News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Big turnout for San Roque's British Embassy visit
By David Eade
AS MANY Britons arrived at San Roque's Teatro Juan Luís Galiardo last Thursday for the British Embassy's Pension, Benefit & Healthcare talk the vice consul in Málaga, Dominic Jackson, was clearly delighted. He told the Costa del Sol News that he was very pleased by the positive response.
Over 80 people applied on-line for a consultation with the experts as well as dozens of others turning up on the day out of interest.
Mike and Rachel Lawrence from Torreguadiaro told CDSN: "We were surprised to find out the embassy was staging the seminar here so we have come to find out what information or help is available to us."
Information was provided on the services offered by the Consulate, how working in Spain will affect pension rights and where to apply for a European Health Insurance Card. The Pension, Benefit and Healthcare Team also provided essential information about what can be claimed in Spain, what help is available from the UK and the services that the team can offer.
Guitarist Gary Moore dies in Estepona hotel
The Irish musician, described by friends as "in good health", was on holiday on the Costa del Sol
By David Eade
GARY MOORE, former star of the Irish rock band Thin Lizzy, died while staying at the Hotel Kempinski in Estepona between Saturday night and Sunday morning. The Belfast-born guitarist was 58.
He was spending some time on holiday on the Costa del Sol. His music manager said he had no known health problems while colleagues said he was robust and healthy.
The sub-delegation of the Spanish government in Málaga said no investigation was being held into his death.
A post mortem is to be carried out to determine the exact cause of death.
When he was found there were no obvious signs of violence and unless any new information comes to light from the medical examination his body will be released to his family.
Youth arrested in Arriate teen killing
Alleged culprit, 17, socialised with same crowd as 13-year-old victim
By David Eade
The bus shelter in Arriate has featured a lot in the news of late. It is raised from the ground on a patio with other seats and if you go up some steps there is a street bar that opens in the summer months. At night, it is a spot where local youngsters hang out with their friends.
It was here on the evening of Wednesday January 19 that 13-year-old María Esther Jiménez relaxed with her mates. Amongst them was the 17-year-old youth now accused of bludgeoning her to death with a brick.
If María Esther had walked home that night she would have been at her front door in minutes. Instead she took a turn left, perhaps with the youth who legally cannot be named because he is a minor. She would have been at the swimming pool pump house where she perished minutes later.
The Guardia Civil believe they had arranged a romantic tryst. A sexual motive could be behind the crime. They have not ruled out further arrests. Whether there are any links to the two death threats she had received in a letter written by a child remains to be seen.
The Guardia Civil always maintained that the DNA tests would identify María Esther's killer and those results were known last week. At noon on Thursday February 3, two weeks after her body was found, plainclothes officers arrived at the family house of ‘El Vaquilla' in Calle Viñilla to arrest the alleged culprit.
Three tests were carried out at the scene of the murder and ‘El Vaquilla's' DNA was found at each. The Guardia Civil says the evidence linking him to the pool house and her murder is overwhelming. He was taken in a car cavalcade to the Guardia Civil HQ in Málaga. Later he appeared before a judge in the minor's court with the juvenile prosecutor asking he be held pending trial. If found guilty he faces eight years in a detention centre.
SEEKING BRITISH BUYERS
Spain to launch property road show to kick-start foreign sales
By Dave Jamieson
SPAIN is to make a direct plea to Britons and other foreigners to buy some of the country's unsold houses.
The Secretary of State for Housing promised that only responsible developers would be allowed to participate in the government's forthcoming road show.
Beatriz Corredor was talking to journalists last week about a tour of northern Europe to search for investors in Spain's property sector. She indicated that London would "probably" be her first stop, although without giving firm dates.
Companies which intend to participate in the promotional visit should, she underlined, ensure that all the properties which they intended to offer are legally secure, comply with all levels of urban legislation and are of high quality. "We are not going to go with irresponsible developers who do not have a fully guaranteed product," she added.
Disabled boy gets operation thanks to town's support
Residents raise enough money to send Joel Ortega, 13, to Germany for stem-cell procedure
By Oliver McIntyre
A 13-YEAR-OLD Benalmádena boy with cerebral palsy flew to Germany last Thursday for a stem-cell transplant procedure that could significantly improve his condition - all thanks to the support of local townspeople.
In November, with the collaboration of the town hall, supporters launched a series of events and activities to raise funds for Joel Ortega's operation. His parents could not afford the 9,000-euro cost on their own.
Ahead of Joel's departure last week, the town hall announced that sufficient funds had been raised to allow the operation to move forward.
At a press conference along with the town's councillor for solidarity, Remedios Herrera, Joel's father Marcelo expressed his "profound gratitude to all of the people who collaborated to make this operation a reality," including individuals as well as local schools that helped in the effort.
Fuming bar owners protest over smoking ban
First demonstration held in Palencia; more planned for other cities
By Oliver McIntyre
IRATE BAR and restaurant owners in Palencia last week staged the country's first protest against the new smoking ban, shuttering their establishments and marching through the city's streets.
Organiser said between 60 and 70 per cent of establishments joined in the action on Wednesday morning and nearly 500 protesters marched from the city's Plaza Mayor to the Subdelegación del Gobierno offices.
Under banners bearing slogans such as ‘No smoking means no sales' and ‘Total ban, ruinous for the sector', the protesters made their way through the city centre heckling establishments that remained open, some of which were protected by police.
The action was supported by the president of the Spanish Hostelry Federation (FEHR), José María Rubio, who joined other leaders from the sector at the head of the march and read a manifesto outside the Subdelegación building.
Sr Rubio said the sector would not stand "with its arms behind its back" as the smoking ban crippled businesses. He called on the government to immediately repeal the ban. "We in the catering trade want non-smoking spaces, but as long as smoking is legal we want smokers to be able to smoke inside establishments, without bothering non-smokers, minors or employees," he said.
Such provisions are made in almost every other country in Europe but the government chose to enact the sort of "radical prohibition seen only in Cyprus, Ireland and Britain," he continued.
Organisers said more protests would be staged by the sector in other cities, beginning this week in Cuenca and Las Palmas.
The government has until now maintained that it has seen no indication of generalised businesses losses due to the smoking ban, and that more time will be required to make "relevant evaluations."
However, industry groups say losses have already been severe. The association representing the sector in Málaga province, Aehma, estimates revenue losses of 30 to 70 per cent depending on the type of establishment. Its members have joined an Andalucía-wide effort by the industry to collect signatures against the new law.
Savings banks regroup under government threat
La Caixa and Caja Madrid announce plans to launch new banks
By Dave Jamieson
WITHIN two days last week, two of the country's savings banks announced plans to launch new high street outlets. The news followed a government warning that weaker cajas could be nationalised later in the year (CDSN last week).
Last Thursday, La Caixa announced it plans to launch a listed bank valued at 20.6 billion euros. This makes the Barcelona-based lender the first caja to list its banking business following the government announcement. The new bank, in which La Caixa will hold an 81 per cent share, is to be named CaixaBank. La Caixa added that it will move its problem loans from the property sector to its real-estate unit Servihabit.
La Caixa has already merged with another Catalan savings bank, Caja Girona, and is expected to announce further such deals but has ruled out any imminent international alliances. Last year, a series of mergers reduced the number of Spain's cajas from 45 to 17.
Then on Friday, Caja Madrid and six smaller cajas announced plans to pool their resources to create the country's biggest domestic retail bank. The group will function as a single entity but the partners, which include Bancaja, will manage the business in their own areas. It is not clear of the new Banco Financiero y de Ahorros (Financial and Savings Bank) will be listed but Caja Madrid said that, with 340 billion euros in assets, it would be the country's third-biggest bank and the first in terms of the volume of corporate and commercial banking it will handle.