Costa del Sol News - 1st November 2007

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

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Week 1st November - 7th November 2007

HMS BOUNTY IN MALAGA

HMS Bounty, famous for the 1789 mutiny in the South Pacific arrived in Málaga port yesterday for a seven-day stay. Re-created in 1960 by MGM for the 1962 movie, Mutiny on the Bounty, the 47-year old, three-masted sailing ship will again shortly be sailing the high seas to replicate her namesake's journey and intends to arrive at Tahiti in time for the 220th anniversary of Bounty's first arrival in October 1788. The ship, which will also visit Gibraltar from November 18-23, is open weekdays from 10.30-14.30 and 16.30-19.30 (subject to change without notice) and tickets cost from 3-12 euros.


DRUG DRIVERS DONE

By Oliver McIntyre

DRIVERS on Costa roads could face random drug tests during this holiday weekend as part of a new Traffic Department campaign. Officers began using the so-called ‘drogotest’ – which analyses the driver’s saliva after he or she sucks on a cotton swab – last weekend in Extremadura and Aragón, and its use is being extended to other regions this weekend. The testing will gradually be extended nationwide.

The Guardia Civil’s traffic unit in Málaga province has received its first shipment of the saliva testing kits, which can detect cocaine, morphine, heroine, cannabis and methamphetamines.

Those who test positive for illicit drugs can face prison sentences of three to six months, though officials say emphasis is to be put on sentences of public service rather than prison. Drivers also face fines in excess of 600 euros and suspension of their driving licence.

The drug checkpoints are manned not only by Guardia Civil officers but also ambulance staff who perform blood tests in addition to the basic saliva test when necessary. There is also a public prosecutor’s office representative on hand, both to guarantee that drivers’ rights are respected and to give sentencing recommendations to be considered when those who test positive go to court. Last year drugs were present in 10 per cent of fatal accidents on Spain’s roads, according to the National Toxicology Institute.

However, of the 32 drivers who tested positive, all but one were let off without a ticket. The reason is that the saliva test shows drug presence, but not quantity. The driver is then given some coordination tests to check for symptoms of impaired faculties, which must be clearly evident for officers to be allowed to perform a blood test.


Hit-and-run driver had no licence or insurance

The driver was arrested after being chased by a witness

By Oliver McIntyre

A HIT-AND-RUN driver who killed a pedestrian in Benalmádena Costa at the weekend had no driving licence or insurance. The 24-year-old Spaniard was arrested shortly after the incident on Sunday afternoon thanks to a witness who followed the fleeing driver in his car.

Although the victim, a 40-year-old Indian man, was illegally crossing against a light at a zebra crossing, the driver, who has a police record, faces charges for manslaughter and for fleeing the scene. In his hearing before the judge, the driver reportedly admitted that he may have been travelling at around 60kph in the 50kph zone. The judge ordered the man held in prison and set bail at 20,000 euros. The driver’s Volkswagen Golf struck the pedestrian at around 3.30 pm on Avenida Antonio Marchado next to the municipal Arts Centre and police arrested the driver a little over an hour later near the Edificio Ágata building in Arroyo de la Miel. The driver tested negative for alcohol. At the time of going to press, the police report establishing his speed at the time of the accident had not been released.


Homeowners win noise case against town hall

Court awards the couple over 15,000 euros in damages

By Oliver McIntyre

SOME EIGHT
years after first filing suit, a Dutch couple has won their case against Benalmádena town hall for damages they suffered due to uncontrolled noise from nightclubs at Puerto Marina, where they own an apartment.
The couple bought the apartment with the intention of using it during summers and renting it out the rest of the year. But they soon found that the late-night din from the marina bars made the flat useless to them as a summer getaway and for all intents and purposes un-rentable; 10 renters left and demanded refunds due to the excessive noise. They filed suit against the town hall in 1999.

Now a Málaga court has ruled that the town hall was responsible for controlling the noise and “must take the necessary measures to put a stop to the noise pollution and pay the damages caused by its inaction.” The total damages awarded to the Dutch couple come to 15,175 euros, which covers the 6,000 euros they spent on unsuccessful efforts to soundproof the apartment plus the amount they lost from the 10 unsatisfied renters.

Decibel measurements
Among the measures they took in support of their case was a noise measurement, taken on a Tuesday night, which showed a level of 98 decibels in the hallway of their building – similar to the level caused by construction equipment, heavy transport or industrial machinery. Inside the apartment the reading was 71.3 decibels. European Union recommendations indicate that night-time noise levels in residential zones should not exceed 55 decibels.


Fuengirola attacks red palm beetle with new bylaw

The new regulation is aimed at protecting the town’s palm trees

By Suzan Davenport

FUENGIROLA
town council voted unanimously on Monday to urgently include a new bylaw that will make preventive treatment of palm trees against the red palm beetle obligatory for all palm tree owners within the municipality.

The town is the first on the coast to take such drastic measures against the devastating effect of the Rhynchophorus ferrugineus, known colloquially as the red palm beetle, or Picudo Rojo,which has killed over one hundred trees in Fuengirola already. Neighbouring mun-icipalities have been much harder hit, with several hundred palms destroyed in Mijas, close to one thousand in Benalmádena and several thousand in Marbella.

Fuengirola’s new bylaw will also make it obligatory for palm tree owners to declare the trees on their property within the next six months so that the town hall can make up an inventory, and also to report infected trees immediately. If owners are unsure as to what kind of palm they own, they can ask the town hall to assess the tree. The bylaw also states that palms must only be pruned between December and February, and climbing spikes may not be used. Only dead fronds can be cut off.

Owners will not be able to carry out preventive treatment themselves but must use specialised companies and provide proof of treatment if requested by the town hall. Trunk shaving is forbidden.

With an estimated 150,000 palmeras canarias or datileras, the beetle’s favourites, in the province, and the number of infected trees doubling in the last 12 months, even rigorous new regulations like Fuengirola’s may not stop the plague advancing unless other towns apply similar bylaws.

Non-compliers will be sanctioned
Palm tree owners who do not comply with the new regulation when it comes into effect, approximately three weeks from now, will face a series of financial sanctions ranging from minor to very serious although, at print time, municipal sources could not tell CDSN what these would be. For more information contact the town hall on 95 258 93 00 or if you require the removal of an infected tree, the Junta de Andalucia’s Agriculture and Fisheries Department on 95 103 82 47.


East coast fire cover improvement expected by 2010

By Dave Jamieson

NERJA
may have its new fire station in operation by 2010, officials announced last week. The site will be, as expected, a 2,500-square-metre plot at the western entrance to the town, between the autovía and the old N-340 coast road.
The land is to be ceded to the provincial government by Nerja town hall once it has been transferred to the municipality from its present owner, Sociedad Azucarera Larios. The project is part of the 17 million-euro campaign by the Diputación de Málaga to expand the number of fire stations throughout the province.

The councillor responsible, Antonio Miguel Navas, said at a press conference on Friday that the original plan was to build the new facility in 2012, but the provincial government now says construction can start next year, provided the site becomes available. The new base, he added, will provide better road connections for the fire-fighters and will serve the extreme east of the province, including Maro, Frigiliana and Torrox as well as Nerja. The councillor said that the fire station, which may include a heliport, could be operational by 2010, although the exact date is dependent on the land acquisition. Nerja is presently covered by a fire engine and three staff based at the municipal sports centre, although additional cover can be brought in from Vélez-Málaga or other bases if required. The new facility will be the first phase in the construction of a common base for all security services in the municipality.


Storm damage repairs continue in Granada

A month on and local authorities are still sorting out compensation claims

By Dave Jamieson

MORE
than 2,400 people in Almuñécar suffered a serious loss of property when the town was hit by torrential rain and flood water on September 21. Figures released last week by the town hall show that, among the catalogue of damage caused, 68 houses were destroyed, 290 garages flooded, 1,300 vehicles lost and 480 areas of agricultural land rendered useless.

More than a month after the storm, local authorities in Granada province are still trying to sort out the tangle of applications for compensation from those worst affected. Last week’s data were described as provisional totals obtained from the various organisations which are recompensing victims. Almuñécar town hall said that the majority of claims were made in the days immediately following the rains.
Other areasOther municipalities in the area, which was the worst in the region to be hit by the severe weather, have also calculated provisional figures to quantify the damage. Otivar reported 23 houses and two commercial premises damaged, but over 300 agricultural areas destroyed. In Jete, 200 small growers have registered their land as disaster areas. Three hectares of avocados, 5.2 hectares of nisperos and six hectares of olives - a total of 97,200 kilos of fruit worth around 93,000 euros - were destroyed in Lentegí where most of the land is cultivated by residents of Otivar. And in Ítrabo, four homes were almost destroyed and about 100 growing areas lost. Almuñécar town hall said the agricultural damage was centred on the land along the Río Verde which had overflowed and flooded growing areas, damaging irrigation systems. Hail had also ruined much of the subtropical fruit crop.


Shoreline protection law to affect Parador golf

Protected zone to stretch 40 metres inland, compared to current 10 metres

By Oliver McIntyre

THE ENVIRONMENT
Ministry’s extension of the shoreline protection zone is to impact the golf course at Málaga’s Parador de Golf in Guadalmar, parts of which already encroach on the existing protection zone, say officials.

The current shoreline protection zone, which extends 10 metres inland from the shore, is to be increased to 40 metres, meaning some of the southernmost part of the golf course will have to disappear.

The head of the Environment Ministry’s coastal authority (Costas) for the region, Juan Carlos Fernández, says the impact on the golf course will not take effect until the finalisation and approval of Málaga’s new local development plan (PGOU), which will reflect the extended shoreline protection zone. That could be two or three years from now, he said.

Meanwhile, arrangements will be made to provide the Parador additional land on which to expand the golf course to the east. This process is expected to be expedited by the fact that the state owns the Parador and its golf course.

Protecting the coastline from development
The extension of the shoreline protection zone is part of the government’s ongoing effort to protect the coastline from development, which in some cases – such as at the nearby Arraijanal site, where a marina and residential complex were planned – includes expropriations of coastal properties in order to preserve them.


Case against Ronda's mayor sent to the courts

By David Eade

THE ENVIRONMENTAL
prosecutor in Málaga province has sent to the Ronda court a case brought against the town’s mayor, Antonio Marín, by the opposition Izquierda Unida party.

The case involves allegations that the mayor contravened laws related to town planning, natural resources and the environment, all with regard to the highly controversial proposed golf development at Los Merinos. The complex is to include two golf courses, 800 dwellings and three luxury hotels.

The IU first presented its allegations and supporting documentation to the prosecutor on February 26 of this year. After reviewing it, the prosecutor has decided there could be a case to answer and has passed the file to the court. The IU considers that Antonio Marín’s approval of the golf development project infringed on the law but the mayor maintains that everything surrounding the project has been carried out legally and that he has nothing to fear.

Meahwhile, the mayor of Cuevas del Becerro, Joaquín Esquina, has sent a message to local residents stating that he does not think a general strike in protest against Los Merinos is the right course of action at this moment. The action group Plataforma en Defensa del Agua had proposed the strike to the town hall, but the mayor says he is currently in contact with various bodies such as the regional government and the Andalucía water authority over the golf course and he feels these negotiations and forthcoming legal cases should take centre stage.


Arsenal to hold international soccer tournament

Town hall signs agreement with the Premier League club for Easter event

By David Eade

ENGLISH
Premier League side, Arsenal, have signed an agreement with San Roque town hall that will see an international youth tournament held in the town over Easter next year.

San Roque’s mayor, José Vázquez, stated that it was unusual for a town hall to sign an agreement with an internationally famous soccer club and added how pleased he was that young sports players from the area could take advantage of the expertise of the Arsenal soccer school set up in the municipality.

Deputy mayor, Juan José Guillén, added that Arsenal had been very generous and given eight scholarships to its school for young local soccer players who would not normally be able to pay the fees of the elite school.

One of the novelties of the youth tournament will be the participation of Galilee United, an integrated team of young Jews and Arabs. The team has been established for three years and aims to promote peace and understanding through the ‘King of sports’. While the youngsters take part in the matches their parents will also stay with them in the San Roque area.Speaking for Arsenal, the club’s representative in Spain, Kenneth Jones, thanked San Roque for its support. He said he was greatly impressed by the high standard of players in the Campo de Gibraltar and the large number of teams in San Roque. He added that 18 players had now been enrolled in the Arsenal school in Spain and explained that the youngsters receive a six month course during which they are examined to ensure they maintain high standards. The school was also giving technical support to local teams so that they can improve the technique of their players. A team from San Roque would be invited to take part in the international soccer festival held by Arsenal in England each summer.


Dog trainers to aid charities

The Christmas benefit seeks donations of auction and raffle items

By David Eade

THE ANNUAL
Christmas benefit party held by David the Dogman’s San Pedro dog training classes has been scheduled for December 15. The fun-filled gathering allows pupils and trainers, both past and present, to get together for a social evening while raising money for charity.

This year, as last, the recipients of the highly valued donations from the dog class members will be the Aspandem association for the physically disabled and the Los Claveles breast cancer charity. Activities include a raffle and an auction to raise money for these important organisations.

To make the event a success, the dog class members are seeking donations of raffle prizes and auction items. This year’s auction prizes already include a weekend away for two donated by Marriot’s and a one-hour flight for two in a Cessna from Aerodynamics Málaga. Anyone interested in donating a raffle or auction prize can contact Paul on 619 662 565 or Vivien on 606 611 540.Meanwhile, Aspandem is holding its first exhibit in the Sala de Exposiciones (the old library) in San Pedro. It is open up till Friday, from 11.30am to 1pm and 6pm to 8pm. Aspandem helps over 400 people of all age groups, including some Britons. The purpose of the exhibition is to demonstrate the products made by the association’s members. These include furniture and wood items created in their own workshops, flowers and plants from the nursery and printed bags that are created for boutiques and shops.


Alleged racist attacker re-arrested

Video of subway beating caused widespread outrageBy Dave Jamieson

THE PUBLIC
prosecutor has intervened in the case of a 21-year-old man who was released after being charged for an attack on a 16-year-old Ecuadorian girl on a train. The affair has caused diplomatic ripples with the Foreign Ministry in Ecuador formally complaining to Spain about the case.

Security video images of the incident, which took place near Barcelona on October 7, show a tall man with dark hair suddenly starting punch and slap a young girl in a railway carriage while shouting racial insults at her. The video, which was broadcast widely on television and the internet, appears to show him talking on a mobile phone throughout the attack as he kicks her in the face several times.

The alleged attacker, named as Sergi Xavier Martin, was arrested on October 19 but then released without bail. The judge said the attack was “repugnant” but did not merit remanding the suspect in custody, as the prosecutor and the victim’s lawyers requested. Instead, Sr Martin was ordered to report to police twice a day and to the court every 15 days until the start of his trial.

Sr Martin initially told reporters he could remember nothing as he was very drunk at the time, although the victim claims he was quite sober and aware of what he was doing.

On Tuesday of last week, the Foreign Ministry in Ecuador sent a diplomatic note to the Spanish embassy in Quito expressing its “most energetic protest for this xenophobic act.” The following day, Sr Martin was re-arrested after talks between the justice minister, Mariano Fernandez Bermejo, and Candido Conde Pumpido, Spain’s public prosecutor. Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, said his government would pay the legal costs of the victim, who is reported to have been suffering psychological stress since the incident.

The General Council of the Judiciary has opened an enquiry into the original decision to release Martin on bail. Cataluña’s regional government has condemned the attack while around 300 people gathered outside Barcelona town hall last Thursday night in a protest rally against racism. On Saturday, hundreds of similar demonstrations were held across the country with the largest gatherings in Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona.

Racism against Latin Americans
A poll published recently in the magazine Tribuna Latina suggested that 57 per cent of immigrants from Latin America feel that in Spain there is racism towards those from outside the EU. There are thought to be over 420,000 Ecuadorians living here and last month’s attack has dominated the headlines in their home country.