The Catalan police force (Mossos d’Esquadra) is to create a special group dedicated to increasing security at hotels in Barcelona (article in Castilian, La Vanguardia). Both plain-clothes and uniformed officers will work in the team, which has been set up in response to calls from the hotel sector concerned about the number of robberies against tourists and the increasingly negative image that Barcelona is gaining abroad as a result. A meeting took place yesterday between the Organisation (gremi) of Barcelona Hotels and the Generalitat’s secretary of Public Security where agreement was reached about this new initiative. The areas where the police officers will be operating are Sant Martí, and especially the Fòrum area where most of the hotels in that area are located, the Ciutat Vella and the Eixample; police stations in the respective areas will co-ordinate operations, working with businesses to identify problems and seek a rapid response to them.
Yesterday a new order came into force that means people who require rescue services in natural areas will have to pay the costs of the operation, if it is found that they needed help due to their own negligence (article in Castilian, El Periodico). The Catalan Interior Department is behind the new scheme which will apply in three cases: if the accident takes place in an area clearly indicated as dangerous; if the rescued person wasn’t carrying the appropriate equipment; and if the rescue service is called out without proper justification. Of the 365 rescue operations carried out by the Generalitat's fire services between January 1st and September 15th this year, only five percent (around 15 operations) would have seen the rescued person have to pay. The services involved with rescuing people have the following hourly costs: €30 for a fireman or woman; €39 for a ground vehicle; and €2,271 for a plane or helicopter.
The district council of the Ciutat Vella has put together a series of measures to improve the Rambla, which were announced yesterday by local councillor Itziar González (article in Castilian, El Periodico). The overall plan is to create “less of everything and with better quality” and one of the projected features is to reduce the number of animal stands on the upper part of the Rambla to just one, which will be kept as a gesture to the history of these sellers plying their trade on the famous street. However, the single stand will measure around 40 square metres, which is four times larger than the current stands to meet the law regarding the conditions of such establishments. The other stands now selling animals will have to change their business, although the details of this change have not yet been decided and no firm timetable set, although it should be during 2010. Another change concerns the human statues, with the council seeking to reduce the number of people performing on La Rambla, creating limitations on the space that they can take up and instigating some kind of quality control, which could be similar to that now used for musicians authorised to play in metro stations. Finally, the council wants to improve the quality of the businesses that are found at street level along the Rambla, using measures to achieve the conversion of “inappropriate” establishments.
The former president of the Partit Popular de Catalunya (PP) Daniel Sirera has been photographed writing a text message to a colleague where he says that his party is “crap” (article in Catalan, Avui). Sirera wrote the message to politician Carina Mejías on his Blackberry while he was sitting in the Catalan parliament and the screen was visible to photographers, who took photos of what he was writing. Sirera became president of the Catalan section of the PP in July 2007, when he was put in place to replace Josep Piqué as a result of a decision by the overall leader of the PP, Mariano Rajoy. However, Sirera himself was removed from the post only a year later, to be replaced by Alícia Sánchez-Camacho, and it appears from his text message that he is still disgruntled about the series of events. The text seemed to be responding to a question from Mejías about why he hadn’t sought re-election as PP de Catalunya president; he blamed a lack of internal support for his decision before writing ‘Este partido es una mierda.’