News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Marbella legalises 1,000 properties
So far over five million euros has been paid into the town hall's coffers
By David Eade
SINCE THE new local development plan (PGOU) came into effect in Marbella in May 2010 a thousand properties have been legalised.
The PGOU has allowed for the legalisation of some 16,500 properties that were deemed to be on the margin of the law that were constructed during the GIL and immediate post-GIL eras. In 2011 six hundred homes plus an office complex were made legal. The latter will from January house Marbella's town planning delegation.
The councillor responsible for these matters, Pablo Moro, added that the Hotel Senator had also been made legal. However the opposition at Marbella town hall claims that the developers have not paid the three million euros fine or ceded land to the town hall for public use.
Moro says that under the process so far over five million euros has been paid into the town hall's coffers, around 6,300 square metres of land has been handed over for public use, another 3,000 square metres is destined for subsidised housing plus the office block would now be used by his department.
In 2010 the town hall legalised 400 properties including Maria Green Hills and El Palmeral, an urbanisation in Nueva Andalucía plus the residential complex of Jardines del Príncipe.
That year the council banked four million euros as well as accepting 18,000 square metres of land.
The PGOU does not permit the legalisation of some 1,500 homes that have been ordered to be demolished by the courts.
These include Banana Beach situated just 40 metres from the beach and another property in Río Real which is 20 metres from the waves.
The Partido Popular administration is determined to try and avoid any demolitions if they can be prevented.
However it concedes that residential blocks cannot be located on the shore line so their future remains in the hands of the courts. Indeed the mayor of Marbella, Ángeles Muñoz, has been ordered to appear before the High Court this year to explain her lack of action in carrying out a judicial demolition order.
Rich to pay more for rubbish collection
Alhaurín town hall last week approved a change that will see the residential rubbish rate linked to assessed home values
By Oliver McIntyre
WEALTHIER residents of Alhaurín de la Torre are to pay more for their rubbish collection after the town hall last week approved a change that will see the residential rubbish rate linked to assessed home values.
The council on Thursday approved increases to the town's water, sewer and rubbish rates, which it said was necessary to "guarantee the provision of quality basic services, maintain the necessary investment in infrastructure and compensate for the large cut in revenues from the state".
For water, the town hall says the price increase matches inflation, at around three per cent, while for the sewer and rubbish rates the structure has been changed, meaning varying increases for different ratepayers.
The mayor, Joaquín Villanova, explained that one of the principal changes is that the rates for domestic waste are to be based on the cadastral value of the home - with more expensive homes paying more - rather than on water usage as before.
Hunt continues for attackers who chopped off man's hand
Police believe the motive was a settling of accounts between drug gangs
By David Eade
THE HORRIFIC attack happened outside a pizza takeaway in Fuengirola on the night of Boxing Day but the National Police are still searching for the perpetrator or perpetrators.
A 29-year-old Argentinean was the victim of a knife or axe attack that left his left hand completely severed. He was eventually taken to the Virgen del Rocio hospital in Sevilla where specialist surgeons carried out a 14-hour operation to put back his hand.
First he was taken to the Carlos Haya in Málaga at 23.30 on the Monday night but then he was transferred to the Sevilla medical centre where four traumatologists, several plastic surgeons and two anaesthetists battled to save his hand. How successful the operation has been will be known in the coming days.
The specialised and violent crime squad of the National Police based in Fuengirola are investigating the case. It is understood that the victim worked at the Pizzeria Miramonte in Calle Fuensanta but he was on a day off. One of the first to be on the scene was a delivery boy for the pizzeria who reported there had been a row on the outside terrace.
AUSTERE NEW YEAR
New government announces spending cuts and tax hikes
By Dave Jamieson
THE new Partido Popular government has announced austerity cuts of 8.9 billion euros, and more are on the way, with promises that the savings for 2012 will total 16.5 billion euros after the budget is announced in March. The package announced last week also includes income and other tax hikes aimed at raising 6.2 billion euros in additional revenues.
The measures were approved at a cabinet meeting last Friday, after which spokesperson and deputy prime minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría warned that the budget deficit for 2011 is expected to be eight per cent of GDP, 20 billion euros more than the target of six per cent agreed with the EU by the outgoing socialist administration. The target for 2012 is 4.4 per cent.
"We are facing an extraordinary and unexpected situation, forcing us to take extraordinary and unexpected measures," added the minister, who described them as just the beginning of "a package of structural reforms".
Mariano Rajoy's cabinet has frozen the salaries of civil servants and ordered them to extend their working week from 35 to 37.5 hours. Recruitment in the public sector will be halted in all areas other than health, education, the armed forces and state security.
Every ministry within the government has to make cuts in 2012. The Public Works Ministry has come off worst with savings of 1.6 billion euros demanded, while the Foreign, Industry and Finance Ministries must each find savings of one billion. The smallest cuts are the 48 million euros at Justice and 163 million at the Interior Ministry.
Also approved was an income tax hike, with those who earn more experiencing the biggest increase. Workers earning less than 17,707 euros a year will pay 0.75 per cent more while the maximum seven per cent rise is to be applied to those earning over 300,000 euros a year. Owners of properties with "above average" value will also find that their IBI property taxes will increase.
Fire service embargoes 65 town halls
The Provincial Firefighting Consortium is owed 9.6 million euros
By Oliver McIntyre
THE provincial fire service has made good on its threat to embargo funds from town halls that have outstanding debts to the fire service.
The Provincial Firefighting Consortium, which operates under the auspices of the Diputación de Málaga, has launched the process for the provincial government to withhold part of its monthly funding for 65 town halls that have a combined debt of 9.6 million euros to the fire service. It has also requested the withholding of funds for any routine monthly payments the town halls fail to make to the fire service in the future.
Under the embargo scheme, which was approved unanimously by the consortium board last week, the town halls' current debts will be paid off over a four-year period, from 2012 till the end of 2015.
Each town hall has been notified of its exact debt to the fire service as of December 2011.
‘Green' appliance subsidies extended to hobs
Discounts of up to 145 euros on appliances and 400 euros on air-conditioners
By Oliver McIntyre
A JUNTA de Andalucía subsidy scheme that has helped consumers in the region to replace more than half a million home appliances with new, energy-efficient models is now to be extended to kitchen hobs.
The sixth edition of Plan Renove has a budget of 16 million euros to provide subsidies of 85 to 145 euros on selected appliances and up to 400 euros on air-conditioning units. The new subsidy for hobs will pay 25 per cent of the cost (up to a maximum subsidy of 85 euros) for the replacement of traditional electric or electric-ceramic hobs with full convection-heating models.
Other appliances eligible for subsidies include ovens (up to 85 euros), and refrigerators, freezers, washing machines and dishwashers (up to 145 euros each). Subsidies for air-conditioning units go as high as 400 euros.
In its first five editions Plan Renove has provided a total of 57.8 million euros in subsidies for the replacement of 560,000 appliances, achieving a savings of 136,800 megawatt-hours per year - the equivalent of the energy use of 27,000 households, says the Junta. This savings results in a reduction of 50,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, or about the same as removing 20,000 vehicles from the road.
The Junta is currently taking sign-ups from stores interested in participating in the scheme. Once the list is complete it will be posted online at www.agenciaandaluzadelaenergia.es. Last year 1,823 stores participated in programme, providing the discounts directly to consumers at the time of purchase and removing their old appliances free of charge.