News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Week September 2nd to September 8th 2004.
AMBULANCE SHORTAGE SCANDAL
Poor service highlighted after man dies waiting for ambulance
BY OLIVER MCINTYRE
A RINCÓN DE LA VICTORIA MAN ON SUMMER HOLIDAY IN THE GUADALHORCE VALLEY SPA TOWN OF TOLOX DIED AFTER SUFFERING A HEART ATTACK AND HAVING TO WAIT FOR AN HOUR FOR AN AMBULANCE TO ATTEND THE EMERGENCY CALL.
The 67-year-old man suffered a heart attack at around 22.00 in the apartment where he was staying in Calle Camino Nuevo. Neighbours called the Alozaina health centre but were told that no ambulance was available and were given some brief instructions on what to do to assist the victim. They then tried to call ambulances from other area towns, like Coín and Pizarra, but were still unable to find an available unit. They finally got an ambulance sent from Álora, located some 40 kilometres from Tolox. When the ambulance finally arrived at around 23.00, the victim had died.
Tolox Mayor Juan Vera expressed his deep dissatisfaction at the town’s lack of sufficient medical and emergency coverage, noting that the municipality sees a summertime population of some 9,000 people yet only has a single doctor, available from 8.00 to 14.00. He has issued a mayoral edict urging citizens with medical emergencies to ‘call the emergency number 112’ due to the ‘ineffectiveness’ of the services from Alozaina.
The Andalucía Health Service (SAS) initially responded to the complaints by saying that the death of the heart attack victim was ‘inevitable’ due to the severity of the attack and was not caused by the delayed arrival of an ambulance.
However, by early this week the top SAS officials in the province of Málaga announced that they are working on a plan to reinforce the emergency services in the Guadalhorce Valley Health District beginning this autumn. They say the plan, which they expect to have finalised by the end of September, will likely include an increase in the number of ambulances and ambulance crews in the district, with the goal of a response time of no greater than 20 minutes to an emergency in any town in the district.
THE COSTA IBI TAX DISPARITY
Homeowners in Marbella and Torremolinos pay the highest tax
BY OLIVER MCINTYRE
HOMEOWNERS ON THE COSTA PAY RADICALLY DIFFERENT IBI REAL ESTATE TAX BILLS DEPENDING ON WHICH TOWN THEIR HOME IS IN, SHOWS A STUDY BASED ON DATA FROM THE LAND REGISTRY AUTHORITY AND PUBLISHED THIS WEEK.
Owners of homes in Marbella and Torremolinos pay the highest average IBI tax, at 383 euros and 347 euros, respectively, though in Torremolinos registered (‘empadronado’) residents receive a small discount by way of a subsidy from the Town Hall. In Ronda, by contrast, the average IBI bill is just 198 euros, meaning homeowners in Marbella pay 93 per cent more on average than their neighbours in the town of the Tajo.
After Marbella and Torremolinos, the next most expensive IBI tax in the province of Málaga is in Estepona, where the average is 295 euros, followed by Benalmádena (281 euros). The least expensive municipalities include Mijas (248 euros), the city of Málaga (247 euros), Fuengirola (204 euros) and the aforementioned Ronda. Falling somewhere in the middle are Vélez-Málaga (269 euros), Antequera (267 euros), Rincón de la Victoria (258 euros) and Alhaurín de la Torre (252 euros).
REAL ESTATE VALUE
The amount of IBI tax paid by homeowners is not just a function of what each local town hall charges, but also of the official assessed value of the real estate, as recorded in the Land Registry. That value is multiplied by a coefficient set by the central government and another coefficient set by the individual town halls. The town halls can set their coefficient up to a limit of 1.3 per cent. In the province of Málaga, for example, Marbella, Estepona and Vélez-Málaga have coefficients of 0.85 per cent, Benalmádena 0.83 per cent and Antequera 0.81 per cent, while the capital city of Málaga has a relatively low 0.67 per cent.
Vuelta de España to ride through Costa towns
NEWS Staff Reporter
The country’s biggest and most celebrated bicycle race, the Vuelta de España, kicks off this Saturday in the northern Spanish town of León, and cycling aficionados on the Costa will soon have a chance to check out the action when the racers make their way to the four Andalucían legs of the three-week event.
On Thursday, September 16, the first Andalucían leg will see riders climbing from Almería to the Calar Alta Astronomy Observatory, a 143-kilometre leg-burner with three killer ascents, ending at 2,100 metres above sea level. The next day, the pack will take off from El Ejido (Almería) and race 172.4 kilometres along the coast to Málaga, passing through towns like Motril, Salobreña and Almuñécar in the province of Granada, and Nerja, Torrox, El Morche, Torre Benalgalbón and Rincón de la Victoria in the province of Málaga before arriving in the capital.
On Saturday, September 18, the riders pedal out from Málaga and head for Granada, on a 167-kilometre route with lots of up and down. After passing through Rincón de la Victoria, Torre de Chilches, Benajarafe, Torre del Mar and Vélez-Málaga, they’ll head over the mountain pass to Granada, riding through El Navazo, Alhama de Granada, Monachil and other towns along the way. If they don’t get enough climbing that day, the following day’s leg – the last one on the Andalucían circuit – is sure to satisfy. It’s a short but gruelling 29.6-kilometre sprint-climb time trial up from Granada to the heights of the Sierra Nevada.
New Benalmádena Town Hall building ready by 2005
NEWS Staff Reporter
Workers have already dug out and reinforced what will be the foundation and basement of the new Benalmádena Town Hall building, and construction of the actual structure is set to get underway, with a target completion date of summer 2005. The new building, sited directly across the street from the existing Town Hall in Benalmádena Pueblo, is not a replacement for the old building but an addition to it. The two buildings will be connected via an elevated breezeway between the second floors.
The three-storey building (plus basement) will provide the Town Hall with some 1,484 square metres of additional space, helping to accommodate a growing municipal staff, which officials say has grown steadily in recent years due to the town’s increased population, and now includes over 600 workers. The building will house the Environment and Personnel Departments, the municipal archive and office space for each of the political parties represented in the Town Hall. The estimated cost of the new building is 1.3 million euros, of which 60,000 euros will come from a Junta de Andalucía subsidy.
PSOE and environmentalists in talks
Campo de Gibraltar and Jimena airport plan discussed
By David Eade
THE NATIONAL DEPUTY FOR THE SOCIALIST PSOE PARTY IN THE CAMPO DE GIBRALTAR REGION, SALVADOR DE LA ENCINA, AND REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP AGADEN HAVE MET TO ESTABLISH A LINE OF COMMUNICATION BETWEEN THE TWO ORGANISATIONS.
Martín Caballero, speaking for Agaden, said the group had not given the PSOE a 'blank cheque' of support but wished to co-operate and have dialogue with the socialists. During their meeting, De la Encina and the ecologists discussed the environmental concerns of the Campo de Gibraltar region including the presence of nuclear submarines in the British naval port in Gibraltar.
After the meeting Sr De la Encina stated: "the new government maintains a totally different attitude from the previous government, of the Partido Popular, and has now protested energetically to the United Kingdom over the presence of submarines."
JIMENA AIRPORT ON THE AGENDA
It is almost certain that the private airport proposed for Jimena de la Frontera made it on to the agenda of major environmental concerns discussed by Sr De la Encina and Agaden.
Meanwhile, the mayor of Jimena, Ildefonso Gómez, has assured the La Línea-based newspaper 'Area' that his government team "has not yet formed an opinion" on the airport project. He said the Town Hall was waiting for more in-depth studies, adding that in September or October he would be holding meetings with Francisco Trujillo and the University of Cádiz, which he called a neutral organisation whose information and assessment of the airport scheme he would study.
The mayor stressed that the airport would not be merely for the benefit of the people of Jimena but for the whole Campo de Gibraltar region. He noted that during the Spanish Civil War and the post-war years the proposed airport site had been an airfield called the 'Los Gargantas' aerodrome.
Sr Gómez added that he was aware that the airport site is in an area where birds of prey live and bred as well as being close to the boundaries of the Alcornocales national park. He stated that that is why it is important to wait for the conclusions of an environmental study, after which the way ahead would be clearer.
Two arrested in Nerja
By Dave Jamieson
In separate incidents last week, two young Moroccans were detained in Nerja accused of aggravating behaviour.
In the first, a 24-year-old was arrested on the town's Calahonda Beach after a number of tourists were injured by stones thrown at them. It is alleged the detained man aimed the stones, some of considerable size, at various people, including one French visitor who sustained a wound which required treatment at the town's health centre. Police patrols chased the young Moroccan man through rocks before finally leading him away, to a round of applause from the holidaymakers.
Two days later, a 24-year-old was detained in Nerja, accused of a sex attack on a 22-year-old British woman, resident in Torrox Costa. The victim, who is reported to have needed six stitches to a wound, was attended by police after being found in the street bleeding profusely, before being taken to Vélez-Málaga hospital. A witness alleged that she had been attacked with a knife and, the following day, police arrested the suspect, a local resident known as 'Ali'. However, the man was released without charges following a court appearance at which a number of contradictions in the evidence were highlighted by the presiding judge.
Rare Dali statue unveiled in Banús
BY DAVID EADE
A SURREAL THREE-TON STATUE OF A RHINO, ONE OF ONLY EIGHT THAT EXIST, HAS BEEN PLACED AT THE CRISTAMAR ROUNDABOUT IN PUERTO BANÚS.
The impressive beast was unveiled in a ceremony officiated at by the Marbella Mayor, Marisol Yagüe, who was accompanied by her governing team.
Also present was Lorenzo Sanz, a businessman and former president of Real Madrid football club. It was thanks to his generosity that the Dali masterpiece was donated to Marbella to commemorate the centenary of the artist’s birth.
Dali created the sculpture in 1956. Officially known as ‘Rinoceronte vestido con puntillas’, listed in the Dali directory as “the rhino dressed on lace”, it was created after the filming of his surrealist movie ‘La aventura prodigiosa de la encajera y el rinoceronte’ in 1954.
The film received widespread acclaim as being one of the best examples of this genre. It followed a visit by Dali to the Vicennes zoo in Paris and was also inspired by the famous Vermeer painting ‘The lace maker’. A spokesperson for Marbella Town Hall said the work would be a valuable addition to the culture that compliments the tourism in the jet set resort.
NO BUILDING NEAR BANÚS TOWER
The socialist party in Marbella has made an official complaint to the prosecutor against what it alleges is an illegal construction in the port. PSOE claims that the building does not have a municipal licence and is just two metres from the Nazari Torre del Duque that dates from the 14th century.
The tower was declared as being of cultural interest by the regional government in 1998. José Bernal, the secretary of the socialist movement in Marbella, stated that the new construction was an offence against the protected historic and cultural heritage of Andalucía.
The construction has been denounced to the Town Hall on several occasions by PSOE and in February work was stopped but then started again. In asking the prosecutor to take action the socialists have accused the Town Hall of complicity as the building is now alleged to be operating as a restaurant without an opening licence.
Tax debate divides parties at Torremolinos
By Oliver McIntyre
Torremolinos First Deputy Mayor and Partido Popular spokesman Ramón del Cid last week accused the opposition PSOE socialist party of waging a campaign to encourage residents to not pay their IBI real estate taxes, which were increased this year for non-registered (non-‘empadronado’) residents.
“The citizens of Torremolinos should know that if the appeals the PSOE is promoting are successful, registered residents could end up having to pay all the IBI increases that have been applied in the last nine years and that have been systematically subsidised by the Town Hall, which could translate to an increase of as much as 50 per cent over the current charge on many tax bills,” said Sr del Cid. He stated that “the IBI tax has only increased for those people who are not ‘empadronado’,” because the Town Hall has completely subsidised all the increases during the last nine years for those people who are registered residents.
The PSOE spokesperson at the Town Hall, Montserrat Reyes, claimed that her party “has nothing to do with” the campaign against the increased tax. She indicated that the campaign was launched by a citizen platform made up by non-registered residents and some registered residents who have been affected by the tax increase because they own more than one property in the town and the subsidy only applies to one. Nonetheless, she did indicate her party’s opposition to the IBI increase, stating: “You can’t increase a tax 100 per cent in contradiction with campaign promises and then blame the residents ... the more viable option would be to not raise the IBI.”
Campo de Gibraltar rocks seven times in 10 days
Low-level earth tremors in San Roque and Castellar
BY DAVID EADE
ACCORDING TO INFORMATION RELEASED ON THE WEB PAGE OF THE NATIONAL CENTRE OF SEISMIC INFORMATION THE CAMPO DE GIBRALTAR REGION WAS ROCKED SEVEN TIMES IN A TEN-DAY PERIOD FROM AUGUST 15.
The national centre is part of the National Geographical Institute, which in turn comes under the Ministry of Public Works. Its scientists say the most recent earth tremor was on August 24 at 4.28 in the morning in the Mediterranean north east of Tetuán. It registered three on the Richter scale. Others were registered in the Med between 1.7 and 2.4 magnitude.
The earth tremors with their epicentres in the Campo de Gibraltar occurred on August 19. The first was at 01.02 at a point north east of San Roque and south east of Castellar de la Frontera. It registered 2.6 magnitude whilst another tremor at 04.43 on the same morning centred north east of San Roque but closer to the coast at La Hacienda with a strength of 1.9.
PLATES IN COLLISION
The south east of the Iberian peninsula is on the Euro-Asiatic plate that is in collision with the African plate. The tensions between the two continents accounts for the seismic activity in Mediterranean countries and was the cause of the two large earthquakes in Greece and Turkey.
It is the most western plate between the Azores-Gibraltar-Tunisia that affects Spain. Spain is a region of large seismic activity with numerous earthquakes below grade 7 on the Richter scale.
Each year Spain registers between 1,200 and 1,400 tremors of which 870 do not exceed a magnitude of 4. The difference between each magnitude is large for instance grade 6 is 30 times more powerful that a grade 5. The Campo de Gibraltar has its own seismic monitoring station in Jimena de la Frontera that records the earth movements in the region.
Ojén nature park to open in 2005
National centre for endangered mountain goats
BY DAVID EADE
THE ENVIRONMENT DEPARTMENT OF THE REGIONAL GOVERNMENT HAS GIVEN THE GO-AHEAD FOR A MOUNTAIN NATURE PARK IN OJÉN TO BE OPENED TO THE PUBLIC AT THE END OF 2005.
The ambitious project will allow the public to view stags, fallow deer, roe deer, mountain goats as well as sheep and to study them in their natural Mediterranean environment.
The nature park with its own information and study centre plus a series of rural roads has received regional government funding of more than 230,000 euros. The delegate for the environment, Juan Ignacio Trillo stated that one of the main objectives of the wildlife reserve would be environmental education, he added: “It will be an open air observatory of wild fauna.”
The nature park will have a network of rural roads and visitors will be provided with maps showing them in what zones the various animals can be seen. The Ojén park will also be an important national centre for the study and breeding of mountain goats. Trillo said it was of great importance that the park had all the protocols for the study of this endangered species.
Making their home in the park will be 30 mountain sheep, a stag, 30 fallow deer, tens of mountain goats and a number of roe deer. All these animals form part of a breeding programme carried out by the regional government. Their current location is a secret to help prevent illegal hunting.
MOUNTAIN GOATS DOMINATE THE SCENE
The principal attraction will be the mountain goats. In 1948 when the national game reserve was established in the Serranía de Ronda there were no more than ten goats as the breed had been totally decimated. By 1967 the numbers had risen to more than a thousand. They totally adapted to the conditions in the Ronda reserve and are expected to soon establish themselves in Ojén.
The Ojén nature park covers over 100 hectares and much of the site once belonged to the Marquises of Larios. The state bought the land in 1945 and incorporated it in to a publicly owned mountain zone under the management of the environment department of the regional government.
English cemetery restricts opening times
By Dave Jamieson
The death of an employee at Málaga’s English Cemetery has obliged the British Consul to restrict opening hours. When Antonio Alcaide died in July, aged 58, his family’s connections with the cemetery came to a close after many years. His grandfather was the first to be given the task of tending the grounds, a task taken over by his father - who received a BEM (British Empire medal) from Queen Elizabeth in 1991 in recognition of his work - and, in his turn, Antonio.
The cemetery has now a new gardener or security guard who will start work on 1 September. The cemetery will be open on a daily basis (except Saturday and Sunday) between 10.00 and 14.30. The cemetery will remain closed on Saturdays but will open on Sundays between 9.00 and 13.00 to coincide with the time of the weekly Anglican church service at St George’s, which stands within the cemetery grounds. At present, the English Cemetery, which is the property of the British government, is financed solely by voluntary contributions from a dwindling number of visitors, although plans for a charitable foundation to take over its maintenance and conservation were announced a year ago. This followed a meeting in Málaga last July between the British ambassador in Spain, Steven Wright, and the city’s mayor, Francisco de la Torre, after which Mr Wright explained that the foundation would be open to support from Spanish sponsors, as well as from any British interests in Málaga, and would have the objective of securing public and private funds to finance maintenance and restoration. He also confirmed the British government’s intention to ensure the future maintenance of the cemetery although development of the promised foundation appears to have made little progress over the last 12 months. The cemetery, founded in 1831 and the first of its kind in the country, was the result of work of the then British consul in Málaga who was horrified by the barbaric burial practices that were applied to non-Catholics at that time. Normally, the body was taken to the water’s edge at midnight under armed guard and buried in a standing position with the head left exposed to the weather and packs of wild dogs.