Spaniards are the Europeans who have the most payment cards per inhabitant, 1.61 each, although they are also the ones who use such cards the least for their shopping, according to data from the European Central Bank (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). Only a sixth, or 16 percent, of the purchases made in Spain are done with either a debit or credit card, while in contrast in Britain and Sweden, more than 43 percent of purchases are done with a payment card. However, there are some sector where plastic is now the preferred method of payment, for instance, in large shops such as El Corte Inglés, FNAC and Carrefour, with 60 percent of goods bought in those shops paid for with a debit or credit card. In Spanish supermarkets, however, cash remains the preferred method of paying for goods, with over 55 percent of shoppers using notes and coins for their purchases. Other sectors where cash continues to be preferred include leisure and restaurants, while in petrol stations and clothes shops, credit and debit cards are now in the majority in terms of payment methods.
Barcelona’s council is making increasing efforts to deal with repeat criminal offenders in the city, in light of a proposed change to Spain's penal code (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). There are now around 80,000 petty robberies reported each year and a general perception amongst citizens of insecurity in Barcelona; these facts combined with the lack of means to effectively deal with those criminals who consistently return to stealing on the city’s streets, have seen Barcelona mayor Jordi Hereu repeatedly try to bring about change at a political and legal level. Hereu is hopeful that the work he’s done in this area, along with the councillor of Security, Assumpta Escarp, will bear fruit when the Spanish Congress (the body that has the power to change the legal framework dealing with crimes such as pickpocketing) debates a modification to the Penal Code. Hereu recently met with the Spanish justice minister Francisco Caamaño to discuss the issue; sources from Barcelona council say that the meeting wasn’t as promising as had been hoped for, but that there has been a series of positive contacts in recent days and that they are confident that Barcelona will soon have the necessary ‘weapons’ to deal with this problem. The measures that the council is hoping to see implemented include a specialised court to deal with these kinds of offences and a reduction in the current minimum value of €400 that has to be stolen for an offence (‘falta’) to be created as a crime (‘delito’) with correspondingly more serious consequences for anyone found guilty of such.
The Catalan parliament will today initiate an investigative commission into the forest fire in Horta de Sant Joan in July 2009, the first to be created under the government of president José Montilla (read article in Catalan here, Avui). The government has been forced into opening this parliamentary investigation by opposition groups; it will be led by the socialist Higini Clotas and is predicted to last two months. Amongst those who will be called to appear before the commission will be interior minister Joan Saura and the environment minister Francesc Baltasar, who both told parliament last year that the fire had been caused by lightning while it now appears to have been the result of arson. It is not yet known whether Montilla will also be called to appear.
Generalitat encourages town councils to deal with excessive noise (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico); French newspaper suggests closure of El Bulli restaurant due to legal process against Ferran Adrià (read full article in Catalan here, Avui); Rise in demand for bunkers in Spain in face of forecasted ‘apocalypse’ in 2012 (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia)