News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Public hospitals owe over 10 billion euros
Suppliers say health service's delay in making payments is drowning them
By Dave Jamieson
SPAIN'S health service is very sick indeed and in need of intensive care. The debts of the various regional governments for pharmaceuticals, products and technology at their hospitals are at a record level.
The money owed to suppliers has now rocketed to 10.5 billion euros. Of that, 4.7 billion euros is for medical supplies from syringes to scanners, whilst the balance of 5.8 billion euros is on medications.
Needless to say whilst the hospitals are in dire straits the companies that supply them are in even a worse state. They say the situation is unsustainable, with an average payment date of 400 days. However in some regions such as Andalucía, Murcia and Valencia is it far worse, at around 700 days - or nearly two years. The only health authorities which are up to date with their payments are Navarra, Ceuta and Melilla.
And the level of debt continues to grow. From the end of 2010 to September 30 of this year the money owed has increased by 23 per cent.
Poop-scoop cops nab 10 dog owners in two days
Plainclothes officers surprise owners letting Fido foul the street
By Oliver McIntyre
MIJAS town is making good on its promise to crack down on dog owners who fail to clean up after the pets. Plainclothes local police officers last week issued citations to 10 dog owners in just two days.
"The administration at Mijas town hall has given specific instructions to the local police department to attempt to eradicate this type of conduct," said the town hall in a written statement. The crackdown comes "in response to mounting complaints from residents and as a means to combat the damage it poses to a tourist town to have its streets and plazas stained with animal excrement," it said.
Under local bylaws offenders can face fines of between 750 and 1,500 euros.
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 local police force currently has five officers authorised for plainclothes patrolling but town hall officials say they are awaiting permission from the government sub-delegation in Málaga to increase that number to 20.
NAKED AIRPORT SCANS
EU approves full-body scanners and says privacy issues are addressed
By Dave Jones
NAKED-image security scans have been given the thumbs up by the European Union.
MEPs voted on Monday to adopt new guidelines on using body scanners at airports.
Siim Kallas, the EU commissioner for transport, said under the rules the technology will be used with strict safeguards to protect health and fundamental rights.
"Security scanners are not a panacea but they do offer a real possibility to reinforce passenger security," he said.
Naked-image security scans were trialled at Manchester airport in 2009 and are already used in the United States.
They are seen as a more effective method of screening of passengers than metal detectors.
Under the new guidelines, EU member states and airports do not now have an obligation to deploy security scanners - but if they decide to use them, they will have to comply with the EU standards.
A spokeswoman for AENA told CDSN that no decision had yet been taken in Spain on use of the controversial devices.
"The ruling has just been published and AENA is studying it," she said.
Town hall stamps out drinking and prostitution
Benalmádena says stepped-up patrolling in nightlife zones is showing results
By Oliver McIntyre
BENALMÁDENA town hall says its stepped-up patrolling in nightlife zones has drastically reduced street drinking and prostitution, as well as fights and vandalism.
In the Solymar zone prostitution has been "totally eradicated" by the dissuasive presence of local police officers during late-night hours, said the mayor, Javier Carnero, at a press conference last week along with the local security councillor, Manuel Arroyo, and local police chief Francisco Zamora.
In September and October police issued around a dozen citations for prostitution in the zone and in recent weeks officers have observed a "complete halt" in such activity, reported the mayor.
Heavy officer presence, along with strict enforcement, has also achieved the "near disappearance" of ‘botellón' street-drinking in the zone, said officials. While officers issued 187 citations for street-drinking in recent months, they are now writing just a few each weekend - though at least part of this reduction is likely due to the change in season and weather.
Britons detained after MÁlaga fuel theft
Family gang allegedly tapped into pipeline that serves Málaga airport
By Dave Jamieson
FIVE Britons have been arrested in Málaga in connection with the theft of tens of thousands of litres of fuel. They are all believed to be from the same family and are thought to have been selling the gasoil on the black market.
An investigation opened in October when a company which distributes the fuel to various clients, including Málaga airport, noticed that the pressure in their network of pipes was lower than it should have been. The Hydrocarbon Logistics Company, based in Madrid with a pipeline network extending across much of the country, began investigating the pipe running between Arahal in Sevilla and Málaga, and a fortnight ago, made a formal denuncía to the Guardia Civil. Investigators found that the pipeline had been broken into, causing a spill, and a valve with a high pressure tap inserted to allow fuel to be siphoned off. The company estimates that the total volume stolen was around 156,700 litres.
The gang transported quantities of fuel in a van which had been fitted with a storage tank so that more than 500 litres of gasoil could be stolen and taken away at a time. Police found the vehicle at a property in the Campanillas district of Málaga
Bizarre consulate calls published by Foreign Office
By Dave Jamieson
THE British Consulate in Málaga is reported to have received an enquiry in mid-September from a woman asking where she could book a Christmas lunch, because, she explained, every restaurant she had called was already fully reserved. Another office in Spain took a call from a man who wanted to know what size shoes Prince Charles wears because he wanted to send him a pair as a gift.
These are just two examples from a list of weird requests for help received by British consular staff around the world in the last six months which have been published by the Foreign Office in London.
Other bizarre appeals for help include one from a man who rang the consulate in Sydney to ask what clothes he should pack for his holiday. A Briton in Bulgaria wanted the Consulate to sell his house for him, while a man asked a Greek Consulate for information on how to go about putting a chicken coop in his garden. Another man asked consular staff in Dubai to meet his dog on arrival at customs and help it through the customs process, while the Consulate in Florida received a complaint from a holidaymaker saying that there were ants in his holiday villa.
The Consular Affairs Minister in London, Jeremy Browne, said last week that consulate staff will always try to help where they can but added that there are limits to the support that they can provide.