News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Week October 21st to October 27th 2004.
TAXES FOR RURAL PROPERTIES
Inland towns consider special taxes for rural areas
BY OLIVER MCINTYRE
A SPECIAL RURAL AREA TAX MAY BE LEVIED BY AXARQUÍA AND GUADALHORCE TOWN HALLS AS THE INCREASING NUMBER OF FOREIGN RESIDENTS BECOMES A STRAIN ON THE LOCAL TOWN HALLS’ FINANCIAL RESOURCES.
The problem resides in the fact that foreign residents often don’t show up as registered (‘empadronado’) residents, and thus are not accounted for in municipal budgets and planning – which some town halls’ claim is straining their ability to provide basic services. To cover the extra expenses involved in extending water, electricity, rubbish collection, mail and other services to these remote spots, some town halls have indicated they are considering the creation of special rural-area taxes.
MAKING ENDS MEET
Inland Axarquía town hall registries show a collective total of only 3,000 foreign residents however the numbers are certainly much higher if the increasing number of those who are not registered is taken into account.
Cómpeta – where it is believed around 1,500 foreign residents live - is already preparing a special tax for its Acebuchal district. In Frigiliana, a rural tax is being considered to cover the costs of paving access roads to homes in remote areas. Other town halls – both in the Axarquía and in the Guadalhorce Valley – have not announced any official plans, but have indicated that such measures are a possibility.
SERVICES FOR ILLEGAL CONSTRUCTIONS
Another matter that complicates the issue is illegal construction, which has been a particular problem in the Guadalhorce Valley. In Cártama alone, over 3,000 non-licensed buildings have been identified. Legal or not, once the homes are built and people are residing in them, they require services – such as a connection to the municipal water network – that mayors like Álora’s José Luis Sánchez have declared the town halls do not have the capacity to provide.
Málaga arrest in anti-terror operation
BY DAVE JAMIESON
FIVE PEOPLE WERE DETAINED IN ANDALUCÍA ON MONDAY AS PART OF A NATIONWIDE CRACKDOWN ON TERRORISM.
An Algerian, identified as Djamel Merabet, arrested in Málaga plus three more Algerians and a Moroccan arrested in Almería were amongst seven suspected terrorists detained in raids which also took in Madrid and Valencia.
FOILED BOMB ATTACK
Police sources said that the operation followed a foiled bomb attack on the High Court, the Audencia National, when a lorry laden with 500 kilos of explosives was discovered. They added that further detentions were likely in the operation which was ordered by Judge Baltasar Garzón after information was received from the Spanish and Moroccan security services.
According to the Ministry of the Interior, those arrested were members of a terrorist network in Spain and that had recently maintained contacts with Islamic elements in Europe, the U.S and Australia.
Prior to this week’s arrests, around 20 suspects were already held in Spanish jails because of their alleged links to the Madrid bombings of March 11 which killed 191 people. A further seven died when their explosives blew up as police approached their hide-out in Madrid.
When CDSN went to press, the police investigation was still ongoing and officials did not rule out the possibility of further arrests.
Two Britons detained in Rincón shooting
By Dave Jamieson
Two Britons were detained and later released following the murder of a security guard in Rincón de la Victoria. The dead man, 36 year old José Antonio Olea Serran, had worked at the Lomas del Golf complex in the Añoreta Golf urbanisation for two months, and was killed by two gunshots to his lower abdomen and buttocks, according to police sources.
Rincón’s Guardia Civil office was alerted to the incident by an anonymous phone reporting a shooting call just before midnight last Thursday, and a patrol was immediately despatched. Meantime, a local resident, who had heard the shots followed by the victim’s cries for help, found the guard, still alive, lying in a large pool of blood. The emergency services however were unable to save his life and he died in the ambulance on the way to hospital.
First forensic tests indicated that one of the 12 mm bullets found in the body had hit an important artery, causing a haemorrhage which lead to the victim’s death. Witnesses told police that the an individual was seen fleeing the scene in a black Audi car with a foreign number plate, and a short time later, police in Vélez-Málaga detained two British subjects – a man and a woman, both 29 years old – in connection with the investigation. Officers are reported to have stopped them on the N-340 coast road in a black BMW which made off at great speed when the police patrol signalled it to stop. They were taken into custody but were released on the following day when police had ascertained that had not been involved in the crime.
Benalmádena monorail: on track or derailed by oppo
By Oliver McIntyre
The long-controversial plan for an elevated monorail train in Benalmádena – a major goal of Mayor Enrique Bolín’s and anathema to the town’s opposition parties – took a step forward last week with the Town Hall’s approval of the bid conditions for the concession to run the town’s public transportation services. Among the projects included in the bid conditions is the creation of the monorail, running along its originally proposed route between Arroyo de la Miel and the marina. The company that wins the concession will also run municipal bus lines and other public transportation, under a 25-year contract.
The opposition PSOE and Izquierda Unida parties at the Town Hall reacted sharply to the inclusion of the monorail project in the approved bid conditions. The PSOE party announced that it will take “all possible legal measures” to block the monorail, a project it opposes because “the solution to Benalmádena’s transportation problems is not the construction of 120 columns down the middle of the road.” The IU party, meanwhile, said it will ask the Junta de Andalucía to block the project based on environmental and other concerns.
Despite being included in the public transportation concession contract, the monorail cannot move forward until the Junta’s Environment Department approves the project’s environmental impact study. Mayor Bolín is convinced that the project will ultimately be carried out and views the monorail as a both a public transportation solution and a tourist attraction for the town.
Thyssen-Bornemisza museum comes to Andalucía
Exhibition to include works from over 30 Andalucian artists
BY OLIVER MCINTYRE
ART LOVERS IN ANDALUCÍA WILL SOON BE ABLE TO VIEW SOME OF THE REGION’S GREATEST PAINTINGS WITHOUT HAVING TO TRAVEL TO THE LARGE MUSEUMS OF MADRID.
Thanks to an agreement between the Unicaja Foundation and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, some 80 to 90 works from the museum’s collection are to be displayed in a travelling exhibition to be mounted in Sevilla’s Museo de Bellas Artes and later in Málaga’s Palacio Episcopal.
ANDALUCIAN ARTISTS COME HOME
The exhibition will include paintings from over 30 acclaimed Andalucían artists, spanning the second half of the 19th century to the early 20th century. Highlighting several art movements within the context of Romanticism and Regionalism, the show features the works of such painters as Francisco Zurbarán, Julio Romero de Torres, José Moreno Villa, Domínguez Bécquer, Aguado Bejarano, Gómez Gil and Verdugo Landi, among others.
SEVILLA AND MÁLAGA
The exhibition, titled ‘Pintura Andaluza en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza’, will run in Sevilla from the second half of October to January 15 and in Málaga from early February to the end of April.
Court investigates Alhaurín Mayor’s salary raise
By Oliver McIntyre
A Málaga court has opened an investigation into charges by the socialist PSOE party in Alhaurín de la Torre that Mayor Joaquín Villanova (Partido Popular) was inappropriately awarded an excessive pay raise. The PSOE says that when the Mayor lost his position as senator for the PP at the last elections, he converted his mayoral post to a full-time, exclusive position with an annual salary of 63,000 euros. It charges that the salary is excessive, that it was not budgeted for in the 2004 municipal budget and that there were irregularities in the administrative process for approving the change.
In statements last week to press agencies, the Mayor admitted that there may have been some ‘administrative flaw’ in the process of approving his salary increase, but insisted that there was “no malfeasance, and under no circumstances a penal offence.”
Málaga penalises single drivers
By Dave Jamieson
Málaga intends to tackle one of its worst traffic black spots by restricting access only to vehicles of two or more occupants. The city has decided to create a lane for “Vehículos de Alta Ocupación” (VAO) or High-Occupation Vehicles, in the approaches to the Teatinos campus by the end of this year or early 2005, in an attempt to beat chronic congestion in the area. The councillor responsible, Javier Berlanga, said the plan, which requires only a small infrastructure change, would mean that only buses and other vehicles carrying at least two people would be allowed to pass. He said VAO lanes had been used with great success in other cities, such as Madrid, and that, while the use of installing cameras to monitor the traffic flow was not presently planned, police officers would fine those who breach the regulation.
The present volume of traffic on the link road is expected to nearly double, from 76,500 to 127,000, according to a recent study, prompting the city’s Town Hall to implement a number of measures to avoid gridlock. The municipal transport undertaking, EMT, launched eight new articulated, low-emission buses last week for use on routes to Teatinos to help cope with a doubling in the student population over the last couple of years.
Late-night Nerja may move out of town
NEWS Staff Reporter
Nerja is moving to rid itself of the nuisance caused by late-night revellers in the town centre. Complaints of excessive noise, particularly at weekends, continue to be received from residents around the Plaza Tutti Frutti and Calle Antonio Millón areas where young people regularly gather in bars and discos. The situation has become so serious that the councillor responsible, Francisco Adrián Fernández, has confirmed that the Town Hall is considering an attempt to move the crowds outside the town centre.
Various locations are reported to be under consideration, including the area of a proposed new marina development on the town's western border with Torrox. The Town Hall admits, however, that as the marina development has yet to be approved by the Junta de Andalucía, this would be a solution only in the longer term, whereas town centre residents are seeking an urgent resolution.
Meanwhile, Sr Fernández said that means of controlling the nuisance are being examined, and that the Town Hall already imposed the requirement for the doors and windows of bars to be kept closed in order to reduce noise. But although Guardia Civil and local police officers patrol the zone, problems and incidents continue, according to residents, although many reportedly refuse to denounce the perpetrators for fear of reprisals. In recent weeks, a team has been present in the town centre late at night to give advice to the hundreds of partying young people, including minors, on the dangers of drugs and alcohol. A further training course is being run tomorrow, Friday 22, in order to provide more volunteers for the service.
Benalmádena blaze scorches mountainside
Up to seven hectares burn but no homes damaged
By Oliver McIntyre
BETWEEN FIVE AND SEVEN HECTARES OF LOW-MOUNTAIN PINE AND SCRUB LAND WAS LEFT SCORCHED BY A MID-MORNING BLAZE LAST THURSDAY IN BENALMÁDENA.
As a crew of some 60 firefighting and other emergency personnel battled the flames, with the assistance of three helicopters and two aeroplanes, a mass of smoke blanketed parts of Benalmádena Pueblo and the A-7 motorway, which suffered tailbacks of up to seven kilometres in the eastbound lanes.
According to fire officials, the motorway actually served as a sort of fire-break, protecting nearby homes on the other side from being exposed to danger from the flames. However, gusty and shifting winds at one point had firefighters concerned that the blaze could climb up the mountain and threaten homes in the Mijas area.
But ultimately the fire was brought under control by around 14.30 - about four hours after it started - with no damage to private property. Officials speculated that a spark from the tailpipe of a car on the motorway or a cigarette thrown from a car window may have started the fire.
BLACKENED 'GREEN SPACE'
The area that burned is part of the sierra that Benalmádena Mayor Enrique Bolín has said he plans to expropriate from the central government in order to perform reforestation work and create protected green space. He announced last month that the Town Hall was to open expropriation proceedings following unsuccessful negotiations to purchase the property from the government.
Europe bans movement of Andalucía livestock
BY DAVID EADE
THE LIVESTOCK INDUSTRY IN CÁDIZ IS IN CRISIS AFTER CASES OF A CATARRHAL VIRUS KNOWN AS ‘BLUE TONGUE’ HAVE BEEN DISCOVERED IN CATTLE IN JIMENA DE LA FRONTERA. THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION MOVED SWIFTLY TO BAN THE MOVEMENT AND EXPORT OF LIVE CATTLE, GOATS AND SHEEP AS WELL AS THEIR SEMEN, EMBRYOS AND OVARIES.
The provinces affected by this decision are Cádiz, Málaga and Sevilla as well as the regions of La Palma del Condado and Ayamonte in Huelva, Lucena, Montilla and Posada in Córdoba plus Alhama de Granada and Loja in Granada.
The EC decision will be reviewed this week by experts from the 25 member states who sit on the food chain and animal welfare committees. Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fish and Food has put in place controls in all the national territory were there is a suspicion of the existence of ‘blue tongue’. The regional government had already imposed its own ban on animals on farms in Cádiz and western Málaga provinces.
At the appearance of the first signs of the virus the Andalucía veterinary authorities and the Ministry of Agriculture made contact with their counterparts in Morocco where the disease could have originated. They also alerted Portugal and France on the dangers of the spread of this outbreak.
‘BLUE TONGUE’ UNDER CONTROL
The EC has offered to Spain a million doses of vaccine to counter ‘blue tongue’ so as to prevent a possible epidemic following the outbreak detected in Jimena. The presence of the virus has been confirmed in twelve bovines at ‘Los Angeles Ganaderia’ but only three animals are showing symptoms of the illness and the ministry says the status of the outbreak will not be confirmed till this week.
None-the-less the regional authority is taking no chances and a fumigation campaign started on Monday in Cádiz, Córdoba, Granada, Málaga and Sevilla. In addition the vaccination of over one million animals has also begun.
Andalucía councillor for agriculture and fisheries, Isaías Pérez Saldaña, stated in Almería that the illness known as ‘blue tongue’ detected in Jimena only concerned the well being of cattle, sheep and goats. He stressed there was no danger to human health or the consumer. It did not affect meat or milk products or those derived from them.
However the fear of an epidemic and the official bans have caused the cancellation of a major cattle fair in Jaén as well as the first such event planned for Tarifa last weekend. It has also led to a halt to bullfights but the regional government says currently this need only apply to a 150km radius of Jimena. The last known outbreak of ‘blue tongue’ was in the Balearic Islands during 2000 and 2003.