Costa del Sol News - 20th January 2012

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

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The figure has worsened since mid-2011

The gang made a mid-morning raid on a Unicaja branch in Málaga city

By Oliver McIntyre

ANDALUCIA´S health service (SAS) patients in Málaga province wait longer for surgery than those anywhere else in the region, according to figures released last week by the Junta's health department.

The average wait time in Málaga, based on data up to the end December 2011, is 60 days, three days more than the region-wide average and eight days more than in Córdoba, which at 52 days has the shortest wait time.

The figure for Málaga has worsened since mid-2011, the last time the data was reported, when the wait time was 54 days, which was on par with the regional average at the time.

However, even at 60 days the wait for surgery is well below the regional health service's self-imposed maximum of 180 days for most surgical procedures, explained the Junta's health chief, María Jesús Montero. For around 70 common surgeries the guidelines establish a maximum of 120 days, and within this group the average wait time in Málaga is 53 days, again the longest in the region and three days more than the region-wide average.

In all there are 12,078 patients in Málaga on surgery waiting lists as of the end of December.

Armed bank robbers nabbed hours after attack

The gang made a mid-morning raid on a Unicaja branch in Málaga city

By Dave Jamieson

NATIONAL POLICE in Málaga have arrested a number of people thought to have been responsible for a bank robbery in the city last week.

A branch of Unicaja was attacked by a masked and armed gang who got away with around 9,000 euros.

Staff and customers at the bank in the La Paz district were threatened with guns and knives in the mid-morning attack.

A member of staff returning from a meal break realised what was happening and called the police.

The first arrest was made less than an hour later when a patrol spotted an individual who matched the physical characteristics of one of the robbers, as described by witnesses.

The 40-year-old was found to have part of the cash hidden in his underwear and was in possession of a machete and a gun.

An AENA spokesman said that these figure were achieved despite the reduction of flights by Ryanair which claimed that passenger numbers in November had fallen drastically because no other airline had taken up the shortfall caused by its cancellations.

Avalanche of applicants for town hall job pool

More than 100 applications have been received in less than two weeks

By Oliver McIntyre

COÍN town hall has received such a massive response to its launch of a municipal job pool that has extended the application period to give applicants time to gather together all the necessary documentation.

Within less than two weeks of opening the registration period on January 2, the town hall received more than 100 applications to enter the job pool, which will be used to fill temporary municipal positions or fill vacancies due to illness, holidays or other reasons. The original application deadline of January 31 has been extended to February 29.

"We have extended the deadline due to the large number of people needing to be attended at various offices to request the documents necessary for admission into the job pool," said the employment councillor, Cristóbal Ortega. He said that while the town hall has no problem handing the large number of requests for documents it provides, such as 'empadronamiento' certificates, there have been back-ups reported at other agencies such as the Andalucía Employment Office or the Tax Office for the documents they issue.


Woman and toddler survive as car plummets off cliff

By Oliver McIntyre

A WOMAN and her young child survived a harrowing accident on Monday as their car ran off a cliff in Benalmádena and landed upside down about 10 metres below.

The accident happened at around 2pm at the S-curve between the Aldi supermarket and the lookout point on Avenida Retamar just to the west of the Buddhist stupa outside Benalmádena Pueblo. The road was wet at the time.

For unknown reasons, the woman lost control of her Opel Corsa and the car went up on the pavement and crashed through the wooden fence that runs along the steep drop-off.

Man faces 19 years for shooting bar owner

By Oliver McIntyre

A MAN accused of shooting to death a Torremolinos bar owner in June 2010 went on trial on Monday facing 19 years in prison if found guilty.

The 60-year-old Spaniard was arrested hours after the shooting at Cafetería Bar Hermanos Velasco II, located on Calle Salvador Allende.

According to the public prosecutor's case summary, the accused, a regular customer at the bar, was making comments about a young woman in the establishment when the bar owner, Juan Velasco, 55, to him to "leave the girl alone".

The man made a few threatening comments then left the bar, but allegedly returned a short while later with a pistol and shot the bar owner in the neck, firing a single gunshot at point-blank range.

Andalucíans called on as region's best ambassadors

Junta's new 380,000-euro tourism promotion urges locals to sell the region

By Oliver McIntyre

REGIONAL tourism chiefs are calling on Andalucíans to turn on their charm to help promote the region as a tourism destination.

In a 380,000-euro promotional campaign rolled out this week and running until February 5, the Junta de Andalucía is plugging its native sons and daughters as the region's greatest ambassadors. Under the slogan ‘El mejor anfitrión de Andalucía eres tú' (‘You are Andalucía's greatest host'), the campaign aims to tap into the storied warmth and hospitality of the region's people and also to remind them of the importance of the tourism sector to the regional economy.

"No one can sing the praises [of Andalucía] as enthusiastically as someone who lives here," said Luciano Alonso, the Junta's tourism councillor.

The campaign, inspired by the Junta's previous ‘Andalucía es tu casa' campaign of nearly four years ago, also aims to promote the region's tourism destinations as an attractive ‘staycation' option for Andalucíans themselves.The promotional blitz is to include print, television and radio ads, as well as billboards and internet advertising. Beginning on January 23 there will be a Facebook page for people to recommend places to visit and share their experiences. Those whose recommendations prove the most popular will win stays at selected Andalucían destinations.

In Andalucía, "we are all tourism," said Sr Luciano, stressing the importance of supporting an industry that represents more than 10 per cent of the regional GDP.

"This campaign invites all citizens to join in promoting the region, putting thousands of voices and faces to the image of Andalucía," he said.

54 traffic deaths over Christmas holidays

Overall 2011 road fatalities drop below 1,500 for fist time in 50 years

By Oliver McIntyre

FIFTY-FOUR people were killed in 50 fatal accidents on Spanish highways during the Christmas holiday period, according to the Traffic Department (DGT).

The figure takes in the period from 3pm on December 23 to midnight on Sunday, January 8. During the same period last year there were 58 deaths in 53 accidents.

The worst day of holiday period was Christmas day, with eight traffic deaths, while the only day that registered no road fatalities was Saturday, January 7.

Year-end figures released by the DGT last week also revealed that in 2011 the total number of road deaths on Spanish highways dropped below 1,500 for the first time in 50 years. There were 1,479 fatalities, 250 fewer than in 2010, a drop of 14.5 per cent. It marked the eighth consecutive year of declining traffic deaths.

The minister of the interior, Jorge Fernández Díaz, called the figures "magnificent" and "extraordinarily positive," but also emphasised that it is important to "not let down our guard and to continue working" to improve road safety.