Costa del Sol News - 25th May 2006

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

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

Week May 25th to May 31st 2006

WATCH OUT FOR BOGUS GAS MEN!
Los Hidalgos in Manilva angry over sewage health risk

By David Eade

RESIDENTS OF LOS HIDALGOS GOLF URBANISATION, MANY OF THEM BRITISH, CLAIM THAT MANILVA TOWN HALL IS IGNORING THE PROBLEMS THAT ARE BLIGHTING THEIR LIVES.
Residents claim that every time it rains the streets fill with sewage inundating the pavements and causing a health hazard as well as being highly disagreeable.
Added to this problem, the telephone system throughout the urbanisation is also covered in sewage posing more than just a potential danger to the Telefónica engineers.

CHRIS WARREN SPEAKS OUT
Chris Warren, the president of the community of property owners at Los Hidalgos explained the situation to the Costa del Sol News. Mr Warren stated that a lot of the problems stemmed from the changes to the Plan Parcial which now allowed for massive construction on land originally zoned for individual houses.
Mr Warren said: “We do not know where the sewage is coming from but we suspect that there has been a mix-up with the pipes during construction which is being carried out by several companies. We feel that maybe the town hall is not supervising the works and hence, it would appear that nobody is taking responsibility for the mess. We are asking the town hall to get involved as the situation is a public health risk.”

OVER-DEVELOPMENT ON THE COSTA
This is not the first time that Los Hildagos has hit the Costa del Sol News headlines. On May 5, 2005, it was reported that a developer building hundreds of apartments on land officially designated for individual villas at Los Hidalgos had dramatically failed to get the community of owners to stop a court case from going ahead. The case centred on the alleged fact that one of the plots on the Plan Parcial approved by the regional government in June 1997 was originally designated for seven villas, whereas instead 16 three-storey, semi detached town houses were to go ahead according to the amended version of the Plan Parcial.
At the time, the president of Los Hidalgos, Chris Warren declared: “Quite apart from the way these permissions seem to have been granted without going through the recognised planning process, the effect of such intense development on the community’s infrastructure – particularly water and sewage and road traffic – is immense and we fear for the future of the entire urbanisation”. Those fears now appear to be realised as the urbanisation faces a massive sewage problem.


Prosecutor charges three Mayors

Enrique Bolín, Juan Vera and Francisco Corbacho face town planning offences

By Oliver McIntyre

THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE HAS FILED CASES AGAINST THREE MAYORS, FIVE COUNCIL MEMBERS AND TWO EMPLOYEES IN FOUR SEPARATE TOWN HALLS IN THE PROVINCE OF MÁLAGA, ALL FOR TOWN-PLANNING OFFENCES.
Those charged by the prosecutor are Benalmádena Mayor Enrique Bolín; Tolox Mayor Juan Vera, along with his municipal secretary and municipal architect; Gaucín Mayor Francisco Corbacho plus four of his town councillors; and the former Town Planning councillor at Manilva Town Hall, Antonia Muñoz.
In each of the cases, the prosecutor charges that the accused granted municipal licences or development deals for construction projects that were illegal based on the towns’ local development plans (PGOUs). In Benalmádena, the project in question is a 46-apartment block on a plot in La Leala classified for single-family homes. The Tolox case, the largest in scope, centres on 15 separate licences for the construction of 2,000 homes. The Guacín and Manilva cases also involve the approval of construction projects considered illegal by the prosecutor.
If convicted for the offences, those found guilty could face six months to two years in prison or fines and bans from holding public office for anywhere from six to 10 years, says the prosecutor.
The mayors involved have indicated that the projects in question were either legal but lacking some mere technicality (in the case of Benalmádena and Tolox) or were never even carried out (Gaucín). In Tolox, Mayor Vera has stated that he is prepared to review and reassess any projects that are deemed to be illegal.

BENALMÁDENA MAYOR ANSWERS BACK
But Benalmádena Mayor Bolín was less conciliatory. He charged that the Junta de Andalucía’s Public Works delegation in Málaga, which initially filed the charges with the prosecutor’s office, is discriminating against towns with non-Socialist (PSOE) governments. As an example, he cited the department’s inaction against neighbouring PSOE-ruled Mijas, “where a licence has been issued to build a golf course and a thousand homes on non-building ‘green’ land” (a charge Mijas Town Hall flatly denies).


Nerja mobilises to fight development setbacks

By Dave Jamieson

As Nerja continues to reel from the shock inflicted on it by the region’s Plan de Ordenación de Territorio (POT), 22 local organisations have unified to fight for its modification. The POT defines development plans for the next decade and has, amongst other changes, effectively erased Nerja’s promised golf course from the map.
The new collective was announced at a press conference on Monday and includes representation from political groups, including the PSOE, which runs the Junta de Andalucía, and the Partido Popular, which runs Nerja’s Town Hall, plus the Partido Andalucista. Also participating are trades unions, the local associations of businesses and communities, the tourism sector, residents’ groups and other social organisations. The “Plataforma Nerjeña para la Modificación del POT” has chosen as its coordinator Manuel Valderrama who owns land in la Loma de las Cuadrillas, one of the areas strongly affected by the POT, and it claims to represent the interests of 90 per cent of the town’s population.
Sr Valderrama said that the group’s principle objective was to fight for a return to the POT as outlined in May 2005. This would lift restrictions on the Rio de la Miel and Cantarriján areas to the east of the municipality and clear la Coladilla for the golf course development. He said the POT should include the proposed marine, adding that the ports authority had described Nerja as the ideal location.
The collective is trying to arrange early meetings with public works coordinators at both provincial and regional levels, while a second meeting was due to be held in Maro on Tuesday evening to explain implications of the POT to residents.


Regional government to control town planning

Residents of the now deemed illegal properties could face eviction

By David Eade

THE REGIONAL GOVERNMENT HAS SIGNALLED THAT IT INTENDS TO PROCEED WITH ITS PLANS TO TAKE OVER TOWN PLANNING IN MARBELLA FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS.
It says this action will not affect the work of the management commission that is controlling the affairs of the municipality till next year’s local elections.
It is understood that the commission will be able to grant building licences as long as they conform to the existing 1986 local development plan. However, whilst the situation will be reviewed after the May 2007 local elections it does mean that the regional government can hold those powers for itself if it does not approve of the new elected council.
Meanwhile the management commission has warned that the occupants of properties that are deemed to be illegal could face eviction. Unlike the previous town hall team the commission has been enforcing judgements issued by the Andalucía High Court (TSJA).
Not surprisingly many of these developments have already been finished and the new owners have taken possession of the illegal properties. The commission member in charge of town planning, Rafael Duarte, stated that the properties are subject to the suspension orders, have no occupation licence and hence cannot be legally occupied.
Whilst the upholding of the law is paramount the new commission also recognises that the new owners have rights too. Hence whilst evictions are a possibility detailed investigations into each case will be carried out before any action is taken in what could be a lengthy process.

TOWN HALLS ACCEPT OLD OFFICE BUILDING
On the subject of buildings, the association of town halls of the western Costa del Sol has voted to accept the building offered by the last Marbella administration as part payment for its rubbish service. The association took the vote without the participation of the two new Marbella members and the matter now goes to the town’s management commission to accept the deal.
Under the accord the association will take possession of its former headquarters building that stands within the municipality of Marbella at Las Chapas that has been valued at four million euros. If the commission accepts the deal it will mean that part of its debt for rubbish collection will be cancelled and Marbella will be free from the threat of having its lorries barred from the association’s rubbish collection depot.


Land approved for Guadalhorce hospital

By Oliver McIntyre

CÁRTAMA TOWN HALL HAS APPROVED THE LAND-CLASSIFICATION CHANGES NECESSARY FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE PLANNED GUADALHORCE VALLEY HOSPITAL.
The Junta de Andalucía’s Health delegate for Málaga, María Antigua Escalera, along with the provincial government’s chief of Infrastructure and Public Works, Francisco Fernández, have visited the site with Cártama Mayor José Garrido following a meeting of the steering committee for the hospital project.
Sr Fernández stated that geotechnical studies have already been carried out on the site and it is expected that the contract to draft the architectural design for the hospital will be awarded this summer. While the officials did not indicate the exact target date for the beginning of construction work, Mayor Garrido said the hospital should be up and running sometime in 2008.

HELIPORT FOR HOSPITAL
Sra Escalera highlighted some of the specifications of the future hospital, a 12,000-square-metre facility with 50 single rooms, each with a capacity for double occupancy if necessary. It will include four operating theatres, nine emergency surgeries, and a 1,000-square-metre heliport, she said. “This project will bring good medical care to the entire Guadalhorce Valley,” she added.
Caption: Mayor Garrido points out hospital site.


Torre and Vélez stay together

By Dave Jamieson

The independence hopes of Torre del Mar have again been dashed. The Constitutional Court has ruled that the town should continue to be dependent administratively and politically on Vélez-Málaga Town Hall. The application is reported to have failed on a number of points, including the distance between the two town centres which is less than the required 7.5 kilometres minimum.
The matter was taken to the Constitutional Court after being thrown out by lower courts, a matter which its proponents considered to be a breach of the Constitution because it denied equality to all.
The leader of the movement for Torre’s separation from Vélez for the last 20 years, Manuel Rincón Granados, said he felt ‘deceived’ and ‘depressed’ on learning the news. He added, however, that there exists an ‘unquestionable’ desire for independence in Torre del Mar and that this would not disappear. The court’s decision, he said, would not end the struggle to declare the town an autonomous entity.
At a public meeting last Friday, Sr Rincón asked the people of Torre to support the independent party GIPMTM (Grupo Independiente Pro Municipio de Torre del Mar) at next May’s local elections, promising to negotiate directly with the Junta de Andalucía on the issue of separation from Vélez. He also assured them that he would not hesitate to take their case to the Court of Human Rights in Strasburg if necessary, and announced that the town would have its own flag.


Alhaurin amphitheatre enlargement complete

By Oliver McIntyre

FOLLOWING TWO AND A HALF MONTHS OF WORK, THE ENLARGEMENT OF THE SEATING AREA AT ALHAURÍN DE LA TORRE’S OUTDOOR AMPHITHEATRE AT FINCA EL PORTÓN IS COMPLETE.
The 100,000-euro project saw a near doubling of the seating capacity, to a total of 850 individual plastic seats in 18 rows.
“The project was necessary, as the facility’s previous capacity was too small for the multitude of shows, concerts, plays and other events held there,” said the Town Hall. Municipal officials last week expressed great satisfaction with the results, calling the enlarged amphitheatre in its natural surroundings at Finca el Portón “one of the most beautiful and modern outdoor auditoriums in the province of Málaga.”
In addition to the amphitheatre expansion, the project included some general upgrades at the El Portón site. The porch of the main house was resurfaced and various areas received a new coat of paint or other improvements.
There was no delay in inaugurating the newly upgraded amphitheatre. Last Friday night it was the venue for the finals of the Fourth Torre de Coplas Marifé de Triana singing competition


Mijas launches WiFi network

News Staff Reporter

By way of a video conference with the Valtocado Neighbourhood Association and the Las Lagunas municipal offices, Mijas Mayor Agustín Moreno last week officially launched the town’s new wireless Internet-access networks. A series of WiFi networks provides high-speed wireless access to the rural Osunillas, Valtocado and Entrerríos zones, while a WiMAX network links some 20 municipal offices throughout the town.
There are currently 70 pilot users of the rural-areas WiFi networks. The networks have a capacity for up to 60 users in each of the three zones. “This service represents a revolution for the rural areas of Mijas, and will be extended further, with increased capacity,” said the Town Hall in an official statement.
The 322,000-euro project for the newly launched wireless networks is part of the Town Hall’s ‘Mijas Digital’ programme for the promotion of new technologies. Other projects under the programme include the creation of a new Citizen Services Portal on the Town Hall’s Web site (www.mijas.es), which is already partially functioning. It currently allows users to access certain documents and make tax payments, and in the future will allow the online handling of a variety of Town Hall paperwork or transactions, say officials.
At the launch of the new wireless Internet networks last week, Mayor Moreno also announced that Mijas Pueblo’s Virgen de la Peña Plaza is now a WiFi ‘hotspot’, meaning anyone with a WiFi-equipped laptop can access the Internet free of charge from the plaza.


DNA confirmation marks Columbus anniversary

By Dave Jamieson

New light was shed on a century-old Andalucían controversy with confirmation that at least some of Christopher Columbus’ remains are buried in Sevilla. Historians have been arguing for decades whether the Spanish city or Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic has the right to boast that it is home to his bones, and now modern technology has intervened.
In 2002, a local historian and school teacher in Sevilla, Marcial Castro, devised a study to clarify the situation and last Friday, one day before the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ death, its results were announced. A forensic team led by geneticist Jose Antonio Lorente compared the DNA taken from slivers of the bones buried in Sevilla with the DNA from other remains in Sevilla which are known to be those of Diego, Columbus’ younger brother. Sr Castro said that there was an absolute match between the two samples, although it was possible that some of Columbus’ remains could have been taken to the Dominican Republic and buried there. It is known that the body was moved several times after the explorer’s death and the tomb in Santa Domingo might also hold some of his bones. Sr Castro added, “We do not know what is in there.”
However, the Dominican Republic has steadfastly refused requests for samples to be taken from its set of bones for DNA testing. Juan Bautista Mieses, director of the Columbus Lighthouse, the building constructed by the Dominican government to house the explorer's remains, dismissed the new DNA evidence and insisted that Columbus is buried in his country. “The remains have never left Dominican territory,” he commented, adding, “We Christians believe that one does not bother the dead.”
Columbus died and was buried in Valladolid on May 20, 1506. Three years later his remains were moved to a monastery on La Cartuja, an island in Sevilla. In 1537, the widow of one of his sons sent the bones of her husband and his father to the cathedral in Santo Domingo for burial, where they remained until 1795, when Spain ceded Hispaniola to France and wanted to ensure that Columbus’ remains should not fall into the hands of foreigners. Remains, believed to be those of the explorer, were shipped to Havana, and then back to Sevilla when the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898. But in 1877, workers in Santo Domingo cathedral came across a lead box containing bones and inscribed, “Illustrious and distinguished male, don Cristobal Colón.” The Dominicans believe that these were the genuine remains of Columbus and that the Spaniards took the wrong body back in 1795.
Another DNA project is now underway at the University of Granada to determine Columbus’ country of origin. Samples have been taken from hundreds of men who share his family name in both Cataluña and Italy in an effort to detect a trend allowing one or other country finally to claim him as their most famous son.
The 500th anniversary of Columbus’ death last weekend was marked by a number of special events including Valladolid’s open-air performance of “The Great Navigator”, a cantata by Blas Emilio Atehortua from Colombia, the country which bears the explorer’s name. The city has also has been hosting an exhibition of manuscripts, books and engravings documenting the scientific discoveries which Columbus’ ocean voyages produced. Huelva marked the anniversary at La Rabida monastery, where in 1485 Franciscan monks received an explorer seeking funds for a voyage to reach the Indies by travelling westwards. Seven years later, after enlisting the aid of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, Columbus visited the monastery again before setting sail.


La Linea's housing price rise

Campo town registers highest increase in Andalucía

By David Eade

ACCORDING TO A SURVEY CARRIED OUT BY COHISPANIA IN TO THE RISE IN HOUSING PRICES IN ANDALUCÍA SO FAR IN 2006 THE CAMPO DE GIBRALTAR TOWN OF LA LÍNEA SHOWS THE BIGGEST INCREASES.
La Línea records a leap of 14.64 per cent that beats Veléz-Málaga and Torrox into second and third places with their rises being 14.56 and 14.2 per cent respectively.
However La Línea is still in the catch up mode when it comes to the price of property per square metre. The survey shows that as of March 31 of this year the price of a new, unoccupied property in the border town was 1,918 euros per square metre whilst in the province the most expensive was Rota with 2,268 euros.
Elsewhere in Cádiz the town’s of Barbate (2,134 euros per square metres), San Roque (2,074), Chipiona (2,033), Conil (1,997) and Chiclana (1,963) were all more expensive that La Línea.
In Andalucía generally the average rise in the first three months of this year has been 8.83 per cent, compared with the figure for 2005 of 11.25 per cent. The average price per square metre in the region is 1,641 euros.


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