Costa del Sol News - 4th March 2013

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

News Archive In association with

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

Government, under pressure, reduces court fees

Costly variable portion of fees to be slashed by 80%, says minister

By Oliver McIntyre

FACING pressure from numerous groups including judges, opposition political parties and consumer groups, the government has backtracked and announced a major reduction in the controversial new court fees it introduced last November for individuals filing civil lawsuits and appeals.

The Justice Ministry last week informed state ombudsman Soledad Becerril that the variable portion of the fees will be reduced by 80 per cent, though the fixed fees – ranging from 150 to 1,200 euros depending on the type of case – will remain unchanged. The ministry says the variable portion is the part that resulted in the highest fees.

Justice minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón told the ombudsman the variable portion of the fee will be reduced from the current 0.5 per cent of the amount of money involved in the suit up to a maximum fee of 10,000 euros, to 0.1 per cent up to a maximum 2,000 euros.

Town hall warns of rip-off prices for home legalisation

Companies charging €15,000 for work worth ‘€800 to €2,000’

By Oliver McIntyre

MIJAS town hall last week issued an alert over what it called “abusive” prices being quoted by companies or professionals to help illegal homeowners put together the documentation for regularising their properties.

Owners of illegal homes eligible for the ongoing regularisation process have reported receiving estimates of as much as 15,000 euros for the documentation, said town planning councillor Manuel Navarro, who called the prices “absolutely excessive” and “an outrage”.

The town hall “will not tolerate such taking advantage of the situation of homeowners who merely want to regularise their homes,” he said.

Call for action on dangerous Costa-Ronda road

Mayors of Marbella and Ronda speak out after latest fatal accident

By David Eade

NEARLY a week after two off-duty Royal Gibraltar Police officers were killed on the A397 Ronda to San Pedro road, the mayors of both Ronda and Marbella have called for action to improve safety and the dangerous mountain road.

Ronda’s mayor, Maripaz Fernández (PP), said that as the Andalucía Environment Department had ruled out a new motorway on environmental grounds, the existing single-lane road must be improved.

As exemplified by the road deaths a week earlier the A397, which is a mountain road with stunning scenery, is also one of the major accident black spots in Málaga province.

UK video guide to buying property abroad

Foreign office rolls out advice on home purchasing and healthcare

By Oliver McIntyre

PEOPLE seeking to buy a home on the Costa have a new resource to help them avoid potential pitfalls in the process. An online video guide that provides vital information on buying property abroad has been launched by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and BuyAssociation, a property media expert.

The video, which can be seen here, features industry experts from estate agents and overseas property lawyers to foreign exchange companies and lettings agencies, explained the FCO in a written release. Among the experts is Steve Jones, British Consul for the Canaries and Málaga.

A number of Britons who have already bought a property abroad share insights and advice based on their own experiences, covering topics including mortgages, property lets, foreign exchange, tax and legal advice, and general administration.

A supporting document, 'Buying Property Abroad: An Expert Guide' can be obtained free of charge here.

No criminal liability in Three Kings tragedy

Family could still file civil suit over boy’s death during parade

By Dave Jamieson

THE prosecutor in Málaga says that there is no evidence of criminal liability connected to the death of a six-year-old boy during the city’s Three Kings procession on January 5. The child dashed out to catch sweets thrown from one of the passing floats but was run over by its rear wheel and died at the scene.

After examining all the documentation presented in connection with the incident, the prosecutor said last Friday that it had been a “misfortune,” the blame for which cannot be attached to any individual. For that reason, he said he would be dismissing the case at an opportune moment.

However, his decision does not stop the child’s family from opening a civil action.


Stations across Andalucía, many expat run, face closure or €100,000 fine

By Oliver McIntyre

EXPATS could face losing some of their favourite radio stations due to a Junta de Andalucía crackdown on unlicensed broadcasters.

Over recent weeks as many as 100 stations across the region have been receiving letters from the Junta stating that they are operating illegally and must either shut down within 10 days of receiving the letter or pay a fine of 100,000 euros. The affected stations include Spanish as well as foreign-language commercial stations, taking in practically all but the major national broadcasters.

Industry insiders say the situation is wildly unfair and that most stations very much want to be legal but have been unable to obtain licences because there is no system in place for issuing them.

Spain’s ‘oldest prisoner’ arrested again

Montes Neiro released with charges over El Corte Inglés jewellery robbery

By David Eade

Miguel Montes Neiro, who is famed for having been Spain’s longest-serving prisoner prior to being released on a pardon last year, was arrested last week in relation to a nearly five million-euro jewellery heist in Marbella.

Sr Montes Neiro, 62, faces charges of receiving stolen goods. It is alleged he assisted the thieves in figuring out how to offload the 4.7 million euros’ worth of jewellery items that were stolen from El Corte Inglés in Puerto Banús last November.

A Marbella judge on Friday released Sr Montes Neiro with charges, on the condition he reports to the court on the first and 15th days of each month. The Andalucía High Court (TSJA) confirmed his provisional release.

After receiving the confirmation of his freedom Sr Montes Neiro left the court flanked by his two sisters. He denies any knowledge of the crime.

New Coast Law ‘invites property speculation’

MEPs to urge European Commission to investigate

By Alex Watkins

MEPs worried by the modification of the Coast Law (Ley de Costas) visited the congress of deputies in Madrid last week. The reform of the 1988 law was passed by the Partido Popular government on Tuesday.

Liberal Angelika Werthmann and the Green party's Margrete Auken - author of the 2009 report that questioned property speculation in Spain and the economic model it was based on - are to ask the European Commission to investigate whether the changes infringe European directives.

They met with representatives of the Socialist (PSOE), mixed group, CiU, UPyD and IU-ICV-CHA parties - which had proposed amendments that government rejected.

In a statement the MEPs expressed concern the new Coast Law invites property speculation and “regrettably” will not protect the coast at all. "In all cases it weakens its protection, opening the door to new constructions on protected areas of coastline," they said. "Furthermore, it will not resolve the problems of owners of small properties on the coast (which was one of the principal objectives of the modification)." The government's text still does not clarify the protection for owners of small properties, assert the MEPs.

Sra Werthmann maintains it is “unacceptable” as it goes against the interests of citizens and gives cause for a new “property boom”. "It leaves no place for public participation in passing the law, it cannot be considered transparent," she alleged, lamenting that the Auken report is used as a justification in the preamble to the law when it actually goes totally against it. Sra Auken criticised that none of the recommendations from her report are included and claimed it violates EU directives on water and public consultations. "The planned modifications open the door to new cases of property corruption," she said.

Torremolinos straps on its dancing shoes

European Dance Championship kicks off

By Oliver McIntyre

TORREMOLINOS yesterday kicked off one of its biggest cultural events of the year with the launch of the town’s 24th annual European Dance Championship.

Several thousand dancers – ranging in age from children to over-60s – have descended on the town for a weeklong swirl of tango, salsa, Spanish dance, waltz, cha-cha-cha and more.

Official dance competitions started Monday night a the Palacio San Miguel and will continue until the closing night on Saturday March 2.

Admission to watch the daytime qualifying heats is free of charge, beginning each afternoon at 3pm and on the mornings of Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday beginning at 10am. The finalists will compete in gala events each night beginning at 9pm, with tickets available for 5 euros.

Gas project could threaten Doñana’s World Heritage status

Plan will see underground gas storage beneath the nature park

By Oliver McIntyre

THE government’s recent authorisation of a project to create an underground natural gas storage facility beneath part of the Doñana nature park (CDSN, Feb. 7 – 14) will be among a list of threats analysed in an assessment of the park’s continued status as a Unesco World Heritage Site, said the environmental group WWF Spain, last week.

The WWF met in Switzerland with representatives of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which monitors the state of conservation of Unesco’s World Heritage Sites, to inform them of the gas project at Doñana, one of Andalucía’s most important nature parks and wetlands.

The groups expressed great concern over the project and the fact that the Spanish government had not informed the Ramsar Convention about it, as it is required to do as a signatory of the treaty whenever there is any change or threat to the ecological conditions of the wetlands, said the WWF. Ramsar will seek further information and explanations from the government, it said.