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Week November 11th to November 18th 2004.
MANILVA BUILDING BOOM
Overcrowded Costa stretches its boundaries
BY DAVID EADE
THE BUILDING BOOM ON THE COSTA DEL SOL IS REACHING SATURATION POINT FORCING DEVELOPERS TO CONSIDER QUIETER AREAS, SUCH AS MANILVA, FOR CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS.
Manilva is one of the few areas on the western coast that still has a sizeable underdeveloped land bank. The municipality’s town planning ordinance (PGOU) that has operated since 1994 has now set aside 20 million square metres of land for development. That figure represents 60 per cent of the area of Manilva and its Mayor, Pedro Tirado, says that just 20 per cent of that land has been built on in the last decade.
1,265 NEW HOMES
All that is about to change. The Málaga College of Architects has stated that in the first six months of this year projects were approved for 1,265 new dwellings in the municipality. That is a rise of 361 per cent over the same period of 2000 and a 28 per cent increase on the first six months of last year.
TOWN CENSUS LEAPS
The official town census (padrón) shows that the population of Manilva has leapt as a result of the construction boom. In the last 10 months the number of people living in the municipality has increased by 10 per cent at over 1,000, an average of 100 new residents per month. However, many new residents fail to register with the Town Hall so the real rise in population is almost certainly much higher.
The Mayor and his council team are playing down the construction boom and the accompanying population rise stressing that only 20 per cent of the available land has been built on.
Opposition groups are far from happy. The ASM opposition has already accused the Town Hall of ‘urbanistic overcrowding’.
FIREFIGHTERS FOIL SUICIDE ATTEMPT
Quick action saves Torremolinos British resident
BY OLIVER MCINTYRE
THE FAST ACTION OF A FRIEND AND THE QUICK RESPONSE OF LOCAL POLICE AND EMERGENCY SERVICES SAVED THE LIFE OF A BRITISH WOMAN WHO ATTEMPTED TO COMMIT SUICIDE IN TORREMOLINOS.
Officers patrolling Avenida Palma de Mallorca in the early hours of Sunday morning were flagged down by a British man who told them he had just received a call from a friend who had taken a large quantity of pills. The man accompanied the officers to the 51-year-old woman’s home and firefighters and an ambulance were also called to the scene.
Firefighters broke into the home through a partially open window and let the officers inside, where they found the woman on the kitchen floor, “semiconscious and showing signs of hypothermia and a weak pulse,” according to police reports. The ambulance team stabilised her and transferred her immediately to Málaga’s Hospital Clínico.
In the kitchen officers found a packet of medication with eight pills missing, as well as what appeared to be a suicide note, written in English and addressed to the woman’s parents. The parents were contacted and informed of the situation, according to a source close to the case.
Rincón flooding scandal
By Dave Jamieson
New information has emerged which could shed light on the background to the disastrous flooding in Rincón de la Victoria last March, which caused damage estimated at 56 million euros. Last Thursday, a document was made public which warned that danger signs had been detected following unlicensed construction work over eight months before the inundation. Last summer, a report from Seprona, the environment arm of the Guardia Civil, was sent to the town’s Mayor, then José María Gómez.
The document, dated July 14, 2003, was presented to the fiscal chief of Rincón, Manuel Villén, last week by two representatives of the Izquierda Unida (IU) party. It stated that land movements had been noted around the Pileta Arroyo where work was underway and included a ‘denuncia’, dated April 2003, detailing two possible offences in relation to the construction of houses at Parque Victoria. According to the IU, some were built on drainage channels, action which could lead to these flooding, with serious consequences for the town centre.
The ‘denuncia’ stated that the promoter of the project was the Junta de Andalucía’s public developer EPSA, Empresa Pública de Suelo de Andalucía, which had sub-contracted another developer, Vera, to carry out the work.
CONTROVERSIAL SEPRONA REPORT
Last summer’s report from Seprona says that, following a call from a member of the public, Guardia officers made clandestine inspections of a site north of the El Cantal petrol station where they found a number of possible and serious construction irregularities. EPSA subsequently referred Seprona to documents signed by the municipality and others which approved the project, while Rincón Town Hall is reported to have told the Guardia Civil that the site approved for the construction of Parque Victoria did not require a construction licence.
Last week, the IU said that, last July, the Town Hall of Rincón knew the contents of the Seprona report, including its allegations of illegal construction and its warnings. The party’s provincial coordinator, José Antonio Castro, denounced the investigation which followed, alleging that the investigating committee met once only.
Tarifa pays homage to the dead of the straits
Meanwhile, illegal-immigrant arrivals continue
By David Eade and Dave Jamieson
TARIFA'S 'CENTRO DE ATENCIÓN DE INMIGRANTES' (CAIT) RECENTLY HELD A 'DAY OF THE DECEASED' CEREMONY, AN EMOTIONAL HOMAGE TO THE MEMORY OF ALL THOSE WHO HAVE FALLEN VICTIM TO THE WATERS OF THE STRAITS OF GIBRALTAR.
An open-air mass was celebrated outside the 'Capilla de la Ánimas', attended by members of CAIT and the local community. The chapel is close to a communal grave in which are buried the remains of 18 immigrants. After the mass, a solemn and spiritual ceremony was held with readings from the Bible and the Koran, and a silent remembrance of the victims of the waves.
The ceremony was held a year after 37 illegal immigrants lost their lives in the waters off Rota. The president of the 'Centro de Acoge de Inmigrantes' in Tarifa, José María León, stated at the service: "We meet here today to remember our brothers. With the Bible and the Koran we pray to the same God. We are all looking to the same God."
Sr León went on to call on the governments of Europe and the King of Morocco to "tackle the economic and social causes of these forced migrations and as a result help to end once and for all these tragedies."
THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES
A day after the ceremony a Guardia Civil helicopter raised the alarm after spotting 16 illegal immigrants in a wooden boat eight miles off the Marbella coast. Meanwhile, in Málaga and on the eastern coast last week an additional 72 illegal arrivals were picked up by authorities. At the Málaga port, seven Moroccans were discovered, hungry an dehydrated, hiding inside a cargo container aboard a merchant vessel which plies between Málaga and Ceuta. And off the coast of Motril, a Guardia Civil patrol intercepted a boatload of 65 illegal immigrants, also from Morocco. The detentions brought to nearly 2,300 the number of illegal immigrants caught this year on the Granada coast, more than for the whole of 2003.
Vélez police to protest over Town Hall 'negativity
By Dave Jamieson
Local police officers in Vélez-Málaga are due to demonstrate outside the Town Hall at noon today. Their trade unions have called for the protest action to draw attention to what they call the "negativity" of the council in negotiating revised working arrangements which, they claim, could result in an increase in hours with more night, weekend and holiday shifts.
A representative of one union explained that the Town Hall wanted to introduce a '6 x 4' system, under which officers would work six days then have four days off, with a bonus of up to 470 euros if scheduled days off had to be changed to working days. The unions argue that the extra pay should be included in the monthly wage packet, and not be treated as a productivity payment. They are also protesting about low pay offered to new recruits who, after basic training, undergo further experience training during which time they fulfil the same function as established officers. A union representative added that the corps is awaiting new uniforms, which should be replaced every summer and winter, with some officers now wearing jackets that are six years old, while other security materials are also on hold.
The councillor responsible at Vélez Town Hall, Sara Sánchez, said that negotiations have not been concluded and described the decision to protest as precipitous. She said the posture adopted by the unions appeared to disregard all Town Hall employees other than their members, adding that "local police officers can not always have everything."
Nerja golf signing
Casarabonela residents vote down quarry
NEWS Staff Reporter
In an unprecedented move, Casarabonela Town Hall last weekend allowed the residents of the Guadalhorce Valley town to decide by referendum what the municipal stance will be regarding the potential reopening of a local quarry. The vote was a landslide: 92 per cent of the over 700 people who voted (the town's total official population is 2,492) rejected the reopening of the Los Jarales quarry.
True to its word, the Town Hall has accepted the townspeople's decision and is taking a stance against the restarting of quarrying work at the site. It may face a challenge, as a number of years ago the quarry industry was declared of 'social interest' to the town. But Mayor Sebastián Gómez says that since that time the geographic area in which the town sits has been declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. He says the Town Hall will request that the Junta de Andalucía revise the land-use categorisation of the quarry site to prevent its future use for extraction work. Meanwhile, the Town Hall says that it believes the companies that currently hold the quarrying rights will agree to not restart work, because in the past they indicated that they would only do so with municipal support.
Financial blow for Estepona’s town centre traders
Financial blow for Estepona’s town centre traders
BY DAVID EADE
PLANS TO CREATE AN ‘OPEN COMMERCIAL CENTRE’ IN ESTEPONA ARE NOW IN SERIOUS DOUBT AS THE REGIONAL GOVERNMENT LOOKS SET TO WITHDRAW ITS 300,000 EUROS IN FUNDING.
The crisis for the local traders has occurred because of delays in starting the refurbishment works in the Calle Terraza. At present these are not due to start till after the Christmas festivities when the work to build an underground car park in the adjoining Avenida de España has been finished.
The newly pedestrianised Calle Terraza was to have been one of the central features of the ‘open commercial centre’, which aims to win back shoppers to traditional shopping zones. Now is it clear that the Calle Terraza will be a building site until next summer as new drainage and water pipes are laid and the street is converted in to a pedestrian-only zone.
The regional government had allocated 300,000 euros to help fund the first phase of the ‘open commercial centre’ with the town hall putting in an equal amount. The problem for the traders is that the money had to be taken up before 2005 and if it is lost it is unlikely the town hall will fund the full 600,000 euros budget.
The president of the Estepona’s business association (AEE), Pepe Martín, has held an urgent meeting with the regional government’s provincial commerce delegate to highlight the dilemma. AEE has appealed to the regional government to extend the grant because of the unusual circumstances otherwise it fears the end for the town centre regeneration scheme.
SAN PEDRO IN CRISIS
According to the Partido Popular San Pedro’s town centre is now in a state of crisis. For over a year the project to build an underground car park beneath the Avenida Marqués del Duero has cut traffic access to the town’s principal trading street and caused severe losses for local businesses.
In a survey carried out by the PP local traders have stated that their sales have dropped by 70 per cent since November 2003. In addition around 300 local businesses are said to have closed down.
The mayor’s representative in San Pedro, Carmen Revilla, has accused the PP of exaggerating the problem stating that the down turn in business is a common factor throughout Spain. She added that pedestrians would be able to use avenue later this month with traffic being given access in February.
Cártama to create grand riverfront park
By Oliver McIntyre
Cártama Town Hall last week unveiled plans for the creation of a large riverfront park aimed at tapping the “scenic value of the Guadalhorce River along its passage through [the town].” The goal is for the park to serve as a green belt that will help unite Cártama Pueblo and Cártama Estación.
According to preliminary plans, the park will include four main components. The first includes the areas closest to the urban centres, also taking in the river’s flood plain, and will include a 180,000-square-metre park with areas for street-market stalls, open-air concerts and outdoor bars or cafes. The second is the actual river bank, where a beach area will be created. The third component takes in existing areas of citrus and eucalyptus trees, where the installation of street furniture, lighting and some paved areas will create a more user-friendly park-like atmosphere. Finally, a network of paths will be created throughout the zone to allow people to stroll around the park and between the river and the adjacent urban areas.
“Despite its omnipresence, the river is unknown to the residents of Cártama,” says Salvador Moreno Peralta, one of the architects responsible for the plan. “[The park] will create a ‘river culture’, in which residents can discover the richness the riverbanks have to offer, as well as learn to respect this environment.”
The Town Hall’s goal is to include the riverfront park in the town’s Urban Growth Plan (PGOU), which is currently under development. Residents are being invited to give their input on the proposed park before architectural plans are finalised, and message boards for the purpose have been set up at the Town Hall and its offices in Estación (Tenencia de Alcaldía).
Go-ahead given for Fuengirola’s promenade
Works on final phase to start after the summer
BY DAVID EADE
THE PROJECT TO COMPLETELY REMODEL THE PASEO MARÍTIMO IN FUENGIROLA IS ABOUT TO ENTER ITS FOURTH AND FINAL PHASE.
The project had been blocked by the ministry of the environment in Madrid but it has now given its approval subject to a few changes to the original scheme.
The approval was finally given after a meeting between the director general of the coastal authority and the Mayor of Fuengirola, Esperanza Oña. She said she was pleased with the outcome and accepted the changes made by the central government. The contract for the works will now be placed in June of next year and the works would start after the summer peak period.
The zone of the promenade that makes up the final zone runs from the El Bote beach restaurant in Torreblanca to the boundary of the municipality with Benalmádena at Carvajal. The area to be upgraded runs for 1,680 metres and the work will be in the same style as the previous three zones.
ONE-WAY TRAFFIC LANE
One of the changes made by the ministry was for the road from El Bote in the direction of Carvajal to be one-way although a two-lane traffic system would operate at the border zone with Benalmádena. The one-way traffic lane would free-up three metres of land, which would be allocated to extra parking. In addition the pedestrian zones are to be enlarged.
The initial budget for the final phase of the Paseo Maritimo had been set at 3.9 million euros that will be met in full by the central government. However as the ministry has now insisted on changes the total bill is set to increase but at no cost to the town hall’s coffers.
UNESCO condemns Ronda racetrack
News Staff Reporter
The car racing and testing track at Los Merinos in Ronda has been condemned by UNESCO because it is contaminating the Sierra de las Nieves biosphere reserve.
Members of Spain’s national UNESCO ‘Hombre y Biosfera’ committee have visited the track to ascertain the circuit’s impact on the environment in the protected biosphere park. Their conclusions are that the emissions from the cars are generating a lot of contamination and the site is also draining an important water aquifer that serves the local area.
The negative report from the committee will now be sent to the regional government, Ronda Town Hall and other private and public organizations. The implications are serious, as the committee would be forced to modify the zone covered by the park if the situation at Los Merinos continues.
It is understood that unless within the next year there is a change at the site then both Los Merinos Norte and Sur would be excluded from the Biosphere park. If that happened it would be the first time that UNESCO was obliged to reduce the limits of a protected reserve in Spain.
The UNESCO committee has been quite forthright in its views stating that not only is the circuit a danger to the Sierra de las Nieves biosphere reserve but also to the health and drinking water supply of the area. They also stressed that the car track was a totally unsuitable development for the zone.
Carromato de Max opens its doors again
By Oliver McIntyre
THE CARROMATO DE MAX MUSEUM OF MINIATURES, LOCATED IN MIJAS PUEBLO, HELD ITS GRAND REOPENING LAST WEEK FOLLOWING A SIX-MONTH CLOSURE FOR RESTORATION AND IMPROVEMENT WORK.
The 72,000-euro makeover of the museum's interior was carried out mostly at the hands of carpentry students from the town's trade school. The remodel included new wood walls and flooring, better lighting to protect the 360-plus exhibits and improved labelling and informational signs.
First inaugurated in 1972, the Carromato de Max is perhaps the Costa's quirkiest museum (certainly it is the one with the 'smallest' collection). A homage to all things tiny, it boasts everything from a shrunken head to a ballerina carved onto a toothpick to Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper painted on a grain of rice. According to the Town Hall, the museum receives over 25,000 visitors a year.
No change expected in Spanish – USA relations
BY DAVID EADE
THE VICTORY OF GEORGE W BUSH IN LAST WEEK’S AMERICAN ELECTIONS IS NOT EXPECTED TO AFFECT THE ECONOMIC RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE USA AND SPAIN.
Before the elections Spain’s secretary of the State’s Budget, Miguel Ángel Fernández had observed that some analysts had predicted that if Democrat John F Kerry won that petroleum prices would drop and stated: “we are interested in lower petroleum prices.”
A close relationship was established between former Premier, José María Aznar and President Bush that saw Spain both support the USA over the Iraq War and send troops for humanitarian duties. However since the March election victory of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero’s PSOE and his decision to withdraw from Iraq relations between Spain and the USA have been at low ebb. It is also true that the PSOE government would have been happier with a centre-left Democratic government in Washington but politics is politics and trade is trade.
Spain’s business community is bullish about future trading relations with the USA. Jordi Boada, director of the Andalucía Promotions Agency in Miami said that the political relations between the two countries did not affect commercial relations. “No importers who now buy Spanish olive oil are going to change to Italian olive oil for political motives. They are more influenced by the strength of the euro.”
COMMERCIAL RELATIONS STAY GOOD
The Spanish Chamber of Commerce issued a statement to the effect that it didn’t believe there would be any changes in commercial relations. It noted that the United States is Spain’s sixth largest trading partner in terms of exports and that 15 per cent of Spanish companies regularly export to the USA whilst 17 per cent are regular importers.
According to figures issued by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism in Madrid in the first eight months of 2004 Spain exported goods worth 3.697 million euros, a slight rise of just 0.5 per cent over the same period of 2003. In contrast Spain imported 4,481 million euros of American products, a leap of 8.7 per cent.
Lidia del Pozo, director of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in New York, stated that the election of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero had not change the attitude of American businesses towards Spain. Our good economic situation makes us an interesting country an example of which is the investments made in Spain by General Electric and other companies.
By Oliver McIntyre
A Spanish researcher has used recombinant DNA technology to create transgenic ‘supermice’ that are highly resistant to cancer, possibly providing a pathway to the future development of drugs to help protect humans from the disease. The results of the study, performed by Doctor Manuel Serrano’s Tumour Suppression Team at the Spanish National Cancer Centre in Madrid, are to be published in the November 15 edition of the journal ‘Genes and Development’.
Cancer occurs when cells divide and grow out of control. The supermice created by Dr Serrano’s team carry an extra copy of something called the Ink4a/ARF locus, a component of the group of gatekeeper genes known as ‘tumour suppressors’ that keep cell division and growth in check.
Dr Serrano believes the increased resistance to cancer was the result of a modest increase in the levels of the two proteins controlled by the Ink4a/ARF locus. While the research is still in its early stages and the experiment involved only mice and not humans, the success of the study, he says, allows him to “fantasise about a hypothetical drug that reduces tumour activity” in humans.