News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Bequests boost Cudeca out of the red in 2011
The cancer hospice had previously posted five consecutive years of budget deficits since the launch of its costly inpatients unit
By Oliver McIntyre
FOR the first time in six years, Cudeca achieved a budget surplus in 2011, thanks to some major bequests and the sale of inherited properties.
The Benalmádena-based cancer hospice had posted five consecutive years of budget deficits since the launch of its costly inpatients unit, with shortfalls of 280,000 euros and 415,000 euros in 2010 and 2009, respectively.
"This is very positive news for 2011, but as bequests are difficult to predict, it leaves uncertainties regarding future the future funding situation," said Cudeca's financial director Rafael Olalla at the presentation of the 2011 results last week.
"Cudeca closed 2011 with total costs of 3.13 million and a surplus of over 500,000 euros.
"However, that surplus came as the direct result of bequest-related revenues of 1.2 million euros - 34 per cent of all income - when the average annual revenue from such gifts around 150,000 euros.
"Also at last week's presentation Cudeca presented its Golden Pin award to Joan Stock, who organises the annual Cudeca Cup golf tournament at La Cala Golf. From 1993 to 2011, the funds raised by the tournament and donations in memory of her late husband Peter have totalled 133,785 euros.
Former Alcaucín mayor detained again
Seven other people were arrested by a special Guardia Civil unit on Tuesday
By Dave Jamieson
A Former Alcaucín mayor was arrested on Tuesday morning by a special Guardia Civil unit from Madrid, supported by officers from Málaga. José Manuel Martín Alba was detained at 8am, along with at least seven other people, in connection with a continuing investigation into town planning offences.
The others detained included two employees at the offices of the provincial government in Málaga, plus a lawyer and a former worker at Alcaucín town hall. Officers also went to the Provincial Revenue Board in Málaga, situated in the Andalucía Technology Park, and took away papers and computer data for analysis.
Reports say investigators have discovered documents which have allegedly been altered to permit construction work on land which was not classified as being available for building. The police operation centres on suspected bribery, falsification of public documents, fraud, influence peddling and perverting the course of justice. Searches were carried out at a number of offices and private homes and further arrests were not ruled out.
Unions call general strike as Congress passes labour laws
By Dave Jamieson
SPAIN'S two main trade unions have called a general strike for Thursday March 29.
The CCOO and UGT unions are opposing the government's labour reforms, claiming them to be "unjust for workers, inefficient for the economy, and ineffectual for employment."
Friday's strike call came the day after the lower house of parliament approved the changes by 197 votes in favour to 142 against. The law now becomes a draft bill, though it came into effect via decree last month. Most MPs from the centre-right parties supported the Partido Popular government, while the main opposition party, the socialist PSOE, was joined by deputies from Izquierda Unida voting against.
Meanwhile, 60 demonstrations were held across Spain on Sunday in protest at the labour reforms. At one of the biggest, in Madrid, a crowd estimated at 35,000 was told that the general strike planned for March 29 would not be the end of action against the government's plans.
Murdered lawyer found in car boot
A German resident has confessed to robbing and killing the Spanish father of twoBy Dave Jamieson
A 50-YEAR-OLD German man was ordered to be held on remand without bail by a court in Torrox last Friday after the body of a missing Torremolinos lawyer was found in Málaga the previous day. Salvador Andrés Reina was reported missing by his family seven days earlier and his body was discovered in the boot of his own car which had been parked near the city's bus station.
National Police said their investigation into his disappearance had led to the arrest on Wednesday last week of a suspect who had finally admitted murdering the missing man and told officers where his body could be found. The victim was stabbed to death.
The German suspect is alleged to have befriended the lawyer with the intention of stealing from him. He was identified from CCTV recordings taken when he withdrew a total of 1,200 euros using the victim's credit cards at two cash points in Vélez-Málaga and Torre del Mar. He has lived in Spain for around 20 years but, say police, had no known address. He was also found to have a lengthy police record for robbery, theft and fraud, and is thought to have approached the lawyer to represent him in a forthcoming case.
School registration period now openParents caught cheating on application will lose all points for placement preference
By Oliver McIntyre
THE registration period for the 2012-13 school year opened last week and runs until March 31. The registration process is for children entering the public school system for the first time or changing schools.
The Junta de Andalucía's Education Department will use the same point system as last year for placement preference, and will also maintain the stiffer penalties it introduced last year for parents caught submitting false data on their children's application form in order to improve their chance of getting into their school of choice.
In most cases there are enough available places to meet demand but in those schools where there are more applications than available slots, the point system is used to select the students that will be admitted.
Gibraltar targeted over tobacco smuggling
Andorra also under scrutiny in Guardia Civil crackdown
By David Eade
IN RECENT days there have been lengthy queues leaving Gibraltar as the Guardia Civil crackdown on tobacco smugglers. It is not just cars that are being searched but also motorbikes, scooters and even bicycles and pedestrians.
Tobacconists in Andalucía say that as taxes on cigarettes rise so too does the smuggling. In only a three-year period the average tax on a packet of cigarettes has risen by one euro, while the average total price for a packet is around four euros.
The rise in cross-border smuggling as the government in Madrid hikes its taxes can be seen by the Gibraltar cigarette import figures. In 2009 the total officially imported on to the Rock was 55 million packets. In 2011 figure recorded at 120 million packets.
Some of these will have been smoked on Gibraltar but the vast majority will have been purchased by tourists and Spaniards intent on smuggling them in to Spain to be resold: this makes a sizeable profit for the trafficker while cutting the turnover of the tobacconists and the tax take of the Spanish government.
Town hall approves marijuana farm
Cannabis initiative to boost local economy draws warning from regional government
By Dave Jamieson
THE decision taken by a Tarragona town to rent out its public land for use as a marijuana farm has drawn the attention of the Cataluña government. Rasquera, 80 kilometres south west of Tarragona, with a population of under 1,000, decided to tackle recession and unemployment in an initiative which would create about 40 jobs and allow the town council to clear its debts in two years. The city council voted in a favour of allowing the Barcelona Personal Use Cannabis Association to grow the plants on seven hectares of public land in a deal worth 1.3 million euros over 24 months.
However, Cataluña's Interior Minister, Felip Puig, last week said that he would not hesitate to order police intervention if the plantations which are being planned are shown to be illegal.
Rasquera's mayor, Bernat Pellisa, said that the project would not conflict with Spain's ambiguous cannabis laws, describing it as an opportunity to bring in cash and create jobs.