Costa del Sol News - 28th September 2006

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Week 28th September - 4th October 2006

 

DAVID v GOLIATH

Judge dismisses case against Costa-based British property agent

By Oliver McIntyre

THE JUDGE HAS DISMISSED A CASE BROUGHT AGAINST A BRITISH PROPERTY AGENT BASED IN FUENGIROLA BY A PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT GIANT FOR COMMENTS HE MADE ABOUT THE COMPANY IN THE SUNDAY TIMES.

Aifos, one of Spain's largest property developers, filed a suit against David Greene claiming 60,000 euros in damages after remarks attributed to him were published in an April 2005 Sunday Times article about Costa real-estate issues. Aifos claimed the remarks were injurious to the company's image.

In the article in question, the Sunday Times reporter said Mr Greene claimed that as many as 2,500 Britons had been affected by the practice of selling homes off plan before securing the necessary development licences and permits. He was directly quoted as saying, “Aifos takes deposits and assures buyers that planning permission is a formality. It is not and never has been.”

NO DEFAMATION
The Fuengirola judge ruled that Mr Greene's remarks referred to “factual situations that are objectively demonstrable given the existence of multiple formal complaints from buyers” regarding “delays not only in delivery but in the start of construction.” The intent of the remarks was not to defame the company but to “give information about a widespread situation that affects many people,” said the ruling.

“The sentence is very clear,” Mr Greene's lawyer, Luis Fernando González Ordóñez, told Costa del Sol News. Not only was Mr Greene exonerated, but Aifos was ordered to pay the trial costs.

Aifos, which has the right to appeal the verdict, did not respond to requests by CDSN for a comment.


Junta denies it abandoned Roca’s horses

Veterinary inspections indicate that the horses are in fine condition

By David Eade

NEWSPAPERS THROUGHOUT SPAIN LAST WEEK CARRIED HORRIFYING PHOTOGRAPHS OF SOME OF THE THOROUGHBRED HORSES OWNED BY JUAN ANTONIO ROCA IN A PITIFUL STATE, BUT IT LATER EMERGED THAT THE PHOTOS AND REPORTS WERE MISLEADING.

Initial reports alleged that while Roca has sat in an Alhaurín de la Torre jail as the presumed ring-leaded of the Operation Malaya corruption scandal in Marbella, his prized horses have been allowed to die.

The horses are housed at La Caridad in Marbella and the company that owns the extensive property, Marqués de Velilla, claimed that the purebred animals had been abandoned by the courts and that, to date, three had died. However, since those claims were made, both the regional government’s inspection services and the Málaga College of Veterinaries have stated that there is no lack of food for the horses. They say that the 90 or so purebreds still at the estate are in a good health.

The regional government stated that of the horses seized by the court in the Operation Malaya case and valued at more than three million euros, three have died, but it was not for lack of care or feeding. It attributed their demise to illnesses not caused by improper care.

INSPECTIONS SHOW NO ABANDONMENT
The president of the College of Veterinaries, Enrique Moya, sent a group of inspectors to examine the animals, and he supported the regional government’s view. He stated that one of the horses had died while at a specialist clinic while the other two had died from a colon problem and a hernia.

Málaga’s provincial agriculture and fisheries department stated that two of the horses were infected with chronic laminitis, which they had been treated for over several years. This made the horses very thin, with infected hooves and ulcers on the skin, and they may have to be destroyed. The department said there were other horses with skin infections caused by a hypersensitivity to mosquitoes that are present throughout Andalucía at this time of year.

Meanwhile, the animal-rights group Asociación CYD Santamaría carried out its own inspection of the facilities. Its president, Concordia Márquez, reported that the horses are in a perfect state and properly looked after by eight people.Spain’s minister for defence, José Antonio Alonso, has also been drawn into the drama. He said his department had informed the court that it will make available any material and human resources required to meet the needs of the horses.


Work to start on Cártama hospital

By Dave Jamieson

Construction work on the new Guadalhorce Valley hospital in Cártama will begin in the first quarter of next year. Confirming the news last week, the regional health councillor, María Jesús Montero, said that contracts had been awarded for work on the pre-construction stages for the facility, which is expected to be in operation by late 2008. Once functioning, the hospital and its staff of 300 will serve 109,000 residents in 14 municipalities.

The project budget is 19.2 million euros, towards which the Junta’s health department and Cártama town hall will each contribute six million euros, with the balance coming from the provincial government. Operational costs of the hospital, which will be paid by the Junta, are anticipated to be 20 million euros a year.The hospital will provide treatment in a range of medical specialisations, including cardiology, dermatology, obstetrics and gynaecology, orthopaedics and urology. There will also be four operating theatres, as well as emergency and intensive care units.


R. Wanninkhof’s mother says King did not act alone


NEWS Staff Reporter

The Andalucía High Court (TSJA) is studying whether new evidence should be heard in the Rocío Wanninkhof murder case when Briton Tony King eventually stands trial.

Alicia Hornos, Srta Wanninkhof’s mother, is adamant that others were also involved in the slaying of her daughter who disappeared in Mijas on October 9, 1999, and whose body was discovered in Altos Rodeo in Marbella less than a month later.

Amongst the mysteries in the case is the identity of the person who placed a bag in Sra Hornos’s doorway in August 2005 containing blood-stained clothing appeared to be her daughter’s. Sra Hornos has said that the underwear in the bag was not that which her daughter had been wearing on the day of her disappearance. Some of the items in the bag were found to have DNA from Dolores Vázquez, who was previously tried for the murder and found guilty by a jury, only for the verdict to be later overturned and Sra Vázquez absolved.Now the sole person facing charges for Rocío’s murder is Briton Tony King, who if found guilty could face 26 years and nine months in prison. But before the case can go to trial, the TSJA must decide whether the objects in the bag can be included amongst the evidence and whether Dolores Vázquez should again be called to give witness testimony. The provincial court judge handling the case has turned down previous pleas on both counts, and the TSJA is reviewing the decision on appeal.


Airline ticket-emission charges ruled unfair

Málaga court decision is first of its kind in Europe

By Oliver McIntyre

IN WHAT COULD BE A PRECEDENT-SETTING DECISION, A MÁLAGA COURT HAS RULED THAT AN AIRLINE’S TICKET-EMISSION CHARGES ARE UNFAIR AND INVALID.

The ruling came in a case brought by a consumer who challenged the 13-euro ticket-emission fee charged by Spanair when he purchased a ticket on the airline’s website.

The court said that the act of issuing the ticket “cannot be separated from the provider’s obligation of emission, given that the consumer can never decline the service.”

“It’s as if entrance to a movie cost us six euros but then they wanted to charge us more to give us the ticket,” said the lawyer who argued the case, Antonio Castillo Gómez. If a ticket is necessary for the completion of the service being sold, then issuing it cannot be considered a separate expense, he said.

BIG REVENUE SOURCE
Ticket-emission charges have been widely applied by airlines since January 2004 and are a source of millions of euros of revenue for the companies, said Sr Castillo. This is the first court ruling in Europe against the emission charges, he said.However, the European Commission and consumer groups have been looking at the issue for some time, said the lawyer. He hopes the Málaga court ruling will be the final push to get the appropriate authorities to take action and put an end to ticket-emission charges.


Traffic 'hell' for Málaga commuters

Roadworks create kilometres of tailbacks on motorway ring road

By Dave Jamieson

WORK TO CREATE A NEW ACCESS TO THE A-45 MOTORWAY HAS BEEN CAUSING MAJOR HOLD-UPS FOR RUSH-HOUR TRAFFIC ON MÁLAGA’S RING ROAD.

The problem has been caused by the closure of one of the three west-bound carriageways near the point where traffic coming south from Antequera on the A-45 Las Pedrizas motorway joins the flow on the A-7 ring road.

Last Thursday delays were reported to be particularly bad, with the traffic department (DGT) officially estimating the tailbacks at 10 kilometres. However, one resident of La Cala del Moral in Málaga’s eastern suburbs told Costa del Sol News that it was more like 15 kilometres. “Normally,” he said, “it takes me a maximum of an hour to travel from home to my office in Benalmádena Pueblo, but on that day it took almost three hours.” He added that trying to avoid use of the motorway by travelling through Málaga’s city centre is even worse because of additional road works there plus increased traffic caused by other commuters trying the same escape route.

“What will happen next week when university classes start and even more cars jam the roads?” he asked. “The traffic,” he concluded, “is hell.”

UNTIL OCTOBER 10
The new access road under construction at Las Virreinas will provide a link to the autovía from the Ciudad Jardín area. The Ministry of Development said that work at the site was continuing 24 hours a day following criticism from Málaga’s mayor, Francisco de la Torre, that adequate provision for traffic had not been made. The closed carriageway is scheduled to re-open on October 10.


A ticket to ride in Málaga and Granada


By Dave Jamieson

Bus travellers in Málaga and Granada can now use a single ticket for journeys in both provinces. The new ticket system, which has been operating independently in each area for about 12 months, now allows passengers to choose from 89 routes in Málaga and 77 in Granada. Eventually all public transport, including urban and interurban bus services, regional trains and the new Málaga metro, will be integrated into the scheme, with expansion into the provinces of Huelva, Almería, Jaén and Córdoba anticipated. For now, it is limited to municipal transport undertakings in the two capitals, covering a population of 3.5 million people.

The regional public works councillor, Concepción Gutiérrez, said the project was an important step in encouraging the use of public transport. She also revealed that a new transport information system will be available on the internet and via mobile telephones from next spring.Another transport system likely to be integrated into single-ticket scheme is the new light-rail tram between Vélez-Málaga and Torre del Mar. Although the tram’s first phase is not yet open, Sra Gutiérrez last week signed an agreement with Vélez’s mayor, Antonio Souvirón, for the extension of the line to Rincón de la Victoria, where it will terminate at an interchange with Line Three of Málaga’s future metro system.


Bolín not convinced by Junta's monorail concerns

By David Eade

The elevated monorail service that would link Arroyo de la Miel with Benalmádena Costa’s port and coastal strip is one of the key schemes proposed by the town’s mayor, Enrique Bolín. It has been fought by opposition parties, environmental groups and some residents, and now the regional government has stated that the project is not viable for environmental reasons. Nonetheless, Mayor Bolín remains convinced that the scheme will proceed, saying the regional government’s report only highlighted problems that have to be overcome. However, it is clear that the Andalucía authority is not of the same mind (does not agree). It has voiced concerns about the effect the monorail would have on local residents and says that, as environmentalists have also asserted, the monorail would run close to residential buildings and would create considerable noise and vibrations. It would also have a negative visual impact on the town, according to the regional government.


Jerez airport links to Brussels and Zurich

Post-summer slowdown sees some other routes cancelled

By David Eade

JUST HOW JOINT USE OF GIBRALTAR’S AIRPORT WILL IMPACT ON JEREZ REMAINS TO BE SEEN BUT THE CITY HAS RECEIVED SOME POSITIVE AIRPORT NEWS OF ITS OWN.

The announcement of two weekend flights to Brussels and a regular Swissair flight to Zurich will counteract the slump in summer flights from Jerez airport.

The air link to the Belgian capital and to Switzerland will provide valuable connections for both the city of Cadiz and Jerez, providing weekend services for both tourists and business travellers.

Air Berlin has announced it will cease operations to Muenster, Nuremberg and Padderborn during the winter months whilst Lufthansa’s low cost airline will halt flights to Cologne. However, central Europe-bound passengers will still be able to fly from Jerez to Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hanover, Munich and Stuttgart.For travellers to Britain there is still the Ryanair service to Stansted and next spring Monarch will start its service to Manchester, which previously operated from Gibraltar. For flights within Spain, both Iberia and Spanair fly to Madrid and Barcelona whilst Air Europa and other airlines fly to Palma de Mallorca.


Nerja for a cleaner Mediterranean

NEWS Staff Reporter

For the second consecutive year, the seabed off Nerja’s coast has been the subject of a clean-up operation. Last Sunday morning, two local councillors donned diving gear to join more than 50 volunteers of various nationalities on the town’s Burriana Beach to collect as much rubbish as possible from below the waves.

After a successful dive, Rafael Rivas, Nerja’s councillor for public health, said that although diving conditions were not perfect, he was very pleased with the amount of junk which had been retrieved. Sr Rivas, who was joined by the councillor for beaches, José Miguel Jimena, added that the organisation of the project and the enthusiasm of the participants were very impressive. The event, under the slogan ‘Nerja for a cleaner Mediterranean’, was arranged by Nerja town hall and the Buceo Costa Nerja Dive Centre on Burriana Beach, and financed with a grant of 4,250 euros from the regional government. Beach bars and restaurants along the shore supported the effort by supplying free food and drink to the participants.


Shoppers face soaring prices

Cost of basic items is up 30 per cent in five years

By David Eade

IT IS NO SECRET THAT SINCE THE ARRIVAL OF THE EURO PRICES IN SPAIN HAVE SHOT UP FOR ITEMS CONSIDERED DAILY NECESSITIES – FROM THE COST OF A COFFEE IN A BAR TO PUBLIC SERVICES, THE TREND HAS BEEN A STEADY UPWARD TICK.

One such example is that the cost of a 'barra', or loaf, of bread is now 40 per cent higher than in December 2001.

In local markets an entire chicken that would have cost 1.74 euros in 2001 now costs shoppers 2.90 euros. Steak has jumped from 6.60 euros a kilo to 9.30 euros; apples were 0.80 euros and now go for 1.67 euros; bananas have gone from one euro to 1.50 euros; potatoes are up 50 per cent from 0.60 euros to 0.90 and olive oil has surged from 1.74 euros a litre to three euros. Reports indicate that, overall, prices on basic goods have risen 30 per cent over a less than five-year period.

MARK-UP IS SAME
Traders in the markets are clear that prices have risen over the period since the euro was introduced. However they are equally adamant that whilst there has been a major increase their margins are still the same. One such fruit and veg trader said that shoppers now looked to see how full their bag was and tended to seek out the offers and lowest prices rather than buy the quality products.


Hipercor fined for Puerto Banús expansion

Town hall management commission sets fine at 14.6 million euros

By David Eade

HIPERCOR FACES A 14.6 MILLION-EURO FINE FOR ALLEGEDLY EXPANDING ITS SHOPPING CENTRE IN PUERTO BANÚS WITHOUT THE CORRECT LICENCE.

The fine was imposed after the inspection of documents relating to the development by Diego Martín Reyes, the head of the management commission currently running Marbella’s affairs.

When she was still mayor, Marisol Yagüe ordered that the expansion be suspended and the site sealed off because no municipal licence had been granted. However, it appears that the order was authorised but never carried out and the 5,000-square-metre extension was constructed despite the fact that the original shopping centre already took up the maximum building density allowed.The fine is the largest ever imposed in Marbella for an infringement of town-planning regulations. It is said to match the exact value of the building work carried out in 2004 and 2005 to enlarge the shopping centre. Hipercor could also be ordered to demolish the extension but the company is expected to appeal against the fine.


Madrid ends direct subsidies to Catholic Church

NEWS Staff Reporter

The rift between Church and State widened last week after Madrid announced that it is to end direct subsidies. Deputy president María Teresa Fernández de la Vega said on Friday that the payments to the Roman Catholic Church, estimated at about 32 million euros last year, are to end.

The Church will continue to receive other Government financing of more than 100 million euros but the direct subsidies, which have been in place since the death of General Franco in 1975, are to end. The country's Conference of Catholic Bishops would not comment on the news, saying that it would make an announcement once the changes had been reviewed.

In addition, Fernández de la Vega said that the Church would now have to pay value added tax (IVA) on any sale or purchase of goods and property, a measure the European Union had requested. She added the Church would also be required to present a yearly report to the Government on how it spends money donated by taxpayers. However, in compensation, the amount which taxpayers can donate to the Church is to be increased from 0.52 to 0.7 per cent of earnings.

The Zapatero Government has clashed with the Church on several issues since it came to power in April 2004, including legislation enabling divorce on demand and gay marriages. It also scrapped plans which would have made religion an obligatory subject in Spanish schools.

The Spanish Government and the Church formally parted under the terms of the 1978 Constitution, but a 1979 agreement with the Vatican led to the taxpayer donations scheme. However, the Government has more recently been calling for the Church to become self-financing and both sides have been involved on talks on the issue since May.


Nerja Feria seeks new home next year

By Dave Jamieson

NERJA’S ANNUAL FAIR WHICH BEGINS NEXT WEEK WILL BE THE LAST TO BE HELD ON ITS PRESENT SITE.

The town centre area known as Huertos de Carabeo has been the fair’s temporary home for the last few years but is scheduled for redevelopment.

The councillor responsible, José Miguel García, confirmed last week that the town hall hopes to move next year’s fair to a new permanent site on the east bank of Río Chillar and that preparatory work is already underway. He said that once the water authority, Cuenca Mediterránea Andaluza, authorises the project, the necessary construction work can begin.

This year’s fair begins next Saturday, October 7, and runs until October 12. The town hall budget for the event is 400,000 euros, with income expected to total 140,000 euros.

MEANWHILE IN MARO…
A committee of women has taken on the organisation of the village’s fiestas for the first time ever and they’ve told Maro’s men that they won’t be need to help in the fair’s preparations.

The men of Maro have been organising the event ever since the Feria de las Maravillas was first celebrated in the 18th century, but now history has been made with the appointment of a group of 12 local women.

The average age of the group members is 50 and their president, María Valera Gálvez, a teacher, made it clear that they are not going accept help from their husbands. “Suggestions and advice, like we have given them, yes. Direct help, no,” she said.

She added that Maro’s fiestas should be ‘open door’ so that both residents and visitors can enjoy one another’s company. The fair runs from September 7-9.


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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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