News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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New traffic rules favour two-wheeled travellers
The changes will permit motorcyclists and bicycle riders to zigzag between stationary traffic
By Dave Jamieson
MOTORCLYCLISTS may soon be legally permitted to overtake stationary traffic at an intersection and travel on the hard shoulder of a motorway if vehicles are at a standstill.
The two proposals are amongst a raft of changes to traffic regulations which is awaiting approval by whichever government takes control following Sunday's general election. Amendments to the Reglamento General de Circulación, the Spanish Highway Code, have been drafted to legalise practices which are already commonplace.
The changes will permit motorcyclists and bicycle riders to zigzag between stationary traffic approaching traffic lights to reach the front of the line.
So-called advanced stop lines for two-wheeled traffic are already being painted at junctions in some cities. Motorcyclists on the country's motorways will be able to use the hard shoulder to by-pass congested traffic but will have to observe a maximum speed of 30 kilometres per hour and "exercise extreme caution," says Tráfico.
Green light for Mijas recreational port
By David Eade
IT IS election time so all promises of projects have to be taken with a large pinch of salt. In this case its sea salt as the Andalucía port authority (EPPA) has given the green light for the construction of a recreational port in Mijas but many say in these times of economic crisis there simply isn't the funding to make it a reality.
The port project is included in the local development plan (PGOU) for Mijas and is to be located at El Charcón beach which is close to La Cala. In August it received environmental approval and now has the go ahead from the EPPA.
The town hall will shortly issue the tender for an economic viability study to be carried out. The EPPA has undertaken to finance all the technical and economic studies required by law.
The PGOU also has to be modified to comply with the POT requirements for the port project which will include the environmental impact study amongst other documents.
It is understood three business groups may be willing to put their money on the table to develop such a port.
Used car sales down in Andalucía
Málaga is second only to Córdoba as the most expensive province for used vehicles
By Dave Jamieson
THE AVERAGE price of a second-hand car in Andalucía last month was just over 11,000 euros, 4.4 per cent less than in October 2010, according to the monthly barometer of the used car market coches.net.
However, compared to September, the average price increased by 0.97 per cent.
The average price in the province of Málaga was just over 11,300 euros placing it second only to Córdoba as the most expensive province for used vehicles.
The website says that, in Andalucía, the average price of used car sits 3.1 per cent below the national figure.
It adds that the average national price has enjoyed a four-month upward trend, with a steady increase in demand for used vehicles from those people who see this option the best alternative to buying a new car. The used vehicle market is behaving in sharp contrast to the market for new cars which plunged 6.7 per cent in October to levels not seen since 1993.
According to coches.net, the average age of a second-hand car sold in Andalucía is just over seven years while 40 per cent have more than 100,000 kilometres on the clock.
Seprona officers questioned in Parque Animal case
Animal sanctuary caused unnecessary suffering, says protection group
By Dave Jamieson
OFFICERS from the Guardia Civil's environmental arm, Seprona, have told a judge that staff at Parque Animal in Torremolinos put down healthy animals in a way which caused them suffering.
At a press conference last Thursday, the non-profit animal protection group El Refugio outlined developments in the case which they brought against Parque Animal which was established in 1996 to help abandoned animals.
El Refugio's president Nacho Paunero said the officers had established that 2,183 animals had been put down in a little over a year and a half, which it is claimed is two and half times the total permitted by law. Moreover, the animals were killed without controls or veterinary supervision, and drugs were used incorrectly causing the animals unnecessary suffering. It is also alleged that some animals were put into freezers whilst still alive, and that drugs used during 2010 had not been prescribed by any qualified practitioner.
The court heard that Seprona found that huge quantities of a drug used to put down animals had been acquired by Parque Animal and asked the Málaga College of Veterinarians to estimate how many could have been killed using it.
The judgement was based on an average weight and a dose of ten millilitres.
TAX CHEATS TARGETED
Rich expats face investigation by UK treasury officials
By Dave Jones
WEALTHY UK-based tax cheats with overseas property are being targeted by a new 200-strong team of investigators and specialists.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) announced that the newly-formed team started work this month.
Experts will use 'new and innovative risk assessment techniques' to identify areas where wealthy individuals are avoiding and evading taxe"One of the first groups being targeted is wealthy individuals who own land and property abroad," notes the HMRC.
"Sophisticated data mining techniques have been applied to publicly available information to identify individuals who own property abroad."
HMRC risk assessment tools are then being used to highlight those people who do not appear able legitimately to afford the property, as well as those who do not appear to be declaring the correct income and gains from the property, they state.
MÁlaga police drugs store targeted by thieves
The street value of the stolen drugs is estimated at around 10 million euros
By Dave Jamieson
POLICE in Málaga are investigating a theft of hundreds of kilos of confiscated drugs from a warehouse in the port area where they are stored, awaiting destruction.
The thieves raided the store over the weekend and their action went undiscovered until early on Monday when security staff discovered the entrance had been forced open.
The investigation is being handled by the National Police who have brought in drugs, robberies and forensic experts.
They believe the raid was carried out by professionals who managed to disable surveillance cameras and alarms. Once inside the warehouse, they broke into vaults where the drugs are stored by using a thermal lance to bore a hole in the wall. Such apparatus works at temperatures of up to 4,000 degrees centigrade and can break through steel.
They then helped themselves to the contents and are believed to have taken a substantial quantity of cocaine, plus some heroin.
ETA trial re-do after judge calls defendants 'bastards'
Judge's aside to a colleague was picked up by an open microphone
By Oliver McIntyre
A TRIAL of four alleged ETA members for the murder of a town councillor had to be restarted with a new judge last week after the judge initially presiding over the trial was overheard in court calling the defendants "bastards".
It was during the first day of the trial last Wednesday that the aside by High Court judge Ángela Murilla was picked up by an open microphone. The court had just heard testimony from the widow of slain Navarra councillor José Javier Múgica when the judge leaned over and commented to a colleague, "Poor woman, poor woman. And on top of it the bastards laugh!"
She was referencing the indifferent attitude of the defendants, ex-ETA military boss Javier García Gaztelu (aka 'Txapote') and three other members of ETA's so-called Comando Argala.
At the following day's court session the judge announced her decision to step down from the case on the grounds that her impartiality could be brought into question and thus affect the trial. It was the first time this has ever occurred during a High Court trial in progress.
Judge Murilla stated that while she felt her "unfortunate" comment did not affect her "subjective impartiality," it could be damaging to "the trial, the people involved, the defendants and the victims" if she continued on as judge.
Prenatal surgery spina bifida baby will walk
Doctors applied patch over the spinal opening while foetus was in womb
By Oliver McIntyre
DOCTORS in Barcelona last week announced the successful birth of a baby that underwent a surgical procedure while still a foetus in its mother's uterus after being diagnosed with spina bifida.
Baby Esther, born on May 22 via caesarean section, is reportedly progressing well and doctors expect her to be able to lead a "practically normal life". They say she will be able to walk and will suffer "little or no" impact on her neurological development.
Spina bifida is a congenital developmental disorder in which the embryonic neural tube fails to close completely and some vertebrae in the spine remain un-fused and open. It affects about one in 1,000 births in Spain and has an average worldwide incidence of one to two cases per 1,000 births.
The doctors at Barcelona's Valle de Hebrón hospital used a pioneering patch made of collagen and elastin, an elastic protein found in connective tissue, to cover the opening in the foetus's back. The patch, fixed with an adhesive, eventually fuses with and becomes incorporated into the body's own skin. The technique had been employed twice in Italy by the same medical team but this was the first time it was performed in a Spanish hospital.