Costa del Sol News - 28th January 2013

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

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

Scheme to woo foreigners fails to sell single home

€40,000 promo is a flop, says opposition PSOE at Diputación

By Oliver McIntyre

A JOINT initiative launched over a year ago by the provincial government, the Costa del Sol Tourism Board and the ACP builders and developers association in an effort to woo foreign buyers for the large stock of unsold properties in the province has failed to sell a single home.

The poor results of the Living Costa del Sol scheme were denounced last week by the opposition PSOE at the Diputación de Málaga, which said the publicly funded programme has been a failure and a waste of money.

The PSOE spokesman at the Diputación, Francisco Conejo, said some 40,000 euros has been spent on promotional trips, which he derided as an unproductive "tourism junket for [Diputación president] Elías Bendodo and the head of the Toursim Board [Arturo Bernal]".

Mijas reforestation work gets underway

Town's ‘largest ever' campaign to replant fire damage zone

By Oliver McIntyre

WORK launched last week on Mijas's recently announced 50,000-euro reforestation campaign in the local sierra, described by the town hall as the "largest in the town's history".

The work, contracted out to a specialist firm, will see the planting of thousands of trees and seeds in the Los Borbotes zone of the sierra, which was razed by a major wildfire in 1992 and never underwent reforestation work, explained officials last week.

The 25-hectare zone will be planted with 5,000 ‘piñonera' pine trees, 2,500 carob trees, 1,000 each of Holm oaks and Kermes oaks, 700 wild olives and several hundred shrubs, plus thousands of seeds of a variety of species. The project is expected to achieve a density of at least 435 trees per hectare.

Initial work has included the removal of invasive species that "altered the ecological balance of the zone to be reforested," while a specialised digging machine has been brought in to create holes for the tree planting. The machine is specially designed to manoeuvre in difficult terrain with a mechanical system that allows it to operate without crushing existing plants of interest, said officials.

‘Human chain' against Costa gas prospecting

Protest planned for this Saturday in Fuengirola

By David Eade

THERE will be a ‘human chain' protest in Fuengirola on Saturday, with people oppose the planned drilling for gas off the Costa del Sol linking their arms in solidarity.

The demonstration takes place at noon on the prom by the Chiringuito La Caracola. The protestors wish to send the Spanish government and the energy companies the message that they consider the seas off the Costa del Sol to be the property of the community and that the main industry, tourism, will be harmed by this exploration programme.

It is not just the tourist sector that is against the prospecting and the presence of drilling platforms off the coast. The fishing industry fears for its livelihood and the effects of the prospecting are fiercely opposed by environmentalists.

The protest organisers argue that the Málaga coastline, its beaches and seas are threatened by the multinational companies that want to search for hydrocarbons, ignoring the damage it will do to the economy and the environment. They believe the quality of the seas and biodiversity of the marine ecosystems are the basis of the tourism industry and necessary to sustain the fishing fleets.

Expats no longer drive under the radar

Those found to be driving with a licence not renewed as required can face fines of 200 euros

NEWS Staff Reporter

HUNDREDS of thousands of expats living in Spain now face a requirement to renew their driving licence on Spain's renewal schedule - every five or 10 years, depending on the driver's age - regardless of the expiration date on the licence issued by their home country.

The move also means foreign licence holders will no longer be immune from Spain's driving licence penalty points system.

EU directive 2006/126/EC - which also establishes credit card-style photo licences with 10-year validity periods for all member countries - came fully into effect on Saturday and allows member states to establish limited validity periods for foreign EU licences, which in some member countries have until now been issued for life or with no renewal requirement up to advanced ages ranging from 70 to 100 years.

Spain had already adapted its legislation to reflect the change but the EU directive did not take full affect until January 19, 2013.

Under the regulations EU foreign residents in Spain must renew their licence once they have been residing in the country for two years, and then under the same regimen as Spaniards: every 10 years up to age 65 and every five years thereafter.


Partido Popular rocked by under-the-table salaries accusations

By Dave Jamieson

MADRID witnessed another public demonstration on Friday as more allegations about corruption in the top level of Spanish politics began to surface. Hundreds of people gathered outside the headquarters of the ruling Partido Popular shouting "thieves" and "shame".

They had been incensed by two separate reports last week which forced the party into damage limitation mode. The first was the revelation on Wednesday that a former treasurer of the party had 22 million euros in a Swiss bank account. Luis Bárcenas resigned from the post in 2009 as an investigation opened into his alleged role in a huge fraud, and he later quit the party as well. The ongoing investigation has revealed that he had an average of 15 million euros in the Swiss account which, in 2007, peaked at just over 22 million euros. Sr Bárcenas is one of the key suspects in an investigation into kickbacks-for-contracts, known as the Gürtel scandal, in which a number of top Partido Popular officials in Madrid and Valencia are implicated. He has claimed his money came from the sale of valuable paintings and a real estate business.

On Thursday, a lawyer for Sr Bárcenes also revealed that he had taken advantage of a controversial tax amnesty, introduced by the Partido Popular last year, which allowed tax evaders to declare hidden assets and pay only a 10 per cent fine. Sr Bárcenas' lawyer said he had declared 10 million euros during the amnesty.

Then on Friday, El Mundo published a report claiming that senior members of the Partido Popular received undeclared salaries over a period of two decades. The newspaper cited "five reliable sources" confirming that Sr Bárcenas regularly distributed envelopes containing amounts between 5,000 and 15,000 euros which, it said, came from "commissions collected from construction firms, insurance companies and anonymous donations". The report claimed these sums were paid to senior party officials, on top of their salaries, over a period of around 20 years.

Estepona man gunned down as he left his home

The victim had a 'public relations' role at a Marbella nightclub

By David Eade

A 56-YEAR-OLD Moroccan-born man with French nationality was gunned down just after 9.30am on Monday as he left his home in Estepona's Atalaya Park urbanisation on his way to a gym.

The shooting took place close to a nursery school where parents were arriving to drop off their children. Passersby in the area say they heard a burst of shots fired from automatic weapons, and many of them called the 112 emergency service.

When the police arrived the victim was laying on the ground close to his car, a Mercedes. It is uncertain yet whether he left his car to shut the gate to his home or whether he was trying to escape his assassins. He had received various bullet wounds to his head and shoulder whilst seven bullets had struck the car. His wife was nearby in a state of extreme shock.

Bond villain Bardem up for second Bafta

But his critically acclaimed performance does not garner an Oscar nomination

By Oliver McIntyre

SPANISH actor Javier Bardem's portrayal of James Bond villain Raoul Silva in Skyfall has earned him a nomination for his second Bafta award.

Bardem was named last week as a candidate for best supporting actor, competing against fellow nominees Alan Arkin in Argo, Christopher Waltz in Django Unchained, Phillip Seymour Hoffman in The Master, and Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln.

The Spanish actor won the Bafta for Best Supporting Actor in 2008 for his role - also as a villain - in the Coen brothers' No Country for Old Men, a role for which he also won an Oscar. He has not been nominated for an Oscar for his Skyfall performance.

Stephen Spielberg's Lincoln scored the most Bafta nominations, with 10, followed closely by Tom Hooper's adaptation of Les Miserables and Ang Lee's Life of Pi, with nine each. All three are in the running for best picture, along with Ben Affleck's Iran hostage crisis thriller Argo and Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty, about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

Best actor nods went to Daniel Day Lewis for his portrayal of the US president in Lincoln, Ben Affleck for Argo, Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook, Hugh Jackson for Les Miserables and Joaquin Phoenix for The Master.

Heads roll following Halloween tragedy

Madrid deputy mayor forced to resign over music fest deaths

By Dave Jamieson

MADRID'S deputy mayor lost his job last week in the wake of the Halloween tragedy in the city which claimed the lives of five young women. Miguel Ángel Villanueva was relieved of his position as the city's ‘number two' when the Partido Popular mayor, Ana Botella, reshuffled her team. Also, the city's security chief was demoted by one level in the reorganisation.

On the night of October 31, a large-scale Halloween party at the Madrid Arena turned to panic when someone ignited a firework or flare inside the auditorium. A crowd stampeded for the exits and five people were crushed to death. Three, aged between 18 and 20, died on the night of the incident and two others aged 17 and 20, died later in hospital from their injuries.

Since then, the organisers have been accused of allowing far more people into the venue than it is legally permitted to hold and Miguel Ángel Flores, the owner of the company which promoted the event, has had his passport confiscated after prosecutors considered him to be a flight risk.

Sr Villanueva told a press conference that he had resigned his position and said he hoped that his move "contributes to providing some much-needed serenity in a moment such as this". He add that he has a "clear conscience," following allegations of links between him and Miguel Ángel Flores. He has previously denied any undue dealings with Flores' company, Diviertt, and said he was not responsible for its role in the party.