have a taste for exotic game and were willing to pay a hefty price to kill one. The ranch’s operator is reported to have kept the creatures in cages after purchasing them, then releasing them when his customers paid to shoot them. The animals’ heads and hides were kept as trophies while clients posed for photographers with their “kills”.
The investigation into the ranch’s activities began in the summer, but the Guardia Civil’s environment protection unit, Seprona, said it was unable to estimate the total number of animals which had died there. Police did not say how much was charged by the organiser, but one newspaper, La Vanguardia, quoted the going rate for a lion or tiger at about 24,000 euros. Animals found alive at the ranch have been moved to Fuengirola Zoo.

Extremadura has been a favourite hunting region since Roman times, and legal game on offer in the region includes stag, wild boar, partridge, rabbit and hare.

 

End of the ‘storey’ in Frigiliana

By Dave Jamieson

Almost five years after work was suspended on a controversial housing development in Frigiliana, work has started to demolish an illegal top storey. Developers of the Medina al Mar building in Calle La Huerta were told by the Town Hall in 2001 to stop work after it was confirmed the construction was larger than had been licensed across a 200 metre length. At the same time, the promoter was investigated for other alleged offences, including building in green zones.

Frigiliana’s Mayor, Javier López Ruiz, said that the matter had finally been resolved after agreement was reached with Invercasa, the new proprietors of Medina del Mar, allowing the eighth storey to be demolished and the green area in Avenida Carlos Cano to be recovered. The town’s councillor for urbanisation, Francisco Mayano, confirmed that the original project had been amended and a new construction licence issued.

When building work first began, nearby residents protested that the height of Medina al Mar left some homes without adequate daylight while others lost their views to the neighbouring countryside.

 

Spanish sponsor for Charlton

Premier league side strikes deal with Llanera

By David Eade

THE SPANISH CONSTRUCTION COMPANY LLANERA IS THE NEW CLUB SPONSOR FOR SOUTH LONDON-BASED PREMIER LEAGUE SIDE CHARLTON ATHLETIC WHO COINCIDENTALLY ALSO HAVE A SPANISH KIT SPONSOR, JUMA.
Llanera are no strangers to sport as for the past two years they have been major partners to their local club, Valencia FC. In addition the company sponsors the Menorca basketball team and actively supports local community sporting projects.
The sponsorship deal is the biggest in Charlton’s history and is worth at least £6.6 million, which could increase thanks to a progressive bonus structure based upon club success. There is also an option to extend the contract to 2013.

Charlton PLC chairman Richard Murray said: "This is a fantastic deal for the club, not only in financial terms but also because there is such a close synergy between the aspirations of our football club and those of Llanera. The remarkable reconstruction process of our football club in recent years has been built on our commitment to and involvement with the communities from which we draw our support. Llanera have the same strong sense of community commitment and I am sure this is going to be a partnership which will be of enormous benefit to both parties."

Fernando Gallego, president of Llanera SL, said: "Developing our brand awareness in the UK is essential to our plans for the future growth of Llanera. Initially, we considered approaching those clubs most likely to secure Champions League qualification. To be truthful we entered into discussions with Charlton unsure whether they were able to help us reach our goals. Our very first meeting, however, lasted for more than four hours and it was immediately clear to us that because there were so many similarities between our two businesses, Charlton are the perfect partner to work with in the UK to meet our business objectives. This is without doubt the most exciting sponsorship deal Llanera has ever entered into."

 

 

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