News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Used-car Sunday market set to launch
First edition of the monthly event in Benalmádena is set for April 4
By Oliver McIntyre
PEOPLE looking to buy or sell a second-hand car have a new resource on the way with the launch next month of Benalmádena's street market for used cars. The first edition of the event, which is to be held the first Sunday of every month at La Paloma park, is scheduled for April 4.
"We are putting out a call to all residents, car dealers, shops and other companies involved in the sale of any type of vehicle to participate in what will soon become the biggest used-car fair on the Costa del Sol," say the market's organisers.
The contract to operate the market has been awarded to the Málaga Association of Street Vendors, AVAM, which is working with two local British women to help promote and coordinate the event among the English-speaking community. "We had actually had the idea for a used-car market a year or so ago, but the town hall didn't act on it - so when we heard they were planning to set one up now, we went in and were able to get involved," said Janet Humphreys, who is coordinating the English-language side along with Julie McConville. They expect the monthly market to be very popular among the foreign-resident community.
Patients evacuated in psychiatric residence fire
Four people suffer smoke inhalation in separate blaze in Montejaque
By David Eade
ELEVEN psychiatric patients and their two care-givers were evacuated from their residence in Ojén last week when a fire broke out at the facility. The centre is run by FAISEM with the aim of reintegrating people with mental disorders into society.
The blaze started in the early hours of last Tuesday morning in the first floor residents' lounge. Ojén's mayor, José Antonio Gómez, said the cause appeared to be an electric fire that had been left on to heat the room.
The boiler to heat the residence had broken down on the Thursday before the blaze and a spokesperson for FAISEM, which operates the centre, said electric heaters had been brought in to serve whilst repairs were carried out. A burning smell was detected by one of the monitors, who called the emergency services.
The following day four people suffered from smoke inhalation during a fire in Montejaque, near Ronda. The Ronda fire brigade raced to the house on Wednesday morning after a blaze was reported at 9.45am. The bedroom on the first floor of the property in Avenida de Europa was alight and four people were rescued then taken to Ronda hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation.
JUNTA APPROVES EXPRESS DEMOLITIONS
The new legislation also revises fines for building without planning permission
By Dave Jamieson
EXPRESS demolitions were announced in Andalucía last week when the regional government approved legislation to permit an illegally built property to be razed in just one month.
The measure is included in revisions to the urban regulations which the Junta described as "pioneering" in Spain.
The government's head of housing and planning, Juan Espadas, said the express demolition option would only be used in the case of a building deemed to be "manifestly illegal." It gives town halls the ability to start and conclude the demolition procedure within a month of the property owner being notified, instead of the 12 months it took previously. It can also be exercised by the Junta itself in which case the timescale would be two months. Sr Espadas said the main intention was to give "legal security" to people buying property "in good faith," as well as to mayors and the construction sector.
The new legislation also revises the fines which can be imposed on those who build on land which is not classified for urbanising and without planning permission, or on land which is protected.
Serious infractions can attract a sanction of between 6,000 and 120,000 euros, while less serious actions can result in a fine of up to 5,999 euros.
In some cases, an offender who rectifies the problem can be awarded a discount of up to 50 per cent of the fine.
Mayor faces four and half years in prison
Prosecutor releases case summary in Alhaurín el Grande corruption case
By Oliver McIntyre
THE public prosecutor is to seek four and a half years in prison and a 500,000-euro fine for the mayor of Alhaurín el Grande in the ‘Troya' town-planning corruption case. In its preliminary case summary, released last week, the prosecutor's office claims that between 2002 and 2006 Juan Martín Serón (PP) received 238,785 euros in bribes related to construction licences.
The bribery scheme was allegedly operated by the town's councillor for town planning, José Gregorio Guerra, who, according to the prosecutor, took in a total of 782,445 euros from developers in exchange for increasing the allowable construction on building projects or permitting construction on non-building land. He then allegedly gave the mayor a cut of the money. Councillor Guerra faces seven and a half years in prison and a 1.6 million-euro fine.
In addition to the prison terms and fines, the mayor faces a 19-year ban on holding public office and Councillor Guerra faces a 21-year-ban.
The prosecutor also lays charges against two municipal legal advisors, seeking 18 months in prison for one of them and a year for the other, while 16 developers face two years in prison each on bribery charges, plus fines of between 10,000 and 200,000 euros. Fifteen of them also face an additional year in prison for town-planning offences.
Internet activists challenge government on file sharing
By Oliver McIntyre
IN A BOLD challenge against the government's new law concerning internet piracy and peer-to-peer file sharing, 1,178 internet activists last week ‘turned themselves in' to authorities by declaring that their websites allow file sharing.
The so-called Sinde's List (La Lista de Sinde) of self-admitted file-sharing sites - named after Culture minister Ángeles González-Sinde, who championed the crackdown on internet piracy - is described by its organisers as an act of "digital disobedience" aimed at protecting individual rights. The group says the new law will allow the censoring and blocking of websites without due judicial process.
Each of the websites on the list has incorporated a search engine for file-sharing downloads. Last week the group sent the Sinde's List to the Industry of Ministry, addressed to the secretary of state for telecommunications, Francisco Ros.
"We want them to state publicly if these websites must be shut down by the commission without a court ruling, and if not, that the [section of the law establishing this process] be removed," said the group in a press statement
Crime rate drops to lowest in a decade
‘Spain is one of the safest countries in Europe', says interior minister
By Oliver McIntyre
THE crime rate in Spain dropped by 3.7 per cent in 2009 compared to 2008, reaching its lowest level in a decade, said to the interior minister, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba last week.
Last year there were 45.8 criminal offences per 1,000 inhabitants, according to the figures presented by Sr Rubalcaba to Congress on Tuesday.
The statistics are based on crimes reported in Guardia Civil and National Police stations across the country, except in Cataluña and País Vasco, which have their own police forces.
The crime rate in 2009 was slightly lower than in 2000 and was a hefty 6.3 points below the historic high of 52.1 per 1,000 registered in 2002.
"All indicators were down," said the minister, stating that "Spain is one of the safest countries in Europe," with a crime rate 23.3 points below the European average.
The 2009 figures include criminal traffic offences, which came into effect in 2007. "If we hadn't begun to include these, the crime rate would have been lower," said the minister.