Costa del Sol News - 19th October 2006

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Week 19th October - 25th October 2006

 

NEO-NAZIS ON THE COSTA

Growth of Alianza Nacional causes concern

By David Eade

NEO-NAZIS GATHERED IN MÁLAGA ON SUNDAY IN A MEETING ORGANISED BY THE FAR RIGHT ‘ALIANZA NACIONAL’.
The national meeting was accompanied by crosses, flags and Nazi propaganda.
The meeting, in Calle Alcazabilla near Málaga’s Teatro Romano, was called to celebrate the ‘Día de la Raza’, the ‘Day of the Race’. Local police estimated that around 140 people took part although the organisers claim there were 350.
The gathering took place against a background of a general increase in neo-Nazi activity on the coast. Last October a ‘caseta’ building at Fuengirola’s feria ground was the venue for a meeting of one of the main neo-Nazi groups in Spain.

POLICE SURVEILLANCE
It is alleged that the building was used by members of the group during the town’s fair and that National Police and security services kept a watch on the activities of its leaders, some of who have police records.
Spanish media reports have stated that leading members of the ultra-right group held a celebration during the 2005 feria at the ‘caseta’ that belongs to a club supporting a well-known soccer team.
Security sources say that last year’s Fuengirola meeting was crucial because the leaders from all over the country were present. The meeting was used by the police to control who attended and to prevent planned conflicts. Neo-Nazis have also made their presence felt in Málaga city before. Around 10 years ago they used a ‘caseta’ at the August feria for some 200 members.


Armed attack on Fuengirola restaurant

NEWS Staff Reporter

Raiders armed with an axe and a knife injured a waiter and waitress at a Fuengirola restaurant while attempting to steal the night’s takings. The late-night attack occurred at El Higuerón, an upmarket restaurant with panoramic views of the coast from its perch above the motorway on the road from Benalmádena to Mijas Pueblo.
The two staff members had gone downstairs to the office to lock away the cash when they came face to face with the two armed men wearing balaclava helmets. It is believed the raiders had sneaked into the premises from the garage.
The intruders demanded the keys to the safe, then reacted angrily when the workers said they didn't have them, the waiter later told police. He said the waitress was punched in the stomach and thrown to the floor. He grappled with the man with the axe and suffered three cuts on his arm.
He finally managed to escape and ran upstairs to warn his colleagues, and the thieves fled without the takings. The injured waiter needed stitches but said he was lucky that the injuries were not more serious.


Muñoz's downfall was planned from beginning

Witness claims Gil and Roca began plotting before elections

By David Eade

A WITNESS IN MARBELLA’S OPERATION MALAYA CORRUPTION CASE HAS CLAIMED THAT TOWN PLANNING CHIEF JUAN ANTONIO ROCA AND THE THEN MAYOR, JESÚS GIL, PLANNED THE DOWNFALL OF JULIÁN MUÑOZ EVEN BEFORE SR MUÑOZ WAS ELECTED MAYOR.
Sr Muñoz replaced the now deceased Gil as the GIL party’s candidate for mayor in the May 2003 elections. He won but was ousted by a censure motion in August of that year and Marisol Yagüe was appointed mayor, a position she held till her arrest in the Operation Malaya case.
It has now been revealed by María Antonia Castañón, an official with the municipal company Planeamiento 2000, which was responsible for town planning in Marbella at the time, that ahead of that year’s local elections Sr Roca and Gil asked for information on drawing up a no-confidence motion. In addition, Sra. Castañón told the investigating judge that she was asked to gather the information confidentially.

ROCA MOVED
Meanwhile, Juan Antonio Roca, who is the presumed mastermind behind the Operation Malaya corruption scandal, has been moved from the Alhaurín de la Torre prison, where he has been held since March, to the Albolote prison in Granada.
Sr Roca’s move occurred as three former Marbella councillors were released on bail. Rafael Calleja, José Luis Fernández Garrosa and José Jaén, who have been in jail since June 28 for their alleged roles in the Operation Malaya scam, have been released after posting bail of 50,000 euros each. The trio stand accused of receiving payments from Roca in exchange for votes in council and committee meetings between 2004 and 2006. The judge has alleged that Sr Calleja received over 200,000 euros and Sr Jaén more than 78,000 euros.

NOTEBOOKS SEIZED
Authorities at Alhaurín de la Torre prison have confiscated notebooks kept by Sr Roca prior to his transfer and have sent them to the judge in the Operation Malaya case. Sr Roca is said to have drawn sketches of the inside of the prison, made notes about names of officers and their shifts and also kept a diary of his life behind bars. He has demanded the return of the books and is threatening to take legal action against the prison director.


Torremolinos security cameras can see into homes

NEWS Staff Reporter

The opposition Socialist (PSOE) party in Torremolinos has filed a complaint with the Junta de Andalucía regarding traffic and security cameras that were installed by the town hall and that, according to the PSOE, can see into homes. The group says the cameras were installed without the proper authorisation from the Junta.
The cameras are located on Calle Alpujarras, Calle Río Aranda, Avenida Isabel Manoja, Plaza Costa del Sol and Avenida Conde de Mieres by the El Rapto de Europa sculpture. They are remote-controlled, have powerful zoom lenses and can rotate 360 degrees horizontally and 180 degrees vertically, meaning they could easily look into the windows of nearby homes, says the PSOE. The group especially highlighted the two cameras by the El Rapto de Europa sculpture, saying that no other public monuments in the town are protected by security cameras and that the house of the mayor, Pedro Fernández Montes, is “right next to” the sculpture.
The mayor and his governing team insist that the cameras are for legitimate security purposes and their installation was approved by the town hall.


Estepona rural route could affect homeowners

Regional government has begun process to re-establish traditional path

By David Eade

THE REGIONAL GOVERNMENT HAS BEGUN WORK ON THE PROJECT TO RESTORE A RURAL ROUTE IN ESTEPONA KNOWN AS THE CAMINO DE JUBRIQUE, A PROCESS THAT COULD THREATEN PRIVATE LAND AND HOMES.
The plan to restore the traditional pathway through the La Cala area of the town was passed back in 2001. The Junta de Andalucia intends to upgrade and restore this and other rural routes that connect the coast with the interior. The Estepona road travels via the Sierra Bermeja to Ronda.
The decision to re-open the rural routes has put the regional government in conflict with local people. It is estimated that in La Cala around 30 properties occupy part of the traditional cattle path and two homes are said to be built on it.
One upset owner is Lorraine Wynne, who so far has stopped regional government technicians from accessing her land. She purchased her home three years ago and has now been told that a large part of it, 216 square metres, stands on the path. She was among a group of local residents who have filed complaints with the ombudsman claiming that the action of the regional government is “unjust.”

MORE TO BE AFFECTED
At present the Junta de Andalucía is working to determine the physical lie of the road and the nature of the land that it runs through. Initially, technicians are only surveying a one-kilometre stretch of the thoroughfare, but Lorraine Wynne believes they are starting on the short stretch because few people live there and hence reaction will be limited. She warned that many more will be affected when the work starts in earnest.


New smoking law makes clients leave

NEWS Staff Reporter

Bars which have banned smoking have seen business drop by 12 per cent. The figure was given by Rafael Prado, president of Málaga’s Association of Catering Businesses, who claimed that almost a third of clients had been lost to bars where they can light up.
Since September 1, new legislation has required premises of more than 100-square-metres to provide a special area for smokers or to ban smoking completely. Those owners who have not been able to meet the law, and have not provided a “structural separation made of a sold material from floor to ceiling, with an access door”, have seen customers leave as a result. Smoking areas are also required to have adequate ventilation or air cleaning machines.
Sr Prado said that his members were “very resentful”. Many clients had been lost to smaller bars where the regulations do not apply and where they can smoke. He added, “And they will never return.” Restaurant and cafeteria owners are upset to see social gatherings celebrated in other premises when once they would have been booked in their own, he said, describing the new legislation as, “armed robbery”.


Toddler goes for walk on motorway

School monitors didn’t miss him

By Dave Jamieson

A THREE-YEAR-OLD BOY WAS FOUND WANDERING ALONE ALONG THE MOTORWAY AT LA CALA DEL MORAL LAST WEEK WHEN HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN AT SCHOOL. His parents have lodged a formal complaint, against the school which he attended, with the local police in Rincón de la Victoria. Two construction workers who rescued the child alerted the authorities.
The incident began around 15.00 when the boy is thought to have left the dining area at the Gregorio Marañón public school, which borders the motorway, and walked 400 metres to an embankment which led onto the road. During this time, it seems that none of the six staff on duty at the school noticed his disappearance. However, because the infant was carrying an identity card from the school, the workmen who found him were able to return him to its care. The child was reported to be fit and well, and none the worse for his unscheduled walkabout.
However, his parents only found out about their son’s adventure several hours later when his mother came to collect him, and was told what had happened by the boy’s two rescuers. When the family asked the school for an explanation, they say they were told that the incident took place at lunchtime, when monitoring of the children is contracted out to a private firm, Scolare, who had not advised them of any unusual occurrences. They were also told that the area to the rear of the school complex where their son had left the grounds was presently undergoing building work.

MOTORWAY ACCESS NOW BLOCKED
The child has since been removed from the school while his parents seek another place for him, and several other families are believed to have followed suit, claiming that there were too many children and too few supervisors. The college director said that three days after the incident a gate had been installed to prevent access to the motorway and that there was “no risk” to pupils. Rincón town hall said it would take no action until the result of an investigation by the Junta de Andalucía and the outcome of the parents’ complaint to the local police were known.


Firefighters responded immediately

Town hall says emergency services were not late

By Oliver McIntyre

THE GUADALHORCE VALLEY FIREFIGHTERS STATIONED IN COÍN DID NOT ARRIVE LATE TO A FIRE IN ALHAURÍN DE LA TORRE AS RESIDENTS HAD CHARGED, ACCORDING TO A TOWN HALL INVESTIGATION INTO THE INCIDENT.
Residents of the town’s Viñagrande district had complained to officials that they had to extinguish the October 4 fire – which scorched five cars, two motorcycles and part of a home – by themselves while waiting more than an hour for the firefighters to arrive (CDSN, October 12 – 18).
After reviewing the incident reports it requested from the various entities involved, town hall officials determined that the firefighters arrived at the scene 26 minutes after the residents called 112. “The fire department response was carried out very quickly, within the normal time frame according to the protocol for responding to emergencies,” said the town hall in a statement.
According to data from the 112 emergency services’ phone system, the call came in at 02.54. Following standard protocol, the dispatcher immediately contacted the local police and the Guadalhorce Valley fire service in Coín. Police records show the local police received the call from 112 at 02.55 and had a patrol car at the scenes in minutes. The fire department’s records show the incoming call from 112 at 02.57, the departure of the fire truck at 02.59 and its arrival on the scene at 03.20.

PERFECTLY COORDINATED
“The fire and emergency services are perfectly coordinated, providing Alhaurín de la Torre good coverage and guaranteeing the safety of all residents,” said the town hall. Officials urged residents to immediately call 112 in the event of an emergency, prior to attempting to personally put out a fire or provide assistance at an accident scene.


Torrox water plant finally gets green light

By Dave Jamieson

Madrid has given the go-ahead for a new water purification plant for Torrox. Ministers last week authorised the Ministry of the Environment to begin work under the “Water Quality” programme, which has a budget of 285.8 million euros to provide such plants nationwide until 2010.
Some months ago, Torrox’s mayor, Francisco Muñoz, described the delay in the project as “unacceptable”, given that the development plan was confirmed more than two years ago. However, a recent visit to Torrox by the provincial environment delegate, Ignacio Trillo, appears to have resolved any problems surrounding the project.
The water authority, Cuenca Mediterránea Andaluza says that work on the plant, which will be sited in the Manzano de El Morche area close to the coastal motorway, should begin before the end of the year. The 14.4 million-euro project, which includes a collector system from Algarrobo, should take 36 months to complete.


Alhaurín golf course to treat municipal wastewater

Town hall comes up with sustainable solution

By Oliver McIntyre

ALHAURÍN EL GRANDE TOWN HALL HAS COME UP WITH AN INNOVATIVE WATER-MANAGEMENT PLAN THAT IT SAYS WILL BENEFIT THE TOWN’S AQUIFERS WHILE SAVING RESIDENTS MONEY. The mayor, Juan Martín, announced last week that the town’s golf courses will be required to treat “the vast majority” of the municipality’s wastewater so that it can be used to irrigate the courses as well as local agricultural crops.
Having the golf courses take on the sewage treatment means the costs will not be passed on to residents in the form of higher water rates, “as has happened in other towns,” said the mayor. And the use of the treated water for irrigation will result in a reduction in the amount of water diverted from the town’s supply, he said.
“In order to achieve sustainable development … it is vitally important to take measures that are respectful of the environment, and that in particular help save water, guaranteeing the supply for residents without increasing the pressure on the aquifers,” said the mayor. “We need to distinguish between water for drinking and water for the maintenance of sporting facilities.”

PGOU TO INCLUDE SCHEME
The scheme is to be included in town’s new local development plan (PGOU), said Sr Martín. He also stated that the PGOU will include no additional golf courses for the town. It currently has two: Alhauín Golf, which has been open for seven years, and La Mota, which is currently under construction on land that was classified for this use in 1987.


Anti flu campaign begins

NEWS Staff Reporter

Health centres across Andalucía began this winter’s flu prevention programme on Monday. Almost 203,000 doses of the vaccine will be distributed at 195 health centres throughout the province of Málaga with 153,000 more available in Granada between now and the end of November. The total for the region will be more than 1.4 million, 16 per cent more than last year.
The 5.8 million euro campaign is directed mainly at the over 65s, anyone with chronic pulmonary or cardiovascular problems (including bronchial asthma and diabetes), health workers and carers. A second vaccine to prevent pneumonia will also be available to those over 65 who are considered to be particularly vulnerable. Those who are housebound will receive a home visit without having to make an appointment at their local health centre.
Pharmacies in Málaga have also received their supplies of flu vaccine. Although sales have fallen since the start of the free immunisation programmes, chemists say that one in every five people buys protection against influenza across their counters. The cost is around eight euros.


Fire brigades plan protests

Jerez, Sanlúcar, Arcos and La Línea face expulsion from fire consortium

By David Eade

FOUR FIRE BRIGADES PLAN PROTEST ACTION OVER FEARS THAT THEY WON’T RECEIVE THEIR SALARIES FOR OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER NOW THAT THEIR TOWN HALLS ARE FACING EXPULSION FROM THE CÁDIZ FIRE CONSORTIUM FOR NON-PAYMENT OF FEES.
The situation affects firemen in Sanlúcar, Arcos de la Frontera and La Línea as well as Jerez, due to collective town hall debts of more than four and a half million euros in unpaid monthly fees. Jerez was warned in July that it would be expelled unless payment was made, and the council had promised verbally to settle 40 per cent of its debt in September, but has not done so.
The fire brigade in Jerez calculates that the local authority owes 2,022,000 euros in outstanding fees for last year and this year, and is urging the council to settle the debt. A spokesman said that the council had been “irresponsible” in allowing the situation to become this serious, and that the public would suffer as well as the fire fighters, because of the lack of back-up and resources from the consortium in the event of an emergency. Jerez insists that it is looking into ways of organising financing to enable it to settle the debt, so the town can be readmitted to the consortium as soon as possible.

NOT THE FIRST TIME
In La Linea’s case it is not the first time that the town hall has been faced with expulsion and it is said to owe the consortium 1.2 million euros. The acting mayor of the town, Gabriel Gonzálvez would not comment on the expulsion notice or the debt. In August the mayor, Juan Carlos Juárez, admitted the municipality owed a large amount to the consortium but insisted that it had till the end of the year to pay.


Madrid airport wins UK design award

By Dave Jamieson

BARAJAS AIRPORT IN MADRID HAS WON A PRESTIGIOUS AWARD IN LONDON. THE STIRLING PRIZE IS AWARDED TO ARCHITECTS FROM THE EU FOR THE BUILDING WHICH HAS MADE THE GREATEST CONTRIBUTION TO THE UK ARCHITECTURE PROFESSION IN THE PRECEDING 12 MONTHS. The prize, named after Scottish architect Sir James Stirling, is worth £20,000 (almost 30,000 euros) and was awarded to Britain’s Richard Rogers partnership.
Barajas airport opened in 1933 and was subsequently extended several times. However, by the early 1990s, it had become over-stretched and the need for a terminal, satellite, ancillary buildings and two new runways in the north-west was identified. The Airports Authority (AENA) launched an international competition which was won by a consortium of Richard Rogers Partnership, Estudio Lamela and two engineering companies, TPS and Initec, in 1997. The design was chosen for it simplicity, adaptability and flexibility, allowing for future changes and extensions, and the new airport building was opened by President Zapatero in February of this year.
Awarding the prize last weekend, the competition judges said, “The sheer scale and complexity of what has been tackled and achieved here cannot be overestimated. In response to the key challenge - that of efficiently processing constantly changing passenger flows and associated luggage handling - the resulting building presents a straightforward linear diagram in the form of a clear sequence of spectacular spaces for both departing and arriving passengers.”
Barajas will now be able to handle increasing numbers of passengers, estimated as high as 50 million per annum by 2020, double the capacity of the old airport. It has a workforce of 20,000 on site every day and will be only 15 minutes from the city centre when Madrid’s metro system is completed.


Doctors and petrol-station workers to strike

By Oliver McIntyre

Two distinctly different sectors are to take strike action in November, with both general practitioners (GPs) and petrol-station workers planning walkouts.
The 24-hour doctors’ strike, scheduled for November 10, is aimed at fighting for a reduction in the number of patients that family doctors see per shift, so that more time can be devoted to each patient. It is the first time that the doctors have organised a nationwide strike to demand action from the numerous regional governments that control the health services in different parts of the country.
The strike has been organised by the 10 Minutes Platform, whose name makes reference to the group’s desire that at least 10 minutes be dedicated to each patient, as opposed to the current five minutes in most regions. The goal, says the group, is to establish a maximum of 25 patients per day for each GP. The doctors’ union in Málaga province says that physicians at some health centres currently see as many 80 to 100 patients a day.
The doctors are seeking increased staffing, more resources for health centres, and greater liberty in writing prescriptions and requesting diagnostic procedures. Their aim, they say, is to improve the quality of care received by patients.
Meanwhile, petrol-station workers are planning to strike on November 7 and 8, in the lead-up to the ‘La Almudena’ long weekend in Madrid, traditionally a popular car-trip holiday. The workers are seeking pay increases and improved safety measures.
Union representatives say the workers currently have an average gross salary of 830 euros a month and add that employees are also subject to “terrible working conditions” and safety risks including petrol-station robberies. Further strikes will be called if industry representatives fail to negotiate a satisfactory collective agreement.
Industry representatives called the strike premature, saying it was called after just three meetings.


 

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