Costa del Sol News - 30th July 2010

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

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Ronda boasts best preserved Arab baths in Spain

14th-century Baños Árabes have just received a 280,000-euro facelift

By David Eade

ANDALUCIA'S  tourism chief, Luciano Alonso, last week inaugurated a newly upgraded section of Ronda's Baños Árabes.  The complex, dating from the 14th century, forms the best-preserved Arab baths in Spain and arguably in wider Europe, say officials.

The latest upgrade project took in the rear of the complex, which was restored at a cost of 280,000 euros, funded by the regional government's Tourism Department.  Historically this area was the public access to the baths, and the project has increased by a third the size of the area that can be visited.

Also restored is the wheel that transported water to the baths, the skin treatment area and the toilets, all of which have been included in a garden that originally dates to the 16th century.

The work was carried out under the supervision of the archaeologist Pilar Delgado. She has ensured all the work observed the original design and materials of the baths complex and included the restoration of a religious patio used for prayers.

Trilateral talks continue on Gibraltar

Caruana questioned over tensions with La Línea over checkpoints, toll roads and more

By David Eade

LAST WEDNESDAY and Thursday Gibraltar hosted a technical meeting under the Trilateral Process between the Rock, Spain and Britain. Chief Minister Peter Caruana represented Gibraltar whilst senior British and Spanish civil servants, Tim Hitchens and Luis Felipe Fernandez de la Peña, led their respective teams.

The subsequent press conference at the Rock Hotel was held solely by Mr Caruana as the other two cannot speak for their governments. The basic message was that a whole range of subjects from the environment to judicial cooperation had been discussed but the more thorny issues such as the border and Gibraltar's sovereignty over its airspace and waters were not.

All seems to be progressing well with a ministerial meeting scheduled for the end of this year, probably in Spain. When it goes ahead it will be attended by the UK's new foreign secretary, William Hague - the first time a Conservative minister has been involved in the Córdoba talks.

However, Mr Caruana was peppered with questions about the situation across the border in La Línea, where tensions with Gibraltar have arisen due to the town hall's financial problems, with municipal workers yet to be paid for last month, and a high local unemployment rate. This he insisted was a Spanish problem but added that if the town's mayor wanted to be a friend of Gibraltar, he had an odd way of showing it.


Sunderland woman accused of killing her husband in Benalmádena

By David Eade

A 48-YEAR-OLD Sunderland woman has been arrested for allegedly stabbing her husband to death in their Benalmádena home.

The incident took place at around 2am on Monday when the National Police received a call advising that a man had been stabbed at his home at the Altavista complex in the Torremuelle zone of the town.

Neighbours reported that the wife had run from the house calling for help. There was blood on the floor by the apartment door, and she said her husband was badly injured.

Police officers raced to the scene and found the naked body of her 57-year-old husband, also British, lying on the floor of the living room in a pool of blood. He had a deep knife wound in his neck. The emergency services were summoned to the house but could do nothing for the victim other than certify his death.

Later the specialised and violent crime squad went to the property along with forensic scientists. At first the wife reportedly told officers that three men had raided their apartment and stabbed her husband. However, officers dismissed this theory quickly when they found a blood-covered knife in the kitchen sink. They then arrested her for her husband's murder.

The woman, identified as M.C., was detained at the police station in Torremolinos, while the body of her husband will undergo a post-mortem to determine the exact cause of his death.

Town hall, shelters join to fight animal abandonment

Problem intensifies over summer holiday period, say officials

By Oliver McIntyre

BENALMÁDENA town hall, in collaboration with several animal shelters, last week launched a campaign against animal abandonment, a problem that intensifies during the summer months as many owners ditch their pets over the holiday period.

Joined by a number of dogs currently up for adoption, representatives of the PAD, Parque Animal and Canes animal shelters gathered on Tuesday in Benalmádena's Avenida Mare Nostrum to take their message to the public: 'No to animal abandonment' ('No al abandono de las mascotas').

"I enormously appreciate the work these three shelters are performing on the Costa del Sol; thanks to them these animals receive the health, hygienic and emotional care they need," said the town's councillor for the environment, Inmaculada Hernández. "However, during these summer months they find themselves overrun as many pet owners opt to abandon their animals when they go on holiday."

The councillor continued: "In addition to being an awfully cruel decision, we feel it is very irresponsible - pet owners must be clear that when they decide to buy or adopt a dog, it is not a toy but living being that needs a home and an owner for life, not just when it is a cute little puppy."

Campaign for Guadalhorce sewage plant launched

10 billion litres of untreated wastewater dumped into river every year, says IU

By Dave Jamieson

A CAMPAIGN for a water treatment plant in the Guadalhorce valley was launched in Pizarra last Friday.  Organisers are hoping to collect at least 10,000 signatures on a petition which will be sent to the Junta's environment department.

The push is being led by Izquierda Unida's coordinator in the area, Miguel Esteban Martín, who is also the provincial deputy responsible for sustainability.  He explained last week that the municipalities along the Río Guadalhorce release "10,000 million litres of untreated wastewater" into the river every year.  The river and water base are contaminated, he said, the aquatic ecosystem is deteriorating and populations of flora and fauna are in decline.

Sr Martín said that the Andaluíca Water Agency has warned that the Guadalhorce river is in danger of failing to reach environmental objectives set for 2015, and complained that the Junta has failed to meet European directives on sewage treatment.  "The reality is that at present nine municipalities in the Guadalhorce valley, with a total population of more than 100,000, are continuing to release untreated sewage into the river,"  he said,

The IU does not support the Water Agency's plan for a plant to serve Pizarra and Álora, which have a joint population of over 22,000, describing it as "unsustainable economically and environmentally."  The party also believes any plant should provide treated water for irrigation.

The campaign which began in Pizarra last week is scheduled to spread to other municipalities in the coming weeks.

Crime rate drops on the Costa

But Málaga is still Andalucía province with greatest number of offences

By Oliver McIntyre

THE NUMBER of reported crimes on the Costa has dropped by five per cent in the first half of the year, while police efficiency has increased, with a higher rate of resolved cases, according to official data released last week. However, Málaga continues to have a greater number of crimes reported than any other province in Andalucía.

The figures were presented by the government's delegate in Andalucía, Juan José Lòpez Garzón, during a meeting of the Andalucía Public Security Council.

In the first six months of 2010, Málaga posted a total of 47,577 crimes (based on provisional figures), compared to 50,022 during the same period in 2009, a drop of 2,445, or 4.89 per cent.  The decline was slightly less than in Andalucía as a whole, where crime was down 5.97 per cent.

After Málaga, the province with the greatest number of crimes in the first half of the year was Sevilla, at 45,628, followed at a great distance by Cádiz (28,235) and Granada (20,814).

Sr López Garzón called the statistics "satisfying," with crime dropping in all eight of the region's provinces, including in each of the capital cities.  Málaga city posted a drop of 6.15 per cent; the biggest dip was in serious crimes (‘delitos'), which were down 10.05 per cent, while petty crimes (‘faltas') dropped by 2.78 per cent.

Spain approves mobile phone use on planes

Passengers will be able to make calls and send messages from their own phones

By Oliver McIntyre

"LADIES AND gentlemen, we have reached cruising altitude - you are now free to use your mobile phones."  Such an announcement may soon become the norm on airline flights after Spain's Ministry of Industry last week enacted new rules that allow the use of mobile phones during flights, except at takeoff and landing.

The move is in accordance with an EU directive on the safe in-flight use of mobile phones.

The new rules allow airlines to install what are known as MCA (mobile communication on aircraft) devices that allow the use of regular mobile phones onboard. 

On planes equipped to provide the service, passengers will be able to use their own GSM handsets to make phone calls and send messages, with the data routed via satellite.

MCA devices ensure that the use of mobile phones does not interfere with the aircraft's equipment and systems. 

In April 2008, the European Commission introduced rules to harmonise conditions for mobile phone services on aircraft across the EU, and last year airlines in some countries began installing MCA systems on their planes and allowing in-flight mobile phone use.

"The possibility to use a mobile phone onboard an aircraft is particularly sought after by business travellers and younger passengers, said Viviane Reding, the EU's telecoms commissioner, when the first systems began to be put into use last year.  "In addition, in-flight GSM offers are an interesting business model for European companies."