Costa del Sol News - 9th February 2005

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

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Week February 3rd to February 9th 2005.


Security at Nueva Atalaya highlighted after man is beaten to death


The victim was rushed to the Costa del Sol hospital in Marbella where he died an hour and a quarter later from his injuries. However, the president of the resident’s association, Miguel Moriana, has disputed this arguing that the young man actually died at the scene of the attack, the ambulance having taken 45 minutes to arrive.
Police moved quickly to arrest two men, a 21-year-old Spaniard and an 18-year-old Frenchman, both have previous convictions. Officers are seeking two other people in connection with the beating.
National Police announced that the brother of the murdered man was also injured in the attack, which is believed to have been linked to an unpaid car debt. The assault took place at 18.30 at a work site between two blocks of flats just 200 metres from a local police security cabin. The officer on duty raised the alarm by calling the National Police.

The death has caused residents in the Diana–Nueva Atalaya urbanisations, many of whom are British, to speak out against the lack of security; they claim fights and robberies are a frequent occurrence.
Teresa García, a member of the board of the residents’ association, stated: “I have lived here for 10 years and in that time there have been three murders. There are frequent robberies in the homes and cars and fights in the streets and bars.”
Hugh Muirhead, from Dublin, who is renting a holiday flat in Nueva Atalaya for a golfing holiday admitted to Costa del Sol News that he had been shocked by the weekend’s events, but added: “I come here every year to play golf and have never come across any trouble in the past. I hope this is just an isolated incident that sadly in this day and age could happen anywhere.”

A long term British resident who asked only to be named as Margaret told CDSN that she moved to the area about 10 years ago with her late husband. “We chose the area as an ideal retirement home as it is close to the golf and many British owned bars and shops. Sadly in recent years the area has gained the reputation as a drug haven, although I haven’t experienced any problems. Having said that, living as I do on my own now, I would never go out at night unaccompanied.


Record low temperatures bring winter woes


Last week’s headlines reflected the disruption caused in central and northern Spain by the severe spell of cold weather which engulfed most of Europe. The worst of its kind for 20 years, it broke records across the country with –17.1 degrees recorded in Guadalajara, and even the Balearics shivering at seven degrees below zero.
The Costa del Sol also suffered with unusually low temperatures and the surprise appearance of frost and snow on the Mediterranean shore line and in north Africa. Homes at Bobadilla Station suffered burst pipes when it became the coldest place in Málaga last Wednesday night as the mercury plunged to –8.5 degrees, while in Granada province, the capital dropped to –9. Next night, Antequera recorded up to –10, and the city of Málaga fell to just below zero degrees for the first time in 13 years, although it was positively balmy when compared with its record low, -3.8 degrees, set in February 1954.

Wednesday night also saw snow falling in Nerja for the first time in decades with cars covered by frost at dawn, while the beaches at Motril and Almuñécar were white on Thursday morning for the first time in at least 80 years. There was even enough snow in Melilla to force the closure of its airport.

Losses of up to 13 million euros are forecast in Málaga agricultural areas if the cold spell is not followed by substantial rains. The organisation COAG described the situation as “a agricultural catastrophe without precedent in the Mediterranean area” with 60,000 farmers affected and 100,000 direct and indirect jobs at risk.
At least three people are known to have died across the country as a direct result of the weather: a vagrant in Tarragona killed by hypothermia, a 33 year old woman in Palencia whose home collapsed apparently because of the weight of snow which had accumulated on the roof, and a 24 year old man who disappeared in Girona and whose body was found lying in the open air.

The freezing conditions also led to new record demands for power in the province of Málaga, with Sevillana-Endesa reporting a consumption of 1,206 megawatts per hour between 8.00 p.m. and 10.00 p.m. last Wednesday night, 16 per cent more than highest consumption last January. However, the record lasted for only 24 hours, because the following night, Málaga’s demand rose to 1,424 megawatts. The supplier asked customers to save power while the cold weather lasted, particularly during the evenings when unnecessary lights could be switched off and when the use of washing-machines should be avoided.

The cold weather has also opened fears of a major outbreak of meningitis in the province of Málaga. Low temperature is known to be one of the causes which can contribute to the disease, and, last week, two patients in the capital were reported to be suffering from symptoms. A girl of four and a youth of 18 were in hospital for treatment and observation, although the regional health authority emphasised that an epidemic was not underway. Last year, 40 cases of meningitis were diagnosed in the province.
Authorities have also been concerned for those who live rough in the city of Málaga during the cold snap. Municipal sources estimate their numbers at around 200, but the city’s social services can only provide 150 beds at aid centres.


PP calls for airport for Campo de Gibraltar

By David Eade

The Partido Popular is to present a motion before the national Congress of Deputies and the regional parliament stating the necessity of locating an airport in the Campo de Gibraltar region. The party’s provincial president and parliamentary spokesperson, Antonio Sanz, called for the airport to be created in partnership with a private initiative.
The basis of the PP’s petition is that any joint-use of Gibraltar’s airport will be unviable. The party stated that the tone of its proposal would allow the regional government to support this initiative and to seek investment opportunities for an airport in the region.
At a press conference called to announce the party’s series of motions Sr Sanz highlighted the private project to build an international airport in the municipality of Jimena de la Frontera. He stated: “The Mayor of Jimena, Ildefonso Gómez, presented a few days ago the advance project for the airport, meanwhile the regional government says that it will not proceed with this project.”
Sr Sanz described the contradiction over the Jimena Airport scheme as a “swindle” against the people of the Campo de Gibraltar as it denied them a potential radical development of the infrastructure, especially in transport.

The PP’s ‘curious’ move
The announcement by the Partido Popular has to be viewed against the party’s opposition at national level to the new co-operation accords agreed between the socialist government in Madrid with Britain and Gibraltar. Joint use of Gibraltar’s airport has always been a high priority for both PSOE and PP governments so it is curious that the PP should now oppose it, especially as joint use would generate major benefits for PP-led border town of La Línea de la Concepción. However, the announcement also allows the PP to create discord between the PSOE Mayor of Jimena and the PSOE government in Sevilla.


Police fight back with Marbella arrests

By David Eade

National Police arrested six people believed to be closely linked with a highly dangerous Italian mafia gang . They seized four Italians and two Frenchmen on suspicion of carrying out a 370,000-euro jewellery robbery in Almería.
Before the arrests officers had monitored the gang's movements between two dwellings in the Costa Bella region. The vehicles the men were using were those implicated in the Almería theft. Police believe the gang was trading the jewels for drugs, which were then sent to France and Italy.
The arrested men all have previous convictions for drugs, robbery and arms offences and one was the subject of a 'find and capture' warrant. Officers recovered firearms, large amounts of ammunition, drugs, a machine for wrapping the drugs for sale, safe breaking tools and surveillance equipment.

In an earlier set of arrests National Police in Marbella arrested 15 men who were members of a gang who distributed cocaine in bars. Amongst those arrested was a junior member of the National Police.
The majority of the gang members are said to be Colombian and the National Police officer is alleged to have been directly involved in the gang. In the raids associated with the arrests 21.5 grams of uncut cocaine was seized along with two bags of hashish and marihuana plus the utensils for preparing the drugs for sale. Various members of the gang had previous convictions for drug offences. The existence of the network was detected by a special police unit working at a national level based in Madrid who then organised the Marbella raids.


Foreign legion to stay in Ronda

Upgrade to barracks ensures permanence


Now the national deputy and member of the government’s defence commission, Ana Fuentes, has spoken out to assure the town that the much loved legionnaires are staying put.
Sra Fuentes stated: “The Legion is secure in Ronda because this is an important and strategic base.” She added that at present the barracks were only about 60 per cent full but in future additional legionnaires would be sent to the base and the numbers would not fall below the current level.
Last November Ana Fuentes met with the new colonel of the ‘Tercio’, Ángel Álvarez, and assured him that 200,000 euros would be included in the State budget for 2005 for the modernisation of the barracks. Further investment would be made in the future to ensure the permanence of the Legion in the town.

Ana Fuentes added: “The Legion gives life to Ronda and this is why it will always be present.” This will reassure many people in the town who had protested at the possible transfer of the ‘Tercio’ to another base as not only are the legionnaires popular in the area but they also make a large economic contribution to Ronda.


New public transport system to operate this summer

By David Eade

Benalmádena Town Hall is to put out to immediate tender the construction, creation and management of the new public transport system with a view to having it operational by this summer.
The local authority is pulling out all the stops so ensure that the three lines of microbuses are running by the summer with the new monorail transport system being operational within 18 months.
The businesses that are interested in operating this new transport network have until February 15 to make their bids. The length of the concession will be 25 years.

The administration intends the three microbus lines and monorail to vastly improve communications between Benalmádena Pueblo, Arroyo de la Miel, the new medical centres and the outlying urbanisations.
All the new stopping points for the new transport network will have information boards and access for the handicapped. By consulting the displayed timetables passengers will know the exact time of the next vehicle. The initial number of monorail trains will be four but this number will be increased to five if there is sufficient demand.



La Cañada complex expansion ruled illegal

Marbella mayor to enforce work stoppage

By David Eade

The total of nine licences in all were issued under the GIL administration of former mayor Julián Muñoz. They were for the construction of shops and parking zones on a site adjacent to the present shopping complex. However the court has ruled that three of those sites are land that is deemed as for non-urban use under the 1986 town planning ordinance, the only document recognised by the regional government.
The three sites at issue cover a total area of 135,000 square metres of which 60,419 square metres is constructed. The mayor of Marbella, Marisol Yagüe, suspended the works on September 30 of last year but the ban has not been observed, however the mayor's order is now reinforced by a court ruling. The provincial delegate for public works, José María Ruiz, has stressed to the mayor the necessity to take immediate action to enforce the work stoppage.

Meanwhile the Andalucía High Court (TSJA) has also acted to defend the 1986 town planning ordinance. The court has informed the town hall that work must stop immediately on the construction of an 11-storey building at the entrance to Puerto Banús close to the El Corte Inglés - Hipercor Centro Comercial Costa Marbella.
The TSJA has ruled that the building, which would contain 114 dwellings on the Avenida de las Naciones Unidas, is illegal. It has ordered the town hall to take immediate and effective action to halt the works and has warned that if its fails to do so it will face criminal proceedings.


Alms box theft attempt from Nerja church

By Dave Jamieson

Nerja’s parish church has once again been the target of a thief. Last Wednesday night, the alms box in the church of El Salvador on the Balcón de Europa attracted the attention of a man who attempted to force it open to extract the cash inside. Frustrated by his lack of success, he managed to drag the one and half metre long collection box into the open air outside the church, where he continued his efforts to break into it, to the astonishment of passers-by. The local police were called by a witness, and quickly arrived to detain the would-be thief, who was deprived of the 167 euros found to be in the box. The arrested man was reported to be known by police as a vagrant, originally from Cartagena but who has been in the town for some time, with a number of previous incidents on his record.

Like other churches, El Salvador has had to improve its security in recent years and its alms box, which cost 600 euros, is one of the most modern and secure of its kind. In Holy Week 2003, silver decorations were stolen from a statue of St Michael Archangel inside the church. Part of the sceptre was taken along with a chain with which the saint was restraining a dragon. Another Nerja church, the Ermita de la Virgen de las Angustias, has also suffered similar thefts.


New bull ring for Coín proposed

News Staff Reporter

Coín Town Hall wants to build a new, covered bull ring by the local fairground. As well as bull-fights, the venue will stage concerts and other cultural events, if construction follows the outcome of a 45,000 euro study now under way. Mayor Gabriel Clavijo said that it was planned to build the new feature on an extension of the existing fairground, saying that it would be doubly important to the town. He sees it supporting events related to the national fiesta and acting as an event stadium in which he envisaged seating for 2,500, although a concrete proposal is yet to be drawn up.

The Mayor said that the town had always been hindered by the absence of such a fixed structure, and that, during this year, he would be seeking finance for the project. Coín is the second municipality in the Guadalhorce valley to consider the construction of a new bull ring; the Town Hall of Alhaurín el Grande has already sunk 900,000 euros into its plans.


Los Hidalgos residents step up protests

By David Eade

Now they are stepping up their protests and recently staged the first of a planned series of 3-hour blockades near to the main entrance to encourage drivers to use the adjacent public road.
As reported in the CDSN last week for nearly two years, the lorries during their journey from the coast to new developments in the adjacent countryside have caused road surfaces and pavements to subside, manholes to be cracked and electrical and water installations to be broken.
The Community of Owners applied to Manilva Town Hall seven months ago for permission to erect 10-ton weight restriction notices and to take other traffic calming measures including width restrictions. As they had received no response by mid-January, residents agreed to press ahead with their legal right to implement the measures, but were prevented from doing so by three members of the local police, who claimed the community did not have permission.

Undeterred the residents continued with their protest by forming a human chain across the main entrance road and two side streets and waved warning notices at drivers.
Community President Chris Warren, who led the protest, told CDSN: "We pointed out the public way that they were free to use, but we want to put an end to heavy lorry and cement mixer drivers using our private roads as a short cut to their final destinations inland and causing still more damage. Mostly it was good natured and drivers co-operated - in the end."
Secretary Administrator Victor Martinez supported the move by telling lorry drivers that the roads were private and not for general use, although negotiations had begun with the Council to adopt the entire infrastructure to keep it well maintained.
He pointed out "The damage being done causes danger both to pedestrians and road users and the need to constantly make repairs means that residents have to foot the bill, which is entirely unfair."

Mr Warren declared: "Without consultation or notice to our community the Plan Parcial has been changed, and this shows the public road being much wider than it is at present and taking a different route to that previously. We have now followed the Mayor's lead and directed heavy traffic down this side road."

According to the community the Plan Parcial has been changed by the Mayor using a personal decree rather than the Council's formal planning approval process. It also involves alterations in zoning from villas to high rise apartment buildings on the undeveloped parts of the urbanisation, which the community is contesting and the subject of on-going legal and other challenges.


Benalmádena's promenade to be extended

News Staff Reporter

Benalmádena's Paseo Marítimo currently ends at the Sunset Beach apartment hotel. Now thanks to an agreement reached between the municipality and the regional government's coastal authority a pedestrian only promenade will be extended to the Torrequebrada hotel. The 841,416 euros scheme not only includes the extension of the promenade but also improvements to the parking zone next to the Sunset Beach complex.
The coastal authority has also approved work to four of Benalmádena's beaches at Las Yucas, Torre Vigía, Arroyo Hondo and La Perla. The councillor for beaches, Sebastián Carretero, said works would be carried out to these locations in the coming months.

The work schedule includes improving the access to Las Yucas and repairing the damage caused by rain. Torre Vigía will also have improved access, whereas the access to Arroyo Hondo will be cemented over and a new access will be created at La Perla from the roundabout.


Moorings shortage along the Costa

By Dave Jamieson

THE COSTA DEL SOL NEEDS FIVE TIMES AS MANY MOORINGS FOR LEISURE CRAFT AS PRESENTLY EXIST IN ITS 11 MARINAS, AND THE SHORTAGE IS DEPRESSING SALES OF NEW BOATS. Organisers of the second Andalucían Boat Show, which closed at Málaga's new conference centre last Sunday, say that while 4,376 moorings are available along the coast, there is a demand for a further 20,000. However, the show's president, Jorge Sader, said that the realistic prospects of improving the situation were very low for a sector of tourism which, according to a recent study by the Society of Planning and Development, generates a greater volume of business for the region than golf. Sr Sader said that the number of marinas should be increased and existing facilities expanded, adding that local authorities should be able to invite private initiatives to invest in the sector. He pointed to the planned marina in Benalmádena, which "after eight years of waiting, still does not have a date fixed for work to begin". The president acknowledged that there were environmental concerns about proposals to expand existing marinas, but pointed to the low contamination levels from new craft and underlined the importance of building dry docks where small craft could be stored during the winter months. However, he added, "It is also necessary to change the way users think." The lack of moorings has affected the sale of new boats, according to the president of the Andalucían Motorboat Association. Speaking at the Boat Show last week, José de la Peña said that, while many foreign residents had the resources and desire to purchase a new craft, it was difficult to sell one when there was no possibility of mooring it.


RENFE bans smoking on trains

News Staff Reporter

On Tuesday, new regulations came into force prohibiting smoking on 98 per cent of Spanish rail services. The ban imposed by Renfe, which applies on all train journeys of less than five hours on local, regional and AVE services, also covers station platforms and restaurants and brings the company into line with Government legislation which limits the sale and use of tobacco. The company has put into operation an information programme for smokers, conscious of the effects which the new rules could have on them, with displays in stations, at ticket offices and on board trains. Renfe has also developed a training programme for staff to enable them to cope with any situations which may arise during journeys as a result of the limitations on smoking. By the time of implementation on Tuesday, on-board personnel had been briefed on how to handle difficult situations which arise from the anxiety, nervousness or irritability of those who are denied permission to light up. Passengers joining trains are to be advised by announcements whether there is a total ban on smoking on the service and, on long distance services, whether an area has been reserved for smokers. Where smoking is permitted, no more than 36 per cent of the total number of seats on the train can be allocated for smokers, and outside the allotted area, smoking is prohibited. Smoking information is also now printed on tickets.