Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Penedès News in English

Local news from Sitges, Vilanova i la Geltrú and the rest of the Gran Penedès.

Gran Penedès

A majority of the electorate in the Penedès area did not bother to vote in the elections to the European parliament and in general people here have voted in line with the rest of Catalonia; leaving PSC in the position as the strongest party but revealing an increased support for CiU. Find here the municipal results for Sitges, Sant Pere de Ribes, Vilanova i la Geltrú, Vilafranca del Penedès, El Vendrell, Calafell and Igualada, respectively. The PSC of Garraf/Alt Penedès partly blames the low voter turnout on the fact that prime minister Zapatero still does not comply with the autonomy charter of Catalonia (l'estatut) – an initiative supported by his own PSOE government – neither by presenting a new model for tax revenue allocation between the autonomous regions of Spain (nou finançament autonòmic) nor by handing over agreed competencies from the state to the regional level.

The Denominació d’Origen Penedès will further develop into a quality label by raising the test requirements and fees for its members. The general rule will be that a winery can not belong to D.O. Penedès and D.O. Cava at the same time and that lower quality wines will have to make do with the label D.O. Catalonia.


A survey carried out by the Cambra de Barcelona has revealed that Garraf lags behind in standard of living, partially because this comarca, during the years 2004-08, has lead the population growth of Catalonia (average annual increases of 3,6%, followed by Alt Penedès at 3,4%). Garraf is well behind the average figures of Barcelona as well as the rest of Catalonia when you look at the number of education and geriatric centres or hospital beds per capita.

The ajuntament of Sitges has carried out substantial investments in pump stations in order to improve the drainage and prevent the bad smell of residual water. At the same time, the capacity of the underground rainwater channels has been increased, which will reduce the amount of water in the streets d’Espalter and Espanya during coming torrential rains.

Actress Anna Barrachina will present Sitges as her favourite place in the June 16 program of “El millor paisatge de Catalunya” on TV3.

Through the Pacte per la mobilitat, Jordi Baijet, PSC mayor of Sitges, plans to open a dialogue on public transport, traffic safety and parking areas. Starting in September, the ajuntament will invite the local population to round table discussions.

Luis Enriquez, a Swiss-born businessman with Spanish parents, will set up an association of companies which promote Sitges to homosexual and transsexual tourists, work to bring back gay floats to the carnival procession and, in 2010, launch a Pride Sitges festival. This year, Sitges will be represented with a stand at l’aviguda de Maria Cristina during Pride Barcelona.
An entity promoting the heritage of Sitges will re-launch annual issues of the magazine L’Amic de les Arts, historically headed by local author Josep Carbonell and with famous contributors such as Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró and Frederico García Lorca. The aim of the magazine will be to explore Sitges’ heritage and its role in the cultural life of modern Catalonia.

The company Varo, S.A. of Sant Pere de Ribes risks to face a seizure of assets since it has not paid the € 1,4 million of indemnification which it owes to 43 employees laid off last year. The company has filed for bankruptcy and claims to have problems to pay salaries to the 60 people still on its payroll, but the trade unions protest that the management could improve cash flow by selling unused parts of the premises.

It has been discovered that two fires which, in May, broke out in a home for elderly people in Cubelles were caused on purpose by a new co-worker of the establishment.

After 14 days on strike, the workers of Prysmian in Vilanova i la Geltrú have gone back to work. While 228 of them voted to do so, 200 wanted to continue the strike. The conflict has resulted in a bitter situation where the president of the work council, Cristòfol Fabre of the trade union CCOO has decided to step down since he felt that one of the other unions (UGT) got cold feet after the management’s warnings that they would take legal action against any leader who supported the strike.

Naturists living around Vilanova will not any longer have to go to Barcelona for indoor swimming. Starting on June 28, the municipal pool will reserve a time slot for those who prefer to swim naked.

The local police of Vilanova has been reinforced with eleven employees, in order to stop the sales of fake branded goods (top manta).

Alt Penedès

After a meeting in Madrid, CiU mayor Pere Regull is quite confident that Vilafranca del Penedès will reach and agreement with ADIF (l’Administrador d’Infrastuctures Ferroviàries) on compensation to repair cracks in house walls and reduce noise levels. ADIF claims that the vibrations caused by the high-speed train AVE’s passage through the town centre are within acceptable standards, but has agreed to finance a noise reduction wall in the areas Poble Nou and la Girada, where it is not.

Sunday June 14, in Cornellà (Baix Llobregat), the Castellers of Vilafranca presented the best human towers so far this year, completing a ‘4 by 8 dismantled via a pillar (4 de 8 amb l’agulla)’ and a ‘pillar’ of six levels.

Baix Penedès

The consell comarcal has created a new logotype for Baix Penedès – a map built up by grape coloured circles, underlining the location along the coast.

The railway infrastructure administrator ADIF is currently replacing some 6.000 cross beams between Calafell and Sant Vicenç de Calders, as a part of the project to improve the standards of Rodalies (the commuter trains) of Barcelona.

A noise reduction barrier will be erected where the toll motorway AP-7 makes its passage over the area Barri d’en Mas d’en Gual (El Vendrell).

The secondary school l’Institut de Segur (Calafell) which until now has been in provisional premises, will in 2010 receive its own building in C/Brasil.


The official cadastre values of real estate in Vilanova del Camí and Ódena will be revised since they have been discovered to be far higher than those of neighbouring Igualada, due to the fact that the latest revision was made in 2007, at the peak of the property boom. The cadastre values influence property taxes and, possibly, the private income tax of the owner. However, a coming reduction will not result in dramatic tax cuts since the increase from 2007 has not yet been passed on fully.

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Penedès News in English is a subjective compilation of local news, above all aimed for the expats living in this part of Catalonia but, possibly, also interesting for tourists. My main sources of information are Vilanova Digital, Sitgesblog, Penedès Digital, AnoiaDiari·cat, the pdf-version of l’Extra plus the print versions of the Diari de Vilanova and 7 Dies. All opinions expressed are my own.

A brief on the political party system of Catalonia can be found here.

Earlier editions can be found under the label Penedès News.

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Technorati tags: Barcelona, Calafell, Castellers, Catalonia, CiU, Estatut, Expat, Garraf, Human Towers, Igualada, Penedès, PSC, PSOE, Sitges, el Vendrell, Vilafranca, Vilanova, Zapatero

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