News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Royal Gibraltar Regiment soldiers receive medalsReporter Nikki Luxford spoke to Sarah Gregory about her son's achievement
By Nikki Luxford
MEDALS were presented to eight members of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment on January 10, and one of those receiving his Operational Service medal was Private Callum Gregory.
Callum was brought up in Calpe, Alicante, from the age of two, living with his mother Sarah and father Sean and two brothers and sister. He attended a local school and played football for the town too, before joining the British Army in 2010.
Part of the Royal Anglian Regiment, Callum was transferred to the Gibraltar regiment after completing his six months training as he is fluent in Spanish. The Gibraltar Regiment does not get called up for duty as their main role is to protect Gibraltar yet members can volunteer themselves for service, and earlier on in 2012, he and seven others were selected as volunteers for attachment to the Royal Anglian First Battalion - the Vikings - on deployment to Afghanistan.
Mercadona chief sets up fund for entrepreneursFifteen projects will be selected to receive 200,000 euros this year
By David Eade
THE president and founder of the Mercadona supermarket chain, Juan Roig, has stepped in to launch a scheme to help entrepreneurs fund projects that are sustainable and innovative.
The ‘Lanzadera' programme will invest three million euros via Alquería Capital, which will finance a maximum of 15 projects this financial year.
Those chosen can receive up to 200,000 euros in finance to develop their idea. Sr Roig explained the purpose was to make it possible for these innovators to have a secure source of funding and not be reliant on the banks.
Costa maintains visitor numbers but loses revenuesForeigners save tourism year as domestic arrivals tumble
By Oliver McIntyre
MÁLAGA province attracted the same number of tourists last year as in 2011, but they stayed less time and spent less money, according to figures presented by the Costa del Sol Tourism Board last week.
Málaga welcomed 9.15 million tourists last year, up a slight 0.1 per cent from 2011, but brought in three per cent less revenue, at 6.52 billion euros (down 200 million from the previous year).
In terms of visitor numbers, a solid increase in foreign arrivals made up for a decline in domestic tourists. The province was visited by 5.5 million foreign travellers, up 3.1 per cent compared to 2011. In contrast, the number of Spanish tourists fell by four per cent, to 3.6 million.
Domestic tourists not only arrived in smaller numbers but also spent less, with an average trip budget of 524 euros, compared to 572 euros in 2011. Overall they spent 1.89 billion euros in 2012, down from 2.17 billion euros the year before. Foreign tourists spent a total of 4.63 billon euros (pending final December figures), up from 4.55 billion euros en 2011.
DiputaciÓn challenges coastal protection lawThe building ban is in place while the Junta develops and approves its future Coastal Corridor Protection Plan
By Oliver McIntyre
THE Diputación de Málaga, the equivalent of a provincial council, is to file a constitutional challenge against the coastal protection law passed last November by the Junta de Andalucía, which temporarily halted all planned construction projects within half a kilometre of the shoreline in 11 Málaga towns.
The ruling Partido Popular at the Diputación last week approved the motion to file an appeal to the Constitutional Court against Articles 2 and 3 of Decreto Ley 5/2012, on the basis that the law is an attack on the autonomy of local town halls and does not meet the 'extraordinary and urgent necessity' requirement for the Junta to pass laws by decree.
Among other things the law establishes a temporary freeze - lasting up to two years - on building projects within 500 metres of the shoreline in towns that have not brought their local development plans (PGOUs) into compliance with the 2006 POTA regional planning ordinance.
Coín road protesters to file criminal suitGroup says the failure of the Junta to complete the long-delayed road poses a danger to drivers
By Oliver McIntyre
A PROTEST group that has been fighting for the completion of the long-delayed new link between Coín and the A357 motorway has announced it is to file a criminal suit over the Junta de Andalucía's failure to conclude the works.
Work on the new 5.4-kilometre road from Coín's Venta Platero roundabout to the A357 at Casapalma is more than 80 per cent complete but has been stalled out for around two years due to lack of funding.
At a meeting last week the group decided to file a criminal suit against "those politically responsible for the Junta de Andalucía's Public Works Department for breach of duty by failure to act". It says the failure of the Junta to complete the long-delayed road poses a danger to drivers forced to use the currently "deficient" Venta Platero junction and the Coín-Cártama road, "considered one of the most dangerous in Andalucía". That road and the roundabout have been the site of "many accidents, some of them serious," said the group in a written statement.
ARSON ATTACKFire completely gutted van outside owners' home in Torrox Costa
By Dave Jamieson
ANOTHER vehicle has been burned out, apparently deliberately, but this time in Torrox Costa. The fire early last Thursday follows a string of such incidents in recent weeks in Nerja.
The diesel Ford Tourneo Connect van was parked outside its owners' home and was reported to the emergency services at about 6.20am. However, by the time fire crews arrived it was completely gutted.
The owners told CDSN that they had made the classic mistake of leaving all the vehicle's papers inside the car and then realising that they had all gone up in smoke. All papers should be kept at home, they say, with only notarised copies carried in the vehicle. They would like to hear from anyone who has information about the incident on 952 525 971.
Mijas to regularise 80% of illegal homesThe remainder will have to wait for special rural area planning changes or the modification of the local development plan (PGOU) to become possibly eligible for regularisation
By Oliver McIntyre
MIJAS TOWN hall is set to approve a document that it says will allow the regularization of more than 80 per cent of the illegal homes and buildings on non-building land in the town.
"This is the most important decision in this administration's term in office," said the councillor for public works, Manuel Navarro, ahead of the expected final approval of the document at today's (January 31) council meeting after it received sign-off from the Junta de Andalucía, in accordance with the illegal homes decree passed by the Junta last year.
The document establishes the boundaries for zones called 'diseminados' and 'asentamientos', where illegal constructions will be immediately eligible for regularisation as long as there are no disciplinary proceedings open against them, explained Sr Navarro.
The document creates six diseminados - Valtocado, La Atalaya, Entrerríos, Majadilla del Muerto, La Alquería-El Hornillo and Osunillas - and three asentamientos, La Alberquilla, El Chaparral and Polígono Los Perales.
Economic crisis takes toll on CudecaA drop in donations and other revenues has led to the centre posting a 400,000-euro loss in 2012
By Oliver McIntyre
THE Cudeca cancer hospice is beginning to feel the full brunt of the economic crisis as a drop in donations and other revenues has led to the centre posting a 400,000-euro loss in 2012.
The NGO - which each year provides care for over 700 patients and their families - said the results are "of serious concern to the immediate future of the hospice".
The ongoing economic crisis began to impact the centre in 2010 with reductions in public grants and donations from savings banks. But in 2012, "for the first time in 20 years," the hospice has also seen "a concerning drop in income from individuals, both Spanish and foreign, who have been the firm base that has supported Cudeca since the very beginning," it said in a written release.
José Bretón faces 40 years for killing his childrenProsecutor says the father coldly planned and carried out the crime
By Oliver McIntyre
THE PUBLIC prosecutor is to seek 40 years in prison for José Bretón on charges of murdering his two young children in Córdoba and then pretending they had disappeared while he was out walking with them at a local park.
The prosecutor's preliminary case summary paints a grim picture of a cold and calculating Bretón planning and carrying out the murder of his own children as an act of vengeance against their mother, with whom he was separating.
Ahead of the separation the reluctant father - who showed his children "few signs of affection" - had been forced to take on more responsibilities in caring for them when he became unemployed and his wife was working, according to the prosecutor.
He and his wife Ruth Ortiz had separated just weeks before he carried out the alleged killings. She retained custody of the children but he had weekend visitations, and it was during one such weekend that he took them from Huelva to Córdoba, where his parents live.
Pardon provokes furyWrong-way driver in fatal accident let off dispite 13-year sentence
By Alex Watkins
ABOUT a thousand people protested in Alzira, Valencia, on Monday demanding the government revoke a pardon it granted a man who killed a resident of the town in an accident by driving the wrong way on the AP7 motorway in 2003.
Ramón Jorge Ríos, who lived in Almoradí, was sentenced two years ago to 13 years in prison but this was commuted to a 4,000-euro fine.
Residents joined relatives and friends of the victim calling for justice minister Alberto Ruiz Gallardón to resign.
The victim's sister, Loreto Dolz, said, "There is no reason for it, it is unfair and goes against the decisions of judges and prosecutors."
Traffic accident victims' associations Stop Accidentes and DIA also criticised the pardon.
The Ministry of Justice insisted there was no connection between the driver's defence lawyer being the brother of the ex-sub-secretary for justice and Sr Gallardón's son working for the same firm.
Vice president Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría said the ministry had considered reports from Villena prison and the driver's regret, rehabilitation, payment of compensation and lack of previous convictions - as well as the eight-year delay before his trial.
Costa bucks trend with increase in foreign populationNational figure falls for first time since 1996 but Málaga shows rise
By Oliver McIntyre
MÁLAGA province had a 3.1 per cent increase in foreign residents last year, despite the nationwide figure posting a decline for the first time since 1996.
Data released last week by the National Statistics Institute (INE), based on municipal ‘padrón' censuses as of January 1, 2012, show that in Málaga province there were 292,257 foreigners, up from 283,498 a year earlier and representing 17.8 per cent of the total population.
Nationwide, the total number of resident foreigners dropped by 15,229 people, a very slight decline of 0.3 per cent but significant in that it marked the first drop since the current records began to be kept.
The Costa's bucking of the national trend may be in part due to the relatively high proportion of EU nationals, as opposed to non-EU immigrants, among the province's foreign population. The nationwide drop of 15,229 resident foreigners was the result of an exodus of non-EU immigrants, whose numbers dropped by 63,496.
Also, campaigns by Costa town halls encouraging foreign residents to register on their local padrón may have helped to boost the official foreign population as some people who were already living here became registered for the first time.