Look back at 2018
Brexit, Metamizole and Man o'War were some of the main issues of last year
Hospital chaos in flu epidemic A FLU epidemic swept through Alicante province, collapsing hospital A&E departments and forcing the postponement of scheduled operations. Flu reached epidemic status with 105 cases reported for every 100,000 residents in the past week (a flu epidemic is when cases surpass 55 per 100,000). While local health centres attended to twice the usual number of patients with flu, pneumologists warned that the virus was more aggressive than the previous year and called on all riskgroup residents to get vaccinations. Padrón alarm THE LATEST figures published by the National Institute of Statistics (INE) were definitely not good news for two of the Costa's most important towns. According to the report, Alfaz del Pi had lost 3,100 people from its Padrón, almost all of whom are foreign residents. Alfaz officially had 18,394 inhabitants, its lowest number in the past 10 years. A year before, it had 21,494. Alfaz council did not agree with the figures, as water consumption and rubbish collection figures had remained unchanged. An appeal and local registration campaign saw INE reconsider and in December it announced the number of residents had surpassed 20,000.
La Nucía was in a similar situation, having registered a loss of 2,000 residents in one year. Investment boost for Vega Baja hospital A TOTAL of €5 million was being stumped up by the regional government for a refit of Vega Baja hospital in Orihuela. Regional president Ximo Puig made the announcement during a visit to the municipality. UK MPs debate Costa death On JANUARY 9 in Parliament in London, Hannah Bardell MP posed a question to Sir Alan Duncan, current Minister of State for Europe and Americas, regarding the mystery death of Scottish holidaymaker Kirsty Maxwell in Benidorm the previous year and issues concerning the later investigation. A week later, a judicial breakthrough came for her family when the investigating judge accepted their lawyer's appeal for police to locate and analyse the clothes that she was wearing the day she fell to her death from the balcony of a 10thfloor holiday apartment in Benidorm. Police sources later stated her clothes had been destroyed. Spanish lawyer Luis Miguel Zumaquero, acting for Kirsty Maxwell’s husband and her parents, also reversed a decision denying them the right to get police to reveal what work they did to identify potential witnesses. Costa Fiestas take on Madrid A GROUP of 'festeros' represent ing the Moors and Christians fiestas in Callosa d'en Sarrià were part of a huge Costa fiestas parade held in Madrid's famous Puerta del Sol square during the Fitur tourism fair. Drug smuggling ring to the UK smashed PROPERTIES in Orihuela and Murcia were the headquarters of an international drug gang that smuggled hashish and marihuana from Spain into the UK, the Guardia Civil revealed. The property in Orihuela Costa was owned by an Irishman, suspected of coordinating the transport of the drugs to Britain with an accomplice based in Murcia city. A Guardia Civil spokesman explained that the gang was made up of six men aged 42 to 69 – three Spaniards, a Briton, an Irishman and a Swede. Missing Brit found THERE was a happy ending for British holidaymakers Robert and Carl Dixon, who were reunited after Robert went missing for several days. He had been disorientated and fell some seven metres down a cliff face at the Tio Ximo cove in Benidorm's Sierra Helada. Father and son were together again after Robert left Villajoyosa hospital where he had to undergo surgery due to the injuries he sustained in the fall. Victory for British buyers A BRITISH couple won a court battle against the administrator in the bankruptcy proceedings of construction company Solera El Trampolín in Gea y Truyols near Sucina in Murcia region. The pensioners were in a desperate situation, as the administrator had asked a Murcia court to evict them and write off the money they paid for their home more than 10 years ago. They had committed to purchase an offplan detached villa in Solera El Trampolín urbanisation in 2005 for €180,402. The couple sold their home in the UK to start paying for the property in Spain, handing €71,600 to the builder in 2005 and another €6,000 in 2008 and 2010.
Dog saves Jávea family A FAMILY of restaurateurs in Jávea are only alive today because their dog warned them their apartment was on fire just in time for them to get out. Tania, 22, and her 27yearold partner were sound asleep in their Primer Muntanyar flat above La Masía de la Sal familyrun eatery when a TV set burst into flames in the lounge at around 06.00. Lola, a German Shepherd cross with 'a bit of Belgian Shepherd in her', began barking and scratching the bedroom door. They must be mad! 'THEY must be mad' was the main comment made by many expats who were among the hundreds that defied the cold February weather on Saturday to see the Carnival descent of the River Bullent in Pego. Considering many participants ended up falling inside the freezing river, onlookers were probably right! Big chill grips the costa COLD weather brought deep snow to inland areas of Alicante province and Murcia. Parts of Spain ground to a halt this week as two metres of snow fell in Asturias region and driving snow caused the operators of Madrid’s Barajas airport to close the runways on Monday. In Alicante province, the authorities were forced to shut the road leading to Font Roja Natural Park in Alcoy. Votes for all EXPATS would win a “lifelong” right to vote in British elections after a wideranging consultation on its key votes for life strategy, the government promised. Downing Street underlined a commitment to scrapping the current 15year time limit on UK citizens abroad taking part in the democratic process. The joint announcement by the Cabinet Office and Minister for the Constitution Chloe Smith came ahead of the second reading debate in the House of Commons scheduled for February 23 for MP Glyn Davies’ Private Members Bill ‘Overseas Electors’. Shopping days limited THE LAW regulating Sundays and bank holidays on which shops and shopping centres in the Valencia region can open were dramatically changed by the regional government, which backed an agreement signed by representatives of traders and consumers associations, trade unions and chambers of commerce. The agreement was a serious setback for shops and shopping centres in Torrevieja, Orihuela Costa, Finestrat, and coastal districts of Pilar de la Horadada, Benissa and Alfaz del Pi, which had been allowed to open every Sunday and bank holiday all year because they were awarded the status of busy tourist zones (ZGAT) . Brexit talks BRITISH Consul SarahJane Morris, together with Vice Consul Sara Munsterhjelm, consular staff and ‘Brexpats in Spain’ regional representative Richard Hill, embarked on the second round of ‘Brexit update’ for expat British residents north of Alicante. The exercise was to inform British nationals who are resident in Spain of the facts and progress of negotiations Hunter sentenced for shooting pet dogs A JUDGE in Benidorm has sentenced two men to prison for killing one pet dog and injuring another after they shot them whilst hunting. Vicente MB, aged 77, from Murla, and Emilio MS, aged 74, from Benigembla, shot the Breton dogs from less than 20 metres away in November 2014. According to evidence, the owner of the dogs was carrying out maintenance to a water pump on his private land, accompanied by his two dogs Lola, aged eight, and her puppy Kika, eight months. Match fixing rocks local football SIX of the 31 suspects arrested in connection with a matchfixing network in Spanish football were from the Murcia region. National Police reported that the suspect games were played in the second division (Segunda B) and third division last season and during the current campaign. A court probe was launched in March last year after a complaint was made to the police. According to EFE, the investigation uncovered an organised network ‘which was allegedly set up to fix matches around the country for the benefit of illegal betting’. The public prosecutor leading the case noted that they were connected to Chinese citizens who were the ‘principal funders’ of the betting scam. Banks let off the hook BANKS in Spain sighed in relief after the Supreme Court ruled in their favour regarding mortgage contract clauses that obliged customers to pay the mortgage tax stamp duty (Impuesto de Actos Jurídicos Documentados). Had the national court ruled in favour of customers, as many provincial courts had, banks would be facing a stream of demands that would have amounted to millions of euros in payouts. The mortgage tax stamp duty issue was addressed again later on in the year. Snow hit Valencia region HEAVY snow fell in the Valencia region, leading to the closure of roads and schools. The worst of the weather affected Valencia province and Castellón, while snow fell in the mountains of Alicante province. With freezing air channelled down from northern Europe, snow hit large swathes of the interior of the region when a low pressure crossed the country from the Atlantic and the two weather systems collided. Invisible speed camera acquired NEW mobile speed cameras were being tested by the Guardia Civil and the DGT national traffic authority – and were set to be up and running over the following weeks. The Velolaser can be attached to