Costa del Sol News - 17th July 2009

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

News Archive In association with

The Costa del Sol weekly newspaper, on sale at newsagents.

Axarquía calls for action on illegal properties

Mayors of 31 towns want Junta to change urban planning laws

By Dave Jamieson

The mayors of the Axarquía's 31 municipalities have agreed to ask the Junta de Andalucía to modify the region's urban planning legislation.  Last week's decision came as a possible way forward in handling the problem of an estimated 10,000 illegally built houses in the zone.

Last Wednesday a motion proposed by the Eastern Costa del Sol Association  of Municipalities, or Mancomunidad, was unanimously passed by the mayors.  It suggests that the particular characteristics of an area be considered when reviewing houses built on land which is not classified for building.  In certain cases, it proposes that such buildings would be permitted to remain without fear of further legal action against the owner.

Speaking for the socialist (PSOE) members of the Mancomunidad, Francisco Muñoz said that the intention was not to elude any responsibility but to provide some reassurance to those who are concerned for the future of their homes.  The mayors are seeking solutions to numerous problems posed by illegally built homes, and in particular to the question of the legality of construction licences which can be annulled without any charge of perverting the course of justice being raised.  Around 20 Axarquía municipalities are believed to be presently involved in proceedings involving building on rustic land not approved for such use.  The accord reached by the Mancomunidad members calls for a working party with members from town halls, plus the provincial and regional governments, which would to seek solutions to the problem.

Body found at sea believed to be missing woman

NEWS Staff Reporter

Noelia Pérez disappeared on Monday night 

The body of a young woman found more than 40 miles off the coast on Wednesday morning is believed to be that of 24-year-old Noelia Pérez, who disappeared at sea on Monday night after falling off a jet ski off the coast of Benalmádena.

Maritime rescue teams had been searching for the woman and her male companion since around 10pm Monday when the group they had been out boating with reported them as missing.

It is understood that Noelia Pérez was riding on the jet ski, along with a man, as part of a group of friends who had gone out with a sailboat and four jet skis. When the rest of the group returned to shore they noticed the two were not with them and reported the situation to the maritime rescue service at Benalmádena port.

Hours later, at around 2am, the man was rescued after being spotted by a commercial vessel several miles out to sea. According to his statements to authorities, the two fell off the jet ski and it failed to stop, leaving them stranded in the water. They began to swim towards the lights of shore, but got separated.

Economic downturn means uptick in insurance fraud

Nearly 80 per cent of bogus claims are on automobile policies

By Oliver McIntyre

With consumers pinched harder and harder by the recession, insurance companies in Málaga province say they are seeing a surge in bogus claims.  The Málaga College of Insurance Mediators says the number of false claims has jumped by 10 per cent in recent months as cash-strapped policyholders look to an insurance payout as an easy source of extra cash.

The vast majority of false claims - 78 per cent - are on auto insurance policies, according to the group.  They range from false reports of an accident or a stolen vehicle to staging an accident or filing exaggerated damage claims following a legitimate one. 

Overall, insurance fraud in Málaga province has grown to about 2,600 cases a year.  Nationwide, it is estimated that bogus claims cost insurance companies some 650 million euros a year. 

Watch your wheels

Málaga is hot province for car robberies as tourist high season hits the coast

By Oliver McIntyre

MÁLAGA province has the fourth-highest number of car robberies in the country, according to a study by insurer Detector. The province accounts for 5.9 per cent of all car thefts in the nation, behind only Madrid (21 per cent), Valencia, (9.1 per cent) and Alicante (7.7 per cent).

Nationwide there are an average of 155,000 cars stolen each year, according to the study. That's 425 a day, or more than three every minute. Spain registers 18 per cent of all car robberies in Europe, ranking third behind Italy (38 per cent) and the UK (27.5 per cent).

According to the study, the models preferred by car thieves in Spain are the Volkswagen Golf, BMW 3 Series, Seat León FR, Seat Ibiza FR, and Toyota Land Cruiser.

Prosthetic knee helps police ID burnt corpse

Victim was a 57-year-old Irishman who had been reported missing

By Oliver McIntyre

THE MAN whose burnt corpse was found in a drainage culvert in Mijas in April has been identified thanks in part to a metal prosthetic knee found by investigators at the scene.  The victim has been identified as a 57-year-old Irishman who had been reported missing.

When the body was discovered on April 11 by a local resident walking near the La Cala football pitch in the Camino de la Rosa zone, it was so severely charred that investigators could not determine the sex or approximate age of the victim.  Some sort of accelerant was reportedly used to set fire to the body.

Petrol prices up as tourists hit the road

Rise is part due to fuel tax hike of 2.9 cents per litre

By Oliver McIntyre

As millions of holidaymakers get behind the wheel for summer road trips, petrol prices have climbed by nearly 10 per cent in the last month, in part thanks to a 2.9-cents-per-litre tax hike approved by the government in June. 

Prices at the pump started the week at 1.083 euros a litre for 95-octane petrol and 0.953 euros a litre for diesel, up 7.7 per cent and nine per cent, respectively, from the beginning of June.  The increases were despite a slight lowering of prices over the last week, by 1.5 per cent and 0.8 per cent, respectively. 

Nonetheless, holiday season drivers are paying nowhere near as much for a fill-up as they did at this time last year, when petrol prices were at near historic highs.  A 55-litre tank of petrol costs 59.50 euros now, down 13 per cent from a year ago, and the same tank-full of diesel costs 52.40 euros, down 26 per cent.

Prices peaked in July of 2008 at 1.276 euros a litre for 95-octane petrol and 1.329 euros a litre for diesel, after oil prices had shot up to nearly $150 a barrel.  They then began a steady decrease, with monthly drops up to February of this year, when petrol hit a low of 0.85 euros a litre.  By May, the price for petrol had climbed back up above a euro a litre. 

The new fuel tax hike of 2.9 cents per litre on both petrol and diesel was approved in mid-June by the cabinet in an effort to providing some relief to the government's recession-stricken coffers.  Officials expect it to generate nearly 1.1 billion euros a year in additional tax revenue.