News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week January 2nd to January 8th
COUNTING THE COST OF THE EURO
Confusion still reigns 12 months on
By Cathy Humphreys
NEXT WEEK WILL SEE THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE INTRODUCTION OF THE EURO, BUT A RECENT SURVEY SHOWS THAT MANY PEOPLE ARE STILL CONFUSED AS TO ITS VALUE IN COMPARISON TO PESETAS.
According to the Consumers' Association, many consumers still have no idea of the value of goods in euros, a year after the new currency came into operation. The organisation reports that even though consumers have quickly become accustomed to making their purchases using the new coins and notes, people are still continuing to think in pesetas and converting prices into the old currency. Most shops also continue to display the prices in pesetas as well as in euros.
The General Secretary of the Association, Ana Zarzuela, said that most adult consumers are still converting prices in euros to pesetas to assess how much things are worth. This was particularly true in the case of higher-priced items such as cars and property. Children, on the other hand, are much better acquainted with the new currency. Many schools carried out special campaigns at the beginning of the year to introduce the euro and to get the youngsters used to handling the new notes and coins.
Ana Zarzuela also pointed out that prices have gone up as a result of the change-over to the euro, mainly as a result of rounding up - in spite of initial promises that this would not happen. This had occurred in particular in the public services and transport sectors where, because of 'rounding off' and a rise in the IPC consumer price index, prices have increased by nearly four per cent. Her statistics were also confirmed this week by Wim Duisenberg, the President of the Central European Bank, who admitted that the whole of the Eurozone has experienced price hikes since the euro was introduced.
This Christmas has been the first one since the euro was introduced and most people recognise that the festive season has been more expensive this year. The average expenditure per person during the Christmas holiday period has been estimated to be 765 euros, 250 euros more than last year. As the January sales period approaches consumer associations are appealing to consumers to act responsibly in order to avoid possible overspending.
MORE MÁLAGA VOLUNTEERS TO GALICIA
Oil-spill clean-up is vacation choice for Malagueños
NEWS Staff Reporters
LAST WEEK 120 MALAGUEÑOS LOADED UP ON BUSES FOR A LONG RIDE UP TO THE OIL-STAINED BEACHES OF GALICIA.
These dedicated volunteers, who opted to spend their Christmas holidays helping to clean up the mess left in the wake of the Prestige oil tanker disaster, represent the fourth official volunteer group to make the trip from Málaga Province. They bring to 395 the total of number of Malagueños who have travelled to the northern province to volunteer in the clean-up efforts. Andalucía's regional government, for its part, has contributed to the efforts of Málaga's volunteers by providing the buses that transport them to Galicia, as well as outfitting each volunteer with the materials and equipment necessary to carry out the clean-up work (safety glasses, gloves, masks, boots, etc.). According to Ignacio Trillo, Environment Council delegate for Andalucía, regional government has spent approximately 12,000 euros on each of the four volunteer trips from Málaga.
AXARQUÍA GOODS FOR PRESTIGE VICTIMS
The association of farmers and growers in the Axarquía, based in Torre del Mar, has announced that, in conjunction with collectives in Granada and Almería, they are sending shipments of fruit and vegetables to the devastated area. Tomatoes, cucumbers and avocados are included in the gifts. Nerja Town Hall has agreed to send a cash donation of 15,000 euros, while a 'fiesta' was arranged in Antequera for December 26, to raise funds.
THE LEGIONNAIRES GO INTO ACTION
A total of 311 members of Spain's Foreign Legion based in Ronda have been flown to Galicia. They will join with other volunteers to fight the massive oil spillages. The legionnaires from the Tercio Alejandro Farnesio IV flew on two planes from the military base at Málaga Airport. They will be billeted in the Coruña municipality of Noia where they'll spend a week on cleaning operations.
ANDALUCÍA'S PORTS OPEN
Regional government has offered its ports to the 64 Galician fishing boats that will now fish in Moroccan waters. The Moroccan government invited the fishermen in following the closure of the polluted Galician fishing grounds. The councillor for agriculture and fishing, Paulino Plata, said that the Galicians would be very welcome in the ports of Barbate, Cádiz and Huelva.
RECORD FIGURES AT MÁLAGA AIRPORT
By Dave Jamieson
Málaga's airport looks set to break the 10 million passenger figure by the end of the year. Figures from airport operator AENA show that in the 11 months to November, 9.8 million travellers passed through arrival and departure halls, equalling the total for the whole of 2001. The statistics show a steady rise throughout 2002, and with the usual influx of holiday-makers for the New Year celebrations it seems certain that the 10 million barrier will be broken for the first time in the airport's history.
Last December saw half a million passengers through Málaga Airport, and this year's continuing increases have convinced analysts that the region has particularly well weathered the downturn in air travel following September 11, 2001.
CAR HIRE OPERATORS UNHAPPY
However, increasingly acrimonious relationships with car hire operators have led to the threat of a slow-moving convoy of hundreds of vehicles around the airport, which would inevitably result in delays to passengers. The operators have long-running complaints against AENA over the lack of facilities provided to their representatives in the arrivals hall, and over arrangements for parking their clients' cars.
FIRE KILLS TWO CHILDREN AND DISABLED UNCLE
Seven other injured in Velez Malaga apartment fire
By Oliver McIntyre
TWO BROTHERS, ONE FOUR YEARS OLD AND THE OTHER SIX YEARS OLD, AS WELL AS THEIR 22-YEAR-OLD DISABLED UNCLE, WERE KILLED IN A FIRE IN THEIR VÉLEZ MÁLAGA APARTMENT.
The boys' 84-year-old great aunt was also in the apartment at the time of the fire, but was rescued by a fire fighter and escaped out of the burning building. The elderly woman was taken to Carlos Haya Hospital with third-degree burns on 40 per cent of her body. Both she and the fire fighter - who suffered from acute smoke inhalation - are in a serious condition.
Seven other people suffered minor injuries in the blaze, including two fire fighters and the children's father and grandfather. It was the grandfather, a police officer who also performs fire fighting duties, who pulled his own disabled son's body from the burning building. The fire occurred on the second floor of the Antonio I apartment building, located on Calle Pablo Picasso in Vélez Málaga. The fire department received the alarm at 16.23 on Saturday afternoon. Fire Department investigators were not able to immediately discern the cause of the blaze, but their initial theory was that it may have been started by an electric heater or a short circuit.
FIRE FIGHTERS NOT ON TIME
Neighbours of the victims expressed their dissatisfaction with the Fire Department's response time, noting that fire fighters did not arrive on the scene until a half-hour after the fire started. However, city sources indicated that the Fire Department had responded as quickly as was possible.
IMPROVED PARKING FOR ESTEPONA CENTRE
By David Eade
The councillor responsible for infrastructure at Estepona Town Hall, Ignacio Mena, has announced that the new underground car park in the Avenida de España will solve the lack of parking spaces in the town centre. He added that this would be achieved without any risk to the residents who inhabit buildings in the construction zone.
The project will greatly increase the number of underground parking spaces available in Estepona town centre. When completed, the number of parking spaces beneath the Avenida de España will rise to over 500. This increase will allow many of the streets in the town centre to be converted into pedestrian only zones.
The pedestrianization of the streets in the central zone will be an important part of the planned open commercial centre and will aid the economic development of the area. Ignacio Mena added that in his opinion the principal beneficiaries of this project would be the residents of central Estepona, as the lack of parking they currently suffer will be solved.
Avenida España hotel works paralysed
The Mayoress of Estepona, Rosa Díaz, has issued a decree immediately freezing work on a new hotel complex on the Avenida España, opposite the town's fishermen's quarter. She took action after it was alleged that the constructor, Estepona Beach 2000 S.A. (Grupo Prasa), was building a bigger building than was allowed.
BIG DROP IN ILLEGAL INMIGRANT FIGURES
By David Eade
The Guardia Civil in Algeciras have released the figures for the number of illegal immigrants that arrived in the Campo de Gibraltar region in 2002. The figures include those who crossed the Straits of Gibraltar in boats, as well as those that were hidden in lorries or other types of vehicles.
According to the Guardia Civil's data, 4,545 illegal immigrants were intercepted between January and December. Of that total 3,700 were men and of those 169 were minors. By contrast 845 women made the crossing of which 28 were pregnant and six were minors.
These figures show a massive drop in the number of illegal immigrants reaching the shores of Spain via the Straits of Gibraltar. In 2001, the total detected in the Campo de Gibraltar region was 9.817 of which 8,900 were men and 917 women. In percentage terms the number of women has doubled. The vast majority of the illegal immigrants detained by the security forces were of Moroccan origin. They accounted for 2,600 of the total followed by Nigeria (500), Liberia (234), Sierra Leone (168), Sudan (150). The remaining 893 came from a variety of countries including Burundi, Mauritania, Mozambique and Algeria.
In addition to detaining the illegal immigrants, the Guardia Civil also arrested 167 people accused of crimes against the rights of foreign citizens in Spain. Of that total, 16 were Spanish but the majority were Moroccans. The security services also seized 82 boats in 2002 that had been used for shipping illegal immigrants across the Straits.
BEACHES CONTAMINATED BY OIL SPILLAGE
By David Eade
There has been yet another major oil spillage in the Bay of Algeciras. The latest incident occurred at the Cepsa oil refinery pier when a boat in the act of refuelling accidentally spilt three tons of fuel oil. The resulting spillage contaminated three beaches in San Roque, those of Puenta Mayorga, La Colonia and Guadarranque.
The councillor responsible for civil defence in San Roque, Jacinto Merino, said: "The emergency plan for cleaning the affected zone was implemented immediately with the intention of preventing the fuel from washing up on the beach." Eventually it did arrive and was cleared with buckets and shovels. The Mayor of San Roque, Fernando Palm, confirmed that he was waiting the results of the investigation into the incident before attributing blame. A spokesman for the Cepsa refinery said that as soon as the fuel spillage was noted an anti-pollution boat and submergible pumps were put into action.
The vessel involved in the incident was identified as the Gibraltar based tender 'Eileen', which carries out refuelling of shipping in the Bay of Algeciras. The Harbour Master sent an inspector to the tender, which was detained in port and on receiving his report, fined the owners 600,000 euros.
MARBELLA ENGRAVING MUSEUM TO INCREASE IN SIZE
By David Eade
MARBELLA'S PRESTIGIOUS 'MUSEO DEL GRABADO ESPAÑOL' IS TO BENEFIT FROM THE RELOCATION OF THE TOWN'S CULTURAL AND EDUCATION DELEGATION.
The delegation currently shares the engraving museum's premises but is to shortly move to a renovated house in the Plaza Altamirano allowing the museum to expand into the additional space. Currently the museum has 700 square metres of exhibition space but this will be increased by 25 per cent when the 250 square metres used by the delegation is freed. This will enable the museum to double the number of exhibition halls so that many of the 3,500 engravings currently held in storage can then be displayed.
The 'Museo del Grabado Español' is located in the old Hospital Bazán in the street of the same name but is so limited for space that 95 per cent of its valuable collection cannot be shown. The creation of the extra display spaces will require the re-siting of the museum's library and visiting/temporary exhibition hall to space previously occupied by the delegation.
The delegation is moving to a historic building and its offices will occupy the two top floors. In the patio and attic zones will be located an exhibition of the archaeological remains and a scale model of the Roman villa, a basilica and the vaults of Guadalmina. The delegation should take possession of the new building in January once the electrics have been installed.
WOLF PARK COMING TO ANTEQUERA
German couple to open 40-hectare Lobo Park
By Oliver McIntyre
Lobo Park, a zoo/nature-park hybrid dedicated to wolves - and the first of its kind in country, if not in the world - is scheduled to open its doors to the public in March of 2003. The park, located 20 kilometres outside of Antequera near El Torcal and El Chorro, is the brainchild of German couple Daniel Weigend and Alexandra Stieber, who have invested nearly 2.5 million euros in making Lobo Park a reality.
The two Germans are currently working with regional government's Environment Council and Antequera Town Hall in order to complete the paperwork and licensing necessary for the opening of the 40,000-hectare park. They have already been using the park and its 11 resident wolves to provide leadership and group-dynamics training to business executives, who observe and study the wolves' hunting and social strategies and techniques.
When Lobo Park opens to the public, its facilities will include a variety of observation points for watching the three species of wolves that live there (Timber, European, and Polar), as well as a wolf museum and a restaurant. The park will also have additional animals, and will offer guided horse and mule tours.