News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week 31st August - 6th September 2006
TEED OFF AT ESTEPONA GOLF
Indignant golf residents plan demos at club
By David Eade
FOLLOWING PROTESTS OUTSIDE THE TOWN HALL RESIDENTS OF THE ESTEPONA GOLF CLUB URBANISATION HAVE AGREED TO STEP UP DEMONSTRATIONS OUTSIDE THE CLUB DURING COMPETITIONS.
This is part of a campaign to bring to the attention of golfers and the public the distressing situation in which residents have to pay huge infrastructure charges. The situation has led to pensioners like Mrs Elizabeth Brookes having to sell her home if she is forced to pay a 29,000 euros charge.
At the homeowners' meeting, Manuel Sánchez Rodríguez, president of the community replied to statements made by the major developer at Estepona Golf, Rory Leader in the Costa del Sol News (July 20-26). Residents claim they were to incur no costs but Rory Leader replied: “I totally and utterly refute this. I have no idea why they would even think that they would never have to contribute anything - however nominal.”
Some residents say that they will now swear on oath that at the first Junta de Compensación meeting in September 2004, when asked, the developers made it clear there would be no charges to pay by existing homeowners.
The two presidents who had tried to join the committee of the Junta de Compensacion were not allowed to do so at the time because, as Mr Leader told CDSN, they were not presidents of any legal body. Manuel Sánchez Rodríguez pointed out that both presidents are from legally registered communities and have their names in the Book of Minutes, which are stamped by the Notary.
However, on a recent visit by Sr Sánchez to the town hall he was informed that rules had now changed and that any person affected by the JDC (Junta de Compensación) could now apply to join the committee. The President told CDSN: “I hope the golf course has enough chairs for the 100 or more people who could join the JDC.”
MAYOR TO MEDIATE
Following the protest outside Estepona’s town hall, the mayor stated on TV that he will act as a negotiator between developers and homeowners.
A PENSIONER'S TALE OF WOE
One of the Estepona Golf residents who faces loosing her home is pensioner Elizabeth Brookes. She told the CDSN: “In 1998 I bought our front line villa at Estepona Golf along with my late husband Bernard. We spent our savings on making this villa our dream home in the sun something we’d both longed for after a long working life in the retail business in England.”
Apparently Bernard was a keen golfer and played the course along with other neighbours several times a week. He was also a friend of the Leader family and was even at the funeral of Rory Leader’s father, David Leader, the founder of Estepona Golf Course. Sadly in 2004 Bernard passed away after a painful illness and which saw Elizabeth Brookes constantly travelling to Malaga each day to be by his side. Bernard being the keen golfer his wish was for his ashes to be scattered on the 15th tee, his favourite spot.
However now Elizabeth Brookes “dream home” has been turned in to a nightmare. She stated: “I now live on my States Widows’ Pension and with such a huge bill of 29,751 euros, this is a major dilemma for me to face alone and is causing me grave health concerns.” Needless to say she does not have the funds to pay so ultimately she will have to sell her home.
Elizabeth Brookes asked: “Maybe the developers could answer my query as to my bill is so high?” Especially as she claims it is double the price to be paid by some of the other villas at Estepona Golf.
Bars guilty of 'resistance' on smoking lawBy Dave Jamieson
THE ATTITUDE OF THE CATERING SECTOR TO THE NEW ANTI-SMOKING LEGISLATION WHICH BECOMES EFFECTIVE TOMORROW HAS BEEN CONDEMNED BY SCIENTIFIC AND CONSUMER GROUPS.
From September 1, bars and restaurants of more than 100 square metres have to provide a segregated area for smoking clients or prohibit smoking throughout their premises (CDSN last week).
The Federation of Hotel Trades has unsuccessfully asked for a six month moratorium on the new regulations with their regional representatives warning that most of their affected members have not taken steps to provide non-smoking areas. It says many premises would have difficulty in complying with the regulations because of the positioning of emergency exits and water sprinkling systems.
However, the attitude of the sector has been severely criticised by National Committee for the Prevention of Tobacco Addiction (CNPT), a group of 42 medical and scientific societies, which described it as “excessive and hugely disproportionate resistance.” The committee’s president, Rodrigo Córdoba, predicted that the majority of bars would open with having undertaken the required work, a posture which he said would doubtless be regarded as “rebelliousness”.
‘BLACKMAIL’ OF THE HOTEL TRADE
The Spanish Consumers’ Union (UCE) went so far as to press the Ministry of Health and Consumer Matters not to give in to the “blackmail of the hotel trade and certain regional governments which are trying to devalue the application of the anti-tobacco law.” The group claimed that Madrid, Valencia and Cataluña were amongst those areas which were trying to replace the legal obligation for complete physical separation of the smoking zone with systems based on ventilation and air purification which, “are ineffective in eliminating the toxins in smoke.” It estimates that 90 per cent of affected businesses have taken no steps to ensure their legality after tomorrow.
Easyjet chooses Madrid over Málaga as Spanish baseBy Dave Jamieson
THE UK LOW-COST CARRIER EASYJET HAS ANNOUNCED PLANS TO SET UP A BASE IN MADRID. THE AIRLINE IS TAKING ADVANTAGE OF NEW CAPACITY AT BARAJAS AIRPORT WHERE THE OPENING OF A FOURTH TERMINAL HAS IMPROVED TRAFFIC.
easyJet says their presence in Spain, the first in this country, will be ‘substantial’ and is already recruiting new pilots and cabin crew. It has been flying into Barajas since 1988 and now provides links to 11 other Spanish airports, as well as to four in Britain and five elsewhere in Europe. The airline’s new routes out of Madrid and the size of its operation at Barajas are to be announced next month. Last year, the company said it was considering Málaga, where it is already the biggest user, as well as Madrid, Barcelona and Alicante for its first Spanish base.
In a statement, the head of operations for southern Europe, Arnaldo Muñoz said that three out of ten flights in Spain are already with low-cost carriers but easyJet expects that figure to rise. “Up to now,” he added, “a good part of the offering has been tailored towards the tourist and the European passenger (and) the Madrid base expects to revolutionise this situation.”
easyJet claims to be Spain’s second biggest international carrier after Iberia, with 7.5 million passengers carried last year. From February 16, 2007, it will boost these numbers by operating domestic flights as well. It has already applied for and been awarded slots for aircraft operations at Barajas which will become its 17th base. After the UK, Spain is easyJet’s second largest market.
Conversely, Iberia has already announced plans to cut back on domestic flights under pressure from airlines such as Vueling, Air Europa and Spanair, and has a 20 per cent stake in a new budget carrier, Clickair, due to start operating in October.
LOW COST CARRIERS GO UP
The Institute of Tourism Statistics says that the number of passengers arriving in Spain during July on board low cost carriers was 13.5 per cent up on last year and represented 31.8 per cent of all last month’s air travellers. The 13,400 flights which ferried them in and out of the country were 89.6 per cent on average, compared with 85 per cent for traditional airlines, while easyJet alone generated 19.6 per cent of all arrivals, more than 10 per cent up on last year.
Málaga to Fuengirola line improvements delayedBy David Eade
The Málaga to Fuengirola ‘cercanías’ commuter line is one of the most profitable on the Renfe network. It carries around eight million passengers a year yet sadly the work to convert the single line track in to a safer and speedier two-line service has been subjected to numerous delays.
The Ministry of Public works that is undertaking the improvements project says there are two main reasons for the delays. The first is blamed on the use of an old map for the drawing up of the project and the second, which is said to have caused the major delays, is the instances of landslides especially at Torremuelle in Benalmádena.
The result is that work on the Benalmádena to Fuengirola section that was due to have been completed in January of this year will not be finished until the first quarter of next year. On a political note the ministry says the starting of the works in December 3, 2003 by the previous PP government was largely cosmetic and in May of the following year when the socialists came to power only 2 per cent of the total project had been started.
Although the line improvements between Málaga and Benalmádena have been completed there has been no increase to the frequency of the trains at every 30 minutes. Indeed no such frequency changes can be made, as it would interfere with the service between Benalmádena and Fuengirola whilst that section of the line is worked on. Once the line operates on a dual line system the travel time between Málaga and Fuengirola should be cut from 40 to 30 minutes.
Gang members arrested Benalmádena and TorremolinosThe gang is alleged to have committed 150 robberies on the Costa del Sol
By David Eade
THE GUARDIA CIVIL HAS FINISHED EIGHT MONTHS OF INVESTIGATIONS UNDER THE CODE NAME 'OPERACIÓN BARBIQUÍ' THAT HAS LEAD TO THE ARREST OF SEVEN ALBANIANS.
The people arrested are alleged to be members of the gang that has robbed homes on the Costa del Sol as well as in Sotogrande.
According to official sources, the gang is said to have carried out more than 150 robberies on homes in Málaga city, Benalmádena, Torremolinos and Sotogrande.
Five of the detained, all aged between 26 and 32 years, were seized at their homes in Torremolinos and two apartments in Timón 4 in Benalmádena. A 23-year-old was also arrested at Barcelona's Prat de Llobregat airport whilst a 26-year-old was detained at Madrid's Barajas airport. It is understood that the due were in the process of flying to Tirana, the capital of Albania.
The modus operandi of the gang was to look for luxury detached houses or chalets, especially those with a terrace near ground level and easy access. They then identified the property owners and studied their lifestyles and habits. Once they decided the dwelling was suitable for robbing they drilled a small hole in the windows and entered. Once inside the house the identified were those nearest to them were sleeping and then made off with cash, jewellery and works of art. The Guardia Civil have recovered many of the stolen items as well as a vehicle. In the cases of the works of art they have either been sold on the black market or taken by a normal transport company or the postal service to Albania.
The gang are said to have entered the homes between 23.00 and 06.00 in the morning wearing dark cloths so it was difficult for them to be seen. They themselves had no fixed address but moved between rented apartments. They also used sophisticated surveillance methods to detect the whereabouts of the Guardia Civil. The recovered jewellery has been filmed and placed on the Guardia Civil’s own website so that owners can easily identify what is their property and notify the authorities.
SOTOGRANDE LUXURY HOMES TARGETED
The Costa del Sol News reported on the wave of robberies that hit Sotogrande this summer and the gang are believed to be responsible for 28 break-ins on the luxury urbanisation. The mayor of San Roque, José Vázquez, and the councillor responsible for local security, Miguel Núñez, have both congratulated the Guardia Civil on their work in arresting the gang. The mayor stated that from when the first robberies were detected the Guardia Civil stated their determination of arresting the culprits and this has now been done.
Beware of Red Cross lottery scamBy David Eade
Cruz Roja, Spain’s Red Cross organisation is warning of a fraud being carried out in Benalmádena, although the con artists could well now turn their attentions to other parts of the coast.
The victims reported having received phone calls from the fraudsters who claimed to be from Cruz Roja. They were told they were collecting money as part of a summer fundraising campaign. The phone calls were made by Spaniards or South Americans using phones with withheld numbers so their calls couldn’t be returned or traced. If the people called agreed to donate money they were visited by one of the fraudsters dressed in a uniform. Needless to say they have no connection with the international relief organisation.
The President of Cruz Roja in Benalmádena, María José Llorente, says five cases have been discovered so far. He is not discounting there could be more that have not been reported. Sra Llorente says Cruz Roja does not collect money in this way and warns people to watch out for these fraudsters. This is not the first time such a scam has been carried out on the Costa del Sol. There were similar incidents two years ago and the fraudsters could now move on to other towns now they have been discovered in Benalmádena.
A week of rescues in MaroBy Dave Jamieson
Two young men had to be rescued off the coast of Maro last week when their small boat was caught by strong winds. Witnesses said the pair, who had appeared to have been drinking, loaded several litres of beer into the craft and then set off into the sea against the advice of the beach’s lifeguard. When it was seen the boat was out of control and drifting towards Nerja, the lifeguard service launched the rescue operation.
In a separate incident, another pleasure craft was rescued by the Guardia Civil when it became lost in fog 1.5 miles off the Maro coast. Two people, including a 70-year-old diabetic man, had been surprised by the thick sea mist which blanketed the coastal strip and called for help by phone. They were found, unharmed, two hours later.
And on Saturday, lifeguards and the Civil Protection unit collaborated to help a man who had taken ill on El Pino beach. Initially, he was helped by others holiday makers who then called the emergency services. The area, which is within the Maro – Cerro Gordo natural park, is difficult to access so he was evacuated on board a jet ski to the beach at Maro where he could be transferred to an ambulance.
Moroccan fishermen accused of illegal fishingEcologist group warns of the callous killing of thousands of dolphins, sharks and whales
By David Eade
THE INTERNATIONAL MARINE ENVIRONMENT GROUP, OCEANA, HAS ACCUSED MOROCCAN FISHERMEN OF ILLEGALLY USING DRIFT NETS AND OVER-FISHING IN THE WATERS OF THE STRAITS OF GIBRALTAR.
As a result stocks of swordfish stocks and being depleted and they are killing thousands of dolphins, whales and sharks.
Oceana claims to have filmed the activity of 150 vessels based in the ports of Tangier, Nador and Alhuceima. It alleges that the fishermen’s use of drift nets is devastating some kinds of marine life in the area. It also accuses them of catching fish that are well below the legal size.
In a statement Oceana reported: “The Moroccan netters are over-fishing the stocks of swordfish and killing 15,000 dolphins, pilot whales, sperm whales and other cetaceans, as well as 100,000 sharks per year.”
“Apart from contributing to the overexploitation of the targeted species, the swordfish, the Moroccan netters also cause the death of an enormous quantity of accidental captures, such as rays, sharks and moonfish - a species which, by the way, feeds on jellyfish.”
DRIFT NETTERS IN THE STRAITS
Verdemar-Ecologistas en Acción has also reported the presence of dozens of Moroccan drift netters in the Straits of Gibraltar. The Spanish environmentalists say that apart from the damage they cause, they also represent a great risk because they place their nets in areas of intense maritime traffic.
Xavier Pastor, Oceana’s European director stated: “Oceana demands that all governments, European or African, comply with international legislations which will allow for the recuperation of fishing resources and will prevent the massacre of tens of thousands of cetaceans, sharks and other accidental captures.”
Coín to have local ecological produce marketNews Staff Reporter
The Town Hall in Coín is to launch a project for the promotion and sale of ecologically cultivated produce from the Guadalhorce valley. It will be part of a development programme for ecological agriculture for which the town has signed an agreement with the association COAG. Initially, the plan is to hold a market on one Saturday every month, although, if successful, this could become fortnightly or even weekly. The aim is to maximise the potential for family groups who grow crops using ecological agricultural methods, so excluding the conventional commercial channels, and a grant has been sought from the provincial department of agriculture to finance the project’s costs.
Nerja honours Ayo on half-league race dayBy Dave Jamieson
While the eyes of the cycling world were last weekend firmly fixed on Málaga and the start of the Vuelta de España, hundreds turned out for an annual sporting event in Nerja last Friday night. For the 14th year, the town’s half league race was run up and down the paseo of Burriana beach in a family atmosphere which attracted the young and the old amongst the athletes and the fun-runners.
The event is organised every year as a tribute to one of Nerja’s most enduring personalities, Ayo, who is best known for cooking huge paellas at his restaurant on the beach. Ayo was one of the founders of Nerja’s prestigious Athletics Club and was himself an impressive athlete. Now 67, Ayo fired the starting pistol for each of the evening’s races, starting with the children’s event and ending with the women’s and men’s.
This year’s race coincided with Nerja’s “Day of the Tourist” and, earlier on Friday, Ayo, real name Francisco Ortega, was honoured by the town at a special ceremony to mark his contribution to the promotion of tourism in the municipality. At the Town Hall, mayor José Alberto Armijo presented Ayo with a special gold medal in front of his family, friends and colleagues, and recalled highlights of his life in the town, including his collaboration with Antonio Mercero in the famous TV series, “Verano Azul”. Also mentioned was his response to the earthquake which shook El Salvador in 1986, and the annual dinner which he throws for the town’s pensioners on the night of San Juan. Ayo in his acceptance speech undertook to continue working as long as his health allowed, and after concluding with the words, “Viva Nerja! Vive España!” he was straight back to Burriana to continue cooking paella.
Urgent help call for Pizarra water supplyBy Dave Jamieson
PIZARRA HAS ASKED FOR URGENT HELP WITH THE TOWN’S WATER SUPPLY PROBLEMS AS A WAR OF WORDS BEGAN BETWEEN ITS MAYOR AND NEIGHBOURING CÁRTAMA.
Zacarías Gómez last week said that the situation was becoming critical with some of the highest points in the municipality receiving almost no mains water at all and accused Cártama of cutting off electric power to one of the wells serving his town, a charge which has been denied. Throughout much of Pizarra, daily cuts in the supply last between eight and ten hours and Mayor Gómez has asked the water supplier, Cuenca Mediterránea Andaluza (CMA), to find a solution to the problem.
IN THE MIDST OF WELLS AND RIVERS
Ironically, Pizarra is situated in the midst of wells and rivers, such as the Guadalhorce and el Grande, and the Environment Department has promised that, in the future, it will benefit from the new pipeline taking water from the el Grande to Málaga. At present, however, Pizarra gets its water in part from its own well and partly from the Cañas and Bonela arroyos, all of which are practically dry.
Mayor Gómez blames the present situation mainly on the CMA which, he says, built a well to take water from el Grande above Pizarra. Since then, he adds, his town has had problems. He has also asked the neighbouring town of Cártama to restrict its consumption to water from its own private wells which he claims supply enough to guarantee its supplies, and to stop taking water from el Grande. Sr Gómez has not ruled out organised demonstrations outside the CMA’s offices by some of his town’s 8,000 citizens.
The CMA’s director general, Antonio Rodríguez Leal, responded to Pizarra’s demands by saying that the scarcity of water in the town was “fundamentally due to the lack of regulated wells in the municipality and that is totally the responsibility of the Town Hall.” He is to visit the Guadalhorce valley next week to discuss water supply problems and will also examine complaints from Pizarra Town Hall about 16 illegal wells.
The new pipe promised by the Government is on the point of construction. Its principal aim is to supply between 15 and 20 cubic hectometres of water from el Grande to the city of Málaga, but it will also augment supplies in the immediate area where several municipalities, like Pizarra, have been forced to introduce restrictions. The project has a budget of 62 million euros.
Confusion over the legislation of propertiesBy David Eade
THE OWNERS OF PROPERTIES THAT HAVE BEEN BUILT IN CHICLANA WITHOUT BUILDING LICENCES MAY BE IN FOR A BIT OF GOOD NEWS.
The town hall says it can begin to make their properties legal after the summer, although the town planning department does not expect to be inundated with applications during this voluntary period.
The town hall’s aim is to legalise 20,000 properties. To achieve this it has signed agreements with the College of Architects and the College of Building Overseers and Technical Architects, who will help owners with the technical aspect of the process, and with Unicaja bank who will offer loans to help people pay the costs.
The properties must have been built before 1998, and must be in one of the nine ‘areas de gestión básica’ defined in the local development plan (PGOU). To initiate the legalisation process, owners must produce the certificate to show they are on the ‘padrón’ (municipal population register), proof of ownership of the property, proof that they are registered for IBI tax, and documents which show how old the house is, as well as the contracts for electricity and water.
ANDALUCIA OMBUDSMAN SCEPTICAL
However the Andalucía ombudsman, José Chamizo, has raised doubts that Chiclana can make all these properties legal. Also it is understood that officials have asked banks not to give mortgages to dwellings that are not yet legal. The electricity company Sevillana Endesa has also stated that it is about to cut the supply to dwellings that do not have first occupation licences and will not give supplies to new properties that do not have the required licences. Although this actual instance applies to properties in Chiclana many others in Puerto Real, El Puerto de Santa María, Chipiona and San Fernando are also said to face similar problems.
Spain agrees to send forces to LebanonBy David Eade
THE EU HAS PROMISED TO SEND A PEACEKEEPING FORCE TO THE LEBANON UNDER THE AUSPICES OF THE UNITED NATIONS.
Although the force will be led by France with Italy another major contributor it is understood that Spain has agreed to commit around 1,000 of its armed forces members.
Twenty-five member states took part in the meeting with UN General Secretary Kofi Annan with France stating it would send 2,000 soldiers, Italy 3,000 and Spain next in line with around 1,000. Belgium has offered 300, Finland 250 and Poland 500.
Spain’s Foreign Minister, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, refused to confirm the exact number of troops that his country would send. He stated: “Spain will give a significant contribution but out of respect to the Council of Ministers and to Parliament I am not going to give concrete figures.” He added: “This European presence is a historic opportunity that can set a good precedent for future missions.”
The sending of troops has to be sanctioned by the Spanish Parliament and the left-wing Izquierda Unida has already signalled that it might oppose the move. The IU’s co-ordinator general, Gaspar Llamazares stated that the party would require a guarantee that the Spanish forces were involved in a peace mission and would also require assurances over their safety.
Llamazares said it would only be acceptable if the Spanish force was one of inter-position and not one of imposition. He also stated that they must not act on Israel’s behalf either by disarming Hezbola or sealing the border with Syria. It is also likely that before giving its support the IU would want to see Spanish forces withdrawn from Afghanistan.
El Corte Inglés boosts its profits for ItalyNews Staff Reporter
The giant Spanish superstore group, El Corte Inglés, has stated that its profits have risen by 6.82 per cent between the period 1 March 2005 and 28 February 2006. Its profits for those 12-months were 653.14 million euros and the company’s president Isidoro Álvarez, stated that the next move would be to open branches in Italy. To that effect it would now spend 13.5 million euros more, in other words 459.8 million euros, on expanding the El Cortes Inglés chain.
The turnover of El Corte Inglés as a group had increased over the past year by 8.54 per cent. It now stood at 15,855 million euros up from 14,607 million euros in 2004.
The large stores accounted for 57 per cent of the group’s business at 9,030 million euros. Next at 21 per cent were Hipercor and Tiendas El Corte Inglés with 3,317 million euros. The travel agencies made up 11.1 per cent at 1,755 million euros. Smaller parts of the empire included Supercor (2.1 per cent), Opencor (2 per cent) Sfera Joven (.5 per cent), Optica 2000 (.4 per cent) with other businesses all showing growth turning over 6.2 per cent.
Apart from the move in to Italy the company had launched its new Sefora perfume outlets as well as opticians. Soon to makes its appearance will be a do-it-yourself cum hardware chain, Bricor, that would have its first outlet in Alcalá de Henares in Madrid. Sfera had also gone international with shops in Portugal, Greece and Belgium and the travel agency had also opened up delegations in a number of countries including the USA and South America.
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