Costa del Sol News - 13th July 2006

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

News Archive

In association with

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

Week 13th July - 19th July 2006

Police shut down illegal betting in expat bars
Non-licensed sports gambling allowed bets of up to 3,000 euros

By Oliver McIntyre

THE POLICE HAVE BROKEN UP A NETWORK OF NON-LICENSED SPORTS BETTING THAT OPERATED OUT OF AT LEAST SEVEN ENGLISH OR IRISH BARS IN BENALMÁDENA, FUENGIROLA AND TORREMOLINOS, ACCORDING TO REGIONAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS.
Customers were allowed to bet as much as 3,000 euros on horseracing and other sporting events including World Cup football matches, according to police investigators specialised in illegal-gaming cases. The betting system involved the installation of television screens on which the sporting events were aired while a bookmaker in the bar took bets, say officials.
"The organisation and celebration of betting, whether on horseracing or other sports, by anyone not authorised to do is a serious infraction of the Andalucía Gaming Law, carrying fines of between 30,050 euros and 300,506 euros, as well as the possible closure of the establishment," said a regional government spokesperson in a statement.
The bars in which the betting operations were shut down were identified by officials as Coco's, J.J.'s Sky, the Ha' Penny Bridge and Looney's in Benalmádena; Chequers Golf Bar and the Sports Café in Fuengirola; and McNally's in Torremolinos.

BAR OPEN BUT NO GAMBLING
Matt Leigh from Chequers confirmed to Costa del Sol News that police had shut down the bar's betting operation, which he said had been set up and operated by an independent third party. "It was nothing personal against the bar, it was just something that was going to be done here and at a variety of other bars," he said regarding the police action. To date he was not aware of any fine against the bar itself, which remains open as usual, except for the sports gambling. "At the moment we have no betting in the bar and will not for the foreseeable future," he said.
In the break-up of the betting network, police seized 59 televisions, monitors or plasma screens; 15 satellite TV decoders; two computers; more than 10,000 bet tickets; and a variety of advertising material and other documentation. They also confiscated 8,967 euros and £100 in cash.


Search for Carlos Fernández goes on as Sánchez goe
By David Eade

The second phase the Marbella Town Hall corruption case, Operation Malaya, is almost complete. The one remaining arrest is that of former Partido Andalucista leader and deputy mayor Carlos Fernández, who to date has avoided arrest.
The onetime GIL and PA councillor has been described by the judge investigating the case as the third-highest recipient of buyoff payments from Juan Antonio Roca, after former mayor Marisol Yagüe and her deputy, Isabel García Marcos. Sr Fernández is said to have been walking the Camino de Santiago in Galicia at the time of the second wave of 'Malaya' arrests, but despite an arrest warrant being issued he is still at large.
However, now in prison awaiting trial is businessman Carlos Sánchez, who had been in the Dominican Republic and was also the subject of a court warrant. He and a colleague, Andrés Liétor, voluntarily went to court this week and were ordered to Alhaurín de la Torre prison by the judge. Sr Sánchez, who is based in Madrid, is said to be a friend of the alleged mastermind behind the 'Malaya' scam, Juan Antonio Roca. Last week, from the Dominican Republic, he proclaimed his innocence.

PARTY OVER
Amidst the furore over their missing former leader, Carlos Fernández, the Partido Andalucista has decided to disband in the municipality. The decision was made after another former Marbella PA councillor, María José Lanzat, was ordered to join those awaiting trial in Alhaurín de la Torre jail. The party will not be presenting a candidate for mayor at next year's local elections. However, the PA-appointed members on Marbella Town Hall's interim management commission say they will continue to serve in their present roles despite no longer having PA backing.

 


Beefed-up security at Benalmádena marina
NEWS Staff Reporter

Benalmádena officials have beefed up security in late-night hotspots Puerto Marina and Solymar Plaza for the busy summer season, when the marina alone can attract as many as 22,000 people each weekend. The plan, launched last weekend, is aimed at reducing the number of incidents in the sometimes rowdy nightlife hubs, where, according to local Police Chief Lázaro Bañasco, there was "an average of 15 to 18 arrests a week" last summer.
The special summer plan has three principal areas of focus, according to Security councillor José Nieto: traffic controls, the monitoring of nightlife establishments and general security. The plan calls for four pairs of officers to patrol Puerto Marina and an additional two pairs posted in and around Plaza Solymar. Among other things, the extra police will focus on periodic searches of cars entering the marina, in an effort to detect drugs or weapons.
In addition to the increased local police presence, the National Police force has also agreed to up the frequency with which its officers patrol the marina zone, said Sr Nieto. Private security is also being stepped up, he said.
One positive trend officers have seen recently is an increase in young people using the 'designated driver' system, in which one member of a group refrains from drinking to ensure everyone has a safe ride home. "We're seeing more and more cases where the passengers in a car have been drinking but not the driver," said Police Chief Bañasco. Officers have also noticed a slight increase in the number of people using public transportation to get to the nightlife zones, he said.

 


Nearly 20 hectares burn in Mijas and Cártama fires
Residents house down gardens to protect their homes

By Oliver McIntyre

AUTHORITIES ARE INVESTIGATING THE CAUSE OF A FIRE THAT STARTED ON PRIVATE PROPERTY IN MIJAS AND BURNED SEVEN HECTARES OF CORK OAK AND BRUSH IN THE CAMORRO NATURE AREA BEFORE BEING BROUGHT UNDER CONTROL.
The blaze broke out at around 13.35 Sunday in the El Pantanillo zone of Mijas and quickly spread toward Ojén and Marbella. Around a hundred Infoca firefighters battled the flames with 11 fire trucks and multiple planes and helicopters.
"Several villas were under threat," witness Christine Flanagan told Costa del Sol News. "Neighbours doused down gardens in fear of the wind changing direction." Mrs Flanagan, an artist and photographer, captured images as "the fire passed dangerously close by at La Mairena."
The blaze was not brought fully under control until 22.00. Authorities say initial investigations point to the negligent burning of agricultural waste as the probable cause of the fire.

CÁRTAMA BLAZE
Also on Sunday afternoon, a fire scorched 12 hectares of abandoned agricultural land in Cártama. The blaze was spotted at 16.22 in the La Aljaima zone and firefighters had it extinguished by around 20.45. Authorities said the fire may have been sparked by an electricity cable.

 


Costa development called 'unsustainable'
By Dave Jamieson

The Costas are failing the very coastline that gives them their name, charges Greenpeace. A new report from the environmental group says that coastal development practices on the Costa del Sol and elsewhere in Andalucía are "unsustainable," and its volunteers were out on the streets of several Spanish towns last week to draw attention to what they see as threats to the country's shoreline.
On Sunday, local members of the organisation were to be found in Almuñécar and Málaga city centre. Their demonstrations followed a new report published by Greenpeace in Madrid last week which claimed that Andalucía was one of the two regions where least care is taken of the coasts. The Junta de Andalucía, it alleged, "continued exercising an unsustainable land model, especially on the coast, more concerned with supposed short-term benefits."
Amongst a range of concerns voiced by Greenpeace was urbanisation. It says the region has 345,600 new houses planned within one kilometre of the shore and estimated the number of new golf courses at 156. Construction of courses with associated housing projects should be prohibited, it says. It further calls for a moratorium on around 100 new or expanded marinas, claiming that they often cause erosion and contamination. Greenpeace also wants the Ministry of the Environment to ban projects which do not bring a benefit to the coast, such as new Paseo Marítimos.
The report also voiced the group's concerns about the lack of water purification plants along the Andalucía coast, which are the subject of a European directive. It singled out a number of offending municipalities, including Algeciras, Nerja and Torrox. The mayor of Torrox, Francisco Muñoz, last week called for the water authority Cuenca Mediterránea Andaluza (CMA) to start work on his town's facility, which is to be built at El Morche, describing the delay since last December as "unacceptable." The CMA says construction will begin after the summer.
Greenpeace adds that Andalucía saw a 29 per cent increase in the number of hotels between 2000 and 2004, with Valencia, the other region heavily criticised, increasing its hotels by 24 per cent in the same period. The group is calling for the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce to take steps to avoid the "ruination" of the tourist sector.


House prices drop as building increases
Estepona, Torremolinos and Vélez top construction bump

By David Eade

TWO RECENT SURVEYS INDICATE THAT WHILST THE PRICE OF NEW HOMES IN MÁLAGA PROVINCE IS LEVELLING OR DROPPING, CONSTRUCTION IS ON THE INCREASE.
According to recent statistics, the average price per square metre of constructed property has dropped by 1.7 per cent in three months. The average per-square-metre last month was 2,574 euros compared with 2,620 euros in March. Those prices include parking, storage and tax.
This is the first time in recent years that property developers appear to have taken in to account a drop in demand by adjusting their prices downwards. Nobody is yet talking of a crisis but developers have had to lower prices to attract new buyers, according to industry watchers.
The same survey showed an average 12-month rise in prices of 14 per cent between, but the year-on-year increase is now expected to slow to 12 per cent. Indeed, many developers are now revising their prices from month to month and week to week.
On the western coast, Benalmádena, Mijas, Estepona and Manilva recorded an increase in prices of 9.5 per cent in the first three months of this year but since April have recorded a drop of 0.31 per cent. Marbella seems to be bucking the trend with prices rising 2.9 per cent. On the eastern coast, Vélez-Málaga has seen a growth of 3.9 per cent in the last three months.
In inland Málaga there has been an annual increase of 20 per cent, much stronger figures than in coastal zones, with major growth recorded in Antequerra, Campillos, Pizarra, Coín and Cártama.

BUILDING BOOM
Whilst prices might be stuttering, there has been no decrease in construction except in inland Málaga. The western coast had a general increase of 15.5 per cent in the first six months of this year compared with the same period last year. The eastern coast showed an increase of 23.3 per cent but inland areas showed a drop of 1.29 per cent.
Not surprisingly, with the town planning problems in Marbella, the municipality has shown a 22.4 per cent drop in construction compared to last year. However, neighbouring Estepona is a building boomtown with a 108.2 per cent rise, outperformed on the western coast only by Torremolinos, with a 141.6 per cent increase. Rincón de la Victoria on the eastern coast has seen a 34.2 per cent drop, and Torrox and Nerja have increased marginally but Vélez-Málaga keeps the flag flying with a 120.5 per cent leap. Inland Málaga is a mixed bag; overall, new construction has slowed, but in Pizarra, for example, it is up by 264 per cent.

 


Guardia Civil uncovers olive-oil scam
By Oliver McIntyre

Consumers on the Costa may have been the victims of a bogus-olive-oil scam uncovered last week by the Guardia Civil. Officials say 34,000 litres of the adulterated oil – sold as pure extra virgin olive oil but actually containing a mix of anywhere from 50 to 90 per cent sunflower oil – was distributed to small shops and groceries small towns in Málaga, Cádiz, Sevilla and Huelva.
The investigation began when officers identified a shipment of 279 litres of the oil in Sevilla. They were able to trace it back to its source, and an undisclosed number of people were arrested for alleged involvement in the scam. Officials say the bogus oil was sold in one-, two- and five-litre bottles labelled as 'Pradoliva' or 'Praliva' and having "the appearance of high-quality products, with nothing to raise the suspicion of consumers." Neither of the brand names is registered with Health authorities as is required for food products.
Officials say the 11,500 bottles confirmed to have been distributed were likely just the tip of the iceberg. Officers seized 21,700 additional labels that presumably were to be used for further shipments. The Guardia Civil is seeking help from the public in identifying outlets where the bogus oil was sold. Anyone with helpful information is asked to contact their local Guardia Civil headquarters or call 900 100 062.
This is not the first fraudulent-olive-oil case in recent times. In April of this year police seized 76,000 litres of bogus oil in the break-up of a group in Jaén and Córdoba that bottled the stuff under 14 different brand names and distributed it in other regions of the country, mainly Cataluña (CDSN, Apr. 20 – 26).


Government confirms Nerja beach expropriation
By Dave Jamieson

On the same day that Nerja's mayor was due in Madrid for talks on issues affecting his municipality, the government confirmed that it would acquire about a quarter of the El Playazo sector on the town's western border. It also announced plans to spend 6m euros on various projects along the Nerja coastline, including cliff-stabilisation work, a new Paseo Marítimo at El Pozo and the construction of a stone breakwater off Torrecilla beach.
The most pressing issue for José Alberto Armijo when he visited the capital on Monday was clarification of the earlier surprise announcement from the Ministry of the Environment that the area known as El Playazo would be expropriated. Growth plans for the area of 450,000 square metres on Nerja's border with Torrox have already been included in the town's local development plan (the PGOU), including the construction of a Paseo Marítimo and other improvements.
At a press conference on Monday, while the mayor was in Madrid, the local secretary of the opposition PSOE party in Nerja, Ángel Ramírez, gave details of the planned acquisition of El Playazo, confirming the area to be expropriated as 120,000 square metres of land with 100 metres of coastline.
The co-ordinator of Nerja's action group to fight the proposals included in the region's 10-year development plan (the POT), Manuel Valderrama, is also seeking answers on the situation at El Playazo. He has asked for an urgent meeting with the new provincial delegate for Public Works and Transport, Emiliano de Cara Sáez, who last week expressed the intention of arriving at an accord with municipalities that have issues with the POT.
The Junta de Andalucía is likely formally to approve the POT next week. If it goes through, it would finally rule out the chance of Nerja building its planned golf course or being home to a new marina.

 


Britons to bring 'Panto' to Castellar
Expat couple to stage show as cancer benefit

By David Eade

JUST WHAT THE PEOPLE OF THE SPANISH VILLAGE OF CASTELLAR WILL MAKE OF THE VERY BRITISH TRADITION OF PANTOMIME REMAINS TO BE SEEN, BUT BRITISH COUPLE IAN AND VICTORIA CANN ARE DETERMINED TO STAGE ONE IN THE MUNICIPAL THEATRE NEXT JANUARY.
Ian and Victoria are a retired couple who have lived in the Campo de Gibraltar town of Castellar for a number of years. Victoria fought a successful battle against cancer some years ago, but had to go to a private clinic in La Línea for a scan to determine the problem. Now they want Castellar's health centre to have its own scanner and want to help pay for it by staging the panto.
The Canns are adamant that the whole project should be local, so they are holding a casting session in the municipal theatre at 20.00 on September 1, with all interested parties invited to come try out. Once the cast is selected, rehearsals will start later that month. They have chosen the panto 'Aladdin and his magic lamp', and if all goes to plan it will be staged in the first week of January. The Canns need around 30 actors and a dozen or so helpers to build the scenery and help back stage.

MAGIC AND SURPRISES
Whilst panto might be new to Castellar, thankfully Ian has a lot of experience in staging such events in England. He wrote the script a couple of years ago and says the work includes "songs, special effects, multiple changes of scenery, magic, one or two surprises and a small tribute to Spain."
The Canns hope that even in a little Spanish village like Castellar – with its solemn castle keeping austere watch over all below – the whimsical charms of panto will be a hit. And more important, they hope it will help raise funds for a good cause.

 


Almuñécar residents battle town hall
Urbanisation told to pay up if it wants water connection

By Dave Jamieson

FIFTY HOMES IN ALMUÑÉCAR ARE UNDER THREAT OF HAVING THEIR WATER SUPPLY CUT OFF IF THEIR COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION CANNOT REACH AN AGREEMENT WITH THE TOWN HALL.
The San Antonio urbanisation has received its water from a community supply, provided by a private company, for more than two decades. But now, says the Town Hall, the supply, which comes from a well in La Herradura, is polluted and the supplier has been given until early July to resolve the problem or cut off the flow. Failure to do so would result in a heavy fine.
The residents therefore asked the Town Hall to be connected to the municipal water supply instead. The nearest connection point, they pointed out, was within 50 metres of their present intake, and they would meet all costs as well as providing a chlorination plant as a safeguard. In addition, house owners agreed they would pay water rates to the supplier.
However, the Town Hall has thrown out the proposal, saying the community must renew existing distribution pipes, install a proper sewerage system and storm drains, route electricity cables and telephone wires underground, provide street lighting and install fire hydrants. Estimates for the cost of such a project have varied from 800,000 euros to 1.8m euros, the lower estimate being for a compromise deal to cover only a new pipes and sewerage system.

SUSPICIOUS DEVELOPMENTS
The community says it is "bewildered" by the town's attitude. The president, Veronica Bailey, is pleading for the Council to permit the water supply to be connected first, while other committee members have considered appealing to the European Court of Human Rights. Residents also say that nearby development projects are illegal and, although the Junta de Andalucía has responded to their complaints by advising that stop-work orders had been issued, construction continues. They believe they are being asked to pay for the infrastructure which will enable developers to make a huge profit.
The residents claim that Almuñécar has "ridden a coach and horses through its own planning regulations" and have demanded explanations from the Town Hall, but have been told that plans have been "mislaid." Mayor Juan Carlos Benavides has failed to respond to the group's requests to meet.

 


Hundreds flee Chiclana fire
Residents evacuated as flames threatened homes

By David Eade

HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE HAD TO FLEE A BLAZE ON SUNDAY AFTERNOON IN CHICLANA AS AUTHORITIES ORDERED THE EVACUATION OF DOZENS OF HOMES THAT WERE THREATENED BY THE FLAMES.
The exact cause of the fire is unknown but initial reports indicated it there were signs it had been started deliberately. The inferno cut two roads in the La Barrosa area as fire crews from Chiclana, Cádiz, San Fernando and Medina Sidonia battled the flames.
The fire started just after 17.30 in the camping area of La Barrosa. It was sparked close to an area where a blaze had broken out around a month ago. The difference on this occasion was that virtually all the homes in the affected zone were occupied and hence had to be evacuated.
A strong easterly wind spread the blaze spread quickly and within minutes the flames raced across the new La Barrosa road towards the Las Mogarizas urbanisation. Guardia Civil officers quickly moved to get residents away from the flames and intense heat.
The new La Barrosa road was closed and the old road was soon overwhelmed with cars carrying people who were trying to flee their homes at the same time as beach-goers were leaving for home. Flames broke out on the property of some homes but were extinguished before any serious damage was inflicted.

'EXCELLENT RESPONSE'
After two hours battling the inferno the fire fighters allowed the first people to return to their homes. However, pockets of fire were still breaking out till at least 21.00 and on occasions a helicopter carrying water had to be called in to fight the blazes. In all, an area a kilometre long and 300 metres wide was burned. Chiclana's Security councillor, Diego Benítez Mota, praised the excellent response and work of the fire services.

 


First bird-flu case detected in Spain
Discovery of infected bird comes while vaccination tests underway

By Dave Jamieson

SPAIN'S FIRST CASE OF BIRD FLU HAS BEEN CONFIRMED EVEN AS MORE THAN 1,500 VOLUNTEERS TRY OUT A VACCINATION TO COMBAT THE DISEASE.
A great crested grebe, found dead at Lake Salburua near Vitoria in the Basque country, tested positive for the lethal H5N1 strain last week, prompting a ban on transporting and hunting birds in a three-kilometre radius of the location. The Ministry of Agriculture, which has also implemented increased surveillance in a 10-kilometre radius of the lake, said there was no cause for alarm and that the consumption of poultry products was safe.
Experts said last year that it was only a matter of time before bird flu arrived in Spain, since the country is on a key migration routes for birds flying from northern Africa. Andalucía's Doñana natural park is one of 18 wetlands considered to be at risk as it receives thousands of migratory birds every year. Certain preventive measures, including the prohibition of outdoor poultry farming in areas near marshlands, have been in place for some time. Ironically, it appears the infection entered the country by way of France rather than from the south.
Deputy President Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega described the new case as "strictly veterinary", while the Minister of Agriculture, Elena Espinosa, said that that the stockpile of bird-flu vaccine for chickens would be doubled to 10 million doses. She added that quarantine would be set up around any suspected bird-flu outbreaks, with poultry in nearby areas receiving vaccinations. The government last week agreed to buy six to 10 million doses of anti-viral drugs for groups most at risk of human flu, as a precautionary measure.

VOLUNTEERS TEST VACCINE
Meanwhile, clinical trials of a new vaccine against bird flu began in Spain last week with 1,654 volunteers receiving doses of the drug. The test is to determine if there are any important adverse reactions, according to Dr José María Bayas of the Hospital Clínic in Barcelona. He added that no immediate serious secondary effects had been noted. If the trials are successful, the vaccine will be registered in Europe in September as the first step towards its commercial production. The bird-flu virus has taken 132 human lives, mainly in Asia, since it was first identified in 2004


First bird-flu case detected in Spain
Discovery of infected bird comes while vaccination tests underway

By Dave Jamieson

SPAIN'S FIRST CASE OF BIRD FLU HAS BEEN CONFIRMED EVEN AS MORE THAN 1,500 VOLUNTEERS TRY OUT A VACCINATION TO COMBAT THE DISEASE.
A great crested grebe, found dead at Lake Salburua near Vitoria in the Basque country, tested positive for the lethal H5N1 strain last week, prompting a ban on transporting and hunting birds in a three-kilometre radius of the location. The Ministry of Agriculture, which has also implemented increased surveillance in a 10-kilometre radius of the lake, said there was no cause for alarm and that the consumption of poultry products was safe.
Experts said last year that it was only a matter of time before bird flu arrived in Spain, since the country is on a key migration routes for birds flying from northern Africa. Andalucía's Doñana natural park is one of 18 wetlands considered to be at risk as it receives thousands of migratory birds every year. Certain preventive measures, including the prohibition of outdoor poultry farming in areas near marshlands, have been in place for some time. Ironically, it appears the infection entered the country by way of France rather than from the south.
Deputy President Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega described the new case as "strictly veterinary", while the Minister of Agriculture, Elena Espinosa, said that that the stockpile of bird-flu vaccine for chickens would be doubled to 10 million doses. She added that quarantine would be set up around any suspected bird-flu outbreaks, with poultry in nearby areas receiving vaccinations. The government last week agreed to buy six to 10 million doses of anti-viral drugs for groups most at risk of human flu, as a precautionary measure.

VOLUNTEERS TEST VACCINE
Meanwhile, clinical trials of a new vaccine against bird flu began in Spain last week with 1,654 volunteers receiving doses of the drug. The test is to determine if there are any important adverse reactions, according to Dr José María Bayas of the Hospital Clínic in Barcelona. He added that no immediate serious secondary effects had been noted. If the trials are successful, the vaccine will be registered in Europe in September as the first step towards its commercial production. The bird-flu virus has taken 132 human lives, mainly in Asia, since it was first identified in 2004


Copyright C.B. News S.L. No part of this information may be used or reproduced without the written consent of the publishers C.B. News S.L.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share