NEWS ROUNDUP NOVEMBER

British tourist and young Spanish woman killed in beach cliff collapse

A BRITISH woman visiting her expatriate son was killed on Sunday when a chunk of the cliff on a beach in Tenerife collapsed on top of her.

Marion Auril O’Hara, 57, lost her life when some 40 tonnes of rocks fell on her as she was sunbathing on Los Gigantes beach in Santiago de Teide.

A 34-year-old woman from Arona (Tenerife) was also killed in the same incident.

She had been soaking up the sun on Los Gigantes beach with her boyfriend and his mother.

Ms O’Hara, who had been on holiday seeing her son – a resident in the area – was identified when her passport was found among her personal effects.

Locals and holidaymakers have criticised the fact that the council did not close the beach, even though they knew it was unsafe.

Rockfalls in the same area had already occurred a month before this weekend’s tragedy.

The area had been cordoned off with a plastic tape and a warning sign, but the tape had snapped before the incident due to further rocks crumbling away.

Council heads from Santiago de Teide say they are looking into the matter.

Housing market crisis ‘worst since the 1980s’

A WHOPPING 140,000 homes on the market in the Comunidad Valenciana are simply not selling, reveal leading developers and estate agencies.

Described as the worst housing market crisis since the 1980s, the sudden market crash has led to more than 50 per cent of all property companies closing down or going into receivership.

Developers are desperately seeking a solution to the housing market recession, and believe that rented property could be the answer.

According to the head of the Association of Building Promoters and secretary-general of the region’s Federation of Developers, Benjamín Muñoz, the coast of the Comunidad alone is capable of absorbing up to 70,000 new homes being built per year.

Given the region’s attractions, Muñoz firmly believes there is potential for this number of properties to be let, potentially saving the housing market.

He has also requested that the regional government offer more financial security options to businesses involved in the property industry.

Muñoz claims the region’s public image has become tainted due to allegations of corruption, together with the hated ‘land-grab’ law, which has put foreign buyers off investing in property in the Comunidad Valenciana.

He says authorities should make a concerted effort to clean up the region’s international reputation and promote its many qualities as a tourist destination and the perfect new home for would-be expatriates.

Man injured in house collapse

A BUILDING that collapsed in Riudoms (Tarragona) on Sunday left one man with serious injuries, and further victims are thought to be lying beneath the rubble.

The two-storey property crumbled for no apparent reason in an incident that bears a chilling similarity to recent events in Mallorca, where the occupants of a block of flats that collapsed were killed instantly.

A man who has not yet been identified was rescued by firefighters and taken to the Sant Joan hospital in Reus.

His condition and the severity of his injuries have not been revealed.

The adjoining house also suffered serious structural damage as a result, but luckily nobody was hurt as it was empty at the time.

Emergency services say the property was totally destroyed, having been reduced to no more than a pile of rubble within minutes.

Costa Blanca: The new Hollywood?

ALICANTE hopes to break into Tinseltown by giving its ‘City of Light’ film studios a push at an international movie festival this week.

The director-general of the Ciudad de la Luz centre, Elsa Martínez, is attending the American Film Market event in Los Angeles in order to convince leading directors that the Costa Blanca is the perfect location for their future silver-screen projects.

More than half of all the blockbusters that hit the big screens around the world are negotiated at the AFM fair, with around 800,000 million US dollars’ worth of business being settled upon.

Film directors, producers, investors, actors and, in fact, pretty much everyone involved in Hollywood hits will not miss this massive date on their professional calendar.

In a bid to put Alicante, and the Comunidad Valenciana as a whole, on the map, Martínez has arranged to visit top film companies in California, including Paramount, Universal, Warner and Fox.

Senegalese who saved child from drowning could be given residence rights

A SENEGALESE street-seller could be given legal residence rights in Spain after saving a little German boy from drowning.

Calpe local authorities have asked their MP to consider giving 25-year-old Moussa Fall the chance of a new life in Spain after he risked his own life to rescue the 12-year-old, who had fallen into the sea off the Arenal-Bol beach.

He was later treated for breathing difficulties at Dénia hospital.

Moussa attempted to save another German boy, also 12, who had fallen into the water, but was unable to reach him in time.

The child’s body was found on Tuesday by the coastguard.

“I know that any German or Spaniard would have done the same for me, or for any other Senegalese,” stated Moussa, who has been trying to scrape a living by selling goods in the street for three years.

Moussa came over on a jerry-built raft from Dakar in 2006, reaching the Canary Islands, before sailing on to Calpe.

Smokers roll their own to save money

ROLL-YOUR-OWN tobacco sales have shot up by a whopping 44.3 per cent in the first nine months of this year, compared to a fall of 8.82 per cent for ready-made cigarettes.

Tobacco industry giants reveal that the recession is not leading people to give up smoking to save money – despite rocketing prices of cigarettes.

Instead, they are opting for the cheaper choice of buying loose tobacco and rizlas.

This is partly due to Philip Morris and Altadis, two of the largest cigarette-producers in Europe, to reduce the price of loose-leaf tobacco pouches in order to boost sales.

These companies produce Marlboro and Fortuna cigarettes respectively, the two top-selling brands in Spain.

The third-highest sales figures for ready-rolled cigarettes has been seen in the Comunidad Valenciana, with nearly 1.1 billion euros being spent on them so far in 2009.

This puts the region ahead of Madrid, but just behind Catalunya and Andalucía.


Seven of Britain’s ten most-wanted caught in Spain

BRITAIN’S most-wanted Costa Blanca fugitives are gradually being rounded up.

So far, seven of the top ten of those who have got away are now behind bars.

This is just a year after a joint campaign between the British Embassy in Madrid, and UK-based foundation Crimestoppers, was launched.

Operación Captura’ – which named and shamed the ten most-sought criminals thought to be hiding out on the Costa – gave a freephone number on its advert and called for members of the public to provide information.

Thanks to people ringing the Crimestoppers in Spain hotline, two men were caught in Benissa last October.

Anthony Kearney and his partner Donna McCaffey, accused of blackmail and fraud, were caught on the Costa a year ago.

Since then, five more who were originally traced to the province of Alicante were caught further afield.

They include drug-dealing suspect Alan McDonald-Gordon; alleged paedophile Andrew Alderman; and Dennis Hunter, who is believed to be behind a multi-million-euro fraud.

The arrests were made in Mallorca, Madrid and Hungary.

This June saw the capture of Andrew Snelgrove, accused of attempted murder, in Málaga.

The most recent was Thomas Cochran, caught in Scotland in September after trying to flee charges relating to drug-trafficking.

Only three now remain on the list – Shashi Dhar Sahnan and Adam Hart, both accused of dealing Class-A drugs, and Dean Lawrence-Rice, who had been sentenced to life imprisonment for kidnap, false imprisonment and conspiracy.

The British Embassy believes that the three men may be in Spain, and it is likely they are hiding out on the Costa Blanca or the Costa del Sol.

Anyone who has any information that may lead to their arrest is asked to ring 900 555 111, free of charge.

Operators on the hotline speak both Spanish and English.

Women drivers are better than men: It’s a fact

LADIES are more responsible than their male counterparts at the wheel and are more likely to respect road traffic laws, research at Valencia University has revealed.

Girls who are sick of being the butt of ‘women driver’ jokes can now hold their heads up high, thanks to the results of a survey by dean of psychology, Francisco Tortosa.

Men are five times as likely to be killed in road accidents than women, and the high-risk age-group is between 25 and 44, says Tortosa.

But the study has also shown that one in five women would like to see compulsory speed-limits on the motorway eliminated.

These ladies believe driving too fast is due to the buzz of an open road causing them to hit the accelerator a little too hard.

More so, in fact, than simply being late for work.

According to the study, men generally have better driving skills, but women compensate for their slightly inferior abilities by being more careful and respectful of other road-users.

Whilst men consider motoring fines to be merely a way of the government amassing more cash, women believe these sanctions are there to stop people from driving dangerously, the survey says.

Worryingly, one in four men said they are almost resigned to the fact that they might one day lose their licences due to dangerous driving, compared to just 17 per cent of women.

And although women are more likely to be nervous drivers – in contrast to men, who mostly say they find driving relaxing – male motorists tend to be more aggressive.

Gender issues aside, drivers of both sexes aged between 18 and 24 are more likely to break the speed-limit, whilst motorists in their 30s tend to be those with a greater tendency to swear and shout at other road-users and make rude gestures.

The research was carried out in preparation for the International Road Behaviour Risk Prevention Congress that was held this week in Valencia, a major transport industry event that is now in its second year.

This seminar will discuss the different ways women and men act behind the wheel.

Women – and men – who want to see the speed-limit abolished on the motorway may, however, have a point.

On the German Autobahns, there is no speed limit, and accidents are very rare.
A similar situation is seen in Holland, where lane discipline is said to be exceptional and the annoying habit of ‘outside-lane hogging’ frowned upon.
But where the very occasional crashes occur on German and Dutch motorways, they are usually spectacular and involve huge pile-ups and numerous fatalities.

Shop-owner accused of filming female staff on the toilet

A MAN who allegedly filmed women employees and customers on the toilet in his shop may face four years in jail if found guilty.

According to the prosecution service, the retailer had set up a hidden CCTV camera in the ladies’, and downloaded the footage onto CDs to watch from his office.

Two women identified themselves from the video evidence, a court reveals.

The accusation says the camera was installed in a cubicle in the women’s toilets in a shop in Écija (Sevilla) in 2002, and that its lens was pointed directly at the seat in order to capture very intimate and graphic images.

Those affected have taken civil action against the suspect, calling for a fine of just over 7,000 euros and compensation to the tune of 4,000 euros each.

The case will be tried in court in January 2010.

Algerians caught on Jávea coast after six days on a dinghy

FIVE Algerian nationals who sailed into Jávea port at the weekend on a raft have been extradited by a judge.

The boat was seen by the coastguard and the Guardia Civil in the early hours of Saturday morning at around 30 miles out to sea.

It was heading for the Cabo de la Nao, and was the second in the course of a week to attempt to gain access to Spain illegally.

Rescue services – who said the occupants of the rafts were all in a good state of health, despite their ordeal – reveal that the five North Africans had spent six days on the high seas.

Three of the crew, aged between 15 and 17, are currently being held in a youth shelter.

A judge in the court of Dénia ordered that the five adults be repatriated immediately.

Spaniards have more pesetas in their pockets than the total of Iberia’s shares

EIGHT years after Spain switched to the Euro, its residents still have nearly two billion pesetas lining their pockets.

According to the bank of Spain, a total of two million euros’ worth of pesetas were exchanged for the common currency in September alone.

And in August, pesetas amounting to a million euros were changed.

It is estimated that around 1,746 million euros’ worth of pesetas that still have not been changed into euros.

This is more than the entire value of international airline Iberia’s shares.

The euro was introduced into Spain in January 2002, although shops continued to accept pesetas for a further two months before the 133-year-old currency was finally withdrawn from circulation.

Those who still had coins and notes in pesetas were able to exchange them for euros at any bank until June 30 that year.

But for the last seven years, only the Bank of Spain will change pesetas for euros.

During the first year that the euro was Spain’s only currency, many shopkeepers and similar businesses suffered headaches when asked for notes to be changed.

One woman who was on holiday in Menorca in June 2002 says she was told by a retailer that ‘there were not enough coins’ to split her 20-euro note.

“I don’t mean that I, personally, do not have enough coins,” the shopkeeper explained.

“I mean, there are not enough coins in the whole of Spain.”

Interestingly, one jeweller in Valencia city says he still accepts pesetas in his shop, and that in fact, a significant chunk of his takings are in the former currency.


Huge fake Viagra-dealing organisation disbanded

SPAIN’S largest-ever fake Viagra racket has been broken up in Calpe.

National Police from Alicante have seized a whopping 160,000 pills that had been shipped from India and China after carrying out raids on three houses.

They also confiscated 15 kilos of benzilipiperazina, a new ‘designer’ psychotropical, recreational drug.

This substance is said to cause psychosis and serious damage to brain cells.

It was used decades ago on farms to eradicate parasites from animals.

Five people suspected of dealing fake Viagra and the drug dubbed ‘BZP’ all over Europe have been arrested in Calpe.

They include two Spaniards, an Italian, a Venezuelan and an Iranian.

Given that the Viagra was made on the black market, no professional health checks were made on the final product.

This would mean that, at best, the drug would be ineffective, and at worst, extremely dangerous and possibly fatal.

Among the other substances seized during the house-raids in Calpe were 24 kilos of the sleeping pill Xanax, and 25 kilos of a female lubricant named Kamagra, which is said to have a similar effect to Viagra.
Music, dancing, arts, crafts and culinary surprises in store this weekend in Pego
PEGO’S streets will be sizzling this Friday and Saturday with a huge fair full of arts and crafts stalls, food and wine tasting, music and dance.

The massive trade fair, now in its sixth year, will include the usual traditional food produce on sale together with hand-crafted jewellery and household goods that were once the mainstay of the town’s economy and have never truly gone out of fashion.

Art exhibitions in the streets, trade stands, stalls from shops and other businesses in Pego children’s activities and a display of the famous Muixeranga – human castle – are just a handful of the surprises in store for visitors this weekend.

A fun event that nobody should miss, the fair is set to traditional band music with folkloric dancing displays, giving a true local feel to the event
INLAND VALENCIA AND ALICANTE

Requena airport expected to grow

REQUENA airport could expand in order to take some of the weight of that of Manises’ terminal in Valencia.

The aerodrome may be used for non-commercial flights, including small gliders, bi-planes and private jets.
This would free up runway space and control-tower man-hours at Valencia’s main airport for passenger flights.
Sources from Requena’s airfield say they hope to expand the facilities therein, in order to provide pilot training, airline research, general aviation and small- and medium-sized companies relating to the flight industry.
They say Requena aerodrome has some of the best facilities in the country, and capitalising on these could prevent Valencia airport from having to grow even further over the next few years, potentially causing headaches for nearby residents.
Additionally, Requena airport has the advantage that it can freely expand, since there are no residential areas or green-belt stretches of countryside preventing it from doing so.
Finally, it is easily accessible from the A-3 Valencia-Madrid motorway.

Caixa Ontinyent merger would make sense, says minister

CAIXA Ontinyent bank should merge with Bancaja and the CAM, and possibly later take over Cajamurcia.
This is the view of the regional government’s vice-president for the economy, Gerardo Camps.
He believes it could be a valuable tool to help the banking industry recover from its current crisis.
The minister even went as far as to say that it would be ‘irresponsible’ if the regional government failed to merge Caixa Ontinyent with at least one of the much larger entities.
A later move to absorb Cajamurcia would reinforce the bank’s financial situation, given that the latter is a much smaller firm.

Cocentaina All Saints’ Fair is a hit

THOUSANDS of visitors flocked to Cocentaina on Hallowe’en and November 1 to enjoy its annual All Saints’ Fair.
Around 700 stalls selling traditional foodstuffs from the area as well as arts and crafts brought nearly a quarter of a million people to the town in two days.
Along the main road, a motor exhibition and display of farm machinery proved hugely popular, with major dealerships offering excellent discounts to potential customers.
Kids who visited the fair particularly enjoyed being able to sit in the tractors on show.
Trade stands also included companies selling solar panels, household goods and appliances, chimneys and even lifts.
A Mediaeval market, with stallholders in traditional costume, offered handcrafted goods such as baskets, jewellery, rugs, incense sticks, and edibles including date cakes, honey, chocolate, sausages and smoked fish.
Children were kept amused by animal shows and playground rides.
November 1 – All Saints’ Day – is celebrated in Spain to a greater extent than Hallowe’en itself.
A highly religious and emotive public holiday, it is traditional for people to visit the graves of their departed loved ones and make offerings of flowers to them.
 
Ikea store ‘will cause traffic jams for Godella’, complains mayor
DISGRUNTLED authorities in Godella say they will appeal against the decision for a planned new Ikea store in nearby Paterna.
If the Swedish furniture giant’s proposals for a massive shopping complex and Ikea store in Paterna go ahead, Godella’s mayor Salvador Soler has said he will start legal action.
Soler believes the new centre would cause serious traffic jams in Godella, since visitors to the centre would need to pass through the town to reach it.
He says the nearby shopping and leisure complex, Heron City, already causes enough traffic trouble in his town.
The site provisionally chosen for the Ikea outlet backs onto the urbanisation Campolivar in Godella.
Soler says bosses of the international flat-pack furniture favourite have ‘not considered the consequences’ of the move on residents in the neighbouring town.

CASTELLON AND TARRAGONA

Oropesa burglary suspects arrested

THREE people have been arrested in connection with a series of burglaries on homes in Oropesa del Mar.

The accused parties, all of Romanian nationality, are thought to have broken into at least nine houses in the town, say Guardia Civil officers.

Police believe the suspects were part of an organised gang targeting empty properties, mainly holiday homes.

They would break into the houses at night by forcing the doors or windows.

According to the officers investigating the case, the three men – aged between 18 and 22 – kept a close eye on the movements of the occupiers and studied their properties carefully before working out their strategy.

Police have not ruled out further arrests, and believe there may have been other victims of burglaries in Oropesa.

Peñíscola woman reports ‘violent’ son

GUARDIA Civil officers in Peñíscola have arrested a 42-year-old man who reportedly threatened to kill his mother on numerous occasions.

He was taken into custody after his mother told police she feared for her safety.

In the latest the incident, her son returned home drunk and threatened her with a loaded revolver.

She claims he usually became violent after having had a few drinks.

Domestic abuse – and not only violence between partners – has been rife in the province recently, claim Guardia Civil officers.

They say that in the past two weeks, 25 people – including one woman – were taken into custody accused of threats and aggressive behaviour towards members of their family.

Most of these incidents were reported in Castellón city, but several others were reported in Onda and Benicarló.

Among those arrested is a 16-year-old boy who is said to have beaten up his girlfriend.

Wedding fair seeks the best mother-in-law and offers exciting prizes

MOTHERS-IN-LAW in Castellón are being given the chance to redeem themselves of their dubious reputation in a competition to see who can organise the best wedding for their sons and daughters.

The ‘Your Wedding Fair’, due to take place next week in Castellón city’s auditorium in the Plaza Pescadería, will involve mums of brides and grooms-to-be posing for a picture and answering a series of questions.

All participants will take home a free gift, the nature of which has not been revealed, but the winner will net a free weekend for two in the Termas Marinas El Palasiet, a luxury hotel and spa.

But honest answers are expected from the ladies taking part.

“We want to find out what the future brides and grooms really think of their mothers-in-law,” reveal local authorities.

“For example, those who admit to turning up in the couple’s house uninvited and without warning just because they have a spare key are not exactly going to amass too many points.”

Unlucky for some – although hopefully not for the couples and their mothers-in-law – the Tu Boda fair kicks off on Friday 13.

A total of 37 stalls representing retailers from all over the province will feature clothing, jewellery, household decorations, in addition to stands thrown on by catering providers specialising in weddings.

Future brides can also seek advice on their hair and makeup for their big day from the experts on Saturday 14.

Later that afternoon a dance workshop will be held, and on Sunday, table-decorating demonstrations will take place.

Couples will have the chance to take part in a raffle offering exciting prizes such as men’s and women’s clothing from Paco Roca and Nana London respectively, a bouquet for the bride, a professional DVD recording of the big day, and a digital wedding photo album.

One lucky lady could even net herself a free wedding dress by designer brand Nadiah.

Anyone planning on tying the knot in the near future should not miss this fun and fascinating affair – nor should any woman who wants to prove that mother-in-law jokes really are just tongue-in-cheek.

Grants for pensioners and first-time buyers

FIRST-TIME buyers in Castellón will be given a cash bonus of 400 euros to help them out when purchasing their new home.

All those aged under 35 who have not yet owned a home will be able claim this amount to ease the burden of their costs next year.

This year, all first-time buyers, irrespective of age, were able to claim 300 euros from the city council provided the property was intended for use as their first and only residence.

Also in 2010, retired people and the elderly will be given 250 euros to help them through the recession.

The mayor of Castellón, Alberto Fabra, says this sum represents between 80 and 90 per cent of the average household’s annual IBI (asset tax) payments.

Top beaches in Castellón

BEACHES in Castellón are among the best in Europe – it’s official.

They have all been awarded the prestigious Q prize, denoting tourism quality.

The award is given every year to beaches with the best facilities, accessibility and cleanliness.

A concerted effort on the part of the city council this summer has paid off, with the three beaches being recognised as favourites with residents and holidaymakers alike.

The Pinar-Parque Litoral, Serradal and Gurugú beaches have all received the much-sought-after Q award.

Additional information