News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
In association with
Benalmádena hospital one of quickest for surgery
Average wait time is 26 days, compared to 56 days province-wide
By Oliver McIntyre
BENALMADENA'S CHARE hospital has the second-shortest wait time for surgical procedures of any public health hospital in Andalucía. Patients wait an average of 26 days for surgery at the Benalmádena centre, which is bested only by the Sierra de Segura hospital in Jaén (24 days), and is less than half the regionwide average wait time of 54 days.
While Benalmádena hospital users enjoy speedy attention, patients on the rest of the Costa are not so lucky. Málaga province as a whole has an average surgery wait time of 56 days, two days more than the Andalucía-wide average, according to data as of June 30 that was presented this week by Junta de Andalucía health chief María Jesús Montero.
The province also lags behind the rest of the region in the time it takes to see a specialist or have diagnostic tests performed. In Málaga the average wait time to see a specialist is 43 days - four days more than the Andalucía average - while the wait for diagnostic testing is 20 days in Málaga, compared to 18 days regionwide.
Málaga province also has the second-highest number of people currently awaiting a surgical procedure, at 12,265, topped only by Sevilla's 12,627.
'Tent-gate' leads to calls for councillor's resignation
The PP party says it will take Inmaculada Pérez (PSOE) to court if she doesn't stand down
By Oliver McIntyre
CRITICS have called for the resignation of a town councillor who used an official Diputación de Málaga tent for a private wedding in Valle de Abdalajís.
The councillor, Inmaculada Pérez (PSOE), requested the use of the provincial government tent for a July 3 event for local elderly people, but that event did not happen and she used the tent for a friend's wedding on a private property that same day.
When the inappropriate private use of the public equipment came to light, the mayor of Valle de Abdaljís, Alfonso García (PSOE), sent a written statement to the Diputación saying that Councillor Pérez had committed a "grave error" and would pay the rental cost for her use of the tent.
The general secretary of the Partido Popular in the Diputación de Málaga, Francisco Salado, called for the councillor either to resign or be sacked, as did the opposition PP at Valle de Abdalajís town hall. They said that if she does not step down by the time of the next council meeting - which would be at the end of this month or in early September - they will take the case to court.
Costa boasts 13 colleges on best-schools list
Top three in Málaga province are Salliver, Colegio San José and Laude San Pedro
By Oliver McIntyre
THIRTEEN schools in Málaga province have been named on a list of Spain's 300 best private and state-subsidised schools for the 2010-11 school year, putting the Costa at the top of Andalucía and fourth in the country behind only Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. Many of the Málaga schools to make the list are British or international schools.
The annual ranking, known as the DICES guide, is put out by Infoempleo and is available for free on the company's website (www.dices.com). The 13 Costa schools named this year are the same ones that were on last year's list.
The top three schools in Málaga province, according to the guide, are Colegio Salliver in Fuengirola; Colegio San José, with locations in Marbella and Estepona; and Laude San Pedro International College in Marbella.
The other 10 to make the list, in no particular order, are Colegio Alborán, Aloha College, Colegio Las Chapas, English International College, and Swans International Primary School in Marbella; St Anthony's College in Mijas; Sunny View in Torremolinos; Colegio El Romeral and Colegio Sierra Blanca in Málaga; and Colegio Añoreta in Rincón de la Victoria.
The schools are selected based on a survey of parents, who are asked which schools they believe are the best in their province, as well as on objective criteria such as a school's academic performance, facilities, language offerings, sports programmes and other curricular or extracurricular activities.
NOW OR NEVER
Just weeks left for foreigners to reclaim capital gains overcharge on Spanish property sales
By David Eade
IF YOU sold a property in Spain between 1997 and 2006 you have just weeks left to begin the three-month process of reclaiming capital gains tax (CGT) that you were illegally charged by the Spanish government on the sale of your property.
The Spanish government imposed a capital gains tax of 35 per cent on sales by Britons and other EU residents, compared to a rate of 15 per cent paid by Spanish nationals. To date some 500 Britons are reported to have reclaimed an average of £14,980 each from the Spanish tax office. However, many others will miss out unless they make the October deadline.
This 133 per cent overpayment meant not only a profit in the region of £350 million for the Spanish government, but also contravened European Community Treaty rules on discrimination, and therefore this tax was unduly charged by Madrid.
In 2009, the European Court of Justice ruled that the tax contravened European Community Treaty rules against discrimination. Hence UK or EU citizen who sold a property in Spain between January 1, 1997, and December 31, 2006, could claim back the excess charge.
However, the ruling also stated that all claims must be settled by the end of this October. As August is considered a holiday month in Spain, sellers have just weeks left to begin the claim process, which lasts up to three months.
Mark Bodega, marketing director of currency specialists HiFX, which helped expose the tax scam, told the Financial Times: "We have been fighting for the last two years to help British people reclaim the CGT that they were illegally overcharged by the Spanish government.
"We estimate that there are still thousands of Brits who sold Spanish properties in the eligible time period who still haven't come forward. But time is running out - once the deadline passes they will never be able to reclaim this money again. We now urge anyone else who thinks they may have been affected by this to come forward."
Towns wage war on motor homes
Critics complain the caravans leave rubbish and create poor tourism image
By Dave Jamieson
MOTOR HOMES have become popular with tourists who want to cover large areas but retain all their personal comforts. However, they have brought considerable discomfort to several Costa resorts and now some town halls are on a war footing.
The subject has come to the fore again after the Granada town of Calahonda, east of Motril, blamed the loss of a Blue Flag for its beaches on a massive influx of the vehicles. Residents, who have accused them of creating a poor tourist image and blame their owners for leaving piles of rubbish, have described the situation as "insufferable." The mayor has called on the Costas department of the Environment Ministry to exercise existing legislation which prohibits parking on beaches.
However, the law permits motor homes to use the roads and to park wherever private cars are allowed to park. This causes problems, say their critics, firstly because of the size of the vehicles and secondly because their owners then erect awnings and place tables and chairs outside, which is illegal. Despite the problem, in the whole of 2009 Costas issued only 20 fines along the entire coastline of Andalucía for parking or camping on beaches.
Another mayor arrested in corruption investigation
Sr Silva was released on Monday without bail but with charges pending
By Dave Jamieson
THE mayor of Villanueva de la Concepción, Ernesto José Silva, was arrested on Friday as Guardia Civil officers searched the town hall. Sr Silva, aged 27, is believed to be suspected of involvement in real estate irregularities.
Council workers and councillors were denied access to their offices after 20 members of Seprona, the Guardia Civil's environmental division, arrived at 7.30am to carry out a search. Officers were later seen carrying boxes of documents out of the building and loading them into waiting vehicles.
Municipal architect Gabriel Liévana was also detained, as was an unnamed Málaga lawyer and a Málaga University law professor, Juan Francisco Hurtado, who has acted as an advisor to the town hall. The University's law faculty had to be closed to the public while officers searched his office before leaving with two boxes of documents. The Antequera court which ordered the operation instructed that the three detainees be held separately and without communication between them.
Consumer group empowers electricity customers
Free ‘quick claims kit' makes it easy to file suit against companies
By Oliver McIntyre
CONSUMERS who have failed to get satisfactory response from their electric company over damages incurred from electricity cuts, power surges or other problems now have a fast and easy way to file a lawsuit against the company, with no lawyer's fees or other costs.
The Spanish Confederation of Homemaker, Consumer and User Associations (CEACCU) has launched a ‘quick claims kit' that provides consumers easy-to-use template forms. After downloading the appropriate form from the group's website (www.ceaccu.org), the user simply fills in a series of blanks, attaches the appropriate documentation and files the claim with the court.
"The electricity sector is one of the industries that receives the greatest number of complaints, but the companies generally deny responsibility in the event of damage to electronic appliances, and they do not participate in consumer-arbitration programmes, so our only option is to sue," said María Huelin, one of CEACCU's lawyers and vice president of the Al Andalus consumers' association in Málaga.
The group says that while there is no guarantee that any given lawsuit will be successful, consumers' taking such action can help to "improve services for all of society."
The forms - available in Spanish and the country's regional languages but not in English - can be used for claims of up to a maximum of 900 euros.
Anger over new IVA on old phone use
July bills for services in previous months reflect new 18 per cent rate
By Oliver McIntyre
CONSUMER groups are receiving an "avalanche" of calls and complaints from people upset or confused over the application of the new IVA rate on bills for phone or utilities services provided prior to July 1, when the rate hike took effect.
Despite what consumers widely view as a raw deal, the application of the new, higher rate is valid for bills emitted on or after July 1 for continuing services such as telecommunications and utilities, explained consumer watchdog Facua.
"Facua believes that the application of the new 18 per cent IVA on telecommunications, electricity and gas, and the new eight per cent rate on water, for services provided in previous months is unjust, but lamentably is legal," said the group.
Based on the 1992 law governing the application of IVA tax (the VAT equivalent), those services that are "continuous over time" are to be charged at the IVA rate valid at the time of billing, acknowledged Facua. Further, even if the billing date is just prior to July 1, the bill could include the new IVA rate if the payment due date is on or after July 1.
Prior to the rate hike on July 1, the general IVA rate was 16 per cent and the reduced-rate was seven per cent.