News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Crackdown on ‘lowball' works licencesTown hall has its own guidelines on cost of different types of work
By Oliver McIntyre
MIJAS town hall is taking new steps in its campaign to crack down on those who file works licence applications with ‘lowball' estimates of the value of the works in an attempt to pay less for the licence.
Local officials announced last week they are to begin notifying the official colleges of construction-related professionals when the town hall receives licence applications with an artificially low estimate of the cost of the work to be performed.
The town hall's planning department has its own valuation guideline for assessing the cost of different types of works - which is available for public consultation - and the department will question applications showing estimates blatantly below these values. It may request additional documentation or call the applicant in to the town hall for further explanation.
That process "slows down the concession of licenses, complicates processing and thus means that we cannot provide the customer service we would like," said the councillor for public works, Manuel Navarro.
Málaga arrests in child porn crackdownThirty-five suspects nabbed in 19 provinces in two police swoops
By Dave Jamieson
TWO people in Málaga were among several dozen suspects arrested or charged in two separate nationwide crackdowns on internet child pornography. The Guardia Civil investigations resulted in 20 arrests and 15 suspects named for charges in 19 provinces.
One investigation began in Cádiz following a complaint from a member of the public who found that a downloaded file which purported to be a music video actually contained pornographic images. Investigators traced users who had shared the file and interviewed five people, three of whom were detained. The other two, one of them reported to be a 25-year-old student of engineering at the University of Málaga, were named as suspects facing charges. During the operation, officers confiscated computer equipment reported to hold many paedophile images.
Three Kings tragedySix-year-old boy run over by float in Málaga parade
By Dave Jamieson
A SIX-YEAR-OLD boy died on Saturday afternoon during the Three Kings procession in the centre of Málaga after he was run over by one of the floats. Witnesses said he had rushed forward to collect sweets thrown from the floats when he was struck by its left front wheel and suffered severe head injuries.
The child had been watching the procession with his parents and sister on the Paseo del Parque. His father, a well-known doctor at Málaga's Institute of Forensic Medicine, immediately began resuscitation procedures, while the emergency services arrived within minutes and moved the boy into a mobile unit to continue attempts to revive him. However, the child died at the scene and his mother had to be taken to the Hospital Materno Infantil to be treated for shock.
The procession was stopped for about half an hour as police cordoned off the float involved in the incident, which was pulled by a blue 4x4 vehicle and had three axles. Town hall representatives then debated whether to cancel the remainder of the procession but, after consulting the victim's father, decided the route should be completed "for security reasons".
Two dead in apparent self-immolationsPolice investigating the incidents in Málaga city and Vélez-Málaga
By Dave Jamieson
TWO men have died in separate incidents after apparently setting themselves on fire. The first was initially hospitalised in Málaga last Wednesday and the second victim, from Vélez-Málaga, was admitted the day after, but both were transferred to the specialist burns unit at the Hospital Virgen del Rocío in Sevilla where they later died.
The first, a 57-year-old found in a street close to Málaga's Carlos Haya hospital, was initially attended to by passers-by and local taxi drivers who found him engulfed in flames shortly after 6pm. They took about five minutes to put out the fire after which the emergency services rushed him to the hospital's intensive care unit where he was reported to have suffered third-degree burns to 80 per cent of his body.
The second victim was a 63-year-old man from Caleta who was left critically injured after apparently setting fire to himself and his vehicle in Vélez-Málaga.
Partying students trash expat's villaRental for 12 people turned into huge and destructive New Year's bash
By Oliver McIntyre
BRITISH expat Valerie Williams had a New Year's nightmare when she discovered that a group of university students who rented her Mijas villa for the holiday threw a huge bash and caused major damage to the property.
Mrs Williams, a 74-year-old widow who has lived in Spain for 27 years, told how she was put in contact with the renter, a "smart, well dressed young lady," through a holiday rental company and personally met with her. The renter confirmed via email that the house would be for a maximum of 12 people.
Before the group's arrival, Mrs Williams even put up special festive decorations and left champagne and beer for the girl and her friends.
"I subsequently heard from neighbours that they had had a huge party and a lot of music until 7 in the morning," said Mrs Williams.
When she went to the house and opened the front door, she "collapsed with shock at the scene," she said.
"The villa had been trashed completely and left in a dreadful state with lots of criminal damage: broken lights, mirrors, expensive paintings smashed, tables broken, beds broken, doors smashed in, locks damaged, sick in every toilet, excrement on the floors," she told CDSN. She also found needles and cotton wool with blood, as well as more than 20 used condoms along with used tampons and discarded underwear.
Football star Isco helps raise €7,200 for disabled girlThe Málaga midfielder headlined a charity match in his hometown
By Oliver McIntyre
MÁLAGA CF star Francisco Román Alarcón Suárez - better known as Isco - headlined an event in his hometown of Benalmádena that raised 7,200 euros for Idaira, a local toddler born with spinal muscular atrophy.
More than 2,000 local people turned out for the charity football event at the El Tomillar pitch in Arroyo de la Miel two Fridays ago, reported town hall officials last week. The event was also attended by the mayor, Paloma García Gálvez and other local officials.
Málaga midfielder Isco, who last month was named winner of the 2012 Golden Boy award for the best under-21 player in Europe, joined local football mates Javi Ramos and Carlitos to lead the fundraising tournament. Also on hand were international referee Paradas Romero and radio presenter Jorge Ramos.
UK press ‘blackens' SpainCoverage questions bank bailouts and shows a ‘mistrust' of Spain
By Alex Watkins
THE English-language press offers a "negative and biased" view of Spain, while the French and Chinese outlook is positive, according to a study.
The Real Instituto Elcano analysed coverage of Spain during June and July in international media. During this time the country was constantly associated with the banking and fiscal crisis in 15 English-language newspapers.
Apart from the odd mention of the national football team or the king, the news focused on the economy and the most used words were 'banks', 'billion', 'rescue', 'bond' and 'euro'. A critical eye was cast over the role of the state and financial entities in the property boom, and the lack of political transparency - notably in relation to the bailouts of Bankia and regional governments.
While the aid for the banks was viewed positively by newspapers like France's Le Monde and the China Daily, in contrast The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Argentinean daily 'La Nación' highlighted their concern for the increase in Spain's national debt and the country's ability to sustain this.
Although the US and Argentinean media were very critical of European political and economic union, in the UK there was more emphasis on the south of Europe proving a 'drain' on the north.
Green light for train ticket hike and line closuresMedium-distance trains with low ridership to be scrapped
By David Eade
THE Ministry of Public Works last week presented to the Cabinet its proposals to close unprofitable rail lines and to hike fares. Both were given the green light.
The plan includes the closure of medium-distance lines that have low passenger figures and hence have high running costs. One such example is the connection between Puebla de Sanabria and Orense. Passenger levels run at just 2.9 per cent and it costs the State 1,242,000 euros a year to run the service. The price of a ticket is 11.10 euros so the State chips in 371 euros every time somebody travels.
The actual lines to be eliminated have yet to be identified but they will include around 30 medium-distance trajectories. The government says this will save 25 million euros this year and 51 million euros by 2015. So that the communities affected will not be cut off, it is intended that buses will replace the trains.
The review of the rail network comes as the government approved the ministry's plans to increase fares in 2013. The cost of the medium-distance and Cercanías services will increase on average by three per cent.