IT has been a busy year for the Olive Press, which has doubled in both numbers and profit since the beginning of 2011.
Bucking the trend for newspapers, we have grown rapidly and are now covering all eight provinces of Andalucia, and have recently strengthened our coverage on the Costa del Sol with 100 new distribution spots in Mijas and Fuengirola and 50 in Marbella alone.
Most of our success however has been down to reporting and the quality of our journalism and it has been a year of frequent change.
We have introduced no less than four new sections this year, including a dedicated section for the Axarquia, a distinctly different region, where we have a large loyal following.
Hand in hand with distribution to all the international schools we launched a youth section OPX, and green page to keep you up to date on all the environmental news from around the region. As well as continuing our series of popular All About Andalucia supplements, in October we launched a new complementary health page.
For the fifth year running we brought out our annual Green Guide.
And then there was our hoard of exclusive stories, many of which have been followed up abroad or nationally around Spain.
Here are some of the best:
WE pride ourselves on investigating matters that other papers are incapable or too scared to touch.
These included a wedding planner who vanished without paying for a number of weddings, as well as uncovering some fascinating links to the French Alps murders on the Costa del Sol.
We probed a spate of mysterious pet deaths that heralded from Mercadona pet food, a story that would run and run both in our paper and around the country.
Then there were the recent comings and goings of the Conservative Party members and their hotel at Montejaque, as well as the uncovering that an anti-smoking drug closely linked to depression and suicide was on sale over the counter in Spanish pharmacists.
One of our best stories involved a dispute at Villa Jacaranda care home in Alhaurin in which owner Georgie Shapiro allegedly concealed the death of a resident in order to make a fast buck selling two of his properties.
We also, of course, dug around on the scandalous behaviour of pet transport firm Pet Taxi after the two dogs died in transit between Spain and the UK – prompting a barrage of phone calls from readers on the firm.
Finally we shone a torch on the number inaccuracies of the Trip Advisor website in Spain by using a team of specialists and rival websites to show up how wrong its listings were in four Andalucian towns.
Doing some good – campaigning:
THE year started off with a bang, when the Olive Press reunited Oklahoma-based Eva Weston, 36, with her long-lost cousin Maria who had seen her picture in the paper in our Christmas 2011 edition.
Then, in May, 74-year-old Ian Dennis was delighted after our story led to him getting the knee surgery he had waited a year for at Malaga’s Virgen de la Victoria Hospital.
In November, after two years of following him we finally got confirmation that corrupt lawyer Samuel Huesca Triano would be investigated by Malaga Law Society and possibly struck off for up to two years.
Under our continuing campaign ‘Lawyers in the Dock’, we revealed how Triana stole €22,000 from a client while incredibly the Law Society did not see initially it as a good reason to ban him from the bench.
And as we end the year our recently-launched Phoenix Campaign aims to help victims of the fires start to rebuild their homes. A campaign that will continue into 2013, this week (see front page) we met Mijas mayor Angel Nozal to try and speed up the process.
PORN films, wife-swapping parties and jet-set lifestyles… there wasn’t a dull moment for the Costa del Sol’s crooks in 2012.
But the party came to an abrupt end for some – most notably timeshare fraudster Toni Muldoon – after he was extradited to the UK for his part in a €7.4 million escort and ‘debt elimination’ scam.
Elsewhere, financial advisor David Driver, from OIB, fled to the UK after a group of expats claimed to have been mis-sold financial products by him, while Alhaurin boiler room boss Terry Wright moved to France after feeling the heat from the authorities in Spain.
Meanwhile Spain’s largest ever corruption investigation, the Malaya case, finally came to an end with former Marbella Town Hall property chief Juan Antonio Roca facing 30 years in jail for his role.
Finally, the bosses of crooked building firm the Mirador group received two-year sentences for keeping €400,000 in deposits from prospective buyers.
Green and pleasant land:
ENVIRONMENTAL issues are close to our hearts here at the Olive Press. This year we have kept tabs on a crazy plan that would see Tarifa develop protected land near Valdevaqueros beach (above), leading to mayor Juan Andres Gil blaming ‘environmentalists’ and ‘guiris’ for finally sinking the project.
We have also kept a close eye on the continuing attempts by oil company Repsol to prospect for gas just a few kilometres off the Costa del Sol, as well as the long-running saga to stop sewage flowing into the sea in Nerja.
As in previous years we have continued to watch the comings and goings of the scandalous 400-room Algarrobico hotel, in Almeria, which has STILL not been demolished.
There was better news in Ronda though when last month it was finally announced that the controversial golf development Los Merinos was ruled legal in Andalucia’s High Court.
After years of highlighting abuses within the 200 hectare development on the edge of the Sierra de las Nieves, its licence has now been cancelled.
Not all doom and gloom:
APART from the serious stuff, we like to bring you some more light hearted stories as well as a bit of humour.
Some of our best included exclusive claims that the President of Russia had bought a huge mansion in Zagaleta, as well as the continuing problems caused by tenor Stephen Lloyd Morgan’s cat Oscar.
We also spotted a Borat-lookalike in Pamplona and reported how Rafa Nadal got all worked up after a ‘funny’ French ad campaign depicted him signing a document with a syringe.
In April, a group of expats completely messed up their Grand National sweepstake after getting confused about what year it was, while a company in Madrid offered €2,000 a month for an employee to literally watch the grass grow.
In May we reported that two pensioners in Periana had been fined and ordered to dig up a line of prickly pears planted in their garden, while in Madrid one poor soul was treated for burns after being hit in the scrotum by lightening.