Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain towards the end of January 2018 for about a month
'Fair and softly goes far' - Miguel de Cervantes

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

"Ryanair and Volotea are already negotiating with Aena to fly from Corvera"

According to the linked article:
(Rough partial translation plus a few brief comments)

They are talking about commencing operations from Corvera soon after "Reyes" in January 2019 (according to the article 'soon after' "Kings", celebrated on 6th January, which in 2019 is a Sunday), with operations at the existing Murcia-San Javier airport ceasing a day earlier.

This is the first time I have ever heard a semi-specific date mentioned, so perhaps it really IS going to open this time. (fingers crossed)


NB/ AENA recently formally took on the contract to manage the projected new Murcia International Airport, located near Corvera, for a period of 25 years.

PS/ This is a comment I made in response to someone when I re-posted the same article link in a closed Facebook group relating to the part of Spain where my holiday home is located, as it may perhaps be of interest to people here too: "I suppose at least by this Autumn the airlines which plan to fly in/out of this new airport will have to start including it in their schedules for the coming year if the plans are to gain credibility, but now that AENA is formally on board I begin to have a little more confidence, but don't doubt the level at which landing fees are set will be a hot topic for negotiation between the airlines and AENA. The article does mention AENA projection that current traffic at MJV (about 1.19 million passengers per annum) may fall below 1 million during Corvera's first year of operation, before gradually rising to the 4 million they project by the end of their 25 year management contract, but AENA does have a pretty good track record of managing its airport franchises."

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Motorway toll fees on the AP7 (Cartagena to Vera) for 2018

Earlier today, detailed toll fee tables for the AP7 motorway ('autopista') from Cartagena to Vera (and indeed throughout Spain on all toll motorways under government control) for 2018 became available, although the summary details have been available for several weeks, namely that toll fees will rise this year by almost 2% on average, after having decreased slightly in each of the past two years (0.4% in 2017 and 0.6% in 2016, respectively) - various media reports were published over the past month, but a decent summary is here in the website.

Normally the concessionaire of the AP7 motorway ('autopista') from Cartagena-Vera, Aucosta, gets the details of the latest tariff up in its website fairly promptly, but so far that has not happened (the tariff for 2017 is the only version shown there), but I expect the tariff for 2018 to appear over the next week or so. However, updated motorway toll fee information for 2018 is already available in the website of the Spanish Ministry of Development ('Fomento') and relevant information for each toll motorway under its control is available here.

For the AP7 Cartagene-Vera sector the relevant table of motorway toll fee information for 2018 is available here. Toll fees are increasing slightly across the board, anywhere from €0.05 to €0.25, based on the distance. Two examples, the toll fee to/from Cartegena/Mazarron will be increased from €5.75 to €5.85 (an increase of €0.10). Over the whole length of this toll motorway concession, from Cartagena to Vera (and vice versa) the fee will rise from €13.90 to €14.15 (an increase of €0.25).

As usual, I have included links to all of this information in relevant pages of my own Spanish website here, specifically in the pages within the 'Location' section involving toll motorway options from some of the airports in the vicinity of my holiday home (i.e. Almeria/LEI and Murcia-San Javier/MJV).

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Public Holidays for 2018 - Murcia Region, Valencian Community ('Communitat Valenciana') and Andalucía ('Andalusia'), Spain

As in previous years, I have prepared a list of 'Public Holidays' applicable in the Murcia Region of Spain for some years, because it is in this part of Spain that my own holiday home is located; I wrote a blog article about Public Holidays for 2018 in Murcia Region on 11 October 2017 and you can read it here; the actual list of Public Holidays for Murcia Region for 2017 can be downloaded from my personal website here (in .pdf format).

As I did last year for the first time, I have again prepared a list of 'Public Holidays' for one of the larger neighbouring regions, the Valencian Community ('Communitat Valenciana'), comprising the three Provinces of Alicante, Castellón and Valencia, and you can download it here (in .pdf format).

Similarly, and for the first time this year, I have prepared a list of 'Public Holidays' for the largest neighbouring region of Andalucía/Andalusia, comprising its eight Provinces of Almeria, Cadiz, Cordoba, Granada, Huelva, Jaen, Malaga and Sevilla [Seville] and you can download it here (in .pdf format).

Although for Murcia Region, a much smaller administrative operation, this information is usually published no later than early October each year, for the much larger regions of the Valencian Community ('Communitat Valenciana') and Andalucía/Andalusia it is undoubtedly a much larger and more complex administrative operation, so takes somewhat longer to coordinate all the 'Local' holiday information in particular, so that they are not published until almost the end of December each year, just in time for the coming year when their lists enter into force.

All of this information is centralised in my personal website for Spain, in the Links page under Public Holidays. Within this part of my personal website for Spain, under the 'Sources' section there, there are links to the source documents issued by the regional governments in Murcia Region, the Valencian Community ('Communitat Valenciana') and Andalucía/Andalusia. If you wish to find 'local holidays' information for any municipality not mentioned in my own lists, the source documents will provide this level of detail, but bear in mind that municipalities within the large administrative regions of the Valencian Community ('Communitat Valenciana') and Andalucía/Andalusia are grouped alphabetically within separate sections for the three and eight constituent Provinces, respectively, so you need to know in which of the Provinces your target town/city is located, or go through these quite lengthy documents laboriously. For Murcia Region, much smaller and simpler administratively, all of its municipalities are listed alphabetically together, so it is much simpler to search.

Finally, I hope at least a few readers will find all of this research and information of practical value on the occasions when they are visiting Murcia, Valencia or Andalucía, for national/regional/local holidays, or indeed other parts of Spain so far as national/regional holidays are concerned. I remind readers that such information for 2018 is summarised for the whole of Spain in its 'Official Gazette' ('BOLETÍN OFICIAL DEL ESTADO') here.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Public Holidays for 2018 - Murcia Region and local to Mazarrón

(Please see UPDATE at end)

I have added a list of Public Holidays for 2018, applicable to the Murcia Region of Spain and including local public holidays in Mazarrón and nearby municipalities in the Region. You can find the list, which is available for download in .pdf format, in the Links page, under 'Public Holidays', of my personal Spanish website here (where you will also find a link to download public holidays for the current year, 2017, as this may still be useful for the remainder of the year).

You can also download the .pdf file of Public Holidays in Murcia for 2018 directly from this blog article by clicking here.

For those who are interested, you can view the official Spanish source documents for this information:
- here for the .pdf version (this is the formal official version);
- here for the HTML website version;
(These are the formal Murcia Region documents which contain the decisions authorising these public holidays, as gazetted in the Official Gazette of Murcia Region ["Boletín Oficial de la Región de Murcia"].)

As I wish to keep the list of Public Holidays I prepare as a one-page single-side document, I am unable to include every municipality included in the official BORM list, but in response to a comment received for my list for 2017 published in late 2016, I have added Fuente Alamo to my list for 2018, because it is fairly close to MCC, specially with the opening of the new motorway link a few years ago, and of course because of the popularity of the golf course at Hacienda del Alamo amongst many golfers in the area. I hope this will be helpful to those who live in or visit that area.

NB/ If you do wish to find information for other municipalities in Murcia Region not included in my list, you can find the information required in the official Spanish source documents linked to above (either the .pdf or HTML versions).

UPDATE (31DEC2017 21.35 GMT) I have written a blog article with details of public holidays for 2018 for Murcia Region, the Valencian Community ('Communitat Valenciana') and Andalucía ('Andalusia') - you can read it here.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Mazarrón - A policeman denounces the mayor's boyfriend for "threats"

This is going to be a somewhat "surreal" article, but is apparently based on real events in Mazarrón last week, on Tuesday 27th June to be precise, at the conclusion of the final plenary session of Mazarrón Council for June.

An off-duty member of the Mazarrón Local Police force (Policía Local de Mazarrón) was, it seems, talking with the Mayoress of the city, Alicia Jiménez, when he heard shouts of "I will kill you, I will kill you", uttered allegedly by the boyfriend of the Mayoress. It seems that during this incident or 'fracas', the Mayoress stood between the two men in an effort to keep them apart, and during it the Mayoress was pushed into the wall by the alleged assailant, that's to say her boyfriend, and was "stunned". She then said to the complainant (i.e. the off-duty local policeman), that "my personal life is my own" ("Mi vida personal es mía").

The policeman has now, it seems, lodged a formal complaint with the national police force, or Civil Guard (Guardia Civil). He also alleges that the Mayoress's boyfriend tried to renew his aggression against him, but that others present tried to halt this. The policeman, whose initials are 'MQ', has now said to the newspaper (see link at end): "... it is very sad that such things happen, and even more so when I was talking to the Mayoress in an atmosphere of absolute cordiality. I do not understand what Jiménez's boyfriend was trying to show/demonstrate [by his actions] at the plenary. In fact, this man accompanies the Mayoress to all public events and even appears in the photographs, and even more so when he is not a councilor or part of the local government. All this has happened because they are losing their nerves and do not control the situation. We are still owed a lot of money and we will not stop protesting, and less now. What they should now do is pay us and stop creating problems. [He reiterated that] ... my family and I feel threatened by these mafia practices that intimidate us when we oppose their policies." (" ... es muy triste que ocurran cosas así, y más aún cuando yo estaba hablando con la alcaldesa en un ambiente de absoluta cordialidad. No entiendo qué pintaba el novio de Jiménez allí en el Pleno. De hecho, este hombre acompaña a la regidora a todos los actos públicos e incluso aparece en las fotografías, y más aún cuando no es concejal ni forma parte del Gobierno local. Todo esto ha pasado porque están perdiendo los nervios y no controlan la situación. Nos siguen debiendo mucho dinero y nosotros no vamos a dejar de protestar, y menos ahora. Lo que tendrían que hacer es pagarnos y dejar de armar escándalos. Mi familia y yo nos sentimos amenazados por esas prácticas mafiosas con las que nos intimidan cuando nos oponemos a sus criterios").

The newspaper tried to contact the Mayoress, but she did not respond to their calls, but a spokesperson said: "Nothing has happened. There has been no problem at the plenary. He (the policeman) got into the alleged assailant and told him words about his (the assailant's, i.e the boyfriend's) personal life that were of no relevance. Jiménez's boyfriend did not like those words, so addressed himself to the policeman, but did not attempt to assault him." ("No ha pasado absolutamente nada. No ha habido ningún problema en el Pleno. Él se metió con el supuesto agresor y le dijo palabras sobre su vida personal que no venían a cuento. Al novio de Jiménez le sentaron mal esas palabras. Se dirigió a él, pero no intentó agredirle.")

For background information, for those not familiar with local politics in Mazarrón, there has been a long-standing dispute between the Mazarrón Local Police force and the Municipality of Mazarrón (Ayuntamiento de Mazarrón) over allegedly unpaid salaries. I heard some months ago about a "protest camp" that had been set up by some local police opposite the Town Hall and during my last visit to Spain during May saw this for myself - a quite significant number of tents had been set up on the plaza/square beside the Town Hall, surrounded by a light barrier - as I (obviously) visited the square during the daytime, an afternoon, there were only a few people present to guard their tents, but presumably more are occupied at night, although I did not hang around to find out.

I'd have thought it relatively easy to establish the FACTS of this dispute - that the Town Hall (and it Mayoress and Town Council) has, or has not, paid the monies due to its local police force. The fact that the Town Council seems not to have attempted to present any evidence they have have made the required payments leads me to suspect they probably have not, but I am obviously not in a position to know this for certain.

It is probable that the local council is short of funds, whether because funds/taxes have not been collected efficiently from those obligated to pay them, or because such funds are organically insufficient to meet expenditure commitments, or because funds once collected are not being applied correctly. I do know that a year or so back, local taxes were lowered somewhat, which seemed strange to me at the time - but as this was in the year prior to the last local elections, the cyncial me wondered at the the time whetehr this was merely a mechanism to persuade voters to vote for those who had put in place the redcution.

Neither the off-duty policeman nor the boyfriend is named in the article, standard practice in Spain, as the names of concerned parties are not revealed by the police, except sometimes in the form of their initials, until after the conclusion of any subsequent court case.

Source: Un policía denuncia al novio de la alcaldesa por «amenazas» (this article appeared in local regional newspaper 'La Verdad')

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Murcia International Airport ("Corvera") - another promotional video for a "ghost airport"

Another promotional video for the future Murcia International Airport ("Corvera"), currently and for some years a completed "ghost" and some would say an expensive "white elephant". Time will tell if this project can ever have its mothballs taken off and it can start to operate.

Of course too, there is the question of compensation for those whose land was expropriated to build the airport, still unpaid almost 10 years after the land was seized, not to mention agreement on compensation for AENA for the upgrade work it carried out at nearby Murcia San Javier airport only a few years ago. Refinancing of the debt incurred to build it is also a major and recurrent concern for the modestly-populated Murcia Region.

I hope the new airport opens eventually, but I ceased to hold my breath about it some years ago. Anyway, here is the video:


Saturday, 8 April 2017

A brief "plug" for my YouTube channel

Although I have had a YouTube channel for not far short of ten years, I have done very little with it to date, partly beacuse of a lack of particularly good camera equipment, but more as a result of a lack of suitable editing software, other than of a very basic kind. However, at least as important a reason was lack of confidence, both in appearing before a camera and in how to structure and edit videos.

However, in the past couple of years, I have been subscribed to quite a decent number of YouTube channels, operated by various other people, and have been trying my best to glean tips from them. For the past few years too, I've had better camera equipment of various kinds and am planning to add additional equipment as I gain a little more confidence, and more recently I obtained a much better piece of editing software, although I am still very much feeling my way with that. But doing is learning, so that's what I am now trying to do a little more seriously than I have before. Along the way I'll no doubt continue to make glaring errors, but I hope to improve gradually.

Until now I have made almost zero effort to tell anyone else about my YouTube channel, other than close family and friends, but I think now is the time to at least make others more aware of it. If you do care to visit my channel, or even "subscribe" to it, I shall be very grateful - but please be gentle with your comments.

My YouTube channel may be visited here.
(To see links to videos I have uploaded, click on the "Videos" link from the link above.)
- as with all my other 'social media' accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube), there are permanent buttons/links in the right-hand column.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Temporary disruption of RM-332 between Mazarron and Puerto de Mazarron - 6th to 17th March 2017 approx

The RM-332 road between Mazarron and Puerto de Mazarron will be closed from next Monday 6th March until about Friday 17th March (that is, for two working weeks) whilst the new roundabout to give better access to the new sports complex is completed. The precise dates this road is closed may vary slightly, depending on the progress of the works under construction. During the period of disruption, alternative access between Mazarron and Puerto de Mazarron will be avaliable via Bolnuevo using the RM-D6.

Acess to properties along the RM-332 (farms, garden centres, commercial properties, residences, etc) will still be possible during this whole period, but only to Mazarron or Puerto de Mazarron depending on where they are located in relation to the new roundabout, so direct access between parts of the closed route may involve lengthy detours.

Please pay particularly close attention to the signs and detour instructions along the whole route during this period.

Source - Mazarron Town Council (Ayuntamiento de Mazarrón), link here (the linked article is obviously in Spanish).

Sunday, 5 February 2017

"Theresa May wins Spain’s support over early deal for rights of expat Brits in Europe"

The title of this article, in quotations, is taken from an article published in the Daily Express newspaper on Friday evening - you can read it here.

I've no idea whether this Daily Express article is authoritative or speculative - it would be helpful to see a similar message in other parts of the mainstream media, not to mention direct quotes from both Mrs May for the UK and Sr Rajoy for Spain in particular, although the article does contain a number of direct statements attributed to a spokesman for Mrs May:

Comments directly attributed to a spokesman for Mrs Theresa May, British Prime Minister:

"They both agreed it was an area it would be good to get agreement early on in the negotiations.

"He said we need to get an agreement on reciprocal rights.

"We are firmly of the opinion that we want this issue that is resolved early. There is some broad agreement across member states but not all of them.

"They both agreed it would be an area it would be good to get an early agreement on."

On this basis, these are my remarks on what may have been achieved, but what obviously still requires to be formalised:

This sounds hopeful but I'd be cautious about over-optimism until formal agreement is reached - both the UK and Spain have an interest in resolving this issue quickly, but if Germany and some others remain intransigent, it may not happen so smoothly as this implies - my view is and has always been that the rights of existing EU27 residents in the UK must be protected; it is not the British government that is holding cross-border EU residents to ransom, despite attempts in some parts of the British media to paint this picture, it is countries like Germany.

There should be no illusions about this - Brussels regards Britons in the rest of the EU and residents in the UK from the rest of the EU as bargaining chips in their plans to make the UK's exit (aka 'escape') from the clutches of the EU as painful as possible - the Eurozone is in such a mess that Brussels will go to almost any lengths to keep its banks afloat (notably Deutsche and certain of the French banks, which are heavily epxosed in places like Spain, Italy and of course Greece, etc).

Personally I have few qualms about Merkel's 'crazy' immigration policy, because luckily the UK is not a member of the Schengen area, something which is only possible because the UK happens to be comprised of islands off the mainland of Europe (Ireland is also outside of the the Schengen area, it being a practical solution because of its long-standing relations with the UK, but is really for Ireland's convenience, especially given the open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland dating back to, from memory, 1923 - long before either country joined the EEC (now EU).

It is no accident that thousands of prospective immigrants surged through Schengen in to Germany, Finland, amongst other destinations, and to Calais (hoping to smuggle themselves into the UK, until the French government at last took the situation in hand and dispersed them around the country). It is possible that a proportion of the large number of 'immigrants' referred to are genuine 'asylum seekers' to whom refuge must be granted, but it seems to be generally agreed that these represent at most 50% of the total numbers and perhaps considerably less. Although the rules for claiming 'asylum' are that a claim must be lodged in the first 'country of sanctuary' (often Greece or Italy within the EU, but also countries such as Turkey and Lebanon), it has always seemed to me only fair that all EU members should share the burden, certainly financially if not always physically - it is striking that the UK contributes more than the rest of the EU combined to this effort and is second only to the US in this financial assistance. Those 'first sanctuary' countries, all of them, have in my view tried their best to accommodate as many genuine refugees as they can, given their own high levels of unemployment and the fact that their economies are generally much less robust than some of the countries further north in the EU (Austria, Germany, Holland, Finland and of course the UK) and from what I can gather the two of them in the EU (Greece and Italy) had been pleading for help from the rest of the EU, both financial and practical, for some years, but had largely been ignored and left to get on with it as best they could, until the surge of numbers in the summer of 2015 shamed the EU and in particular Germany to accept as many as could travel there - the open Schengen border then (since restricted somewhat in practical terms) made transit across the continent fairly easy, if chaotic - but the drawback was that the huge numbers meant that any real effort to distinguish between 'immigrants' ('economic' or other) and genuine 'asylum seekers' became almost impossible, not aided by the fact that many discarded whatever ID they may have had, or obtained forged documentation from what were considered to be more acceptable 'asylum' countries, such as Syria or Iraq and a few others such as Sudan or South Sudan etc, when many of those concerned probably came from completely different countries, whilch although poor were not in a state of political turmoil requiring 'asylum'. This article is NOT about immigration or asylum, however, but it is impossible not to mention this topic when discussing wider matters relating to EU membership and the rights and responsibilities that status implies.

The UK will always need "immigrants" and generally welcomes them, as we have a robust economy and relatively low unemployment. We also have a long history of accepting refugees in need of asylum and I hope this will continue long into the future, quite apart from our international obligations in this regard. It seems to me that although relatively few genuine asylum seekers arrive direct in the UK from the countries they are fleeing from, even if through equally dangerous countries, that we have to play our part in helping, at the very least financially, those countries where genuine asylum seekers are likely arrive first in Europe. It is certainly unfair to leave it all to Italy and Greece within the EU, or Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, which already have accommodated large numbers of refugees - and are not wealthy countries themselves - simply because geography places them in the path of these genuine refugees.

Coming back to the main topic of this article, however, I do hope the governments of the EU27 overall (and not just Spain, obviously one of the more important member states) will come to their senses and agree quickly measures to protect both EU27 citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU27 - the UK government and now apparently Spain want to get this matter resolved quickly. Let's hope sense will prevail in Brussels (& Germany) so that this agreement can de done quickly. Although I didn't agree with 'remainer' Theresa May's seeming intransigence, I have come to the conclusion her robust, but fair, attitude has been the better course to follow and will in due course stand the best chance of allowing this matter to be resolved in a common sense way. But it needs reciprocal good will from the EU27 too - given that, I do not think the UK will be found wanting. But we have taken the decision to depart the EU and the stamping of feet in frustration and anger by anyone is highly unlikely to change this and given the British nature is only likely to harden attitudes here, which frankly is the last thing I wish to see happen.

(NB/ This article is cross-posted from my main blog Bill's Comment Page [link] - see also link to relevant article).

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Yes, it does occasionally get VERY cold, even in southern Spain

A neighbour has just sent me some photographs of the same view I have from my little house in Spain near Mazarron (Murcia); apparently this "cold snap" is expected to last for another couple of days (visibility is quite low too), although another acquaintance living a little inland from Torrevieja is reporting that rain there is already washing away the snow they had. I saw photographs yesterday from near Alicante too (must have been a little inland at a slight elevation) where there had obviously been a LOT of snow.