Costa del Sol News - 24th July 2009

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

News Archive In association with

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

Shoppers win as recession sparks grocery price war

Food prices drop up to 6.6 per cent in second quarter

By Oliver McIntyre

The economic crisis has brought at least one bit of relief to struggling consumers: cheaper groceries.  Food prices at superstores and supermarkets across the country dropped by an average of 3.2 per cent in the second quarter of this year compared with the first quarter, according to Ministry of Industry's latest Food Prices Observatory.

"The economic situation has driven all the grocery outlets to make a strong effort to reduce the cost of food products," said the secretary of state for commerce, Silvia Iranzo, during last week's presentation of the quarterly report.

The study, which looked at prices on 187 shopping-cart items at the 35 biggest chains nationwide, showed some stores have dropped prices by as much as 6.6 per cent, while the price difference for groceries in different cities across the country can be has much as 15 per cent (down from 18 per cent in Q1).

While the biggest price drops were registered at Eroski Centre (6.6 per cent), Sabeco (4.7 per cent), and Alcampo and Supersol (4.3 per cent each), the chain with the lowest overall cost for a cartful of groceries is Mercadona, which shaved prices by four per cent.

The chains that reduced prices the least were El Arbol (1.3 per cent), Max-Dia (2.2 per cent), Supercor (2.3 per cent) and Hipercor (2.9 per cent), while the highest overall prices were at El Corte Inglés, where a cartful of goods was 21 per cent costlier than at low-price leader Mercadona.

The price drops were achieved mainly by markdowns on house brands or other discount brands.  The average price reduction for a cartful of the low-cost options was 8.3 per cent while the decrease for a ‘standard cartful' including name brands was just 0.8 per cent. 

Historic Tripartite meeting on the Rock

Minisister Moratinos meets with Campo de Gibraltar mayor on the way

By David Eade

SPAIN'S minister of foreign affairs, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, created history on Tuesday by being the first Spanish minister to visit Gibraltar in an official capacity when he attended the Tripartite Forum at the Rock Hotel.

However, there was much debate ahead of his visit on how he would enter Gibraltar. In the event he flew from Madrid to Jerez and then travelled by car to the Rock, stopping on the way for a meeting with Isabel Beneroso, the president of the association of town halls of the Campo de Gibraltar, and all the local mayors.

Also at the meeting was the special delegate for foreign affairs in the Campo de Gibraltar, Julio Montesino, the sub-delegate of the Andalucía government, Rafael España, and the socialist senator and former mayor of Jimena, José Carracao. Once the meeting concluded Moratinos crossed the border for the Tripartite meeting with the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and the chief minister of Gibraltar, Peter Caruana.

Gibraltar's chief minister, Peter Caruana, had made it clear that a meeting between Sr Moratinos and Mr Miliband on the Rock on a purely bilateral basis would not be tolerated. It had been reported that Spain was keen for this to happen as it would demonstrate that it and Britain held sway on the matter of sovereignty.

As the two ministers were keen to discuss other issues separate from Gibraltar they travelled from the Rock to Sevilla for the encounter and the Rock is said to have been off the agenda.

Málaga swimming pools fail controls, says report

Around half found to have deficiencies, though most are minor

By Dave Jamieson

MORE than half the swimming pools in Málaga are not properly controlled, according to a report from the Federation of Life Saving.  The organisation says it has received more than 300 complaints about the poor conditions of some private pools and the irresponsibility of some lifeguards.

There are presently 3,480 registered community pools in Málaga, over 80 per cent of which are in private urbanisations or tourist complexes.  However, pools with a water surface area of less than 200 square metres are not obliged to register for an operating licence and, as such, are not subject to inspection.  Larger pools where the licence has expired and a renewal application has not been made also slip through the inspection net.  Licences are not required for pools of greater than 200 square metres which are used only by a single household or are for thermal use.

The provincial health department made over 1,600 inspections in the last year in which 48 per cent of pools failed.  However, three-quarters of the problems were considered minor and had been attended to by the owners by the time a second inspection was held.  The most common problems were the absence of depth markings, a failure to display the pool's opening hours and the poor condition of the ground surrounding the pool.  The department says the three most important aspects of an inspection are the quality of the water, the use of anti-slip surfaces and the obligation to monitor bathers.  Failure to observe these requirements can lead to the closure of a pool for up to five years, while the absence of a lifeguard could mean a fine of up to 15,000 euros. 

Double Tragedy

"Terrifying medical error" kills swine flu victim's premature baby

By Dave Jamieson

MONDAY afternoon brought the tragic news of the death of the premature but healthy baby born to Dalilah Mimuni, a 20-year-old Moroccan woman who died of swine flu on June 30 in Madrid's Hospital Gregorio Marañón. Antonio Barba, the medical director of the hospital said that there had been a "terrifying medical error."

The baby, named Rayán, was reported to have been doing well until Sunday evening when at 9.00pm he was due to be given his three-hourly feed of special milk for premature babies through a gastric tube. The nurse, who is understood to have been spending her first day working in the children's intensive care unit, administered it intravenously by mistake.

Fight for life

After the error was discovered at 10.10pm, doctors battled through the night to clear his blood of the milk but Rayán died shortly after midday on Monday. First findings from the post-mortem examination on Tuesday indicated multiple organ failure and an embolism.

Hospital responsible

"There is no excuse," said Sr Barba. "The Gregorio Marañón assumes total responsibility." He added that two members of staff, believed to be the 23-year-old nurse who attended the baby and her supervisor, had been suspended, and an internal investigation had opened. The Madrid Regional Health Department and the General Nursing Council have also opened enquiries, as has an investigating magistrate in the city.

GPS bracelets to track 3,000 domestic abusers

‘We want to tell the aggressor that 40 million Spaniards are watching him,' says minister

By Oliver McIntyre 

Beginning on July 24 the courts in Spain will have access to 3,000 GPS bracelets to track the movements of men facing restraining orders related to domestic abuse charges.

The five million-euro purchase of the bracelet kits, which also include a device carried by the victim, comes as fulfilment of one of a series of measures approved by the government late last year aimed at fighting domestic violence and better protecting victims.

With the tracking bracelets, "we want to say to the aggressor that we are watching him, that 40 million Spaniards are watching him," said the minister for equality, Bibiana Aído.  "We want to tell him that [the woman] is not alone, that society is looking out for her." 

The system includes a mobile phone-like device carried by the victim, which pinpoints her location and has a panic button for immediate connection to a hotline.  It triggers an alarm if it detects the presence of the man's bracelet within 500 metres.

The aggressor will have a similar device, plus the bracelet, which sends an alarm if it is broken, removed or loses coverage for any reason.

All alerts or alarms triggered by the system will go to a single control centre operated by a private security company, which will immediately inform the police unit assigned to the victim's case.