News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
If you are interested in the news and you want to express your opinion you may do so on our notice board!
Week November 25th to December 1st 2004.
NOISY COSTA NEARS END
Strasbourg court opens way to tackle noise pollution
By Dave Jamieson
A JUDGEMENT AGAINST SPAIN IN THE EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS HAS OPENED THE WAY FOR NOISE NUISANCES TO BE PROSECUTED.
The ruling, described as ‘historic’, followed a complaint from a Valencia woman that noise levels in her home on certain nights was more than double the legal limit. The case had taken 10 years to reach Strasbourg, and legal experts say it has reinforced article 9.2 of the Spanish Constitution which requires public bodies to promote conditions of liberty and equality. In effect, the judgement confirms that excessive noise is a violation of human rights, although there already exists adequate state, regional and municipal norms for its control which all Town Halls should now enforce rigorously.
NOISE A ‘HEALTH RISK’
Noise levels monitored in the centre of Málaga have been recorded in some city centre streets at over 67 decibels, a level considered to be a health risk. While the province of Málaga was reported to be the fourth noisiest in the country, the problem is not restricted to the city. In August last year, a fine of over 228,000 euros was levied on Vélez-Málaga Town Hall by Andalucía’s Upper Justice Tribunal, following the council’s failure to address complaints of late-night noise received from Torre del Mar, while Nerja is actively seeking to move its late-night bar zone out of the town centre following continued representations from residents.
REACHING FOR A COMPROMISE
Following the news from Strasbourg, Málaga’s Mayor Francisco de la Torre said that there would be a ‘sweep’ of relevant bars to establish if each complied with noise regulations, adding that the city would maintain a position of co-operation with commercial premises in order to achieve a compromise between leisure facilities and residents.
CARABANTES FAMILY SEEKS 44 YEARS FOR KING
Charges include murder, illegal abduction, sexual aggression and bodily injury
By Oliver McIntyre
THE LAWYERS REPRESENTING THE FAMILY OF SLAIN COÍN TEENAGER SONIA CARABANTES LAST WEEK SUBMITTED THEIR LIST OF CHARGES AGAINST HER ACCUSED MURDERER, TONY ALEXANDER KING, AND REQUESTED A 44-YEAR PRISON SENTENCE IF HE IS FOUND GUILTY.
The family’s charges are the same as those recently submitted by the prosecutor’s office – murder, illegal abduction and sexual aggression – plus one additional charge, bodily injury.
The family’s sentencing request is broken down into 25 years for murder, six years for illegal abduction, 10 years for sexual aggression and three years for bodily injury. By contrast, the prosecutor requested a total sentence of 34 years (25 years for murder, five years for illegal abduction and four years for sexual aggression). In addition, the family has requested a restitution payment of 600,000 euros, while the prosecutor requested that the restitution payment be set at 300,000 euros.
TRIAL FOR EARLY 2005
King is expected to go on trial in early 2005 for the August 2003 murder of Srta Carabantes, 17, who disappeared while walking home from the Coín fair and days later was found dead in a dirt lot on the outskirts of Monda, semi-buried under a pile of rocks. King is also to face a separate trial for the 1999 murder of 19-year-old Rocío Wanninkhof in Mijas.
IMAN OF FUENGIROLA CLAIMS INNOCENCE
By David Eade
The Imam of the Muslim Suhail community of Fuengirola, Mohamed Kamal Mustafa, has publicly said that he is against the beating of women and claims that he stated that clearly in his controversial book ‘La Mujer en el Islam’.
Last week a court in Barcelona sentenced the Imam to 15 months in prison for inciting the maltreatment of women in his book. Normally sentences of two years or less are suspended but in this case the court ruled that he should be jailed as he represented a danger to the community.
The Imam is outraged that the judge in the case labelled him a ‘social danger’. He pointed out that he had acted for 22 years in Fuengirola as a director of a multi-cultural centre; he was the father of a family “so how could they consider me a social danger.”
Kamal made his comments outside the Fuengirola mosque where more than 200 people turned up to support him carrying posters saying “we all support the Imam” or “We want justice”. The legal spokesman for the mosque, Manuel López considered that the sentence was a judicial error in that it limited freedom of expression and violated the liberty of religion.
Letter to the Islamic Commission
After the public display of support the Imam sent a letter to the Islamic Commission of Spain in which he expressed his regret for the expressions used in his book. He also reiterated his statement that he was against violence to women and stated that the passages in his book were literal translations of the Koran, which he might have misinterpreted.
The secretary general of the Islamic Commission, Mansur Escudero, said the Imam’s letter was “good news”. He said that it was now important that it was communicated to Spanish society and to the Muslim community in Spain that Islamic doctrine has never permitted nor ordered maltreatment or humiliation of any human, indeed quite the contrary.
E-TICKETS FOR MÁLAGA
By Dave Jamieson
MÁLAGA IS TO PIONEER A NEW METHOD OF PAYING FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORT. FROM THE START OF NEXT YEAR, PASSENGERS ON THREE OF THE CITY'S BUS ROUTES WILL BE ABLE TO PAY FOR THEIR TICKETS USING A MOBILE TELEPHONE.
The six month pilot project has come about as a result of an agreement between the municipal transport undertaking, the BBVA bank, and mobile phone operators, and is similar to services already employed in some taxis in Barcelona and Madrid, although Málaga is first to apply it to buses. The six-month trial on routes 8, 20 and 22 is costing 261,000 euros, and the Town Hall expects it to be expanded to others if it proves successful. Users of the ten-journey and monthly bus season tickets will be able to take advantage of the service by sending a text message to "recharge" their cards, while anyone wanting to make a single journey will also to be able to use the service to generate a bar-code on the telephone's display which can then be read by a machine on board the bus. The additional cost for users will be that of sending an ordinary text message.
NO FUNDS FOR RONDA HOSPITAL
By David Eade
The PSOE party has presented in Ronda the regional government's budgets for the area for the next year. It claimed that no funds had been set aside in that period for the badly needed new hospital, as the town hall had not as yet appropriated the necessary land.
The socialist spokesperson and member of the regional committee, Isabel María Aguilera, explained that before the lands at La Planilla could be ceded by the town hall to the regional government the council had to approve the modifications for use and this had not yet been done. She added that there had to be an environmental impact study on the site and one had been commissioned by the previous Partido Andalucista and socialist government team. However a new tri-party Partido Andalucista, Partido Popular and GIL administration was now in power and Aguilera blamed the delays on them stating that work on the land would not now start to 2006.
Amongst projects that will receive government funding in 2005 are 300,000 euros being set aside to bring broadband Internet connections to all the villages of the Ronda region. In addition 8 million euros have been allocated for the completion of the second and start of the third phase of the A-369 scenic route between Ronda and Gaucín.
Nerja golf signing
PARENTS PAY FOR KID'S VANDALISM
NEWS Staff Reporter
Torremolinos Town Hall announced last week that it is levying a 6,000-euro fine on four youths who in May of this year broke into and vandalised the town's bullring. All of the alleged vandals are minors, between the ages of 12 and 15, meaning their parents will be held responsible for paying the municipal fine, which is an administrative sanction and is independent of whatever legal penalties the adolescents (or their parents) may face.
The vandalism took place on the afternoon of May 15, when the group allegedly jumped over the fence to gain entry to the Plaza de Toros and then broke the windowpanes of nine fire-extinguisher boxes and used the extinguishers to spray foam all over the aisles and spectator stands. The police, alerted by a call from a municipal employee, caught the alleged vandals a short time later near the El Pozuelo football field at the fairground.
ALHAURIN EL GRANDESETS 20 MILLION-EURO BUDGET
NEWS STAFF REPORTERS
Alhaurín el Grande Town Hall last week approved its 2005 budget, which at 20 million euros is a historic high for the town, and 19 per cent larger than the 2004 budget. In addition, it expects a further four million euros in regional or central government subsidies for a couple of parking garage construction projects.
Nearly half of the budget (9.8 million euros) is earmarked for capital projects (in addition to the subsidy-funded garages). Major planned projects include construction of the municipal library (a million euros in the 2005 budget), building a bullring at the fairground (800,000 euros) and other improvements and expansion work at and around the fairground (665,000 euros). Restoration work in the historic centre is budgeted for 670,000 euros, rural road improvements will get 475,000 euros, water network upgrades 370,000 euros, urban road improvements 300,000 euros, and parks and gardens improvements 200,000 euros.
STRIKE THREAT BY HANDICAPPED WORKERS
Aspandem highlights lack of funds
By David Eade
ASPANDEM, THE PARENTS ASSOCIATION FOR HANDICAPPED PEOPLE IN SAN PEDRO DE ALCÁNTARA, HAS HIGHLIGHTED AN URGENT PROBLEM THAT IS AFFECTING ALL SIMILAR GROUPS IN THE PROVINCE.
Spokesperson Salvador Martínez stated that Aspandem and the other associations had not received so far this year the 50 per cent funding for handicapped workers salaries promised by the regional government.
Currently Aspandem has 14 people working in the services sector whose employment would be unviable without the subvention of the Andalucía government. Aspandem alone is currently owed 18,000 euros and Martínez stressed that the association was paying the worker's salaries in full but now risked getting in to serious debt.
The specialist centres have recently held a meeting with Juan Carlos Lomeña, the regional government's provincial delegate for employment to stress the urgency of the situation. The association's hope the situation will be resolved quickly but failing that it could lead to the handicapped workers taking strike action in an effort to force the Andalucía administration to honour its obligations.
Fuengirola town hall has received the 'Espina Bífida' award that is given annually by the Málaga Espina bifida association in recognition of those organisations that have helped improve the quality of life for those people stricken down by this infirmity.
The award was given to Fuengirola because its department of parks and gardens had undertaken a project to cater for the needs of handicapped children by adapting the play and surrounding areas for their use. One of the most recent initiatives of this type is the new 'Parque de Los Niños' that opened in June and incorporates ramps so that children in wheelchairs can use the facilities.
There are more than 300 handicapped people living in the town of Ronda. Each day they face challenges in undertaking the simple tasks that able-bodied people take for granted. Now thanks to a project promoted by an Argentinean charity in collaboration with the town hall's delegations of education and equality 600 children have sampled the problems faced by their handicapped fellow citizens.
As part of the celebrations for the international 'Day of the Child' the 600 school children took part in a two-week project during which they had to cope with getting around in wheel chairs, walking with their eyes masked with the aid of a stick and trying to communicate without speaking. The organisers say the activities had a positive effect with the children proclaiming, "We did not imagine that life could be so difficult" and pledging to make life better for the town's handicapped people.
WATER PLANT DELAY IN NERJA
By Dave Jamieson
Nerja's mayor has protested to central government over delays in the project to construct a water purification plant in the town. At a meeting with sub-delegate Hilario López Luna last week, José Albert Armijo revealed that a request made to the region's water suppliers three months ago has produced no response. The Town Hall wrote to the president of Confederación Hidrográfica del Sur during August, asking that the new plant should be either constructed underground or be covered over to avoid bad smells affecting neighbouring residents, but according to mayor Armijo, the communication has not been acknowledged. It is also unclear whether the project will be constructed by Acusur, in line with an agreement signed by the Council, or if the Junta de Andalucía will insist on a new contractor. Local businesses have expressed considerable concern about the lack of action on the purification plant, contrasting the situation with neighbouring Torrox, which already has installations of this kind, where work will start on a new plant shortly.
NERJA'S NEW NINE HUNDRED
Brits top foreign residents' list
By Dave Jamieson
NERJA'S POPULATION HAS INCREASED BY OVER 900 IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS. THE NUMBER OF RESIDENTS WHO HAD OFFICIALLY REGISTERED WITH THE TOWN HALL BY NOVEMBER 17 TOTALLED 19,507 COMPARED WITH 18,598 A YEAR AGO.
Over 90 per cent of the newcomers are of foreign nationality, while the total number of non-Spanish residents now accounts for almost 24 per cent of the population. Of these, Britons top the league with a total of 1,881 registered residents - 400 more than last November - with 567 Argentineans second and 403 Germans third.
The Town Hall, however, continues to urge residents who live for several months of the year in Nerja to register if they have not done so, pointing out that the greater a municipality's population, the more funds become available from central government for the provision of essential town services. The Foreigners' Department says there is no connection between registration and taxation matters, and that a larger registered population could lead to improved infrastructures, including more schools, a hospital, a fire station, a National Police base and more Guardia Civil officers. They add that many people holding a Residence Card assume that they are registered on the population census, but as these are two different departments, they may not be.
To register, visit the Nerja's Foreigners' Department with a passport or residence card plus a property escritura or a phone or electricity bill with the address on it. The Department is on the ground floor of the Town Hall next to the main entrance and opens Mondays to Thursdays from 10:00 until 13:30. Telephone 95 254 8401. The department has also published a book, Living in Nerja, with general information for foreigners living in Nerja and owning property there. Available in English, German, French and Spanish, it is available from the Department, price one euro.
MAYOR FIGHTS WIND GENERATORS
By David Eade
The mayor of Facinas, Sebastian Álvarez, has been dubbed the new Don Quixote as he going in to battle against the giant wind generators that he says has blighted his community.
The first citizen of the self-administrating mountain white village has written to the mayor of Tarifa, Miguel Manella, seeking the maximum compensation possible for his locality because of the proliferation of giant wind generators placed within its boundaries.
In the Facinas and Tahivilla area there are over 130 high output wind generators in two different wind parks with a generating power of 1,600 kilowatts each. Thirty of the windmills stand 70 metres high whilst the diameter of the blades is 80 metres and the remaining 100 or so stand 30 metres high.
Sr. Álvarez has stated that whilst the municipality of Tarifa may have benefited from the wind parks there has been a zero benefit for the economy of Facinas and its people. Indeed he claims that the character of the village has changed overnight due to the presence of the wind generators, the electricity substation and high-tension cable needed to transport the generated power supply.
The problem for the people of Facinas is that the close proximity of the giant wind generators has changed the intentions of various investors who sought to back projects in the locality. They had viewed the zone as tranquil and natural and were keen to promote rural tourism as well as other businesses in the area but have now put a break on any investment because of the negative influence of the wind generators on the local scenery. Sr. Álvarez said the wind generators are so close to the village that the day they started operating he received a flood of complaints from local residents. He hopes that his appeal to the mayor of Tarifa will at least result in an industrial estate being built in Facinas as compensation for the lost investment.
SPANISH SCIENTISTS IDENTIFY HUMAN-APE LINK
By Oliver McIntyre
A fossil found in Barcelona has been identified by a team of Spanish palaeontologists as a 13 million-year-old skeleton of an ape that they say may have been the last common ancestor of today's great apes, including humans. The findings of the team, led by Salvador Moyá-Solá of the Miquel Crusafont Palaeontology Institute in Barcelona, were published last Friday in the journal 'Science'.
The great apes today include orangutans, chimpanzees, gorillas and humans. In the course of evolution, they are believed to have branched off from the lesser apes - which include today's siamangs and gibbons - sometime between 11 million and 16 million years ago.
According to Sr Moyá-Solá's team, the partial skeleton found near Barcelona, now identified as a new ape species they have named Pierolapithecus catalaunicus, exhibits characteristics that suggest it was either the last common ancestor between the great apes or very close to it. Until now, a scarcity of findings from the period in question has prevented scientists from gaining much understanding of the common lineage of the great apes, including humans, once they split from the lesser apes.
The scientific community has yet to weigh in fully on Pierolapithecus' position in the evolutionary chain of the great apes. Some have suggested that it may be further down the line than the common ancestor.
The Spanish team says that the thorax, or chest area, of the skeleton is wider and flatter than that of the lesser apes. The fossils suggest that the species had a rigid lower spine and was developing a more upright posture. The scientists believe it was a strong tree climber, but more in the style of the great apes than of the lesser apes. The Barcelona specimen is believed to be a male that would have measured between one and 1.2 metres tall and weighed about 35 kilos.
'EL GORDO' GOES MOBILE
NEWS Staff Reporter
Spain's favourite lottery, the Christmas draw known as the Lotería de Navidad or, more affectionately, 'El Gordo' ('The Fat One'), is becoming a little more high-tech this year. For the first time, ticket buyers will be able to check their winnings via mobile phone, by sending a text message to 5641, with the word 'alerta', then the ticket number, then 'suertereal'. And people wanting to buy a ticket bearing their favourite 'lucky' number can use the same system to find out where tickets with that number are being sold. In this case, the text message to 5641 should read: 'busca', then the desired number, then the person's postal code. Already, some favourite numbers - one this year is 22504, the date of the Royal wedding between Prince Felipe and Letizia Ortiz - have sold out.
El Gordo's huge popularity in Spain - the December 22 draw is indeed a hallmark of the Christmas season in the country - means that millions of tickets are sold, allowing a massive pay-out spread throughout the country, with the maximum single prize for a 20-euro 'décimo' ticket set at 200,000 euros. In all, this year's El Gordo will pay some 1.8 billion euros in prizes, based on projected ticket-sales revenues of 2.57 billion euros. On average Spaniards will spend an estimated 63.56 euros each on the Christmas lottery. Per capita, Andalucía is the lowest-spending mainland Spanish region, at 39.87 euros per inhabitant, while Madrid is the highest, at 88.97 euros per person.