News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week July 14th to July 20th 2005.
COSTA SYMPATHY FOR LONDON
Special mass today in Fuengirola
By Oliver Mcintyre
OFFICIALS AND RESIDENTS ON THE COSTA SHOWED AN OUTPOURING OF SOLIDARITY AND SUPPORT FOR THE PEOPLE OF LONDON FOLLOWING THE BOMBINGS ON JULY 7 THAT KILLED MORE THAN 50 PEOPLE AND INJURED HUNDREDS.
On Friday, the day after the attacks, town halls throughout the region held official moments of silence to honour the victims and their families, and to protest against terrorist violence. In many towns British residents, including groups like the Royal British Legion, attended the events alongside Spanish citizens and local officials.
In Torremolinos, a British flag flew at half-mast along with the other official flags outside the Town Hall. RBL representatives were among the group of more than a hundred people who joined the emotional minute’s silence.
MESSAGES OF SUPPORT
British residents also gathered at Fuengirola Town Hall to join officials and local residents in a moment of silence. The Town Hall declared three days of official mourning and called for a special mass in memory of the victims, to be held today, Thursday, July 14, at 20.30 at Iglesia del Carmen. All Britons and the staff of the British Consulate in Málaga are invited to attend, says the Town Hall.
Similar silences were held in front of the town halls in Benalmádena and Alhaurín de la Torre. “Today all Alhaurinos are British,” said Mayor Joaquín Villanova, flanked by other councillors and municipal workers. He made specific mention of the large number of British residents in the town and offered them a special message of support, and of courage and resilience in the face of terrorism.
Such acts occurred in towns throughout the Costa region, as well as in the city of Málaga, where events were held at municipal facilities and at provincial, regional and national government offices. They were backed up by official statements of solidarity and support from government officials throughout the country.
BRITISH AMBASSADOR GRATEFUL
In Madrid, British Ambassador Stephen Wright expressed appreciation for the outpouring of solidarity from Spain. “I want to thank the Spanish public, local authorities, businesses, political parties and other organisations for their overwhelming support and messages of condolence,” he said in a statement. “We remain enormously grateful for the offers of support and solidarity offered by the Spanish government.”
Greenpeace laments the deterioration of Spain’s co
By David Eade
THE ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP GREENPEACE HAS PRESENTED A REPORTED ENTITLED ‘THE DESTRUCTION OF ALL THE COAST 2005’ IN WHICH IT LAMENTS THE SPANISH TOURISM MODEL CLAIMING THAT IT IS UNSUSTAINABLE AND IN A YEAR HAS DEGRADED THE COASTAL ENVIRONMENT.
The report was presented at a recent press conference and blamed massive urbanisation, contamination and the construction of new ports for the deterioration. Greenpeace says these three aggressors have occupied the coast, destroyed natural spaces and eroded the coastline. It laid the blame at the door of the various authorities that were more concerned with short-term gain rather than the legacy for future generations.
In the past year the environmentalists claim there have been 768,000 new homes built on the nation’s coasts, 58 new golf course in addition to the 300 that already exist, 77 new ports or applications for same, 44,900 illegal dwellings on the coast, 88 cases of contamination plus over 22 million square metres reclassified for urbanisation.
URBANISATION GOES UP 25 PER CENT
Greenpeace identifies urban developments as one of the main problems facing the country’s coasts. Between 1990 and 2000 the population of Spain increased by five per cent but urbanisation increased by 25.4 per cent. This phenomenon that has been going on for four decades and is now reaching the last corners of up to now conserved coastline in Murcia, Almería, Cádiz, Huelva and Cantabria. Thirty-four per cent of the first kilometre of coastline on the Mediterranean is now urbanised but that figure rises to 59 per cent on the Andalucía coast.
Although Greenpeace criticises the Galicia, Andalucía and Valencia authorities for lack of town planning control it points to the fact that town halls receive the majority of their income from taxes related to property transactions and construction. The environmentalists state that this system of finance is neither transparent nor efficient and cites Marbella that has 20,000 illegal homes and 370 building licences rescinded by the regional government.
WATER TREATMENT INSUFFICIENT
Finally the report raises the subject of contamination and notes that municipalities do not have sufficient water treatment infrastructure to cope with the sewage needs of the planned or existing urbanisations. Greenpeace claims that the planned new water treatment plants as well as the enlargement and repair of the existing ones is not sufficient to prevent the serious problems of coastal contamination. Spain has not complied with European norms on water treatment and major towns such as Algeciras and A Coruña do not have sewage plants.
San Pedro tunnel to be larger than planned
News Staff Reporter
The plan for the long-awaited San Pedro underpass to alleviate traffic chaos on the A-7 (old N-340) as it passes through the town is almost completed. Initial reports that it will feature a tunnel that will be 1.075 kilometres long, which is double the length that was first envisaged.
It is also understood that the tunnel will be wider than at first planned. It will also include emergency exits in line with current European norms. As a result the socialist deputy Miguel Ángel Heredia has stated that the project will now exceed its original 53 million euros budget.
Sr Heredia said that the first priority in drawing up the plans had been safety. It also appears that the ministry of public works has included in the scheme most of the suggestions made by San Pedro’s residents groups. If all goes to plan the project will be placed out to tender after the summer holiday period.
The new plan will see all three sets of traffic lights on the A-7 in San Pedro removed along with the roundabouts at El Ingenio and at the junction with the Ronda road. Also to go are the direct entries to the A-7 between Guadalmina and El Ingenio that will now connect via a service road. Improved access will also be incorporated at Puerto Banús and to the urbanisations to the north of the road between the Ronda road and La Pepina.
Veteran film director robbed at Marbella home
Police launching crackdown in face of home-robbery wave
By David Eade
VETERAN SPANISH FILM DIRECTOR AND PRODUCER LUIS SANZ WAS ROBBED AT HIS MARBELLA HOME LAST WEEK, PROVIDING A HIGH-PROFILE CASE TO DRAW INCREASED ATTENTION TO A WAVE OF COSTA HOME-ROBBERIES THAT HAD ALREADY BEGUN TO CONCERN MANY RESIDENTS AND TRIGGER A TARGETED POLICE RESPONSE.
Two men aged between 30 and 40, believed to be Slavs, entered Sr Sanz’s chalet whilst he was home. They sprayed him with gas to put him to sleep and Sr Sanz remembers his eyes and head hurting badly.
It is believed the whole raid took just minutes. The intruders used hydraulic jacks and other equipment to open the home’s safe and made off with 60,000 euros as well as jewellery. The house has an alarm system but it is only operational when Sr Sanz is not there.
The raid took place as police announced they are launching special patrols in urbanisations on the Costa del Sol because of the increase in such robberies. Part of the plan involves setting up security controls at the entrances to some residential areas to make it easier to identify suspects.
This new campaign will be carried out in Benalmádena, Estepona, Marbella, Torremolinos, Málaga capital and Vélez-Málaga. All these towns recorded a high incidence of household robbery in June. Police security will be especially high during the evenings and at night.
In just one week there were at least 10 robberies from properties on the Costa del Sol. A worrying aspect is that the thieves are now tending to break in while the occupants are on the premises, as in the Luis Sanz case. The police say the robbers often take advantage of the fact that people have left windows open because of the heat, and that alarms are usually deactivated if householders are inside.
Police say that in the past robbery gangs tended to consist of people of the same nationality. They suspect that many of the new gangs are formed by people of different nationalities who get to know each other in prison. After they have served their sentences and are released, they join together, using Spanish as their language in common.
Marbella seeks public input on draft PGOU
NEWS Staff Reporter
The mayor of Marbella, Marisol Yagüe, wants the citizens of the town to have a say on the draft local development plan (PGOU). It will be available for public review until the end of September, and the mayor has stressed that during that period she wants all residents’ groups to study the document and voice their complaints and suggestions.
This decision sets Sra Yagüe on yet another collision course with the regional government, which wanted the Marbella Town Council to first approve the draft and then place it before the public, with comments and suggestions being incorporated at a later date in a modified plan. Mayor Yagüe intends to study the plan with the ‘Mesa de Social’, a body that the regional government does not consider to be representative of all shades of opinion in the municipality.
Marbella Town Council will hold a meeting on July 15 to discuss and vote on the mayor’s decision, taken with the support of the ‘Mesa de Social’, to open up the draft PGOU for public discussion ahead of a vote in council.
Environmentalists evaluate Axarquía pot
By Oliver Mcintyre
THE ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP GENA-ECOLOGISTAS EN ACCIÓN LAST WEEK SPOKE OUT MOSTLY IN FAVOUR OF THE DRAFT REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN (POT, FOR PLAN DE ORDENACIÓN DEL TERRITORIO) FOR THE AXARQUÍA, BUT ALSO OFFERED A NUMBER OF PROPOSED AMENDMENTS.
The draft plan is currently in a public review and comment period that runs until September 5.
GENA applauded the overall concept of the Junta de Andalucía regulating growth for the Axarquía, and criticised the initial reaction of many local mayors, who it said had recoiled at the prospect of regional officials usurping their planning authority. The environmentalists said the drawing up of the POT had been a very participative process.
In general terms, GENA praised the high value the POT places on the landscape of the Axarquía, noting the term landscape/scenery (‘paisaje’) and its derivatives appear in the document some 142 times. But it criticised the plan’s assumption of declining agriculture in the region, saying it would rather see proposals for its recovery.
42 IMPROVEMENTS TO THE POT PLAN
The environmentalists outlined 42 specific changes they think would improve the POT. These range from the elimination of the proposed low-density and rural residential areas that could potentially legalise some 10,000 illegal houses to a moratorium on new golf courses. GENA would also like a ban on the creation of new marinas, including the proposed one to be located between Torrox and Nerja. Another of the group’s recommendations is the creation of an enforcement body (‘policía urbanística’) to ensure compliance with the POT regulations.
Benalmádena to host safe bullfights
News Staff Reporter
The bullring in Benalmádena Pueblo is to be the first in the province of Málaga to organise what is being described as safe bullfights in which the bull lives to see another day.
It is not a new idea but is the traditional method of holding bullfights in Portugal. In this version of the ‘corrida’ the bullfighter faces the same risks but the bull is not weakened by the intervention of ‘banderilleros’ or ‘picadores’. Once the event is over the bull returns to his breeding farm to graze.
The Portuguese-style bullfight will take place in the bullring on July 23 and the entrance will be 45 and 50 euros. It is the initiative of Gaspar Jiménez, who runs the Benalmádena Pueblo Plaza de Toros and recognises that whilst many tourist are interested in the ‘fiesta nacional’, many are put off from attending because they do not like to see the bulls hurt and killed.
Benalmádena Pueblo hosts 45 bullfights a year which makes it only second for the number of events to the legendary Las Ventas in Madrid. The Plaza de Toros was opened in February 1968 and holds 3,000 people and has been used for filming of various TV series, movies and music videos.
Concern over beach risk takers
Tragedy on Santa Barbara beach
By David Eade
A MAN DROWNED ON LA LÍNEA’S SANTA BÁRBARA BEACH AT THE WEEKEND. THE TRAGEDY HAPPENED AFTER THE UNNAMED MIDDLE-AGED MAN TOOK TO THE SEA DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE RED WARNING FLAGS WERE FLYING AND A STRONG LEVANTE WIND WAS BLOWING.
Other negligent bathers were luckier as they were rescued by Red Cross lifesavers before they fell victims to the waves.
The Red Cross volunteers have protested about the situation at the beach were they have been subjected to verbal abuse by beach visitors after warning them not to go in to the sea. On Sunday there was a visible police presence as officers backed up the lifesavers in warning bathers not to enter the water whilst the red flags are flying.
La Línea town hall has been quick to respond to the tragedy and the stupidity of beach users. The councillor for beaches, Julio Sánchez, warned that unless the abuse of Red Cross lifesavers stopped and people refrained from entering the sea when the warning flags were flying the town hall would introduce a by-law banning bathing in such conditions backed up by fines.
La Línea is not the only Campo de Gibraltar town facing such difficulties. On a recent Sunday more than 20,000 bathers crowded on to the Rinconcillo and Getares beaches in Algeciras, which in turn brought problems for the Diga33 lifeguard team. The number of bathers was not the cause of their concern rather those amongst them who again ignored the no bathing warning flags and the repeated megaphone announcements to stay out of the water. The result was that lifesavers had to rescue 37 people from the sea in a series of continuous actions.
Antequera to become major commercial hub
News Staff Reporter
Antequera is set to become a major hub for commercial hauling and logistics in Andalucía. Last week local officials and representatives of the private partnership behind the project, which they dubbed an ‘inland port’, described it as the largest such facility in Spain, taking in some 200 hectares located near the Bobadilla train station.
The location near Bobadilla, as well as right off the A-92 motorway, makes the site a natural hub and transfer station for rail and lorry shipping, with good access to the region’s major cities. The project calls for the creation of a new rail link branching off from the existing line at Bobadilla and running to a 100,000-square-metre private station that will be created at the new facility. The site will be equipped to transfer shipping containers from rail cars to lorries and will have a temporary customs holding zone. A network of warehouses will be used by shipping, assembly, production or logistics companies to store, consolidate or repackage goods prior to their distribution throughout the region.
The partnership behind the project – which includes logistics company Acotral, construction firm Covalco and other investors – says construction could begin before the end of next year, with the facility becoming operational in 2008. It says the ‘dry port’ will cost more than 150 million euros to build and will create around 5,000 new jobs. Antequera Mayor Ricardo Millán says the necessary land re-classification will be included in the final local development plan (PGOU), though it is not in the existing draft plan. He says the project will convert Antequera into the leading city in the region for commercial shipping.
Almuñécar launches new bus service
BY OLIVER MCINTYRE
RESIDENTS OF ALMUÑÉCAR AND LA HERRADURA HAVE A NEW PUBLIC TRANSPORT SYSTEM, WITH THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH LAST WEEK OF A MUNICIPAL BUS SERVICE.
Around a hundred residents joined Mayor Juan Carlos Benavides and other officials on the inaugural ride, from Almuñécar to La Herradura.
“This is an important day for our town because we at last have an urban transport system that meets the desired characteristics,” said the Mayor after the ride. As a modern and growing tourism town, he said, “we could not allow ourselves to continue with old and obsolete transport.”
THREE LINES AND 65 STOPS
The new service consists of three lines, with a total of 65 stops. Twenty of them have bus stands, while the rest are marked with simple signage. A single ticket will allow passengers to ride between points in Almuñécar and La Herradura. The Taramay-La Herradura line will run 10 times daily, the Torrecuevas-Los Marinos-Cotobro line 11 times and the Velilla line at least 15 times a day during the summer months, with the last bus at 0.30.
The company contracted to operate the bus service, Grupo Fajardo, says the three buses and the installation of the bus stands and bus-stop signs cost a total of around 600,000 euros. The buses themselves, each with 21 seats plus space for wheelchairs and 23 standing passengers, cost nearly 180,000 euros apiece. The Town Hall is subsidising 108,000 euros of the set-up and initial operations costs.
Jellyfish invasion stings beaches
NEWS Staff Reporter
A species of small, stinging jellyfish last weekend infested the waters of beaches all along the coast, from Almería to Granada to the western Costa del Sol. Volunteers from the Aula del Mar marine centre, as well as lifeguard and Red Cross services on local beaches, reported thousands of cases of jellyfish stings. Red Cross workers treated more than 400 cases in Marbella and about 500 in Fuengirola over the weekend, while 500 stings were treated in Benalmádena on Saturday alone. A similar spike in jellyfish stings was seen at beaches all along the coast.
The jellyfish, of the species ‘pelagia noctiluca’, are transparent and small – only about five centimetres in diameter – making them difficult to see. They move about largely at the whim of currents, and apparently came floating into the coast with the tide and winds. Some experts have also said that higher water temperatures, along and increased salinity due to less fresh water pouring into the sea this year from rivers, may contribute to a higher presence of the jellyfish closer to the coast.
The jellyfish sting burns and leaves a red welt. For those with an allergy to the sting, the effects can be more severe. Treatment consists of applying a solution of magnesium sulphate with salt (3.5 grams per 100 millilitres of water), or if that’s not available, vinegar.
Skyrocketing oil prices
Drivers dismay at petrol stations
By Oliver McIntyre
AS CRUDE OIL PRICES HAVE SPIKED TO HISTORIC HIGHS IN RECENT DAYS, TOPPING $60 A BARREL BOTH IN THE US AND IN EUROPE (THE BRENT), DRIVERS FILLING UP AT THE PETROL STATION HAVE SEEN A SIMILAR CLIMB TO SKY-HIGH PRICES.
Since January, petrol prices have jumped some 20 per cent at Spanish filling stations. In Málaga a new – and for consumers, painful – record was established last week as a litre of 95-octane unleaded broke the 1-euro mark at 35 stations in the province. With the price at 1.001 euros, drivers gaped as the pumps ticked off euros slightly faster than litres.
The latest Ministry of Industry figures show the average price for a litre of 95-octane unleaded in the province is 0.989, up 20.6 per cent from the beginning of the year. Both 97-octane and 98-octane have shot up as well, with average prices both over a euro per litre, at 1.071 euros and 1.093 euros, respectively. Basic diesel remains the cheapest, at 0.930 euros per litre, but is also up 17.2 per cent from January.
While drivers may have been dismayed at the record-breaking prices at the pump, the leaders of the so-called G8 nations, meeting at Gleneagles, Scotland, expressed greater concern over the surging cost of crude. Indicating that continued high prices could threaten global economic growth, they called for greater investment aimed at increasing production. Indeed, the statements by the G8 leaders, along with an announcement by OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) that it would study increasing production, had a calming effect on the crude markets, bringing prices slightly down from their historic highs, at least temporarily.
But prices at the pump are slower to react, and drivers are not likely to see much relief for their wallets in the immediate future.
One driver told CDSN: “It’s really quite alarming. It’s not just the petrol itself – it’s going to cause an increase in prices for everything.” That, on a macro, worldwide scale, would appear to be the same concern expressed by the leaders at the G8 summit.
Telefónica info line hike rate
NEWS Staff Reporter
Telefónica is planning a 57 per cent rate hike on calls to its cheapest telephone-information line, 11818. The line is just one of several information numbers operated by Telefónica, but it is the cheapest one and was created as the direct replacement for the old 1003 line, with the fixed 35-cent fee regulated by the government. But now, the government has loosened the rate requirement and Telefónica has announced its intention to raise the price to 55 cents per call, beginning in August.
Just days before the announcement of the increased price, the consumer group Facua had publicly denounced Telefónica’s failure to advertise the low-cost 11818 line, instead promoting its other, higher-cost information lines (CDSN, July 7 – 13). When the planned rate hike was announced, Facua immediately called it “disproportionate and abusive.”
But Telefónica insists it has been operating the low-cost line at a loss, incurring a deficit of 191 million euros since 1997. It says the new rate will still be the lowest in the Spanish market and the third lowest in Europe. The 11818 line will still be free of charge when called from public payphones.
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