Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'Fair and softly goes far' - Miguel de Cervantes

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Briton detained in Mazarrón in connection with convictions for sexual assault and corruption of minors

A Briton aged 34 has been detailed in Mazarrón in connection with convictions for sexual assault and corruption of minors.

He was convicted in a British court in 2012 and sentenced to 12 years in prison, on offences committed between 2006 and 2009. The arrest was made under an arrest warrant issued in the UK and executed through Interpol Madrid.

Read full story (in Spanish)  here.

Monday, 2 June 2014

The King is NOT dead, Long Live the King

This is my perhaps whimsical way of marking the announcement a short time ago that the King of Spain, Juan Carlos I, has decided to abdicate, largely because of his failing health, in favour of his son Prince Felipe, Prince of Asturias.

The King, who is now 76, has been in failing health for some time, so his decision to abdicate is not entirely a surprise, although the recent travails of his daughter (Princess Cristina) and her husband have perhaps contributed both to his health problems and his lessening personal popularity amongst the Spanish people, although in general he has been extremely popular and his intervention during the attempted military coup of February 1981 is believed to have been a major factor in foiling it and cementing the post-Franco modern Spanish democracy we know today.

Crown Prince Felipe is the third of King Juan Carlos's three children, but the only male, so became heir apparent in accordance with Spanish law; he is 46 and has two children, both daughters, currently aged 8 and 7. I am not yet aware of how Crown Prince Felipe will be 'styled' once he ascends the throne.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Pay your Mazarrón IBI by direct debit and get a 5% discount

Mazarrón Council are making it more straightforward to pay your IBI (local property tax) by offering a 5% discount to those putting in place or amending a direct debit on-line via its own official website (www.mazarron.es).

Nobody likes paying taxes, but at least this makes it a little easier and there is a financial incentive, provided you sign-up by 30th April 2014. I have had a direct debit in place now for many years and apart from making sure there is sufficient in my account it is all handled automatically - very convenient and it means there is no risk of forgetfulness. To sign up on-line you need to have a recent bill to hand with the relevant references to input, or you can visit your bank to put the direct debit in place (this is what I did some years ago and wrote about it here, in case you are new to the area and unfamiliar with the procedure).

More details in a LaVerdad article here

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Requests to remove links by websites to whom I have linked in my websites

I have received a number of requests recently to remove links from my Spanish website (casabill.net), the reason being cited in each case was that it may have been interfering with their search engine rankings (the name of a, perhaps the most, famous search engine always being mentioned); sectors concerned have been currency-related and car rental related websites of the 'comparison' kind. I have complied with these requests for link removal, but made it very clear in my email correspondence with the firms concerned my view that whilst their attempts to manipulate search engine rankings may succeed for a while, they will almost certainly be found out by those running the search engines in question. Usually such requests for link removal have come from firms which had earlier requested that I include a link. Naturally for my own protection I am not naming the firms in question, although I have full documentary evidence to support what I write.

To be absolutely clear, my website is totally non-commercial in nature and payment for links is neither sought nor accepted if it is offered.

The point of this article is to highlight the fact that comparison websites, whilst offering nothing of their own, are obviously in the business of gleaning the small individual revenue that is generated whenever there is a 'click through' from them to one of the firms to whom they link. You will find that, if you compare different comparison websites (so to say), the firms to whom they link often overlap extensively, but the underlying financial transactions on offer (whether currency or car rental, etc - probably the same is true of insurance, but I have no personal experience of this particular comparison sector myself) may vary slightly in the prices quoted, possibly because of the different volumes of traffic generated by the different comparison websites to particular end-providers and the remuneration terms they have negotiated - and no doubt this is influenced to some extent, or is perceived to be, by a particular comparison website's ranking in search engine queries.

It so happens that I received a request for link removal this morning from a 'comparison' firm which had some months ago requested that I include a link; I complied within 5 minutes of the request being received by removing the link. Perhaps it is purely a coincidence, but I had added a link to another 'comparison' site in precisely the same sector only yesterday (after having received a request for link inclusion from them a few days earlier), so I wonder if the fact that I was now linking to a rival 'comparison' site as well was felt to be 'unhelpful' to them commercially.

I have no particular 'axe to grind', because I operate my websites and blogs purely for my own interest with no commercial gain in mind. Comparison websites, on the other hand, may portray themselves as sources of impartial advice and generally it is true they can be helpful in guiding a buyer of a service to a sensible and reasonably cost-effective provider of such services, but it is prudent never to forget that such comparison websites are commercial enterprises and different comparison websites compete against each other and others who provide similar links and that rankings in search engine queries are an important criterion for them and that whilst the search engines try to put in place measures to prevent undue manipulation of rankings, some businesses do try and 'tweak' the results in their favour, in one way or the other.

In other words, what has always been true, remains true in the age of the internet, when seeking guidance about how to spend one's money - all is not always as it seems. Remember - caveat emptor ('let the buyer beware').

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Exhibition of works by Domingo Valdivieso Y Henarejos in Mazarrón

There is currently (or soon - *) an exhibition of paintings by Mazarrón-born artist Domingo Valdivieso Y Henarejos (1830-1872), consisting of works works from public and private collections, as well as individual loans, of various subjects (religious, portraits, historical, mythological, also Murcian and Italian customs and dress).

The exhibition is being hosted by  Mazarrón Town Council at the Casas Consistoriales, next to the new Town Hall (Ayuntamiento).

There is a Wikipedia page for this artist (in Spanish) here, plus a briefer Wikipedia 'stub' in English here. For those who can visit, I am sure it would be an interesting and worthwhile experience.

(*) The linked article here does not specifically mention when the exhibition will open, but does mention that it will be open until Wednesday, 30th April 2014.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Murcia Region government reverses itself on 'illegal' expropriation of Corvera from contractor Sacyr

I wrote here last August of my disgust at the manoeuvres of the Murcia Regional Government, which purported to demit Sacyr as concessionaire and developer of the projected Murcia Corvera Airport.

Now this illegal action has been reversed as a result of the harsh reality that the reckless machinations and promises of outgoing Murcia Region President Sr Ramón Luis Valcárcel have proved what I always believed them to be - just so much hot air! This gentleman is of course soon to 'exit stage left' from Murcia politics, hopeful of finding himself a new 'billet' on the EU gravy-train after the forthcoming European Parliament elections in May 2014.

Whether this welcome return to legality brings us any closer to the opening of the new airport at Corvera is anyone's guess. Recent reports I have read indicate there is still no firm commitment to close the currently-operating Murcia-San Javier airport and if this does not happen it seems unlikely that the new airport could ever have the remotest chance of becoming a viable operation. I read some time ago that the amount of compensation to be paid to AENA would be €59 million, instead of about €70 million, for having built the second runway at Murcia-San Javier and carrying out terminal improvements there, but I read subsequently that the portion of this to be paid by the Ministry of Defence (Murcia-San Javier being principally an air-training base for the Spanish Air Force) could not be paid in money as the military budget did not have sufficient spare cash to permit this and that they had proposed paying 'in kind' in the form of cession of land currently under military control - I have heard nothing more about this, so can only infer that AENA was just as unimpressed as I am by this proposed financing 'solution' - land is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it and it seems to me that if the military say they are strapped for cash to pay this compensation then they should assume the responsibility of off-loading their surplus land holdings for cash to be able to pay it, rather than trying to off-load it onto an apparently unwilling AENA.

I expect this saga to drag on for some time.

Currency comparison websites and foreign exchange

Further to an article I wrote almost two years ago (click here to read it) about "by-passing banks and getting currency at much better rates", I have added a second currency comparison website which you may care to look at. As is the case with all my links, no warranty of any kind is implied by inclusion of a company or organisation within any of my listings categories; they are offered purely as a source of information for anyone who may be interested, but if you are considering entering into a contract with or through any firm or organisation you should make your own inquiries.

To see the relevant information, please visit my Spanish website at http://www.casabill.net, and specifically the Links page, under FOREX.

New Mazarrón ordnance introduces fines for not spraying against mosquitoes

A new ordnance issued by the Mazarrón Council, published in the BORM (Official Gazette of the Murcia Region) on 30th January 2014 (click here to read the ordnance in full), provides for fines of upto €3,000.00 for grave violations for those not taking remedial action to control mosquito infestations in pool and garden areas, lesser fines of upto €1,500.00 and €750.00 respectively are specified for offences considered less serious, or light offences.

It applies to individual property owners, apartment buildings and urbanisations.

You may also read a report on this matter in the news website of LaVerdad here.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Toll motorway charges in Spain for 2014

Further to my brief article a few days ago, Aucosta have now updated their website with the revised toll charges for 2014 for the Cartagena-Vera section of the Ap-7 'autopista' (toll motorway) which as expected will rise by about 1.85%, so that for example the toll charge for the Mazarron to Cartagena sector (in either direction) will rise from €5.70 to €5.80.

You can download full details of the 2014 tariff for the AP-7 Cartagena-Vera sector from the Aucosta website by clicking on the link above - then click on "Peajes y Tarifas", then then "Tarifas" and finally "Cuadro tarifas peaje 2014" to see the relevant .pdf document (and you can click here to download the full tariff table).

Similalry you can visit various pages in my own Spanish website (click on "Location") to see toll fees for selected segments (for example here, here and here - scroll to the bottom of these pages) in a more readily-accessible format.

As for motorway toll charges for 2014 throughout the rest of Spain (at least those now supported by State subsidy, probably most I think), the Ministry of Development ('Fomento') website has not yet been updated and still shows the data for 2013, but probably in the next week or so these details will become known; you can visit the relevant page in the 'Fomento' website here if you are interested in monitoring when the new data is uploaded.

It is no part of my business to wonder at the wisdom of toll fees in Spain being raised most years, even though much of the network is little used, partly because people (mainly Spaniards) find the tolls too expensive specially when there are in many cases decent national roads or motorway standard toll-free 'autovias' close by, although I did write my brief analysis of this phenomenon in my equivalent article a year ago on this topic which sought to understand the rationale for these annual increases, for what it is worth.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

A note about toll motorway charges in Spain for 2014

Although it was announced in mid-December 2013 that motorway toll charges in Spain (for those 'autopistas' supported by the State) would be raised by 1.85% in 2014 - see here for a brief article about this in yesterday's lainformation.com website - the tables of tariffs have not yet been updated in either the Aucosta website (they operate the Cartagena-Vera section of the AP-7) or the Ministry of Development (Ministerio de Fomento) website for motorways throughout the country. Whenever the new tariff tables are published I will of course do a brief article with the relevant links; from past experience in previous years the websites are usually updated within about the first 10 days of the beginning of the new year.