News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week November 11th to November 16th 2005.
PRINCESS LEONOR TAKES A BOW
Spaniards- and 200 photographers- got their first glimpse of the Infanta Leonor, daughter of Princess Letizia and Prince Felipe, as the royal couple left the private clinic where she was born on October 31. The Infanta Leonor never turned a hair and continued to sleep right through the photographic session held afterwards at La Zarzuela Royal Palace.
Autovia tragedy kills six
Almuñecar declares three days of official mourning
By Dave Jamieson
SIX CONSTRUCTION WORKERS HAVE DIED IN A TRAGIC ACCIDENT ON THE SITE OF THE NEW COASTAL MOTORWAY NEAR ALMUÑÉCAR.
Three others were seriously injured when a 20 ton section of roadway fell 80 metres to the ground on Monday afternoon. The tragedy happened at 15.38 when witnesses described hearing “an earthquake” as the massive concrete section crashed to the ground in less than a second with enough force to break windows at several properties in the nearby town of Jete.
The incident happened between La Herradura and Almuñécar where the new autovía crosses the GR-502 road and Río Verde at Torrecuevas, three kilometres from Almuñécar. Those who died were working for a construction subcontractor and included a 24 year old Spanish man from La Coruña and five Portuguese workers from Oporto. Dozens of ambulances, two helicopters, specialist medical teams and other emergency services were quickly on the scene from Almuñécar, Granada and Málaga.
The work being undertaken had been subcontracted to a Portuguese company, Moro Montedouro, by a Galician construction company reported to be a specialist in building viaducts, who said that an evaluation of the accident was underway. Trades unions have already called for a further investigation.
TECHNICAL INVESTIGATION UNDERWAY
A technical investigation commission was immediately set up by the Ministry of Development to run in parallel with a judicial enquiry by the Inspector of Works. Nine kilometres of construction work on the new motorway was halted until the cause the incident is known and inspectors are certain there is no risk of further danger to workers.
Almuñécar Town Council declared three days of official mourning and ordered flags on municipal buildings to be flown at half mast. At midday on Tuesday, the town’s Mayor, Juan Carlos Benavides, accompanied by the Mayor of Granada, José Torres Hurtado, and Javier Arenas, president of the Partido Popular in Andalucía, led a five minute silence outside the Town Hall in memory of the six men who died.
Brit leads burro on fundraising walk
By Oliver McIntyre
BRITON MARIANNE LAMBERT STOPPED OFF IN COÍN RECENTLY TO RE-SHOE HER DONKEY. IT CAME AS NO SURPRISE THAT THE ANIMAL NEEDED TO BE RE-SHOD – IT HAS BEEN ON A LONG WALK.
A very, very long walk. Mrs Lambert has been leading the burro, as well as her greyhound Ella, on a 1,300-kilometre trek from France to southern Spain, a fundraising walk to raise money for the NGO Médecins Sans Frontiéres. She is nearing her final destination, Jérez de la Frontera in Cádiz, and has so far raised more than £4,700 on the Web site she set up for people to donate directly to MSF (www.justgiving.com/northbyhorse). But she is still far from her goal of £30,000.
While initial plans called for the journey to be made with a horse or two, economics demanded a downgrade to a single burro, which Mrs Lambert whimsically named Donkey Oatie (say it fast and … yep, ‘Don Quixote’). Their five-month quixotic journey has taken them from central France down into Spain, passing through places like Cataluña, Toledo, Ciudad Real and, in the last week or so, the province of Málaga, where the mountain town of Ronda was one scenic stop. She has now entered into Cádiz province, the final leg of her long journey.
Mrs Lambert told Costa del Sol News that her experience in Spain has been unforgettable and the people she has met along the way have shown her “endless and devastating generosity.” At times she has even had to rely on the goodwill of Guardia Civil officers to help her find her way on back roads and dirt tracks. Her only less-than-chivalrous encounter was with what she describes as “a horny goat herder,” whom she says she was ultimately able to discourage from his amorous intentions without too much trouble.
Now nearing the end of her wandering odyssey, Mrs Lambert says the trip “wasn’t as difficult as I expected.” But she does have one regret, she told CDSN: “It has been a disappointment that I haven’t raised more money.” She hopes people will keep making pledges to the Web site, giving a final push toward her £30,000 goal. Her other hope is that someone might soon offer her a job – having walked all the way to southern Spain, she’d like to stay a while.
Brits to buy 30,000 homes on costa
New UK law to provide tax benefits for homes in the sun
By Oliver McIntyre
IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS BRITISH BUYERS WILL PURCHASE APPROXIMATELY 150,000 HOMES IN SPAIN, 30,000 OF THEM ON THE COSTA DEL SOL, ACCORDING TO ESTIMATES BY THE SPANISH TOURISM INSTITUTE (TURESPAÑA).
The figure is based on a projected increase in demand following the passage next April of a new UK law that will provide tax benefits for the purchase of homes outside of Britain.
Turespaña’s data was reported last week by Ignacio Vasallo, director of the Spanish Tourism Office in London, who was attending a conference of British travel agents at Benalmádena’s Hotel Torrequebrada.
Half the homes purchased overseas by Britons are located in Spain, chiefly in the Levante and Andalucía regions, said Sr Vasallo. Turespaña estimates that Britons currently own nearly 100,000 homes in Andalucía alone, he said.
The market of Britons buying homes in Spain is currently experiencing a ‘temporary paralysis’ as potential buyers wait for the new British law to be passed, said Sr Vasallo. Once that occurs, he said, the main limiting factor for the sale of homes on the Costa will be the Regional Development Plans (POTs) being drawn up by the Junta de Andalucía, along with each town’s local development plan (PGOU), which together will determine the type and amount of new residential development to be allowed.
The proliferation of low-cost air travel from the UK to the Costa, along with the region’s famous climate, has ensured that the area remains a top holiday and holiday-home spot for Britons, said Sr Vasallo. Between 2000 and 2004, the number of British tourists visiting Andalucía increased by 43.8 per cent, compared to a 24 per cent increase Spain-wide, according to Turespaña’s data. Last year 2.9 million Britons visited Andalucía, and the end-of-year figures for 2005 are expected to top that figure by three to four per cent.
British serviceman found dead in Gib
By David Eade
British military officials in Gibraltar have announced that a serviceman has been found dead at the Devil's Tower Camp. Whilst no detailed information has been released it is understood he was a UK national serving with the RAF and suicide is one of the possible causes being investigated by police.
Commodore Allan Adair, Commander British Forces in Gibraltar, stated:
“The cause of death cannot be confirmed until a full police investigation is carried. No further details will be released until the next of kin have been informed.”
A joint investigation is being carried out by the Gibraltar Services Police and the Joint Provost Security Unit and the Royal Gibraltar Police are not directly involved.
Vélez hits 70,000
By Dave Jamieson
Vélez-Málaga’s official population has passed 70,000 for the first time. The National Institute of Statistics says that an increase of 1,007 residents since June has brought the new total to 70,007 with some 88 countries represented. 89 per cent of Vélez residents are Spanish nationals while the biggest foreign group are the Germans with 1,102 residents, followed by 879 Britons and 852 Moroccans. The countries with least representation in Vélez include Albania, Burundi, Japan, Madagascar, Singapore, South Africa and Taiwan, each with a single registered resident.
However, like many other towns along the coast, Vélez-Málaga has a substantial number of foreign residents who have not registered their presence at the Town Hall. This adversely affects subsidies which the town receives from central government for local services, an amount which is calculated on the total registered population. Vélez last week asked anyone in this position to regularise their situation by visiting the Town Hall with identification papers before December 21.
British racers inaugurate new Almería speedway
By John Chaplin
The world's newest speedway track opened in Spain at the weekend. Former World No.2, British Match Race Champion and England captain Split Waterman, demonstrated his broadsiding technique once again at the age of 80-plus when the bikes finally took to the track at the sport’s hottest – in every sense – racing complex on the Costas.
Split was helping the man they are calling ‘Reckless’ Russell Paine, and a pocket-sized glamour girl named Annabelle Tilney (aged three), when the tapes went up before the BBC television cameras at the parched project at Huercal-Overa on the borders of Murcia and Almería just south of the popular holiday towns of Alicante and Benidorm.
Split – along with speedway personalities Bob Coles, the former Exeter star; Reg Fearman, former BSPA chairman, top promoter and England international; Alan Brett, ex-Wimbledon and Eastbourne; and Bobby Croombs, ex-Wimbledon, New Cross and Poole – was back in the (stationary) saddle for the TV cameras, shooting scenes for the programme ‘Living In The Sun’ due to be shown in January. All except Fearman live in the area.
The boys gathered round as Annabelle, who lives locally, cut the tape before the first historic race on the track that is still little more than a bare speedway circuit carved from the dusty landscape. But it is the result of months of back-breaking hard work, endless organising and battling bureaucracy for Russell and his partner Claire Evans, who are living ‘over the shop’ in a trailer home parked behind what will be the pits and changing rooms.
Russell said: “This is a dream come true for me. The track is 265 metres round to an FIM specification, so eventually we could stage full international tournaments here.
”The help and support we have received both locally and from those within speedway has been fantastic. We have sponsors already queuing up here and so many people in England have helped us out. Unbelievably stars such as Jason Crump, Mark Loram and Greg Hancock have given us no end of equipment, frames, race suits and spares.”
Russell expects the project to be up and fully running in about six weeks when it gets the top dressing of local shale. Russell says: “We have about 100 people waiting to come and use our training facilities. There are 38 machines here already, which Bob Coles is going to help me maintain, and enough equipment – helmets, boots and kevlars – to kit out absolute beginners who want to learn the basics.”
Reg Fearman said: “I think Russell and Claire are extremely brave, because at first it did seem a bit of a reckless adventure. But they seem to have covered all the angles, and Russell is extremely determined and very capable.”
The all-female television crew is part of the Ricochet production company, which makes such programmes as ‘Supernanny’ and ‘Risking It All’. ‘Living In The Sun’ is due to go out on BBC-1 on Tuesday mornings at 10.30 starting in January.
Arrest in Vélez park murder case
By Dave Jamieson
A MAN HAS BEEN ARRESTED BY POLICE IN VÉLEZ-MÁLAGA INVESTIGATING THE DISCOVERY OF MAN’S BODY IN A TOWN CENTRE PARK LAST WEEK.
The grim, late-night find was made in the Parque de Andalucía when officers called to the scene found the corpse lying in a pool of blood. A post-mortem revealed that the victim had died has a result of a single, fatal knife wound to his heart.
The dead man was identified as a local 37-year-old who had a long police record and who had recently been released from prison in Alhaurín de la Torre. Investigating officers confirmed that the attack did not have robbery as a motive, and initially said they were working on the theory that the incident was a “settling of accounts”. An intense search of the park and neighbouring streets was undertaken next day in an effort to find the murder weapon which was discovered in a nearby street.
Within 24 hours, National Police officers detained another 37-year-old known to have been with the dead man on the night of his murder, and who also had a previous police record. The alleged attacker had returned to the scene of the murder where officers noticed he had a swollen right hand and clothing covered in blood stains. He was immediately arrested and taken first to hospital where a fractured finger was diagnosed, then detained behind bars.
ARRESTED MAN ‘VERY DANGEROUS’
Police said the man, who they regard as “very dangerous”, had previously been arrested for various offences including robbery with violence and intimidation, and belonged to a Vélez family, some of whom had criminal records and had spent time in prison. Officers said that on the night of the murder, the two men had been drinking together in a nearby bar before walking to the park where they were observed drinking and singing. A row broke out, but the pair were separated by others present who then scattered when the detained man produced a knife and attacked his friend.
When he appeared in court last Friday, the accused man said he remembered being with the victim in the park, but claimed to remember nothing of the violent act, having taken quantities of alcohol and tranquilisers earlier. He was ordered to be imprisoned without bail.
LOCAL RESIDENTS WANT MORE SECURITY
The murder prompted local residents to criticise the “lack of police surveillance” in the area which is reported to be habitually the haunt of alcohol and drug users and was the scene of another stabbing two months ago.
Mijas PGOU available online
By Oliver McIntyre
Mijas residents can now view the town’s new local development plan (PGOU) on the Town Hall’s Web site (www.mijas.es). The page allows users to download the different components of the PGOU, including some 130 maps of the town, details on infrastructure for water, sewage, electric and telephone networks, and environmental impact studies related to the plan. Also available are the building and development codes contained in the new PGOU and a description of the areas it sets aside as green zones.
Mijas’ new PGOU has already received preliminary approval.
When it gets final approval, an even more complete Web version of it will be created, with interactive features to allow residents to obtain a wide variety of information, say Town Hall officials. It will have a mapping system allowing users to overlay maps one atop the other to see distinct infrastructural elements, search by place names, measure distances and see information about a particular parcel or location by clicking on it. It will also have aerial photographs of the entire municipality.
Anger over Estepona ambulance shortage
Regional government says existing two are sufficient
By David Eade
WIDESPREAD ANGER HAS BEEN VOICED IN ESTEPONA AT THE DECISION OF THE REGIONAL GOVERNMENT’S HEALTH AUTHORITY TO REFUSE TO ALLOCATE AN ADDITIONAL AMBULANCE TO THE AREA.
Estepona currently has two ambulances at its disposal but one of these has also to serve the neighbouring municipalities of Manilva and Casares.
In a recent visit to Estepona, the Málaga Health delegate, María Antigua Escalera, was adamant that the two ambulances supplied by the Andalucía Health Service (SAS) to operate in the area complies with the standards of health care quality laid down by experts.
Sra Escalera stated: “When we talk of emergency services we make an evaluation based on two parameters; the size of the population that exists in the zone and the time it takes to reach the patient. These two points are complied with.”
The health service parameter is that one ambulance is sufficient to serve a population of 25,000 people. On that basis SAS is placing the population of Estepona, Manilva and Casares at 50,000 people. The official census for Estepona puts the population at 54,000 but the general belief amongst the political groups in the town and local residents is that the real population is double that, and they are now to petition for more ambulances.
The fight for more ambulances is being led by Estepona’s Socialist mayor, Antonio Barrientos, who declared in front of Sra Escalera that the Town Hall would put on the road in the near future its own fully equipped ambulance. He added: “If the provincial delegate says the health regulations are being complied with, then we will improve them.”
‘THIRD WORLD’ SERVICE
The Partido Popular in Estepona has called the statements by Sra Escalera “intolerable”. PP councillor Lorenzo Guerra estimates the population of the municipality at around 120,000 and said that two ambulances were not sufficient, condemning the standard of ambulance service as “Third World.”
High speed trains nearer to Málaga
AVE link progress passes another milestone
By Dave Jamieson and David Eade
THE PROGRESS OF THE HIGH-SPEED RAIL LINK BETWEEN MADRID AND MÁLAGA HAS PASSED ANOTHER MILESTONE WITH THE COMPLETION OF THE LINE BETWEEN CÓRDOBA AND BOBADILLA, 15 KILOMETRES WEST OF ANTEQUERA.
55 kilometres of double track have been laid, the electric cables are in place and in a few weeks, security and signalling work will also be complete, with five months of safety trials expected to start about May. Passenger services over the first hundred kilometres south from Córdoba are likely to begin by the end of next year. Until the stretch from Bobadilla to Málaga is completed in 2007, the new route will be used by the existing Talgo services which are capable of travelling at 250 kilometres per hour. This will immediately reduce the Madrid to Málaga journey from its present four and a quarter hours to three hours.
But when the full AVE services begin, a non-stop journey time on the 342 kilometre route from Málaga to Madrid will take just two hours and fifteen minutes, while those trains which stop at stations along the way will take around two and a half hours. The AVE will travel at an average speed of around 200 kph with a maximum of 300 kph on the majority of the lines between Madrid and Córdoba. In fact, the design of the tracks would safely accept trains travelling as fast as 350 kph although this will never be achieved for safety reasons.
Work on the 155 kilometres from Córdoba to Málaga began on July 21, 2001, with the distance broken into 22 individual projects. 17 are now complete, four are in a very advanced state, and the work on the last three kilometres into Málaga is scheduled to begin at the start of 2006. Two tunnels will be built to carry trains beneath the city in their final approach to the terminus, one for AVE services and the other for the use of the Talgo, local services and goods trains.
The regional government’s ministry of public works is looking to change the plans for the extension of the coastal railway line. Currently the plan is for the line to be extended from Málaga to Estepona and from Málaga to Nerja.
However the ministry says that it wants the Estepona line to be given priority and its wants the AVE high speed service that currently is being linked to Málaga to be extended to Marbella. Studies estimate that more than 32 million people would use the train to Marbella each year.
The national and regional government are studying the plans and both of the ministries of public works have differing priorities. The central government would like to see the Málaga line extended from beyond Estepona in the west to the port town of Algeciras in Cádiz. In addition it would eventually wish to see the line run from Algeciras along the Costa del Sol to Motril in Granada province as part of the PEIT strategic infrastructure and transport plan.
Teen killed as train hits van in Ronda
NEWS Staff Reporter
At 17.55 on Sunday, as three youths in a Citroën 15 van crossed a level crossing at the Cortijo La Mimbre in the rural La Indiana zone of Ronda, the vehicle was struck by the Algeciras-Granada train, which pushed it for 50 metres along the track. A 14-year-old boy was killed and the 18-year-old driver and his 16-year-old sister were injured. The girl was released from Ronda hospital on the following day and her brother is said to be recovering well from his injuries.
Officials said the train was unable to avoid the collision. After a delay of about an hour it was able to continue its journey to the station at Benaoján and the 69 passengers were then transferred to another train.
Local residents stated that the children frequently crossed the line at this point as they went to visit their grandmother and aunt. The crossing is not a public one but is for private use by the owner of the land. It has no barriers but is protected by a chain.
In the Ronda region there are 63 rail crossing, accounting for 40 per cent of the 147 in the province of Málaga. Of the latter total, 61 are private crossings. Six people have been killed in train collisions with vehicles on the Algeciras-Bobadilla line in the past three years. The Ministry of Public Works has responded to public protests by undertaking a programme to remove some public crossings and work is to start shortly on eliminating four in Ronda, two in Cortes de la Frontera and one in Arriate.
Ecologist act to stop gas exploration off Marbella
By David Eade
THE ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP, ECOLOGISTAS EN ACCIÓN, IS DEMANDING A STOP TO THE PROSPECTING FOR GAS BY THE REPSOL PETROLEUM COMPANY OFF THE COSTA DEL SOL.
An exploration vessel is seeking out deposits of natural gas below the seabed and the ecologists say this is seriously damaging the marine fauna.
The ecologists are appealing to the ‘Comandancia de la Marina’, the State authority that controls such matters, to halt the exploration currently being undertaken off Marbella by a Swedish vessel contracted by Repsol. The environmentalists claim that the exploration vessel is not complying with a 1992 law that guarantees maritime security.
TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT
Ecologistas en Acción allege that the exploration work is being carried out close to the Marbella coastline without a security zone having being established around the vessel and without the required warning signs. This the environmentalists say is not in line with the laws establish to guarantee the safety of human life at sea.
The environmentalists have asked the ‘Comandancia de la Marina’ whether the exploration vessel is complying with the regulations on safety and also if Repsol has specific permission to look for gas deposits on the seabed. They also want to know whether the marine section of the Guardia Civil or coast guard is controlling the operation of the exploration vessel to ensure it complies with the law.
Chiclana woos British tourists
NEWS Staff Reporter
The resort of Chiclana is to woo British and Northern European tourists in an attempt to create a year-round tourism market. The regional government’s minister for tourism, commerce and sport, Paulino Plata, suggested the strategy at the presentation of a 3.69 million euro plan to boost tourism in the municipality.
Chiclana has 12,000 hotel beds and accounts for 50 per cent of the night stays in the province of Cádiz. Nonetheless it is essentially a summer resort and Plata argued that Chiclana must open new European markets. He pointed to Britain and the Nordic countries whose citizens could come in search of “our sun and climate” throughout their dark winter months.
The 3.69 million euros is to finance a tourism excellence plan that will be funded 60 per cent by the regional government with the balance coming from the town hall. The monies will be spent on preserving and regenerating the town’s heritage, creating new visitor attractions such as golf and culture and working with the resort’s tourist sector to create a year-round venue.
Coín Town Hall reaches out to foreign residents
By Oliver McIntyre
Officials at Coín Town Hall have launched a Foreigners’ Office to serve the growing population of foreign residents and help convince them to register (‘empadronarse’) as citizens of the town.
The Town Hall estimates that only about 20 per cent of the town’s foreign residents are registered. “This foreign population doesn’t perform the administrative process of registering due to language difficulties in the majority of cases, both for the resident and for the Town Hall worker,” said Mayor Gabriel Clavijo.
The Foreigners’ Office breaks that language barrier, offering assistance in six different languages. It is located at the Town Hall in Plaza Alameda and is open during office hours on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Coín’s current registered population is 21,117, of which 2,811 are foreign residents, according to Town Hall data. These figures count only those residents who are ‘empadronado’. The majority of the registered foreign population is British and Irish, with a combined total of 1,538, followed by Moroccans (566), Romanians (252), Germans (170), and Colombians and Argentines (148 each).
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