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Week June 10th to June 16th 2004.
JIMENA AIRPORT SQUABBLE
Campo de Gibraltar mayors want airport in spite of local dissent
BY DAVID EADE
THE MAYORS OF THE MUNICIPALITIES THAT MAKE UP THE CAMPO DE GIBRALTAR REGION BELIEVE THE REGION NEEDS AN AIRPORT DESPITE LOCAL RESIDENTS AND EVIRONMENTALISTS BEING FIRMLY AGAINST THE IDEA.
At a recent meeting of the association of town halls of the Campo de Gibraltar area, the Mayor of Jimena, Ildefonso Gómez, stated that the airport scheme was good for his municipality and that they also had the backing of the province of Cádiz.
There is no doubt that the Cadiz region could benefit from direct air links to promote both tourism and business. Most mayors would welcome the Jimena scheme, especially as it would mean a political hot potato would not be forced on their own residents.
GIBRALTAR AIRPORT PREFERENCE
Nonetheless, the majority of mayors have said they would prefer to see the joint use of Gibraltar’s airport rather than a new one being constructed in the area. The benefits of Gibraltar are twofold, the airport already exists and as take-offs and landings are over the sea, there is little noise contamination.
Indeed La Línea Town Hall has recently agreed to purchase a large area of land running alongside the Rock’s airport from the Spanish ministry of defence. Mayor Juan Carlos Juárez has stated that should joint-use become a reality a terminal would be built on the site.
Two ecologist groups came together on the ‘World Environment Day’ to protest against the plans to build a privately funded airport within the municipality of Jimena de la Frontera.
Over 100 activists from ‘Ecologistas en Acción’ and ‘Agaden’ were joined by many local people including British residents to voice their opposition to the airport project. Many fear that the Mayor of Jimena, Ildefonso Gómez, will approve the scheme, especially as it comes with private backing.
The spokesperson for ‘Ecologistas en Acción’ in the Campo de Gibraltar, Antonio Muñoz, told the press: “The construction of the airport is going to be an outrage against the environment. Its construction is unnecessary because in the zone there are two airports close-by at Málaga and Jérez.
“The majority of the people of the region and especially those living in San Roque and Jimena are against the construction of the airport and the acoustic contamination it will cause. A person who buys a property in Sotogrande is not going to want to constantly hear the sound of aircraft as they fly over their home.” Sr Muñoz added that the airport would damage rather than boost tourism and spell the death-knell for the rapidly growing rural tourism sector.
Sr Muñoz stated that this protest was just the opening shot in a campaign to stop the airport being built by the Irish-led company Newco.
'British spies' row in Málaga rumbles on
BY DAVE JAMIESON
THE DIPLOMATIC FALLOUT FROM THE DETENTION OF TWO BRITISH COMMANDOS IN MÁLAGA BY POLICE WHO MISTOOK THEM FOR DRUG SMUGGLERS (CDSN LAST WEEK) HAS CONTINUED WITH SPECULATION, CONTRADICTIONS AND POLEMIC.
In the early hours of May 18, local officers in the city spotted a suspicious white van in a beach area. They followed the van to the Peñon del Cuervo, where it was stopped by four patrol units and its two occupants detained. The vehicle’s contents were inspected and described later by police as “a large quantity of military apparatus, including two outboard engines of great power, a Zodiac semi-rigid vessel, wet suits, breathing apparatus and other diving equipment all bearing the Royal Navy crest”. In addition, officers found two padlocked boxes also bearing the naval crest, but were unable to open them as the detained men denied have the keys, so triggering speculation about their contents.
Spanish newspapers, which first published the names and ages of the two detained men, suggested that the incident was related to the presence of a nuclear submarine, HMS Trenchant, in Gibraltar, but the Ministry of Defence in London categorically denied this, stating that the equipment was for “training purposes”. The MoD added that the two marines had driven in a British car through France and Spain and had planned to stop overnight in Málaga, before continuing west to Gibraltar. Spanish sources contradicted this, however, claiming their vehicle was a Gibraltar registered Volkswagen Sprinter van heading east, travelling away from Gibraltar.
Last week, the Government’s subdelegate in Málaga, Hilario López Luna, confirmed that the episode was under investigation by Spain’s National Intelligence Centre but that neither the Guardia Civil nor the National Police was pursuing it, since it was regarded as an intelligence matter. Sr López Luna, who is security co-ordinator for Málaga Town Hall and, as such, one of those responsible for local police actions, also said he was awaiting responses from both the Málaga’s Local Police Corps and the Guardia Civil.
A further contradiction came last week when the British Defence spokeswoman in Gibraltar, Katherine Prudhoe, talked of the incident, describing it as a “misunderstanding” between the two countries which had originated from a failure to advise the British Embassy in Spain of the commandoes’ journey through the country. She claimed that the pair were not on a secret mission and that they were not members of the special forces. Her explanation, however, was different from the version given to Málaga police by telephone on the night of the incident by the commander in chief at Britain’s Royal Navy base in Gibraltar. Giving his name as Mr Coleman, he is reported to have said the two men were on a secret mission transporting material urgently needed for manoeuvres by a nuclear submarine a couple of days later. The pair were released after a few hours but the British press has claimed that they had later been forced to quit the service after a “bungled” mission.
BLAIR AND ZAPATERO DISCUSS THE ISSUE
The case of Málaga’s “British spies” was also on the agenda at last Thursday’s meeting in London between new Spanish premier José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and British PM Tony Blair. The president said in a later press conference that he was satisfied with the explanation he had received.
A thousand Marbella homes under threat
By David Eade
MORE THAN 1,000 HOMES IN MARBELLA, AS WELL AS VARIOUS COMMERCIAL CENTRES AND HOTELS, ARE UNDER THREAT FROM THE REQUIREMENTS LAID DOWN BY THE REGIONAL GOVERNMENT'S PROVINCIAL DELEGATION OF PUBLIC WORKS, WHICH IS DEMANDING THE REVISION OF 25 TOWN PLANNING LICENCES.
The announcement was made by the provincial delegate for Public Works, José María Ruíz Povedano, whose organisation undertook a town planning inspection in April, under article 190 of the Andalucía law on town planning ordinances (LOUA). Sr Povedano stated that his delegation had requested Marbella Town Hall to review these licences and take action against the illegal planning permissions.
The Andalucía Supreme Court has suspended 36 town planning licences, with another five being considered by the courts. In addition, the Confederación Hidrográfica del Sur (CHS) is looking into four cases involving infractions against public water resources.
It appears that property developers and constructors have had little control placed over them in Marbella since 1991. In the last five years the Town Hall department responsible for town planning has not issued any proceeding against those who have built illegally. Indeed, only around ten such actions have been issued since the GIL party came to power in 1991.
JESUS GIL - STILL CONTROVERSIAL
Even as the real estate controversies tied so closely to his administration roiled on, around a thousand people attended a funeral mass in honour of Jesús Gil in the Iglesia de la Encarnación in Marbella. However, the town is divided on how the ex-mayor should be honoured after his death.
Former GIL councillor and current Marbella Mayor Marisol Yagüe stated, "Gil is deserving respect and a homage." Deputy mayor and Partido Andalucista councillor Carlos Fernández said: "He should receive the same tribute as other mayors." However, Juan Antonio García, of the residents association of San Pedro, questioned why "make a homage to a criminal?"
Burglar threatens priest's life in church break-in
NEWS Staff Reporter
Torremolinos police last week arrested a 28-year-old man who allegedly broke into the Iglesia del Cristo Resucitado church in the El Calvario neighbourhood and, brandishing a screwdriver, threatened to kill the parish priest if he did not hand over some money.
It was in the early morning hours of Wednesday that man entered parish priest José Pulido's bedroom at the church, held up the screwdriver and demanded money. Despite the assailant saying he would kill him, Father Pulido refused, and the man suddenly ran off, leaving the church and fleeing into the street.
The police found the suspect, Spaniard J.A.J.O., at the intersection of Avenida de los Manantiales and Calle Río Subordán. They disarmed him of the screwdriver and took him into custody. Further inspection of the church revealed damage to several doors that had been pried open, as well as to a piece of furniture police believe the burglar broke into in search of something of value. Nothing was found to be missing.
Father Pulido said that he hopes the man who threatened to kill him will receive the treatment he needs and be returned quickly to society. The Spanish press quoted the priest as saying: "It appears he has problems with drugs, like so many others; what they need is for us to help them so they can break out of that world with no future."
Business owners protest at poor state of Estepona’
BY DAVID EADE
OVER 600 PUBLIC SIGNATURES HAVE BEEN COLLECTED BY BUSINESS OWNERS IN ESTEPONA’S PUERTO DEPORTIVO IN A PROTEST ABOUT THE ABANDONED STATE OF THE PORT ZONE.
The owners of the various businesses that operate in the port claim that the company that has the concession to run the zone, Marinas del Mediterráneo, has not complied with its obligations.
Each business pays 470 euros a month for communal services such as cleaning, security and maintenance of the port. However some traders have stated that on Sunday mornings they have had to clear up vomit, broken bottles and sanitary items themselves. In addition they are also concerned about security, as several bars have been robbed in recent weeks, one with violence.
BRITON’S INTERNET CAFÉ ROBBED
One of the premises that suffered a robbery was the Coffee@Café.Com internet café owned by Briton, Ashley Walsh. Mr Walsh, from Surrey, opened his state-of-the art internet café last October. Thieves broke through the security door at night and stole the till draw which contained only a small cash float. Thankfully they totally ignored thousands of euros worth of computer equipment but none-the-less Mr Walsh told Costa del Sol News that it was a very upsetting experience.
WATER SUPPLY COMPLAINTS
The businesses also have a string of complaints involving the water supply and terraces. The president of the association of traders, Pepe Martín, and the councillor for commerce, Cristina Rodríguez, have held a meeting with the port traders and have offered to act as intermediaries in negotiations with the port concessionaires.
Rincón suffers again
By Dave Jamieson
In a town caught by immense surprise with the torrential rains of late March flooding much of the town and causing extensive damage, the journalists of Rincón de la Victoria became the latest to be caught off guard at a Town Hall press conference last week. The Councillor for Fairs and Fiestas, Belén Caballero, had called the meeting to announce the outcome of a concert on May 28, advertised as a event to raise funds for local people who had suffered losses as a result of the inundation. So, when she told the gathering that the balance was under 300 euros, eyebrows were raised, but there was worse to come.
BENEFIT CONCERT A SCAM
The Town Hall now allege that the original promoter of the concert ran a fraudulent operation. The councillor explained that two days after the floods, the Town Hall received a call claiming to be from the agent of Málaga TV and music star Fran Perea, but now known to be an impostor, offering to stage a benefit concert for the victims. The caller, who called himself Kiko Lubián, then visited the town and offered the services of other well-known artistes. Alarm bells only began to ring on the day of the concert’s publicity launch, when Lubián failed to attend, after which calls were made to the artists promised and their recording companies. The scam was uncovered, and it was established a similar fraud had earlier been perpetrated in Zamora. Finally, on May 13, Bélen Caballero reported the situation to police officers. However, the Town Hall decided to go ahead and organise a concert for May 28 themselves, but attracted a disappointing crowd of just 1,700 instead of the anticipated 6,000, generating ticket sales of only 21,050 euros. With costs totalling 20,716 euros, the balance was an equally disappointing 284 euros.
GOOD NEWS FROM THE GOVERNMENT
Meanwhile, the town received some better news when the Government gave the green light for funds to finance emergency repairs to the damage caused in late March. The Department of the Environment is to provide 900,000 euros for work on Rincón’s paseo marítimo which was left in a devastated state, and to clear drainage channels which remain blocked by debris left by the flood.
New wave of butane-repair scam
By Oliver McIntyre
Benalmádena’s local Consumer Information Office (OMIC) last week said it had detected a new wave of an old butane-repair scam. A supposed butane-repairman arrives unsolicited at a person’s home and insists that he needs to inspect the gas canister, valve and tubing, and then overcharges the occupant for often completely unnecessary repairs.
According to the OMIC, as well as the consumer association Facua, there is no reason why a butane serviceman should appear unannounced and unsolicited to make inspections or repairs. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to have the gas system inspected every five years if it is a canister system and every four years if it is direct-delivery piped gas. The consumer can contract whatever licensed service company he or she chooses. Replaceable parts like the tubing and valve can even be replaced by the consumer himself, using officially approved materials.
According to the alert circulated by the OMIC, the bogus butane-repairman will generally have the victim sign a receipt for the work, making it more difficult to prove the scam or dispute the charges after the fact.
Nerja and the Junta fall out over new sports centre
BY DAVE JAMIESON
A NEW WAR OF WORDS HAS BROKEN OUT BETWEEN NERJA TOWN HALL AND THE REGIONAL GOVERNMENT. OVER THE LAST YEAR, THE TWO HAVE CLASHED ON SEVERAL ISSUES, AND IN PARTICULAR OVER POLICIES SURROUNDING THE NATURAL PARK OF MARO AND CERRO GORDO.
Now, they seem to be at loggerheads again, but this time over who suspended the construction of a new indoor sports pavilion in the town, alleged low quality materials and work, and a power cable.
The project to build an indoor swimming pool next to the town’s sports stadium has already has had a chequered history. A ceremony to lay the foundation stone was postponed twice, once because someone forgot to send out the invitations, and last November, the construction company, Gea 21, asked for a nine-month extension to the project, originally scheduled for completion by this September. Incidents over the last ten days have once again set the PSOE-controlled Junta and the PP-controlled Town Hall of Nerja at each other’s throats.
‘LOW QUALITY’ MATERIALS...
The new troubles began last week when Nerja’s Town Hall announced that work on the 2.92 million project had been suspended at the request of its architects, following an inspection which, it said, revealed that materials had been used without having undergone tests to check its resistance and safety levels. Sports councillor, Rafael Rivas, said that the low quality of the materials was putting the construction workers at risk, and that he had received a fax message from the architects asking for an immediate halt because a roof for the indoor swimming pool had been installed using material which had not been checked by them.
...AND A HIGH TENSION POWER LINE NOT REMOVED
However, things deteriorated when the Junta de Andalucía followed Nerja’s suspension announcement with their own. The regional government said that the stoppage was because of “the existence of a high tension power line above the site” which Nerja Town Hall should have had moved. They claimed work had not been stopped by the previous day’s announcement by Nerja Town Hall, but by their Inspector of Work who had determined that the local council had been “negligent in not removing the cable as they should”.
Over 600,000 vehicles on their way
By David Eade
The delegate of the regional government, José Antonio Viera, has warned that there will be an eight per cent increase this year in the mass migration that makes up the annual ‘Paso del Estrecho’.
The paso startes on June 15 and ends on September 15. During that time many of the North African workers and their families who work in Europe will return home for their annual holidays. Although a number of Spanish ports such as Valencia, Almería and Málaga handle this movement the majority of the vehicles and passengers will travel to Morocco and Ceuta via the port of Algeciras.
During this year’s ‘Paso del Estrecho’ the regional government estimates that 662,441 vehicles will use the A-7 (old N-340) and toll motorways as they head for Algeciras. Passengers numbers are expected to be 2,743,280 with the peak being reached on July 31 and August 1.
Thirty-two ferries from 12 different companies will be involved in round the clock sailings. At the peak of the paso they will carry 77,137 people and 16,000 vehicles a day. The regional government has allocated seven million euros to the operation and has assigned 2,600 personnel. In addition there will be 126 social workers, 467 Red Cross volunteers, 50 medics and nurses, seven civil defence operations centres and 3,100 kilos of sanitary materials.
Upgraded Embassy web site now online
BY SUZAN DAVENPORT
THE BRITISH CONSUL GENERAL IN SPAIN, DAVID HERBERT, WAS IN MÁLAGA LAST MONDAY TO PRESENT THE NEW AND MORE USER-FRIENDLY CONSULAR INFORMATION SECTION OF THE BRITISH EMBASSY’S WEB SITE.
The site, www.ukinspain.com, is aimed at both residents and British tourists and will be of interest to over five million people, according to the Embassy. It keeps surfers completely up to date on important issues concerning their welfare, such as the need to register as a resident in order to access health care in the Spanish public health system or the risk of financial fraud and scams. The amount of information is vast – from consular services and passport paperwork through to understanding beach warning systems or importing pets.
Mr Herbert also recommended that British residents obtain a residence card, even if it is not obligatory, and stressed that it is compulsory for residents to register with the local town hall, a procedure known as ‘empadronamiento’.
Of particular interest on the Web site is the new Be Careful section, which gives details on crime, current scams and fraud operations. A principal problem for Britons on the coast is the loss or theft of their passports. The consulate replaces 1,700 each year, many of these as a result of bag snatches. Consul Bruce McIntyre advises special caution with any timeshare resale offers. “In the three years I have been here, we have had between 300 and 400 cases reported, which I consider very high. Not only do these people offer to buy timeshare properties at very high prices, but after you fall into the trap, other bogus companies offer to help you recover your money for a fee, and of course you never hear from either of them again.”
Consul General David Herbert thoroughly recommended any British tourist or resident to visit the Web site. “Checking it out beforehand may help to avoid a number of problems”, he said.
British Consulates can provide the above information for residents and visitors without Internet, or readers can call the Consular section of the British Embassy in Madrid on 91 700 82 00.
Paco de Lucia to open Nerja festival
The noted flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía will give the opening concert in this year’s Nerja Caves Festival. Regarded as one of the greatest living guitarist in the world, Paco de Lucía was born in Algeciras in 1947, and made his first public performance, aged just 11. Since then, he has played at Carnegie Hall and other world class venues, sold thousands of recordings, and explored the relationship between flamenco and jazz alongside Chick Corea and John McLaughlin amongst others. He will perform on July 19, the first night of the 45th season of the Nerja Festival which annually attracts visitors from around the world, and will be accompanied by bassist Alain Pérez, percussionist Suárez Escobar, and choirs of singers.
The next day, July 20, the tenor José Bros will give a recital, while on July 21, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Málaga, under Jesús López Cobos, will play Mendelssohn, Prokoviev and Beethoven. María Joâo Pires from Brazil and Ricardo Castro from Portugal will play piano for four hands on July 22, ahead of the final two days of the Festival which are given over to stars and soloists from the Ballet of the National Opera of Bordeaux performing works by Handel, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Purcell. Performances will, as usual, be given to audiences of about 600 in the cavern known as La Sala de la Cascada, named after a formation of stalactites of great beauty, where the superb acoustics provide a natural concert hall. Tickets, as usual, will be like gold dust.