Costa del Sol News - 28th October 2011

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

News Archive In association with

The Costa del Sol weekly newspaper, on sale at newsagents.

Balloon launch for parents whose babies died

The group behind the event, Era en Abril, provides a support network to help people overcome their loss

By Oliver McIntyre

TORREMOLINOS' Parque de la Batería is to be the site of an emotional event this Sunday (October 30) when parents whose babies died before, during or shortly after birth join an international balloon launch in remembrance of their lost children.

Under the slogan 'The pain of having lost you will not take away my joy of having had you', the parents will release hundreds of balloons along with fellow bereaved parents in dozens of towns in Spain and at least eight Latin American countries. It is the third edition of the annual balloon release, which in Spain will also be carried out in towns in Cantabria, Huelva, Valencia, Madrid and other regions.

"Each year hundreds of parents come together to honour the babies that they physically lost, as a way to keep alive their memory and transform the pain into something positive," says Era en Abril, the group that organises the annual event. "Hundreds of balloons fly up to the heavens in representation of the babies of more than 8,000 members around the world."

Málaga excluded from Mediterranean Rail Corridor

Project shows line running inland from Algeciras to Antequera and on to Granada

By Dave Jamieson

TREMENDOUS anger and disappointment has been expressed locally about EC plans announced last week for Spain's long-term rail infrastructure development.

It was hoped that a true Mediterranean Corridor would be planned from Algeciras along the entire Andalucían coastline and on to the north of Spain and into Europe. Instead, however, the project shows the line running inland from Algeciras to Bobadilla with a branch to Sevilla, then east to Antequera and Granada and finally down to the Almería coast, so completely by-passing Málaga and the Costa del Sol.

Málaga's mayor Francisco de la Torre claimed that the route would be more expensive to operate and hoped there would be a "swift rectification" after the plans have gone through their period of public consultation.

The president of Málaga's provincial government, Elías Bendodo, said the planned route had been received "like a jug of cold water" and called for support to change the decision which, he claimed, would harm the region. He said that central government, with the approval of the Junta de Andalucía, had "left Málaga in the gutter," adding that the province would do everything possible to correct the error.

On Monday the mayor and Sr Bendodo joined the presidents of the Málaga business confederation (CEM), Javier González de Lara Sarria, and the province's chamber of commerce, Jerónimo Pérez Casero, in signing a petition calling on the Spanish government to formally request that the EC change the route to include Málaga and the Costa del Sol.

Benalmádena launches economic recovery plan

Council to crackdown on tax cheats and increase rates and fees

By Oliver McIntyre

HEAVILY indebted Benalmádena town hall, which owes around 170 million euros to banks and suppliers, has announced a financial recovery plan including a series of measures aimed at increasing revenues, decreasing costs and providing incentives for local job creation.

To boost revenues the town hall aims to crack down on tax cheats, noting that currently only around 65 per cent of all local taxes and fees are successfully collected, leaving the town hall with an 18 million-euro shortfall. By re-launching the municipal tax inspection service, increasing collaboration with the national tax office and other measures, the town hall hopes to increase the collection rate to 75 per cent this year - increasing revenues by five million euros - and to between 85 and 90 per cent within four years.

Revenues will also be boosted by increasing local taxes and fees, which, other than the IBI property tax, ""have not been revised since 2001 or 2002," said the mayor, Javier Carnero. Rate hikes will be seen on vehicle tax and on the fees for weddings, cemetery plots and rubbish collection.


UK fugitive caught on Costa just hours after new Crimestoppers appeal

By Oliver McIntyre

RESIDENTS in Spain have been urged to be on the lookout for the 10 most-wanted British criminals thought to be on the run in this country - and one of them was arrested in Fuengirola just hours after the call went out.

UK crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers on Thursday launched a new appeal to mark the fifth anniversary of its Operation Captura scheme, which to date has seen the arrest of 47 out of 65 criminals featured in the campaign.

Half of the criminals in the latest appeal are new, while the other five are subjects already publicised in Operation Captura who are being re-issued as all five are wanted for murder, said officials from Crimestoppers and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

One of the new faces in the rogues' gallery was wanted paedophile and sex offender Dominic Stephen Powel, 48, who was arrested by the Guardia Civil in Fuengirola on Thursday shortly after Crimestoppers released its new wanted poster. He had been spotted by a Mijas resident who had seen the Operation Captura mug shots on television.

Other new faces include Simon Dutton, wanted for drug trafficking offences; Andrew Terrence Moran, who was convicted in absentia for an armed cash-in-transit robbery after he fled from court assaulting four guards in the process; and Kirk Bradley and Tony Downes, both of whom escaped from a police van in Manchester en route to a trial at Liverpool Crown Court for conspiracy to possess firearms to endanger life and other charges.

Council funding could go up in smoke

Sixty-three town halls face embargo over €8.8m debt to fire service

By Oliver McIntyre

SIXTY-THREE town halls face embargoes on their funding if they fail to pay off a combined 8.8 million-euro debt to the provincial fire service.

The Provincial Firefighting Consortium, which operates under the auspices of the Diputación de Málaga and provides fire cover to town halls that sign up for the service, last week approved a plan to exercise its right to embargo funds from the town halls that are in arrears. The plan was approved unanimously be the consortium's board.

The board cited Article 44 in the consortium's statutes, which specifically states that when a town hall signs up for the fire service it authorises the consortium to embargo money from its provincial, regional or central government funding to cover unpaid consortium fees.

However, the board also stated that ahead of exercising the embargoes it will attempt between now and the end of the year to negotiate payment plans with the town halls.

Passengers can claim damages for cancelled flights

EU Court of Justice says turned-back flights also qualify as cancelled

By Oliver McIntyre

PASSENGERS whose flights are cancelled can claim compensation for non-material damages, according to a ruling last week by the European Court of Justice.

Further, the court stated that cancelled flights refer not only to flights that never depart but also those that depart but then are forced for some reason to return to the airport of origin, requiring passengers to be transferred to different flights.

The ruling came in a case filed by three families of passengers on an Air France flight from Paris to Vigo, in Galicia. The September 25, 2008, flight left Charles de Gaulle airport on schedule but a short time later was forced to return to the airport due to technical problems with aircraft.

Some of the passengers were rebooked on flights the next day while one of the families was routed to Oporto, Portugal, from where they took a taxi to their final destination in Galicia.

The seven passengers involved in the suit claimed 250 euros each in compensation for the cancellation of their flight, plus between 300 and 650 euros each for non-material damages. The family who took the taxi also sought 170 euros for the cab fare, while one of families claimed compensation for an additional day their dog spent at the kennel and the cost of meals they ate at the airport.

OAP healthcare headache

EU must examine funding issues, states Spanish professor

By Alex Watkins

THE EUROPEAN Union urgently needs to respond to issues surrounding the mass migration of pensioners to Spain, according to a report based on Britons who have retired to the Costa Blanca.

Professor Inmaculada Hurtado at Elche's Cardenal Herrera university has examined the topics of aging, health and care since the 1970s.

She researched the lives of Britons aged 55 and over in areas including Santa Pola, Torrevieja and Elche to reach her conclusions.

Sra Hurtado claims the EU never considered free movement of its citizens would be widely taken advantage of by retirees, as it was conceived for workers.

She says politicians have mistakenly viewed this as tourism instead of migration, insisting governments must analyse and implement strategies and resources over lack of funding for healthcare.

"The EU has not organised compensation between countries well, there are loopholes in the laws and a lot of money is being wasted," she said.

She also notes publicity campaigns by various Spanish institutions are partly responsible for the wave of migration.

"Governments sell land, sun and health and people come looking for this," she assured.

One chapter of her study examines the problem of British retirees concentrated in big urbanisations forming "urban islands which make it difficult to integrate and relate with the native population".

Rajoy and Rubalcaba to go head-to-head

PP and PSOE finally agree to a televised debate ahead of general election

PP and PSOE finally agree to a televised debate ahead of general election

WITH the general election only a month away, Spain's two main parties have finally reached agreement over a televised debate between their leaders.

Talks between Elena Valenciano, the governing PSOE socialist party campaign manager, and her opposition Partido Popular counterpart, Ana Mata, have resulted in plans for a single, televised head-to-head meeting on November 7.

The question of which TV channel would transmit the confrontation has been a major sticking point. The obvious choice would have been the state broadcaster RTVE, but the Partido Popular rejected that, after accusing it in recent months of bias and favouritism towards the socialists. Instead, the PP suggested allowing the private broadcasters Antena 3 and Telecinco to broadcast the debate, but the PSOE said it could not agree to such a solution. Finally, it was agreed that Spain's Television Academy should organise and produce the programme, as it did ahead of the last general election, and numerous channels allowed to broadcast it. At current, RTVE, Antena 3 and La Sexta have all signed on to air the programme, while Telecinco says it will take a decision after further details on the format and moderators for the debate are made known.