News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Huge discount for OAPs
Pensioners can shop for less as Carrefour stores scrap IVA for over-65s
By Alex Watkins
THE VAT (IVA) tax on fresh food products for customers aged over 65 is to be eliminated by Carrefour.
The multi-national hypermarket chain has launched a ‘Plan 65+' card, which can be applied for and used in any of their stores, including the Carrefour Planet, Market and Express outlets.
"The objective of the initiative is to help our most vulnerable and numerous community with their house-keeping budgets," explains a statement.
The scheme began last Tuesday and the discount is applied automatically at the checkout to over 4,000 fresh products including meat, fish, bread, pastries, fruit and vegetables, cheeses and eggs.
The rate of standard IVA tax is 18% but it is reduced to 8% for most foods and further reduced to 4% on items considered of primary need including bread, milk, eggs, fruit, vegetables, cereals and cheeses.
Marbella shops see 30 per cent collapse in sales
The town hall has appointed a councillor to form an action group to help face the crisis
By David Eade
SMALL and medium-sized businesses in the traditional shopping centres of Marbella are in a state of crisis. The association that speaks for them says their turnover has been on a steady decline since 2007, but that downtrend saw a dramatic 30 per cent collapse in sales over the previous year.
With the dramatic fall in turnover will inevitably come an increase in store closures. Some indication of the decline can be judged by the words from the Apymem business association's president, José Sánchez Otero. He says the association now has 300 members compared with the previous total of 1,000.
Sánchez Otero observed that there were no financial resources to keep these businesses afloat and more are expected to close their doors this year. The car and commercial sector are the worst hit whilst the food stores are fairing less well but are carrying on.
The story in San Pedro is bleak where the five-year project to build the underpass on the route of the A7 has been a disaster for local traders.
The town hall has responded by appointing a councillor, José Eduardo Díaz, to handle the commerce portfolio and to form an action group to help them face up to this crisis. The councillor says his department will act as a thermometer to judge the true state of the sector and to work to implement formulas to improve the situation.
Oil search could damage fishing prospects
Fishermen say acustic contamination could reduce stocks by up to half
By Dave Jamieson
PROSPECTING for oil and gas off the coast of Nerja and Torrox could spell ruin for the area's fishing fleet, according to the association of fishermen at Caleta de Vélez. The group has warned that the planned search by the Canadian multinational CNWL Oil could be disastrous for the sector.
Their representative, José Luis Guerrero, explained that the problem with the plan is that the exploration process which is used launches air bubbles down onto the seabed. The noise this creates reaches a high level, he said, and this affects various marine species. Many simply leave the immediate area, resulting in fishing catches being reduced by up to half. He said this would cause "enormous damage" to the livelihoods of around 400 workers in the area who earn their livings directly from the sea.
Sr Guerrero warned that among the species at risk would be sardines, anchovies and mackerel, saying that once frightened away from an area, they are unlikely to return. He added that monkfish, sole and sea bream could also be affected.
In addition, he claimed that during the month which it will take for the prospecting to take place, the area will be closed for fishing, and he made it clear that such a period of inactivity is not acceptable to the sector.
Alhaurín el Grande mayor and councillor convicted
Juan Martín Serón and Gregorio Guerra have been sentenced to a one-year ban and a 200,000-euro fine each
By Oliver McIntyre
ALHAURÍN el Grande's mayor, Juan Martín Serón, and his town planning councillor Gregorio Guerra have each been convicted of a single bribery charge in the 'Troya' town hall corruption case.
The provincial court sentenced each of the men to a one-year ban from public office and a fine of 200,000 euros, in the ruling issued last week.
The mayor and councillor were found guilty of one count of soliciting a bribe of 122,000 euros from a developer for the concession of a licence that was in fact legal, "taking advantage of" ambiguities surrounding planning regulations in the town, found the court.
However, the court found the men not guilty on the 12 other charges of bribery brought by the public prosecutor. Besides the developer who originally reported to the police that he had been solicited for a 122,000-euro bribe, none of the other developers or builders who were named in the case testified that they had been solicited for or paid a bribe.
Part way through the trial the prosecutor dropped his charges against all 16 builders and developers who had been named in the case, as well as the two town hall staff members who had faced charges. At the same time, he reduced his charges against Sr Martín Serón and Sr Guerra and rescinded his request for jail sentences for both men, instead seeking a two million-euro fine and three-year-and-nine-month ban from public office for each of them.
By Oliver McIntyre
ELECTRIC companies in Spain have been told to pay back consumers who have been wrongly charged rent for ICP trip switches after the companies switched the customers to digital meters, which make the ICP unnecessary.
The ICP, a trip switch that limits power consumption to the level contracted by the customer, has been mandatorily installed in homes and businesses recent years, and consumers had the option to buy one or else rent one from the electric company. But the new digital meters, which are gradually replacing the tradition meters, have their own power-limiting system, meaning the ICP is redundant.
Following a complaint by consumer watchdog Facua, the National Energy Commission (CNE) stated that "in those cases where the companies simultaneously charged customers for rent of the ICP and of the new meter, the amounts charged for the ICP should be returned to the customer".
The CNE statement also refers back to a report it issued in 2009 stating that "the implementation of the new meters should be accompanied by the removal of the ICP in the customer's home because the new meter includes the power-limiting function".
Facua has now called on Endesa, Iberdrola, Gas Natural Fenosa, Hidrocantábrico and E.On to return to customers the wrongly charged rental fees for the ICP.
Security cameras to battle sex on beach
Local police have been ordered to take immediate action if they observe any sort of unseemly behaviour
By Oliver McIntyre
BENALMÁDENA town hall has installed security cameras at access points to Las Yucas beach as part of an effort to crack down on the practice of sexual activities on the beach.
Parts of Las Yucas - a series of small coves to the west of the Torrequebrada casino - have increasingly been used as a nudist beach despite not being officially designated as such, and local officials say it has become a 'cruising' site where people meet for anonymous sex.
"For years residents of the zone have been complaining about the obscene behaviour of certain people who come to the beach to engage in all sorts of sexual activity, even during the day," said the deputy mayor for Benalmádena Costa, Juan Olea. "The residents have expressed their concern given that there are small children living nearby."
CarcaÑo convicted alone for Marta del Castillo murder
Shock and anger as other three suspects are acquitted of helping hide body
By Oliver McIntyre
IN A RULING met with widespread surprise and discontent, the Sevilla provincial court last week convicted Miguel Carcaño of murdering teenager Marta del Castillo but acquitted him of rape and other charges. The court also acquitted the three other adults who had faced charges for helping to cover up the January 2009 murder and get rid of the body, which has never been found.
The court sentenced Marta's former boyfriend Carcaño, who had confessed to killing her by striking her in the head with a glass ashtray, to 20 years in prison for murder; the public prosecutor had sought 52 years for murder, rape, desecration of a corpse and moral damage to the victim's family.
The prosecutor had sought eight years in prison for Sr Carcaño's brother, Francisco Javier Delgado, and five years each for Sr Delgado's girlfriend, María García, and Sr Carcaño's friend Samuel Benítez.
The court, which in its ruling made reference to the importance of the presumption of innocence, found that there was not sufficient evidence to prove the involvement of the three alleged accomplices, or to convict Sr Carcaño of the charges other than murder.
Marta del Castillo's parents have expressed outrage at the court ruling and stated that they will file an appeal with the Supreme Court and, if necessary, with the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg.