Costa del Sol News - 23rd July 2010

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

News Archive

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


Warning over unsafe sunglasses

More than 10 million counterfeit glasses sold by street vendors or at markets

By David Eade

IT'S THE  holiday season and hardly anybody takes to the streets or beaches without wearing a pair of sunglasses. However, according to statistics produced by the optical industry there is a serious risk that the glasses you are wearing could damage your eyes rather than offer protection.

Ramón Noguera, the director general of the Spanish Federation of Optical Industry Associations (Fedao), says many of the sunglasses being worn do not meet the safety and optical health controls expected by the wearers.

In 2008 there was a seven per cent drop in the number of sunglasses sold through opticians, which made up 50.7 of all sunglasses sold. Sr Noguera points out the majority of the other sales were from illegal street vendors or at markets, where over 11.1 million counterfeit glasses were sold to the public.

Xavier Vivas, president of the Instituto Federópticos, stressed that these glasses, which had undergone no quality control, were of questionable quality and could cause cataracts, lesions in the eye, and other serious damage including macular degeneration, one of the most common causes of blindness.

Used car Sunday market set to go weekly

The event, previously held monthly, will return in September after summer hiatus

By Oliver McIntyre

BENALMÁDENA'S used car Sunday market, launched in April as a monthly event, is set to go weekly following a summer hiatus. 

The town's commerce councillor, Concha Cifrián, announced the move last week at a press conference along with the used-car market operator, Juan Rojas. 

"With the arrival of autumn, the number of sellers and buyers will increase considerably given that in the summer months the heat and the pull of the beach mean people don't have much interest in visiting a street market on Sunday mornings," said the councillor. 

The weekly schedule will begin on September 5 and will run to the end of October as a pilot phase.  "We will study continuing with it depending on the response it receives," said Sra Cifrián.

The car market, at La Paloma park, is open to anyone interested in buying or selling a used car.  Those selling a vehicle must purchase a 10-euro ticket which allows them to display it in the exhibition area. 

The market will run each Sunday from 9am to 4pm.  Organisers arrange for a ‘gestoría' service and representatives from several insurance companies to be present so that sales between private parties can be finalised immediately.

Building boom ate up 10 million square metres of land

Provincial officials aim to ‘learn from errors' and create ‘sustainable development'

By Oliver McIntyre

THE construction boom on the Costa gobbled up 1,037 hectares - more than 10 million square metres - of agricultural and forest land in just four years, according to a study by the Diputación de Málaga.

As apartment blocks and country houses proliferated - many of them to satisfy the demand for holiday homes - Málaga province lost 545 hectares of agricultural land, 435 hectares of woodland and 57 hectares of riverside vegetation during the period from 2003 to 2007, according to the report, put out by the Diputación's Provincial Sustainability Observatory.

The biggest loss of such open space was experienced on the western Costa del Sol, where residential construction and infrastructure consumed 489 hectares.  But the phenomenon was also strongly felt in the Axarquía (157 hectares) and the Guadalhorce valley (138 hectares), and even as far inland as Antequera (120 hectares).  In the inland zones, hundreds of small farmers cashed in on the opportunity to sell off their minimally profitable land to developers eager to put up residential complexes or to individuals seeking a tranquil country idyll. 

The study also shows that there are about 20,000 square metres of building land still available in province - roughly the same amount of space as is occupied by existing construction. 

The report is aimed not merely at cataloguing the rapacious construction of the boom years, but also at identifying a better way to move forward.  "Following the huge construction hangover, we must learn from our errors and implement a sustainable development model," said the Diputación's environment delegate, Miguel Esteban Martín.  He cited the need to foment the rental sector and promote the renovation of existing residential buildings, as well as the creation of more public housing.


FCO urges holidaymakers to avoid problems by preparing themselves ahead of travel

By Dave Jamieson

BRITONS travelling abroad continue to find themselves in trouble - but many could avoid such problems simply by doing their homework before travelling, says the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

In its annual British Behaviour Abroad report, published this week, the FCO says a large number of the incidents reported by holidaymakers could have been prevented by better preparation.

It concludes that while stolen passports are the most commonly reported problem, many incidents involving drink and drugs, medical problems or the lack of insurance cover need not have arisen.  The statistics come from FCO offices worldwide and cover the 12 months to March 2010.

Spain, which received about 13.3 million UK tourists over the year, was the country where the greatest number of incidents was reported.  Over 5,000 people here called for help on a variety of issues including 179 drug-related arrests, 831 hospitalisations, 25 rapes and 20 sexual assaults.  In addition, help was given in the cases of 6,618 lost or stolen passports, almost a quarter of the total handled by UK consular offices worldwide.

The FCO recommends that two copies be made of every passport, with one given to friends or family at home and the other carried separately from the original while abroad.  If the passport is lost or stolen, the incident must be reported to a local police station and the police report taken to the nearest Consulate.  The office reminds travellers that it may take a day or two produce the replacement document and that there is a charge.


New carrousel lights up Torremolinos nights

Merry-go-round was inaugurated on Saturday night at Parque de la Batería

By Oliver McIntyre

SUMMER NIGHTS just got a little brighter at Torremolinos's Parque de la Batería, where the town hall has installed a classic-style merry-go-round, complete with music and thousands of colourful lights. It was inaugurated on Saturday night.

The latest feature in the town's flagship park is located near the children's playground, under a huge, decorative pergola erected to protect it from the elements. Installation work has been underway for months following the town hall's acquisition of the carrousel at the beginning of the year.

Officials described the merry-go-round as having a classic 1920s Italian 'belle epoch' style. It features 30 multicoloured horses, two sleds, two spinning cups and two giraffes, with a total capacity for 48 riders at a time. Hand-painted with Italian-themed scenes, the carrousel has a diameter of 11.5 metres and stands 6.5 metres high at its tallest point.

50 cents a ride

Rides on the 'tío vivo', as the merry-go-round is known in Spanish, last a little over three minutes and tickets cost 50 cents.

During the summer months - at least until the end of August - the carrousel will operate daily from 6pm to 11pm. Officials are still drawing up the operating schedule for the rest of the year and for holiday periods.

Connery: first shaken, now stirred

Investigation into ‘Goldfinger' case has led to separate tax fraud allegations

By David Eade

If BOND-STAR Sean Connery wasn't shaken by the so-called ‘Goldfinger' case against him in Marbella, his concern may be stirred with news that the court investigations in Marbella against him and his wife, Micheline, have widened.

The Scottish actor has been under investigation over the town planning licences issued over his former home called Malibú. He used the luxury home for his holidays until 1999 when the beachfront plot was sold. In 2004 and 2005 a four-storey apartment block with 72 luxury homes was built on the land bearing the same name.

The initial investigations in the Goldfinger case, in which Connery and his wife are yet to give evidence, centred around the change of use and granting of the licences to build the apartments. Although this took place in the Gil and post-Gil era after they sold up, it has yet to be determined whether they benefited financially from the future developments. Charges faced by others accused include defrauding the tax authority, obstruction, misappropriation of funds and money laundering.

Bottle-throwing neighbours run off cigarette thieves

Expat witnessed the bizarre incident from the balcony of his home

By Oliver McIntyre

RESIDENTS in Arroyo de la Miel last week ran off a pair of thieves who were robbing a local tobacconist shop, pelting the intruders with glass bottles until they fled in their vehicle.

Expat Paul Harvey saw the whole thing from the balcony of his home just above the tobacconist shop in Avenida Inmaculada Concepción.  At around 3pm on Wednesday, the Bognor Regis native heard what he at first thought was a car alarm going off in the street.  He stepped outside to take a look and saw it was the tobacconist's alarm that was sounding as thieves loaded boxes of cigarettes out the back door.

The sound of the alarm was broken by shattering glass as neighbours in an upstairs flat across the alley from the shop began hurling bottles at the thieves, who dropped a large shipping box of cigarettes onto the ground as they ran and jumped into their getaway car.

The car, a green Audi, sped off with its trunk still open as the thieves made off with the two boxes of cigarettes they had already loaded.

World Cup players' bonus is 6m-euro score for Hacienda

Players get 600,000 euros each for the victory - taxed at 43 per cent

By Oliver McIntyre

WHILE all of Spain is celebrating the country's World Cup victory, perhaps no one more so than the taxman.

For the players on Spain's national football team, bringing home the trophy meant not only bragging rights but also a 600,000-euro win bonus each - and now Hacienda is licking its chops.  Sunday's victory against the Netherlands meant a combined 13.8 million euros in bonus cheques for the 23 players on the squad, which at the 43 per cent tax rate for work performance bonuses converts to a nearly six million-euro payday for the Tax Office.

The Spain players' controversial 600,000-euro win bonus was the highest among all 32 teams that competed in the world cup (England's was £400,000, or 480,000 euros).  It was more than double the 250,000-euro bonus the Spanish players got for their victory in the Euro Cup two years ago.

Spain's Football Federation says none of the money for the player bonuses comes from public funds, but is taken from the 24.4 million euros FIFA pays in prize money to the winning country. 

Nonetheless, left-wing political groups have urged the players to renounce or donate to charity some portion of their huge payout.  Not only would the move be a gesture of solidarity in times of economic crisis - the players could also get a tax deduction of up to 25 per cent of the donation amount.

Measures include tax hike for the rich and new taxes on plastic bags and petrol

Measures include tax hike for the rich and new taxes on plastic bags and petrol

By Oliver McIntyre

ThE JUNTA de Andalucía's Cabinet last week approved a package of fiscal measures including a tax hike on the rich, a tax on single-use plastic bags, and a health-care surcharge on petrol and diesel fuel.  Along with other measures in the package, such as a new operating fee for banks that have branches in the region, the package is expected to raise an additional 1.2 billion euros in revenues for the Junta's coffers over the next three years.

The Junta's taxes minister, Carmen Martínez Aguayo, called the tax package progressive and environmentally beneficial.

The rate hike for the wealthy will see the creation of three tax brackets for people who earn more than 80,000 euros a year, with tax rates jumping by up to three points.  From January 1, 2011, the tax rate for those earning between 80,000 and 100,000 euros will rise by one point to 22.5 per cent, while those whose salary is between 100,000 and 120,000 euros will pay two points more at 23.5 per cent.  The top rate, for those earning over 120,000 euros a year, is increased by three points to 24.5 per cent.

Officials say the tax hike will affect around 22,000 taxpayers and will increase tax revenues by some 30 million euros.

The tax on plastic bags will start at five cents per bag in 2011, increasing to 10 cents a bag in 2012.  It will be levied on stores, which will have to decide weather to pass the expense on to customers.  The new tax is expected to bring in nearly 400 million euros over the next three years.

The new fuel surcharge, at 2.4 cents per litre, will take effect almost immediately after the package receives final sign-off by the regional parliament, which is expected to occur on July 21.  The money it brings in - an estimated 480 million euros over three years - will go toward healthcare costs.