Costa del Sol News - 9th April 2010

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

News Archive In association with

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

Casa del Rey Moro faces expropriation

The German owner was arrested after displaying protest banners from the building's roof

By David Eade

THE CASA del Rey Moro in Ronda that dates back to the 13th century to the times of the Moors faces expropriation by the town hall. Mayor Antonio Marín announced the move after the German businessman who owns the property displayed banners from the dilapidated property's roof on the Saturday before Easter.

The businessman's posters demanded to know why the town hall had not given him permission to convert the building into a five star hotel. However Marín countered that the problem was the deteriorated state of the property which is in the BIC (Bienes de Interes Cultural) listing of protected buildings. Various demands had been sent to the company that owns the historic site ordering urgent repairs to be carried out but they had not been complied with.

The mayor says that expropriating the building was the only way to prevent its eventual collapse adding: "We cannot permit this happening to a monument."

New Civia trains on C2 Cercanías line

Service has been extended to Málaga city centre and trains now connect with the coast's C1 line to Fuengirola at the Victoria Kent station

By Oliver McIntyre

ON MONDAY the C2 Cercanías train line between the Guadalhorce valley and Málaga received a major upgrade with the inaugural run of its new Civia trains.

The mayors of Álora, Cártama and Pizarra, who rode on the train along with Renfe officials, called it an "historic day" for the Guadalhorce valley. In addition to the new rolling stock, the service has been extended to Málaga's newly reopened Centro-Alameda station and a stop has been added at Victoria Kent station, where passengers can conveniently transfer to the C1 Málaga-Fuengirola line.

"As of today the residents of the Guadalhorce valley are perfectly connected to Málaga," said Álora's mayor, José Sánchez, though he insisted that much more remains to be done and that he and the other mayors will continue working to get the frequency of service increased on the C2 line.

Cártama's mayor, José Garrido, hailed the arrival of the new trains and the extension of the service to Málaga centre as a major achievement. "Now we citizens have to use the service so that further upgrades will continue to be made on the line," he said.

Renfe officials said they project ridership on the C2 line to reach a million passengers a year in 2011. While schedules have been adjusted slightly to account for the new stops, the mayors' principal goal continues to be a significant increase to the frequency of trains. They recently got a commitment from Ministry of Public Works officials for the carrying out of a study to determine the frequency of trains based on the real needs of the population.

Pizarra's Liverpool player honoured

The local lad was transferred to the UK from Barcelona FC's youth academy in 2007

By David Jamieson

COUNCILLORS in Pizarra have agreed to name the town's multipurpose sports centre after the greatest local sportsman of all time. Dani Pacheco was born in the town in 1991 and now, aged 19, is a member of Liverpool's first team squad.

Before his transfer to the UK in the summer of 2007, Dani was a rising star in Barcelona's youth academy where his ability to score goals from almost any position earned him the nickname The Killer.

He made his first appearance for Liverpool reserves in February 2007 when he scored the first goal in a match against Bolton Wanderers. Dani joined the first team in December 2009 in a UEFA Champions League match while his English league debut was on Boxing Day when he came on as a substitute in a 2-0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Dani Pacheco's rise from the local Pizarra team, La Vega, to one of the world's most prestigious football clubs has made him a superstar in his home town. The decision to name the town's 1995 sports centre after him was proposed by the socialist group of Pizarra town council and approved by all other groups at last week's meeting.


British bar owner offers 500 reward for return of stolen birds

By David Eade

PAUL HICKLING, who for 28 years has run the popular Roman Oasis restaurant in Manilva, is devastated after thieves stole three of his parrots.

In an appeal to track down the birds Paul is offering a 500-euro reward.

Mr Hickling told the Costa del Sol News: "There are three parrots stolen. Bosun, who is an orange-winged Amazon about 25 centimetres high and mainly green with a yellow front to his head and red bits on his tail, who I have had for 35 years and is a part of my family - I have had him for more than half my life.

"Then there is Scarlet, who is a scarlet macaw, very brightly coloured red with yellow and blue on his wings, and Sueca,  a blue-and-gold macaw who is blue with a gold chest." 

Both Mr Hickling's house and the adjacent Roman Oasis restaurant were broken into and robbed last Friday night and much was stolen including TVs, a laptop and a Hard Rock Cafe New York bomber jacket.

He said: "I would ask that everyone keep and eye and an ear out for them as they can be very noisy. If you are offered a parrot or know someone who has been offered a parrot fitting the description or are a vet or shop that sells birds and hear just anything at all, please ring me on mobile 639074433. I am offering a reward of 500 euros should I get them back."

Take town planning out of town halls, says judge

The call echos one made by UK MEP Marta Andreasen at last month's expat protest march

By Dave Jamieson

Marta Andreasen at the Málaga march (photo J.Peatey) 

A MÁLAGA judge has added his voice to calls to take responsibility for town planning out of the hands of town halls. His comments last week echoed those expressed at a recent demonstration in the city.

The president of Málaga's Provincial Court, Francisco Javier Arroyo, says the role of central government in town planning should be strengthened and the Penal Code revised. He added that not all town planning offences should necessarily be taken to court, although cases in which financial gain or corruption had been involved should continue to be treated as a crime. However, the judge noted that other cases had brought wealth, employment and residents to municipalities.

On the subject of new illegal constructions, he said town halls had proved ineffective and responsibility should lie with the regional government using its power to halt such projects immediately they are identified. The judge, however, welcomed the recently-approved "express demolitions" which permit town halls to issue and execute demolitions orders within one month.

The judge's call to move planning responsibility out of the hands of town halls follows comments made by the UK MEP Marta Andreasen at last month's protest rally in Málaga. She told around 1,000 demonstrators that building planning permissions should not be awarded at the low level of authority which they are at present but should be a national government responsibility.

Britons arrested for driving cars stolen in UK

Another blow against international car thieves

By David Eade

THE National Police in Fuengirola in cooperation with their counterparts in Alicante have carried out an operation against car traffickers resulting in five arrests and the recovery of four high powered vehicles stolen in the UK.

The investigation started four months ago after the thefts of cars in the UK were reported to the police. It then became clear that these same vehicles were being driven on the Costa del Sol between Fuengirola, Marbella and Torremolinos. The thieves were enjoying their use ahead of selling them.

This information was passed to the illicit vehicles group of the National Police HQ in Alicante and the drugs and organised crime unit (Udyco) in Fuengirola which has led to the arrests of four Britons and an Italian.

Those arrested are aged between 35 and 60 years and all have previous convictions in Spain.

The men were picked up as they drove the cars on local roads. The cars seized were a Peugeot 308 in Marbella plus a Jeep Grand Cherokee and a Mercedes 200 CDI in Fuengirola - all of which had legal UK registrations. In addition a Mercedes SLK 230 was stopped in Torremolinos with false UK plates.

Right to die becomes law

Andalucía allows terminally ill patients to reject artificial life support

By Oliver McIntyre

ANDALUCÍA'S  pioneering ‘right to die' law became official last week with the regional parliament's approval of the legislation, the first of its kind in Spain.

The law, aimed at providing terminally ill patients the right to a ‘dignified death', allows them to reject artificial means of life support, including halting already ongoing treatment such as by disconnecting a respirator. 

It also allows the use of palliative sedation to minimise the suffering of a terminally ill patient, even if this could hasten their death.

The law does not legalise euthanasia (actively provoking death) or assisted suicide (helping someone to actively take their own life), both of which are criminal offences under Spanish law.

Doctors, regardless of their moral or religious convictions, are obliged to respect the decision of a patient regarding palliative care and termination of artificial life support.  The law applies to private as well as public medical facilities.

Guadalhorce towns clamour for rural road repairs

Storm damages have left some areas practically inaccessible

By Oliver McIntyre

RESIDENTS and officials in several towns in the Guadalhorce valley area have called for urgent repairs to rural roads that have been badly damaged by the recent storms and, in some cases, make it difficult for residents to reach their homes.

In Alhaurín el Grande the town hall last week called on the regional water authority, Agencia Andaluza del Agua, to take immediate action on a number of rural roads for which the agency is responsible.  "The copious rains have caused serious damage to the rural roads, which are used daily by local families and farmers," said the councillor for the Environment, Diego Navas.  The affected roads include Camino Fuente del Sol, Campiñuela, Camino Pedro Díaz, Camino Navarete, Camino Borrajo and Camino Los Javieles.

In Valle de Abdalajís, residents have described as a "botch job" the recent upgrades made to 30 kilometres of rural roads in the town in a million-euro project funded by the state railroad company Adif as compensation for the damage caused to the local aquifer during work on the AVE train line.  The residents say the roads have poor drainage and turned into virtual rivers during heavy rains, leaving some families unable to get to and from their homes.  The town hall says the situation is not as bad as residents claim but acknowledges it has asked the companies that performed the work to make improvements in certain areas. 

Cudeca to decide fate of inpatient unit after summer

The hospice is seeking public funding to save the costly facility

By Oliver McIntyre

THE CUDECA cancer hospice posted its fourth consecutive year of budget shortfall in 2009 and forecasts further losses in 2010, putting the future of its cost-intensive inpatient unit in question.  However, the Benalmádena-based NGO is seeking new public-funding arrangements that could save the unit and provide it long-term stability, said officials during the presentation of Cudeca's annual report last Friday.

In 2009 the hospice saw a sharp drop in direct donations due to the economic crisis and the declining value of the pound, which greatly affected British residents, who make up a large portion of Cudeca supporters, explained the NGO's financial director, Rafael Olalla.  However, the charity shops and events maintained their revenue levels and significant increases were seen in public and private grants.  The year ended with an overall loss of 415,000 euros.

In its projections for 2010, Cudeca forecasts a loss of 400,000 euros.  It says it has sufficient reserves to guarantee the operation of the inpatient unit until November, but after summer the board will meet to discuss its long-term viability.

One option being pursued is to secure permanent regional-government funding for the unit - which costs around a million euros a year to operate - on the basis that it is providing an important public health service, said Sr Olalla.  Talks are underway with the Junta de Andalucía but no agreement has yet been reached.  Another strategy under consideration is to seek corporate sponsors for individual rooms in the unit.

Expats march against illegal home demolitions

Where was the Junta as the town mayors wrote the licences?" asked Málaga protest organiser Phillip Smalley

By John Peatey and Dave Jamieson

OVER a thousand people gathered in brilliant sunshine in Málaga's Plaza de la Marina last week to draw attention to the plight of those whose homes have been declared illegal by the Junta de Andalucía.

Seven coaches of supporters from the Axarquía joined others from a wide area, including Almanzora, Almería, Cártama, and Mijas, for a rally and march through the city centre.

The important message from the demonstrators was that the regional government has made victims of innocent home-owners when it should be the property promoters, politicians, lawyers and notaries who deserve punishment.

Several protestors said that the numbers attending would have been even greater, but the demolition threats received by some people have led to serious stress-related, debilitating illnesses leaving them unable to participate.

Phillip Smalley, president of Save Our Homes Axarquía which organised the event, told the rally that, in the last ten years, thousands of homes had been bought on rustic land in Andalucía in good faith with lawyers engaged, taxes paid and proper paperwork obtained, but that the Junta now say many are illegal and must be demolished. "Where was the Junta as the town mayors wrote the licences?" he asked. "Where was the Junta as the concrete was being poured? Where was the Junta as the houses were being registered? Where was the Junta as the tax receipts rolled in? The Junta stood by and did nothing. Is this justice? Is this fair?"