December 2013 News Headlines

2014 Budget nearly €38 million

Dec 30th
The Provincial Gazette has published Xàbia's 2014 budget which amounts to €37.89 million. One of the costs to increase is subventions to associations, social organisations and sports clubs. For more details see: Budget 2014 From XAD: Xàbia sube....

Electricity price rise fixed at 2.3 percent for first quarter

Dec 28th
Following an avowal that consumers would not bear the cost of a potential 11- to 13-percent hike in electricity costs resulting from a wholesale auction carried out last week, the government announced Friday that the rise for the first quarter of 2014 would be fixed at 2.3 percent. That was the lowest proposal offered by the CNMC anti-trust authority and is split between a 1.4-percent rise on the liberalized part of consumers’ bills, and 0.9 percent on the regulated component. The increase will affect 18.5 million consumers whose rates are based on the government’s TUR (Rate of Last Resort) system, the most common billing type in Spain. For full story see: El País in English

Drones that can save lives

Dec 27th
Francisco Gayá was glued to the television screen in the summer of 2006, watching the constant news reports about forest fires. "So much misfortune had to trigger a call to action," he says by way of explanation for what he did next. A businessman who used to specialize in the media industry, and an amateur pilot on the side, Gayá decided to set up Flightech Systems, the first Spanish company to make a drone — an unmanned aerial vehicle — capable of monitoring this type of emergencies. Gayá, a native of Madrid, called up 21 friends to tell them about his business idea. Seventeen of them said yes. Since then, he has attracted 27 shareholders who contributed a total of nine million euros to get the project off the ground. For full story see: El Pais in English

Stormy weather causes havoc in Northern Spain

and … winds generate half of the electricity over Christmas

Dec 27th
Storms across northern Spain have caused a train to derail, left four people injured, homes and shops flooded, flights grounded and over 100,000 people without electricity. Winds of up to 185 kilometres per hour (115mph) swept the north of the country and rainfall reached 140 litres per square metre (14 centimetres, or nearly six inches). In Galicia, 88,000 homes were left without power (see ThinkSpain for full story - however the strong winds had a positive side in that wind generated electricity provided about half the power on Christmas eve and Christmas day. From Las Provincias Friday 27th December.

Foreign Tourist spending up

Dec 27th
Spending by international tourists reached 55.896 million euros in the first eleven months of the year, representing an improvement of 8.7% over the same period in 2012, according to figures provided on Thursday by the tourism expenditure survey "Egatur" prepared by the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism. The bulk of the expenditure was made by British tourists, €11.517 million - 20.6% of the total, up 7.4% more. Germans € 9.152 million, up 6.9%, French, € 5,600 million, up 19.7%, and the Nordic countries, €5,249 million, up 18.1%. From Las Provincias: El Gasto...

500,000 "Ghost Cars"

Dec 26th
The Department of Vehicle registration (Tráfico) has been tidying up its records and checking details with owners of old cars (one supposedly 40 year old banger still in circulation). They have found many "phantom cars" - those which are no longer in existence, but have never been de-registered. There are many reasons: owner died, car sold, but ownership not changed over, scrapping never registered etc. etc. Of the 3.5 million cars registered in the Comunidada Valenciana some 500,000 are thought to be ghosts. People who receive letters asking for clarification of "ghost" car details shouldn't worry - their records can be sorted out without penalty, and there's no deadline. From Las Provincias: Campaña...

Demolished after 40 years


Dec 26th
Four Xàbia housing blocks totalling 16 dwellings which were left half built 40 years ago, are finally being demolished. The buildings in question are not far from the canal de la Fontana in the Arenal area. From Diarioinformación

Abortion law reform: What it means for pregnant women in Spain and how it differs from previous legislation

Dec 20th
Spains abortion law reform approved on Friday in Parliament is said to be the 'most restrictive' in the history of the country's democracy, only allowing women to terminate a pregnancy in the event of rape or serious risk to her life or health. A comprehensive article in ThinkSpain describes the impact of this and previous laws governing abortion in Spain.

Sheep and goats help clear firebreaks on the Montgó

Dec 19th
A herd of some 400 sheep and 80 goats from Benissa has been brought in to graze firebreak areas on the Montgó. This is part of a experiment to see if clearing the areas this way is a viable method of maintenance and whether it reduces carbon emissions as compared to machinery. It also restores a traditional use of la Plana on the Montgó. The Valencia Government and la Caixa have renewed a €55,000 agreement which gives silvicultural jobs to 5 socially excluded people for work restoring vegetation and firebreaks on the Montgó. from Diarioinformación.. and Las Provincias...

Xàbia gets ownership of public footpaths and historical crosses

Dec 17th
Xàbia Town Hall has extended its inventory. After years of legal wrangling, it now owns the cliff top footpath at la Caleta (an important tourist route up to Cap Prim) and another footpath at Benimadrocs. It also owns 15 tosca stone crosses which mark two of the old town gates and the boundaries of the municipality. They have also acquired a number of works of art given by artists which hold exhibitions in municipal facilities. From Las Provincias: El Ayuntamient...

Three members of same family die of food poisoning after raiding bins

Dec 17th
A family in Sevilla province has died after eating out-of-date food they found whilst raiding bins because they could not make ends meet. Those who knew them say they were among several families in their town who raided bins for food and, like all the others, did so at night to avoid the 'embarrassment' of being seen by any of their friends or neighbours. for full story see: ThinkSpain

Open University (UNED) forms a regional consortium

Dec 178th
The Open University of Denia and Benidorm has decided to constitute itself as a consortium covering both the Marina Alta and Marina Baixa with a 2014 budget of around a million Euros, and 1705 students. This arrangement allows new municipalities such as Villajoyosa and Alfàs del Pi to get involved. A social fund of €6000 will be set up for economically disadvantaged students. UNED funds: Dénia: €973,921; Jávea classroom: €69,000; Benidorm classroom: €203,590

Why a drain in Spain will lead to population shrinkage by 2017

Dec 13th
For some time now, Spain's falling birth rate and ageing population has had the country's demographers calculating just when the two curves will cross, and deaths will begin to outnumber births. The National Statistics Institute (INE), which last month published its findings in the report Projections for the Spanish Population 2013-23, says that if current trends continue, that moment will arrive in 2017. The country has not faced such a situation since the Spanish Civil War, or the flu epidemic of 1918-19. For full story see: El Pais in English

Guided tour on Xàbia's Civil war heritage

Dec 13th
The Xàbia Viva heritage association has arranged a very special guided tour for Sunday 15th December through which it hopes to discover more about the role of Jávea during the civil war of the 1930s. Led by municipal archaeologist Ximo Bolufer, the tour will exploring the sites of the bunkers and anti-aircraft defense positions that protected an airfield that once ran across the flat plain just inland from the Arenal. The tour will begin at 9.00am next to the fish market in the port and finish in Portitxol where it will be possible to access the remains of a bunker that lies in private property. For details and full story in English see: Javeamigos

Helpdesk talk for foreign residents on the dangers of not having a NIE and on flexible payment of municipal taxes

Dec 12
The Town Hall help desk is organising a talk on Thursday December 19th at 7pm in the Casa de Cultura to explain the importance of having a NIE, the dangers of not having one (fines and embargoes of properties) and how to get one. They'll also be looking at fiscal representatives and explaining the flexible payment plan for municipal taxes. Advisor Susan Bultitude will be there to help answer questions with town hall staff. From Press Release.

Spain's new Environmental law in the spotlight

Spain Alters Environment Law to Speed Industrial Projects

Dec 10
Spain changed environmental rules to speed approvals on industrial projects from pig farms to oil rigs and for the first time will regulate shale drilling. Authorities will have six months to rule on projects based on the potential harm to nature. While Spain’s new law regulates industries from steel to agriculture, its most notable impact may be on oil and gas exploration in one of Europe’s most energy-deficient countries. Spain imports about 99 percent of its oil and gas, paying 43 billion euros ($59 billion) this year through September. A groundswell of project interest emerged as the government embraced Repsol SA (REP)’s request to explore off Spain’s Canary Islands and backs the development of untapped shale areas. For full story see: Businessweek

Spain's New Environment Policy Opens The Door To Conservation Banking

Dec 10th
Late last month, the Spanish government ratified a new Environmental Assessment Act. Among the changes is the inclusion of conservation banking as a compensatory tool to ensure the country can achieve a no-net loss of species from development projects and other land-use impacts. For full story see: Ecosystem Marketplace

Table of Contents

Fighting forest fires with wild truffles


Dec 10th
The wild truffle could become a great ally in the fight against forest fires if it is cultivated in firewalls. Their presence would enhance surveillance and forest protection, and also would mean an economic benefit to truffle growers. This is one of the conclusions of a study conducted by researchers from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) and the Foundation for Environmental Studies Centre for the Mediterranean (CEAM), which have proven the viability of wild truffles in firewalls. The work, published in the journal Fungal Biology, proposes growing wild truffles (Tuber melanosporum) in firewalls as a measure to reduce the cost of maintainenance and improving their sustainability. from Levante: Truferas sylvestres....

Canal de la Fontana bunged up !


Dec 10th
The recent storms have created a natural dam of sand and algae at the mouth of the canal de la Fontana. So much so, it is possible to walk occross to the other side, and by the same token, boats cannot go out to sea, and the water cannot circulate…apparently it is beginning to smell a bit nasty. Ironically, the contract for the management of the canal was supposed to have been put out to tender last November by the Valencia Government and a feasability study and preliminary project idea had been completed. The boat owners association (AEXAMAR) has asked the Town Hall to request the Department of Infrastructure to come and clear the blockage as soon as possible. One of the conditions of the management contract would be to dredge the canal…but in the meantime this falls under the competence of the Valencia Ministry of infrastructure. From Las Provincias: Una barrera... and XAD: Un gran dique...

Alicante to set up centralised procurement system for municipalities

Dec 8th
The Alicante regional government has agreed the rules for a centralised procurement system for its municipalities. Through this, towns will be able to procure goods services and supplies, getting the best prices for contracts and simplifying administration. The goal : "is to acquire products and services according to the needs of municipalities and through economies of scale obtain a lower price, thus saving money to municipalities and citizens." Municipalities with fewer that 5000 inhabitants can delegate procurement skills to Alicante if they need to. From Las Provincias....

The Marina Alta lives entirely off tourism

Dec 7th
Not so long ago there were moves to diversify the Marina Alta's economy away from the "sun and sea" tourist model. But it still seems to be with us. A recent assessment of unemployment data for the region points out that it is based on the service sector and increasingly: short term, focused on immediate returns and the preservation of benefits and labour rights. The tourist focused towns are those which are slipping down the uneployment slide fastest. From Diarioinformación

Spain is a nation of happy homeowners, but heating can be a problem, says INE

Dec 7th
88.1 per cent of property owners in Spain are happy with their pad, but 18 per cent cannot heat it enough in winter, according to recent figures released by the National Statistics Institute (INE). Much of the problem concerning heating is financial, with 25.8 per cent of households where the total income was less than 15,000 euros a year after tax being unable to get warm enough in winter, falling to 10.8 per cent among those homes with a total income of 28,800 euros a year. For full story see: ThinkSpain

Pines around Sta Lucía Ermita finally pruned

Dec 6th
The pines around the Sta Lucía Ermita have become overgrown, impeding the view of the chapel. However, because the area is within the vicinity of the Montgó Natural Park, permission to prune them has had to be sought from the regional ministry of the Envronment. Apparently this had not been forthcoming until recently. But now the Town Hall has been able to prune the trees and clean up the area in time for the traditional procession up to the Ermita on Friday 13th December (Sta Lucía day) from XAD: Medioambiente....

How politics has blighted Spain’s regional broadcasters

Dec 6th
The Valencia government’s decision to close down Canal 9 has highlighted the weaknesses of a publicly funded media model that has systematically failed to meet its remit… Local broadcasters inherited many of the vices of state television: they were tightly controlled by their regional government paymasters, who in turn used them for their own political ends, and they also ran up huge debts. That said; they did fulfill a mission in promoting regional language and culture…RTVV's accumulated debt is more than one billion euros, says the regional government, but this would be the first time that a public broadcaster has closed. Telemadrid may follow suit if the courts overrule a similar plan to lay off most of its workforce. For full story see: El País in English

Amjasa donates €2000 to food banks

Dec 6th
Xàbia's Municipal water company, AMJASA has donated €2000 to the Caritas and Red Cross food banks. The money was derived from the sale of scrap. From Las Provincias: Amjasa...

Gandia businessmen proposes development for end of Canal de la Fontana

The owner of a 5 star hotel in Gandía has presented the town hall with an idea to use the municipal plot at the end of Avda Augusta and the canal de la Fontana to create a 10,000m2 sea-water pool. This would provide moorings for 338 boats of up to 6m. Around the pool would be a two-floor shopping complex. Creating an internal marina or dry dock on this idea has been a recurring theme in Xàbia. In 2007, the now defunct political party, Nueva Jávea made a quite detailed proposal. For further background see: Canal de la Fontana. From XAD: Un Empresario...

Spain drops 10 places in Transparency International 2013 corruption index

Dec 3rd
Spain fell 10 places on an annual global corruption ranking for 2013, published Tuesday by Transparency International. The country’s slump to 40th on TI’s Corruption Perceptions Index was based on a series of scandals enveloping the royal family, the governing Popular Party and the main opposition Socialists. Only Syria, in the throes of a vicious civil war, fell further than Spain, which lost the same amount of ground as Gambia, Mali, Guinea-Bissau and Libya. “The problem in Spain is the political reaction,” said Fernando Jiménez, a lecturer in political sciences at the University of Murcia. “Very few people resign here.” Denmark and New Zealand topped the 2013 list, as they did last year. For full story, see: El Pais in English

Ikea in Valencia seeks candidates for 500 jobs 'with or without experience'

Dec 3rd
The planned new Ikea store near Valencia is actively seeking new recruits, and between 400 and 500 jobs are said to be up for grabs. According to the Swedish low-cost furniture giant, the store in Alfafar wants employees 'of all ages, with or without previous experience' in the roles they will be applying for. For more See:Thinkspain Las Provincias reports that the on-line application website was overwhelmed with thousands of applicants, and Ikea was going to switch to another, more powerful server.

Valencia Government renews bus contract for Xàbia

Dec 3rd
Xàbia al Día reports that the concession for the bus service in Xàbia has been renewed with the company which has held it for the past several years. The terms and conditions of the concession are unknown, and the contract seems to have been awarded without consulting local politicians who know what the town needs. La generalitat... (Ed's Note: Many of the problems with Xàbia's transport service have in the past been ascribed to the terms of the concessionaire's contract…)

Storm causes disruption all over the region

Dec 3rd
Saturday night's storm caused a wide range of disruption in the region. In Xàbia, the storm surge eroded sand from the Arenal beach, and dumped sand on the promenade. The glass panels of an ice-cream parlor were blown out by gusts reaching some 78km an hour. Numerous trees were uprooted or damaged. There was hail in Teulada, snow on the Mariola and 132mm of rain in Callosa d'En Segura. Gandia port was closed due to waves of up to 5m. From XAD Las rachas... and Las Provincias: El viento...

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