News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Week 12th April - 18th April 2007
Insurance boss who fired staff by text messagekilled in Marbella wreck
BY DAVID EADE
MARK LANGFORD, THE CONTROVERSIAL FORMER BOSS OF THE ACCIDENT GROUP (TAG), HAS BEEN KILLED IN A CAR CRASH ON THE A-7 DUAL CARRIAGEWAY IN MARBELLA.
The one-car accident happened at 15.30 on Monday and the multi-millionaire was rushed to the Costa del Sol hospital but died from his injuries several hours later.
Mr Langford’s company closed down in May 2003 with the loss of 2,700 jobs and the 42-year-old had spent most of his time since then at his £3 million Marbella home where he lived with his wife and two daughters. He achieved notoriety in the British media after he sacked almost all of the company’s workers by text message. A short while later Mr Langford was pictured sipping champagne on board his 80-foot, £1.5 million yacht Mermaid’s Whisper in Marbella.Mr Langford was alone and driving a hired Opel Corsa at the time of the accident. Police said tests revealed that there was no alcohol in his blood. It is understood that he had been suffering from depression, and he maintained that he wasn’t the evil boss portrayed by the media.
TUC spokesman Alec McFadden, who has represented former employees of Mr Langford’s company, is reported as stating: “It’s always sad when somebody dies. I think he had started to realise that he would have to answer for the things he had done in his life. The court cases that were to be heard for him to answer some of the allegations have obviously had an effect on him.”
The pending court case with employees was not the only problem facing the former insurance boss. His solicitor recently had an Inland Revenue bankruptcy hearing against him adjourned because of the multi-millionaire’s alleged depression.
Mr Langford’s fatal crash was not his first serious driving incident. In 2000 he was fined £1,000 after hitting and killing a 73-year-old man while driving a Ferrari. At the time, he had only recently regained his licence after having it suspended for 22 months on a drink-driving charge.
Doctors save boy's finger attaching it to his body
The 13-year-old stripped the flesh off his finger while climbing over a fence
BY OLIVER MCINTYRE
NEXT WEEK PAEDIATRIC SURGEONS AT MÁLAGA’S HOSPITAL MATERNO INFANTIL WILL DETACH A 13-YEAR-OLD BOY’S FINGER FROM HIS GROIN, WHERE IT HAD BEEN SURGICALLY CONNECTED TO REGENERATE TISSUE FOLLOWING AN ACCIDENT THAT STRIPPED IT OF NEARLY ALL ITS SKIN.
The Arroyo de la Miel boy was climbing over a metal fence in his urbanisation when his ring got caught, ripping the flesh off most of the finger, an injury known medically as a finger degloving. Doctors at Materno, who say that many such cases result in amputation, decided to try a regenerative technique known as a groin flap, in which the finger is sewn into a flap of skin and left for three or four weeks to incorporate the tissue as its own. It is then detached and, assuming the injury involved no bone and tendon damage, can regain normal movement following several months of rehabilitation.
When doctors surgically remove the boy’s finger from the skin flap next week, he’ll be able to move his right arm freely for the first time since March 22, when the implantation was performed. In addition to rehabilitation, through which he is expected to regain full use of his finger, follow-up treatment will include the creation of a new fingernail using a nail from one of the boy’s toes.
Doctors at Materno say that such degloving injuries caused by rings are not uncommon and that it is a good idea for children, who tend to engage in a lot of physical activities, to avoid wearing rings.
Prisoner receives Semana Santa pardon
NEWS Staff Reporter
Semana Santa was especially good for one Málaga man this year. Francisco O.S., 66, who was serving time for stabbing another man, was pardoned by the Jesús El Rico religious brotherhood and released from prison on Wednesday of Easter week, more than two years prior to his scheduled release.
Jesús El Rico names a prisoner for pardon every year, a privilege the brotherhood was granted in 1759 by King Carlos III. This is the first time in many years that the selected prisoner was serving time for a violent crime.
The incident that landed Francisco O.S. in prison dates back to August 2000. The Coín native, who was living in Marbella at the time, was visiting Ronda when he came across a young man beating up a 74-year-old shepherd who was trying to let his animals drink from a fountain. He says that when he tried to intervene, the young man attacked him, hitting and kicking him and throwing him to the ground. When he saw the man pick up a rock to hit him, he pulled out a knife he was carrying and cut the attacker in the chest. Afterwards, he took the young man to the hospital and then went to the police to report the incident, he says.
Despite his firm belief that he simply acted in self-defence, he was convicted and sentenced to four and a half years in prison. Sent to the Alhaurín de la Torre prison in January 2006, he was transferred several months later to the Málaga facility for inmates with day-release privileges. Francisco’s Semana Santa pardon was not the only unexpected twist in his case. As part of his sentence, he was ordered to pay the victim 36,000 euros. “He used the money to buy a motorcycle and killed himself [on it],” he told reporters last week. “But that wasn’t my fault – I don’t wish ill on anyone.”
Voters reminded of registration deadline
By Dave Jamieson
Nerja town hall has issued a reminder to foreigners who wish to vote in this year’s municipal elections that next Monday, April 16, is the final date on which they can register. While the Nerja advisory was geared to local residents, the same basic information applies to foreign residents of other towns.
Those eligible will only be able to participate on polling day, Sunday May 27, if they are registered on the population census (padrón municipal) and have signed the voting form (censo electoral). Residents from all EU countries, including new members Bulgaria and Romania, can vote, as well as those from Norway, Argentina and Chile, with which Spain has reciprocal arrangements but whose citizens should already have registered.
Foreigners who plan to vote but who will not be in town on election day can vote by post. Application forms are available at local Correos offices upon showing a passport or residence card and a certificate from the Padrón office. The application must be returned in the supplied envelope before the closing date of April 28. In early May, a voting form will be sent by registered post, and will be delivered only to the addressee, who must produce a passport or residence card. No third party can accept delivery. After indicating the political party for which a vote is to be cast and putting the form into the attached envelope, the paperwork should be returned to the post office in person, where a passport or residence card must again be shown. In Nerja there are provisions for notarised power of attorney, provided free of charge by the town hall, for those who are ill or otherwise unable to go in person.
The Foreigners’ Department at Nerja town hall has also made recommendations regarding the announced replacement of the residence card (residencia) by a new certificate. They say the National Police station at Torre del Mar has no information on the new arrangements at present and that the queues have been “endless.” The recommendation is to do nothing for the time being and await further advice next month.
Competa priest draws crowds on Good Friday
Mayoral candidate Father Torres plays Christ in crucifixion re-enactment
By Dave Jamieson
IT CANNOT BE COMMON TO SEE A LOCAL PARISH PRIEST AS BOTH A MAYORAL HOPEFUL AND THE CENTRAL CHARACTER IN A DEPICTION OF THE CRUCIFIXION.
But that’s what happened in Cómpeta on Good Friday, when José Luis Torres played the part of Jesus Christ in a traditional re-enactment of his death. Last week, the 37-year-old curate was confirmed as the Partido Popular’s candidate for mayor in next month’s municipal elections.
The number of people expected to turn out for last week’s procession led to a last-minute change of venue. The Tourism Department at the town hall moved the staging of the Passion to Plaza de la Vendimia, explaining that onlookers curious to see a possible future mayor in a different light would swell numbers beyond that which the traditional venue could cope with.
Bishop Antonio Dorado Soto has granted Father Torres a leave of absence to fight the election, but he will have to suspend his services as a priest if he eventually takes up the office of mayor. The Bishop underlined that, in canon law, a priest cannot serve in a civic capacity, although he would remain a priest during that time.
José Luis Torres was born in Ronda and has served at the Nuestra Señora de la Asunción Church in Cómpeta for eight years. He is described as having been a very active priest, involving himself in many local activities and having played a major part in the town’s recent Año Santo Jubilar celebrations, which brought thousands of visitors to the area.Whatever the outcome of the May 27 elections, Cómpeta will have a new mayor. The present mayor, Leovigilado López of the Partido Popular, has already announced that he won't be standing for election this year.
Faster travel and new trains
Cercanías upgrades inaugurated and Ronda-Antequera AVE announced
By David Eade
THE MINISTER FOR PUBLIC WORKS, MAGDALENA ÁLVAREZ, WAS IN FUENGIROLA AND RONDA LAST WEEK AND MADE SOME VERY IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS CONCERNING FUTURE RAIL TRAVEL IN THE REGION.
Minister Álvarez, a Málaga native, inaugurated the new stretch of double line between Benalmádena and Fuengirola on the busy Málaga commuter line used by some eight million passengers a year. Doubling of the entire Cercanías line is scheduled for completion in 2009. The Benalmádena-to-Fuengirola stretch was due to be finished in January of last year but suffered delays that upped the cost to 27 million euros, around seven million euros over budget.
It was hoped that the new section of line would bring immediate benefits for passengers in the form of a more frequent service. However, it now appears that trains will still run every 30 minutes until the underground AVE high-speed train link to Málaga has been completed, which is scheduled for the end of this year.
In addition to the track doubling, which ultimately is expected to allow trains to run every 15 minutes and shave at least 10 minutes off the travel time from Fuengirola to Málaga, the minister promised that 60 per cent of the trains will be replaced by the new Civia 463 models by 2009. Among other things, they have mobile platforms to help the disabled get on and off the train.
In Ronda, Sra Álvarez announced plans for a high-speed AVE train from the town of the Tajo to Antequera. Currently trains on this link travel at 140 kph; on the new line they will travel at 300 kph, slashing journey times from the current hour to less than a half that and making Madrid just two and a half hours away. A study is being carried out to also improve the track and travel times between Ronda and Algeciras.
Government to pay for deadly accident
NEWS Staff Reporter
The Supreme Court has ruled that the Spanish government was responsible for a fatal traffic accident that was caused “in its totality” by poor road conditions.
The ruling came on an appeal filed by the families of the two victims who died in a May 14, 1998 accident on the National IV motorway in Jaén. The deadly collision occurred after one of the vehicles hit a large puddle in the road and began aquaplaning. The driver lost control and smashed into the other car, and the drivers of both vehicles, Francisco C. and Francisco M.G., were killed.
The Supreme Court has ordered the government to pay a total of 170,000 euros to the victims’ families. They took their case to the Supreme Court after government officials agreed to pay only half of the restitution payment they had solicited, on the premise that the accident was caused by both the condition of the road and inadequate driving. However, the government offered no proof of inappropriate driving.
The Guardia Civil report following the crash stated: “At the spot where the accident occurred there is a 50-metre-long stretch where the grading of the asphalt is deficient, causing the formation of a shallow puddle during very intense rains.” The court has ordered the government to pay 116,500 euros to Francisco M.G.’s widow and 9,700 euros to each of his two children, as well as 11,650 euros to each of Francisco C.’s three brothers.
Stop the ceremonies
By Oliver McInTyre
WITH THE OFFICIAL CALLING OF THE MAY 27 MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS IN LAST TUESDAY’S OFFICIAL STATE BULLETIN, WEDNESDAY MARKED THE BEGINNING OF THE PRE-ELECTION MORATORIUM ON INAUGURATIONS, UNVEILINGS AND THE LAYING OF FIRST BRICKS ON BIG MUNICIPAL PROJECTS.
The moratorium is aimed at preventing sitting town hall governments from using such publicity-generating events as campaigning tools in the run-up to the elections.
Prior to the mandatory ‘dead period’, town halls throughout the Costa region have spent the last month inaugurating, launching or in some cases just announcing major projects at a frenetic pace. In March and the first few days of April the province saw nearly a hundred such acts for everything from newly built hospitals, sports facilities, infrastructural improvements or even artistic elements like new sculptures or monument lighting. In Málaga alone, the mayor, Francisco de la Torre, presided over around 20 such events, including the inauguration of the newly renovated Parque and the presentation of the project to create a Thyssen-Bornemisza museum in the city. Other towns with major inaugurations included Benalmádena, with its new CHARE hospital (not yet operational) and new town hall annex building; Alhaurín el Grande with its new indoor swimming pool (not yet open to the public); Alhaurín de la Torre with a new school (not to be in use until next school year); Mijas, with the laying of the first brick on a new treatment centre for the disabled and the inauguration of the Las Lagunas theatre (which had been inaugurated previously); Ronda with the laying of the first brick on a future Alzheimer’s centre; and Estepona with the inauguration of a cultural centre and a mental health clinic.
No cause for alarm over new coastal boundaries
NEWS Staff Reporter
Property owners in Marbella have showered the Ministry of Environment with the highest number of complaints, after learning of the ministry’s new demarcation of public land along the coast, although plans affect Málaga’s entire coastline.
The municipality is a town-planning nightmare due to the number of properties that are considered to have been built illegally and now residents fear they could be hit with a double whammy with the coastal authorities also hammering them.
However, the officials at the Junta de Andalucía Coastal Department say there is no cause for alarm. They insist that in the majority of cases the newly defined public boundaries will have little effect on private properties. Instead they argue that it is a method of protecting natural zones between the land and sea and also a method of limiting costal erosion.Nonetheless many property owners in Málaga province could find themselves affected by the new demarcation boundaries. This is the biggest drawing of boundaries on the Málaga coast since the Ley de Costas was introduced in 1988. Of the 170 kilometres of coastline in Málaga province around 142 kilometres have yet to have their boundaries defined and this should be completed by the end of 2008.
Troubled museum project moves forward
Nerja Caves Foundation secures1.6 million-euro loan for construction
By Dave Jamieson
THE STALLED PROJECT TO BUILD A LOCAL MUSEUM IN NERJA APPEARS TO HAVE MOVED FORWARD, BUT NOT WITHOUT ANOTHER WAR OF WORDS BETWEEN LOCAL OFFICIALS.
Last week, the foundation which manages the famous complex of caves at Maro and which will also run the museum approved a loan of 1.6 million euros from Unicaja towards its construction.
The head of the Foundation, Ángel Ramírez, who is also the opposition PSOE candidate for mayor in next month’s elections, said that the finance agreement had been reached with difficulty and that the savings bank had imposed “special conditions” in the personal credit arrangement. However, he criticised the present administration at Nerja town hall for failing to licence the work for the museum’s construction. In the last 10 months, he alleged, the council has raised “objection after objection” to the project.
However, the councillor responsible, José Miguel García, attributed the personal credit arrangement to the town hall, saying that it had saved 30,000 euros. The town hall, which is contributing to the museum project along with the provincial and regional governments, has been critical of Ángel Ramírez, saying his actions have led to a three-year delay in finalising the financial arrangements.
The museum will be sited just off the Balcón de Europa in the town centre and will display many artefacts found in the Maro caves. It is hoped that its presence will draw tourists who visit the caves into the centre of Nerja.
Pot plan could impede golf developments
Environmentalists hope plan will stop agreements signed by local town halls
By David Eade
THE ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP VERDEMAR BELIEVES THAT THE POT DEVELOPMENT PLAN TO BE INTRODUCED BY THE REGIONAL GOVERNMENT WILL IMPEDE THE DEVELOPMENT OF GOLF COURSES THAT ARE AN EXCUSE FOR URBAN DEVELOPMENT.
The group has welcomed the provisions included in the POT plan by the ministry of the environment that forbid the construction of any golf courses that form unsustainable pressure on local water resources.
The vice-president of Verdemar-Ecologistas en Acción in the Campo de Gibraltar, Antonio Muñoz, has spoken out against the pressure being exerted by the construction sector on the coasts of San Roque and Tarifa as well as the inland zones of Castellar, Jimena and Los Barrios. Verdemar has made known to the regional government’s Environment Department its concerns that these town halls have signed a large number of development agreements for the construction of residential tourist complexes with golf courses. One example is the case of Jimena where 30 such agreements have been signed by the town hall under its new local development plan (PGOU) for the construction of nine golf courses and around 20,000 tourist-residential zones. One of these is currently being built in San Pablo close to Los Alcornocales national park. Verdemar is also alarmed by the new PGOU in Los Barrios that allocates a 40 per cent increase in urban land and a 30 per cent rise in the population.
British expat vote targeted for 2010 UK election
By Dave Jamieson
British expatriates in Spain are to be encouraged to vote in the next UK general election. Although polling day may still be over three years away, the country’s opposition Conservative party has already indicated that it will target Brits abroad to boost its chances of winning.
The Tories’ chairman, Francis Maude, last week described the right to vote in their home country as, “ the best kept secret for British expats” and promised that they would be encouraged to, “contribute to shaping a future Britain.” He added, “You don’t lose interest in your home country when you move abroad. Expats have family back home, and many of them will have financial interests at home, and draw their pension from Britain.” In 1992, the expat vote was credited with helping the Conservatives to win several marginal seats contributing to their last UK general election victory.
A study last year by the Institute for Public Policy Research estimated that about ten per cent of the UK’s population live abroad. Of the 5.5 million British people resident outside the country, around 2.5 million have the right to vote in UK general elections. However, in 2005, only 17,500 registered to participate.
Two hundred thousand people left the UK for foreign shores in 2005 and experts say that number following their steps will increase every year. Spain is second only to Australia in numbers of Brits living abroad with 761,000 in the country permanently, a large proportion of whom are based along the southern coastal strip.Any British citizen over 18 and who has been on a UK electoral register within the last 15 years can register to vote in general and European elections from Spain. Those wishing to register must complete the appropriate forms and return them to The Electoral Commission in London. More details are available at conservativesabroad.com and dontleaveyourvoteathome.com.