News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week December 19th to December 25th
SANTA'S MÁLAGA STOPOVER
Charities benefit from Costa volunteers
By Brenda Padilla
FORTUNATELY FOR SANTA, INDIVIDUALS AND COMPANIES ON THE COSTA DEL SOL ARE WILLING TO GIVE HIM A HAND IN MAKING THE DREAMS OF EVERY CHILD COME TRUE.
The Christmas party held for the disadvantaged children and youths at Ciudad de los Niños in Málaga proved to be a great success. The privately operated centre is home to approximately 50 young people, mostly boys over the age of 10. However, both girls and boys from low-income backgrounds are given specialised education and a hot lunch every day at the centre's school, bringing the total number of children served to more than 130.
All of the children were ready and waiting for Father Christmas' arrival on Friday and could hardly contain their excitement as volunteers arrived to unload cars full of party favours, food and gifts. A professional entertainment team and a magician kept everyone busy while Santa found his way into his suit and on to his seat next to a hearth full of gifts.
"Giving out the gifts was definitely the highlight of the party," said volunteer and party co-ordinator Rita Foti of Marbella. Another volunteer Aine Leahy agreed: "Seeing them afterwards with the toys was the best part. They really enjoyed that."
LENDING A HELPING HAND
Employees of local companies drew names in order to provide a personalised gift for each child. This was followed up with food, sweets and Christmas trees to make the party complete. Other local and English based companies donated towards packages of warm, winter stockings for each child. Students at Calpe College held a cake sale in order to buy lovely Christmas stockings to fill with surprises.
Next year's party is already in the works, and anyone wishing to participate should contact the organising committee on 627 354 524 or 678 649 137.
BUSY TIME ON THE COSTA
La Ciudad de los Niños centre is only one of the many charitable organisations on the Costa. The Christmas season is a very busy time for these groups and their volunteers who have raised considerable sums due to the various activities taking place over the Christmas period. Fairs, social events and many other activities have proved a great success thanks to the active participation of the residents.
BRITISH CONS NABBED BY MÁLAGA POLICE
Three-member clan allegedly swindled four million euros
By Oliver McIntyre
MÁLAGA POLICE, IN COLLABORATION WITH ENGLAND'S SCOTLAND YARD, HAVE ARRESTED THREE BRITISH CITIZENS SUSPECTED OF RUNNING A FRAUDULENT SCHEME TO SWINDLE AFFLUENT INVESTORS.
The three suspects, a 62-year-old woman, a 65-year-old man, and a 39-year-old man, are believed to be members of a single Andorran banking family, and one of them is of Spanish origin.
The police report that the three family members ran a scheme in which they convinced wealthy investors to put money into what they promised were high-profit investments. They then deposited the money into bank accounts in Andorra, where they had created an entity called the "Trustees House," which was used to swindle the investors' money - some 4 million euros' worth. According to police, the three suspects targeted their victims in England, Canada, and the United States. In one case, an investor put up nearly 1.7 million euros, which the suspects then allegedly used - unbeknownst to the "client" - to make a large purchase from an English diamond dealer. After this score, according to police, the suspects went on the run, taking with them the diamonds and the remainder of the 4 million euros they had swindled.
Scotland Yard investigators tracked the suspects through Italy and Switzerland, and then to Málaga, where the trail ran cold. According to police reports, the suspects maintained their anonymity while on the Costa by making large advance payments for their rental residences and keeping their names off lease contracts by claiming that one of them was a famous British author trying to avoid the paparazzi. They lived in various residences in Fuengirola, Benalmádena, and Sotogrande, abandoning each - along with their advance payment - whenever they thought the police might be closing in. They also acquired a 30,000-euro car during their hideout on the Costa.
The Málaga police finally located the three family members in an urbanisation in Sotogrande, but the suspects managed to escape capture when the police moved on the residence. There, police found a variety of highly valuable objects, assumed to have been purchased with the stolen money and then abandoned when it became necessary to flee the arriving police. Finally the suspects were found again, this time in a Girona hotel room, and were successfully arrested by the police. Although the family scam operation is now considered to be dismantled, the police indicate that the investigation is still open and they do not rule out the possibility further arrests.
CALLE LARIOS INAUGURATED
By Dave Jamieson
Málaga's remodelled Calle Larios was formally inaugurated last Saturday afternoon. Thousands of people filled the street and the plaza de La Constitución - home now to the Génova fountain - to see the official ceremony performed by the city's Mayor, Francisco de la Torre, following almost a year of disruption as work progressed in the heart of the old town. To the strains of the "Malagueña" the official party entered the streets, 111 years after Calle Larios was first inaugurated.
WILL IT REMAIN A WALKING STREET?
Calle Larios, presently decorated with Christmas lights, will stay completely pedestrianised until January 15 while its future is debated, although the Mayor said there had been a "clamour" in favour of keeping it as a vehicle-free zone. However, the weekend was about celebration, not debate, as arguably the city's most important street and square were filled with the music of bands of local musicians, food, drink and dancing, continuing into Sunday afternoon..
MENINGITIS SCARE AT MARBELLA NURSERY
Town Hall calls for public calm
By David Eade
A YOUNG BOY WHO ATTENDS THE MUNICIPAL NURSERY SCHOOL IN LAS ALBARIZAS HAS BEEN RUSHED TO HOSPITAL AFTER CONTRACTING MENINGITIS.
The Mayor of Marbella, Julián Muñoz, confirmed that the child was being treated at the Costa del Sol Hospital but stressed that the case was an isolated incident. Marbella Town Hall, which is responsible for the nursery, notified the Andalucian Health Service (SAS) as soon as the boy was diagnosed with the disease. The SAS arranged for all children that had been in contact with the young victim to be inoculated. The health authority stressed that a mass inoculation was standard procedure.
The Town Hall was unable to give any information on the type of meningitis involved or how serious the child's illness is. A spokesperson for the parents at the nursery said they had been informed of the meningitis case and that all the children were being checked for signs of the disease.
The epidemic unit of regional government's health service is now working to ascertain what type of meningitis is involved. The study will show whether it is a bacterial or virus form of the disease and also its potential seriousness.
The medical service has called for calm and said it believed there was no cause for alarm, as it appeared to be an isolated case. Marbella Town Hall was taking a similar stance assuring parents and the public at large that the SAS had matters fully under control.
Nonetheless, the next few days will be a worrying period of time for the parents of the other children at the nursery school. Their spokesperson said they would all be anxious about the young boy's illness until they knew the exact nature of the meningitis involved.
ISTÁN PROTESTS AT LACK OF ROAD LINK
News Staff Reporter
Istán Town Hall organized a demonstration by residents of the mountain village outside the offices of the Sub delegation of the Central Government in Málaga. The protest was organized to voice the people of Istán's anger that the Director General of Roads has still not given the final go-ahead for a link road to be built.
The project to link Istán with the N-340 was drawn up three years ago and despite all the major road projects that have recently been enacted, the people of Istán are still left in limbo. It was therefore decided at a recent residents' meeting to continue the protests started in April and to form a joint resident -politician committee to plan future action.
What has annoyed the people of Istán is the fact that whilst countless millions have been spent locally on road projects their ignored link would only cost 383,000 euros. The plan is to build a link on the N-340 section of the Marbella bypass at km 176.6. Not only would it improve access to Istán but also ease traffic congestion in both Puerto Banús and Nueva Andalucía
GOLF COURSE AND TRANVíA BIDS REVEALED
Windfall for Nerja, although Vélez' plans may be revised
By Dave Jamieson
A MULTINATIONAL CONSTRUCTION COMPANY HAS SUBMITTED THE TOP BID FOR THE LAND EARMARKED FOR NERJA'S NEW GOLF COMPLEX.
When applications from the four companies interested were opened last week, the figure offered by Med Group Development S.L. was found to be the highest, at 15.1 million euros. The unsuccessful submissions came from Verde Nerja at 14 million, Unión Temporal de Empresas Golf Nerja at 12.3 million, and Fadesa Inmobiliaria at 9.1 million euros. The Town Hall were due to meet yesterday, Wednesday, to examine in detail the plans submitted by the Med Group, but Nerja's mayor, José Alberto Armijo, has already expressed his satisfaction with the auction, describing it as the culmination of a process which began in 1987, and adding that the income to the town will finance several local projects.
Med Group is thought to be planning a total investment of 150 million euros in the construction of Nerja's new 18 hole golf course, 800 houses, and a four-star 125-bed hotel on the site. The group is involved in several other property and leisure developments, including another golf complex at Mojácar, where 181 million euros is being invested.
VÉLEZ TRANVIA STILL IN THE AIR
Meanwhile, eight bids were received to build the new light transport system between Vélez-Málaga and Torre del Mar, but only three brought in estimates below Vélez Town Hall's target figure. Total costs for the Tranvía ranged from the lowest, 18.1 million euros of UTE Sacyr, to the highest, 21.9 million euros of Prinur FCC / Construcciones Vera. The latter firm's plans, however, would see the project completed in the least time, just 16 months. The opposition Partido Popular in Vélez have called for the viability of the project to be re-examined in the light of the figures, claiming that the Tranvía will turn out to be a drain on the Town Hall's finances.
ELECTRICTY AND TELEPHONE WORKMEN IN NERJA SPOTLIGHT
Town Hall wants responsibilities met to avoid accidents
By Dave Jamieson
Nerja is to name and shame Endesa-Sevillana and Telefónica by placing warning signs on access covers left in a potentially dangerous state in the town's streets. Councillor Francisco Cid, announcing the plan last week, said attention will be drawn to the covers on access points to underground cables found in a state which could result in an accident to a member of the public. He claimed that there are over 30 instances already known to the Town Hall, and now a sign, reading, "Caution - danger - awaiting repair" and naming the body responsible, will be erected at each one.
Sr Cid said that several accidents had occurred as a result of holes in the access covers, and that, while the Town Hall would rapidly repair those for which it was responsible, it could not do the same for those under other companies' responsibility. The councillor hopes that, by publicising the responsibility of either Sevillana or Telefónica for repairs, both will become more receptive to requests for remedial action. Residents are invited to report any dangerous spots to the Town Hall.
OPENING TIME SET ON MÁLAGA BEER FESTIVAL
Prospect of 'last orders' vanishes as agreement is signed
By Dave Jamieson
Next year's planned Beer Festival in Málaga should now go ahead, following the signing of an agreement between the Town Hall and its organisers. Recent problems had put "World Beer Expo 2003" in some doubt, but a deal, expected to be signed this week, will see the 10-day event in May confirmed. When originally announced in June, the festival was described as a 'major world event and without precedent in the beer industry' with promoters promising the presence of 250 manufacturers and two million visitors. Administrative problems suffered by the organisers, World Beer Holdings, seem to have been resolved and the event will now be staged on Málaga's fairground, with each caseta transformed into a bar typical of the country of origin of the beer being served.
The festival will run from May 22 to 31, and include a two-day industry conference on May 26 and 27, attended by 750 delegates at which the central theme will be the globalisation of beer. Between May 26 and 29, a professional fair, the first of its kind in the world, will run in parallel with the public event which is anticipated to bring 100 million euros into the local economy during its 10 days.