Madrid to shell out €7.4 million on mobile phones

Talk doesn't come cheap in Madrid where details emerged on Monday of the city hall's new €43 million communication contract, which includes €7.4 million worth of mobile phones for its councillors and officials over the next four years.

Madrid to shell out €7.4 million on mobile phones
Photo: Gail Jade Hamilton

City authorities released details on Monday of a new mobile phone contract which will see Madrid spend €7.4 million over the next four years to pay for nearly 5,000 work mobile phones for its councillors and civil servants.

Details of the eye-watering figures were published in the Government Gazette, which revealed the new contract signed with mobile firms Telefonica and Ono will set authorities back around €1.8 million annually over the next four years.

The mobile phone deal is part of an overall 'telecommunications and equipment' contract that is worth €43.2 million in total. Although the sum may seem steep in a time of austerity, it is a saving of 54 percent on the equivalent deal signed in 2007.

The need for savings, however, means officials can rule out being given a new iPhone 5 for work, with most of the new mobile lines only catering for calls and text service.

And the City Hall, which has around 30,000 staff on its payroll, will be keeping a tight check on its employees with Telefonica told to impose limits on the phones to restrict internet and email use in order to cut down “the risk of an excessive increase in public spending”.

Authorities in Barcelona will also be spending a hefty whack on mobile phone lines, with around €1.4 million to be paid out each year to cover the cost of 4,000 mobiles.

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Madrid police end escaped camels’ night on the town

Eight camels and a llama took to the streets of Madrid overnight after escaping from a nearby circus, Spanish police said on Friday.

A camel in a zoo
A file photo of a camel in a zoo. Photo: ATTILA KISBENEDEK / AFP

It was not immediately clear how the long-legged runaways managed to get out but Quiros Circus, which owns them, blamed sabotage by animal rights activists.

They were spotted at around 5:00 am wandering around the southern district of Carabranchel close to where the circus is currently based.

“Various camels and a llama escaped from a circus in Madrid overnight,” Spain’s national police wrote on Twitter, sharing images of eight two-humped camels and a llama hanging around a street corner.

“Police found them and took care of them so they could be taken back safe and sound,” they tweeted.

There was no word on whether the rogue revellers, who are known for spitting, put up any resistance when the police moved in to detain them.

Mati Munoz, one of the circus’ managers, expressed relief the furry fugitives — Bactrian camels who have two humps and thick shaggy coats – had been safely caught.

“Nothing happened, thank God,” he told AFP, saying the circus had filed a complaint after discovering the electric fence around the animals’ enclosure had been cut.

“We think (their escape) was due to an act of sabotage by animal rights groups who protest every year.”

Bactrian camels (camelus bactrianus) come from the rocky deserts of central and eastern Asia and have an extraordinary ability to survive in extreme conditions.

These days, the vast majority of them are domesticated.