News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week March 13th to March 19th 2003.
CRACKDOWN ON NOISE POLLUTION
Málaga reacts to new precedent set by Supreme Court
By Oliver McIntyre
THE SPANISH SUPREME COURT LAST WEEK UPHELD THE RULING OF A PALENCIA COURT THAT HAD FOUND THE OWNER OF A DISCO CRIMINALLY GUILTY FOR THE NOISE POLLUTION CREATED BY HIS CLUB. THE MAN FACES A PRISON SENTENCE OF TWO YEARS AND THREE MONTHS.
Just two days after the precedent-setting ruling was reported, Málaga announced that it will utilise criminal prosecution in its ongoing battle against noise polluting bars and clubs. According to city officials, the designation of noise pollution as criminal will be determined by two factors: the level of noise (if it is severe enough to cause physical or psychological damage), and the repetition of the offence.
The potential fines and punishment for criminal charges of noise pollution are far greater than those for the traditional civil charges. While Málaga's civil code establishes fines of between 600 euros (for minor first-time offences) and 60,000 euros (for extreme and repeat offences), the criminal charges can bring prison sentences of between six months and four years, as well as lifelong bans from the club or disco business.
City officials, police, and neighbourhood groups indicate that the Supreme Court's precedent-setting ruling will provide a stronger incentive for clubs, bars and other establishments to be more mindful of the level of noise they create. Since January of 2002, police have cited 200 businesses for creating excessive noise.
COSTA TOWNS TO BENEFIT
With the city of Málaga so quickly latching onto the new precedent set by the Supreme Court ruling, observers expect that other Costa towns will likely follow suit. Many residents of the tourism-heavy towns along the Costa del Sol have reported repeated problems with certain bars and discos located near the areas where they live. The threat of criminal prosecution for noise pollution could provide local officials a new weapon in their battle against repeat offenders.
CARLOS HAYA SCORES A SPANISH FIRST
Málaga heralds good prospects for diabetes patients
By Dave Jamieson
MÁLAGA'S CARLOS HAYA HOSPITAL WAS DELUGED WITH PHONE CALLS LAST WEEK, AFTER IT WAS REVEALED THAT PIONEERING WORK THERE COULD HELP PAVE THE WAY FOR A DIABETES CURE.
A 37-year-old man recently received new pancreatic islets and kidneys at the medical centre, following the death of a 66-year-old Granada woman who left her kidneys, liver and pancreas as donor organs. The transplant technique has been under development in various countries, but Spain's first success came at the Málaga medical centre as the culmination of a 10-year research programme in association with Madrid's Hospital Clínico, during which two previous attempts had to be abandoned.
The breakthrough came in July 2000, when a Canadian research team developed a protocol resulting in 80 per cent of those treated not having to take insulin a year later. The head of Carlos Haya's Immunology Department visited Edmonton to learn more, and, since then, the Málaga team has attempted to replicate the process.
Due to the difficulty in removing the tiny islets from the donor pancreas, the operation to extract them, and to transplant them and the donor kidneys to the recipient, took 37 hours. The islets constitute just one per cent of the pancreas, but are vital to the normal production of insulin.
It is estimated that there are 4,500 sufferers of type-one diabetes in the province of Málaga, of which up to 10 per cent could benefit from the transplant procedure. It has been performed on 151 patients in other countries, with an 85 per cent success rate.
By midday on the day following the announcement of the transplant, Carlos Haya had received over 100 calls from all over Spain enquiring about treatment. However, physiology professor Bernat Soria warned that, while the Málaga team had made an important step, it is 'important to be prudent' because it is not possible to carry out transplants on all diabetes patients 'tomorrow'. Both the Málaga Association of Diabetics (Adima) and the Spanish Diabetic Federation have asked for additional funding for research, and a national plan for the development of such transplant operations.
DRUGS DESTROYED IN MALAGA
By Dave Jamieson and David Eade
Almost half the illegal drugs seized in Spain are incinerated in the province of Málaga. Government sources indicate that last year 182,000 kilos of drugs, mainly hashish, were destroyed on court orders, following police operations in Málaga, Granada and Jaén. According to government sources, the amount of drugs being seized has led to problems of storage. In some cases, courts cannot order seized drugs to be destroyed until an analysis is completed, and with the number of cases involved, a backlog and delays have become inevitable. Some Government storage facilities are reported to be holding as much as 30,000 kilos of hashish, awaiting a laboratory report before destruction can proceed.
CÁDIZ MAJOR HASH ZONE
Meanwhile, the PSOE party in Cádiz, citing police figures indicating that 77 per cent of all hashish seized in Spain is confiscated in the province, has called upon the Government to carry out a major campaign against drug trafficking. The provincial government agrees that drug trafficking is a major issue in Cádiz and in Andalucía as a whole, and indicates that it is already utilising multiple resources to combat the problem.
BENALMÁDENA URBAN PLAN REVISIONS APPROVED
Marina expansion plans still in limbo
By Oliver McIntyre
BENALMÁDENA MAYOR ENRIQUE BOLÍN LAST WEEK EXPRESSED SATISFACTION AT REGIONAL GOVERNMENT'S APPROVAL OF HIS REVISIONS TO THE TOWN'S URBAN GROWTH PLAN (PGOU), WHICH GAVE THE GREEN LIGHT TO MOST, BUT NOT ALL, OF THE MAYOR'S PROJECTS FOR THE FUTURE.
The approved revisions include an increase in the number of homes that can be built in the town - from 46,000 in the old PGOU to 48,293 - in order to meet the needs of a projected population of nearly 170,000 inhabitants. Regional government also gave the nod to the rezoning of 600,000 square metres of land for the construction of a high-tech hospital, as well as to the construction of a five-star hotel in Fuente de la Salud. Regarding the latter, Mayor Bolín assured residents of the area that the two main streets leading into the urbanisation would be privatised, providing resident-only access. Other big projects approved in the PGOU revision include the creation of a monorail system and a microbus line.
TWO PROJECTS NIXED
Two significant projects were cut out of the PGOU revisions as approved by regional government: the construction of a 15-story building in Arroyo de la Miel and the enlargement of the Benalmádena marina. The marina project has been in a start-and-stop mode for some time, as plans and revisions travel back and forth between the Town Hall, regional government, and central government. With the ruling on the PGOU, it appears the project is once again stalled - at least for the time being. Opposition parties in the Town Hall fixed on the elements of the plan that were cut by regional government, citing them as proof that the Mayor's urban planning policies are erroneous and unacceptable.
MARBELLA COUNCILLORS HELD TO ACCOUNT
By David Eade
The Tribunal of Accounts has been carrying out an audit and investigation into the finances of Marbella Town Hall between 1991 and 1999. The official enquiry is already showing results, with various members of the GIL government team in Marbella being called to account for 2.9 million euros of municipal company debt.
The Tribunal has already issued six general embargoes against the assets of former and sitting councillors of the GIL party at Marbella Town Hall. Municipal company Limpieza 2000, with a 1.4-million-euro debt, is the worst identified so far, but it is predicted that the most serious debt is yet to be revealed for Eventos 2000.
While the investigations continue, José María del Nido, lawyer for Marbella Mayor Julían Muñoz (GIL), has already described the amounts claimed by the tribunal as 'ridiculous'.
MARBELLA'S SMALL BUSINESSES IN CRISIS
Major commercial centres blamed for business closures
By David Eade
ACCORDING TO FIGURES RELEASED BY THE ASSOCIATION OF SMALL AND MEDIUM BUSINESSES OF MARBELLA (APYMEM), AROUND 800 OF THE TOWN'S SHOPS - MANY OF THEM GROCERS - CLOSED THEIR DOORS BETWEEN 1999 AND 2001. APYMEM PRESIDENT ANTONIO NÚÑEZ DESCRIBED THE DEVELOPMENT AS A 'SERIOUS SITUATION'.
Sr Núñez laid the main blame for the business closures at the doors of the two new large commercial centres established in the municipality. However, Apymem believes that there are other factors at play as well. Sr Núñez criticised the lack of leisure infrastructure and parking places, traffic chaos, the deficiency of public transport, as well as the decision to move the location of the provisions market.
In a study carried out in 1997, before the opening of the second commercial centre, independent consultants predicted a major drop in the percentage of trade that would flow to small businesses over a six-year period. The consultants' predictions have come true, with small traders now accounting for only 30 per cent of the turnover in Marbella. The two large commercial centres claim the remaining 70 per cent.
Apymem has condemned Marbella's GIL administration for now proposing the creation of an open commercial trading area in the town centre as a method of combating the influence of the commercial centres. Sr Núñez bluntly stated, 'they are intending to remedy a situation of their own making'.
Now the small businesses of Marbella and San Pedro, which total 900 in number, are planning to fight back. They intend to form an association of businesses, which as its first act will carry out a detailed survey of the local market, including an investigation into the tendencies and habits of consumers and a study of marketing.
CONFUSION OVER PSOE CANDIDATE LIST
By David Eade
The PSOE campaign for the local elections in Marbella has got off to a bumpy start. The list of candidates presented by Isabel Garcia Marcos, who is standing for mayor, has been rejected by the party's federal commission.
The commission's action came after the PSOE branch in San Pedro voiced its opposition to the composition of the list. However, Isabel Garcia Marcos has made it clear that she plans to resubmit the list without any changes, noting that it was passed by a clear majority of local party members.
On March 20, the federal commission will close the lists for municipalities with over 50,000 voters. The party's provincial secretary, Marisa Bustinduy, said the argument over the candidate list is an internal matter and she does not believe it will cost the party in the May 25 elections.
MÁLAGA'S HOLY WEEK PROCESSIONS FACE PROBLEMS
Calle Larios refurbishment may cause difficulties for horses
By Dave Jamieson
WITH THIS YEAR'S SEMANA SANTA PROCESSIONS ONLY FOUR WEEKS AWAY, MÁLAGA'S RECENTLY REFURBISHED CALLE LARIOS IS PROVING AN INSURMOUNTABLE OBSTACLE FOR SOME PARTICIPANTS IN THE TRADITIONAL EVENT.
Several of the floats, which are processed by the city's religious brotherhoods, are accompanied by horses, which may have difficulty walking safely upon the new marble surface of the roadway. However, different groups have contrasting views on how serious the problem will be.
Ángel González, the director of the squadron of Fusionadas - the brotherhood to which Antonio Banderas belongs - explained that it was too risky for his horse riders to travel through Calles Larios and Granada because of the slippery nature of the marble, which, with the accumulation of wax from candles carried by penitents, could 'turn into a skating rink'. One solution proposed was to place coverings of plastic on the horses' shoes so they would adhere better to the ground, but these could then slip on normal asphalt surfaces.
The Guardia Civil, whose horses accompany one of the Wednesday Holy Week processions, are more optimistic. They are considering rubber coverings for the horseshoes, but point out they have a much shorter distance to cover than the Fusionadas. The National Police, who accompany a different Wednesday procession, say they may use plastic horseshoes, but do not foresee problems. And Málaga's local police, who march on the Monday of Semana Santa, have yet to make a decision.
Málaga Mayor Francisco de la Torre has asked Town Hall technicians to look at the possibility of laying a temporary asphalt surface over the marble for the duration of Semana Santa. Meanwhile, the opposition PSOE party has criticised the Mayor's governing team for its 'lack of foresight' in the matter. d the argument over the candidate list is an internal matter and she does not believe it will cost the party in the May 25 elections.
TORREMOLINOS MEN LEARN TO COOK
By Oliver McIntyre
Torremolinos Town Hall is teaching the municipality's male residents how to cook. In a programme developed by the Women's Issues Department and aimed at promoting equality between men and women, 20 men are currently taking the cooking lessons, which started last week and will run through the entire month of March. There is already a 40-person waiting list for future classes.
The culinary course takes place in the 'mercado municipal', where the men meet for a one-and-a-half-hour class every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Chef and cooking teacher José Francisco Leiva says he has designed the course with a gradual increase in the degree of difficulty of the dishes, and he is also taking suggestions from the students themselves. The newly kitchen-friendly men, for their part, mostly indicate that they are taking the classes because they want to be able to share cooking responsibilities with their spouses. There are also some single men who want to improve their ability to cook for themselves.
For many of these chefs-in-training, the Town Hall cooking course represents their first time in front of a stove. In their first few classes, the men have learned how to make several types of salad, two soups, and a variety of cream sauces. Future classes will tackle more substantive fare, such as meat, seafood and poultry dishes. While some of the students were perhaps a little timid the first time they donned their aprons, by all accounts they are really cooking now.