News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Ryanair loses in court again
Judge says airline cannot demand documents not specified by Spanish authorities
By Dave Jamieson
RYANAIR has lost another court case in Barcelona. A mercantile court in the city ruled last week that the airline cannot demand that passengers produce documents other than those specified in Spain's National Air Security Plan, known as the PNS.
The case against Ryanair was brought after a family on an internal flight from Barcelona to Fuerteventura were denied boarding for their three-year-old son after the airline refused to accept their Family Book as proof of identity for the child. Ryanair said that, because its business is based in the Republic of Ireland, it followed the security regulations of that country, and it had rejected the Family Book because it did not include a photograph of the child.
However, the airline's policy to demand that children under 14 should carry their own national identity card or passport to travel on Spanish domestic flights was rejected by the court as "null and abusive." The ruling says that the airline cannot demand documents in addition to those specified in the PNS.
Ryanair was ordered to pay the family a total of 1,469 euros, which includes a refund of their tickets plus 400 euros compensation for each of them.
Tax season opens with faster refund option
Taxpayers can request ‘borrador' returns online and file immediately
By Oliver McIntyre
THE 2010 income tax campaign launched on Monday as the tax office opened the period for taxpayers to solicit their ‘borrador' pre-prepared tax returns.
This year taxpayers in a hurry to file their return - and to receive any refund they may have coming - need not wait to receive their borrador in the mail. Under a new system, they can request the form online (agenciatributaria.es) or by phone (901 121 224), providing their ID number and the figure that appears in box 698 from last year's return, along with the mobile phone number where they would like to receive a text message giving them access to the borrador.
Taxpayers using the borrador may submit their approval or modifications to the form immediately, while those preparing their own returns must wait until May 3 to begin filing them.
The deadline for requesting borrador forms is June 27, while the deadline for filing returns - whether using a borrador or a self-prepared return - is June 30.
Experts urge those using the borrador to carefully review the form, which can contain errors or omissions, meaning taxpayers could be missing out on refunds or deductions, or failing to declare income they should be declaring.
Last year the tax workers' union, Gestha, reported that as many as one in three borrador forms had errors or omissions. The most common were related to home-purchase deductions; recent changes in marital status; the birth or adoption of children during the tax year; public funding received; and regional tax deductions.
EasyJet links John Lennon airport with the Rock
John and Yoko lookalikes launch the inaugural flight
By David Eade
IN 1969 John Lennon and Yoko Ono famously flew in to Gibraltar's airport for their wedding at the Rock's Registry Office. Last Wednesday their lookalikes, Alan James and Veninia Johnson, joined the easyJet flight at Liverpool's John Lennon airport to officially launch the airline's first flight from Liverpool to Gibraltar.
Waiting to greet the flight was Gibraltar's transport minister, Joe Holliday, along with the new airport's manager, Nicky Guerreo. The route will provide travellers between Liverpool and the Rock with a three-times-weekly service for as little as £27.99 (one-way, including taxes). EasyJet already offers daily services from Gibraltar to London Gatwick.
Internationally famed as the location of John and Yoko's wedding more than 40 years ago, Gibraltar has strong links with Liverpool thanks to its Beatles connection, immortalised in the lyrics of ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko' in 1969.
To celebrate the launch of the new route easyJet is offering free return flights from Liverpool to Gibraltar to five local couples who share the same wedding anniversary as the famous pair. The first five couples to provide proof that they were married on March 20 will receive complimentary return flights to the Rock.
Couples wishing to enter the ‘Ticket to Ride' competition must email a copy of their marriage certificate to [email protected] by April 30.
Beach repairs launched ahead of Semana Santa
Costa councils have complained about the poor quality of the replacement sand
By Oliver McIntyreTHE coastal authority has launched work on sand replacement and other repairs to Costa beaches, which officials say will be in "perfect condition" for the holiday period.
However, local town halls and beach businesses have complained about the poor quality of the replacement sand, harvested from riverbeds as has been the case for the last several years.
The coastal authority, part of the Environment Ministry, will perform work on around a dozen storm-damaged beaches in Casares, Marbella, Mijas, Benalmádena, Rincón de la Victoria, Vélez-Málaga and Torrox.
In some cases, including in Mijas and Benalmádena, the work will consist of redistributing and levelling the natural sand on the beaches, which was shifted during the winter storms. But in other cases - such as Torrox, where Ferrar beach was heavily damaged by storms and lost much of its sand - truckloads of new sand will be brought in.
EVEN BRITS SAY SO
Survey shows Britons rate themselves as the world's worst tourists
By Oliver McIntyre
NOT ONLY have ‘Brits abroad' been pegged as the world's worst tourists, but the designation comes largely from the British themselves in a new survey by flight search website Skyscanner.
The British topped the majority of categories including ‘not attempting to learn the local language', ‘being drunk and disorderly' and ‘not trying the local food and drink'.
The only areas where Britons were beaten were for ‘being rude', where they were topped by Russians, Germans and Americans, and ‘not tipping', where the Spanish took first prize followed by the French and Italians.
Nearly 85 per cent of the more than 1,000 votes in the survey were submitted by users of Skyscanner's UK website.
Council seeks revised home appraisals to lower IBI tax
Other town halls may follow suit if Benalmádena is successful
By Oliver McIntyre
BENALMÁDENA town hall is to request a revision of the appraised values - or cadastral values - of properties in the town, arguing that the current values are too high, meaning homeowners are paying more property tax than they should.
The cadastral values were last revised in 2005, during the property boom. The result was a dramatic increase from the previous values, which had been set 15 years earlier. Because the cadastral value is used to determine property taxes (IBI), homeowners saw a huge hike - so much so that it was decided to implement the increase gradually over a 10-year period beginning in 2006.
But despite only five years having passed - meaning just 50 per cent of the increase has been implemented - the collapse of the property market means the cadastral values are now way higher than they should be in relation to real market values.
"It is totally unfair that the central government obliges Benalmádena residents to pay excessive taxes due to erroneous cadastral values," said the town's mayor, Enrique Moya. By law, "the cadastral value must never exceed the market value" and should be "as close as possible to 50 per cent of the market value of the property," he said.
Traffic headaches on A7 due to works
Major rush hour tailbacks on the westbound carriageway are expected to continue until April 15
By Oliver McIntyre
DRIVERS are suffering major tailbacks on the westbound A7 motorway in Torremolinos due to traffic being detoured around the Palacio de Congresos exit while work is performed on the connection of the new 'hiperronda' ring road to the A7.
During rush hours this week there have been traffic jams several kilometres long on the approach to the Palacio de Congresos exit.
The detour began last Friday and is scheduled to last until April 15.
However, the impact on traffic due to the hiperronda works will continue later in the month. On the night of April 26 the eastbound exit and entrance ramps at the Palacio de Congresos exit will be shut down for a month-long closure.
Andalucía misses out on tourism recovery
Spain posts boost in foreign arrivals while Andalucía figures drop
By Oliver McIntyre
SPAIN saw a 4.5 per cent increase in the number of foreign arrivals during the first two months of this year compared with the same period in 2010, but Andalucía missed out on the bonanza, posting a drop of 2.6 per cent.
The only other region of Spain to see a decline in foreign arrivals was the Balearic Islands, according to the figures released in last week's Frontur report, the monthly tourism summary put out by the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce.
In contrast, the Canary Islands posted a steep 18.5 per cent increase, spurred in part by the diversion of tourists from destinations such as Egypt and Tunisia due to the unrest in the Arab world. It was one of the few Spanish destinations to show an increase in the number of British arrivals (up 16.5 per cent), which nationwide dropped by 5.6 per cent.
Despite the decline in British arrivals, the UK continued to be the number one source of foreign tourists in Spain, with Britons making up nearly 20 per cent of all foreign visitors, almost 1.1 million of the total of 5.5 million.
In the first two months of the year Andalucía received just over 700,000 foreign tourists, putting in third place nationwide, behind the Canary Islands (1.8 million) and Cataluña (1.2 million).
While the Frontur report does not provide results by province, data from the National Statistics Institute (INE) shows that Málaga has had a positive start to the year, at least in terms of hotel figures. The province's hotels registered 386,854 guests during January and February, up 3.9 per cent compared to the same period last year, with total overnight stays up 1.1 per cent, to 1.35 million. The increases were sharper among foreign tourists than domestic tourists.
Government orders sale of vehicles seized by police
Cars, boats and other vehicles confiscated in drug busts sit losing value
By Oliver McIntyre
THE Ministry of the Interior has issued a memorandum to law enforcement authorities across the country instructing them to expedite the auctioning off or destruction of vehicles and other depreciable property seized by police in drug busts and related operations against money-laundering.
A system is already in place for the sale of such items but the number of vehicles - including cars, boats and even aircraft - seized by police has increased significantly in recent years, resulting in a backlog of unsold vehicles, which steadily lose value or become worthless as they sit in impound yards. The ministry order does not affect other types of seized property - such as real estate, cash, bank accounts, jewellery or artworks - that hold their value or appreciate over time.
The ministry wants the stockpile of vehicles reduced and says their auctioning off or destruction need not await firm court sentences in the criminal cases they are related to.
‘El Cuco' guilty only of covering up Marta murder
The minor, the first suspect to be tried in the case, is acquitted of rape and murder
By Oliver McIntyre
JAVIER G., the 16-year-old better known as ‘El Cuco', has been absolved of murdering and raping Sevilla teenager Marta del Castillo but found guilty of helping to cover up the crime.
El Cuco, the first of the suspects to go on trial for the January 2009 murder, was sentenced by the juvenile court to two years and eleven months in a detention centre plus two years of probation.
The public prosecutor, as well as the private prosecution brought by Marta del Castillo's parents, had sought a sentence of six years in a detention centre - the maximum allowed under juvenile law - on charges of murder and rape.
Marta's parents said they received the court ruling with feelings of "pain, rage, impotence and disappointment."
The judge found that El Cuco., using his mother's car, helped Marta's confessed killer Miguel Carcaño to get rid of the body, which has never been found. They used a wheelchair to carry the body to the car from Carcaño's apartment in Sevilla's Calle León XIII.
However, the judge did not find sufficient evidence to prove El Cuco's involvement in the murder or rape of the victim. He said Carcaño's implication of El Cuco in the crime - the confessed killer at one point said the minor had participated in the rape and murder, but later changed his story, saying he killed her himself - may have been out of revenge following El Cuco having implicated Carcaño's stepbrother the day before.
Miguel Carcaño, his stepbrother Javier and two other associates alleged to have helped cover up the crime have yet to go on trial.