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The four institutions responsible for the new port which is to be built in Ibiza Town announced on Tuesday that an agreement had been reached, and that the project would hopefully get underway this year. However, there was some success for those groups who had demanded a reduction in the size of the project, with Mayor Lurdes Costa announcing the wharf had been down-sized from 80,000 m2 to 63,000 m2. On this note she thanked the president of the Port Authority, Francesc Triay, for his patience and willingness to compromise.
Triay added that the project in es Botafoc would now be put out to tender across Europe, with the winner announced in August. This would hopefully mean the work could get underway by October, although, he said, this was very much out of his hands.
Triay estimated the project would cost around €80 million, and take up to 30 months to complete, although this could be reduced somewhat depending on the proposal which the Port Authority accepted.
He continued by confirming that the new port, which will take the traffic out of the town centre, will be accessed from avenida 8 d’ Agost (Pacha road), and announced a series of improvements to ensure this would be possible. However, he did not rule out another entrance road being used in the future.
The announcement was made in the company of the four institutions responsible for the work, including the Balearic president, Francesc Antich, the president of the Island Council, Xico Tarres, the Mayor of Ibiza Town, Lurdes Costa, and the president of the Port Authority, Francesc Triay. All said they were happy with the project, although each of them left the door ajar for last minute alterations.
When asked about a possible access road through ses Feixes, the protected wetlands area on the outskirts of the capital, Tarres said it would not be possible to build in the area and assured everyone that avenida 8 d’Agost would be able to cope with the increased volume of traffic. If not, a suitable alternative would be found.
About the split in the ExC party which currently forms part of the coalition, Tarres claimed, very diplomatically, that some in the party were in favour of the project, whilst some were not.
However, whilst the announcement was made inside the Town Hall building there were protests outside, with Antich being presented with a letter by the Eivissa al Limit group, formed by the environmentalists GEN, Friends of the Earth (Amics de la Terra), and the Anti-roads brigade.
The following day ExC reacted angrily to the press conference, claiming it came just two days before the party held a special meeting to discuss the project of the new port. Party spokesman, Josep Maria Gari, said the PSOE party would be wise to remember that they were governing as part of a coalition with his party, and that they won the 2007 race for the Island Council thanks to the impetus provided by ExC.
However, the anger had somewhat subsided by the time the party met on Friday, with the decision taken that the new plans would have to be studied closer to see if they coincided with the party’s initial agreement with the PSOE. If not the party would consider ending its coalition with the PSOE.
Gari commented that the ending of the political agreement had not been discussed at any length, although many members of the party were extremely angry, and such action could not be ruled out. He said, however, that the port was just one project, and that if the ExC party were to throw in the towel now, there would surely be more projects in the long term which they needed to keep a control on.
AROUND THE ISLAND
The Town Halls have remained cautious over the Island Council’s attempts to create a new land disciplinary committee which would have total control over the island. The plans are being considered to try and unify the control procedure and ensure every municipal is controlled equally.
However, Island Councillor Miquel Ramon said he understood their reluctance, and that he was in no rush to create the new body.
The department would be the responsibility of the Island Council and would ensure building work being carried out across the island was being done so with the necessary permits, and according to the permission granted by the various Town Halls. Ramon said their duties would be limited to just this, and they would not concern themselves with whether the permit should or should not have been granted in the first place.
He claimed the situation at the moment was far too complicated, and that whenever the Island Council received an official complaint they had to first get in contact with the Town Hall in question to check they were aware of the denuncia. Subsequently, an enormous amount of unnecessary paperwork was created. He said it would be far simpler if the Island Council had sole responsibility for the task.
The Town Halls of San Jose and San Antonio said they were both willing to talk about the possibilities of creating such a department, but all five Town Halls claimed they were unaware of how this new system would function, and more importantly how the financing would work, (e.g. who would pay the running costs, and where the fines would eventually end up).
The Town Halls of Mallorca have just entered the second phase of plans which will ensure a similar department is created by the end of the year. Meanwhile, Menorca has had such a system since 2005, which currently controls building work carried out in the areas designated rustic.
The man in charge of the department said it was currently working well and his team had recorded a total of 193 irregularities, which had led to a total of 16 voluntary demolitions. He added that his department currently received a total of €141,000 per year to finance their work, but that by next year they hoped to be auto-sufficient, with the fines handed out covering the costs.
Unpaid electricity bills soared by 68 per cent during 2008 compared to the previous year. As economic hardships deepen GESA explained there were currently around €3 million of outstanding invoices. Domestic clients made up the majority of those owing money, although the incidents of small businesses unable to pay their bills was growing.
Meanwhile, the Balearic Government confirmed it had opened an investigation after receiving a flood of complaints from Gesa customers about their January invoices. The bills included the new 2009 prices, but the Govern wants to check if the old rate was charged in December, or whether Gesa-Endesa billed at the new rate.
The enquiry comes as Gesa-Endesa admitted it has had to increase the number of office staff by 25 per cent to cope with a rise in customer queries about the new billing system which will see invoices issued every month.
The Balearic minister for the environment, Miquel Àngel Grimalt, signed a deal with the president of TUI AG, Michael Frenzel, last week which the two hope will tackle a number of environmental issues affecting the Balearics. The agreement, made in Germany, will see the two groups joining forces to help in the conservation of certain species, climate protection, a marketing campaign to improve public awareness of the burning environmental issues of today’s society, as well as the sustainable running of hotels and tourist complexes.
Both agreed that the deal would hopefully lead to a safer natural environment which, in turn, would ensure tourism could be enjoyed throughout the islands for many years to come.
Grimalt, meanwhile, underlined the importance that the agreement had received the full backing of a group as influential as TUI AG, adding he was delighted the company had shown such interest in the project.
The plan replaces and elaborates on a similar proposal signed back in 2005.
A meeting involving the president of the Balearic Government, Francesc Antich, and various associations and business leaders on the island, took place on Tuesday. Although the forum was intended as an opportunity for Antich to let everyone know what the Govern was doing to maintain employment and try and bring a little stability to the economy, most of the time was taken up by the guests expressing their concerns about the coming season, as they demanded more help from Antich.
Those attending the meeting included Council president, Xico Tarres, the heads of Pimeef (the association for small and medium sized businesses), representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, the two main unions on the island, (CC OO and UGT), as well as several leading business lights including Abel Matutes Juan.
All agreed that more tourist promotion was needed, particularly within Spain, as well as an improvement to flight connections from around Europe. They also pleaded for the vast amount of bureaucracy needed in order to carry out renovation work to be removed.
Meanwhile, Antich and the Balearic minister for the economy, Carles Manera, called for calm and that in order to move forward they needed the support of the islands’ businesses.
Antich’s second day on the island began with a meeting with Tarres and the five municipal mayors, and continued with a visit to sa Coma which was recently purchased by the Island Council. He was said to be amazed at the size of the area, and admitted it would mean projects such as a general water purifier and other services could be carried out far quicker, and probably multiply the number carried out on the island.
The Interior Minister in Madrid, Maria Angeles Leciñena, has received two reports concerning the possible risks of contamination in the area where the Don Pedro sank in 2007. The minister, together with a commission of technical experts which was set up last year, will now analyse the risks of refloating the vessel, although a report by the Norwegian company, DNV, is still needed before a final decision is made.
However, the reports which the minister has received so far claim there is no additional contamination in the area at the moment, although it advises that the area be supervised for substantially more time if the decision is taken to leave the boat on the seabed.
More “Winter” Flights
The low-cost airline, Ryanair, announced a route from Ibiza-Liverpool last week, which will take the number of connections from the island to five. The statement comes just a week after the announcement of a new link with East Midlands.
The Liverpool flight will begin on 30th March and fly from Ibiza on a Monday (12.40 p.m.), Wednesday (5.05 p.m.) and Friday (6 p.m.), with the corresponding flights from Liverpool departing at 8.25 a.m. (Monday), 9.20 p.m. (Wednesday) and 1.45 p.m. (Friday).
The head of sales and marketing for the company, Luid Fernandez-Mellado, claimed that prices for the new route would start at a promotional €19 per flight including all taxes.
The East Midlands flight will start a day later on the 31st March and fly on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
These flights come in addition to the routes currently operated to Stansted, Milan and Girona (Barcelona).
As the fines received as a consequence of the radar on the Ibiza-San Antonio road began being sent out, the Island Council confirmed that their petition to have the speed limit on the road increased to 100 kmph had been rejected by the Balearic Government. The proposal was sent for approval back in April 2008, but has been turned down by the Govern.
The fastest speed recorded by the radars since the two began to function on 12th December is 152 kmph. Although this case will probably go to court, the driver caught is likely to be fined €520 and have six points deducted from his license.
Although the limit is 80 kmph there is some leeway given and those caught driving below 90 kmph will not be fined. However, those in excess could be caught on camera and will be liable for fines of €100 (€70 if it is paid within 30 days).
A recent study by the Monarch airline company showed destinations both inside and outside of the eurozone were performing well. The figures released into holiday trends for 2009 showed the Canary Islands continued to be a popular choice, with Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria all appearing in the top five of the company’s 'What's hot for 2009?' chart. The winter list was as follows: 1st - Tenerife, 2nd – Lanzarote, 3rd - Sharm el Sheikh (Egypt), 4th - Goa, and 5th - Gran Canaria.
However, the disappointing news concerning summer 2009 was the non-appearance of Ibiza, despite the strong showing of both Mallorca and Menorca. The top five destinations for March for Summer 2009, are 1st – Menorca, 2nd - Dalaman (Turkey), 3rd – Tenerife, 4th – Mallorca, and 5th – Lanzarote.
Liz Savage, managing director of Monarch Flights and Holidays, said: "Despite early indications that holidaymakers were looking to head east for their holidays this year, the picture to date is somewhat different. The Canary Islands, which benefit from year-round sunshine and are only a four hour flight time from the UK, are the surprise destination leaders for both holiday and flight-only bookings this winter.
The Balearic Islands of Mallorca and Menorca are also performing strongly for summer, particularly the all-inclusive resorts which are proving hugely popular with families and now account for 70 per cent of the Balearic bookings.”
A report released last week by the National Institute of Statistics showed the Balearic population was one of the laziest in Spain. The study showed that only residents of the North African enclave of Melilla did less sport than those in the Balearics, with just 34.3 per cent participating in regular physical activity, 7.5 per cent below the national average.
The town councillor for planning, Vicent Torres, claimed on Friday that his administration would be delaying the building of the underground car park below the old bullring until alternative parking solutions can be found. His comments came after criticism by neighbours in the area after the closure of the private pieces of land which were used on a daily basis by around 450 vehicles. This has left the area severely short of spaces, with only the bullring now available for neighbours to park their cars.
Carmen Carcel, vice-president of the neighbourhood association, elaborated that when work began on the underground facility, it would mean the car park above ground would also become temporarily out of bounds as it would be taken over by the company carrying out the work. This, she added, would be unacceptable to those living in the area, and cause even more chaos in the area.
Torres revealed that the possibility of opening up the car parks again for summer had not been completely ruled out. He added that the owners knew the Town Hall was willing to co-operate, but not at any cost.
The owners decided to close the facilities, which had been in use for the last ten years, after changes to the new Land Use Plan meant the possibilities of building on adjoining land had been significantly reduced.
“We have won the battle, but not the war”. With these words the hunger strike begun by Juan Manuel Miranda and Juan Jose Peciña on 27th January, ended. After speaking to their lawyers they announced an oral hearing into their case had been opened, and that a trial date would be set in ten days time.
The hunger strike, which lasted a total of six days, began on the 8th anniversary of the collapse of the Barceló building in Ca n’ Escandell as work was being carried out to reform the inside of the office building. During the renovations the structure of the building was severely damaged, which led to irreparable damage to an adjoining building. A total of 18 apartments and several businesses had to be evacuated, with the owners unable to return. Several weeks later the two buildings were classified as ruins.
Three people are set to stand trial, including the project manager, the owner of the building and a representative of the travel group, Viajes Barceló, but due to various different motives the start date has been continually delayed. This has meant no compensation for any of the owners who have continued to pay their mortgages during this time, whilst having to rent or buy other properties.
However, at a press conference several days later the two insisted they would begin their hunger strike once again if there were any additional delays to the judicial process. Miranda is claiming compensation of €264,000, whilst Peciña is claiming €240,000.
The building opposite es Pouet beach in San Antonio will not be demolished after the Coastal Authority accepted an appeal from the Town Hall. Work on the building was stopped by the Town Hall itself back in July 2007 after it became clear that part of the construction encroached on coastal land deemed public property. A court decision in Palma towards the end of 2007 subsequently ordered the building be demolished. However, the Town Hall itself objected to the demolition arguing that the coastal division in that particular area was incorrect. Their pleas were heard and the Coastal Authority agreed to change the dividing line in the area.
The Town Hall has subsequently issued a new license which will ensure the developers, Residencial Portofino SL, will be able to begin work on the building once again.
The fishing fleet in San Antonio announced on Monday that it had reached an agreement with Enagas, the company responsible for the piping which is set to bring natural gas to the island. The pact, which also involves the Mallorcan fleets of Andratx and Palma, has been split into two parts. Firstly, all those who are based out of the three ports in question will be compensated. However, there will also be additional compensation for trawler boats that have had to install special sonar equipment in their vessels which will ensure they avoid the tubing whilst dragging their nets along the sea floor.
Just days after the announcement, however, the fleet in Ibiza Town insisted they also be included in the agreement, claiming they had also been affected by the work undertaken by Enagas.
Sunday morning saw the annual fun-run take place at s’Arenal beach in San Antonio. The obstacle race had a record 200 entrants this year, and got under way after an usually animated warm-up.
The 4.5km course had to be completed twice over, and was not made easier by a strong breeze which kept up throughout the morning, and a paddle through the torrent water, a new idea for this year.
The overall victory went to Bernat Ribas of Master Gym who managed to complete the 9km course in an impressive 19 minutes 20 seconds. Second was Eric Gautheron, with Fernando Tur coming in third.
The women’s race was won by Marga Llorens who covered the distance in a very respectable 25minutes 39 seconds.
More importantly the award for best fancy dress went to the numerous entrants from Master Gym, Luz Menu and the Super Heroes
On Monday the mayor of Santa Eulalia, Vicent Mari, claimed that he was trying to arrange a new financial package to ensure the second phase of the congress building went ahead as planned.
With finances stretched Mari said it was unlikely the Balearic Government would be able to afford to pay for the construction at the present time, with costs calculated to be in the region of €36 million. He added that he was working on an idea which would enable the Balearic Government to pay for the building over 15 or 20 years, in addition to its maintenance, similar to that used to finance the roads. He explained that the construction company carrying out the work would pay the initial costs, with the Govern reimbursing them on an annual basis. The councillor for tourism, Carmen Ferrer, also disclosed that a local businessman was also willing to make a significant contribution towards the costs, with finance from the private sector not being ruled out.
Mari took the opportunity to thank the local hoteliers, whom he claimed were fully behind the project, and had been ensuring hotel prices in the municipality were as competitive as possible to try and tempt bookings at the congress centre.
However, he was far from happy with the Island Council and Tourist department, claiming his administration had very much been left to their own devices in trying to promote the island as a destination for conferences.
The Island councillor for business development, Joan Serra Mayans, responded the following day claiming that the Island Council was in the process of creating a department dedicated solely to the promotion of conferences in Ibiza, and that they would be marketing both the trade centre, (Recinto Ferial), in Ibiza Town, and the congress centre in Santa Eulalia.
CRIME & INCIDENTS
The mentalist, Tomas A.R., who stands accused of abusing a string of women, some whilst they were minors, will spend another two years in prison whilst awaiting trial. The accused man has already been in jail for two years, but was due, under Spanish law, either to be released or found guilty. However, the judge has decided to keep the defendant behind bars without the option of bail, until a psychological report into the victim is finished. The judge stated this would prove a crucial part of the trial.
Tomas worked with several sports teams on the island, but also had private practices both in Ibiza, and Valencia, where he treated a number of patients. Just weeks after he was arrested a total of 15 women between the ages of 11 and 22 came forward to report they had been sexually abused by the defendant, who held a mental hold over many of his victims.
The name of the ex-Valencia and Spanish goalkeeper, Santiago Cañizares, was mentioned several times, and he was called to make a pre-trial statement during the summer.
The judge will now wait until all the evidence is in place before setting a date for the hearing.
A total of 25 arrests were made across the country last week as the police turned up the heat on organised crime. Five of the arrests were made on the island, and although the suspected head of the organisation was detained in Madrid, he is believed to be an island resident.
The Romanian gang is said to have been responsible for numerous house robberies across Ibiza, with the selection of tools found at their properties around the island testament to the professional nature of the gang.
In total four men and a woman were arrested on the island, although the woman was released as she had a young baby which authorities felt should not be taken into care. Three arrests were made in Santa Eulalia, one in Puig den Valls, with the final arrest made in Ibiza Town.
Police believe the group worked to specific orders from clients, with a total of €80,000 worth of goods confiscated so far.
Meanwhile, the following day the Guardia Civil announced the arrest of five members of a gang suspected of carrying out a number of robberies on the island over the last year. However, only one was kept in prison without bail, whilst three were released without charge and one was released, although he will have to appear before magistrates at a later date.
During the detentions in Ibiza Town and Playa den Bossa a total of €300,000 worth of property was recovered, including 24 televisions, part of a loot of 32 stolen earlier in 2008.
Thursday saw the spectacular sinking of a removal truck, at the port in Ibiza. The driver of the vehicle, owned by TOT S.A., arrived at the port at 9 a.m. just an hour before the ferry boarded for Barcelona. However, as he went to collect his boarding pass he forgot to put on his vehicle’s handbrake. The vehicle plummeted into the sea despite the scrambled efforts of the driver to stop it sliding off the quay. The 3.5 tonne truck was later rescued by divers, with the help of two cranes, from six metres of water, later in the afternoon.
The trial of the man accused of organising the two bank robberies on the branches of Banca March and Sa Nostra began last week. Although there were three people involved in each robbery, and the fact several arrests were made by the Guardia Civil following the attacks in June and July, only one man is facing trial.
The first attack took place on 24th June at Sa Nostra and ended with the thieves getting away with €4,608. However, this was followed ten days later by an attack on the Banca March in the centre of Ibiza Town in which they got away with €20,080. In each case a man entered the branch, threatened staff with a gun, (which turned out to be plastic), and grabbed cash from behind the cashier’s desk. He then ran outside where a waiting moped sped away from the scene. They were then met by a third man in a car who drove them to safety. The man currently standing trial is accused of being the second getaway driver, although he denies all claims.
The investigating officer revealed that a couple had originally been arrested after a tip-off from the defendant, who lived in the building opposite. However, after interviewing the two, it became clear they had not been involved in the robberies. During their statement they accused the defendant of being involved, and told police how he had driven the two men away in a car, a fact which was only known to investigating officers. This led police to take their claims seriously, and resulted in the arrest of several men including the defendant. All were released without charge, except the man currently standing trial, who has remained in prison ever since. Added to this the Guardia Civil received an anonymous phone call claiming the defendant owned a firearm.
By modern day standards Ibiza is an extremely safe place to holiday. This is a weeks worth of news and so its effect is magnified. Please do not fret while you are here - you are quite safe!!
If you have any stories for our incidents section then call or fax 971-348-271 or e-mail on: firstname.lastname@example.org
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