Residents living near Plaza de Lesseps, which reopened just over a year and a half ago after more than three years of work have sent a report to the Ayuntamiento of Gràcia detailing complaints about the rapid disintegration and incomplete works (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The district councilor, Guillem Espriu, has defended that specific improvements have been carried out on the south side, where there have been most criticism, and has pointed out that the space is not yet finished due to the work carrying on for the Metro Line 9, which is due to go on for a further four years. Josep Maria Flotats, president of the residents has told of their main complaints which include empty tree squares, where trees have died, pavements that have lifted or disappeared next to rubbish bins, dogs wandering off leads and poor grass areas. Mireia Bargalló, owner of the pharmacy on the square says, "it is not uncommon for seniors entering complaining of sprains mainly because of the paving. We even had a case of a broken femur." One of the main problem areas is the amphitheatre which residents say has led to antisocial groups using it as a meeting point and during Sant Joan as a place to launch rockets. They have also detailed complaints against the lighting which they say is dark and that the streetlights only illuminate the pavings and not the area.
Sales of devices that detect speed radars are on the rise and there's growing concern that the move to legalise them was a mistake (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Drivers are legally allowed to carry electronic equipment in their vehicles to detect the presence of a radars which control the speed of traffic provided the device does not interfere with the signal of the surveillance unit. The devices were illegal until recently, but now the legislative change in road safety has lifted the ban and drivers with the devices will no longer face fines. The devices come under two categories, one is with GPS equipment where they give information about the location of speed cameras and whilst the vehicle approaches one the GPS system tells the driver of its existence. Secondly, is the group of computers that are equipped with electronic devices that scan antenna frequencies emitted by the radars and once located, inform the driver. These detectors are able to reveal the position of any type of radar, both fixed and mobile, including those used by plain clothed police. There is also a third type that remains illegal due to the fact that once a radar is located it emits a radio signal so powerful that it scrambles the radar, making it easy to affect the speed of the car. Being caught using one of these will result in a fine of €6,000 and six points on your license. The technical director of the RACC, Lluís Puerto, explained that there are still many members who are confused about the legality of the machines saying, "it has created a legal limbo and that's not good." Sources from the Servei Català de Trànsit said that allowing radar detectors to become legal was a mistake, given that these devices are used by people who want to violate the speed limit". With RACC taking the same view saying, "the vast majority of those who install a detector are used to speed, the detectors should be illegal."
Blanco and Chacón signed a pact in August that laid down conditions on how to 'militarise' airspace (read article in Castilian here, El Pais). The move by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero on December 4th to transfer control of airspace to the ministry of defense before the strike of air traffic controllers was not a makeshift measure. On August 20th, the ministers of development and defence, Carme Chacón and José Blanco signed a protocol that defined the conditions and on December 4th, the prime minster decided to implement it for the first time in history with the aim of "ensuring that highest possible level of safety, effectiveness and continuity in the provision of air traffic services." The general objective of the protocol is to enable the military to take charge of civil air traffic control. To this end, the ministry of development has undertaken to provide the military "training appropriate to obtain the necessary clearances that allow them to perform their functions in the control towers and civilian centres". It also has to hire civil liability insurance that would cover the military controlling civilian flights. Complete replacement of civilian air traffic controllers is not possible with only 280 military controllers available to civilians, who number 2,400, however the aim is to identify a list of critical positions to occupy a temporary basis to meet the most urgent contingency plans. The plans focuses on the four main control centres, Madrid, Sevilla, Barcelona and the Canary Islands and was put in place to ensure that the need to close Spanish airspace never occurs again.