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Costa del Sol News - 30th November 2005

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

News Archive

In association with

The Costa del Sol weekly newspaper, on sale at newsagents.

Week November 26th to November 30th 2005.

BREATH TESTS ON B-ROADS

Police campaign to cut traffic carnage

By David Eade

IN THE FIGHT TO REDUCE CARNAGE ON SPAIN’S ROADS, THE GUARDIA CIVIL IS TO START A CAMPAIGN FOCUSING ON SECONDARY ROADS WHICH WILL SEE AN INCREASE IN RADAR AND BREATHALYSER CHECK POINTS.
Sixty per cent of deaths occur on secondary roads and from November to next summer the traffic police are going to target these secondary routes.

So far this year there have been 796 accidents on Málaga’s motorways resulting in 35 deaths and 759 injuries. By contrast there were 666 accidents on the province’s secondary roads but a higher death toll, 52, and more injuries, 842.
The head of the Málaga traffic sub-sector of the Guardia Civil, Commander Francisco Rodríguez Rosales, has stated that the objective of the campaign is to optimise the resources that were more orientated to the motorways and dual carriageways to the secondary roads.

RADAR CHECK POINTS ON THE UP
Amongst the measures Sr Rodríguez says will be introduced are speed radar traps and breathalyser check points, the deployment of camouflaged police cars and the use of the National Police helicopter. In addition there are presently two fixed radar check points on Málaga’s roads but the number will be increased to 14 by 2007.
The Guardia Civil’s rural patrols will also now be told to incorporate road safety into their priorities. This will mean that in inland areas of the province of Málaga, patrols will be looking out for motorcyclists not using crash helmets and motorists who do not obey the seatbelt laws.

METROPOLITAN AREAS TARGETED
Although the crackdown will apply to all secondary roads, special attention will be given to the metropolitan area of Málaga, Guadalhorce, the roads that link the western Costa del Sol with the interior such as the A-397 and A-367 as well as the roads joining with the old N-340 to the east of Málaga and in Axarquía.

Battle looms over Marbella's illegal residential

By David Eade

THE REGIONAL GOVERNMENT IS TO CALL MARBELLA TOWN HALL TO ACCOUNT OVER AT LEAST FIVE DEVELOPMENTS THAT HAVE BEEN FINISHED DESPITE THEIR WORKS LICENCES BEING ANNULLED BY THE ANDALUCÍA HIGH COURT (TSJA).
The head of the provincial public works department, José María Ruiz Povedano, observed that people are already living in the apartments, and he has accused the Marbella administration of allowing the construction work to continue in defiance of the court’s rulings. The prosecutor will now examine the paperwork to determine whether offences have been committed.
The developments under investigation are 132 apartments between the Avenida Ramón y Cajal and Calle Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente, another 35 in Los Ángeles, in San Pedro Alcántara, 160 in Medina Garden, in Puerto Banús, four blocks at Playa Golf Río Real, plus a warehouse on the Ojén road.

Marbella’s deputy mayor, Isabel García Marcos, admitted at a recent council meeting that errors had been detected in the issuing of certificates banning future work at these developments. She laid the blame on the head of the legal section of the municipality’s town planning department but the regional government has dismissed this excuse and says it holds the Mayor, Marisol Yagüe, responsible.

In addition to any forthcoming legal action, the regional government is demanding that the Mayor annuls all construction licences that contravene the 1986 local development plan (PGOU), which is the only one it deems to be legal.

PLATA PROPOSED FOR MAYOR
The president of the regional government, Manuel Chaves, has stated that his PSOE party would put forward a heavyweight candidate for mayor at the next municipal elections to be held in Marbella. Sr Chaves explained that it was important that in the 2007 elections the local electors had confidence in a candidate who would clear out the corruption.

Sr Chaves added that finding the right candidate for Marbella had become a “national priority” for PSOE. One name that has now come forward from business and other supporters of the socialist party is that of Paulino Plata, who is currently the regional government’s tourism minister. They are keen on Sr Plata as he is seen to have the necessary experience to turn Marbella around and also has charisma. However it is not clear that Sr Plata wishes to put himself forward as it would mean standing down from his governmental post to face a hard and uncertain campaign.

 

More tax breaks for registered residents

By Oliver McIntyre

REGISTERED, OR ‘EMPADRONADO’, RESIDENTS OF BENALMÁDENA ARE TO RECEIVE A BIGGER TOWN HALL SUBSIDY FOR THEIR IBI REAL-ESTATE TAX.
The measure was approved last week by Mayor Enrique Bolín’s governing team following protests by the town’s opposition parties over municipal tax increases for 2006.
The opposition parties had collected more than 2,600 signatures on a petition requesting that the Town Hall reduce its planned municipal tax increases. They called for the tax hikes to be set at the rate of inflation, based on the Consumer Price Index, and for the Town Hall to reduce the rate of the IBI real-estate tax in order to offset the large jump the tax is to experience due to a reassessment of cadastral home values.

‘EXEMPLARY CITIZENS’ FAVOURED
The governing team refused to make any changes in the tax increases, but approved a measure to provide a further 6 per cent IBI tax subsidy to what the Town Hall refers to as ‘exemplary citizens’, on top of the 17 per cent IBI subsidy they already receive. Tax councillor Manuel Crespo said: “Exemplary citizens are those who are registered (‘empadronado’) residents of the town and are paid up to date on all their taxes and have no outstanding fines.” There are currently 9,275 such ‘exemplary citizens’ in the town, he said.

28 PER CENT TOTAL REDUCTION
In addition to the now 23 per cent IBI subsidy available to registered residents, taxpayers who sign up for municipal-tax direct-payment plan at their bank get a five per cent discount on their IBI tax. An ‘exemplary citizen’ using this option would thus obtain a total reduction of 28 per cent on the IBI tax.
Hotel operators also receive a 17 per cent discount on the IBI tax, and Town Hall officials say they are studying the possibility of creating an ‘exemplary business’ programme to provide tax breaks to local companies that meet certain criteria.

 

Two Britons arrested for Álora murder

NEWS Staff Reporter

Two Britons were arrested last week, one in England and the other in a Guadalhorce Valley town, in connection with the murder of a British man in Álora in June of this year. The arrest in England of the alleged murderer was carried out by British police on a European warrant issued by a Málaga court at the request of the Guardia Civil investigators handling the case. Spanish officials are now awaiting his extradition back to Spain. The second arrested man, who is accused of being an accessory after the fact, was picked up locally by Guardia Civil officers.

The body of the victim, Lee H.W., 36, was found at the bottom of a well near his home in the Arroyo Pedro La Torre area of Álora on July 18, eight days after his disappearance had been reported to police. A plastic chord was found on one of his wrists, suggesting to investigators that prior to his death his hands had been tied. An autopsy showed that he had suffered a head injury, but did not specify if it was the cause of death. It was also not certain whether the blow to the head occurred as a result of falling down into the well or if it happened beforehand.

 

No interpreters at Costa’s police stations

By David Eade

The Costa del Sol’s 300,000 foreign residents and the millions of tourists who visit in the winter months will have trouble making themselves understood at the National Police station due to the lack of interpreters.

The ‘comisarías’ of the National Police in all the coastal towns will not have an interpreter assigned to them until next summer’s tourist season. The police in Málaga have six interpreters assigned to the provincial ‘comisaría’ but three of those are assigned full time to the organised crime and drug squad (Udyco).

The one police station that has a single interpreter on its staff is Torremolinos. All the others only have interpreters on five-month temporary contracts that operate either between June and November or July and December.

It is not surprising to learn that police chiefs and the officers’ unions would all like to see interpreters assigned to their station on a year round basis. It is argued that not only would this make the work of the police more effective but it would also improve the service offered to foreign residents and tourists.

Foreign residents and tourists who do not speak Spanish but wish to report a crime have to do so by telephone as that police service is available with interpreters. However it depends on which country the person comes from, as there are no police interpreters who speak the languages of Eastern Europe.

 

Sunny Costa is hot zone for credit-card theft

NEWS Staff Reporter

The provinces of Málaga and Cádiz register the highest number of credit-card thefts in Andalucía, according to a recent study by CPP Protección y Servicios de Asistencia. Each of the two provinces accounts for roughly 23 per cent of card thefts in the region, while Sevilla makes up 18 per cent and the rest of the Andalucían provinces represent nine per cent or less each.

According to the study, the highest rate of card theft occurs on Sundays, especially between the hours of 16.00 and 20.00. The number-one place for card thefts is on the street, by way of purse snatchings, pickpocket wallet grabs and the like. The next most frequent place is in the victim’s own home, as part of a robbery or break-in. Other common card-theft spots are petrol stations and commercial centres. In Málaga, as in the rest of the country, cards are stolen more frequently from men than women, with men representing 65 per cent of victims.

Country-wide, Madrid tops the list for credit-card theft by a wide margin, accounting for 40 per cent of all stolen cards. Card thefts in the entire region of Andalucía, by contrast, represent 19 per cent of the national total.

 

Málaga increases taxi tariffs

By Dave Jamieson

Málaga Town Hall has approved an average eight per cent rise in taxi tariffs for the city. A new rate will be introduced for nights, weekends and holidays, as well a minimum rate for journeys from the airport. The new tariff structure comes into effect in the New Year.

Tariff One will apply on working days when the minimum rate will rise from 2.90 to 3.13 euros and the charge per kilometre from 65 to 70 céntimos. Waiting time will be increased from 15.21 to 16.42 euros per hour.

Tariff Two will operate on Saturdays, fiesta days, overnight from 22.00 to 6.00 and on holidays. The minimum rises 22 céntimos to 3.78 euros, the per kilometre charge increases six céntimos to 0.85 euros, and waiting time will be up 1.47 euros per hour at 19.87 euros.

Finally, Tariff Three, which will apply to certain weekends and fiestas as well as on the eve of special days, will be charged at 25 per cent more than Tariff Two.

The special minimum rate for taxi journeys originating at Málaga Airport will be 12 euros during the day, and 15 euros at night and weekends. Taxi drivers had been pressing for rates of 20 and 25 euros respectively.
However, the changes have been labelled as “abusive” by opponents. Socialist councillor Rafael Granados asked for the proposals to be debated further and described the eight per cent rise as “prejudicial”. But the Consumers’ Association in Andalucía, Facua, said that with the rise in fuel prices seen during 2005, it was normal to ask for tariff increases, but adding that these should not exceed inflation as this reduced the spending power of the user.

 

Vélez tranvía extension contracted

By Dave Jamieson

The contract to construct the second phase of Vélez-Málaga’s new light transport system, the tranvía, has been awarded. The seven million euro project has gone to the construction firm Dragados, who beat off 11 rivals to take the work.
Phase II of the line will be 1,300 metres in length and will extend the tracks from the terminus of Phase I at the Jurado Lorca park, with stops by the Colegio Andalucía and at the María Zambrano park, terminating at the station which is destined to be a future interchange point between all public transport services. The terms and conditions of the contract give an execution period of eight months, and covers work to provide a new electricity substation to power the line as well as ancillary work including signalling and other services.

The first phase, linking Vélez with Torre del Mar is almost completed. The 18 million euros it is costing has come entirely from European funds dedicated exclusively to plans for the construction of light transport systems throughout the Community. Mayor Antonio Souvirón says he expects the first carriage unit of the new tramway to be undergoing trials by the end of this month, with an operational start date early next year likely to coincide with the start of work on Phase II. Each unit will hold 202 passengers, 54 seated and 148 standing, and will travel at a maximum 70 kilometres per hour. Tickets are expected to cost 75 céntimos.

 

Nerja tries to boost voter numbers

By Dave Jamieson

WITH THE NEXT LOCAL ELECTIONS DUE IN 2007, MUNICIPALITIES ARE MAKING A FINAL EFFORT BOOST THE NUMBER OF NAMES ON THEIR ELECTORAL ROLLS. THE NAMES WHICH APPEAR ON THE VOTING LIST WILL BE DETERMINED BY DATA RETURNED BY TOWN HALLS IN JANUARY, AND THE NUMBER OF RESIDENTS DECLARED GOES SOME WAY TO DETERMINING A MUNICIPALITY’S FUTURE FINANCES.
Nerja has a particular problem in this respect. A recent national law requires all non-EU residents who are registered on the population census of a Town Hall for more than two years to confirm that they wish to continue on the census. Nerja says this applies to around 900 people in the municipality who, if they do not confirm their renewal, will be automatically deregistered from the census.

A population total greater than 20,000 is one of the key trigger points in defining a municipality’s status and the level of grants it can expect to receive from Madrid. The more inhabitants, the more funds are awarded for local services such as police, doctors, schools, infrastructure and rubbish collection. When the figure of 20.000 inhabitants is reached, other cash can be applied for, including, for example, funding for national police, a hospital and a court, as well as more doctors, schools and general infrastructure.

DECEMBER 22 DEADLINE
But while Nerja’s official population is presently set at 20,435, the removal of even half the outstanding 900 voters will bring it below the critical figure. The Town Hall has now launched a campaign to get these residents to re-register and is writing to them explaining the town’s precarious position in the matter while asking for their help in signing up by Thursday December 22. This can be done at the Town Hall’s main office on the ground floor from Monday to Friday between 9.00 and 14.00. Applicants should bring passport or residence card and sign the official form stating a wish to continue on Nerja’s population census. Everyone must sign their own form personally, except for children who can be signed for by their parents on production of the children’s passports.

Those foreign residents, from both EU and non-EU countries, whose names appear on the electoral roll will be able to vote in the local elections in 18 months’ time. Nerja presently has 5,401 non-Spanish included in its census, with the majority of non-EU residents coming originally from Argentina and Morocco.

 

Pizarra museum opens to group visits

By Oliver McIntyre

PIZARRA’S MUNICIPAL MUSEUM IS UNDERGOING A MAJOR REORGANISATION, BUT TOWN HALL OFFICIALS ANNOUNCED LAST WEEK THAT THOSE WISHING TO VISIT PRIOR TO THE OFFICIAL RE-INAUGURATION CAN DO SO BY APPOINTMENT. “This measure has been launched to so that anyone who wants to can enjoy the pieces on display,” said the Town Hall’s Tourism Department, which operates the museum. The by-appointment visits are aimed especially at groups.

Workers are currently reorganising the museum to group displays in three broad categories: History, Archaeology and Ethnography. The Sala Gino Holaner room, which was previously organised by type of archaeological pieces, will now have its displays organised by chronology, following the history of man over the last 800,000 years. Displays include rocks worked by prehistoric man, ceramic pieces from 2,000 years B.C., the evolution of money over the last 2,300 years and agricultural tools and elements from recent centuries.

The Sala Agustín Clavijo room, which will remain essentially as it was, contains historic Spanish furniture and home furnishings dating as far back as the 15th century. Among the pieces on display are antique chests, armchairs, bureaus and other items, as well as recreations of a typical kitchen and bedroom.

VISITS BY APPOINTMENT
The Town Hall describes the municipal museum as “one of the most interesting places to visit to learn about the passage of mankind through the Guadalhorce Valley region.” By-appointment visits prior to the museum’s official re-opening can be arranged by calling 952 48 32 37 or 600 37 83 38.

 

Beware fake lottery tickets

News Staff Reporter

A unit of the National Police assigned to the regional government has seized 6,000 illegal lottery tickets in Algeciras and Los Barrios. All the tickets belonged to the FAMA lottery that are widely sold in Andalucía and were for this Monday and Tuesday’s draw.

In a press statement the regional government said the raids had been carried out by a special gaming unit of the National Police over the weekend. The tickets were seized from a distributor, a zone inspector and a ticket seller in Algeciras and three ticket sellers in Los Barrios.

The FAMA lottery is not authorised and sells one-euro tickets from Monday to Friday. FAMA does not hold its own draw but uses the numbers drawn by the ONCE lottery. It is alleged that FAMA does not sell all its numbers and the beneficiaries of the profits are not subjected to legal control. In addition it is presumed that the monies are distributed indiscriminately but two cases of fraud brought against six members of FAMA in the Sevilla court in 1988 and 1990 were dismissed.

Zoo vaccinates its birds

News Staff Reporter

Jerez Zoo will shortly start to vaccinate all its birds to comply with the ministerial order issued last week, which established the measures to be taken to prevent an outbreak of avian flu. This measure is especially aimed at restricting contact between wild birds and those kept in captivity.

The zoo’s director, José María Aguilar, stated that the vaccination programme would commence as soon as all the vaccines had arrived. He estimated that all the zoo’s caged and free birds would be vaccinated within a 96 hours period.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has named 254 municipalities in Spain deemed at high risk from avian flu of which 16 are in Cádiz. They are Alcalá de los Gazules, Los Barrios, Benalup, Castellar, Cádiz, Conil, Chipiona, Jerez, Jimena, Medina Sidonia, El Puerto de Santa María, Puerto Real, Rota, San Fernando, Sanlúcar and Trebujena because of their close proximity to the Doñana national park and the Bahía de Cádiz national park.

Spain's biggest trial is underway

Fifty six ETA supporters in the dock

By David Eade

MONDAY SAW THE START OF SPAIN’S BIGGEST TRIAL WITH 56 PEOPLE FACING CHARGES OF BELONGING TO SUPPORT GROUPS FOR THE BASQUE TERRORIST ORGANISATION ETA.
The country’s famous investigating judge, Baltasar Garzon, is behind the case after he carried out a seven-year probe into groups which are alleged to have promoted ETA’s aims in the political, financial, media and international spheres.
The State prosecutors described those in the dock as the “stomach, heart and head” of ETA. Since 1968 the Basque separatist group has been blamed for killing nearly 850 people in a violent campaign for an independent state.

The trial is being held at a high-security courtroom on the outskirts of Madrid. It has the most defendants of any trial in Spanish history and all the defendants, who were not held in prison before the trial, arrived at the court in three coaches.
All 56 defendants wore identical t-shirts, bearing their case number "18/98" and the slogan: "For civil and political rights." They face a variety of charges including belonging to or co-operating with ETA, false accounting as well as tax and social security violations.

The Prosecution team are seeking a total of more than 900 years in prison for the 56 accused; if convicted they face individual sentences of between 10 and 51 years. In all around 300 witnesses are expected to be called during the trial which could last up to eight months.

 

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