News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week February 27th to March 5th 2003.
SPAIN CHANGES RESIDENCY LAW
Royal decree frees many expats from residency card requirements
By Eve Gallagher and Oliver McIntyre
THE SPANISH GOVERNMENT HAS PASSED A NEW LAW THAT WILL ALLOW MANY EUROPEAN UNION CITIZENS RESIDING IN SPAIN TO AVOID THE HASSLES OF SOLICITING OR RENEWING THE RESIDENCY CARD.
The new royal decree, passed on February 14 and expected to come into force on March 1, exempts from the residency-card requirement any EU citizen - as well as citizens from Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland - who is living in Spain and working employed or self-employed, is a student, or a pensioner or retired person who has paid into the social security taxes. The exemption also includes the direct family members of the above mentioned.
NOT APPLICABLE TO ALL
However, European Community members who live on the Costa, be they retired or otherwise, who have never at any time worked in Spain will not be exempted from the residency card requirement. This exclusion is also extended to tourists and to family members belonging to third member states. EU or EES citizens who meet the conditions set forth in the new law, and who are currently residing in Spain with a residency card, should not need to renew their card upon its expiration. Those who are not currently residing in Spain, but who move here in the future and meet the required conditions, will not need to apply for a residency card at all.
LESS PAPERWORK ON THE AGENDA
The royal decree has its origin in an agreement signed in Marseille in July 2000 by Spain, France, Germany and Italy. EU citizens in possession of an identification or passport issued in their own country should now be able to reside in Spain and if they meet the above mentioned requirements should not need any further identification than that which they already possess. In the case of British citizens, a passport would be the only documentation necessary to perform monetary transactions, or to apply for a driving licence. The right to vote in Spanish or European elections would also be granted on the presentation of the passport.
SAN PEDRO RESIDENTS ORGANISE MADRID PROTEST MARCH
Indignant residents also plan to cut N-340 in April and May
By David Eade
THE FEDERATION OF RESIDENTS' ASSOCIATIONS OF SAN PEDRO AND NUEVA ANDALUCÍA, LOCAL UNION BRANCHES AND SOME POLITICAL PARTIES ARE PLANNING TO MARCH ON MADRID IF THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS CONTINUES TO IGNORE THEIR REQUEST FOR THE UNDERPASS TO BE BUILT.
San Pedro has been waiting 12 years for an underpass to be built on the N-340 as it passes through the town. Forty thousand vehicles pass through the town each day making it one of Spain's worst traffic black spots.
The Madrid protest will be held on March 12. The federation of residents' associations will keep the list of those wishing to attend open until March 3. Anybody intending to travel to Madrid to take part needs to register before that date for a place on one of the official buses. Part of the reasons for the delay in giving the go-ahead for the underpass has been an on-going planning dispute between Marbella Town Hall, regional government and Madrid. However the Ombudsman, Enrique Múgica, recently ruled that central government had full competence to order the start of the project.
Anger in San Pedro has been heightened by the Ministry of Public Work's agreement to build an underpass through Sabinillas. After a few protests by local residents, who blocked the N-340, the ministry ordered an immediate start to an underpass through the town. Now San Pedro will start is own 'stop the traffic' campaign.
The secretary of the federation of resident's associations, Juan Antonio García, says the group will organise a new wave of protests by blocking the traffic as it passes through San Pedro. Two protests will be held in April and another in May to coincide with the local election campaigns.
WORK STARTS AGAIN ON BY-PASS
The Mayor of Marbella, Julián Muñoz, has announced that the traffic relief road to the south of San Pedro will be finished in three months time. The first phase of the by-pass between Las Petunias and El Ingenio was opened to traffic in the summer of 2001. The hydrographic confederation (CHS) blocked the works of the second phase, as too did regional government, on environmental grounds. The second phase is 2.2 kilometres long and connects El Ingenio with Guadalmina. Sr Muñoz has ordered the return of the construction machines declaring that he was recommencing the works for the benefit for the people of Marbella. He stressed that this new by-pass was badly needed, given that central government had not commissioned the N-340 underpass through San Pedro de Alcántara.
JOURNALISTS' ARRESTS TO BE RAISED IN BRUSSELS
By Davide Eade
The Partido Popular member of the European Parliament for Cádiz, Juan Ojeda Sanz, has presented a written complaint to the European Commission on the arrest of Spanish journalists by the Royal Gibraltar Police.
As previously reported in Costa del Sol News, the journalists were arrested on January 20 whilst they were covering a Greenpeace protest against the tanker 'Vemamagna' which acts as a floating refuelling point for ships in the Bay of Algeciras.
The MEP indicated in his letter to the EC that some members of the press association of the Campo de Gibraltar had brought a case against the RGP in the La Línea court. The journalists are claiming that the police acted in a violent and arbitrary manner, that they kept them in prison cells for nine hours and that they were held incommunicado for that period before finally being released without charge.
Sr Ojeda Sanz has told Brussels that the journalists believe the actions of the RGP were in violation of the right to freedom of expression, the right to report freely and the right of the citizens to be kept informed. Two journalists were arrested by the RGP on January 20 and they are due to appear in court in Gibraltar on March 4. Meanwhile the case that was recently presented by the Campo de Gibraltar and Cádiz press associations against the RGP to the La Línea court has been accepted by the local judges.
RUSSIAN MURDERED IN MARBELLA SHOOTING
By David Eade
A 32-YEAR-OLD RUSSIAN WAS KILLED AT AROUND 13.00 IN A WAREHOUSE USED FOR STORING HIRE CARS NEAR BANANA BEACH IN MARBELLA NOT FAR FROM THE LOCAL POLICE HEADQUARTERS.
Police were advised of the incident at around 18.00 on the same afternoon by the victim's girlfriend. They both shared a house in the Calle Antonio Belón in the centre of the town. The Russian had been killed by a single shot to his head close to his left ear. Police believe that there had been another two shots as three empty bullet casings were found nearby. Investigators have stated that they suspect the motive for the crime was a settling of accounts but they have not discounted the possibility of other hypothesis.
Police soon cordoned off the area and scientific teams carried out a thorough search of the murder scene. A young man, said to be a foreigner seated in a black foreign registered car parked near the scene of the shooting, was detained by the police and taken to the National Police headquarters. However, police would give no information on his detention.
Marbella's new National Police chief, Francisco Javier Migueláñez, attended the murder scene in person and oversaw the work of the police scientific unit. At 20.30 the duty judge at Marbella court ordered the body to be removed from the crime scene and ordered a news blackout on the investigations.
COIN HEALTH CENTRE IMPROVEMENTS
Emergency room and patient services benefit from renovations
By Oliver McIntyre
City and regional officials gathered at Coín's health centre Monday to inaugurate the recently completed improvements to the centre's emergency room and patient-services facilities. The renovation work included enlarging the emergency care area, with the addition of three new inter-connected treatment rooms, and an increase in the space devoted to admissions and reception, which now has four information windows to serve the public. The clinic also received upgraded furniture and equipment, as well as new technological and climate control systems.
Regional government's SAS health service paid for the nearly 200,000-euro improvement project at the Coín health centre. According to Guadalhorce health district director Maximiliano Vilaseca, a second phase of improvements, including renovations to the clinic's structure, are scheduled for later this year. The installation of an elevator in the two-story medical centre is also expected in the very near future.
BLOOD ANTICOAGULANT TREATMENTS
Monday also marked the launching of blood anticoagulant services in all of the Guadalhorce district's health centres. With the new service, the area's 800 patients receiving anticoagulant treatment will be able to avoid approximately 8,000 annual visits to the Hospital Clínico in Málaga. Patients with restricted mobility can even have their medication delivered to their homes by nurses from the district's health centres.
NEW HEALTH CENTRE OPENS IN VELEZ MALAGA
Major upgrade for regional hospital also announced
By Dave Jamieson
VÉLEZ-MÁLAGA'S SECOND HEALTH CENTRE IS NOW IN OPERATION. FRANCISCO VALLEJO, HEALTH COUNCILLOR AT THE JUNTA DE ANDALUCÍA, PERFORMED THE FORMAL OPENING OF THE VÉLEZ-NORTH CENTRE ON FRIDAY, AND THE DOORS OPENED FOR BUSINESS ON TUESDAY.
The centre is open from 8.00 until 21.00 and provides around 14,000 people with services including family medicine and paediatrics, physiotherapy, dentistry for infants, rehabilitation programmes, and help with quitting smoking.
The three-storey building, which covers 1,819 square metres and includes 16 consulting rooms, is a renovated 19th century building which was formerly the base for agricultural co-operatives. Conversion took two years at a cost of over a million euros to the Town Hall, with a further 339,000 euros from the Andaluz Health Service spent on equipment. There are 31 staff, including eight general practitioners, two paediatricians and six nurses, as well as a chemist, a vet, a social worker and technicians.
The inauguration last week took the form of an open day for local residents, with competitions for the children and entertainment from local choirs and dancers. In his opening speech, Sr Vallejo recalled that Vélez-Málaga had had to wait many years for the improved health care which the centre will bring, and congratulated the Mayor, Antonio Souvirón, for helping it to become a reality.
HOSPITAL COMARCAL NEXT ON THE LIST
During his visit to Vélez, the councillor also visited the Hospital Comarcal de la Axarquía where he announced an 4.5 million euro improvement project. Plans include a new accident and emergency unit, almost double the size of the present unit.
NEW COURTS FOR ESTEPONA
By David Eade
The provincial delegate of justice, Aurora Santos, has visited a site in the Parque Central in Estepona and will undertake a study to see if it is suitable for the town's new court house. The Mayoress of Estepona, Rosa Díaz, has set aside the land for the proposed justice building and will immediately cede the zone to the ministry if it proves to be acceptable.
The current court house in the Avenida Juan Carlos I is overcrowded and is having problems functioning efficiently. It houses three courts and the justice ministry wishes to add a fourth. To help ease the situation before a new court building is constructed Sra Díaz has offered to find provisional storage facilities elsewhere in the town for the court's archives.
Meanwhile improvements have been made to the Civil Registry after Estepona's delegate for commerce complained about the deficiencies and delays. Additional staff has now been recruited and the working hours have been extended. Aurora Santos said this would result in 'a notable improvement'.
ENGLISH TAXIS COMING TO BENALMADENA
Taxi drivers to get subsidies for half the cost of Austin cabs
By Oliver McIntyre
BENALMÁDENA'S ROADS MAY SOON START TO RESEMBLE THE STREETS OF LONDON - OR AT LEAST THE TAXICABS PLYING THOSE ROADS MIGHT, ANYWAY.
Town officials and taxi drivers last week took a close look at a sample of the Austin taxi cab that is soon to be made available to the town's cabbies - and at a steep discount. In an initiative set into motion by Mayor Enrique Bolín, taxi drivers who purchase one of the 39,000-euro vehicles can receive a 12,000-euro subsidy from the ONCE lottery and an additional 6,000 euros from the Town Hall.
The English-style taxis are powered by a 2,400-cubic-centimetre 100-horsepower diesel engine and have room for five passengers in the back. Perhaps most interestingly, they offer particularly convenient wheelchair access for the disabled, including a ramp that folds out from the rear side door. In fact, the two cabbies who have already placed orders for the new model are the only two taxi drivers in the town whose current cabs are adapted for wheelchair access.
SAFE IN ALL WAYS
The Austin cabs will also be equipped with a global positioning system (GPS) that will keep them in continual contact with the local police. The new vehicles will be added to the town's cab fleet over the next three years. Still to be decided: the colour (the town flag's orange-and-yellow colour scheme has been mentioned as one possibility).
RETRO DANCE CHAMPIONSHIP KICKS OFF
NEWS Staff Reporter
The 14th European Championship of Retro Dance was kicked off in style on Monday morning as the contestants arrived at the Town Hall in a parade of vintage cars. Mayor Pedro Fernández Montes, along with Culture and Festivals councillor Encarnación Navarro, received the dozens of international dancing duos and presided over the upbeat opening ceremonies.
The retro dance competition officially got underway on Monday night, as dancers hit the floor at the Palacio San Miguel sports facility, where the six-day event is taking place. From Monday night through this Saturday, 1,500 contestants, ranging from five to 80 years of age, will compete in a wide range of categories such as Waltz, Two-step, Tango, Classic Spanish Dance, Rock and Roll, Swing, and more. In his opening speech, Mayor Fernández Montes noted that the event has come a long way since the first edition was held in 1990, when it was restricted to the over-50 crowd and hosted 200 participants competing in just three categories.