News from Andalucia & Costa del Sol
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Fuel price-fixing probe launchedCompanies under investigation could face large fines if found guilty
By Alex Watkins
PETROL companies are being investigated for suspected anti-competitive practices in the vehicle-fuel distribution market, announced the national competition commission (CNC).
The CNC did not identify the companies but explained it inspected several companies and an association in the sector on May 27-28.
It did say they suspect possible fixing of prices and commercial conditions at service stations in the fuel distribution market.
The CNC noted that the inspections are a preliminary step that do not prejudice the results of the investigation or imply the companies’ guilt.
Málaga loses European rail linkBut study underway on Cercanías extension to Marbella
By David Eade and Dave Jamison
THE prospect of a rail link along the coast, from Algeciras in the west, through Málaga and on to Motril, has been finally ruled out by the European Union. Last week’s decision means that Málaga and its port will remain without a direct rail connection along the east cost of Spain, then on into France and the rest of Europe.
Meanwhile the Spanish government has started a viability study on extending the Málaga-Fuengirola ‘Cercanías’ rail line to Marbella. It is understood the line would have stops in Mijas and eventually could continue to Estepona.
Help is at handDomestic violence support available for expats
By Oliver McIntyre
EXPATS on the Costa suffering from domestic abuse have a wide range of services and support available to them if they reach out for the help they need. That was the overriding message at an event organised last week by the British Consulate and Mijas town hall, at which social services and law enforcement representatives provided first-hand information on the help available to victims.
British Consulate officials say that domestic violence offences account for around 30 per cent of the arrests that the consulate is informed about, and Guardia Civil officers from Mijas who spoke at the event confirmed that Britons are involved in “a high percentage” of the domestic violence complaints they handle. The officers said around 50 per cent of their domestic violence cases involve foreigners, with Britons making up the largest number.
Specialist officers from the National Police and Guardia Civil stressed the importance of filing a complete and detailed complaint of any incident of domestic violence. The information provided, whether at a Guardia Civil or National Police station, is critical for triggering the necessary protection measures for the victim – whose risk level is determined via a detailed questionnaire – and the appropriate action against the aggressor, including possible arrest or the issuance of a restraining order. Interpreter services are available for filing the complaint.
Arrested ship was seeking diamonds on British wreckTreasure hunting ship was intercepted off coast of Estepona
By David Eade
IT HAS emerged that ‘Endeavour’, the treasure hunting ship recently arrested by the Spanish Navy off Estepona and detained in Algeciras port, was searching for the wreck of the SS Namur. The SS Namur is believed to have been carrying diamonds back from the Orient to Britain when it was torpedoed on October 29, 1917, just 53 miles short of Gibraltar.
The SS Namur was one of the extensive P & O Fleet and was constructed in 1907. It was a regular on the London to Shanghai and Malaysia route. The ship was sunk by U-35 captained by Lothar Van Arnauld in a World War I attack.
The ‘Endeavour’, which flies the Togo flag, has previously been held in Gibraltar for not meeting sea-going standards.
Fire Watch 2013 campaign launchedAim is to prevent a repeat of last summer’s devastating Costa wildfire
By Oliver McIntyre
FOLLOWING the devastating Costa wildfire last summer, a campaign has been launched urging residents to help prevent a similar disaster this summer as the high fire risk season again approaches.
Fire Watch 2013, an awareness campaign aimed at prevention, preparedness and quick response in the event of a fire, is being promoted by an expat who has been closely involved with many of the victims of last summer’s wildfire, but who prefers to remain unnamed.
Using statements from anonymous victims who lost their homes and possessions to the blaze last August, the campaign drives home what is at stake. “That night our lives changed forever,” says one victim. “Our past was robbed by the fire. All we have are the memories … Our lives have been changed forever due to one act of stupidity [by the person who lit the fire].”
One of the principal messages of the campaign seems obvious but could make all the difference in thwarting a major blaze: If you see a fire, call 112 immediately – don’t wait for someone else to do it.
It also urges people to be aware of the so-called 30/30/30 rule: 30-plus-degree heat, winds topping 30 kph and less than 30 per cent humidity make the perfect conditions for a wildfire.
HEALTH CARD SLAPSpain could face fine over EHIC not being accepted in tourist resorts
By Tom Cain and Dave Jamieson
THE EU Commission in Brussels has opened proceedings against Spain over continuing abuses concerning EU tourists and their right to free public healthcare under European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) rules.
The move by Brussels has been brought about by the growing number of cases where hospitals in Spain have refused to accept EHIC cards and instead demanded patients provide details of private health insurance before levying charges against the insurance companies.
Brussels believes Spain is operating a two-tier system whereby tourists are being made to pay for treatment which is free to Spaniards.
Summer takes its tollCosta and Las Pedrizas toll motorways launch increase to summer rates
By Oliver McIntyre
DRIVERS seeking a faster or more convenient route by taking a toll motorway began paying more for the privilege on Saturday as the toll roads launched their summer rates.
On the AP-7, the price to travel the entire distance from Fuengirola to Guadiaro, in Cádiz, jumped to 15.45 euros, an increase of 5.95 euros (38%) from its off-season level.
British wartime spy was arrested in woman’s clothingThe incident is revealed in files released by the British National Archives
By David Eade
ACCORDING to British National Archives released last week ‘Our Man’ arrested in Madrid in 1941 was not how you would imagine a spy to look. The up till now secret papers detail how the British spy was acting as a correspondent for The Times newspaper. When he was detained in Madrid by police it was because he was dressed as a woman.
Lieutenant Colonel Dudley Clarke is said to have been a key figure in the intelligence service in the Middle East in World War II. Alarm bells rang when he was picked up by Spanish agents in the main street of Madrid.
When his arrest took place Dudley Clarke, who was meant to be keeping a low profile as a correspondent for The Times, was passing through Madrid on his way to Egypt. It is revealed that staff at the British Embassy were very surprised by his intimate knowledge of official secrets.
In a diplomatic cable sent from the British Embassy to London the staff reported that “last night (Clarke) was arrested in the main street dressed as a woman, even with a slip”.
In his statement to the Spanish Police Clarke told them he was a novelist and was dressed as a woman to study the reactions of the men and women in the streets. When he was visited by the British consul he found that not only was Clarke not concerned about what had happened but said he had taken the woman’s clothes in Gibraltar and was wearing them as a joke.
The British Embassy was doubtful of this version of events given that the clothes and shoes fitted Clarke so well. The Spanish police classified his arrest as a “homosexual incident” and set him free with a fine.
British diplomats in Madrid were alarmed at the damage this incident would cause to them and The Times and said jokes were already circulating around the city of The Times ‘director’ who was disguised as a woman.
The whole incident was viewed as shameful in London and was brought to the attention of the prime minister, Winston Churchill, who ordered Clarke be sent to Gibraltar with the greatest of speed. Under no circumstances were the Embassy staff to reveal that Clarke was a British Civil Servant.
Junta launches first expropriation to halt an evictionScheme allows family to stay in home paying a rent they can afford
By Oliver McIntyre
THE Junta de Andalucía has put in motion the first expropriation of a home to prevent the eviction of the homeowners, under the Junta’s new law to protect economically beleaguered families from losing their homes.
The case involves a Huelva couple with four children, two of them minors, who were set to be evicted after failing for more than a year to make their mortgage payments.
Gibraltar elected to UEFA but won’t play SpainThe Rock’s team will now be eligible for Euro Cup qualifiers
By David Eade
GIBRALTAR was finally elected as a full member of UEFA making it the 54th national side. The vote by UEFA delegates in London on Friday was unanimous. This means that the Gibraltar national side can now play in all competitions including the European Championship qualifiers.
However the president of UEFA, Michel Platini, stated that in those qualifying rounds Gibraltar would be kept apart from Spain. This is not a unique situation for the European football body as other countries such as Russia and Georgia have a similar arrangement.
It is unlikely that the new minnows of European soccer will qualify for the actual Championship finals themselves where Spain are the current European champions.