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Week March 10th to March 16th 2005.
MARCH 15 POT DATE
Revised document to be ready in May
BY DAVID EADE
HUNDREDS OF RESIDENTS IN ESTEPONA HAVE PROTESTED OVER REGIONAL GOVERNMENT’S POT INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN FOR THE MUNICIPALITY.
Costa del Sol News last week reported on the meeting attended by around 1,000 people in which a regional government representative stated that the deadline for lodging objections would be extended to March 15. This has now been confirmed by the Town Hall after the passing of two previous cut off dates on February 10 and 25.
The Mayor of Estepona, Antonio Barrientos, has acknowledged that the information given to residents was not sufficient and has welcomed the extension so that those affected can study the plans and lodge their objections. Hundreds of people are concerned that the new infrastructure will cross their homes, agricultural plots and fields that are currently zoned as agricultural.
Sr Barrientos has urged local residents who are affected by the plan to lodge their objections with officials at the town planning delegation at the Edificio Puertosol in the port. The Mayor also confirmed that the Town Hall had objected to the proposed route of the by-pass and insisted that any rail link should be totally placed underground as it passes through the municipality.
POT PROBLEMS IN OJÉN
Meanwhile in Ojén the Town Hall has also lodged many objections to the POT proposals. The administration is particularly concerned that the plan does not include the long awaited second link between the mountain village and the A-7 dual carriageway in the direction of Málaga nor does it include a motorway exit point.
Once the objections to the draft POT plan have been studied a revised version will be produced at the end of April or early May. This will be open for public examination in May and both the public and local administrations will again have the opportunity to comment.
The POT plan for the western Costa del Sol covers the nine municipalities between Mijas and Manilva. It does not include Torremolinos or Benalmádena that are featured in the Málaga urban POT.
Antequera airport approval causes confusion
Airport project would require major revision of urban plan
BY DAVE JAMIESON
PROPOSALS TO BUILD AN AIRPORT IN ANTEQUERA APPEARED TO HAVE BEEN GIVEN A BOOST LAST WEEK WHEN THE MINISTRY OF DEVELOPMENT WAS REPORTED TO HAVE AWARDED THEM A FAVOURABLE RECEPTION.
However, the Ministry’s agency Aena, which operates several Spanish airports, moved quickly to deny any such authorisation.
Early last week, the town’s Mayor, Ricardo Millán, reported that, for the first time, Aena had said the project was compatible with Málaga’s Pablo Ruiz Picasso Airport. He said it had also described as “viable” the airport’s functioning, from a technical point of view.
However, by the weekend, Aena was denying that it had given any view to the Mayor regarding the proposed airport’s compatibility or viability. Aena pointed out that the project had only been under consideration by them for fewer than 10 days and that, “these kind of studies take months to complete”.
The private airport, which is being promoted by an investment group in Antequera, would be built on a 10 hectare site by the A-45 road, and would require a major revision of the town’s urban ordinations. Plans include hangars and support buildings for large and small commercial aircraft, a heliport, a flying school, a golf course, a commercial centre and car parking, as well as a residential area of 3,000 homes. The runway would be almost four kilometres in length.
However, the project is not without its critics. The Partido Popular has already dismissed the idea, and last week, members of Izquierda Unida (IU) in Antequera claimed that the plans are no more than urban speculation. The group says that the airport, golf course and two housing zones are not necessary and that they would have a “huge environmental impact in an important natural area”.
Speaking for the IU, Lola Quintana said that the site being considered included fertile ground which had formed part of the economic development of the town, based on agriculture. She added that prime farm land should not be used for such installations which were incompatible because of atmospheric contamination.
Lengthy delays for residency documents
By David Eade
Foreign residents wishing to take out residency cards or renew their existing ones are facing lengthy queues at the Fuengirola National Police station.
The department dealing with applications is open from Monday to Friday between 09.00 and 13.00 but many people are arriving as early as 08.00 to ensure that they are at the head of the day’s queue.
Reports of foreign residents having to wait up to three hours to be attended to are not uncommon, others have been told to return the next day after the foreigner’s department staff were unable to attend to everybody within the allotted hours.
A lack of staff in the residency department seems to be the main cause of the delays. Usually there are only two or three staff on duty, which is insufficient to handle the applications or answer the questions of the 80 or more people who attend each morning.
There also seems to be mounting concern at the length of time it is taking to receive the residency cards. At one time cards could be produced in between two to three months. Now the norm seems to be five to six months whilst there are reported cases of a year’s wait.
Eileen Davenport who recently moved from Winchester to Fuengirola told Costa del Sol News that she had attended the Fuengirola National Police station and stated: “I waited two hours to receive the necessary application forms for myself and my family. I then went back to hand in the completed applications but after waiting 90 minutes gave up and went to our ‘gestor’ instead.”
Busy foreign residence department too
Foreigners are not only flocking to the police station but the Town Hall’s foreign residents department too. The councillor responsible, José Sánchez, stated that 925 people used the department’s services in February, which is an average of 48.68 a day. The majority of the visits, 758, were from British and Irish residents and visitors. The second and third highest users were Finnish nationals and Danes.
Police shooting leaves man dead in Coín
Officials defend officer’s decision to fire on threatening suspect
By Oliver McIntyre
AN OFFICER FROM THE COÍN LOCAL POLICE SHOT A MAN DEAD ON SATURDAY DURING A FRENZIED INCIDENT IN WHICH THE MAN ALLEGEDLY INJURED THREE PEOPLE WITH A KNIFE AND THREATENED TO SHOOT HIS GIRLFRIEND AND POSSIBLY POLICE WHO HAD RESPONDED TO THE SCENE.
According to reports from local police and the Town Hall, the incident began when the man, R.R.B.L., 36, who was performing some work at the weekend home of a Fuengirola couple who he was friends with, got into an argument with a metal carpenter who was also working in the house. He allegedly attacked the metal worker with a knife, and when other people in the house tried to intervene, also went after them, injuring three people in all. The metal worker was able to run off from the house, located in the rural San Román area on the outskirts of Coín, and make his way to the street market that was going on at the town’s fairground, some two kilometres away. He alerted local police officers, who responded to the scene.
According to police reports, when the officers arrived the man went into a rage and held a gun to the head of his girlfriend, who had been with him at the house, and threatened to shoot her if the police didn’t leave. He then pointed the pistol at the police. One of the officers fired two warning shots into the air, according to official reports, but the man did not back down and one of the officers then shot him three times. He was taken by ambulance to a field near the town’s cemetery to rendezvous with an emergency helicopter that had been called, but medics were unable to save his life.
The case is being investigated by a Coín court and autopsy reports are being awaited to try to clarify whether the man, a Mijas resident, may have suffered a psychotic outburst or been under the influence of drugs. Both the local police and the Town Hall defended the actions of the officer who shot the man, saying he followed proper protocol and acted in self defence. Family members of the man have said that the guns he was carrying (the one he was wielding and another stuck in his belt) were fake.
Vélez police face heat over parking fines
By Dave Jamieson
A Vélez-Málaga councillor has strongly condemned the actions of some of the Town Hall’s police officers in a row which has put town centre parking high on the political agenda. Sara Sánchez says that, “a small group of local police officers are putting their personal and private interests before those of the community.”
The councillor’s remarks, released in a statement by the Town Hall, followed a meeting last week at which business leaders in the town discussed what methods could be adopted to protest the increase in the number of fines being levied by local officers. Their association says that parking fines in the main commercial centres of the town during January and February totalled 3,600 – a massive 221 per cent up on the same period in 2004 – figures which were confirmed by the local police themselves. The collective’s president, Antonio Ruiz Oliva, said that the situation has been negatively affecting commercial activity and criticised the Town Hall for failing to address the lack of parking spaces in the town centre.
Councillor Sánchez’s statement went on to say that the police should strictly observe local by-laws, particularly in respect of traffic and parking, and not be swayed by their own views or by politics. She claimed that while 90 per cent of the force observed the police’s role in protecting local people, it appeared that this was not a priority for others. In an effort to diffuse protest plans by the business sector, she made assurances that the present situation would be rectified in time.
The business association has suggested that the former local police station in the town centre be demolished to make way for a new car park. Another proposal is the establishment of a ‘blue zone’.
Spain apologises over Caruana border incident
Police contradict chief minister’s version of events
BY DAVID EADE
THE SPANISH MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS HAS APOLOGISED TO GIBRALTAR’S CHIEF MINISTER, PETER CARUANA, AFTER HE WAS STOPPED BY A NATIONAL POLICE OFFICER WHILST CROSSING THE BORDER INTO SPAIN.
The apology was made after the Gibraltar government made a formal protest over the incident to Madrid via the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The ministry stressed that it believed the “minor event” would not harm the good climate that currently exists between Spain and Gibraltar.
The crisis happened at mid-day last Thursday when the chief minister attempted to leave Gibraltar to take part in a television interview in Algeciras. It is alleged that a National Police officer asked Mr Caruana for both his passport and car documentation and then left him waiting for ten minutes in his official car whilst he went to verify it.
The chief minister decided not to continue with his journey but returned instead to his office. He then issued the protest to Madrid via London and the Spanish authorities undertook an immediate enquiry to ascertain whether the police officer’s actions had been correct or excessive.
Speaking on GBC the chief minister stated that he was convinced that the act was premeditated. He dismissed excuses that the officer was young and new to the post claiming that the policeman knew who he was and that was why he took the action. Mr Caruana said that is why he considered the officer’s actions to be offensive and showed a lack of respect for his office and Gibraltar itself.
The chief minister said he believed the incident was an isolated one involving just two police officers on duty and did not represent an official line on the part of the Spain. He also welcomed the formal apology by the Spanish government.
POLICE UNION ANSWERS BACK
However over the weekend a different version of events emerged from the UFP police union. A spokesperson stated that the chief minister did not cross the border in his official car G1 that is well known to officers. Instead he was travelling in a black Volkswagen Passat with dark tinted windows. In the front of the car was a chauffer and bodyguard whilst Mr Caruana was in the rear with another person.
According to the UFP the chief minister’s car left Gibraltar in the normal traffic queue. The duty officer not knowing who was in the car asked only for their passports not for the car’s documents and did not verify their passports. The union says the delay was about three minutes and not the 10 claimed by Mr Caruana. When the passports were returned the car was free to proceed but the chief minister ordered its return.
The police union official went on to explain that when the chief minister normally left Gibraltar the Spanish police were advised of his approach and he was allowed to by-pass the queue and the passport checkpoint. This it was stressed was a courtesy to Mr Caruana and not an obligation, as the chief minister does not carry a diplomatic passport.
Manilva plans for 200,000 people
News Staff Reporter
The new draft of Manilva's town planning ordinance (PGOU) is now completed and sets out the plans for the future development of the municipality. The document is open to the public to inspect and to raise their objections over a month period before it goes forward for official amendment and ultimate approval.
The official responsible for drawing up the new PGOU, Damían Quero, has stated that the document allows for an expansion in the local population to 200,000 which is ten times more residents than currently officially live in the municipality.
The purpose of the document is to set out the basic infrastructure necessary to support the growth of population in the coming years. The number of residents has tripled in just a few years and is expected to double in the next 15 years and Sr. Quero said it was important to have the power to support all the population.
Sr. Quero also spoke of the economic base of the municipality and the need to enlarge and improve the tourism capacity of Manilva. He stressed that it was important to support strong growth and extensive occupation of land without destroying important elements in the local landscape.
The mayor of Manilva, Pedro Tirado and the rest of the town council except the ASM opposition party have voiced their support for the new PGOU. Sr. Tirado has urged local people to participate in the process by inspecting the document over the next month and to voice their queries and doubts with town hall officials who are ready to explain the PGOU to them.
Pro-Hospital Platform launched in Guadalhorce
By Oliver McIntyre
Some 40 associations and organisations have banded together, along with several political parties and town halls, to form the Pro-Regional Hospital Platform of the Guadalhorce Valley ('Plataforma Pro Hospital Comarcal del Guadalhorce'). The goal of the platform is to lobby for a true regional hospital for the Guadalhorce Valley. It says the CARE diagnostic and treatment centre that the Junta de Andalucía has announced will be built in Cártama "is insufficient and will not alleviate the deficiencies and lack of health resources in the area."
Pizarra Town Hall, as well as the town's Izquierda Unida, Partido Andalucista and Partido Popular political parties, have joined the platform, as have the town halls of Alhaurín de la Torre, Alozaina, Tolox and Carratraca.
At its first meeting, the platform's working group decided on several action steps. The first is to solicit an urgent meeting with the Junta de Andalucía provincial Health delegate to express the platform's concerns and call for the creation of a regional hospital. The group also plans to meet with the provincial government ombudsman. Meanwhile, it will launch an informational campaign, beginning with the distribution of 4,000 pamphlets, and has called a full-platform assembly on March 17 in Pizarra. At the assembly, the group will further plan its informational campaign and coordinate a signature-gathering effort.
Torremolinos fights pine processionary caterpillar
Costa town pioneers revolutionary treatment
BY OLIVER MCINTYRE
TORREMOLINOS IS PIONEERING THE USE IN SPAIN OF AN ALTERNATIVE METHOD FOR COMBATING THE PINE PROCESSIONARY CATERPILLAR, A COMMON AND POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS PEST THAT PROPAGATES IN CERTAIN PINE FORESTS.
The insects, known in Spanish as ‘procesionaria del pino’, can cause acute allergic reactions in some people, including irritation of the skin and eyes and effects on the respiratory system. The caterpillars can also be very dangerous to dogs that eat or inhale them.
The new method, known as endotherapy, involves injecting a treatment into the tree trunk, rather than fumigating, which has been the traditional method combating the pine processionary. The advantages of the new system, according to the Town Hall, include not just avoiding the spread of potentially dangerous pesticides in the air, but also a high level of efficacy. In September of last year, the treatment was tested on 668 pines throughout the town, and results have shown a complete lack of pine processionary nests except in two cases, and in both of those the caterpillars failed to completely develop, thus preventing infestation. Each treatment is supposed to be effective for two years.
The endotherapy technique was first developed for ornamental plants in the 1990s by the Italian Bruno Corradi. By 2000, further research and experimenting had resulted in the development of the pine processionary treatment, which was tested successfully in pine groves in Parma, Italy. Torremolinos has now become the first town in Spain to adopt the method. The Town Hall says that with the success of the pilot programme, it is looking at extending the treatment to all of the town’s pine groves. It says the new method is important “not just from a scientific point of view, but also as a better alternative environmentally and for human health safety.”
Another cold spell on the Costa
Snow strands dozens in Granada
NEWS STAFF REPORTERS
THE WINTRY CONDITIONS OF LAST WEEK RESULTED IN THE RESCUES OF AROUND 100 PEOPLE STRANDED BY HEAVY SNOWFALLS IN THE EAST OF THE REGION. THE LARGEST GROUP WAS FOUND AT BAZA IN GRANADA WHERE 75 HAD BECOME TRAPPED IN A REFUGE.
Forty-five others were helped in the Sierras of Gádor and Los Filabres in Almería where they had been cut off in remote farmhouses. In the Alpujarras, two Guardia Civil patrols were brought in to deliver supplies to pharmacies which were running short of medications, while insulin was taken to a woman in urgent need of it in Cádiar. Two elderly people and two minors were evacuated from a remote house in Albondón, while many drivers had to sleep in their cars at service areas on Tuesday night when heavy snowfalls across Granada brought road traffic to a halt and isolated about 20 villages. On Wednesday, four mountain walkers from Málaga were rescued near Capileira in the Sierra Nevada. They had spent two nights in a refuge at 2,500 metres in the foothills of the Mulhacén after becoming separated from the rest of their party.
The town of Ronda and the surrounding mountain region was covered in snow and temperatures dropped to between 0 and 4 degrees. The A-367 Ronda to Campillos road was closed for three hours trapping hundreds of vehicles after a collision between two lorries. A bus skidded on ice on the A-376 road to San Pedro but without any injuries. All roads leading to Ronda were badly hit by the freeze and chains were obligatory on the San Pedro road.
TWO PEOPLE DIE IN CAMPO DE GIBRALTAR
The recent bad weather caused the death of two people in the Campo de Gibraltar region. The first tragedy occurred in Algeciras where an unidentified illegal immigrant died of hypothermia in the farming area of the town. He was found when another immigrant was admitted to the Punta Europa Hospital also with hypothermia and reported that his colleague was lying in the street.
The second victim was found floating in a stream in Tarifa by the Guardia Civil. The 67-year-old local man had been missing overnight but was found near his land at Puente de la Inglesa. He owned a small plot where he grew crops and kept some goats and although his family had searched for him they had to give up due to poor visibility.
DAMAGE TO BEACHES
Beaches in the Campo de Gibraltar were badly damaged by the high seas. Algeciras estimates that damage to its beaches stands at 155,533 euros and the Mayor has ordered emergency repairs to be carried out. The Mayor of Los Barrios, Alonso Rojas, visited the beach at Palmones that had suffered a major sand loss, as had the beach at Torreguadiario in San Roque.
Nerja Residents’ Day
By Dave Jamieson
Thirty-four groups and associations will be represented in Nerja on Sunday at the town’s Residents’ Day, which is expected to attract 5,000 visitors. For the first time, the event in the Verano Azul park, will have no food or drink distributed inside the marquee. Emma Hall, councillor responsible for residents at the Town Hall, said that instead, seven participating organisation will set up bars outside, each reflecting a particular culture or interest. The majority of those taking part are from the U.K., France and the Nordic countries, but the Town Hall says there is an increasing Hispanic influence with the continuing presence of the Argentinean community and, for the first time, representatives of Ecuador and Peru. The event will be formally opened by Nerja’s Mayor, José Alberto Armijo, at 11.00, with entertainment through the day provided by the municipal band, the Nerja Theatre Workshop, and Arabic dancers, amongst others. There will also be demonstrations of fencing, line-dancing and yoga.
Silence call for March 11 anniversary
Royal family to lead acts of remembrance
By Dave Jamieson
THE GOVERNMENT HAS CALLED FOR FIVE MINUTES SILENCE TOMORROW AT MIDDAY TO MARK THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THE MADRID BOMBINGS.
192 people died on March 11 last year when ten bombs exploded on four packed early-morning commuter trains in Madrid. At least 1,800 were injured in the attacks at Atocha, one of the capital's major railway stations. A statement issued last week called for the five minute pause to be observed in all places of work and study in memory of the dead and out of respect for the suffering of those affected. A Council of Ministers last Friday approved a decree to declare March 11 a day of national mourning, while their meeting tomorrow will centre its attention on security and on the victims of terrorist attacks. The King and Queen, along with the Prince and Princess of the Asturias, will lead tomorrow's acts of remembrance in the capital, accompanied by PM Zapatero, the opposition leader, Mariano Rajoy, and leaders of the city of Madrid. The 55 city councillors will separate into four groups, each observing the silence at one of the sites where lives were lost. However, the Association of Victims of March 11 has refused to participate.
Quicker medical specialist appointments
By Oliver McIntyre
Beginning April 1, patients in the Andalucía Health Service (SAS) whose primary-care physician sends them to a medical specialist for diagnosis or treatment will receive their appointment with the specialist in less than 60 days, according to a new regional law taking effect.
The maximum wait time for appointments applies only to initial diagnosis or treatment of the patient's condition, not follow-up visits. The regulation applies to 21 medical specialties: oncology, obstetrics, haematology, ear-nose-and-throat, psychiatry, pulmonary disease, digestive disorders, internal medicine, general surgery, gastrointestinal surgery, paediatrics, urology, rehabilitation, dermatology, cardiology, orthopaedics (including surgery), neurology, nephrology, endocrinology, gynaecology, and ophthalmology.
In addition, the law sets maximum wait times for some 300 specific diagnostic tests or procedures. Coronary angiograms, MRI scans, mammograms and biopsies, for example, must be performed within 30 days of the physician's request.
Further, in the case of eight specific diseases, the law sets a maximum lag-time between the moment a doctor first suspects that a patient may have the disease and the establishment of a firm diagnosis or start of treatment. For cancers of the uterus/cervix, breast, prostate (including benign hyperplasia), colon, skin or throat, the maximum time is 30 days. For cardiac-related chest pain or heart failure it is 60 days.
If SAS is unable to internally handle the established timelines, it must offer the patient an appointment at a certified state-sponsored medical facility. If the patient does not receive the appointment within the specified time limit, he or she may request a form from the corresponding SAS clinic authorising an appointment at a private clinic, with the cost charged to SAS. If no denial or response is received within seven days, the request is to be considered approved and the patient provided a list of private clinics.