News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week March 4th to March 10th 2004.
INSTANT FINES FOR MOTORISTS
Hi-tec SUVA patrol cars to be used in Málaga
By Oliver Mcintyre
A NEW, HI-TEC TRAFFIC-CONTROL SYSTEM CAME INTO EFFECT ON MARCH 1, IN WHICH THE GUARDIA CIVIL CAN FINE DRIVERS ON THE SPOT, USING ONBOARD CREDIT-CARD SCANNERS.
The new Uni-Personnel Highway Patrol (SUVA) consists of one-man patrol cars equipped with specialised technologies, including video. There are 301 of the new SUVA patrol cars throughout the country, and the province of Málaga, with 18, comes in third behind only Valencia and Madrid for the greatest number of the new vehicles.
ONE MAN BAND
The SUVA units are manned by a single Guardia officer, rather than the usual two-officer team. To ensure officer safety, two patrol units operate in tandem in a tightly defined area of motorway, so that an officer can respond in a matter of minutes to any emergency situation experienced by his colleague.
Rather than the traditional system of pulling in front of vehicles to pull them over, the new SUVA units come up from behind indicating the driver to pull over to the right side of the road. Once on the side of the road, the officer’s in-car camera records the ensuing interaction with the driver, who is to stay in his or her vehicle as the officer approaches.
CONCERN FOR OFFICERS
Despite assurances from central Government officials, including sub-delegate Carlos Rubio, of sufficient officer safety under the new solo-officer system, the Unified Guardia Civil Association (AUGC), which represents officers, has voiced concern. According to the AUGC; “Patrolling alone, without the constant support of someone there to cover your back, means greater danger for the officers.”
The association also complains that the officers manning the new SUVA vehicles received just a single day of special training. The new units are currently patrolling during daylight hours only, and exclusively on motorways and double carriageways.
REGISTERED FOREIGN WORKERS BREAK 100,000 BARRIER
Foreign workers registered in Andalucia up 19.8 per cent
By David Eade
THE NUMBER OF FOREIGN WORKERS AFFILIATED TO THE SOCIAL SERVICES SYSTEM IN ANDALUCÍA HAS FOR THE FIRST TIME BROKEN THE 100,000 BARRIER.
According to the data published in the Work Statistics Bulletin (BEL) issued by the Ministry of Labour the number of foreigners registered in Andalucía has trebled in the past five years. Last year the total reached 101,416 up 19.8 per cent on 2002 and more than triple the 38,792 registered in 1999.
MÁLAGA TAKES THE LEAD
Málaga is the province with the highest total of foreign workers with 36,163 in 2003 followed by Almería and Huelva with 26,338 and 12,740 respectively. The total in Málaga increased last year by 6,148 (20 per cent) and in Huelva by 6,531 (105.18 per cent) but the total in Almería actually dropped, the only province in Andalucía to do so. Almería figures were down 1,042 a drop of 3.80 per cent.
Of the other provinces Cádiz totals 4,630 foreign workers (17.33 per cent rise), Córdoba 2,622 (26.27 per cent), Granada 6,782 (19.29 per cent), Jaén 4,070 (49.68 per cent) and Sevilla 8071 equating to a 20.44 per cent rise.
The latest data on the total number of registered immigrants in Spain, issued by the Permanent Observatory of Immigration (OPI), showed the total for 2001 as 1,243,919. The majority of them, 865,544 (65 per cent), live in Andalucía, Madrid, Cataluña and the Comunidad Valenciana.
Briton killed in rain-swollen Mijas river
NEWS Staff Reporter
A man believed to be of British origin was found dead in the waters of the Arroyo Las Pasadas in the Entrerríos area of Mijas last week. Guardia Civil investigators indicated that it appeared the victim, tentatively identified as a British man around 60 years of age, drowned to death after being swept into the heavier-than-normal current of the rain-swollen river.
The body was found naked, except for socks, and showed signs of blunt trauma suffered while being swept downstream, but no other injuries or indication of violence.
Investigators’ initial theory is that the man was caught off guard by the unusually swift current while trying to cross the river about a kilometre upstream of where he was found. There were no missing-persons reports on file with local law enforcement agencies, and a definitive identification of the victim may take some time, according to investigators.
Málaga fraud cons ‘thousands’
By Dave Jamieson
Six people have been arrested in connection with a fraud in Málaga. The detained, all believed to be Nigerian, are alleged to have taken in their victims, all of them foreigners, in a scam connected with lottery prizes. Police mounted a number of operations in the city centre and two suburbs, and are reported to have confiscated computers along with forged official and financial documents.
The arrested men are alleged to have chosen victims from Asia and North America, advising them by letter or e-mail that they had won a lottery prize for which the conmen held the official document of confirmation. Those who fell for the trick were asked to meet the supposed administration costs of obtaining their winnings, including taxes, notary’s fees and transfer charges, to be paid by bank transfer into accounts which had been opened under false identities by the gang. Although investigators have not revealed exactly how many were taken in by the gang, they indicated that the total ran into ‘thousands’.
PSOE set to rule Andalucía with absolute majority
Opinion poll shows socialist party gaining strength in regional elections
By David Eade
WHEN ANDALUCÍA GOES TO THE POLLS TO CHOOSE A NEW REGIONAL GOVERNMENT ON MARCH 14 - THE SAME DAY AS THE SPANISH NATIONAL ELECTIONS - THE SOCIALIST PSOE PARTY MAY ACHIEVE AN ABSOLUTE MAJORITY IN THE REGIONAL PARLIAMENT.
According to an opinion poll for the Cádiz-based media company Grupo Joly, the PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero Español) has 44.5 per cent of the vote, giving it 53-55 seats. The poll gave the conservative Partido Popular 37.8 per cent of votes (44-46 seats), the far-left Izquierda Unida 7.6 per cent (5-7seats) and the nationalist Partido Andalucista 6.8 per cent (3-4 seats). The other runners, the Partido Socialista Andalucía and Foro Andalucía, received just 1.5 per cent and .7 per cent of the hypothetical vote respectively, which would not translate into any seats.
According to the poll, the PSOE's support is slightly up from the 2000 elections, giving it between one and three seats more than its current 52. By contrast, the PP vote is slightly down from the 38.1 per cent four years ago, which could see it losing up to two seats. Both the IU and PA have also seen a slight drop in support, which could cost each party a seat or two.
According to the Grupo Joly survey, the PSOE will top the vote in each of the provinces of Andalucía, with the PP in second place throughout. The highest support for the PSOE is in Sevilla, where 49.1 per cent of those polled pledged their votes to the socialists as opposed to 31 per cent to the PP. The closest-run battle is in Granada, with PSOE showing 42.8 per cent support compared with the PP's 41.4. In Málaga province the PSOE has 41.2 per cent of the vote compared to 38.7 for the PP, almost a direct reversal of the 2000 vote allocation between the two parties.
RACE TO THE END
If the voting on polling day falls in line with the opinion poll, the current president of the regional government, Manuel Chaves, will be back for a further term in office. In the present parliament the PSOE governs with the support of the PA. The final days of campaigning are likely to heat up as Chaves' party seeks those extra votes that will give it an absolute majority over all other parties.
Hikers find dead body in Alhaurín de la Torre
By Oliver McIntyre
A group of hikers walking late Saturday afternoon in the Llano de Los Pajaritos area near the Alhaurín de la Torre quarries found the dead body of an elderly man. The hikers notified the Guardia Civil, who dispatched a patrol car to the area. Officers had to leave their vehicle and walk about a half-hour to reach the spot where the body was located. Their investigation of the scene and the body turned up no signs of violence and, while the exact cause of death has yet to be determined, their initial theory is that the man, identified only as being about 70 years of age, accidentally fell while out walking.
Due to the late hour of the evening and the difficulty of access, the Guardia officers decided to leave the body overnight and recover it the next morning. With the assistance of a helicopter, the recovery team picked up the corpse by around 10.00 Sunday and then transferred it to the Parcemasa morgue for autopsy, where the cause of death and the man's identity will be investigated. There were no missing-person reports on file with the local authorities and the man was carrying no identification.
Fuengirola to control new pubs and discos
NEWS Staff Reporter
The concentration of late-night bars and discos in Fuengirola town centre has long been a major complaint of local residents. Now the Town Hall has passed a motion aimed at preventing the situation from deteriorating further by creating a specially protected zone where the granting of opening licences for establishments with music will be restricted.
Each protected area is to be known as a 'Zona Especial Ambientalmente Protegida'. The Town Hall will then apply the new regional-government licensing laws, which prohibit activities involving music in zones declared by municipal authorities to be 'protected'. Current license owners will also have to meet the requirements of the new law when they renew or modify their permissions.
The Town Hall has approved the granting of protected-zone status to the area within the perimeter of Calles Churruca, Santa Amalia, Condes de San Isidro, Matías Sáenz de Tejada, Ramón y Cajal, Lamo de Espinosa, Paseo Marítimo and Molino de Viento. In addition, it intends to create an additional zone protecting Calles Francisco Cano, Poeta Salvador Rueda, Juan Breva, Iglesia, Trinidad, Salinas and between Calle Salvador Rueda and the Paseo Marítimo.
Vélez health centre wins quality accreditation
By Dave Jamieson
A health centre in Vélez-Málaga has become the first in the province of Málaga and only the second in Andalucía to receive a major recognition from the regional government. The Vélez Sur centre was awarded the Junta de Andalucía's accreditation of Advanced Quality at a ceremony last week, after it achieved 100 per cent of the criteria required. A three-month review of service quality, beginning in November, resulted in the accreditation, which indicates a high level of patient assistance. User satisfaction, accessibility and continuity of services, confidentiality of clinical histories, development opportunities for employees, and improvements in the building and its equipment were all taken into account in the assessment.
The director general of the Agencia de Calidad Sanitaria de Andalucía, Sagrario Almazán, said the recognition awarded to Vélez Sur, one of three health centres in the municipality, affirms the quality of service it offers and will further increase the confidence of its users. He added that the centre will now be subjected to ongoing evaluation with the double object of maintaining and improving quality.
Town hall 'organised' crime wave continues
NEWS Staff Reporter
Another two town halls in the Axarquía have been hit by robberies in what police believe is a wave of organised crime. The thefts have been continuing for more than a year and exhibit the same methods of operation - the removal of computer equipment in overnight break-ins. Last week, the town halls in both La Viñuela and Moclinejo became targets. At Moclinejo, four computers, a television, a video recorder, a digital camera and a printer were taken, while at La Viñuela the thieves not only helped themselves to four more computers, but also removed a strongbox that held the Town Council's title deeds.
In January, the El Borge Town Hall was forced to cancel a series of computer tuition classes after newly delivered equipment was stolen, along with details of some local tax payments. Last month Benamocarra's municipal school was robbed of computer equipment valued at 7,500 euros, while Alfarnate, Alfarnatejo and Macharaviaya suffered similar attacks last year. Investigators from the Guardia Civil believe that a single group of organised criminals is probably responsible for the ongoing wave of crime targeting the area's town halls.
Regional government and golf industry at odds over
By Oliver Mcintyre
DRAFT LEGISLATION DRAWN UP BY THE JUNTA DE ANDALUCÍA’S ENVIRONMENT DEPARTMENT FOR REGULATING THE DEVELOPMENT OF GOLF COURSES HAS CAUSED A FUROR IN THE GOLF SECTOR, WITH MULTIPLE INDUSTRY ASSOCIATIONS JOINING FORCES TO DENOUNCE THE PROPOSED LAWS.
According to the Junta, the draft legislation is aimed at ensuring ‘sustainable development’, and at ‘regularising’ the industry. It identifies old rubble or rubbish tips or closed-down quarries as the ideal locations for new courses. It also stipulates that new courses should be built no less than 10 kilometres from existing ones, and that in towns where there are already one or more courses the developer would need to justify the need for a new one. Other restrictions include a maximum of one home per hectare of golf course and a prohibition of the creation of courses on land in the public domain. In addition, there would be a two-year deadline for existing courses to come into compliance with environmental management requirements, like the use of reclaimed water for irrigation.
The Association of Residential and Sports Tourism Promoters (Promotur), the Andalucía Golf Federation, the Costa del Sol Tourism Industry Association and the Andalucían Federation of Towns and Provinces will all unite to confront the Junta regarding the proposed legislation, according to Promotur President Luis Dávila. He says the industry supports sustainability, ‘but in the framework of development’. Ángel de la Riva, president of the Andalucía Golf Federation, warns that if passed into law in its current form, the draft legislation would ‘kill the chicken that lays the golden eggs’.
40 MORE GOLF COURSES IN LINE
There are over 40 existing golf courses in the province of Málaga alone, and the Junta is currently reviewing more than 40 applications for the creation of new courses. Region-wide, the golf industry represents well over a billion euros of annual revenues. The Junta has indicated that before finalising any legislation it will consult with industry representatives and other interested parties. It insists that the draft is merely an internal working document in preparation for the creation of future legislation. In addition, Environment head Fuensanta Coves later in the week made comments in which she appeared to pull back from some of the stiff requirements in the draft, most notably indicating that reclaimed-water use for irrigation would not be ‘an indispensable condition’ for the approval of new courses.
Use it or lose it in Mijas
By Oliver McIntyre
Vehicles left on the streets or in public parking lots of Mijas for over a month are to be considered ‘urban waste’ and disposed of by the Town Hall. A new municipal law defines the abandoned vehicles as junk and establishes that they will be removed from the street and scrapped.
Cars that have already been hauled off the streets by the Town Hall and that have not been claimed by their owners for over two months are also now defined as rubbish and will be sent to the scrap yard. In the last year, the local police hauled away 412 cars, freeing up over two kilometres of parking space, according to municipal records.
Prior to removing an abandoned vehicle, the Town Hall will notify its owner and allow 15 days for the owner to move it. If the owner fails to take action and the vehicle is hauled away and scrapped, the owner may face a fine of up to 30,000 euros.