News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Marqués de Larios to be exhumed in paternity case
Marbella man, 62, wins court order for DNA text to prove his claim as sole heir to gin magnate
By David Eade
THE BODY of the Marqués de Larios is being exhumed from his grave at the Dehesa de Los Llanos in Albacete so his DNI can be analysed. The move has been ordered to determine whether he is the father of 62-year-old José Collado - a trumpet player in Marbella.
Before Jose's mother died, she confessed to him that José Antonio Larios Franco, whose own father founded the gin dynasty, was his father. José admitted that when he heard the news he had no idea who she was talking about other than that she stressed he had been very important.
A 14-year-legal battle ensued until a magistrate of the Albacete court, María Dolores Escoto, finally ordered that the remains of the Marqués should be examined to determine whether he was José's father.
José has lived in Marbella for 25 years and his income is derived from playing the trumpet. He is known as Pepe ‘El Trompeta' and plays with the Pollinica band in the town but admits his life has been far from easy.
Free out-of-court settlements for consumers
Diputación launches campaign to inform public about its arbitration service
By Oliver McIntyre
THE DEPUTACIÓN de Málaga has launched a campaign to promote its Consumer Arbitration Service, a free process by which consumer complaints can be settled out of court with the voluntary participation of the upset customer and the business in question.
The campaign - which has the dual aim of informing consumers about the service and getting more businesses to sign up as participants in the Sistema Arbitral de Consumo - started in Cártama and Rincón de la Victoria and will move on to other towns throughout the month of May. In each town stands are set up to inform the public about the system and how it works.
"This system serves as a good mediator in [consumer] conflicts, expediting the process and reaching agreements" between the parties, said Diputación deputy Jesús Mora at the launch of the campaign last Wednesday in Cártama. The entire process has a maximum timeline of four months from the time the arbitration board is assigned.
In 2009 the service received a total of 416 complaints throughout the province, of which 81 ultimately went to arbitration. So far this year 141 complaints have been submitted, with 45 resolved in arbitration. Around a third of cases are reported directly by the affected consumer while the other two-thirds are passed along by municipal consumer offices.
Over 2,000 businesses
There are presently 2,172 businesses signed up in the system and Diputación officials say they hope to increase this by 30 per cent in the current campaign, which moves to Coín on May 24 and 25, and then Estepona on May 26 and 27, and Fuengirola from May 28 to 31.
Marbella takes action to save Artola dunes
Town hall plans to buy land to preserve nature area alongside Cabopino beach
By David Eade
AFTER BEING accused by residents and environmentalists of sitting on its hands, Marbella town hall has now moved to save the Artola dunes - an important natural eco-system adjacent to Cabopino beach.
The municipality wants to appropriate three privately held properties that form part of the Artola dune complex and is looking to the coastal authority to finance the regeneration.
Both the town hall and the authority have now signed an accord to preserve the site, which was declared a natural monument in 2003. Marbella will pay the two owners 500,000 euros and the Andalucía environment ministry will invest 1.7 million euros to restore the site to its natural setting.
The site stretches for 950 metres and is 75 metres wide. The plan is to create special walkways across the dunes, remove the roadways that have been laid down to allow vehicles to pass, replant the area and allow access to the 15th-century Torre Ladrones.
This still leaves the dunes at Barronal de la Morera facing destruction. Both the regional government and the town hall have allowed 152 homes to be built on a 50,000-square-metre dune site. However, it is hoped that the coastal strip can be protected, with the PP administration anxious to have 27 kilometres of coastline free from residential or other developments.
Street closures considered in battle against botellón
Town hall also to crack down on sale of alcohol and cigarettes to minors
By Oliver McIntyre
IN THE FACE face of continued complaints by residents and businesses in the Solymar and Puerto Marina zones, Benalmádena town hall is studying new tactics in its battle against street-drinking parties known as the ‘botellón'. Measures under consideration include night-time street closures in the affected areas and the creation of more residents-only parking zones.
Mayor Enrique Moya last week presided over a meeting of the Local Public Safety Commission, which includes representatives from the National Police, Guardia Civil, the Government Sub-delegation, and the local police. Also at the meeting were representatives of the local ACEB business association.
Mayor Moya highlighted the "effective" actions taken to date to combat the botellón, focussed principally on stepped-up police enforcement. He said nearly 1,000 citations were issued to offenders last summer, and more than 200 were issued in the first quarter of this year.
However, he also acknowledged that further action is necessary to "permanently eradicate" the botellón, saying the town hall is "studying other alternatives such as ‘green zone' [resident-only)] parking and street closures."
Gib ambulance fined for flashing wrong colour light
Elderly patient was being taken to Xanit hospital in Benalmádena
By David Eade
A ST JOHN'S ambulance racing to the Xanit hospital in Benalmádena with an elderly patient needing urgent treatment was pulled over by the Guardia Civil because it was flashing the wrong colour lights.
The emergency lights in Gibraltar are blue but the law in Spain says only orange can be used.
The situation then became almost farcical as, after the patient, nurse and ambulance crew were made to wait whilst the Civil Guard imposed a fine, it had to be reduced from 150 euros to 80 euros because that was all the money that the driver had.
Needless to say the incident caused widespread alarm and dismay on the Rock. Patients from Gibraltar are often treated in hospitals across the border in La Línea and Algeciras and further afield in Spain. It is normal for them to be transported by an ambulance from the Rock.
The Gibraltar Health Authority has ordered an enquiry into what happened. Dr Joseph Garcia, the deputy leader of Gibraltar's opposition coalition, said: "The Civil Guard in question displayed no common sense in this incident. It would have been much more sensible to have warned the driver, informed him that the law in Spain requires orange beacon lights and not blue and then allow the patient to proceed to hospital. Indeed, if the colour of the lights was so important they could even have offered to escort the ambulance to Benalmádena themselves."
King gets all clear after surprise op
Doctors confirm that growth on Juan Carlos's lung was benign
KING JUAN CARLOS was admitted to hospital at the weekend for an operation to remove a growth on his lung. The problem was identified at the end of last month during his annual medical check-up but he has now been given a clean bill of health.
The news that the 72-year-old monarch required surgery was withheld until Saturday morning after his admission to hospital had been delayed for two days to permit a meeting with US vice-president Joe Biden, who was on a two-day official visit to Madrid. The King was admitted to the Hospital Clínico in Barcelona at 7am on Saturday in preparation for the removal of what his doctors referred to as a "calcification" of his right lung. The medical team led by Laureano Molins López-Rodó took more than two hours to complete the procedure which was reported to have gone well. Queen Sofía, who arrived at the hospital while the King was in the operating theatre, told reporters that her husband enjoys "very impressive health."
After tests had been carried out on the removed tissue, Dr Molins told a press conference the good news that the lesion was benign, adding that there were "no malignant cells." He said the King had not been suffering from lung cancer and would need no further treatment.
Juan Carlos was a heavy smoker at one time although the palace has always declined to say whether or not he had given up. However, it is reported that after last month's tests revealed the growth, his doctors ordered him to stop. He was expected to leave hospital mid-week and to return to work in a fortnight or so.
Pirates on the roof cause TDT reception problems
Six of 10 antennas in Marbella installed by non-licensed workmen By David Eade
By Dave Jamieson
DIGITAL television (TDT) has arrived in Marbella but not all the homes in the town are receiving the signal loud and clear. The worst hit zones are in Las Chapas and San Pedro but curiously some residents have no problems at all whilst others have no signal.
So is it a problem with the TDT signal? Apparently not - it's all down to pirates. In the months before the switchover from analog TV many residents or owner's communities brought in companies that were not qualified or approved to install the new system. Come the switchover, they did not work and, pirates being pirates, the purchasers received no guarantee or payback.
José Manuel Muñiz, director of the Andalucía association of telecommunications installers, said: "What has been done for example in Marbella by these pirate installers is an authentic atrocity." It is estimated that six out of every 10 antennas adapted in the municipality were carried out by installers who were not licensed by the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce.
So who are the pirates? Given the economic crisis the mass switchover to the TDT system attracted many chancers. Unless consumers contracted their installations from an authorised company, the crew turning up on their doorstep could have been carpenters, electricians or even plumbers.
The situation in Marbella is not unique and the same problem, to greater or lesser extent, have been experienced in many cities, towns and villages throughout the country.