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TRAFFIC

Catalan residents see red over traffic commissions

Commissions of 30 percent of fines from radars and cameras at red lights in the Catalan town of Montgat have been revealed to be going to a private company, enraging local residents who claim that the cameras are unnecessary.

Catalan residents see red over traffic commissions
Residents have reported that the cameras are triggered when lights are still on amber. Photo: Montgat.net

Montgat town hall signed the controversial contract with Bilbiomatica in August 2012, in return for the company footing the bill for the installation of traffic cameras on the busy main N-II coast road.

Under the terms of the deal, Bibliomatica receives 30 percent of any fines with the remaining 70 percent going to the town hall.

The four-year arrangement is said to be worth €996,000 to the company.

"It seemed like a good idea because in this way they would be paid for by those who broke the law," said council member Tomás Cabrejas according to national daily El Pais.

But now some residents are unhappy about the commissions, and about how the cameras are used.

Acari Bertran, of the 'No to Montgat Radars' platform claimed that motorists had been handed four licence points and fined €200 for 'jumping'  traffic lights that were  still on amber, not red and bemoaned the strictness of the 50km/h speed limit.

A petition with 1,500 signatures in July led to a proposal by local Socialist and Green parties to have the lights removed, but the motion was overruled by the majority CiU and Catalan Republican Left parties.  

Opponents of the radars have pointed out that there have been no fatalities on the road in the last three years, and only one serious injury.

They claim that the installation of the cameras was illegal, as no prior decree had been issued by Francesc Xavier Garcia, the town mayor.

But due to the nature of the contract, the local authority would have to compensate Bibliomatica removing the cameras "unjustifiably" before the end of the agreed period.

The mayor has insisted that the goal of the cameras was simply to "calm traffic".

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DRUGS

Spanish police make ‘biggest ever haul of synthetic drugs’

Spanish police said Friday they had seized a record 827,000 ecstasy tablets as well as other narcotics in what they called "the biggest ever seizure of synthetic drugs" in Spain.

Spanish police make 'biggest ever haul of synthetic drugs'
Police claim the seizure is the biggest in Spanish history. Photo: Guardia Civil and the National Police
In a joint operation, the Guardia Civil and the National Police smashed “the main international criminal organisation behind the production and supply of most of the synthetic drugs in Spain”, they said in a joint statement.
   
Synthetic drugs are manufactured using man-made chemicals rather than natural ingredients.
   
Eleven people were arrested on charges of drug trafficking and belonging to a criminal organisation, including the organisation's Dutch boss.
 
   
As well as the ecstasy tabs, police also seized 76 kilos (167 pounds) of speed, 39.5 kilos of crystal meth and 217 litres of liquid amphetamine with which they could have produced 738.5 kilos of speed.
   
They also impounded almost 400 kilos of hashish and marijuana which they were to have exported to The Netherlands to pay for the purchase of the necessary substances to manufacture the drugs at two labs in Barcelona.
   
The organisation included traffickers from Spain, The Netherlands, Romania, Colombia and Italy and had bases in Barcelona, the southern city of Malaga and the island of Ibiza, all of which are known for having a vibrant nightlife and many dance clubs.
   
Although Spain is considered one of the main drug gateways to Europe, seizures of synthetic narcotics are uncommon as most traffickers usually deal in cannabis and cocaine.
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