News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Week July 1st to July 7th 2004.
HRH PRINCESS ANNE VISITS THE ROCK
By David Eade
HRH The Princess Royal arrived in Gibraltar on Monday afternoon on a three-day visit to the Rock. She was met at the airport by the Governor, the Chief Minister, local dignitaries and representatives of the armed services.
The royal visit forms part of Gibraltar’s tercentenary celebrations and the Princess Royal was enthusiastically greeted by local people as she went from the airport to the central Casemates Square then went up Main Street to the recently refurbished Piazza.
Security was heightened on the Rock for the Princess’s visit, which had a packed itinerary. She undertook a number of public and private engagements, which included visits to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, the Royal Gibraltar Yacht Club, the new Sports Hall, the Garrison Library, the Upper Rock and St Andrew’s church.
However, whilst the Princess Royal was warmly greeted by Gibraltarians and British visitors to the Rock, her visit caused the Spanish Foreign Ministry to summon the British Ambassador, Stephen Wright, to receive a dressing down from Spain’s Foreign Minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos.
After the meeting Madrid issued a statement which read: “The Spanish Government wishes to reiterate its displeasure and opposition to the programme of events in Gibraltar and Britain on the tercentenary of the occupation of Gibraltar which are inopportune and which injure the sensibilities of the Spanish people.”
This didn’t stop the mayor of San Roque, José Vázquez, making known his deep displeasure. He issued a statement voicing his “disgust, indignation and annoyance” at the programme of events and the visit of the Princess Royal to celebrate Gibraltar’s 300 years of British occupation.
Sr Vázquez reminded people that the town of San Roque was born out of the consequences of previous provocations. The Spanish people of Gibraltar fled to their traditional place of pilgrimage in San Roque when the English occupied the Rock in 1704 and there founded the town of Gibraltar in exile, which shares to this day its coat of arms with the Llanitos.
ILLEGAL HOME JAIL SENTENCE
HAVE-A-GO BRITS WOUNDED
By David Eade
Gunfire injures three in bar brawl
THREE BRITONS ON HOLIDAY IN SAN PEDRO FOUND THEMSELVES AT THE CENTRE OF A TERRIFYING SHOOTING INCIDENT IN FLANAGAN’S THATCH IRISH PUB IN CORTIJO BLANCO.
Philip Brown, Thelma Harvey and David Weaver were having a drink at the popular bar with David’s wife Lesley when a row broke out between a woman who is a local British resident and a man who is also British.
The man, described as being in his 30s, stormed out of the bar but soon returned brandishing a pistol. He put the gun to the woman’s head at which moment 50-year-old Philip Brown intervened, rushing at the man in an attempt to pull the gun away.
Unfortunately for Philip the man turned the gun on him then shot him in the groin and buttocks narrowly missing his spine. Philip’s girlfriend Thelma Harvey was hit in the leg and David Weaver was also hit as he dragged Philip to safety. David’s wife, Lesley, escaped the gunfire.
The three wounded Britons were taken to the local hospital where they received emergency treatment being released from hospital a few days later. Both couples have now flown back to England.
Police are still hunting for the gunman but Flanagan’s Thatch owner Steve Elson told the Costa del Sol News: “Two men have been arrested but I don’t know who the gunman was as he certainly wasn’t a regular customer.”
Mr Elson added: “It was a terrifying moment especially when you are so close to the action. Luckily the bar was not full at the time, as many more people may have been injured. This is certainly the first time that anything like this has happened to me and I certainly hope it’s the last.”
IS YOUR CREDIT CARD SAFE ON THE COSTA?
By Oliver McIntyre
SPAIN IS THE COUNTRY WHERE BRITS MOST FEAR CREDIT AND DEBIT CARD THEFT, ACCORDING TO A RECENT STUDY BY THE CPP GROUP, A UK CREDIT-CARD-PROTECTION COMPANY.
In the survey of a representative sample of 2,000 people, Spain ranked higher than even the UK itself on the list of countries where respondents believe they are at greatest risk of having their cards stolen.
Seventeen per cent of respondents named Spain as the country where their cards were most likely to be stolen, with the figure rising to 26 per cent among Scots. Sixteen per cent ranked the UK as the country of highest risk and 15 per cent said the USA. By contrast, just four per cent of respondents said they most feared having their cards stolen in Greece, and three per cent in France.
SPAIN IN THIRD PLACE
“In reality, over half (53 per cent) of fraud abroad in 2003 took place in three countries – France, Spain and the USA,” according to CPP. France accounted for 22 per cent (?21.3m) of losses on UK-issued cards abroad, the USA 18 per cent (?16.9m) and Spain 13 per cent (?12.2m). Domestic fraud inside the UK, meanwhile, was greater than in all three of the top foreign countries combined, with ?106.1m in losses in 2003.
The CPP Group’s Nick Jones stated that: “With more than 26 million Brits flying off for a sunshine break this summer, the safety of their wallets and purses should be of maximum importance. Although France, Spain and the USA are those countries where card fraud most occurs, it is important to remain alert at all times, wherever you are, as those destinations where you might feel relaxed could provide an ideal opportunity for fraudsters to catch you unaware.” And as the data from CPP suggests, the greatest danger of all may be right at home.
MARBELLA WELCOMES UNBLOCKING OF UNDERPASS PROJECT
By David Eade
The people of San Pedro de Alcántara have been waiting 15 years for the project to build an underpass on the A-7 (old N-340) through the town to be given the green light. Now an end to their daily traffic congestion nightmare is truly in sight.
As reported in the Costa del Sol News last week Spain’s new Minister of Public Works, Magdalena Álvarez, has ordered the unblocking of the underpass project and ordered a speeding up of the planning for these works. The surprise move has been welcomed by the Mayoress of Marbella, Marisol Yagüe, who declared that she was ‘very grateful and satisfied’ by the decision. The A-7 traffic tailbacks caused by the San Pedro bottleneck not only affects the municipality of Marbella but also its neighbour Estepona.
OLD N-340 TO BE REMODELLED
The Ministry of Public Works also has good news for the people of Fuengirola with the decision that work will start in September on extending the Carvajal to Torreblanca boulevard, which formed the old N-340 through the town.
The project will see a roundabout built at Torreblanca given access to the paseo marítimo and eliminating one of the most congested traffic sports in Fuengirola known as the ‘escalextric’. These improvements will also stretch to Los Boliches and its connections to Los Pacos.
In March the Mayoress of Fuengirola and the director general of roads struck an accord to transform this road. The ministry has agreed to fund the one million euro project to the tune of 486,000 euros whilst the balance will be met by the Town Hall.
GIB AIRPORT COULD HAVE JOINT USE
By David Eade
The socialist deputy for Cádiz, Salvador de la Encina, has praised the change in attitude of Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, Peter Caruana, on the possibility of future joint use of the Rock’s airport.
He stated that the PSOE party had always promoted joint use of the airport adding that it would bring to both La Línea and the Campo de Gibraltar region an economic dimension that they did not have at present.
Sr De la Encina said the extent of joint use was a matter for Gibraltar and La Línea to discuss between them as good neighbours. He observed that as La Línea had no large industry joint use of the airport could boost the local economy as well as that of Gibraltar and the region at large.
Meanwhile the Mayor of La Línea, Juan Carlos Juárez, confirmed the possibility that Gibraltar might allow joint use of the airport. However he pointed out that the land on which the airport sits had been usurped by the United Kingdom and therefore belonged to Spain making it part of La Línea. He said the proposal to extended joint use of the airport was very much of interest but might ultimately involve discussions on sovereignty as well.
Death knell for Jimena project?
If Gibraltar’s airport was opened up for joint use it could well spell the death knell for the planned private airport at Jimena de la Frontera. The Jimena project faces mounting environmental protests located as it is on the edge of the Alcornocales national park. Apart from being a major construction project the new airport would cause a major upheaval in the local infrastructure whilst the Rock’s airport is already fully operational.
RONDA'S LEGIONNAIRES TO GUARD THE AVE
By David Eade
A LARGE DETACHMENT OF THE IV TERCIO ALEJANDRO FARNESIO OF THE SPANISH FOREIGN LEGION BASED IN RONDA HAS BEEN CALLED UPON TO GUARD THE HIGH-SPEED AVE NETWORK FROM TERRORIST ATTACK.
A contingent of 345 legionnaires has travelled north to provide security on the line between Madrid and Zaragoza. It is all part of operation ‘Romeo Mikeco’ organised by the Ministry of Defence to guard the rail network and prevent possible sabotage or terrorist attacks at vulnerable points on the system.
The legionnaires involved in this security operation have their official base in Ronda but have spent little time in recent months in the town of the Tajo. The soldiers have just returned from undertaking a humanitarian operation in Iraq and now find themselves being posted to the most northern section of the AVE line. They will remain there until July 8 when they will be replaced by another contingent.
Operation ‘Romeo Mikeco’ was put in to effect in the wake of the March 11 terrorist attacks in Madrid. The legionnaires will be replacing other troops who have been guarding the AVE lines in recent months. Spanish security officials believe that the AVE high-speed rail network is a prime terrorist target and the government has put in place exhaustive controls on the line between the capital and Zaragoza, which they feel is the most likely terrorist objective.
ALGECIRAS PORT COMPLIES WITH SECURITY REGULATIONS
The administrative body of Algeciras port has complied 100 per cent with the new security norms laid down by the government. The security measures were introduced after the March 11 attacks and all ports have to comply with them by July 1. It is believed that Algeciras is the first port in Spain to fully meet the regulations, which not only apply to its own installations but also to the various freight and passenger lines as well as other users.
UP TO 400 AFFECTED IN POSSIBLE GYM SCAM
NEWS Staff Reporter
As many as 400 people have found themselves out anywhere from 50 to 660 euros, money they paid for membership to a new Torremolinos gym and health centre that never opened. Some of those affected are calling it a scam, and have reported the situation to the police.
Earlier this year, the then supposedly soon-to-open ELG Centro de Bienestar gym put up advertisements and brochures at the San Miguel commercial centre in Torremolinos. The new facility was to offer workout machines, massage, beauty treatments, haircutting and more. Monthly membership fees were 55 euros, but there was also a sign-up fee of between 50 and 155 euros. Some people paid an entire year’s fees up front, many taking out financing arranged by the company, according to those affected.
Lawyers for the company have said that the situation involves no intentional fraud or scam, but that construction delays kept the gym from opening when promised and the company now has financial problems that prevent it from paying back customers’ money. Management at the San Miguel mall says that it is doing what it can to find another company to take over the gym project, with the condition that the new company would honour the sign-up and membership fees that have already been paid. Nonetheless, the mall management advises those who took out financing to go directly to the bank that provided the credit and cancel the loan.
ANDALUCÍA UNDER-FUNDED FOR MEDICAL ATT. TO TOURIST
Region’s 20 million annual tourists costs not ‘properly covered’
By Oliver McIntyre
ANTONIO ROMERO, THE IZQUIERDA UNIDA MP FOR MÁLAGA IN THE ANDALUCÍAN PARLIAMENT, HAS ANNOUNCED THAT THE REGION OF ANDALUCÍA DOES NOT RECEIVE SUFFICIENT FUNDING FOR HEALTH SERVICES PROVIDED TO FOREIGN TOURISTS.
The region received 1.4 million euros in both 2002 and 2003 from the central Government’s Health Cohesion Fund as an annual subsidy toward covering such costs.
Sr Romero called the funding level insufficient, pointing out that the region of Murcía, which gets nowhere near Andalucía’s 20 million annual tourists, received the same amount. The Balearic Islands, which get about half as many tourists – 10.5 million – as Andalucía, received two million euros from the Cohesion Fund in 2003 (43 per cent more than Andalucía).
Spanish law states that foreigners have a right to emergency medical attention, whatever their status in the country. Those under the age of 18 have a right to comprehensive medical treatment. Pregnant women, also regardless of their status in the country, have a right to prenatal, childbirth and postnatal care.
Of the 54 million to 60 million euros distributed annually by the Cohesion Fund, which was created a couple of years ago as a way to compensate for imbalances in regional healthcare funding, a total of 10 million euros is earmarked for foreign-tourist health services.
PIZARRA PLANS FOR POPULATION OF 20,000
By Oliver McIntyre
THE PIZARRA TOWN COUNCIL LAST WEEK GAVE THE GREEN LIGHT TO THE DRAFT VERSION OF THE MUNICIPALITY’S NEW TOWN PLANNING ORDINANCE (PGOU).
Provisions for a near tripling of the population in the next 10 years – from the current 7,000 people to as many as 20,000 have been made. According to the Town Hall, the new PGOU takes into account the current realities of the town and calls for development of its residential, tourism and industrial infrastructures in order to promote growth without the town becoming a dormitory town for Málaga.
The PGOU includes the creation of a new two million-square-metre industrial park to promote job growth and 800,000 square metres of golf courses and low-density housing. Higher-density residential growth will be focused in the urban areas of the town and its immediate surroundings, according to the plan, which also identifies protected archaeological sites, agricultural areas and rural zones. The PGOU is now open for public review and comment.
NEW TOWN HALL BUILDING
The Pizarra Town Council has also ratified the winning selection in the competition for the design of the new town hall building. Of 104 architectural designs submitted from all over the country, 58 met the technical requirements.
The winning design, known as ‘Tiza’, was submitted by Colmenar Avilata SL, which received a 6,000-euro prize. The Town Hall describes it as modern building with some traditional touches. The ‘Tiza’ design, along with all the other entries, are on display at the Casa de la Cultura until July 10, when the exhibit will be moved to Málaga’s Colegio de Arquitectos architectural association.
ACADEMY HONOUR FOR ANTONIO BANDERAS
By Dave Jamieson
THE ACTOR ANTONIO BANDERAS IS TO BE HONOURED BY SPAIN’S ACADEMY OF CINEMATOGRAPHIC ARTS AND SCIENCES IN HIS HOME TOWN NEXT WEEK.
At the specific request of the 44-year-old Málaga born star, the gala dinner at which he will be presented with a gold medal is to be moved from its traditional venue, the Madrid Ritz Hotel. Instead, a week tomorrow, the botanical gardens La Concepción will stage a glittering tribute to Málaga’s internationally recognised son, José Antonio Dominguez Banderas, in front of his friends and colleagues. The honour comes in recognition of his work supporting Spanish culture in the world of cinema, and the event comes hard on the heels of final confirmation that Banderas’ new project in the city will go ahead.
INVESTING IN LOCAL TALENT
The Port of Málaga Theatre Foundation is being established to involve international figures in the development of local talent and critics say it will play an important role in revitalising culture in Málaga and Andalucía. Apart from being a normal theatre, it will serve as a school for actors and has received support from other major show-business names, as well as from Málaga’s Mayor, Francisco de la Torre, and the Junta de Andalucía. Last week, the actor and seven others signed the organisation’s constitution in front of a Notary, but Banderas made it clear that it would not, in any way, replace the country’s School of Dramatic Art.
CONTROVERSY OVER INVITATIONS TO DINNER
Málaga’s culture councillor, Diego Maldonado, has however criticised the Spanish Academy for failing to invite any representative from the city’s well-established film festival to attend the presentation ceremony next week. Rumours, that relations between the gala’s organisers and the festival’s director were strained, were denied by Sr Maldonado, who has written a letter of complaint to the Academy.
But whoever is or is not there on the night, next Friday’s celebration of Banderas’ career will culminate in his acceptance of the medal, to be presented by the President of the Spanish Academy, Mercedes Sampietro, and will doubtless make mention of the actor’s latest success, this time as the voice of Puss in Boots, a hilarious spoof of his own Zorro character, in “Shrek 2”.
BARS IN TORRE AND NERJA WANT LATER NIGHTS
By Dave Jamieson
Bar owners in the late-night area of Torre del Mar have formed a pressure group to promote their case to the Town Hall in Vélez-Málaga. “Bacomar”, Bares de Copas de Torre del Mar, presently represents 13 bars and says the intention is to give their proprietors a collective voice when dealing with the local administration on collective problems. Bacomar’s president, José María Alba, said that the principal objective was to negotiate with the Town Hall on extending opening hours, particularly in summer, which presently require bars to close at 4.00. on Saturdays and holidays, and at 3.00 on other nights. The group also was the eradication of young people drinking cheap alcohol at impromptu street parties, a phenomenon known as “el botellón”, because of the bad image in brings to the area and because of the economic damage it causes to legitimate businesses.
Improved cleaning, more waste containers for glass and a greater police presence in the zone are also on the agenda of Bacomar which says that promoting the interests of its members can only be of benefit to the whole town. Meanwhile in Nerja, bar owners and councillors have again met to discuss their differences. A meeting last week saw the councillors for Commerce and Security come face to face with around 20 proprietors of bars in the popular late-night areas of the town centre where police have clamped down on activities since serious fighting three weeks ago. The councillors listened to complaints that the control of closing hours has been excessive and that local officers had abused their powers since the campaign began.