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Costa del Sol News - 22nd April 2013

News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol

News Archive In association with

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


Pickle is now open to the public

Replica of 1799 tall ship is docked at Gibraltar’s Ocean Village

By David Eade

HAVING spent the winter being transformed from functional sailing ship to comfortable tourist attraction, Schooner Pickle is now open to the public at Gibraltar’s Ocean Village. The 73ft twin-masted tall ship, a replica of the 1799-built original, welcomed her first guests on Saturday 13 April.

Conducted daily, a talk and guided tour of Schooner Pickle will allow visitors to hear and see what life was like onboard a wooden warship during the Napoleonic wars – braving gales, harsh seas, enemy fire and sharing two or three to a bunk in cramped dim conditions.


Activists commandeer land for ‘allotment’ gardens

Public plot was illegally fenced and ‘privatised’ years ago, says group

By Oliver McIntyre

SEVERAL dozen activists have occupied a fenced but apparently public property in Pizarra with the intent of taking it over for the creation of allotment-style communal gardens where local people in need can grow their own food

The group, spearheaded by the CGT union with the support of several other unions and social organisations, entered the property on Friday through an open gate, confirmed CGT leaders.

The property consists of a 78-metre-wide stretch of a historic public livestock route (vía pecuaria) that was arbitrarily fenced off and usurped by a local noble family decades ago, said the group.


Direct line to police in fight against pirate taxis

Marbella town hall lends its support to local cab drivers

By David Eade

MARBELLA'S taxi drivers are fighting back against the pirates that steal their customers. Often the intruders look like official taxis but aren’t. They are out to take passengers on the lucrative airport runs and sometimes ply for trade near taxi ranks.

Now Marbella town hall has joined the campaign, with the councillor for security, Félix Romero, ordering the local police to take action. If taxi drivers spot a pirate they can call the 092 local police number and a patrol will be sent to intercept the culprit.


Strength in numbers

SOHA and Mijas fire victims help found new property rights alliance

By Oliver McIntyre

AROUND two dozen activist groups from across Andalucía have joined forces in their battle for a solution to the illegal-homes issue in the region.

Víctimas del Incendio Mijas, which represents owners who are fighting for permission to repair homes that were damaged in last summer’s Costa wildfire, and Save Our Homes in Axarquía (SOHA) are among the founding members of the new alliance, which was launched in Córdoba last week.

The new Confederación Andaluz por la Legalización Urbanística (CALU) aims to create a panel of experts to identify the root causes of the property problems and seek solutions.


DISCRIMINATION CLAIM

New tax laws could drive ‘thousands’ of expats from Spain, claim opponents

By Dave Jones

OPPONENTS of Spain’s new asset declaration rules are hoping the European Union will intervene to derail the diktat.

A Spanish law firm has already presented a complaint to Brussels which has been accepted by the European Commission (EC).

At the same time a group of “concerned expats” from Valencia region last week presented a formal complaint to the EU’s Petitions Committee.

They note that the asset declaration requirement “is causing considerable uncertainty and a degree of anxiety as the reporting deadline of April 30 approaches”.


Spanish singer found guilty but escapes prison

Isabel Pantoja stood trial with her former lover, the ex-mayor of Marbella Julián Muñoz, his ex-wife Maite Zaldívar and four other people

By David Eade

THE CELEBRATED Spanish singer, Isabel Pantoja, has been found guilty in the Blanqueo case by Málaga court.

She has been sentenced to two years in jail but as it is her first conviction she will not be imprisoned. However she does have to pay a 1,147,000 fine and of course now has a criminal record.

The case in which Pantoja stood trial with her former lover, the ex-mayor of Marbella Julián Muñoz, his ex-wife Maite Zaldívar and four other people has caused a huge amount of media interest in Spain. It revolved around the two women in Muñoz's life having been involved in helping launder the money acquired in his illicit activities whilst mayor.


Mijas crocodile found dead

Experts believe it may have died from exhaustion though it also appeared to have a bump on the head

By Oliver McIntyre

THE crocodile that authorities had been searching for in the Majada Vieja zone of Mijas since it was spotted by members of the public in February was found dead on Tuesday.

The creature, which from tracks found at the site in recent weeks had initially been identified as an alligator, was in fact a male Nile crocodile, 2.13 metres long and weighing 80 kilos, and believed to be around 15 years old. Nile crocodiles are a larger and more aggressive species than the alligator the animal was believed to be.


Minors shared sex photos of classmates on Whatsapp

Parents of girls in pictures knew nothing before being notified by police

By Oliver McIntyre

POLICE have broken up a group of minors who allegedly exchanged sexual photographs of girls at their school using the phone messaging application Whatsapp.

The investigation, code-named ‘Kodak’, was launched in early March after the local police in the Madrid town of Algete detected the circulation of the photographs, which showed at least five local girls, ages 16 and 17, performing various sexual acts, confirmed the local town hall on Saturday.

Officers from the local police’s Women and Minors Unit discovered that groups of youths were sharing photographs “of various girls who were forced to take nude pictures under pressure or threats from their peers,” said town hall officials. Reports have indicated that some of the girls participated willingly.


Real Madrid investigated by the EC

Probe focuses on allegations of illegal public subsidies

By Dave Jamieson

THE European Commission has confirmed reports in the UK press that it is investigating whether Real Madrid soccer club received illegal public subsidies in connection with an extension to its famous Santiago Bernabéu stadium in Madrid.

A report in The Independent newspaper last week said the EC wants to find out if Madrid town hall had overestimated a debt with the club. It relates to land conceded to the club where Real Madrid wants to build a hotel and commercial centre, with underground parking for 600 vehicles.


Taxpayers face stingier refunds as tax season launches

Hacienda to see net gain of nearly €6bn due to income tax hikes

By Oliver McIntyre

TAXPAYERS filing a return in Spain this year face fewer and smaller refunds, announced officials last week as the 2012 tax return campaign got underway.

Due to the income tax hikes implemented last year – with additional tax of 0.75% to 7% depending on the tax bracket – the tax office (Agencia Tribuaria) expects to hand back 4.5% less cash in tax refunds this year than last. It expects to receive more than 19.5 million tax returns – basically the same as last year – and to pay out a total of 10.67 billion euros in refunds to 14.94 million taxpayers.

Meanwhile 4.1 million taxpayers will owe money to the taxman – up 2.4% from last year – with the tax office expecting to collect 6.53 billion euros, up 3.2%.