August News Round Up

Inflation rises for the first time in months
INFLATION went up last month for the first time last month as a result of food, non-alcoholic drinks, gas and packaged holidays going up in price.
The increase in the costs of cigarettes and alcohol also contributed to the IPCA – Spain's answer to the retail prices index – increasing from 1.5 per cent to 1.9 per cent.
Although combined with the IVA rise of July 1, this could lead to households being forced to spend more, it is a sign that the recession is abating since Spain was in deflation until recently as a result of the economic crisis.

More autonomy for teachers in state schools
TEACHERS will have more authority to discipline kids and decide on teaching methods in state schools, the regional government has decided this month.
A new law – the draft of which was approved in Parliament at the end of July – will mean that teachers in state schools have far more autonomy than those in private schools.
The latter only have a certain level of authority to make decisions related to disciplining of children who misbehave.
But teachers in state-run schools will also be allowed to make decisions concerning how to teach certain subjects and how to correct both work and behaviour.
The law will recognise that teachers in state schools are treated in the same manner as 'any other public authority'.

Economy grows for second quarter running
SPAIN'S president, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, says the economy grew more in the second quarter of 2010 than in the first quarter.
Up to March, the economy grew by just 0.1 per cent of the country's GNP, but this is still positive news, says Zapatero.
“For the second quarter running, the economy has grown and we've managed to keep this rhythm going,” he announced last week.
As yet, the growth for the period from April to June has not been calculated, but provisional figures suggest it is higher than in the first quarter of 2010.
“But the main challenge for Spain as a nation is going to be recovering the growth in employment,” Zapatero continued.
He said the higher number of small and medium enterprises in Catalunya meant this region would see even more positive results from the controversial labour reform.
Additionally, the president wants to make it obligatory for all financial institutions to make their solvency levels public.
“This transparency will allow the financial markets to work out, with sufficient accuracy, the situation of the Spanish banking market and its level of resistance in the face of adverse conditions,” explained Zapatero.
Despite suffering from some of the worst unemployment figures and state deficit in the whole of Europe, Spain has not had to step in to prevent any of its banks from going under.

Increase in 'legal' foreign workers last month
THE number of foreign workers 'going legal' increased by over 16,000 in June, reveals the Social Security office.
They say there are now nearly 1.9 million non-Spanish workers – both employed and self-employed – who are 'on the system' and either paying their own social security every month or having it paid by an employer.
This translates to an increase of 0.86 per cent on figures in May this year.
However, the number has dropped considerably since June 2009, when some 30,277 more people were on the social security system.
In other words, the year-on-year figures have fallen by 1.57 per cent.

Drop in tourist numbers blamed on volcanic ash
NUMBERS of tourists travelling to Spain fell  in the first half of this year, reports the ministry of industry, commerce and tourism.
Although possibly partially due to the recession, the ministry attributes the drop of 1.8 per cent in holidaymaker figures to the ash cloud that left flights grounded when  Iceland's Eyjäfjällajøkull volcano erupted in the early part of 2010.
In total, 23 million tourists visited the country in the first six months of this year.
But during the weeks when European airspace was shut, the number of holidaymakers travelling to the country dropped by 13 per cent.
A year-on-year increase was seen in June of 1.7 per cent, however, following May's increase of 1.1 per cent.
This leads the tourist authority to believe that it was the volcanic eruption that caused traveller numbers to fall rather than the economic crisis.

State of emergency over forest fire risk
THE Comunidad Valenciana is on red-alert over the risk of forest first this summer.
As a result of the influx of vehicles over August, due to the summer holidays, a state of emergency has been declared and any type of fire in the open – including barbecues and paellas – has been banned in all three provinces.
Forestry brigades and firefighters are on maximum alert and ready to drop everything and rush to the scene of any fire at a moment's notice.
The ministry has warned the public not to smoke when walking through rural areas, nor to throw cigarette butts or matches from car windows or let off any king of fireworks or firecrackers.
Anyone who starts a forest fire – even accidentally – could face a massive fine and a prison sentence.

Euribor rises for first time in 18 months
THE Euribor went up again in July by 1.417 per cent, which will mean a very slight increase in monthly mortgage payments.
It means that the gradual fall in mortgages now appears to be at an end, after 18 months of the Eurozone's interest rate having fallen consecutively.
At the close of July, the rate stood at 1.373 per cent.

Manhunt for British killer on Costa del Sol
A WANTED British killer is on the run after reportedly murdering an Irish holidaymaker in Benalmádena (Málaga).
The Dublin-born dad of two, Mr O'Neill, was shot in front of his friends and his partner on the terrace of a bar in Benalmádena last Wednesday.
Police say the 40-year-old had travelled to the Costa del Sol for a friend's wedding, and was shot whilst attempting to resolve an argument.
The brawl began when British-born Darren O'Flaherty started banging forcefully on the door of a cubicle in the men's toilets.
After he was ordered to leave the premises, O'Flaherty, 35, reportedly returned with a .38-calibre pistol and fired five or six shots in and around the bar.
Mr O'Neill was killed instantly as a result of a shot in his back, after which O'Flaherty fled the scene.
The Liverpool-born killer is wanted by British police after fleeing the country to avoid prison for kidnapping and robbery offences.
Police in the UK say the accused threatened a lorry-driver with a knife for several hours back in 2006, after stopping him on a motorway in North Yorkshire.
O'Flaherty then reportedly drove the victim to Liverpool and stole the contents of the lorry, mostly electrical goods, and loaded these into a warehouse.
Next, he drove the victim and his lorry back to Skelmersdale (Lancashire) before releasing the driver and setting the vehicle alight.
It is thought that O'Flaherty had been living in a rented apartment in Benalmádena with a girlfriend, although nobody has seen either party since the shoot-out.
UK officers are in close contact with police on the Costa del Sol and anyone who may have information about the murder or the killer's whereabouts is asked to contact their nearest police station.
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News from the North Castellon Tarragona & Barcelona

Three held over drugs smuggled via Gatwick
THREE people have been arrested in Tarragona after cocaine was found hidden in a hosepipe in a parcel being sent by air mail.
Customs officers at Gatwick airport alerted Spanish security staff after detecting the drugs in a packet that had come from Venezuela addressed to a car dealer in the Tarragona province.
Last week, Enrique M.V., 60 and Fen Ye W., 29, both Spanish nationals, were arrested in Benissanet and Tarragona respectively, along with French national Jennifer Prescilli K., 27, from Reus.
The packet contained a hydraulic hosepipe weighing some 20 kilos, with around three kilos of cocaine inside it.

Masked man staged 30 hold-ups on shops in Tarragona area
A MAN who is thought to be behind robberies in 30 shops in Reus and Tarragona has been arrested.
Police say the accused, Manuel B.U., 49, would burst into the premises with his face covered and threaten staff with a knife to make them hand over the contents of the safe.
The first of the hold-ups was reported in December, but most of the crimes were detected from April onwards.
He is thought to have carried out up to 10 robberies a month.
Manuel, who has pleaded guilty to the offences, usually targeted health shops or establishments selling household consumibles.
He would force the sales assistant to close and lock the shop for five minutes whilst he took the money held in the till and safe.
According to the Mossos d'Esquadra, the accused would regularly change clothing to avoid recognition.
They have formally linked him to 19 hold-ups in Tarragona, one in Vilallonga del Cap, seven in Reus, and one in Cambrils as well as two attempted robberies that were thwarted by staff.

Prison for motorist driving at 130 miles a hour
A MOTORIST caught driving at 210 kilometres (131 miles per hour) on the AP-7 has lost his licence for eight months.
Following an express hearing, the French national has been sentenced to two months in jail and a fine of 720 euros.
The Mossos d'Esquadra caught him speeding at around 04.17hrs on Saturday near the L'Ametlla de Mar (Tarragona) exit in a southbound direction.

Catalunya bans the bull
CATALUNYA has become the first region in mainland Spain to ban bullfights after a vote in the regional Parliament last week.
From January 1, 2012, all bullfighting will be prohibited in the region, following the clamouring of 180,000 residents who have been pushing for the move, considering such events to be cruel.
Bull-running through the street, where the animals are not killed or harmed, may also be banned, but there is currently controversy over the matter as bull-breeders and trainers fear loss of their livelihood.
The region is the second in Spain as a whole to ban the bull, since the Canary Islands did so in 1991, but still permits bull-runs where the animals come away unscathed.
MPs voted 68 in favour of the ban, 55 against and nine abstaining.
 
'Dirty Dancing', 'Grease' and more at Port Aventura's 'Celebration on Ice' show
PORT Aventura theme park in Salou hopes to attract up to 50,000 spectators when it opens its new ice-skating show, which finishes on September 12.
'Celebration on Ice', created to mark the 15th anniversary of the park, involves a spectacular artistic and acrobatic show with the participation of 16 skaters from Moscow, Kiev and St Petersburg, including former world champion Alexander Zhulin.
This is the first time Port Aventura has put on such a major show.
It lasts for an hour with a 15-minute break and is divided into two parts – the first involving tracks from the popular musicals Grease, Mamma Mia, Moulin Rouge, Dirty Dancing, We will rock you and Nine, and the second involving classic hits by U2 and Pink as the backdrop to a story about a girl who sees her dream come true and becomes an ice-skating star.
Tickets cost 20 euros for adults and 15 for children, which drop to 15 and 10 if they are booked on line.
Sessions run from Monday to Sunday from 22.00hrs, but with a further session at 19.00hrs during high season.

Salou clamps down on mistreatment and abandoning of animals
FINES of up to 20,000 euros could be slapped on cruel owners who abandon their pets in Salou.
The new bye-law means anyone who mistreats their animals, attempts to sell them in the street or holds organised fights – such as feral dog-fights or cock-fights – or who abandons their pets could be looking at a fine running into five figures.
Also, pets cannot be left on patios or terraces outside between 22.00hrs and 08.00hrs, in order to cut down on noise nuisance preventing residents from sleeping.
All pet-owners have just three months to put their pets' details down on a public register, giving the animals' dates of birth, or one month from acquiring the animal, and that all cats and dogs must have identity chips and collars with their address on them.
Dogs are not allowed on beaches between Easter and October 31.
Anyone who owns a dangerous dog must have a licence, and failure to comply could mean fines of up to 400 euros.
This also applies for dog-owners who do not clear up after their pets.
Animals kept in poor conditions or without identification chips can attract fines of up to 2,000 euros for their owners, and mistreatment or abandonment can involve sanctions reaching 20,000 euros.

Street sellers peddling fake designer goods 'taking trade away' from shopkeepers
A HUGE fake designer goods racket is causing headaches for legitimate traders in Peñíscola.
Local shopkeepers complain that the accused is taking trade away from them when they have few enough sales this summer as it is.
Literally dozens of people sell their wares on the esplanade between the Camilo José Cela fountain every night, including tops, handbags, ties, belts and other fake designer goods, as well as pirate CDs.
 “I'm sure these street vendors earn more than we do in one summer than we do all year round,” grumbles on shopkeeper.
Councillor Jesús Ayza says Local Police are out in force, but that the traders continue to be one step ahead of them.
“They just can't keep up,” says Ayza.
He has called upon the Guardia Civil and the National Police to step in and help.
Ayza believes there are literally hundreds of street vendors in the area, and they are proving to be illegal competition for 'real' sellers.
“We pay our taxes and rent on our premises, but they're taking away trade from us. We should just go down to the esplanade and sell our wares on the street, like they do,” complains another shopkeeper.
In Calpe (Alicante province), the council set up a weekly market where Senegalese street sellers could legitimately peddle their goods – provided they were not fake designer material – and the cost of their stalls subsidised by the council.
Local authorities there said that this was a way of allowing immigrants to feed their families without prejudicing shopkeepers or constantly having to keep an eye out for the police.

Spain's largest water park on Vinaròs beach is free of charge
VINARÒS has opened the largest water park in the country at the north end of Fortí beach.
Not only that, but all the slides and other rides are free of charge.
Suitable for all ages, the park is open until August 12 from 11.00hrs to 15.00hrs and again from 16.00hrs to 19.00hrs.
Its rides include the 'star', the 'iceberg' and the 'catapult'.
This is the fifth year running that Vinaròs has set up its water park on the beach, and since it started up in the summer of 2006 it has attracted over 1,000 visitors a day.
The entire complex has strict safety measures in place as well as lifeguards and qualified staff on duty.
This, along with the 'biblioplaya' – or mobile beach library – is one of Vinaròs' most popular attractions on its coast, particularly for families on holiday with their children.

Queen steps in to help six-year-old cancer patient
THE plight of a six-year-old cancer sufferer whose only hope is expensive treatement in the USA has reached the Royal Household.
Nico, from Alcossebre (Castellón) touched the heart of Queen Sofía – who is known for her great love of children – after a nearby neighbour in Sant Joan de Moró wrote to her explaining the little boy's situation.
The treatment he needs for his rare form of neuroblastic cancer is not available anywhere in Spain.
It means his only chance of a cure is at the Sloan Kettering Memorial Center in New York, which will cost 350,000 US dollars.
Nico's family have been sending out appeals and saving hard to get the cash together so that one of the world's best surgeons can treat their son.
As yet, they have amassed 171,000 dollars (about 132,000 euros) but this is still less than half the amount they need for the operation and follow-up treatment.
Queen Sofía wrote to the ministry of health on Monday calling for them to step in urgently.
As a result, Madrid's Gregorio Marañón hospital has interviewed the child's parents and will carry out tests on him in September to see how much of his treatment can be carried out in Spain before resorting to the private hospital in the Big Apple.
Villarreal CF has already arranged a festival in Alcalà de Xivert to raise funds for Nico's operation and medication – an event that included many famous faces.
The Club also contacted the Spanish football selection to ask them to donate part of the 600,000 euros they earned from their World Cup win to the cause.
Nico's parents have set up a Facebook site, www.ayudaparanico.com, with a PayPal account and also a text-messaging service that allows users to make a donation.

Bikes put on central register to cut number of thefts
LOCAL Police in Benicarló have launched a campaign to cut down the number of bicycle thefts in the town.
They say an alarming number of cycles – particularly mountain bikes – are being stolen.
To help buck the trend they have made contact with all cycle traders in the area so that bikes can be entered on a central register.
The make, model, colour, serial number and any other identifying features, as well as the contact details of the owner, are entered on the register.
A chip with the owner's details will also be embedded into the underside of the bike.
Owners will be given official documentation to prove the bike is theirs, in order to help trace it and reclaim it in the event of theft.
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News From the South Valencia & Alicante

Three corpses in 24 hours found off Jávea coast
THREE bodies were found in the space of 24 hours close to the coasts of Jávea, Altea and Calpe last week, leading emergency services to believe that a raft-full of immigrants may have capsized on the high seas.
All three bodies, discovered 20 kilometres out to sea from the Cabo de la Nao cape in Jávea and about 13 miles from Calpe and Altea were said to be in a decomposed state and wearing dark clothes.
The grim discovery was made by fishermen, who firstly found two corpses and then another 12 hours later.
Police have not ruled out finding further bodies in the sea over the next few days, particularly bearing in mind that another, as yet unidentified, corpse surfaced in the same area on May 30 this year.
And at the beginning of July, a number of immigrants attempting to make their way into Spain from North Africa were found sailing into shore both in Benidorm and Santa Pola on wooden rowing boats.
Forensics are currently identifying the bodies and attempting to ascertain whether the victims drowned, or were thrown into the water after they had already perished.

Radical future plans for Oliva and Gandia
A BOULEVARD connecting Gandia and Oliva with factories, shops and other industry, linked by a regular public transport system, is one of the regional government's ambitious plans for the next 20 years.
They hope to use the existing N-332 linking the two towns, and to coincide it with the long-awaited Gandia-Dénia train line, which would connect the cities of Valencia and Alicante by rail along the coast.
The Generalitat hopes to then extend the boulevard northwards to Tavernes de la Valldigna, which they say has great potential for housing more industrial buildings.
María Ángeles Ureña, regional secretary for the ministry of the environment and development, was in Tavernes last week to discuss the region's 20-year strategy for the area.
It will also include tidying up and promoting the rural footpaths along the Serpis and Vaca rivers in the area, and of the Mondúver mountain and the Pego-Oliva Marjal.
“It is very important that local councils get involved, because what they decide now will affect the future of La Safor,” says Ureña.
Other plans could include expanding Gandia port and basing more industry there, dualling the N-332, and extending the Gandia campus of the University of Valencia to make it more prominent in academic terms.

Red Cross helps nearly 22,000 people in one month on region's beaches
RED Cross volunteers have already helped 21,840 people on the region's beaches this summer, including rescuing 619 bathers in trouble and 45 boats in danger.
Most, however, involved minor injuries such as burns, jellyfish stings and bruises, but a total of 223 people on the Comunidad Valenciana's 109 beaches were taken to hospital by the Red Cross in a serious condition for various reasons, including heatstroke.
The majority of the Red Cross' work has been on the beaches in Jávea, Gandia, Dénia, Torrevieja, Guardamar del Segura, Santa Pola, Benicàssim, Valencia and Alicante, with most being in the Alicante province – a total of 11,134 people.
The smallest number of interventions has been in the province of Castellón, with only 2,906 people needing attendance.
Although most beaches in the region have seen millpond-calm waters and the green flag flying almost constantly, the Red Cross has reminded sun-seekers to pay attention to warnings and not to enter the sea if they see a red flag.
Doing so could not only cost bathers their lives, but also those of lifeguards if they choose to attempt to rescue them.
Lifeguards are not obliged to enter the water if a red flag is flying, but most do so out of a sense of moral duty.
Hefty fines can be imposed on those who break the rules.
When the yellow flag is hoisted, bathers should exercise extra caution if they decide to swim, and under-18s are not permitted to enter the sea unless they are accompanied by an adult who is a strong swimmer.
As well as rescue attempts and first aid, the Red Cross has managed to find 535 children who have gone missing on the beach, and helped over 5,000 people with disabilities access the beach and the sea and spend the day sunbathing.
This has largely been made possible using inflatable chairs specially adapted for those with movement difficulties.

Family holiday ends in tragedy on AP-7 near El Verger
TWO children have been killed and their sister and parents injured in a horrifying car crash on the AP-7 level with El Verger last week.
A little girl of 12 and her brother, who was nearly seven, were killed instantly in the impact when the family car veered off the road into a ditch for reasons that have not yet been clarified.
The little boy was still alive, but badly injured and unconscious, when medical services reached the scene, but died before they were able to get him into a helicopter to be airlifted to San Juan hospital near Alicante.
Emergency services say the girl's twin sister suffered from a fractured femur and was rushed to Dénia hospital for surgery.
Their parents, aged 48 and 42, sustained minor injuries.
The family, originally from Toulouse but of North African origin, was said to be travelling home to France after their holidays to celebrate the month of Ramadan.
Their car was piled high with suitcases and presents, which could have blocked the driver's view.
The two deceased children were seen flying through the closed windows of the car, leading traffic police to believe they were not wearing seatbelts.
Officers were forced to close off the southbound carriageway just after the accident, at around 10.00hrs, and a huge tailback was caused at the Oliva-Gandia exit of the motorway as a result.
Police have warned drivers to exercise extra caution on the roads during the month of August, when traffic becomes heavier due to tourism.
Some of the main blackspots include the A-3 exits at  Requena, Siete Aguas, Quart de Poblet and Ribarroja, the N-332 through Oliva, Gandia and Bellreguard, and also further south through Altea, Torrevieja and Santa Pola as well as the A-70 as it passes Alicante and the motorway tolls at San Juan.

Extra rubbish tax causes outcry amongst residents
RESIDENTS in the Ribera district and the Valldigna are furious that a new tax covering treatment of household waste – in addition to their existing annual rubbish rates – has been applied without telling them.
They say their local councils have not even bothered to send letters to them to tell them how much they will have to pay.
One woman said she received a letter claiming local authorities had called at her house twice and she was not in.
“That's impossible, because I haven't left my home for days,” she states.
Each district is now responsible for managing its own recycling process and public rubbish tips, which has led to extra tax being slapped on residents in towns where more recycling is carried out, in order to cover the costs.
“This is just going to make people decide not to recycle their rubbish,” another woman, from Alzira, commented.
“We already have to pay our council tax and rubbish tax. With even more taxes to be paid, how are we supposed to afford to eat?” queried a third.
Alzira council says it has been collecting complaint letters and petitions for the last two weeks against the extra tax.
The refuse treatment headquarters in Guadassuar says it has already had 900 written complaints.
And the councillor in charge of rubbish collection for the Ribera Alta, Ribera Baixa and the Valldigna has complained about the 'victimisation' of mayors in affected towns, because these have been 'unable to defend the interests of their people'.
Both Algemesí and Alzira councils have called for the deadline for the tax to be paid to be put off until October, but the refuse treatment headquarters is only prepared to postpone it until the end of the month.
Alginet local authorities say the tax increase 'does not buy any better service' for residents.
In Carlet and Carcaixent, local authorities have decided to absorb the new taxes themselves to avoid levying even more duties on hard-pressed families, paying for the process out of public funds saved by recycling rubbish instead of dumping it over the last year.

Top pop-rock acts at Xàtiva's August fair
THE Wizard of Oz will be the guest of honour at Xàtiva's August fair this month.
But not the one whom Dorothy travelled down the yellow brick road to find – this is Mägo de Oz, one of Spain's most popular modern folk rock and heavy metal bands.
And anyone who buys a ticket for their concert on Monday, August 16 in Xàtiva, for the sum of just 10 euros, will be given free entry to David Bisbal's performance on Wednesday, August 18.
Bisbal, whose career took off after he was a contestant on Spain's answer to Pop IdolsOperación Triunfo – in 2002, has had a long string of top-40 hits including his catchy Bulería and his most recent number one, the bi-lingual World Cup tribute song, Waving flag.
Tickets can be purchased from the information stands at Xàtiva's August fair.
Other acts will include a musical in tribute to legendary Valencian singer Nino Bravo, the Peking acrobatic circus, and displays of dressage with Spanish thoroughbreds.

Three-year setback for new health centres in Cocentaina and Castalla
NEW health centres promised for Cocentaina and Castalla will now not open until at least 2013.
Regional minister of health, Manuel Cervera, announced this disappointing news at the weekend – despite the fact that plans for the two clinics have been on the budget since 2006 and 2009 respectively.
Socialist MP Rebeca Soler has called for a 'logical explanation' for the delay and the fact that the project has been over-valued by more than 100 per cent.
She calls the PP's budgets 'propaganda' and accuses them of false promises.
The expansion works on the doctor's surgery in Cocentaina will not now start until the latter half of 2011 and it is unlikely the centre will be open before the last quarter of 2012.
Patients in Castalla will have to wait even longer, with work starting on building a new health centre at the end of 2011 and not finishing until 2013.
The work was originally budgeted at 700,000 euros, but later paperwork placed it at nearer 1.5 million.
Cervera admitted, when questioned, that he did not know why the costs had suddenly doubled.




 

Airport road to be open to traffic by November
AFTER months of being held up due to waiting for payment, work has resumed on the CV-13 and CV-10 which will give access to Castellón airport.
They are currently being surfaced, and are expected to be open to traffic by November.
Next, a roundabout will be built to link these roads to the AP-7 motorway and the N-340 national trunk road.
Safety works on the existing roads are being carried out, such as eradicating the dangerous N-340 crossroad with Torrenostra.
All this is being carried out without causing damage to the environment, stresses minister for transport Mario Flores.
The government intends to re-plant various types of flora that had to be moved to make way for the roads, and also says the work was stopped partly to avoid upsetting a rare species of eagle that was in the middle of its breeding season.
Flores attended the official opening of the CV-13 last week, a 14-kilometre stretch which will connect Vilanova d'Alcolea with Torreblanca and then Castellón airport when it is completely finished.
Part of the link from the CV-13 to the N-340 and AP-7 is already open to traffic.

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