News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week 9th November - 15th November 2006
Cars swept out to sea, roads closed and people evacuated
By Oliver McIntyre
A TORRENTIAL DOWNPOUR THROUGHOUT MUCH OF THE COSTA REGION EARLIER THIS WEEK CAUSED FLOODING AND DAMAGE, AND IN MÁLAGA CITY RESULTED IN MORE THAN A DOZEN CARS BEING SWEPT DOWN TO THE SEA.
The cars were parked in a dry riverbed next to the Parque San Antonio clinic, which swelled with runoff water as around four inches of rain fell on the city. Rescue and recovery teams responded to the scene and checked the vehicles for any possible occupants. There were no injuries reported.
Other incidents included road cuts and flooded buildings in Marbella, with the Nueva Andalucía and San Pedro areas especially hard hit. The N-340 was cut in several places, and two schools, Los Olivos and Vicente Aleixandre, suffered partial flooding, causing nursery-school classes to be cancelled at the latter. In Mijas firefighters and police evacuated two industrial parks, affecting more than 200 businesses, while 50 people were evacuated from their homes at Molino de Viento, next to Río Fuengirola, for fear that the swollen river would leave them stranded.
In Alhaurín de la Torre two arroyos overflowed, flooding at least two country roads and cutting off access to an estimated 4,000 people in rural zones. The town also suffered around a dozen power cuts of varying duration during the day. Elsewhere in the Guadalhorce Valley, the shortcut road between Pizarra and the Málaga road was cut when a small stream that usually flows under a low bridge on the road became a rushing current of water and gushed over the bridge.
In Estepona, another flooded bridge left as many as 500 people stranded in their homes at Estepona Golf. Elsewhere in the town, similar road flooding affected residents in Forest Hill and Los Molinos.
Firefighters in Benalmádena rescued a mother and her baby from inside their house in Montealto, where they had been trapped by flooding. In neighbouring Torremolinos, an office building in Plaza Costa del Sol suffered serious water damage.
The greatest rainfall on Tuesday was registered in Mijas, with 6.25 inches, followed by Coín, which got just over 5.5 inches, and Marbella, where just under 5.5 inches fell.
Cártama was also hard hit, with five inches, as was Ojén, with 4.75 inches.
Other parts of the province, such as the Axarquía, Ronda and Antequera areas, did not experience such severe downpours. Vélez-Málaga, for example, received only about an inch of rainfall, with similar amounts registered in Ronda and at El Torcal. The rain was welcome in these areas, providing much-needed water for drought-parched agricultural crops.
EFFECT ON DROUGHT
Indeed, the storm and further rainfall in the days that followed helped to alleviate the province’s drought situation in general. While reservoir levels saw only a small immediate increase, they are expected to see greater increases as runoff and groundwater gradually filter in. But officials were quick to point out that drought conditions continue.
Boy racers arrested
By Suzan Davenport
A 14-year-old pedestrian was mowed down on a zebra crossing by a 16-year-old driver who was racing against another car on Avenida de Europa in Málaga city on Saturday afternoon.
The accident occurred at 14.45 when a car stopped to let the teenager cross the road. As she crossed, a vehicle raced past at great speed narrowly missing her. A second speeding car, a Volkswagen Golf, hit the girl before she could get out of the way. Both vehicles stopped 400 metres down the road before taking off again. Witnesses said it was clear from the speed and the way the cars were being driven that they were racing against each other.
On Tuesday National Police officers tracked down the two cars and arrested four youths in connection with the hit-and-run incident after witnesses gave local police detailed information about the cars and their number-plates. Neither of the drivers had licences.At the time of going to press a Carlos Haya hospital spokesman said the girl was in coma in the intensive care unit with serious injuries.
Euro MP teed off
'Outraged' MEP Michael Cashman backs Estepona Golf residents
By David Eade
MICHAEL CASHMAN, THE FORMER EASTENDERS STAR TURNED EURO MP, HAS BACKED THE EMBATTLED RESIDENTS OF ESTEPONA GOLF, DECLARING THAT HE IS “OUTRAGED” AT THE ENORMOUS INFRASTRUCTURE CHARGES THEY ARE FACING.
The Euro MP, who has been leading the fight against the so-called ‘Land Grab’ laws in Valencia, was contacted by Stephen Kimsey, one of the Estepona Golf residents.
In written correspondence seen by Costa del Sol News, Mr Kimsey informed Michael Cashman of the plight of thousands of homeowners living on the coast. “People in rural communities with full infrastructure are having charges put on their title deeds,” he told the MEP.
Regarding his own case, he told Mr Cashman, “I have a charge of 28,350 euros placed on my home. I have lived here on Estepona Golf course for over six years. Our registered community has drains, electric, streetlights, roads and land line telephones. But the British owner of the Golf course Mr. Rory Leader, wants to develop in the area and formed a ‘Junta de Compensación’ with other developers. They want me and my neighbours to pay over one million euros for their infrastructure.”
The Estepona Golf residents say they are concerned not just about their own urbanisation, but also about similar situations in Estepona’s Puerto Romano and other places like San Roque, Mijas and Nerja.
In his reply to Mr Kimsey, also seen by CDSN, Michael Cashman stated, “I’m outraged by what is happening to you. This is another clear example of a rip off.” He promised to send details of the Estepona Golf case on to the European Parliament’s Petitions Committee secretariat.
The Euro MP also advised all those facing a similar dilemma to inform the British Embassy in Madrid as well as the group Abusos Urbanísticos No, “who are working on similar issues in the Valencia region but who are in contact with other affected people in other parts of Spain.” They can be contacted via their website (www.abusos-no.org). Mr Cashman added that Mr Kimsey and the other affected residents may want to consider submitting a petition on their particular case to the European Parliament. Information on the process for doing this can be on the EP’s website (www.europarl.europa.eu/parliament).
Carry-on luggage restrictions take effect
By Oliver McIntyre
EXPATS LIVING ON THE COAST WILL BE AFFECTED BY NEW CARRY-ON LUGGAGE RESTRICTIONS WHEN FLYING INTO AND OUT OF MÁLAGA OR OTHER AIRPORTS IN THE REGION.
The restrictions, imposed over the whole of Europe by a European Union mandate, went into effect on Monday and affect all flights departing from or arriving to any airport in the EU and Norway, Iceland and Switzerland.
The primary targets of the new restrictions are liquids and gels, including water and other drinks, perfumes, creams and lotions, lipstick, liquid soaps or deodorants and any other products of similar consistencies. Only containers of 100 ml or less may be brought on the plane as hand luggage and they must be carried in a clear plastic bag no larger than a litre in volume (20 cm x 20 cm). The only liquid or gel items allowed in larger quantities or outside the plastic bag are baby food or formula and medicines needed during the flight. The latter must be accompanied by a doctor’s prescription and proof of purchase.
When passing through security checkpoints, certain carry-on items must be presented separately for x-ray screening. These include electronic devices such as laptop computers, digital cameras and portable DVD players; transparent bags of any liquid or gel items; baby food or formula; medicines with their accompanying documentation; and jackets or coats.
Any liquid duty-free goods purchased once past airport security or aboard the airplane must be carried in a transparent plastic bag sealed by the seller, and must be accompanied by the receipt of purchase. If these conditions are not met the items will be confiscated from the passenger. The new restrictions are part of the security-tightening regulation passed by the European Commission in the wake of the August 10 break-up of an alleged terrorist plot to use liquid explosives on flights to the United States. “The threat of liquid explosives is real and generic,” said Jacques Barrot, the EC vice-president in charge of transport. “The new regulation will plug a gap in our defences.”
Alleged murderer of British beggar faces 12 years
NEWS Staff Reporter
The man accused of killing a 53-year-old Briton who was living rough in Málaga is scheduled for trial by jury on November 15. The public prosecutor is seeking 12 years in prison and a 150,000 restitution payment.
The incident occurred on the night of November 26 last year, when the Briton, Leslie W., was drinking beer with another indigent behind the Huelin market in the city, where the two frequently begged for money and slept. According to the prosecutor’s case, they were approached by the accused, J.C.E., a tip-seeking ‘car parker’ in the zone with whom the two men and a third companion had previously had an argument. When he neared, the Briton reprimanded him for attempting to do drugs at the spot, provoking the man to allegedly attack the Briton, stabbing him once in the chest with a knife or other sharp object before fleeing on a bicycle and ditching the weapon, which has never been found.
The single chest wound, just two centimetres from the victim’s left ventricle, caused massive internal haemorrhaging and external bleeding. He was barely alive when the ambulance arrived and died less than an hour later. In his pockets investigators found only 2.42 euros and a cigarette lighter. The accused was arrested 15 days later. He has a long police record, including arrests and convictions for robbery and drug dealing. In the last 10 years he has been convicted eight times.
Materno paediatricians to strike
NEWS Staff Reporter
Around 50 paediatricians at Málaga’s Hospital Materno Infantil have announced plans for an open-ended strike beginning on November 17. The paediatricians are upset over the failure of the Andalucía Health Service (SAS) to resolve a conflict over the work schedules of 22 health-centre paediatricians who until recently had been on call at Materno’s A&E department. At the beginning of this month, the health-centre doctors stopped working shifts at Materno because it meant they worked 31 hours straight through (seven at their health centre, the 17-hour on-call shift in the A&E department, and the next day’s seven-hour shift at their health centre).
The doctors say that SAS and the labour unions reached an agreement in May that recognised doctors’ right to a 12-hour rest between shifts. But, at least in the case of the health-centre paediatricians that are on-call at Materno, it has not been honoured. Since they stopped taking their on-call shifts, workloads have increased for Materno’s staff paediatricians, each of whom is now taking an average of 6.3 on call shifts per month.
Working 31 hours straight “obviously causes fatigue, which undermines the guarantee of quality health care for patients,” said a spokesman for the doctors.The Materno staff paediatricians are not satisfied with health officials’ proposals to substitute the health-centre paediatricians by bringing in available general practitioners or using young residency doctors at the hospital to cover the shifts. They say it that if specialised paediatricians are not covering the post, the level of care provided to patients will suffer. They want SAS to allow the health-centre paediatricians to work the on-call shifts at Materno and have an appropriate rest between these and their normal health-centre shifts.
Uncertainty over PP candidate for BEnalmádena
By David Eade
THE ONGOING SAGA ABOUT WHO SHOULD BE THE PARTIDO POPULAR’S CANDIDATE FOR MAYOR IN BENALMÁDENA AT NEXT MAY’S MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS CONTINUES WITH NO CLEAR NOMINEE DESPITE MONTHS OF RUMOURS REGARDING A PACT BETWEEN THE CURRENT MAYOR, ENRIQUE BOLIN, AND REGIONAL PP LEADERS, WHO HAD AGREED TO SUPPORT SR BOLÍN AND SEEK ELECTION WITH HIM AT THEIR HEAD.
The latest twist came last week when PP’s Benalmadena president and mayoral candidate in the 2003 local elections, Jesús Fortes, publicly offered his resignation if a pact between the Partido Popular and the GIB-Bolin party goes ahead. At a press conference in Málaga on Saturday, Sr Fortes called for the PP’s provincial and regional authorities to make a statement on a potential pact “as soon as possible.”
Fortes, accompanied by other local PP members, went on to say: “If a pact is agreed, I do not want to form a part of it.” He confirmed that there was a lot of bad feeling at the local headquarters, “because [provincial PP authorities] aren’t including us in the meetings that are supposed to be taking place with GIB-Bolin.”
The PP’s provincial vice-secretary, Luis Portero, replied to Sr. Fortes’s declarations by saying that “whether he likes it or not, Sr Fortes will have to toe the party line should a pact be agreed on.” Sr Portero went on to say that he felt that Sr Fortes’s statement had been unfortunate.
Mayor Bolín has stated that no firm decision has been taken by the PP to support him and that it is up to the provincial committee of that party to make the final decision. The provincial president of the PP, Joaquín Ramírez, agreed that a decision to support Sr Bolín or to run against him would have to be made shortly. He added that in recent months the PP had indicated that it would work with the current mayor but that nothing firm had been agreed or signed. It now remains to be seen whether the PP will go the preferred route of the provincial committee and support Sr Bolín or bow to pressure from local party members to run their own candidate for mayor.
Nerja Golf developer demands 10 million-euro refund
By Oliver McIntyre
A MULTINATIONAL DEVELOPMENT COMPANY THAT WAS TO BUILD A LARGE RESIDENTIAL GOLF COMPLEX IN NERJA HAS REQUESTED A 10-MILLION-EURO REFUND FROM THE TOWN HALL DUE TO LAND-USE RESTRICTIONS MAKING THE PROJECT UNVIABLE.
MedGroup, partially owned by billionaire American financier George Soros, has submitted a letter to the town hall requesting that it return the money the company paid for the million-square-metre municipal property where the 18-hole course and its accompanying hotel and nearly 1,000 homes were to be built.
The purchase price was 15.1 million euros, of which MedGroup paid 50 per cent at signing plus two instalments of around a million euros each. Now that the regional development plan (POT) for the Axarquía has given the land a classification that prohibits residential construction, the company wants the money back, plus interest. It also requests that the town hall recognise its right to an indemnity payment in compensation for the expenses it has incurred over the last few years in drawing up plans for the project.
Nerja’s mayor, José Alberto Armijo, said last week that the town hall will deny MedGroup’s request, in part because it is not yet certain that the POT – which the town hall has submitted appeals against – will stop the project from moving forward. The opposition Socialist (PSOE) party called the situation “bad news” for the town hall, and laid the blame on the mayor. “It’s sad to say it, but Armijo is going to bankrupt this town hall,” said the party’s local secretary general, Ángel Ramírez.
Legal advice for landowners affected by Rio Grande
By Oliver McIntyre
COÍN TOWN HALL SAYS THAT FROM THE BEGINNING OF THIS WEEK IT WILL OFFER LEGAL ADVICE TO LANDOWNERS AFFECTED BY PLANS TO DAM THE RÍO GRANDE AND CREATE A RESERVOIR TO SUPPLY WATER TO THE CITY OF MÁLAGA.
The planned reservoir at Cerro Blanco, near the border between Coín and Guaro, has met staunch opposition from concerned residents and environmentalists, who created a group called the Río Grande Defence Committee to battle against it. The town hall, which is also against the Environment Ministry’s plan, has also joined the group.
The town council decided to set up the legal-consulting service after being contacted by numerous residents worried about the project’s effect on their properties, said the mayor, Gabriel Clavijo. A large number of property owners – as many as 500, according to the anti-dam group – could have parts of their land expropriated for the construction of the 38-kilometre pipeline that would take the water to Málaga.
“The idea is that those affected can make inquiries and resolve any doubts they may have on how to go about filing their complaints or claims with the central government,” said the mayor. The service will be available on Monday and Friday mornings and Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.
The town hall is also reviewing maps of the area in order to create a census of the property owners who could be affected by the project. Meanwhile, the Río Grande Defence Committee is planning protest demonstrations, the first scheduled for November 25.
Come and see the new public hospital
By David Eade
The CHARE special medical centre in Benalmádena is now in its final phase of construction. The building work on the hospital located between Arroyo de la Miel and Benalmádena Pueblo is due to be complete by the end of this month and the town hall is keen to show it off.
The mayor of Benalmádena, Enrique Bolín, said it was the council’s intention to organise a series of visits in December so that local people could get to know the new medical centre. Bolín pointed out that the cost of the works had been 14 million euros and this had all been funded by the municipality. The regional government health service will now step in to provide the equipment and staff for the hospital.
The medical centre, which is a cross between a full service hospital and a health centre, covers 14,000 square metres of which 9,000 square metres is given over to buildings and 5,000 square metres is for parking, cafeteria and a heliport.
XANIT HOSPITAL TO DOUBLE IN SIZE
At the same time Benalmádena’s Xanit private hospital, which is next door to the public hospital, has announced plans to double the area covered by its construction with another four-storey building occupying 12,000 square metres. The medical director of the hospital, Juan Bosco Rodríguez, said the extension was necessary because the medical centre was performing beyond expectations and the number of patients was increasing every day.The new building will be next to the existing hospital that covers 13,000 square metres spread over three floors. The extension will give the hospital another 100 beds, double the number presently available as well as 48 external consulting rooms plus an emergency department. Also included in the project is a nursing school and heliport.
Madrid bombers face 270,000 years in jail
By David Eade
THE PUBLIC PROSECUTOR HAS ANNOUNCED HE WILL SEEK A RECORD 270,000 YEARS IN PRISON FOR THE 29 PEOPLE ACCUSED OF INVOLVEMENT IN THE MARCH 11, 2003, MADRID TRAIN BOMBINGS THAT KILLED 191 PEOPLE JUST DAYS BEFORE THE COUNTRY’S GENERAL ELECTIONS.
The trial of alleged terrorists is due to start in February and will last six months. The seven main suspects could face sentences of up to 40,000 years, although the bulk of it would be purely symbolic, as the maximum legal prison term under Spanish law is 40 years.
In the massive terror strike, known in Spain simply as 11-M, four commuter trains were bombed in a coordinated attack that has been blamed on Muslim extremists, most of them Moroccan.
According to the prosecutor, the idea of perpetrating such an attack in Spain had its roots in the arrest of members of an Al-Qaeda cell in the weeks following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. It was later reinforced when Spain, under its then Prime Minister José María Aznar, supported the US-led invasion of Iraq. The prosecutor says a message by Osama bin Laden, broadcast on Qatar-based Al Jazeera television on October 18, 2003, was the final detonator for the execution of the attack.One of the seven key suspects is Rabei Ousmane Sayed Ahmed, the alleged mastermind of the attack, who has recently received a 10-year jail term from an Italian court for terrorist-related activities. The 29 facing trial include 15 Moroccans, nine Spaniards, one Algerian, one Egyptian, one Lebanese, one Syrian and one Syrian with Spanish nationality.
Nerja Cave named Site of Cultural Interest
NEWS Staff Reporter
The famous Nerja Cave has been named a Site of Cultural Interest (BIC) for its archaeological importance, further protecting the site and its surrounding area. The cave, discovered in 1959, was declared a historic-artistic monument in 1961. But the new BIC status conferred last week by the Junta de Andalucía offers protection to a large swath of land – 110 hectares – that was previously not protected. It includes the entire zone that directly affects the hydrological system and takes in a number of other nearby caves, some of them still unexplored.
Junta de Andalucía officials say the cave is of great scientific importance due to its prehistoric paintings and archaeological remains dating from the Upper Palaeolithic period to the Bronze Age. It is the second-most-visited monument in Andalucía, behind only Granada’s world-famous Alhambra. The cave is 750 metres deep and contains large chambers and galleries with impressive stalagmites, stalactites and other formations. The galleries containing the greatest number of cave paintings – including the Belén, Cascada, Fantasma, Cataclismo and Camarín de los Órganos galleries – are open to the public. Thanks to the cave’s archaeological remains and well-preserved sedimentary record, its study could shed light on important historic questions regarding the period of transition between Neanderthal man and Homo sapiens.
Judge rules that music downloading is not illegal
By Oliver McIntyre
A judge in the northern Spanish city of Santander has ruled that downloading or exchanging music files on the internet for personal use is not a crime.
In the case against a 48-year-old man for whom the prosecutor was seeking a two-year prison sentence for downloading or sharing thousands of files, the judge found the defendant not guilty because the music was for personal use and not to be used for financial gain. To consider the exchange of the music files illegal, in the absence of commercial motivation, would be “to criminalise behaviour that is socially accepted and widely extended, and in which there is no goal of illicit moneymaking but merely the aforementioned goal of making copies for private use,” said the ruling.
The case against the man was brought by the prosecutor’s office along with the Spanish Phonographic and Videographic Association and the Spanish Association of Entertainment Software Publishers and Distributors. The prosecutor said that when the defendant was arrested police found 6,780 separate albums of music either on disc or in his computer.
Promusicae, a group representing the Spanish music industry, has appealed against the ruling, which it says could be “conveniently manipulated” to “serve the interests of those who unscrupulously violate the law.” The group maintains that exchanging music or movies via peer-to-peer programmes on the internet is “in all cases illegal and in certain circumstances can be criminal.”
Earlier this year at the World Conference on Piracy, held in Madrid, it was reported that more music is illegally pirated in Spain than in any other European Union country. It is the only western European country to make the list of the top 10 nations in the world for music piracy, joining Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Russia and Ukraine.
According to data released at the conference (provided at least in part by Promusicae), last year some 508 million music files were illegally downloaded from the internet in Spain, a nearly two-fold increase over 2004, when there were 270 million illegal downloads.
Cádiz seek to create new British air links
By David Eade
THE CÁDIZ TOURIST BOARD WAS OUT IN FORCE THIS WEEK AT THE WORLD TRAVEL MARKET IN LONDON, ONE OF EUROPE’S LARGEST TRAVEL TRADE SHOWS.
Joining the official team manning the Cádiz stand were also 20 representatives from the province’s hotels, travel agencies, town halls and golf courses.
The major objective of the Cádiz team is to establish strong links with the British travel market, which is the second largest sector as far as the Costa de la Luz is concerned.
The British market showed a significant down turn in the Cádiz area last year. Official figures show that around 90,000 Britons came to the province which is 17.8 per cent less that 2004. This fall was led by British tour operator Thomson that had previously sent some 8,000 tourists to Cádiz. Hence the pressure is on tourism chiefs to persuade other British companies to include both the Costa de la Luz and wider province in their programmes.Cádiz tourism chief, Manuel González Piñero, said that the major problem facing the province and the UK market was the lack of air links between the two. He stated that if good, rapid and reliable flights could be established between Britain and Jerez then the number of UK visitors could triple. He added that this would open important options for the Cádiz tourism sector and said establishing such links would be fundamental to the success of the trade fair.