Costa del Sol News - 13th November 2009

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

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SEPE rescues horses after Álora road accident

The refuge says owners are unlikely to come forward due to fines

By Oliver McIntyre

The equine protection group SEPE has rescued two horses that were involved in a traffic accident outside Álora on Sunday night, but it expects the owner of the animals will not come forward to claim them. 

"There'll be a wall of silence," SEPE's Tony Bugg told Costa del Sol News, explaining that the owners of horses involved in traffic accidents rarely come forward because they would face fines as well as a bill for the damages.  He expects that no one will admit to knowing the horses despite one of them being a highly recognisable albino stallion.

The accident happened at around 11pm on the Álora-Pizarra road. At least one of the horses was hit by the car before the vehicle ran off the road into a ditch. 

"Although no one was injured, there could have been a more serious outcome," said Mr Bugg.  "The mare was lucky to escape with only minor injuries after being hit."  In fact, "there was more damage to the car than to the horse," he said.

Benalmádena and Mijas fires cause mass evacuations

Residents feared for homes and cars as flames reached garden walls and garages

HUNDREDS of people, including many foreign residents, were evacuated from their homes in two fires just two days apart in Benalmádena and Mijas.

On Thursday morning an estimated 250 people were evacuated from 110 homes as smoke from a wildfire engulfed the hillside between the Holiday World complex and Buddhist stupa in Benalmádena.

The fire, which is believed to have been caused by a spark from a power line, broke out shortly after 10am in the Cerro del Piojo zone, a steep hillside of scrubland interspersed with villas and residential areas.

Graham and Angela Salt, who live in the zone, told Costa del Sol News that while they were not officially evacuated, at one point were so concerned they started pulling belongings out of their house and putting them in the car. They also called a friend of theirs in England who has a home close to where the fire was raging, to advise him of the situation. "I rang him up shortly before noon and by 3pm he was on a flight," said Mr Salt. In the end the fire stopped just short of the friend's house.

Some 100 firefighters and emergency responders from Benalmádena and surrounding towns battled the blaze, a task made more complicated by the difficult terrain and high winds. With the assistance of three helicopters, the fire was brought under control after several hours and residents were soon allowed to return to their homes in the affected areas of Finca La Paloma, El Olmedo and La Capellanía.

Four Mijas police arrested in drug bust

The officers' detentions caused public alarm outside the Miramar shopping centre

By Oliver McIntyre

Four Mijas local police officers were arrested by the Guardia Civil at the weekend for alleged drug-trafficking offences. A search of their patrol cars uncovered 15 kilos of hashish and a further 150 kilos was seized later during a home search, during which a fifth suspect, a civilian, was detained.

The arrest of the officers took place around 1.30pm on Saturday in Avenida de Andalucía near the Miramar shopping centre - causing one shocked member of the public to call the 112 emergency service to report that uniformed police were being handcuffed. The Guardia Civil officers who made the arrests were wearing plain clothes.

The Guardia Civil searched the officers' lockers at the Mijas police station and the homes of at least some of them, as well as the home of the civilian who was allegedly storing the drugs.

Fines for Vialia's illegal opening annulled by court

The shopping mall will now be able to open every day of the year

By Dave Jamieson

It is still a fortnight until the Vialia shopping centre at Málaga's main railway station celebrates the third anniversary of its opening, but already it has received one very welcome birthday present. A court has sided with the complex's operator, arguing against fines imposed on them for illegal opening.

Since it was inaugurated on November 28, 2006, the Vialia centre has had an uncomfortable relationship with the Junta de Andalucía over its policy to remain open on Sundays and holidays. The legislation presently permits commercial premises to open on eight designated holidays per year, although centres in ports, airports and railway stations enjoy more liberal regulation in order to accommodate the needs of travellers. The centre's operator, Necsa, has always argued that its position at the María Zambrano station in Málaga puts in firmly in the latter category.

The Department of Tourism, Commerce and Sport has fined Necsa on several alleged breaches of regional employment law, the first of which was imposed in April 2007 when it was sanctioned to the tune of 135,000 euros. It has now been denounced by the Department around 70 times with fines totalling over 636,000 euros. These were endorsed in 2008 by a Málaga court which considered that the majority of the 102 commercial outlets in the centre were not "strictly" within the station complex and therefore subject to the stricter legislation.

However, an upper Andalucían court of administrative disputes has now ruled that the more liberal hours should be applied to the entire complex, so annulling the fines imposed. Necsa received notification of the decision last week but has refused to comment, other than confirm that it is considering the implications.