Costa del Sol News - 15th March 2007

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Week 15th March - 21st March 2007

 

Slow down!

New speed campaign to clock 1.5 million drivers

BY OLIVER MCINTYRE

LEAD-FOOTED DRIVERS ARE MORE LIKELY THAN EVER TO BE NABBED BY RADAR AS THE TRAFFIC DEPARTMENT THIS WEEK BROUGHT ONLINE 175 NEW FIXED-RADAR POINTS AND LAUNCHED A TWO-WEEK ANTI-SPEEDING CAMPAIGN THAT WILL SEE SOME 1.5 MILLION VEHICLES CLOCKED BY RADAR THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY.

The anti-speeding campaign was launched on Tuesday and runs until March 26. In addition to the nationwide network of 317 fixed-radar points, the Traffic Department is using 200 mobile radar guns to patrol a total of 1,900 stretches of road. Officials say at least 100,000 vehicles will be clocked by radar each day and estimate that a total of 30,000 drivers will be ticketed during the two-week campaign.
The 175 new fixed-radar points, which began operating on Tuesday to coincide with the launch of the anti-speeding campaign, are covered by a total of 68 radar guns that will be randomly rotated between the different points. Drivers will not know when a particular site does or does not have a radar gun installed, with the idea that each checkpoint will serve as a deterrent to speeding even when it is not actually in use.
“The goal is not to raise money [via ticket fines],” but to get drivers to slow down and make the roads safer, said Pepe Navarro, head of the Traffic Department. All the fixed-radar points are signalled with road signs and the Traffic Department website (www.dgt.es) provides a list of their exact locations.
Sixty-four of the new fixed-radar points are on motorways or toll motorways while 111 are on secondary highways. Andalucía received 32 of the new radars, more than any other region in the country. Two of them are in the province of Málaga, one on the A-357 at km 39 and the other on the A-45 at km 127, bringing the province’s total number of fixed-radar points to seven.

MORE RADAR COMING
The 175 new radar points across the country bring the nationwide total to 317, which officials say will be increased to 500 during the next year. Speeding is a factor in at least 1,000 traffic deaths each year, according to the Traffic Department. “If we want to reduce the number of accidents, speeding is this country’s pending issue,” said Sr Navarro.


Firemen rescue foreign residents from flat fire

By Oliver McIntyre

Two foreign residents, a father and his 25-year-old son, were rescued by firefighters last week after their Benalmádena Costa flat caught fire. Trapped by the flames, the two men, M.C. and D.C., sought refuge on their second-storey balcony until the firemen brought them down to safety using the fire engine ladder.
The father suffered from mild shock and the son, who was asleep when the fire started, had to be taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation, Benalmádena’s fire chief, David Bañasco, told Costa del Sol News. “Thanks to the fast response of the firefighters, there were no serious injuries,” he said.
The fire was reported at 19.41 Wednesday evening and was fully extinguished by 20.32, according to fire department records. The exact cause is unknown, but some characteristics of the blaze point to possible negligence. Initial reports indicated that the father and son were British, but a neighbour in the Mi Ilusión building told Costa del Sol News they were French and had been renting the flat for several months, during which they had become embroiled in conflict with the owner over rent payments.


Police's security system 'disables' couple's car

Vehicle had to be towed away

By Oliver McIntyre

A RETIRED BRITISH COUPLE LIVING IN ALMAYATE HAD TO GET THEIR CAR TOWED AFTER PARKING IT NEAR THE TORRE DEL MAR NATIONAL POLICE STATION AND FINDING THAT AN ELECTRONIC SECURITY SYSTEM IN THE ZONE PREVENTED THE CAR FROM STARTING.
Robert and Phyllis Puddicombe, from Devon, parked their car next to a bathroom shop across the motorway from the police station, Mrs Puddicombe explained to Costa del Sol News. When they left the shop, their Ford Explorer wouldn’t start. The shop owner indicated the problem was caused by an electronic blocking system around the police station that can also affect the ignition-blocking security system on some cars.
Mr Puddicombe explained the situation to a couple of young officers, who came over to take a look at the car and told him to wait five minutes and then try again. But when it still wouldn’t start more than 20 minutes later, he went back to the police station. “This time an older officer snapped at him to stop wasting their time, it wasn’t their problem, to call a tow truck,” said Mrs Puddicombe.
They did so, and once the car was towed around the corner, it started up without any trouble. But the Puddicombes feel they received shoddy and unfair treatment by the police.

POLICE ARE UNAWARE OF ANY PROBLEM
When queried by CDSN, a National Police spokesperson said she was unaware of any such problem related to an electronic security system at the Torre del Mar station.
Mrs Puddicombe finds that unconvincing. “All the shops around there know about it,” she said. The police spokesperson said that anyone who feels they have received poor service or inappropriate treatment by the police should fill out the ‘Libro de Reclamaciones’ complaint book at the station, after which they will be contacted to address the situation.


Heart attack death highlights road problems

Illegally parked cars make vehicle access to the area difficult

By Oliver McIntyre

THE RECENT DEATH OF A 52-YEAR-OLD MIJAS PUEBLO MAN AFTER HE SUFFERED A HEART ATTACK HAS DRAWN ATTENTION TO THE VEHICLE ACCESS PROBLEMS CAUSED BY ILLEGALLY PARKED CARS ALONG THE VERY NARROW CALLE LARGA DEL PALMAR.
Tomás Moreno Moreno collapsed in a street off Calle Larga while walking home from a local bar on the night of February 4 and died before medics arrived. “We’ll never know if he would have survived if the emergency services had arrived on time to treat him,” said his sister, Josefa Moreno. When he was first spotted by someone in the street, “he still had a breath of life in him,” she said.
While it is unclear whether the difficulty of access in the zone had any influence on the arrival time of the emergency crew or the outcome of the case, some local residents and the opposition Partido Popular are pointing to the incident as an example of the need for more public parking in the area. If the town hall had built a car park in the zone, “the residents wouldn’t double park and access would be freed up on the narrow Pueblo streets,” accord

Tomás Moreno Moreno collapsed in a street off Calle Larga while walking home from a local bar on the night of February 4 and died before medics arrived. “We’ll never know if he would have survived if the emergency services had arrived on time to treat him,” said his sister, Josefa Moreno. When he was first spotted by someone in the street, “he still had a breath of life in him,” she said.
While it is unclear whether the difficulty of access in the zone had any influence on the arrival time of the emergency crew or the outcome of the case, some local residents and the opposition Partido Popular are pointing to the incident as an example of the need for more public parking in the area. If the town hall had built a car park in the zone, “the residents wouldn’t double park and access would be freed up on the narrow Pueblo streets,” according to the PP mayoral candidate, Ángel Nozal. He said his party some time ago proposed the construction of a car park in La Raja to serve the area.

PARKING SOLUTIONS
A town hall spokesman told Costa del Sol News, “We’re seeking solutions to the parking problems, but the fact is, it’s difficult in the Pueblo,” given the tightly cramped nature of the streets and buildings, and the fact that any construction work to build a garage could totally block off access to certain streets for a lengthy period of time. The proposal for the La Rada site “is being studied,” but faces the same basic challenges, he said.


Airport taxi problem fixed in new agreement

By Dave Jamieson

New arrangements have been put in place to combat delays suffered by air passengers arriving at Málaga airport and finding a lack of taxis. Until now, 175 of the city’s taxis have been permitted to work at the airport each week, the drivers taking their turns on a rotation. Given the number of taxis in Málaga, this means that each driver is at the airport once every eight weeks or so, but it also means that at periods of peak demand, there have been shortages with queues of travellers building up.After consultation with drivers’ representatives, the town council has now amended the relevant ordinance to permit drivers who are not on that week’s roster to be called in to help when needed. Responsibility for ensuring that an adequate number of taxis is maintained rests with local police on duty at the airport. Officers will also be able to take action against any taxi driver who attempts to pick up a fare at the airport without either being on the week’s roster or being called in as back-up.


Spanish help for foreign school children

NEWS Staff Reporter

More than 2,000 foreign children in Costa schools are receiving special language classes to bring their Spanish up to speed and allow them to better integrate and understand the rest of their curriculum. Roughly 23,000 foreign students are enrolled in state or state-funded schools in the province of Málaga, making them 10 per cent of the student body. Some 10,000 of them are native Spanish speakers from Latin American countries, but many of the rest need special help learning their newly adopted language. Thirty per cent of the foreign children are British.
Around 140 schools in the province – mostly in coastal towns and in Málaga city – have what are known as Temporary Language Adaptation Classrooms. They provide several hours a week of special, small-group language classes for children who have an inadequate level of Spanish. A total of 78 teachers rotate to different schools to give the classes, which the foreign students attend as part of their school day, spending the rest of the day in regular classes with the other students. Some schools also have after-school programmes known as Spanish Language Support Groups, which provide extra tutoring to groups of five or six children. There are 84 such groups currently functioning in the province.


Briton arrested in death crash investigation

By David Eade

POLICE HAVE ARRESTED A BRITISH MAN ON MANSLAUGHTER CHARGES FOR HIS ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT IN A FATAL CAR ACCIDENT IN ESTEPONA AFTER WHICH HE ALLEGEDLY FLED THE SCENE.
A 17-year-old girl was killed in the February 25 accident and two other people were injured. Police say the British driver was at fault.
According to the police, he was driving a car registered in the name of David S.J., who was not in the vehicle at the time. The car crashed into another vehicle in the town centre, injuring the two female occupants of the other car, one of whom died in hospital a few hours later.
A British passenger in the car driven by the Briton was also injured in the accident, but the driver and two other passengers fled from the scene, leaving him trapped inside the vehicle, say police. Police are now holding the driver, and have also arrested the two female passengers who allegedly fled and who face charges for failing to provide assistance after an accident.

HIT-AND-RUN ARREST
In an unrelated incident, police in Estepona have arrested a motorist who allegedly hit a pedestrian, causing serious brain damage. The victim is currently in the intensive unit of the Carlos Haya Hospital in Málaga. Police were able to track down the motorist using information provided by eyewitnesses as well as a piece of his vehicle that was found at the scene.


Councillor sacked after Ronda golf rumpus

By David Eade

Ronda’s councillor for social welfare, Jerónimo García, has been sacked by the town’s mayor after he allegedly injured a protestor at a demonstration mounted in the council chamber.
The rumpus occurred at the end of a recent council meeting when people are able to raise topics. Up stepped Javier Robles, who is a member of the Plataforma Cueveña en Defensa del Agua, who wished to speak against the Los Merinos Norte golf development. However he was interrupted by the arrival of a procession carrying a large wreath to symbolise the death of the lands on which the golf courses and massive luxury residential and hotel complexes are to be built.
This procession was led by Alejandro Moreno of Ecologistas en Acción and the mayor of Ronda, Antonio Marín Lara, ordered the police to remove them. However Jerónimo García literally decided to take matters in to his own hands by attempting to wrestle the wreath away from the protestors.
During the resulting fracas he is said to have pushed one of the women, who fell and suffered a number of injuries that required hospital treatment. Meanwhile the mayor suspended the council meeting ordering the police to clear the chamber without giving the ecologists time to speak.Jerónimo García faces a Ronda court this week to answer a case of assault against the woman protestor and intends to declare his innocence of the charge. However he has also stated that should the court find him guilty then he will stand down as a councillor. Currently he sits on the council as an independent and, before he was sacked by the mayor, held the social welfare portfolio.


Operation to recover treasure remains on hold

‘Certain outstanding heritage issues’ remain

By David Eade

THE CONTROVERSIAL PROJECT TO RAISE SUNKEN TREASURE FROM THE WRECK OF THE HMS SUSSEX, WHICH LIES ON THE SEABED OFF GIBRALTAR, REMAINS ON HOLD.
This emerged last week in the House of Commons after the parliamentary undersecretary at the Ministry of Defence, Derek Twigg, said that while some preliminary work had been carried out on the wreck of HMS Sussex “operations are currently suspended pending the resolution of certain outstanding heritage issues.” Mr Twigg was speaking in response to the question from Tory MP Andrew Rosindell.
Under international law, the wreck belongs to the British government. The Ministry of Defence has signed an exclusive contract with the US-company, Odyssey Marine Exploration to carry out archaeological work on the site and recover items believed to include gold coins worth millions of pounds from the wreck.
One of the key issues to be settled is who will identify the wreck as the HMS Sussex, a wooden galleon that sunk in 1694. Undersea archaeologists say this is never an easy task and the fact that it is the Sussex has been disputed by a number of experts in this field.

SPAIN WANTS EXPERTS ON BOARD
Another thorny issue is the difference between the British and Spanish governments as to who has control over the area of sea off Gibraltar where the wreck lies. Also to be settled are the practical arrangements of having two Spanish archaeologists on board the Odyssey vessel during the archaeological work, an expert presence that the Andalucía government is insisting upon. Odyssey has made it clear that it wants if possible to accommodate the Spanish government’s wishes so as to avoid any subsequent clashes.


New hope for Nerja's closed footpath

By Dave Jamieson

Six plots of land bordering Nerja’s Carabeo beach are to be expropriated by the Costas Department. The area, which totals 1,860 square metres, will be acquired with the consent of Nerja town hall as part of a programme to protect the coastline being undertaken by the Department of the Environment.
The move follows a recent visit to the town by the director general of Costas, José Fernández Pérez, when he inspected the state of the cliffs in the Carabeo area. Their deterioration has led to rock falls, which in turn led to the closure of an attractive coastal footpath, the Paseo de los Carabineros, more than five years ago. Despite a pre-election promise in 2003 that renovation work would be carried out, the pathway was left to become overgrown and dangerous. Late last year, the town’s mayor, José Alberto Armijo, announced that it was the Ministry’s intention to demolish it, but the acquisition of land, approved at last week’s cabinet ministers’ meeting, should now permit a restoration project to be undertaken.


Nerja residents showcase activities on Sunday

Costa del Sol News’s team will be there for the fifth consecutive year

By Dave Jamieson

NERJA HOLDS ITS ANNUAL RESIDENTS’ DAY ON SUNDAY AND THE TOWN HALL HAS AGAIN ORGANISED THE EVENT TO ENABLE ORGANISATIONS AND GROUPS OF THE MUNICIPALITY’S NON-SPANISH COMMUNITY TO SHOWCASE THEIR ACTIVITIES AND ATTRACT NEW MEMBERS.
The event will be centred in a marquee erected at Verano Azul park between 11.00 and 17.00 with live entertainment on an outdoor stage throughout the afternoon.
No fewer than 45 stands have been booked this year, taking in everything from the American Club to The Serenaders, in addition to which eight bars will be operated by members of various participating groups providing food and drink typical of their home countries. The town hall will be represented and will be offering free paella to visitors at around 14.00, while some Spanish groups with connections to the foreign community will also be taking part.
Costa del Sol News will be present once again, as will our sister newspaper in German, Costa del Sol Nachrichten.Among those present for the first time will be the recently formed Creative Artists Group. They include Jeanne from Cómpeta who paints in watercolour and acrylic and wants to become a wildlife artist, and home economist Elizabeth from Northern Ireland who would like to become a Nerja “house doctor”. Swiss born Nicole, who has survived four strokes, helps with translations and edits collections of verse, while Sheila writes for seven to 11 year olds and has just had her first book published. The group meets to support and encourage their diverse talents and are interested in other creative people joining them. Visit their stand on Sunday or contact Jeanne on 629 957 718 and don’t forget to come and meet the Costa del Sol News team and take part in our draw for a Combo TV/DVD. Just fill out the coupon on page 6 and pop it in the draw box on our stand on the day.


Cádiz woos travel market in Berlin

One in three tourists who visit the province is German

By David Eade

CÁDIZ TOURIST BOARD PULLED OUT ALL THE STOPS LAST WEEK AT ITS STAND AT THE INTERNATIONAL TOURISM FAIR HELD IN BERLIN.
The ITB is one of three major fairs in Europe along with FITUR in Madrid and the World Travel Market in London and the province was promoting itself to a market, which up till now has provided the most visitors from overseas.
The importance of the German market to Cádiz is borne out by the fact that one out of every three foreigners who visit the province is German. Their major destinations are Novo Sancti Petri in Chiclana and La Janda. Germany also has more towns and cities linked with Jerez airport in the peak summer months than any other country including Spain. Also in 2006 Germans are estimated to have spent around 66 million euros in the province.
The Cádiz tourist board hopes to boost still further the number of Germans who visit the province. More than 20 per cent of the visitors to the Cádiz stand at last year’s ITB were tour operators and the province’s tourism officials are optimistic about increasing the number of such companies who organise holidays in the area. The stand also attracted a large number of the public who come to the fair seeking holiday destinations and it is hoped that many of them will be persuaded that Cádiz is their best choice.
Indeed the efforts by the Cádiz tourism professionals seem to be paying off. As the ITB closed, the most important tour operator to the province, TUI, said to would be bringing 36,000 more people this year, an increase of 40 per cent. It is hoped that around 90,000 visitors will come with TUI in 2007 and the company and the regional government are to spend 600,000 euros promoting Andalucía to the German market.

NO GOING BACK ON CLUB MED CLOSURE
However last week wasn’t all positive for the Cádiz tourism sector. The national director of holiday company Club Med, Georges Roll, met with the mayor of El Puerto, Fernando Gago, to explain the reasons for the closure of the tourist complex. He said the decision to close was irreversible and was brought about by economic losses suffered over a number of years.
The decision by Club Med to close its facilities in El Puerto will also bring an end its presence in Spain. Roll explained that the company neither owned the site nor the facilities and could no longer accept the on-gong losses. It is understood that since 2001 Club Med has lost 421,000 euros at a complex that is only open for four months a year.Club Med says it is seeking an economic settlement with its 250 employees who would now be out of work. However the workers are angry that the closure will leave them unemployed and they have staged a protest outside the town hall to make their case.


Spain honours 11-M victims with towering monument

Glass cylinder contains messages written by the public

By David Eade

ON SUNDAY, THE THIRD ANNIVERSARY OF THE MADRID TRAIN BOMBINGS THAT KILLED 191 PEOPLE AND INJURED MORE THAN 1,700, OFFICIALS AND MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC GATHERED FOR A COMMEMORATION CEREMONY AT THE CITY’S ATOCHA STATION.
The alleged Muslim extremists accused of participating in the attack are currently on trial in Madrid, but Sunday was a day for remembrance, with the unveiling of a towering glass monument bearing messages of condolence written by the public in the days after the bombings.
King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia presided over the ceremony at Atocha, which is the station the trains were heading to when the bombs exploded during the morning commute hour of March 11, 2004. There were no speeches at the commemoration. Instead, several hundred people gathered with the Royal family and political leaders to observe three minutes of silence, and a violoncellist played the mournful strains of Song of the Birds by Pau Casals, a composition dedicated to the call for peace.

SOLID GLASS
The glass cylindrical structure is described as the largest single piece of solid glass in the world, standing 11 metres tall and weighing 160 tonnes. It forms a stunning memorial to those who lost their lives Spain’s worst ever terrorist attack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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