News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week August 1st to August 8th
SUMMER TRAVEL DELAYS WARNING
UK air traffic control blamed for travel woes
By Tom Cain
AIR TRAVELLERS SHOULD EXPECT LONGER DELAYS THIS SUMMER FOLLOWING STRIKES BY EUROPEAN AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS AND STAFF SHORTAGES AT THE UK's NEW AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL CENTRE.
Lack of trained personnel and a series of technical failures have meant that the National Air Traffic Control Services (NATS) that operates Britain's £700 million facility have been responsible for over 50 per cent of all delays across Europe.
The British Airline Pilots' Association (BALPA) said that staff shortages at the new centre in Swanwick mean flight delays are here to stay and things will not improve for the foreseeable future. It takes three to four years to train an air traffic controller and BALPA believes that NATS has failed to take this into account. According to the association's official spokesman: "When demand exceeds capacity you either end up with an unsafe environment or impose delays, hence the current situation."
Staff numbers at Swanwick are 10 per cent down, a shortfall of 41 controllers, although 62 are in training. Adding to the UK situation, European air traffic controllers have not ruled out the possibility of more strike action if their concerns over the Brussels' plan for a 'single European sky' are not addressed.
Baggage-handlers and check-in staff at all UK airports are threatening wildcat strikes throughout August and their counterparts on the Continent are preparing for similar action. A tour operator spokesman summed up the scenario awaiting holidaymakers: "Travellers to or from the UK should expect delays as factors combine to frustrate and annoy thousands of holidaymakers - who will inevitably have to include sitting in airport departure lounges as part of their annual holiday."
MEDICAL FILES DUMPED IN RUBBISH CONTAINER
7000 medical histories from Los Boliches health centre meet controversial end
By David Eade
AROUND 7,000 MEDICAL HISTORIES, MANY BELONGING TO FOREIGN RESIDENTS, FROM THE LOS BOLICHES HEALTH CENTRE IN FUENGIROLA WERE DUMPED INTO RUBBISH CONTAINERS BY A WORKER.
The numerous files are now in the safe hands of the local police whilst they carry out a judicial investigation. The regional health authority (SAS) is also carrying out an internal enquiry.
According to the Málaga delegate for health, José Luis Marcos, a worker at the centre is responsible for taking the decision to dump the files in rubbish containers in the street outside the centre. The files contained confidential data on thousands of patients, including those suffering from aids and mental illness. The police took the numerous files into their protection after they were found by journalists from Televisión Local de Fuengirola. According to the journalists the files had been dumped in the street in various cardboard cartons. They covered the medical records of patients attending the Los Boliches health centre between 1997 and 1999.
'HUMAN ERROR' CLAIM
José Luis Marcos said the woman responsible had admitted dumping them in the street as she was having a clear-out. He added that he viewed the throwing out of the files as an act of "human error". The woman employee now faces an internal SAS enquiry, which may result in disciplinary action against her.
The local police have handed the files over to the town's court. A judge will carry out an investigation into the occurrence. In due course the court will rule whether it believes the incident is a case of negligence or whether it agrees with the health delegate that it was down to "human error".
The Delegation of Health for Málaga province said that the various health centres in one year produced a total of 15 million files. These files were stored by the health authorities for a five-year period. After that time the files were handed over to a specialist company to be destroyed.
ESPERANZA OÑA UPSET
At a press conference on Monday the Mayoress of Fuengirola, Esperanza Oña, condemned the dumping of the files. She announced the Town Hall would institute its own proceedings against the SAS. She also called for the resignation of Francisco Vallejo, the health councillor of regional government. Fuengirola's Mayoress is also the opposition PP co-ordinator on health matters in regional parliament.
MOTORWAY OPENING TO END CHAOS?
By David Eade
Yesterday (July 31) the Minister of Public Works, Francisco Álvarez Cascos, opened both the Estepona to Guadiaro toll motorway and the new dual carriageway section of the N-340 between the same two towns. Sr Cascos was accompanied by the President of regional government, Manuel Chaves and the councillor for public works, Concepción Gutiérrez. The inauguration ceremony took place at 17.30 yesterday at km 152.5 on the autopista del Mediterráneo between Estepona and Manilva. The two roads had been due to be opened on August 2 but the work was accelerated with crews working round the clock so they would be operational for the start of the peak holiday month.
However, in the days leading up to the official opening ceremony, the N-340 between Estepona and Guadiaro has seen some of the worst congestion in the road's chaotic history. Tailbacks of 25 kilometres were recorded with traffic backing up five kilometres on the toll motorway between Estepona and Marbella as well as on the N-340 between Estepona and San Pedro. It is hoped that the new N-340 dual carriageway between Estepona and Guadiaro will relieve the tailbacks although traffic using this new widened road will have to negotiate numerous roundabouts. Also, although the toll motorway has been inaugurated, the road is not complete. Half a kilometre of unmade motorway plus two tunnels at Casares were still unfinished 48 hours before the official opening date.
FUENGIROLA'S PASEO MARÍTIMO INAUGURATED
Third phase of Paseo now finished
By David Eade
THE MINISTER OF THE ENVIRONMENT, JAUME MATAS, RECENTLY VISITED FUENGIROLA TO OFFICIALLY INAUGURATE THE THIRD PHASE OF THE TOWN'S PASEO MARÍTIMO.
In his speech he praised the local government team, especially the Mayoress Esperanza Oña, for bringing the ambitious project to renovate the entire length of the resort's paseo marítimo into a reality.
LAST PHASE TO GO AHEAD
Sr Matas also brought good news for the town. He announced that the government had published the tender for building the last phase of the paseo marítimo. This would involve an investment of 1,340,000 euros and would extend the existing paseo to the resort's boundary with Mijas. Indeed, included in the project would be a footbridge over the Fuengirola River giving easy pedestrian access to the Sohail Castle.
The town's Mayoress, Esperanza Oña, welcomed the government's additional investment in the resort. Fuengirola is governed by the Partido Popular, the same party as central government and many PP dignitaries attended the ceremony. Sra Oña thanked the ministry for their collaboration in the project to renovate the paseo marítimo which has been 75 per cent funded by Madrid.
MÁLAGA RECORDS SPAIN'S FIRST CHIP ARREST
Andalucía responsible for 30 per cent of CD piracy
By Dave Jamieson
In the first arrest of its kind in Spain, a man has been detained in Málaga for illegally selling computer chips. The 24-year-old had 93 micro-processors in his possession, as well as 975 CDs of illegally-copied computer games, feature films and music.
The chips, with a value of around 90,000 euros were being sold for use in the Playstation 2 game console, and are believed to have been imported from Hong Kong, Portugal and Britain, advertised on the Internet and then sold throughout Spain. Once installed, the chips would disable the console's read-protection system. The arrested man is being charged with an offence against intellectual property.
The arrest came as new figures showed that 30 per cent of CD piracy in Spain takes place in Andalucía. The announcement of the statistics coincided with another important operation to break up networks of CD pirates in Sevilla, where equipment capable of copying 1,000 CDs per day was seized.
ILLEGAL FISHING THREATENS MARINE LIFE OFF MARO
Fines and embargoes expected for boat owners
By Dave Jamieson
OWNERS OF A FISHING BOAT, STOPPED IN WATERS OFF THE COAST OF THE CERRO GORDO NATURAL PARK EAST OF NERJA, FACE HUGE FINES AND EMBARGOES, AS DELEGATES OF THE JUNTA'S ENVIRONMENTAL AND AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENTS PRESS FOR MAXIMUM PUNISHMENTS.
In a joint operation, the vessel was stopped last week by fisheries inspectors from the province's Agriculture and Fisheries department and the Junta de Andalucía, while it was working only 18 metres from the coast. The park, which is subject to regular inspections to protect the fragile ecology of the sea bed, has a minimum fishing limit of 50 metres from the shoreline. In addition, the boat was discovered to have a haul of immature fish on board. Its owners, based at Caleta de Vélez, will be fined over 60,000 euros for breaking fishing laws, and between 6,000 and over 300,000 euros for endangering the ecosystem. In addition, the vessel could be immobilised by the Junta.
MARO SEEKS PROTECTION
The Maro - Cerro Gordo park covers 1,815 hectares, of which more than three-quarters is sea area, and, as reported recently, is presently the subject of an application to UNESCO to become a specially protected zone of importance to the Mediterranean. Evidence of sea-bed trawling is reported to be visible throughout waters of the Park's coast, and ecologists say that some areas have already been ruined.
COASTAL AUTHORITY BLOCKS SAN PEDRO'S PASEO
By David Eade
The Coastal Authority, a department of regional government's environment department, has blocked the works on San Pedro de Alcántara's paseo marítimo at the mouth of the Guadaiza River. The project started in January, but the authority says it did not authorise the works. In addition the coastal authority claims that the paseo marítimo trespasses on land that is part of the public domain. It says the Town Hall only owns 200 metres of the 1.2 kilometres of land, which forms the new walkway connecting the playa del Duque of Puerto Banus to the San Pedro beach. The Coastal Authority took action after the Socialist group at Marbella Town Hall made an official complaint about the 'illegal occupation' of the beach zone. The letter to the authority described the use of the disputed land as 'a very serious infringement' and demanded, 'the ceasing of the works'.