News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Week 1st February - 7th February 2007
Major windstorm batters the Costa causing widespread damage
By James Parkes
A HEAVY WINDSTORM BUFFETED THE COSTA ON SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY MORNING WITH GUSTS OF UP TO 90 KPH CAUSING WIDESPREAD DAMAGE TO BEACHES, TREES, VEHICLES AND PROPERTY.
No serious injuries were reported, though one woman had to be rescued after getting swept into Arroyo de la Cala in Mijas while trying to cross the riverbed to get to her hotel on the Paseo Marítimo.
On the east side of Málaga, rough seas brought the water level so high it caused flooding in the homes of the Mezquitilla zone of Vélez-Málaga and crossed the N-340 road, leaving large puddles and stones in its wake. The town’s beaches at Chilches, Almayate and Benajarafe were also hard hit, losing much of their sand. Practically all the sand was stripped from Ferrara beach in Torrox.In Málaga city residents woke up on Sunday morning to find the streets strewn with rubbish, fallen branches, signs blown off their mounts and motorcycles tipped on their sides. The city’s fire department was called out 70 times to handle fallen trees, cranes, scaffolds, and windows. At La Colina in Torremolinos the windows and metal framework were blown off an enclosed apartment balcony, shattering on the ground below and damaging cars in the car park. At Fuengirola port more than 20 boats were damaged or lost as the protective breakwater proved insufficient against the rough seas. In Marbella, numerous fallen tree branches and traffic signs were reported and the fire department was called out more than 20 times.
Damages to Costa beach facilities – such as showers, sun beds and ‘chiringuito’ restaurants were estimated at a million euros, according to the Association of Beach Businesses.
High seas caused ports to close during much of Sunday, and the Melilla-Málaga ferry that was scheduled to arrive at Málaga at 08.00 Sunday morning had to wait at sea for nearly 10 hours before being allowed to dock. In mountainous areas snow added to the weather-related complications. The MA-8301 between Estepona and Jubrique was closed from Saturday afternoon to almost 11.00 on Sunday, after which chains were required.
Elsewhere in Andalucía, in Almería, snow caused greater problems when a snow-laden petrol station roof collapsed, injuring 17 people, one of them seriously.
Major oil threat to natural park's beaches
Storm-battered ship hits shore and spills fuel
By David Eade
THE STORMY WEATHER OVER THE WEEKEND CAUSED A MAJOR ENVIRONMENTAL THREAT OFF THE ESTRECHO NATIONAL PARK WHEN A LARGE SHIP SUFFERED A BROKEN HULL, GUSHING TONNES OF FUEL OIL INTO THE SEA.
At midday Sunday the Panama-registered refrigerated vessel Sierra Nava, which had been anchored in the Bay of Algeciras, was dragged ashore by the driving winds and rough seas.
Just how severe the effects of the spill will be has yet to be determined. Earlier this week the minister for the environment, Magdalena Álvarez, estimated that 35 tonnes of fuel had spilt into the sea and that 170 of the 350 tonnes still on board was in danger of escaping the vessel and polluting the coastline.
At press time plans were being put in place to remove the fuel from the vessel and then re-float it but these measures were subject to further analysis of the state of the ship and the weather conditions in the Straits zone.AFFECTED ZONEThe zone initially affected is a kilometre in length, including the beaches of Chinarral and Punte San García. The Algeciras Harbour Master has opened an investigation into the incident. In addition, the harbour authority is seeking 600,000 euros from the Sierra Nava’s owners in the form of a fine and another 600,000 euros to cover the cost of the clean-up operation, which is already underway on the Algeciras coastline. Currently around 70 people are involved in cleaning the sea and beaches, with tractors, lorries and four-wheel-drive vehicles at their disposal. At the time of going to press, around a third of the initial spillage had been cleared. The regional government has stated that there is no danger to public health, though shellfish gathering in the area has been banned to ensure no contaminated stock is landed and sent to market.
Las Lagunas A&E doctor attacked by patient’s husband
NEWS Staff Reporter
A doctor at the accidents and emergency department of the Las Lagunas health centre in Mijas had to receive surgery on a broken leg after being attacked by the husband of a patient last week.
The attacker, a middle-aged man, entered the A&E department at 14.00 Friday and accosted the doctor, tripping him and shoving him into a door. A Guardia Civil officer who happened to be waiting for a doctor appointment intervened, subduing the aggressor and holding him until the local police arrived to take him into custody.
The man had reportedly come to the A&E department the day before with his wife, who was suffering back pain. At that moment the doctor was leaving in an ambulance with a woman who was being transferred to hospital with meningitis. The man demanded that the doctor get out of the ambulance to examine his wife before leaving, but the doctor refused, considering the meningitis case more urgent. The attack left the doctor with two fractured bones in his lower leg, which were immobilised by his health centre co-workers before he was transferred to the Costa del Sol hospital in Marbella for surgery.
Five arrests follow Chilches murders
The suspects are allegedly part of an extremely violent gang
By Dave Jamieson
A NUMBER OF ARRESTS HAVE BEEN MADE FOLLOWING THE DEATHS OF A GERMAN COUPLE IN CHILCHES (CDSN JANUARY 25).
Seventy-year-old Uwe Holst and 54- year-old Rosemarie Schieron were found murdered in their home on the Panorama urbanisation where they had lived for the last five years. They had suffered serious injuries before being shot.
Five men were arrested at three locations near the city of Granada two days after the discovery of the bodies. The four Moroccans and a Rumanian, alleged by police to be part of an “extremely violent” gang, were jailed by a court in Vélez-Málaga last Friday. They were arrested on initial charges of being in Spain illegally which gave investigators time to uncover links between them and the murders. Officers are believed to be continuing the search for a sixth man in connection with the case.
The couple’s Toyota four-wheel drive car which was stolen during the attack was recovered two days later in a coastal location and taken to National Police headquarters in Torre del Mar for forensic examination.
It is now known that the victims collected a large cash deposit on the sale of their house from an estate agent’s office shortly before their deaths. Police think that the 60,000 euros in their possession could have been the target of the killers. The money has not yet been recovered.
THIRD SUCH ROBBERY IN THREE MONTHS
One line of investigation being followed is that one of the arrested men knew that the couple would have a large sum of cash in their home on that day. If so, it would be the third such robbery in the area in three months. In October, 150,000 euros was stolen from a woman who had just collected it during a meeting at a notary’s office in Vélez-Málaga, while two months earlier, an elderly man was robbed of 8,000 euros as he entered his Vélez home after withdrawing cash from the bank.
Italian jeweller arrested for selling watches to Roca
By David Eade
The list of people arrested in relation to the ‘Malaya’ town hall corruption case in Marbella continues to grow. A Málaga-based Italian jeweller, Sabino F., has been arrested for alleged money laundering and tax fraud related to the sale of luxury watches to alleged Malaya mastermind Juan Antonio Roca. The jeweller is the 80th person to be detained in the case. He was released without bail after spending a night in police cells.
Sr Roca is known to have been a lover of luxury watches and authorities say he acquired the majority of his watches from the Italian jeweller. It is alleged that he purchased them as a form of money laundering for his illicit gains. When the police raided his home they found 27 luxury-brand watches such as Bulgaria, Ferrari, Piaget, Rolex and Cartier. There was a Patek Phillipe ‘Calatrava’ watch valued at around 90,000 euros.It is claimed that Sr Roca did not visit jewellers to make his purchases but that Sr Sabino went to his house with a selection of watches for him to choose from. Some jewellers in Marbella say they believe the watches were sold to Sr Roca at below-market prices.
Rescued hikers to be fined
Men got stuck in nature area that was closed due to severe weather
By Oliver McInTyre
TWO BROTHERS WHO HAD TO BE RESCUED AFTER HIKING INTO THE SIERRA DE LAS NIEVES NATURE PARK LAST WEEKEND, WHEN IT WAS CLOSED DUE TO SNOW AND INCLEMENT WEATHER, ARE TO BE FINED BY THE JUNTA DE ANDALUCÍA.
The two Málaga men, aged 28 and 30, entered the park on Saturday with the intention of camping out at a site known as Pilar de Tolox, at an altitude of 1,750 metres. But the extreme cold and snowy conditions forced them to seek refuge in a nearby shelter normally used for goats. Their family contacted the Guardia Civil after receiving no word from the brothers on Sunday.
At 10.30 Monday morning a 13-member rescue team, assisted by local police and Guardia Civil officers from Yunquera, located the men at the Convento de los Sauces, within the boundaries of the neighbouring town of El Burgo.
“They were in fine condition other than being very cold,” said Guardia officials. The men were taken to the Guardia Civil station in El Burgo, where officers took their statements and personal data in order to start the process of issuing a citation. The men are to be fined for “putting their lives in unnecessary danger and breaking the law that prohibits camping in protected natural spaces outside of areas established for the purpose,” according to the Junta’s Environment Department.
‘LEVEL ORANGE’ ALERT
Vehicle access to the park had been closed by Junta order for several days due to a ‘level orange’ weather alert, and officials had issued warnings against visiting the park at all, calling for extreme caution in order to avoid situations such as that experienced by the two brothers.
Town hall defends its traffic record
Local police report only highlights one black spot
By Oliver McIntyre
BENALMÁDENA TOWN HALL LAST WEEK DEFENDED ITS PERFORMANCE ON TRAFFIC-RELATED POLICIES AND INITIATIVES, IN RESPONSE TO CHARGES BY THE OPPOSITION SOCIALIST (PSOE) PARTY, WHICH HAD CALLED TOWN’S TRAFFIC “CHAOTIC.”
“I prefer to think that the statements by PSOE mayoral candidate [Javier] Carnero regarding Benalmádena’s traffic situation were due to a lack of knowledge about the town, because otherwise he would be deliberately lying,” said the councillor for transport, Sebastián Carretero.
The councillor went on to list a wide array of traffic-related projects carried out by the town council in recent years, including the creation of bypass routes in Arroyo de la Miel and to the north of Benalmádena Pueblo, a centralised control system for the town’s stoplights, traffic-information signs, a new municipal bus service, more parking spaces, and online real-time traffic updates, among others. He acknowledged that there is “still room for improvement, and we are working on it.”
Sr Carretero referred to a report drawn up by the local police giving an overview of the town’s traffic situation. It states that the municipality’s four principal avenues, Antonio Machado, Constitución, García Lorca and Salvador Vicente, handle a daily traffic load of 107,000 vehicles and that traffic is generally “fluid,” though heavier at peak rush hours. According to the police report, the only highly problematic traffic spot is at the motorway exit for Arroyo de la Miel (exit 222), where morning and evening tailbacks can stretch to more than a kilometre. Benalmádena officials say that resolving this problem is the responsibility of the Ministry of Development, not the town hall.
Brighter future for Nerja's coastal walkway
By Dave Jamieson
The pathway along the foot of the cliffs in Nerja may get a reprieve after a visit from the head of the region’s Costas Department.
The Paseo de Carabineros runs between Calahonda and Burriana beaches and was used extensively as a pleasant shortcut for pedestrians to get from the town centre to Nerja’s largest and most popular beach. However, more than three years ago it had to be closed following falls of stones and rocks onto the walkway. Later, the cliffs above the path were the object of a study which sought to find a way to stabilise them, and presently the footpath is overgrown with vegetation and in an advanced state of deterioration. Its fate was unknown until late last year when Nerja’s mayor, José Alberto Armijo, announced that the Ministry of the Environment planned to demolish it.
However, last week’s visit to the Paseo by the director general of Costas, José Fernández Pérez, has now signalled that demolition is not the only option under consideration. Sr Fernández Pérez indicated that all possibilities for its future remain open but recognised that certain stretches of the pathway may have to remain closed for reasons of safety. He underlined that the final solution should provide a useful facility for residents and tourists without affecting the nature of the area.A group of local residents has joined the debate, calling for the “immediate reopening” of the path which they say was used by 500 people a day during the summer. They claim that an urgent solution to the problem was promised by the town hall before the local elections four years ago.
Hotel's fate becomes political issue
To be demolished or not, that is the question
By David Eade
THE FATE OF A HOTEL BUILT BY PRASA NEAR THE FISHING QUARTER IN ESTEPONA HAS NOW BECOME A POLITICAL ISSUE AHEAD OF THIS YEAR’S MAY MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS.
The building has been embargoed and currently stands as a shell at the end of the promenade. Work has been stopped because the developers have both overbuilt and also invaded land that is in the public domain.
The PSOE mayor, Antonio Barrientos, has had the construction halted and is demanding its demolition. However other parties on the council are seeking a different solution and met last week with Prasa representatives to find a way out of the impasse.
What is now clear is that the mayor stands alone as the only party leader in favour of demolition. Both the Partido Estepona (PES) and Partido Andalucista who are in government with PSOE and the opposition Partido Popular, Izquierda Unida and Estepona 2007 are demanding that the building be made legal.
PES spokesperson, José Ignacio Crespo, believes that the difficulties can be resolved and Ignacio Mena of the Partido Popular says the mayor has created the problem and the town needs hotels in its centre.
All parties argue that the use of public land can be solved as it was originally designated as port land set aside for parking. In the case of the blatant overbuilding it is also believed that if the structure is reduced in size it can meet the provisions of the revised local development plan.
MARBELLA TAKES LEGAL ACTION AGAINST HOTEL GUADALPÍN
The luxury Hotel Guadalpín in Marbella is also at the centre of a legal dispute. The five-star hotel was built in the GIL era and exceeds the permitted limits of construction on the site. The previous administration under Mayor Marisol Yagüe refused to issue a trading licence to the hotel’s owners Aifos, though the Guadalpín opened and has been trading normally.Now residents in the area surrounding the hotel have threatened legal action against the commission governing Marbella’s affairs for not acting against Aifos. Indeed it has since emerged that both the Yagüe administration and subsequent commission have refused to issue the hotel with a licence. Aifos could face an initial fine of 3,000 euros but this could later be increased.
Ronda hopes for Ascari car plant
NEWS Staff Reporter
The mayor of Ronda, Antonio María Marín Lara, has stated publicly for the first time that there is a possibility that Ronda could have a factory to manufacture Ascari racing cars. He added that these were early days in the negotiations but that a viability study was being carried out and a visit was also being arranged to the Ascari offices in London to discuss the project further.
Sr Marín Lara is in no doubt that if a factory of this prestige can be attracted to Ronda it would have major benefits not just for the town but also for the entire province of Málaga. It is hope that an agreement can be reached with Ascari in the coming weeks.
The mayor said that not only would the creation of an Ascari factory be a ‘first’ but that it would offer employment opportunities for many people in Ronda in the same way that the Ascari Resort employs some 60 Rondeños.Ascari was established in Dorset in England in 1995. It is understood that a dedicated team of professionals is working on a project to build the first limited edition super-car. A further Ascari base was established in Scotland in 1998 and now it is hoped that Ronda can join the Ascari team.
New Anglican Chaplain takes his post
NEWS Staff Reporter
The Reverend David Sutch has officially taken his post as the Chaplain of the Anglican Chaplaincy of St Andrew Costa del Sol East, marking the end of a seven-month vacancy. He was formally instituted at a service on January 25 at the St Andrew’s church in Los Boliches, conducted by the Archdeacon of Gibraltar, the Very Reverend Alan Woods. The service was attended by the British consul in Málaga, Bruce McIntyre, and priests from all the local Anglican Chaplaincies as well as some from other denominations, including Roman Catholic, Church of Scotland and the Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian churches. Reverend Sutch, whose father and grandfather were both priests, has worked in a variety of parishes in the west of England, most recently at Stroud in Gloucestershire. He has served as a holiday locum at St Andrew’s on many occasions. He and his wife Megan, who accompanied him at last week’s service, have three grown sons.
Aerial photos will help to detect illegal building
NEWS Staff Reporter
A move by the tax authorities to detect cases of illegal construction could help to stop the problem in towns such as Chiclana and El Puerto where, despite the local authorities’ efforts, many developers continue to ignore the law.
The new scheme, whereby aerial photos are taken of municipalities and then superimposed on town planning maps, means that any new building is instantly identifiable and its legality can be checked. Even though the photographs are taken from a great height, the pictures are extremely clear and show any building more than one metre high, so they can help identify single dwellings as well as urbanisations. The whole of Cádiz province is being photographed in the first six months of this year, and the process will be repeated on a regular basis. The tax authorities say this is an extremely useful tool in the fight against property fraud, and no type of illegal building will go undetected. This could be a great help to Chiclana council, which is now undertaking an ambitious plan to legalise more than 15,000 properties that have been built illegally in the past 25 years, and where illegal building has been rife in areas on the outskirts of town such as Pinar de los Franceses, Batería Colorada, El Marquesado and El Sotillo. In El Puerto there are currently about 3,500 illegal properties.
Skinny mannequins and clothes sizes targetted
Minister wants to do away with unreasonable stereotypes
By Dave Jamieson
HUNDREDS OF SPANISH WOMEN ARE BEING INVITED TO HELP IN THE DESIGN OF SHOP-WINDOW DUMMIES AS THE COUNTRY WORKS TO PROMOTE A HEALTHIER BODY IMAGE FOR GIRLS.
Some 8,500 women between 12 and 70 are being selected randomly and being asked by the Ministry of Health if they will participate by undergoing a body-scan.
The intention is that the mannequins should “be within the range of measurement of Spanish women,” according to ministry representative Domingo Roibás, while the minister responsible, Elena Salgado, described as “unreasonable” a society in which beauty stereotypes are far removed from reality. “It’s everyone’s commitment that beauty and health go hand-in-hand,” she said. Some of the largest fashion retailers have already committed themselves to the cause with Zara, Mango, Bershka and Massimo Dutti among those agreeing to dispense with mannequins of sizes lower than 38.
MINISTRY TO STANDARDISE CLOTHING SIZES
The ministry has also persuaded clothing manufacturers in Spain to include size 46 clothing in their normal ranges, rather than classify it as “outsize”. By next year, they are also to standardise sizes, which presently vary widely between shops to the anger and confusion of consumers. The government’s initiative follows Madrid’s regional government’s decision last year which banned underweight models from its prestigious Cibeles fashion show. Once women’s clothes have been sorted out, the government has promised to examine issues surrounding men’s garments.
British professor wins Spanish language and culture
NEWS Staff Reporter
A professor emeritus at Queen Mary and Westfield College of the University of London has been named winner of a prestigious award for the promotion of the Spanish language and culture. Professor Nigel Glendinning, a noted hispanist specialising in the 18th century, is the winner of the 19th international Elio Antonio Nebrija Award, organised by the University of Salamanca. The award carries a cash prize of 24,000 euros.
The jury highlighted Professor Glendinning’s “long and fruitful dedication to the study of Spanish literature and art and his status as an expert in the 18th century, with memorable works on Francisco de Goya,” said Enrique Battaner, vice-chancellor of the University of Salamanca.
The British professor was originally nominated for the Nebrija Award in 2002 by the University of Oviedo, then in 2003 and 2004 by the University of Alicante, and again in 2005 by the University of Oviedo. His nominations were seconded by some 30 academic institutions both in Spain and abroad.Professor Glendinning was born in East Sheen, Surrey, in 1929 and received his PhD in French and Spanish Literature at Cambridge University in 1953. He will receive his Nebrija Award during the opening ceremony of the University of Salamanca’s International Courses.