Families with financial problems are beginning to occupy unused council flats (article in Castilian, El Periodico). In the neighbourhoods of Baró de Viver and Via Trajana, in Sant Andreu and Sant Adrià del Besòs respectively, more than 20 families have forced entry into apartments that have been empty for up to nine years because the council has been unable to rent them out. One of those who has moved into an empty flat, Fernando Jiménez, said that the families weren’t looking for free accommodation, but wanted to be able to live in the properties legally by paying a low rent, as appropriate for such council flats: Jiménez explained that he has three children, two of which are blind, and he is currently unemployed, so cannot pay the market rate for a rented apartment. However, Jiménez, like some of the other families, hasn’t formally requested a council flat because he’s worried that his application will be rejected by the Ajuntament. Last week, the Housing Department of Barcelona admitted to El Periodico that 12 percent of council flats designated for young people are currently empty. The spokesman also said that the waiting list to assign these flats has now expired and so a new process will begin.
The council of Barcelona has announced that next year it will expand its free WiFi services to 500 different points around the city (article in Castilian, La Vanguardia). There are currently 180 points provided by the Ajuntament for the public to access the internet for free, as part of an initiative that started in the summer; civic centres, markets, parks and museums are just some of the municipal buildings that offer this service. By the end of the year, there will be an additional 100 free WiFi points and the rest will be set up during 2010. The scheme has already proved popular with people looking for work in the current economic crisis, allowing them access to job-seeking websites and the chance to check their e-mail. In contrast, users can’t access pages to download music, talk by phone or play games. The council have also said that it is a way to avoid inequality between those who have access to the internet at home and those who can’t afford it. The most popular places to connect to these free WiFi points are in civic centre and also in the Ciutadella park, as a result of which 17 new points will be set up in interior spaces of the Eixample and other city parks.
It has been revealed that the Spanish Confederation of Senior Citizens’ Organisations (Ceoma) expelled the Federation of Associations of the Third Age of Catalunya (FATEC) in July because the latter had asked for the rectification of declarations regarding money spent on linguistic policy (article in Catalan, Avui). The controversy arose after the president of Ceoma, José Luis Meler, made comments to a Madrid radio station saying that with a quarter of the money that Catalunya had spent on language-related policy, it would have been possible to finance the economic requirements of the law of dependency, which aims to help elderly people who need the help of a carer. FATEC immediately demanded that Meler retract what he had said, because Ceoma is supposed to defend the pluralism and independence of the different member institutions; when he refused, the Catalan organisation suspended its participation in Ceoma, of which it had been a member since 2000. In response Meler took steps to expel the group.
Also in the news: Catalunya's motorcycle-making industry is at risk (Avui); Iberia crew on strike, resulting in flight cancellation (La Vanguardia); Four people killed in building collapse in Palma de Mallorca (El Periodico)