Four of the most prolific Barcelona pickpockets have been sentenced spend time in jail after repeated arrests (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The Catalan police force and local public prosecutor worked together to bring about the sentences, collecting details about the multiple crimes committed, and their efforts have also seen another thief leave Spain while a sixth who is still here but on the run is being actively sought—if caught, the authorities will also be seeking prison sentences for them. In total, the six pickpockets, who focused on targets in the Ciutat Vella area, were arrested 413 times last year (they were also stopped or identified by the Mossos a total of 780 times while following a potential victim or about to commit a crime), but were always released because Spanish law makes it very difficult to achieve a prison term for those whose crime is defined as an ‘hurto’ (robbery), which is classified as a misdemeanour. All those who have been sentenced to prison are foreign nationals and were specifically targeted by the Mossos d’Esquadra and the Ciutat Vella prosecutor because of their high level of repeat offending.
Environmental expert José María Baldasano, who has investigated the amount of pollution produced by cars on the roads in Barcelona on behalf of the Generalitat, says that it is not a good idea to make the 80 kilometre per hour speed limit on certain roads a flexible limit at night as has been suggested by some within the car industry as well as certain politicians and social groups (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The environmental department of the Catalan government asked Baldasano to look at whether making the speed limit flexible at night to let cars go above the current maximum would have a negative effect on pollution in the city. In recent days, there have been suggestions from various members of the Generalitat, including the director of the Catalan Transit Service, Josep Pérez Moya, and the Finance Minister Francesc Baltasar, that the limit could be revised to 100 kilometres per hour when traffic is lighter at night, if environmental data was in favour of the change. The 80 kilometre per hour limit was introduced in January 2008 and has contributed to a 10 percent fall in local pollution—as such, Baldasano, who used a so-called 'supercomputer' to do his research, questioned the wisdom in changing a policy that he says is working well.
The president of the Spanish Confederation of Business Organisations (Confederación Española de Organizaciones Empresariales or CEOE) has spoken out against an increase in social security contributions (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Gerardo Díaz Ferrán said that it is not the moment to increase the amount paid by companies to the state on behalf of their employees but instead these contributions should be reduced; Díaz Ferrán pointed out that the amount paid by workers in Spain is already above the European average and says it would be wise to reduce it to bring it into line with what other Europeans have to pay. In this way, he said, Spanish companies would be more competitive compared to their European counterparts and that it was essential to reduce salary costs. Díaz Ferrán welcomed the recent government initiative to reduce the amount of money that employers would have to pay to workers who are made redundant, but said that more had to be done, especially to help small and medium-sized companies.
Also in the news: Constitutional Court to continue deliberations regarding Catalan Statute (read full article in Catalan here, Avui); Spanish opposition leader wades in on campaign against supports of Judge Baltasar Garzón (read full article in Castilian here, El Periodico); Organisers of popular votes on Catalan independence meet Scottish nationalist leader (read full article in Catalan here, Avui).