News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week 30th November - 6th December 2006
CAMPING SITE NIGHTMARE
Thirty britons face possible eviction from their homes
By David Eade
AROUND 120 PEOPLE, A QUARTER OF THEM BRITISH, ARE FACING EVICTION FROM THEIR HOMES AT THE CHULLERA II CAMPING SITE IN MANILVA AFTER IT WAS SOLD TO DEVELOPERS.
The owners closed both Chullera II and III, and cut off the water and electricity supplies on November 17 after selling the property.
When the Costa del Sol News visited the camping site, the main vehicle and pedestrian gates were firmly locked. Two uniformed security guards said they had orders not to admit members of the press and refused to answer any questions.
Contact was made across the perimeter wall with a middle-aged Englishman who was happy to talk but preferred to not give his name, as the security guards were looking on. He said around 30 Britons were living on the site and if they were forced off they had nowhere to go as the caravans were their only homes.
He explained that although some people had lived on the site for 20 years, they had no official leases or rental agreements. Each simply paid around 180 euros a month in rent.
However, as many of the residents have been on the campsite for years, they claim they have occupation rights due to the amount of time they have lived there.
RESIDENTS TO BE LEFT ‘HOMELESS’
The Englishman, who is living with his daughter, pointed out that given the low rent, it would be impossible for the majority of residents to find a similarly priced alternative and hence they would be left homeless.
In the cross-wall conversation he said that about 50 per cent of the residents of the campsite were Spanish, nearly 30 per cent British and the majority of the rest Gibraltarian, although there were one or two other European nationals. In an effort to protect their rights, the residents decided to elect an action committee made up of just the Spaniards, who they believed would be more effective in this situation.
MAYOR DEFENDS SALE
Although both the Chullera II and III campsites are being sold, there are no caravaners on Chullera III because it is a summer-only operation. Residents and the opposition Socialist (PSOE) party at the town hall had hoped they could block any sale because the land would need to be re-classified for building. However, the mayor of Manilva, Salvador Zotano, has stated that the sale is legal as the land by the beach was zoned for urban use in the 1994 local development plan (PGOU).
UK MP ruffles feathers in Las Alpujarras
Neighbours protest outside Labour MP’s Órgiva holiday home
By Dave Jamieson
A LAND DISPUTE HAS GOT A BRITISH LABOUR MP WITH A HOLIDAY HOME IN THE ALPUJARRAS IN TROUBLE WITH HER SPANISH NEIGHBOURS – AND POSSIBLY WITH HER PARLIAMENTARY PARTY.
Margaret Moran, who has represented Luton South since 1997, bought her property near Órgiva as a ruin in 1984 and has since renovated the large detached farmhouse extensively.
About two weeks ago neighbourly relations took a turn for the worse, with police called to break up a demonstration outside her front door. The residents of about a dozen nearby properties claim that she has illegally, and without warning, closed a footpath which had been used by local people for 20 years. The MP says it was an illegal track across her land. One neighbour claims she dug up his water pipes because they crossed her property, and has filed an official complaint saying she left his family without a supply. Ms Moran was finally forced to call the Guardia Civil when an angry mob surrounded her house in protest at her alleged failure to honour verbal agreements on their use of the footpath.
In a statement, the politician claimed that her family had been “threatened and assaulted” by neighbours and that “third parties have abused the trust of the Moran family and have used their property’s resources illegally.” Police are also investigating claims that the MP’s brother was assaulted by one of the protesters, an allegation denied by her neighbours.
Ms Moran also faces questions at home for the possible misuse of House of Commons notepaper in the dispute. Local people have alleged that “official notepaper was stuck on her gatepost warning us it is private property,” while another note was reportedly pinned on a motorbike warning of its pending removal. The MP denies any misuse of official stationery but some of her Westminster colleagues have called for an investigation into the issue.
Perhaps the strangest of Ms Moran’s comments was a claim that the success of Chris Stewart’s book Driving over Lemons has led to a state of virtual “anarchy” in the Alpujarras. The best-seller depicted the area as a remote region of farms, groves and the odd eccentric local character, but the MP says its success triggered a huge influx of British people to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, where they have become lawless, dumping cars and “disrespecting” the land. However, her neighbours are reported to be unimpressed, one describing her as “behaving like an English imperialist from the days of the Raj.”
Jumbo jets and model planes cause noise complaints
By Oliver McIntyre
A man who lived in a Churriana home located 210 metres from the end of the runway at Málaga airport has been awarded 42,519 euros in a lawsuit against airport operator AENA. The homeowner claimed aeroplane noise had caused him hearing loss and depression. In addition the court also ordered AENA to carry out or pay for soundproofing measures at the home even though the man has sold the property and no longer lives there. AENA can appeal the ruling.
In his suit, filed in 2004, the man sought 422,519 euros, including 360,000 euros he wanted AENA to pay him for his house. The court rejected this part of the claim, saying that AENA could not be forced to purchase the house, “because at the time the runway had already been extended and expropriation (of the home) was not required.” But the court agreed that the noise from the planes had caused “a great diminishment in the habitability” of the home, “which was built prior to the runway extension.”
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Churriana residents are battling another airfield, in this case, one for radio-controlled model aeroplanes. Homeowners in the Cortijo de Mazas urbanisation say the model planes that take off and land at the mini airstrip are a noise nuisance and potentially dangerous as they fly directly over homes. In one case a plane fell into the carport of a home and damaged a vehicle that was parked there, they say, a charge denied by the club that operates the model-aeroplane field. The club also denies that the planes cause excessive noise or that they fly directly over the homes. Málaga town hall, which provided the municipal land for the creation of the airfield more than 30 years ago, has notified the club to stop using the site “as soon as possible.” The town hall says it has been searching for alternative locations for the model-airplane enthusiasts, but hasn’t yet found an appropriate site.
Guardia Civil admits mistakes in Wanninkhof invest
NEWS Staff Reporter
In the ongoing trial of Briton Tony Alexander King for the 1999 murder of Mijas teenager Rocío Wanninkhof, a Guardia Civil officer has made the force’s first ever admission that errors were made in the original investigation, which led to the arrest and conviction of Dolores Vázquez. Sra Vázquez spent 17 months in jail before being released when the higher courts overturned her conviction due to insufficient evidence against her.
Testifying earlier this week at the trial, a Guardia Civil officer who participated in the original investigation stated that while it was rigorous and detailed, “there may have been errors in the focus.” If the crime-scene DNA samples later linked to King had been identified at the time, the outcome of the investigation “would have been completely different,” he said. As it turned out, the DNA match was made only after King was arrested in 2003 for the murder of another teenage girl, Sonia Carabantes, in Coín. King’s trial for the Rocío Wanninkhof murder began on Monday, November 20, and is scheduled to run at least to the end of this week.
Anti-dam protest in Málaga prohibited by authorities
Organisers are shocked and angered by refusal
By Oliver McIntyre
JUNTA DE ANDALUCÍA AUTHORITIES HAVE DENIED PERMISSION FOR A DECEMBER 2 PROTEST DEMONSTRATION IN MÁLAGA CITY PLANNED BY THE GROUPS BATTLING AGAINST THE DAMMING OF THE RÍO GRANDE AT CERRO BLANCO IN THE GUADALHORCE VALLEY.
Junta officials in Málaga based their denial on the traffic havoc the planned three-hour march could cause in the city and the possibility of “confrontations between the protesters and the rest of the public.”
The anti-dam groups, including Coín’s Mesa del Agua and the Río Grande Defence Group, have filed an appeal and the Regional Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling today (Thursday).
The protest groups – who have staged peaceful demonstrations of as many as 20,000 people in Coín over the last couple of weeks – were shocked and angered by the denial of a demonstration permit. “I don’t understand it – not too long ago they authorised a neo-Nazi demonstration but they won’t let us march,” said Mesa del Agua member Lozano Lares.
While the protesters await the court decision to see if they can go ahead with Saturday’s march in Málaga, it appears their efforts to date have at least had some effect. Officials at the regional water authority, the Cuenca Mediterránea Andaluza (CMA), have announced plans to delay the beginning of work on the dam project in order to take some time to fully explain it to the local town halls and residents. However, they say they have no intention of scrapping the project, the construction contract for which has already been awarded.
OFFICIALS CALL PROJECT INDISPENSABLE
The CMA says the project does not involve an actual dam but rather a diversion of water into a 38-kilometre pipeline to Málaga. Water will only be taken from the river during the six months of the year when its flow is greatest and will never be taken when water flow drops below 700 litres per second, it says. While regional and central government officials call the project an indispensable measure to ensure the water supply for Málaga and the coast, opponents say it will be harmful to the environment and will affect hundreds of property owners.
Illegal property owners could be compensated
By David Eade
With thousands of properties in Marbella facing demolition, the head of the regional government’s Executive Department, Gaspar Zarrías, has stated that a compensation formula should be sought for the residents involved. One possible solution would be for those who built the illegal homes to compensate the homeowners, he said.
Sr Zarrías was speaking to a press conference after a meeting of the General Commission of Autonomous Regions in the Senate. He pointed out that at present no compensation mechanism has been established and said he believed that it was the role of the courts to create such mechanisms.Sr Zarrías said it is logical that those responsible for the illegal building compensate innocent victims who purchased their homes in good faith. He also said that consideration should be given to Marbella town hall compensating those affected by providing them with alternative land.
Torremolinos passes 150 million-euro budget
Pioneering Costa tourism town has become a ‘city’, says mayor
By Oliver McIntyre
TORREMOLINOS TOWN HALL HAS APPROVED THE 2007 MUNICIPAL BUDGET, WHICH INCLUDING MUNICIPAL COMPANIES COMES TO A TOTAL OF 150 MILLION EUROS, UP 11 PER CENT FROM 2006.
The budget of the town hall alone, without the municipal companies, is 111 million euros. Of that, 35 million euros is for personnel, the largest single line item in the budget.
The mayor, Pedro Fernández Montes, described the budget as “big, balanced, progressive and socially conscious.” It is nearly 11 times larger than the municipal budget when he first came to power in 1995, demonstrating that Torremolinos has “gone from being a town to a city,” he said.
Capital projects make up nearly 30 million euros of the budget and routine maintenance and services another 20 million euros, more than half of which goes to cleaning and sanitation.
The town hall department receiving the greatest boost in funding is the Sports Department, which is to receive just over a million euros, up 72 per cent from its 2006 budget. That’s apart from whatever capital-projects funds go to the construction of new sports facilities. The mayor highlighted the department’s excellent results in managing the town’s Villa Deportiva sports centre, which is 80 per cent self-funding.
Parks and Gardens will get 2.8 million euros, up 27 per cent from last year, much of which will go toward completion of town’s new flagship park, Parque de la Batería. The Education and Culture Department is to receive nearly three million euros, Fiestas 1.5 million euros and Tourism 1.1 million euros. Just over a million euros will go to the Senior Services Department. Town hall debt is currently 12.7 million euros, representing 8.5 per cent of the budget (including municipal companies). No additional borrowing is planned for 2007.
Battle over toll charges during San Pedro tunnel
By David Eade
The proposed tunnel on the A-7 (old N-340) as it passes through San Pedro de Alcántara has become a battleground between the Partido Popular and the ruling Socialist (PSOE) administration in Madrid. The PP in the past sided with residents in criticising the final design of the tunnel scheme and has now attacked the Socialists for not backing the call to have the toll charges on the AP-7 lifted during the construction period.
The PP’s secretary in Marbella, Manuel Cardeña, criticised the PSOE for not supporting a PP measure in congress that sought a waiver of the motorway charges during the works. He stated that the toll motorway will be the only alternative open to drivers wanting to avoid the construction area.Meanwhile, with expropriation payments to affected landowners due to be paid out by today, the way is open for work on the project to begin shortly. Sr Cardeña complained that there has been a total lack of information for the public and local residents concerning the traffic plans that will be put in place during the construction period.
Frigiliana plans major growth
By Dave Jamieson
The small Axarquía town of Frigiliana wants to build more than 3,000 new houses, which could represent a potential quadrupling of town’s current population of 2,600 people.
The draft local development plan (PGOU, for Plan General de Ordenación Urbanística) is being debated by councillors this week and includes proposals for nine new residential districts. The PGOU includes a total of 3,394 new houses, more than double the existing number of 1,525. The new properties would be in El Pedregal, Loma de la Cruz, Loma Acosta, Capellanía, El Rincón, Morera y Calera, Los Almachares, El Tablazo and Tablacillos. The draft plan also includes proposals for a large park area at Capellanía and the creation of two new industrial estates – one 6.3 hectares and the other 2.6 hectares, both near the motorway – aimed at small and medium-sized businesses. A new home for the annual town fair, more car parking, the long-awaited water treatment plant, and a new cemetery are amongst the other proposals outlined in the plan.
Málaga confusion as street party rules become law
By Dave Jamieson
RESIDENTS AROUND PLAZA DE LA MERCED IN MÁLAGA WERE LOOKING FORWARD TO A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP TOMORROW NIGHT, BUT IT SEEMS THEY MAY HAVE TO WAIT FOR SUCH A LUXURY.
Over the last decade, the area has become the centre of the botellón phenomenon in the city, with up to 5,000 people causing late night noise and inconvenience, and it was expected that a new law, which becomes effective on December 1 would outlaw the practice. However, it seems Málaga town hall intends to allow a continuation on a “provisional” basis.
The botellón has developed in many Spanish cities in recent years and takes the form of a street party, fuelled by cheap alcohol and attended by young people who gather into the early hours of the morning. Residents in the affected areas say they have had a serious problem with acoustic contamination which has resulted in poor health for some. The new antibotellón law makes it illegal to drink in the street rather than in a recognised bar, with fines of up to 300 euros threatened. It also outlaws urinating in the street and leaving litter after any kind of public gathering. Businesses which become involved can be fined up to 24,000 euros for a serious offence and up to 60,000 euros if the offence is regarded as endangering public health.
Málaga town hall has been planning to move the botellón to an area inside the port, but it has not been a decision which has pleased everyone. The site chosen is a car park between quays three and four, close to the Ports Authority offices. Workers held a demonstration last week protesting against the plan and their trades unions expressed concerns for security. They also feared that, in time, the move would lead to a significant fall in the number of employees.
RESIDENTS WANT LAW APPLIED
Now it appears that, following the unwillingness of the port to become the botellón’s new home, the town hall has back-tracked by announcing that it will allow the area around Plaza de la Merced to continue to be used until such time as a new site can be found. However, the residents’ association Málaga Against Noise said that they were asking for the legislation to be applied with vigour. The group says it will monitor the areas habitually used by the botellón and will formally denounce the governing group in the town hall if individuals are allowed to break the new law.
General Torrijos rides again
By Oliver McIntyre
THIS WEEKEND OFFICIALS IN ALHAURÍN DE LA TORRE INAUGURATED THE FIFTH ANNUAL TORRIJOS DAYS, A TWO-WEEK SERIES OF RE-ENACTMENTS AND TRIBUTES TO GENERAL JOSÉ MARÍA TORRIJOS, WHO WAS CAPTURED IN THE TOWN BY NATIONALIST TROOPS IN 1831WHILE LEADING A GROUP OF SPANISH LIBERAL REBELS AGAINST THE ABSOLUTIST GOVERNMENT OF FERNANDO VII.
Following their capture, General Torrijos and his 48 rebel fighters, including Irishman Robert Boyd, were executed on a beach in Málaga on December 11, 1831. This year’s Torrijos Days event, organised by the Asociación Torrijos 1831 in collaboration with the town hall, commemorates the 175th anniversary of the incident.
Among the highlights of the event is the re-enactment of the landing of Torrijos and his men on the beach in Mijas (scheduled for December 2) and their march through the Mijas Sierra to Torrealquería in Alhaurín de la Torre (on December 2 and 3). It was in Torrealquería that the general and his troops were captured by nationalist forces and taken to Málaga to be shot by firing squad on San Andrés beach.
On the morning of December 9 the focus will be on Robert Boyd, with a tribute to the Irishman at his gravesite in Málaga’s English Cemetery at 10.00. Later that day, at 13.00, there will be requiem to Torrijos and his men at the obelisk monument in the city’s Plaza de la Merced, beneath which all of them but Boyd are buried. Other activities throughout the two-week event include conferences, lectures, film screenings, theatrical productions, poetry readings and more. One of the novelties this year is the participation of family members of one of the fallen rebel soldiers, Lt. Col. Juan López Pinto.
Chiclana's fairground confirmed as site for botell
By David Eade
CHICLANA TOWN HALL HAS DESIGNATED LAS ALBINAS DE EL TORNO FAIRGROUND AS THE TOWN’S ‘BOTELLÓDROMO’ - THE PLACE WHERE YOUNG PEOPLE CAN GATHER AT WEEKENDS FOR LATE NIGHT OPEN-AIR DRINKING PARTIES.
New regulations coming into force on December 1 banning the consumption of alcohol in unauthorised public places have forced the local council to find alternative venues because partygoers will no longer be able to hold their ‘botellones’ in the streets and squares of town centres.
Chiclana’s fairground will have a permanent marquee, a bar, police supervision and public transport, and the town hall is keen for it to be used for different recreational activities instead of just a place where young people can drink heavily. The facilities include a mini-moto track, a skateboarding area, and the Youth Department has now been moved to the old Box disco. It remains to be seen whether those people who until now have spent their weekend nights drinking and dancing in the streets approve of the new venue, but in the meantime the police are under strict instructions to fine anybody who is found breaking the law and drinking alcohol away from authorised premises.
NOWHERE TO GO
Meanwhile in Jerez it appears that residents of Plaza del Caballo, Chapín and El Bosque districts have won their battle to stop late night drinking parties in the area by the González Hontoria Park. Councillor Irene Canca says the local authority will not create any so-called ‘botellódromos’ unless there is general consensus about their locations. This means that when the ‘ley Antibotellón’ comes into effect, young people in Jerez will have nowhere to go to drink and party, as the ‘botellones’ which normally take place in the city centre at weekends will be banned. Amid general concern that they will ignore the rules, the councillor insists that they will have to look for places to go where they will not disturb anybody and that they will not be able to congregate together in large groups. She is convinced, however, that the partygoers will respect the new law and will understand that they will face heavy fines if they fail to do so.
Two million women suffer domestic violence
By David Eade
TWO MILLION WOMEN IN SPAIN ARE MALTREATED TO SOME DEGREE BY THEIR PARTNERS. IN THE LAST YEAR 60 HAVE BEEN KILLED BY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, 15 OF THEM IN ANDALUCÍA AND TWO IN MÁLAGA.
These facts were made public as the vice-president of the Spanish government, María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, and the minister of labour, Jesús Caldera, presented a campaign to further fight against this type of violence.
The government has launched a new initiative against domestic violence a year after it passed a law aimed at clamping down in the rise of this type of crime. The vice president stated that only 18 of the women killed by their partners had in fact taken out an official complaint against them.
Last Saturday marked the international day against domestic violence and on December 15 the government is set to approve a plan that will include television, radio and press advertisements. These will give a narrative from three different points of view, from the maltreated woman, her aggressor and the people closest to the victim.
EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN MEASURES
The fight against domestic violence is supported by all the elected political parties in Spain. However the Partido Popular leader, Mariano Rajoy, has conceded that the law passed last year is not working and there needs to be further measures to ensure better results. Meanwhile the Málaga socialist senator, Emelina Fernández, has launched a European-wide campaign against this type of violence based on measures adopted by the Council of Europe. It will be developed across all 46 countries that are members of the council.
Guardia Civil arrest seven fake traffic policemen
NEWS Staff Reporter
Their presence on the roads around Madrid has been known for some time thanks to letters from British victims to the Costa del Sol News. Now the authorities have confirmed that the Guardia Civil have arrested seven people, all Pakistanis, who have been impersonating traffic police in order to rob the public.
The operation, codenamed Placa, was carried out by the Guardia Civil in Madrid and Toledo. Apart from the seven men arrested, another 15 people have been implicated in the crimes. The gang’s now sadly familiar modus operandi was to dress as police officers and intercept foreigners’ cars. Once the victims pulled over, the fake cops searched the vehicles, pocketing any valuable items, while claiming they were looking for drugs or counterfeit money.
In the police raids that accompanied the arrests the authorities have seized audio-visual equipment, laptop computers, cash – both euros and other foreign currencies, jewellery as well as fake police badges and official jackets.The investigation started at the beginning of this year when official complaints about the gang’s actions were made to the Guardia Civil in the Madrid region. The reports stated that people acting as police had stolen cash and other items while searching the victims’ vehicles. The information given to the police allowed them to start to identify the gang involved. Those arrested were aged between 35 and 40 years and the majority had previous criminal convictions.