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Costa del Sol News - 23rd March 2012

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

News Archive In association with

The Costa del Sol weekly newspaper, on sale at newsagents.


Torremolinos puts end to caravan parking at beach

Caravaners are upset and say local regulations violate their legitimate rights

By Oliver McIntyre

Torremolinos has moved to put a halt to illegal caravan camping at Los Álamos beach.

The town hall has installed metal barriers to impede the entrance of caravans to the large dirt parking zone at Los Álamos, following complaints from various groups including the opposition PSOE at the town hall. The barriers block the entrance of vehicles that exceed 2.2 metres in height.

For years caravaners have engaged in overnight camping in the zone, "breaking municipal bylaws and [ignoring] signs installed at the site, with no fear of being kicked out or ticketed," said PSOE councillor Maribel Tocón, who also cited similar problems in the Playamar area.

Caravaners are upset with the move by the town hall and say the local regulations violate the legitimate right for caravans to be parked for 72 hours like any other vehicle, regardless of whether people are staying inside them, as long as they do not set up exterior chairs, tables or awnings.

The fifth officer, who had been off active duty on a long-term sick leave, was arrested several days later.


Mijas police go on trial in drug case

The prosecutor is seeking a combined 34 years in prison for the six accused

By Oliver McIntyre

Five Mijas local police officers went on trial last week for alleged drug trafficking.

The officers were arrested in November 2009 after they seized a shipment of 175 kilos of hashish from drug-runners and then allegedly transported it in patrol cars to the home of a civilian to be stored. The civilian is on trial along with the officers.

Four of the officers were stopped and arrested by the Guardia Civil as they were allegedly in the process of transporting the drugs. A search of their patrol cars uncovered 12.6 kilos of hashish, while a search of the civilian's home turned up an additional 162 kilos of the drug, according to the public prosecutor.

The arrests were carried out by plainclothes Guardia Civil officers in broad daylight near the Miramar shopping centre, causing one shocked member of the public called the 112 emergency line to report that uniformed police were being handcuffed.

The fifth officer, who had been off active duty on a long-term sick leave, was arrested several days later.


The Brits are coming

Local tourism authorities believe London Olympics will increase Costa visitor numbers

By David Eade

IN recent years the cry in the tourist sector on the Costa del Sol has been, "the Russians are coming". Their numbers in the tourist charts have increased rapidly and Russians have been keen investors in properties here. However this summer the slogan has changed to the Brits are coming - because it seems they want to escape the Olympic Games.

Britons have always been the number one supporters of holidays on the Costa del Sol. This year their country is celebrating the Queen's Jubilee and millions of people will flock to the UK to take part in and to see the Olympic Games. To the delight of tourism chiefs here the response of many Britons has been to say they'll flee to the Costa.

Local tourism experts believe there will be a five per cent increase in the number of Britons holidaying in Málaga province this summer. Much of the credit goes to the Olympics but also to the increase in the air tax which makes other popular long haul destinations far more expensive.


FOREIGN BUYERS BACK

Increase in sales to foreigners is only bright spot for Costa homes market

By Oliver McIntyre

FOREIGN buyers are returning to the Costa property market, with 16 per cent more homes sold to foreigners in 2011 than during the previous year, according to data from the Public Works Ministry.

Further, the trend accelerated in the fourth quarter of the year, with sales to foreigners up more than 22 per cent compared to Q4 2010.

Indeed, foreign buyers were the one bright spot in what was otherwise yet another bleak year for real estate in the province, with overall sales down by 23 per cent in 2011 compared to 2010.

The upswing in sales to foreigners, combined with the drop in overall sales, meant that foreign buyers purchased nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of all homes sold in the province last year, compared to 15 per cent in 2010.

In 2007, before the property bubble burst, foreign buyers made 20.4 per cent of all home purchases.


Police detect uptick in false robbery reports

In January there were 20 cases, up 25 per cent from the same month last year

By Oliver McIntyre

 

NATIONAL Police officials in Málaga say they are seeing an increase in the number of people making false robbery reports in order to file for an insurance payout.

"Over the last three months officers at the provincial National Police headquarters in Málaga have detected an increase in the number of people arrested and charged for falsely reporting a crime," said department officials in a written statement.

They continued: "The most common case is of a person, usually without a prior police record, arriving at the station to file a complaint of a forcible robbery such as a bag-snatching, often times involving an expensive mobile phone. With a copy of the 'denuncia', they file a claim with their house insurance to receive a payout for forcible robbery." (In many cases Spanish house insurance covers such robberies outside the home.)

In a single day in January National Police officers arrested three people in Málaga city for allegedly filing false criminal complaints. During the entire month there were 20 cases, up 25 per cent from the same month last year.


Embassy ambushed over house sales

Valencia attempts to drag British government into property roadshow

 

By Dave Jones

Valencia attempts to drag British government into property roadshow

BRITISH ambassador to Spain Giles Paxman visited Valencia on Monday ‘to discuss issues that affect British nationals' with members of the regional government.

According to an Embassy press release, one of the key meetings was with Isabel Bonig Trigueros, councillor for infrastructure, planning and the environment.

 

"The ambassador and regional minister discussed the action being taken by the Valencian authorities to address the property and planning problems being experienced by a large number of British residents," noted the press release.

"The ambassador welcomed a proposal from the regional minister to set up a working group involving town halls and planning experts to work towards a solution.

"The ambassador reiterated his commitment to continue to help local councils and the Valencian regional government in addressing these issues, for example by facilitating communication with British nationals affected by property problems."


Tourism fears over €157m budget cut

Minister announces the 26% funding slash at ITB tourism fair in Berlin

By Oliver McIntyre

SPAIN'S tourism sector - one of the few bright spots in the country's poor economic results last year - received a shock last week when the minister for industry, energy and tourism made a surprise announcement that his tourism department's budget will be slashed by 157 million euros in 2012.

Speaking to reporters during the ITB tourism fair in Berlin, José Manuel Soria stated that his ministry's tourism budget will be 450 million euros, down 26 per cent from last year's 607 million euros. The cut comes as part of a reduction of 700 million euros for the ministry as a whole, he said.

"We are not going to be able to do all that we could have done with greater resources," acknowledged the minister. "But the Spanish government must do this. Tourism is not exempt from [budget] reforms. These are difficult times."

Some savings will be achieved by reducing the number of public entities under the department, said Sr Soria. This could include changes to the management structure of the state-owned Parador hotels, though a complete selloff of the loss-making network of more than 90 hotels is not possible because many of the establishments - located in historic buildings such as convents, castles and palaces - were ceded to the Tourism Ministry by public institutions, he said.


PP poised to win Andalucía elections

Polls show the centre-right party could score its first victory in the PSOE stronghold

By David Eade

THE posters are up in the streets again as the political parties in Andalucía do battle for the third time in a year. This time it is the regional parliament that is up for grabs on March 25, and as with the recent town hall and general elections the force seems to be with the Partido Popular.

Andalucía has been a PSOE fiefdom for 30 years so a PP triumph would be a major turning of the tables. Pollsters say that six out of 10 people in Andalucía expect the PP, led by Javier Arenas, to win - the question is by how much.

In October of last year, just ahead of the general election, the PP recorded its highest response with opinion pollsters since the 2008 Andalucía elections, with support of 49.4 per cent of voters. In contrast PSOE was at its lowest on 34.8 per cent.

The reduced budget - which will not be formalised until the central government passes its 2012 budget at the end of this month - will include cuts in spending on promotional activities, though the minister did not offer details on the specific amounts. He also did not quantify how much might be cut from spending on the modernisation of tourism destinations.