Costa del Sol News - 13th August 2010

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

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Cataluña bans bullfights

Other Spanish regions are unlikely to vote in similar prohibitions in the near future

By Dave Jamieson

CATALUÑA last week became the second Spanish region to ban bullfighting. The widely anticipated result came after 68 MPs in the Barcelona parliament voted in favour of the move, with 55 against.

The debate followed the submission of a petition signed by 180,000 Catalans calling for an end to the practice and the ban will become effective on January 1, 2012.

Cataluña will then join the Canary Islands, which outlawed it in 1991, as the only two Spanish regions where bull-fighting is illegal.

Pro bullfighting groups immediately threatened to appeal the decision in the Constitutional Court while the opposition leader, Mariano Rajoy, said the Partido Popular would introduce a bill in Congress after the summer recess to protect the practice. The PP also called on the government to ask UNESCO to add bullfighting to its Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

However, hundreds of animal protection groups and environmentalists cheered the result outside the Catalonian parliament building. The Animal Rights Defence Association, which launched the petition, said it hoped other regions would now follow suit.

Mobile phone operators go from bad to worse

Consumer watchdog Facua's fourth annual survey shows the quality of the principal operators continues to decline

By Oliver McIntyre

MOBILE phone operators, which have for years been the subject of more consumer complaints than any other industry, are getting worse rather than better, according to a new survey.

Consumer watchdog Facua says its fourth annual survey on the quality of mobile phone companies shows that "the quality of the principal operators continues to decline. Users' opinions on numerous subjects are even more negative than those given in 2009."

For starters, an overwhelming 97 per cent of respondents said that authorities do little or nothing to protect consumers' rights in the face of abuses by the telecoms.

And based on the survey results, those abuses are plentiful.

Nearly half of all respondents said they had lodged a complaint with their operator's customer service department within the last six months. Of these, 57 per cent said they did not receive a satisfactory response or solution - indeed, one in three said they said the company had not even bothered to respond at all. Seventeen per cent said the company responded within one day and 11 per cent said they received a response within 48 hours.

Facua says the companies are required by law to give customers a reference number when they file a complaint - but 51 per cent of survey respondents who had made a complaint said they were given no such tracking number.

The survey, carried out among 3,778 consumers between July 15 and 28, also revealed that 76 per cent of users believed the price information provided by their operator is unclear or incorrect, while 46 per cent said their company has on at least one occasion charged them for a service or at a rate plan they did not contract - up six percentage points from last year.

Spanish unemployment reaches 13-year high

More than 4.6 million people are now registered as unemployed

By Dave Jamieson

UNEMPLOYMENT  in Spain reached a 13-year high in the second quarter of the year. The National Statistics Office said on Friday that the rate for the period from April to June was 20.09 per cent, up from 20.05 per cent in the first three months of 2010.

While the number in employment actually rose in preparation for the summer tourist season, a rise of 115,500 in the work force caused the proportion out of work to increase.

More than 4.6 million people are now registered unemployed in Spain with younger people worst hit. Some 42 per cent of 16 to 25-year-olds are without work, and in more than 1.3 million homes, every family member is out of work. The figures are the worst in the European Union while unemployment in the Eurozone has remained stable at ten per cent for the last four months.

Prime Minister Zapatero called the figures "unacceptably high" but added that the economic figures for the second quarter, due out next month, are expected to show stronger growth.

However, the IMF said on Friday that Spain's economic targets should be made more credible and lowered its Spanish growth projection for next year to 0.6 per cent, rising to 1.7 per cent in 2012.