News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Banner year for Blue Flags on Costa beaches
Málaga, Cádiz and Granada provinces have all seen an increase in beaches that qualify
By Oliver McIntyre
Twenty-seven beaches and marinas in Málaga province will fly the quality-conferring Blue Flag this summer, six more than last year, while Cádiz will see a similar boost and Granada will have one more flag than in 2008.
The Blue Flags, awarded by the Foundation for Environment Education (FEE) and announced last week by its Spanish affiliate Adeac, will be unfurled over 23 beaches and four marinas in Málaga province. The beaches getting flags are Sabinillas in Manilva; La Rada, El Cristo and El Padrón in Estepona; Artola, Venus-Bajadilla, Casablanca and Guadalmina-San Pedro in Marbella; La Cala in Mijas; Los Boliches-Las Gaviotas, Torreblanca, Carvajal, Santa Amalia, El Castillo-Ejido, Fuengirola and San Francisco in Fuengirola; Malapesquera and Arroyo de la Miel in Benalmádena; La Misericordia in Málaga city; Algarrobo Costa in Algarrobo; Ferrara in Torrox; and Torrecilla and Burriana in Nerja.
The Blue Flag marinas are Caleta de Vélez in Vélez-Málaga; La Bajadilla in Marbella; La Duquesa in Manilva; and the Estepona marina.
Ronda slashes budget for September fair
By David Eade
Ronda cancelled its Real Feria de Mayo - the oldest in Andalucía - because of the financial crisis. Now the Feria y Fiestas de Pedro Romero will see its budget slashed by 200,000 euros.
The September fair is a major event in the town and is based around the celebrated bullfighter, Pedro Romero. The fair draws thousands of people to Ronda and is an important revenue earner for hotels, restaurants and other businesses.
Deputy mayor, Francisco Cañestro, pointed out that the Partido Andalucista - PSOE coalition had cancelled the May fair to create jobs for 108 unemployed people for a three month period. There are 4,000 jobless in Ronda and the town hall's social welfare department is facing heavy demands on its resources.
As befits a fair dedicated to Pedro Romero the town's famous Plaza de Toros is central to the celebrations. The bullring belongs to the Real Maestranza de Caballería but the concession for staging the bullfights belongs to the celebrity matador, Francisco Rivera Ordóñez.
Into thin air
Mystery of Briton's Nerja disappearance continues after 15 years
By Dave Jamieson
The son of a missing British resident has made a new appeal for information. Pat Moore, originally from Bedford, vanished from his home in Nerja in June 1994, and nothing has been heard of him since despite numerous representations to the Spanish authorities and the UK police.
His son Steve, who now lives in Oxford and has two children of his own, has spent much of the intervening period trying to discover what happened to his father. "I only have a theory about what has become of him but at least three people know exactly what happened," he told CDSN. "I gave up on ever seeing him again a long time ago. It may be too late to do anything constructive but one day my kids are going to ask why they don't have a granddad. I don't want revenge - just an answer."
Pat Moore, who would have celebrated his 69th birthday three months ago, was well-known in Nerja's British community, particularly around the bars and golf clubs. He had run a successful printing business in Bedford before retiring but then simply disappeared in the middle of a Saturday afternoon during Nerja's San Juan celebrations. He was declared legally dead in 2004.
"He may have been the victim of a crime, had a breakdown or left to start a new life elsewhere. Someone knows. Nerja is too small to keep something that big a secret," Steve said, adding that questions remain about the whereabouts of his father's will, his money and the remainder of his estate. "While people may have been cautious about speaking out a few years ago, time has passed and people have doubtless moved on. They may be happier to do so now. I promise them full anonymity. I don't need names - just answers."
Gibraltar companies in money-laundering bust
A Marbella lawyer also arrested in the case, which involves a drug gang
By David Eade
A Marbella lawyer has been ordered to prison unless he pays 60,000 euros bail. The judge acted as an operation headed by the tax office and the Algeciras Guardia Civil saw simultaneous police raids in the Costa del Sol, the Campo de Gibraltar, Gibraltar and London.
Four Gibraltar-registered companies are alleged to have provided logistical support to a gang of drug smugglers based in the Campo de Gibraltar and the Costa del Sol. The case remains open and 12 people have been arrested so far including a Spanish lawyer based in London, who is said to be the mastermind.
The police investigation, code named ‘Leasing', started over 12 months ago after the Guardia Civil and the Agencia Tributaria suspected the gang was using legitimate companies to provide support for its trafficking activities. Legally established marine businesses acted as fronts to provide vessels for the smuggling operations. Indeed, several boats seized during drug operations were later claimed back by these companies on the false pretence that they had been stolen, or had been leased out. Hence the smugglers were able to recover their vessels.
Five companies, the four involved in the marine business in Gibraltar plus an Algeciras law firm, all operated as legal outfits but were also involved in laundering the ill-gotten gains, say officials.
Fallen champ Harrison scores prison victory
The former boxing champion took first place in the Alhaurín prison half-marathon
By Oliver McIntyre
Former boxing champion Scott Harrison, who has seen his career in the ring derailed by a series of run-ins with the law, last week enjoyed his first victory in a long time, taking first place in a half-marathon among inmates at the Alhaurín de la Torre prison.
The Scottish ex-WBO featherweight champ was arrested in late April when he arrived at Málaga airport after Spain had issued an international arrest warrant against him for failing to turn up for an assault trial months earlier. He had been unable to make the trial date because he was serving time in Barlinnie prison in Glasgow for a separate crime.
In October 2006 the pugilist was arrested after allegedly stealing a car in Alhaurin el Grande and assaulting its owner as well as a Guardia Civil officer. He spent five weeks in jail before being released on 28,000 euros bail. With the trial still pending, in May 2007 he was arrested again in Alhaurín for alleged involvement in a brawl at a local brothel, and was released without bail two days later.
Barbate fisherman drowns as boat sinks
By David Eade
Like most fishing communities Barbate is well used to tragedies at sea. The latest happened last Wednesday morning when a 57-year-old fisherman died after his boat sank off the coast between Barbate and Zahara de los Atunes, close to the Retín area. An emotional funeral was held on Thursday in Barbate.
It is believed that the six metre-long vessel, called El Cristo, sank after taking on water. Francisco Jiménez Rubio was fishing with three companions, all brothers, when the accident occurred, but they survived and were rescued by two other fishing boats after clinging to a buoy for more than two hours.
The El Cristo had left Barbate port at 06.00 and the Guardia Civil and maritime department were alerted about the accident at about 10.00. The crew had noticed that the keel was letting in water, and were trying to reach the coast but within a short space of time the boat had sunk.
It has since emerged that the vessel had not renewed its documentation and did not officially have a crew assigned to it. The Guardia Civil are now investigating the status of the fishing boat and its sea worthiness.
DGT launches online payment of traffic fines
System charged more than 2,000 fines in test phase since May 5
By Oliver McIntyre
Paying off a ticket is now quicker and easier than ever after the Traffic Department's launch of an online payment system that allows ticketed drivers to pay via internet.
Traffic Department (DGT) officials say the system, which can be used for any fine within the voluntary payment period, has been operational in a test phase since May 5 and by the time the full rollout was announced last week had already received online payment of more than 2,000 fines.
To make payments online users must go to the DGT website (www.dgt.es) and click on the link titled ‘Trámites y Multas: Jefatura Virtual'. On the resulting page they should go to the section titled ‘¿Alguna Multa?, and once there select ‘Pago de Multas', and on the next page click on ‘Pago de Multas en Internet'. They will then be asked to indicate whether the payment is to be made with or without using a ‘digital signature' or ‘smart DNI' (it is not necessary to have either of those in order to make the online payment).