News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Rajoy enters immigrants' rights debate
Two town halls' decisions have reignited a fierce political discussion on immigration
By Dave Jamieson
THE leader of the opposition has joined the fierce debate on the rights of immigrants which was ignited by the decisions of two town halls. Mariano Rajoy of the Partido Popular (PP) said on Friday that registration with a town hall should not be a prerequisite for access to local healthcare and education.
Earlier this month the town council at Vic, 70 kilometres north of Barcelona, announced that illegal immigrants would be denied access to health care, while the Madrid dormitory town of Torrejón de Ardoz imposed a ban on certain immigrants including those living in spaces of less than 20 square metres. Vic later did a U-turn after it was ruled illegal to deny registration on the local census to any immigrant who presented a passport, even if the visa required for residency was absent.
Referring to the present government's 2005 amnesty for illegal immigrants with work contracts, Sr Rajoy said Spain was now "paying the price." He added that such legalisation had been "foolish" and called for the expulsion of immigrants given prison sentences of more than six months.
Speaking to party members in Cataluña, Sr Rajoy said that Spain should calculate its ability to take in immigrants by considering the number of jobs available and the financial resources of the local authorities which have to provide services to residents.
From horses to dinosaurs
Bets are on that the race track at Mijas could become the coast's new home for dinosaurs
By David Eade
THE race track in Mijas never really came under starters orders. So it is no surprise that a new future will shortly be announced for the site. The mayor of Mijas, Antonio Sánchez, unveiled an exciting project at last week's Fitur international travel fair in Madrid and whilst he hedged his bets on the location the news amongst punters is that the course was changing from the home of thoroughbreds to dinosaurs.
The Hipódromo de la Costa del Sol was the brainchild of former mayor Antonio Maldonado and covers some 500,000 square metres. The majority of the shares lie with the council (87.5 per cent) whilst the balance of the management company is with Unicaja.
Current mayor Sánchez used Fitur to announce the new project but it will not be officially presented until February 19 at the CIO complex in Mijas Costa.
Apparently there are three possible sites for the Jurapark but the wise money is betting it will be located at the Hipódromo.
The negotiations on bringing the theme park to Mijas started 18 months ago. It will be managed by Jurapark which has a similar venue in Poland at Solec Kujawski. Whilst the exact features at the leisure centre remain under wraps the company's director of marketing, Milagros Fernández, promised it would combine recreational and leisure elements for all the family with an educational bias. She added: "The park in Mijas will be based absolutely on scientific fact."
Apparently in developing the theme park the company has called upon the knowledge and expertise of scientists and palaeontologists from different European Universities as well as the Museum of Natural History in London. In addition the figures are being developed in conjunction with the Sonrio Group which specialises in robots.
Marbella's new PGOU could hit banana skin
Homeowners are determined to fight plan if their properties aren't legalised
By David Eade
THE date for the final approval of Marbella's new local development plan (PGOU) is fast approaching. However it has become obvious that once the final text is known fresh battles, in the courts, will loom.
These could occur on several fronts - for instance cases could be brought to court by residents who bought their homes legally and believe they are being discriminated against after some of the illegal properties are deemed within the law.
Another battle will be fought by the angry owners of apartments at Banana Beach. It is likely that under the new PGOU their illegal development will not be saved and the bulldozers will be ordered in. This is not a scenario they are prepared to accept and have threatened to block the new plan in the courts.
They argue that some 18,000 other properties built without the required licences will be made legal under the terms of the new PGOU - but theirs will not.
Last Thursday the Banana Beach community of property owners travelled to Sevilla to meet with the regional head of housing and town planning, Juan Espadas. By all accounts they made little headway.
According to the residents he rejected their petition to normalise their homes at Banana Beach even though they presented numerous cases that showed that the PGOU was legalising thousands of similar developments without licences.
The key date is this Friday when the Comisión de Ordenación del Territorio y Urbanismo de Andalucía will meet to study the text of the new PGOU to see if it complies with the law. The mayor of Marbella, Ángeles Muñoz, believes it will and says she does not think that the case brought by the 235 owners at Banana Beach will cause any delay.
New law lets users opt out of phone spam
Consumer groups say the legislation does not go far enough
By Oliver McIntyre
CONSUMERS feeling bombarded by advertising messages sent to their mobile phones now have the right to tell companies to stop sending them the unwanted ‘spam'. New legislation that came into effect on January 1 allows users to opt out of receiving such messages after the first one arrives, but consumer groups say the law does not go far enough.
Under the new rules, which were approved by unanimously by Congress in December in order to meet EU directives on the issue, consumers who receive unsolicited advertisements on their phone must be given an option to respond indicating that they want no further messages from the company. All advertising messages must be sent from an identifiable telephone number so that the recipient can see where the call is coming from.
The law, which also applies to mass advertising sent via email or fax, obliges the company sending the messages to comply with the consumer's request to be dropped from the mailing list. Companies have two months from the time the law took effect to put into place the systems necessary to allow consumers to opt out.
Consumer groups say the new law does not do enough to stamp out unwanted advertising messages. For one thing, says Facua, it is very difficult for a consumer to prove that he or she has been illegally sent spam. The Communications Users Association (AUC) says that what the law should have done was allow consumers to opt out of all spam upfront, rather than having to wait to receive it and then respond to each sender asking to be dropped from further messages.