News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Serious running on the Al Andalus Ultra Trail
The event is organised by Axarquia-based Briton Paul Bateson
By Dave Jamieson
Sixty athletes from 12 countries arrive in Andalucía this weekend to participate in a gruelling five-day sporting event. Competitors will pass through nine towns and villages during next week as they run a tough, 240 kilometre mountain trail through the Poniente Granadino region.
The Al Andalus Ultra Trail has been designed and organised by Paul Bateson. Originally from the UK and now director of Team Axarsport based in Santa Cruz del Comercio, Paul has been an active participant in the racing community of Málaga and Granada provinces over the past ten years.
Forces charity runners
As well as individual runners, there will also be 11 teams of three participating, including a team from the Royal Engineers competing for the Help for Heroes charity, while two teams from the Parachute Regiment of Colchester will run for their Afghan Trust. Theirs will also include an extra runner who lost a leg in Afghanistan and who will run part of the final stage. The event begins on Monday in the host town of Loja, which has provided invaluable help in the preparation of such a large event, with a climb into the mountains where temperatures can reach 45 degrees. Runners will then cross the range to Zafarraya and finish the 58 kilometre stage in Alhama de Granada.
Tuesday features a tough 47-kilometre route into the Sierra Tejada, Almijara and Alhama which will take competitors up to 1,620 metres, close to the peak of La Maroma, the highest point in the Axarquía. Runners will spend that night in Jatar, from where next morning they will face another 48 kilometres through mountain, road and forest tracks via Lake Bermejales to Jayena.
Costa gets 185 extra cops for summer
Officials warn of holiday spike in petty thefts and robbery
By Oliver McIntyre
The National Police in Málaga province will be boosted by 185 extra officers from July 1 to August 31 as the force beefs up to handle the annual influx of tourists. The reinforcements increase the force by eight per cent, to a total of 2,585 officers.
The summertime police push, which also includes stepped-up cooperation with the Guardia Civil and with local police forces in towns throughout the Costa, is aimed at guaranteeing security in tourist zones. "Security and tourism go hand-in-hand and are inseparable," said the government sub-delegate in Málaga, Hilario López Luna. "Greater security means more and better quality, and more visitors."
The 185 extra officers are distributed in Málaga city (65); Marbella (30); Fuengirola (25); Torremolinos (20); Vélez-Málaga (15); and Estepona, Ronda and Antequera (10 each).
However, the Unified Police Union (SUP) says the boost in officers falls woefully short. "In summer the population triples, and a third of the police force takes holiday leave, so what is needed is an increase of 500 officers," said SUP's secretary general in Málaga, Manuel Expósito.
Malaya trial scheduled for March 2010
Spain's largest town planning corruption case will be heard in Málaga's court complex
By David Eade
At long last the trial for the Malaya corruption case at Marbella town hall has been given a start date. It will be in March of next year and the national judicial body, the CGPJ, and the Andalucía High Court, have been requested by the Málaga court to ensure that the lawyers involved are freed from any other tasks.
While the trial revolves around Marbella and the initial hearings have been heard by the town's judges the case now steps up a gear by moving to the higher Málaga provincial court which is based at the Ciudad de la Justicia. However, the court is having to be adapted to accommodate Spain's largest political and town planning corruption trial. That task will start in August and take two months to complete.
As an indication of the importance of this trial many of the measures that will be employed at the Málaga court complex were developed for the March 11 terror bombing hearings at the Spanish High Court in Madrid.
The court has also been in contact with the National Police, Guardia Civil, Local Police in Madrid, Málaga and Marbella to ensure that the summonses for those currently freed on bail are delivered in good time and that no attempts are made to flee Spain.
One of the measures adopted from the Madrid terrorism trial is likely to be the relay of the hearings by closed circuit TV to journalists watching in a special press centre. Without a doubt the world's media will be keen to report on this massive corruption scam and although the action will take place in Málaga the unwanted spotlight will once again fall on Marbella and the wider Costa del Sol.
Abandoned dogs caused 3,000 traffic accidents last year
Traffic Department launches campaign against pet abandonment
By Oliver McIntyre
Abandoned dogs wandering the roadways were the cause of nearly 3,000 traffic accidents in Spain in 2008, according to the Traffic Department, which last week launched a campaign against pet abandonment in collaboration with animal protection groups and pet food maker Pedigree.
Abandoned dogs were the cause of nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of all accidents related to animals on the roadway, behind only wild boars (javalí), which made up 31 per cent of the 12,000 incidents last year. The number of animal-related accidents has doubled since 2004, when there were a total of 6,000. Last year eight people were killed in accidents caused by animals on the roadway.
Ninety-four per cent of animal-related accidents involve the vehicle hitting the animal, while the remainder are caused by the driver manoeuvring to avoid hitting it, said Aurora Cedenilla, deputy director of the Traffic Department (DGT).