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Week June 30th to July 6th 2005.
STEPPING UP SECURITY
Costa hotspots targeted in massive police crackdown
BY OLIVER MCINTYRE
THE INTERIOR MINISTRY’S CRACKDOWN ON DRUG DEALING AND ARMS POSSESSION MEANS EXTRA POLICE IN LEISURE ZONES THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY.
On a local level and following recent violence at Benalmádena’s Puerto Marina, National police stepped up security last weekend, stationing patrol cars and 25 officers at the various car and pedestrian entrances. Police made random checks of vehicles, searched car interiors and patted down suspicious-looking passengers or pedestrians. In just one hour at the main Avenida Alay entrance, officers confiscated a dozen knives, screwdrivers or other sharp instruments that could potentially be used as weapons.
PUERTO MARINA TROUBLE
Puerto Marina has been the site of numerous fights and altercations recently, including an incident two weekends ago that left three people injured, two of them with serious knife wounds (CDSN, June 23 – 29). Police regularly carry out patrol checkpoints at the marina and other leisure areas, but last Friday’s was a heightened presence. It came not just in direct response to the incident the weekend before, but also as part of the Interior Ministry’s announced crackdown on drug dealing.
On a busy weekend night at Benalmádena hotspots, a single officer might write up as many as 20 people for possession of weapons and more than 30 for drugs.
CHECKPOINTS ALONG THE COSTA
Other Costa nightlife zones to receive increased patrolling for drugs under the Interior Ministry programme include the El Copo district in Torre del Mar, Málaga city centre, Fuengirola marina, Puerto Banús in Marbella and Benalmádena’s Plaza Solymar.
The National Police presence comes in addition to local police patrols that are already frequently established in these areas on weekend nights, particularly during the summer months. Last year in Benalmádena local police patrolling nightlife zones seized nearly 500 knives or other sharp instruments.
Forest fire alert in La Línea and San Roque
BY DAVID EADE
A MAJOR FOREST FIRE IN THE SIERRA CARBONERA ON MONDAY NIGHT CAUSED WIDESPREAD CONCERN AMONGST RESIDENTS OF LA LÍNEA AND SAN ROQUE WHOSE HOMES BORDERED ON TO THE INFERNO. THE BLAZE STARTED AT 19.00 IN THE SAN ROQUE ZONE OF THE SIERRA BUT SLOWLY SPREAD TO NEIGHBOURING LA LÍNEA.
The Guardia Civil backed up by local police closed the Carretera del Higuerón, the main road access to La Línea from the A7 to the east of San Roque, as a precautionary measure.
The fire was proving difficult to control when at 22.20 another blaze broke out on a second front. At this point the Guardia Civil and local police started to evacuate people from homes located in small pockets in the rural areas affected by the inferno.
SANTA MARGARITA THREATENED
By 23.00 the work of the specialist Infoca fire fighting teams backed by local fire brigades and various police forces had prevented the fire crossing the Carretera del Higuerón. This was important; as had the fire succeeded in bridging the road it would have headed straight for the various urbanisations at Santa Margarita. The residents of this area were anxiously watching the progress of the blaze and were ready to flee once it crossed the main road.
The strong winds and the appearance of continuous new outbreaks of fire made it difficult for the fire fighters to put out the blaze and bring it under control. The Mayor of La Línea, Juan Carlos Juárez, with a number of councillors attended the fire scene where evacuation of residents of nearby urbanisations was discussed. Eventually in the early hours of the morning the fire had been brought under control but a watch was still being kept close to the Santa Margarita urbanisations and the water treatment plant.
When the Costa del Sol News visited the scene of the blaze on Tuesday morning Infoca giant tanker aircraft were still pouring thousands of litres of water on to the sierra and then to the sea off Torreguadiaro to refill. More than 100 hectares of the sierra in San Roque alone were destroyed. An official investigation is now underway to establish whether the fire was started deliberately.
400-HECTARE BLAZE AT MILITARY ESTABLISHMENT
The Sierra Carbonera blaze was the second major summer inferno in the Campo de Gibraltar area in recent days. Last week 400 hectares at the Sierra del Retín in the municipality of Barbate were destroyed by fire. The blaze took two days to extinguish and is the worst fire in Andalucía so far this year.
The blaze has caused a political outcry as it started on land used by the military. A lieutenant of the ‘Tercio de la Armada’ of San Fernando has now been arrested accused of starting the inferno by the negligent use of ammunitions. The use of ammunition in the zone had been banned by the military authorities until September.
A decree signed in 1997 drawn up by the Ministry of Defence states that the Sierra del Retín site should only be used for ‘sustainable’ projects. In addition all military activity must take in to account the natural values of the countryside and have a minimum impact on the local environment.” This extends to the military not cutting branches or using leaves to disguise or camouflage personnel, vehicles or locations. Not surprisingly the Mayor of Barbate, Juan Manuel de Jesús, has written a formal letter of protest to the Minister of Defence, José Bono, lamenting at the damage to health, the environment and tourism caused by the fire.
Crowded beaches and airwaves
By Oliver McIntyre
The major mobile-telephone service providers have advised that some coverage problems can be expected on the Costa during the summer months, as the huge influx of tourists increases demand and saturates antenna networks. Service problems are likely all along the coast, but particularly in towns like Rincón de la Victoria, where there are relatively few antennas, and Marbella, where the summertime population surge is enormous and there is greater use of latest-generation phones, which take up more bandwidth by transmitting images and other data. Other towns expected to be especially hard hit include Fuengirola, Torremolinos, Nerja and Málaga. Inland towns are less likely to suffer problems, according to the companies.
The service providers have indicated that they are studying the possibility of using temporary, mobile antenna units in high-saturation zones during the summer. However, they insist that a long-term fix is needed, meaning the installation of more permanent antennas throughout the region – around 20 to 30 per cent more than currently exist. The companies have called on town halls to expedite the licensing process for new antennas, which they say has become increasingly restrictive in recent years. In many towns, municipal ordinances have been created to regulate mobile-phone antennas due to fears of potential health risks.
Cádiz deports 1,505 illegal immigrants
Arrivals on the province’s shores are decreasing
By David Eade
IN THE FIRST SIX MONTHS OF THIS YEAR, 1,505 ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS HAVE BEEN DEPORTED TO THEIR HOME COUNTRIES FROM PORTS IN THE PROVINCE OF CÁDIZ, PRINCIPALLY ALGECIRAS, ACCORDING TO GOVERNMENT STATISTICS.
The majority of the immigrants arrived on the beaches of Cádiz onboard small craft known as ‘pateras’, typically inflatable boats or rafts. Others were caught in the ports of Algeciras and Tarifa trying to enter the country by hiding in lorries, trailers or coaches that had arrived on ferries from Ceuta and Tangiers.
Moroccans made up the vast majority of the repatriated immigrants, with 1,423, or nearly 95 per cent of the total. Nigerians were the next largest group, at 79, whilst there was one person each from Rwanda, Guinea-Conakry and the Cameroon. The current good relations between Spain and Morocco and the collaboration of the Moroccan consulate in Algeciras allowed the immigrants from that country to be returned home speedily.
The official figures also show a major drop in the number of ‘pateras’ approaching the coast of Cádiz province over the last year and a half. In 2004 there were 75 boats, compared to 130 in 2003, a drop of 42 per cent. There has also been a notable decrease in the first six months of this year, with 21 boats detected, as opposed to 66 in the first half of 2004.
Vélez to get country’s largest motoring centre
By Dave Jamieson
A major new commercial centre at Vélez-Málaga specialising in the transport sector will be the biggest of its kind in Spain. An area of 110,000 square metres near the existing El Ingenio centre has been earmarked for the complex, which will be home to dealerships selling cars, motorcycles, vans and lorries, agricultural vehicles and nautical machinery, as well as accessory suppliers and repair shops. There is to be an exhibition hall with parking for 1,200 vehicles. The 80 million-euro project is also likely to include a small racing circuit for trials, a petrol station and an ITV (Spain’s version of the MOT) test centre. The site is immediately to the north of the A-7 motorway, bordering 700 metres of it.
Known as the ‘Ciudad de Motor’ (‘Motor City’), the project marks the third major investment in the area by SALSA, a part of Grupo Sociedad Azucarera Larios, which previously launched the El Ingenio centre and the 90,000-square-metre Jardín del Ingenio commercial nursery. The company says the new facility will reinforce the commercial potential of the area, making the El Ingenio complex the future economic capital of the Axarquía.
Construction of the centre, expected to begin in six or seven months and take about two years to complete, will provide employment to 450 workers, according to its promoters. Once open, it is estimated that around 1,100 new jobs will be created directly by the initiative.
Torremolinos renews ‘botellón’ crackdown
BY OLIVER MCINTYRE
TORREMOLINOS MAYOR PEDRO FERNÁNDEZ MONTES HAS INDICATED THAT THE TOWN HALL IS RENEWING ITS FIRM STANCE AGAINST LATE-NIGHT DRINKING PARTIES IN PUBLIC PLACES, KNOWN IN SPANISH AS ‘EL BOTELLÓN’.
Following recent incidents of damage to sun beds and other property on the beaches of El Bajondillo and Los Álamos, patrolling is being stepped up and lighting is to be installed on some beaches. Already the Town Council has approved a 188,000-euro project for lights on the beach at Los Álamos, from the Málaga border to Calle Hotel Pontinental, with work to begin this week.
“This cannot be tolerated,” said the Mayor about the recent hint of a resurgence of ‘el botellón’ in his town, one of the few that has in the past had some measure of success at putting a lid on the street-drinking phenomenon. It is a social issue that has plagued many cities and towns throughout the Costa and elsewhere, with authorities more often than not coming up short in their efforts to curb the noise, rubbish and, in some cases, vandalism problems that frequently accompany the festive outdoor gatherings.
‘BOTELLÓN SUMMIT’ IN ANDALUCIA
Indeed, just a few weeks ago, the mayors of Andalucía’s eight provincial capitals gathered for what might be described as the ‘botellón summit’, putting their heads together in search of solutions to the problem.
But in Torremolinos, the street parties that raged in hotspots like Pueblo Blanco, Calle Casablanca and La Nogalera in the ‘90s have in recent years largely disappeared. According to the Mayor, the town has been successful at quashing ‘el botellón’ simply by enforcing existing laws on things like noise, alcohol sales and closing hours. One of the biggest obstacles to putting an end to the phenomenon is unwillingness on the part of many officials to take measures that may be unpopular, he said. With ‘el botellón’ apparently beginning to raise its head once again on local beaches, the Mayor intends to demonstrate anew that his town is prepared to take such action.
Briton dies on Torreguadiaro beach
By David Eade
A British man recently died at Torreguadiaro beach in San Roque. The 061 emergency service received an alarm call at 19.00 to the effect that a man was having difficulties in getting out of the sea. A medical team from San Enrique de Guardiaro raced to the scene but found that the man had already died.
Initial reports stated that the man had died from drowning but later the Mayor’s representative in Torreguadiaro, Juan José Guillén, announced that the cause had been cardiovascular failure. He added that the local police had identified the victim as a 65-year-old Briton who lived with his wife in one of the two tower blocks overlooking Torreguadiaro beach.
Although the tragedy occurred at 19.00 it was not till after 20.30 that the body was removed from the beach. The reason for the delay was the need for a judge to authorise the victim’s removal from the scene.
Noise annoys in Nerja
Noise levels measured by means of sensors placed in public areas
BY DAVE JAMIESON
SPAIN HAS THE WORLD’S SECOND HIGHEST NOISE CONTAMINATION LEVELS AND THE SUBJECT HAS RETURNED TO THE HEADLINES IN NERJA ONCE AGAIN.
The town has recently been surveyed by Inasel, a private company hired by the Junta de Andalucía to measure noise levels in those smaller municipalities in Málaga and Almería which have between 5,000 and 20,000 residents. The Nerja exercise involved 16 sites where noise levels were recorded every 10 seconds over a 24 hour period, although in some places where people traditionally gather late at night – such as the town’s Plaza Tutti Frutti – recordings were made over a complete weekend. Also included were Playa Burriana, Avenida Rodríguez Acosta and the central area around the Balcón de Europa. Sensors were placed in public buildings, including the Town Hall, and in private buildings with the owners’ consent, and the results will be analysed to provide a quantifiable picture of Nerja’s ambient noise levels.
But residents in the town centre say there is no need to await the study’s conclusion as they have been complaining about excessive noise for years. Many home-owners around Tutti Frutti square and neighbouring Calle Antonio Millón have spent money on double glazing and other methods of sound-proofing following the alleged failure of the Town Council to control the problem.
BURRIANA BARS ANXOUS FOR SOLUTIONS
However, the results of the Junta’s study are being eagerly awaited by businesses along the town’s biggest beach, Burriana, who have been in conflict with the Town Hall over noise levels already this year. Following complaints from local residents, local police officers imposed a ban on live music in some, but by no means all, bars and restaurants. This prompted a meeting in early March between representatives of the businesses, Nerja’s deputy mayor and Emma Hall, the councillor for foreign residents, in an effort to clarify the situation.
Those present reported that, amongst other points, the Town Hall admitted that it owned equipment to measure noise levels, but also that no Council operative knew how to use it. While at least one establishment has closed as a result of the authorities’ reaction to complaints about noise, the remainder want to reach an agreement with the Town Hall on acceptable levels, rather than be left without published guidelines.
Mijas to whoosh away its rubbish
News Staff Reporter
Mijas Town Hall has announced plans to install a high-tech pneumatic rubbish-collection system throughout the municipality, modelled on systems that have been in use for some years in Sweden. Using powerful vacuum suction, the system transports rubbish from drop-off chutes located on the street, or even inside residential buildings, through a series of large underground pipes and to a central compacting plant. At the plant, the waste is sorted, compacted and then hauled off for recycling or dumping.
While the system will be pioneering in the province of Málaga, it has already been put to use successfully in some other areas of Spain, including parts of Sevilla, Barcelona, Madrid and Vitoria, where it was installed in the city’s historic quarter, according to Mijas officials. Citing a tremendous growth in the town’s waste generation – currently 65,000 tons a year, up from 22,000 tons a year eight years ago – they are betting on the pneumatic system as the best, cleanest and most odour-free solution for the town’s future waste-management needs.
“The service requires a large capital project for its implantation, which pays off with the low operational costs,” says the Town Hall. It plans to lay out between 12 million and 15 million euros – some of that hopefully coming from European funds – for construction of the first phase, in Las Lagunas, which will go out to bid next month. Later the system will be installed in La Cala and Mijas Pueblo, each with their own central compaction plant.
Construction of the Las Lagunas system could get underway by mid-2006, with the first bag of rubbish whooshed off from a street-side drop-off chute about a year later.
Marbella’s new postal system
By David Eade
THE MARBELLA POSTAL CODE 29600 IS ABOUT TO PASS INTO HISTORY AS FAR AS RESIDENTS OF THE MUNICIPALITY ARE CONCERNED.
In an effort to improve the service Marbella will now be divided up in to four postal districts with seven numbers replacing the existing one. Residents of Marbella will received a letter from the postal authority advising them of the changes in the new future.
The old 29600 number will now exclusively be used for mail that is sent to post office boxes (apartados de correos) or for collection (lista de correos). The 29601 number will cover the central Marbella zone. 29602 will be from the centre of Marbella to San Pedro. 29603 from the centre to Las Chapas including part of Las Chapas whilst 29604 will be assigned to Las Chapas alone. 29660 will be the postal code for Nueva Andalucía and 29670 will cover San Pedro. Residents can find out more information by calling 902 197 197 or by visiting their local post office.
San Pedro’s postal woes
Businesses in San Pedro via their association Apymespa are angry about the poor service being provided by the local post office. They complain that letters are taking more than ten days to arrive and that the post office box system leaves much to be desired. In addition they point to the lengthy counter queues to send or collect registered mail. For its part the post office says it is redesigning the zones to better serve the public, denies that mail takes ten days to arrive and announced that in a month’s time the post office would be open from 8.30 to 20.30 Monday to Friday and between 9.30 and 13.00 on Saturday.
Nerja cliffs landslip concern
By Dave Jamieson
Residents and business owners on Nerja’s Burriana Beach have expressed concern after a landslip brought tons of large rocks and rubble crashing down from high cliffs onto a road in the area. The incident, which caused no injuries, took place last Tuesday lunchtime, when many residents and tourists were at the town’s weekly market, a reason cited for the street being deserted of pedestrians. However, local people say that if it had happened on a Sunday, when Burriana is packed with day-trippers from Málaga who swell the numbers of local sun-seekers, things could have been much more serious.
A number of parked vehicles parked along the road behind the central paseo were damaged by the landslip which is thought to have been caused by the dryness of the ground following months of negligible rainfall. This is not the first time that falls of rock have affected the Burriana area. The same street has suffered lesser slips in the past, and the cliffs further west have been the subject of a major reinforcement programme in recent months following several serious incidents over the last two or three years.
ETA targets Madrid's olympic bid
Car bomb explodes in Peineta stadium parking
BY OLIVER MCINTYRE
A CAR BOMB PLACED BY ETA, THE BASQUE SEPARATIST TERRORIST GROUP, EXPLODED SATURDAY IN THE PARKING LOT OF THE PEINETA STADIUM IN MADRID, CENTREPIECE OF THE OLYMPIC FACILITIES THE CITY IS CREATING AS PART OF ITS BID TO WIN THE 2012 SUMMER GAMES.
The bombing, just a week and a half prior to the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) scheduled July 6 announcement of the city that will host the 2012 games – with London among the other candidates – may have hurt the Spanish capital’s chances, though officials tried to downplay its importance and focus on the fact that there were no casualties and ETA has killed no one in the last two years.
The Spanish ex-president of the IOC, Juan Antonio Samaranch, insisted after the bombing that its effect on the selection process would be “very relative,” though he admitted that “these things don’t help.” Madrid’s mayor and president of the city’s 2012 bid, Alberto Ruiz Gallardón, stated: “I am sure the members of the [IOC] will not be influenced by this ETA bomb, which seeks to hurt our candidacy.” He promised that “security is guaranteed.” That sentiment was echoed by Interior Minister José Antonio Alonso, who stated that “Madrid, if it is given the Olympic Games, will be an absolutely safe city.”
Immediately following the bombing, the Ministry of the Interior ordered a tightening of already high-alert security in the Madrid region in order to prevent any additional attacks between now and July 6. It is believed that ETA has been specifically targeting the Madrid Olympic venues. When alleged ETA boss Peio Eskisabel was arrested in France in April, he was found to be in possession of data on several of the venues, including the Peineta stadium. Security in Madrid, and particularly around the Olympic facilities, was intensified at that time.
An ETA car bomb that exploded May 25 in a Madrid street, with no readily apparent target, is believed by investigators to have been abandoned there randomly when the attackers were unable to get it to an Olympics-related target. And in February a car bomb was exploded near the Madrid fairground, which would house some Olympic facilities in the event that the city hosts the games. That bombing occurred just days after the IOC Evaluation Commission had left Madrid.
The candidate cities for hosting the 2012 games are London, Madrid, Moscow, New York and Paris. The IOC’s final selection is expected to be announced shortly after midday July 6.
Spain in piracy top ten
News Staff Reporter
Spain has found itself as the only EU country in a newly published world top ten, but it’s a dubious distinction. In a list led by Brazil, China and India, Spain is the ninth worst in the world when it comes to CD and DVD pirating. The International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI) is based in London but released its annual report in Madrid last week to draw attention to Spain’s unenviable position as the worst European culprit in the production of illegal disks.
According to the IFPI, piracy now accounts for one in every three music CDs sold in the world last year, with sales totalling $4.6 billion, while in a record 31 countries, fake recordings now outsell legal ones. China is by far the world's largest pirate market, with an 85% bootleg rate, the IFPI added, adding that they are targeting the top ten, which also includes Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Russia and the Ukraine, for action.
Antonio Guisasola, president of Promusicae, an association of Spanish music producers founded in 1978, underlined the gravity of the situation saying that this country’s music industry was in a critical situation. He said that police had identified 9,000 illegal businesses making illicit CD copies, while sales of genuine CDs had fallen a third since 2000 and the music industry had lost 20 per cent of its employment positions. Responding to Spain’s unenviable position in the world top ten offenders, Sr Guisasola said, “The industry is doing everything possible to get us off this list,” pointing out that, last year, 13,440 police actions were taken against pirating – over 40 per cent more than in the previous year – with 3.9 million fake CDs seized and 2,866 people arrested.
However, Jorge Larsen of Universal Music International, one of the world's leading music companies with interests in 71 countries, said that Spain’s problem was its legislature, claiming it regarded the offence as a minor crime. This, he said, was evidenced by the fact that only 50 of the almost 3,000 arrested last year were ever taken to court, adding that fines and penalties should be increased.
It has been estimated that in Spain last year, 16 million pirated CDs were sold, giving this black market a value of 62 million euros.