News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Malaga's annual party starts tomorrow
Bars and restaurants want to ban anyone wearing sandals during the fair
By Dave Jamieson
THE CITY of Málaga's annual fair opens tomorrow night and continues for nine hot, noisy days. However, a move by the hostelry sector to ban anyone wearing sandals from city centre bars during the fair has caused some controversy.
Rafael Prados, president of association of hostelry business owners, explained that they want to bring, "a little elegance and quality to the town centre fair." He added that sandal-wearers run the risk of injury from glass or having their toes stood upon, and that bar owners would not take responsibility for such incidents.
As previously reported in CDSN, there is also a discussion underway about whether or not the fair should be moved to September.
Culture councillor Damián Caneda opened the debate last month and said he would seek the views of all interested parties, while he personally favours the change. He claims that the cooler weather of September would bring improved economic benefits to the city.
Mayor Francisco de la Torre has said that many people have expressed enthusiasm about the proposal to him.
The reason for Málaga's fair always being held in August dates back to the late 15th century when the council agreed that Málaga should mark the restoration of the city by Catholic forces with an annual event to give thanks to God for the victory. For 700 years, their community had been under the control of Arabs who had invaded Iberia but on August 19, 1487, the city was finally overthrown and the Catholic monarchs Isabel and Fernando entered the city in triumph.
The first celebration of the event took place in 1491 with a modest parade which cost the authorities 557 maravedíes, a coin of the time which was superseded by the peseta in 1848. The following year, the date was fixed by the Bishop of Málaga who decreed that, for perpetuity, the city should mark the historical events on August 19, the feast of San Luis.
The 400th anniversary in 1887 was marked with a spectacular fair which included an historical pageant re-enacting Málaga's victory, horticultural exhibitions, literary contests, a bull-fighting season, and concerts, and which became a definitive blueprint for later years. Singing, dancing, marionettes, exhibitions, sporting contests, eating and drinking, plus of course fireworks, have been essential elements of the fair every year. The other important constant is the bull-fighting season, which attracts top stars and makes Málaga an important date in Spain's annual tauromacy calendar.
New rail link to Alhaurín de la Torre proposed
By Dave Jamieson
THE MAYOR of Alhaurín de la Torre has thrown his support behind plans which may extend Málaga's local railway network to his town. It was announced last Friday that the Ministry of Public Works is considering an expansion project which would take commuter trains to the Málaga Technology Park.
Joaquín Villanova said it was excellent news for Alhaurín, the surrounding area and the province. However, he warned that the plan should be pursued so that it is not be left, "at the bottom of a drawer, as has happened with the famous coastal railway."
The Ministry said it was considering two options. The first would be a branch of the C-1 line from Málaga to Fuengirola, leaving the existing line at the airport and travelling north. It would cross the new northern ring road, to Alhaurín de la Torre, and then cross the Guadalhorce motorway en route to the technology park.
Alhaurín de la Torre has a population of around 36,000 while around 1,400 people work at the Technology Park in an area known for its traffic congestion. A local rail link taking about 15 minutes from the local rail terminus at Alameda station in the city seems attractive, but it will be up to the political party which is elected in November's general election to decide if it is a priority.
BRITS BEHAVING WELL?
Foreign Office report shows number of British citizens arrested in Spain is falling
News Staff Reporter
THE number of Britons arrested in Spain last year fell by over 13%, according to the FCO's British Behaviour Abroad report.
Arrests for drug related offences in Spain also decreased by 4.5% over the past year.
The positive downward trends for Spain are in line with an encouraging global picture for the year to March 31 2011. The number of Britons arrested overseas fell by over 10% worldwide, with drug arrests down by nearly 20%. These figures compare with a 2% drop in the number of overseas visits by Britons.
Despite the declines, Foreign Office staff still handled 5,700 arrest cases last year, of which 1,745 were in Spain. Drug arrests continue to be a significant problem in some countries, with upward trends in South America and the Caribbean, but making up less than 10% of all arrests in Spain.
Minister for Europe, David Lidington, said: "We work hard to warn British nationals about the consequences of breaking the law abroad so it is really encouraging to see the overall number of cases of arrests and drug arrests falling. But last year there were still 5,700 arrests of British nationals overseas. People are mistaken if they think the Foreign Office can get you out of jail. We can't, but we will work hard to try and ensure your safety, and that you get a fair trial."
Aside from arrests, the British Behaviour Abroad report shows that the number of Brits hospitalised in Spain increased 23% to 1,024 cases, despite fewer people from the UK travelling abroad last year.
Medical treatment abroad can be very expensive, so to avoid being faced with large bills if taken ill or after an accident, the Foreign Office strongly urges holidaymakers to take out a comprehensive travel insurance policy. Previous research suggests that 15% of Britons travel abroad uninsured, and every year some end up facing bills running to many thousands of pounds.
Scorpions cause alarm in Antequera
Residents believe the arthropods have been breeding on an abandoned plot of land
By Dave Jamieson
RESIDENTS in the La Quinta district of Antequera have been subjected to a plague of small white scorpions. Ana Belén Torreblanca, who is pregnant is amongst those to have been stung by one of the creatures.
The species of scorpion encountered cannot inflict serious injury on an adult, although a sting can be painful, but can be dangerous to youngsters under four years. The respiratory system can be affected in these children which means that they are not being allowed to play outside for the time being.
Local people believe the scorpions to have come from an area of open land which is known as a breeding ground for all sorts of bugs, and which has not been fumigated as in previous years.
The local residents association said the area had been "abandoned" by the town hall and called for a solution to the problem which is frightening people, describing it as a public danger.
The mayor of Antequera, Manuel Barón, telephoned the association during last week to assure them that he had given the order for the area to be fumigated and the matter was in the hands of Aguas del Torcal. He then visited them last Thursday, along with environment councillor, Juan Álvarez, to update them on what was being done.
Read more in the August 4 print edition of CDSN
La Linea unions block border with burning tyres
Council workers are owed around six million euros in salaries
By David Eade
IF IT WASN'T hot enough already the unions representing municipal workers in La Línea turned up the heat on the town hall still further last week when protestors placed burning tyres in the road leading to Gibraltar.
It was the second such protest in just over a week but whereas the first was by the Rocamar Hotel at the entry point to La Línea this time the flaming pyres appeared at the roundabout where vehicles turn off into the loop leading to the frontier crossing.
The town hall workers are owed around six million euros in salaries. They have not received their extra Christmas and July payments, or their monthly salaries for May and June. July's pay is now also due plus various extra remunerations.
To add insult to injury the PSOE-led administration last week paid each worker 120 euros which in most cases was snatched by the banks because of employees' debts.
The Thursday protest was ahead of a meeting of La Línea council at which PSOE mayor Gemma Araujo was to present proposals for credit loans worth 3.3 million euros for approval.
Pilot error caused Spanair disaster, says report
The accident killed 154 people when the plane crashed on take-off from Madrid airport in 2008
By Dave Jamieson
THE DEFINITIVE report on the cause of the crash of a Spanair aircraft at Madrid airport in 2008 was published last Friday.
It says that the crew was responsible for the accident which killed 154 people, but stresses its aim is to prevent future accidents, not to apportion blame.
The report concludes that the crew lost control of the MD-82 airliner shortly after take-off from Barajas airport, "because they did not configure the plane correctly," or set the flaps as they should have.
It explains that the crew did not detect the configuration error, did not note the loss-of-functionality warnings, and did not correct the situation after takeoff.
It also says that, among the accident's contributory factors, was the absence of a warning about the incorrect configuration because the aircraft's Take-Off Warning System, TOWS, was not working.
The government commission which compiled the report came to the conclusion that the crew did not operate the flaps correctly, or make a crosscheck of the position of the control lever or of the lights indicating the state of those two elements.
The report advises that changes be made to the flight manual regarding the Take-Off Warning System in MD-80 aircraft.
Since the accident, the plane's manufacturer and the Spanair have revised their procedures so that the warning alert system is now checked before every flight.
Eighteen people survived Spain's worst air disaster in 25 years on August 20, 2008. The doomed aircraft had flown in from Barcelona and after its stop in Madrid was heading for Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.
Spain to go to the polls on November 20
Opinion polls give the Partido Popular a current seven per cent lead although PSOE's Rubalcaba beats PP's Rajoy in the popularity stakes
By David Eade
SPAIN'S premier José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero caused a major surprise on Friday when he announced the general election would be held on November 20. The national poll was expected to take place in March of next year.
Zapatero will not be leading his PSOE socialist party into the elections which means in effect he will retire as prime minister once his successor has been installed.
He said his motives for changing the date were the general public interest and institutional responsibility which would enable a new government to be installed for January 1.
In the lead in the opinion polls is the opposition Partido Popular (PP) under Mariano Rajoy - his party succeeded in widespread gains in the local and regional elections held in May.
It now remains to be seen whether Rajoy can translate the opinion poll support into votes. The PP has called on its supporters not to be complacent over the favourable polls.
The former first vice president of the government and former minister of the interior, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, has been declared as Zapatero's successor; so it is his version of PSOE that will go before the electorate.
In the latest CIS opinion poll, the first since Rubalcaba was anointed as PSOE's candidate for prime minister, the PP's lead has been cut by 3.3 per cent.
That still gives the PP an over seven point lead with the centre right party on 43.1 per cent compared with PSOE's 36.
However if this trend is sustained over the coming months it will be neck and neck between Spain's two leading political parties.
There is no doubt that Zapatero and his PSOE administration has been blamed by Spaniards for the economic crisis and the huge unemployment tally.
Andalucía attracts 500,000 golf tourists
The golf market is bucking the trend of the economic crisis
By David Eade
TOURISTS attracted to Andalucía by the golf courses and sporting lifestyle totalled 427,000 in 2010. When family members, who travelled with the golfers, are added to this number this sector accounts for over half a million visitors.
The golf market seems to be bucking the trend of the economic crisis. Golfers spent 687 million euros in Andalucía which is a 2.8 per cent leap on 2009. It also accounts for 4.5 per cent of the total tourism spend in the region.
Andalucía's head of tourism, commerce and sport, Luciano Alonso, stressed the sector was in "good health" and the continuing increase in the market in 2010 guaranteed the future of the important golf related industry.
Remedios Martel, the Andalucian government delegate responsible for tourism, pointed out the high spending power of these visiting golfers. On average they spend 91.23 euros a day while on holiday which is almost 31 euros above the average outlay.
Eight out of ten golf tourists are non-residents of Spain. The majority come from the UK, Germany and the Nordic countries, but Britons and Germans account for 58 per cent of the total.
Andalucía leads the way in Spain for facilities for visiting golfers. In 2010 the region accounted for 24.2 per cent of all the golf courses in Spain - with over 100. In second place is Cataluña with just 10.4 per cent followed by Castilla y Leon on 9.2 per cent.