TODAY’S PHOTO : Thanks to Sarah … the long ascent to the church at Monte
Front Page News : source Diário de Notícias 23/11/2008
With a photo of a wastepaper bin containing €50 notes, the Diário reports on the number of mansions (quintas) that have been restored at great cost but are little used and falling back into disrepair. These buildings beautify the landscape, and enrich Madeira’s historical memories, but were restored at public expense after official intervention to prevent unacceptable deterioration. Their maintenance continues to be paid for by government. Two examples are Palacete dos Zinos in Lugar de Baixo and another known locally as ‘Casa do Governo’ in Santo da Serra. Both properties were supposed to earn enough revenue to pay for their own upkeep, but both are drastically underused.
A project to be undertaken by Madeira University to look at ways to protect endangered local animal species has been rejected (for funding presumably?) by the Foundation for Science and Technology. One of the key aims in the project was the conservation of a type of bat that is in danger of extinction, particularly as they control insect populations. A rough guess says that there are less than 100 remaining, and this is due to changes in human behaviour over the last 30 years.
’50 small shops at risk of closure in Funchal – financial difficulties and the crisis has already closed 348 shops in the last 18 months’. That’s the scary statistic the Diário has come up with to bring home the depth of impact of the recession to date. These new 50 possible closures will result in the loss of between 150 and 200 jobs, to add to the 1,361 already lost through shop and business closures across Madeira. Difficulties in obtaining credit has added to the problem of reduced customer spending. Around 47% of the current unemployment figures are as a result of these business closures.
Marítimo only managed a 0 – 0 draw last night at home against Sporting Braga, knocking them down into 5th place (for now). Nearly 5,000 supporters turned up for the game, more than turned up to watch Sporting, and league leader Leixões in Saturday’s other two games.
Other news :
SPAD (Society for the Protection of Domestic Animals) report that 200 to 300 animals are still being abandoned every month, with no end to the problem in sight. SPAD are having to turn to euthanasia to cope with the problem, a decision they do not take lightly, and they use where possible only as a last resort. Often these animals have infectious diseases that could affect other animals in their care, or suffer from serious stress conditions caused by their abandonment or spending a long period in a kennel. It’s a long article defending SPAD and the reasons for putting animals to sleep, and I wonder if it was prompted by a readers letter to the Diário last week about stray dogs in Garajau being taken to SPAD and straightaway being put to sleep, which I didn’t particularly believe at the time, and SPAD have now effectively confirmed the matter.
Whilst budgets are being cut all over Madeira and Portugal, the Diário notes that the only budget not being cut was the one they refer to as ‘jackpot’ … the budget that pays the salaries and expenses of Madeira’s politicians, with the required expenditure being approved as submitted. Even the Azores have introduced measures to reduce these expenses. The Diário reckons that if Madeira was subject to the same financial laws as Portugal (another benefit of being a regional autonomy perhaps?), then €4 million would be saved. New legislation is to be passed in Portugal to deal with state provided political party funding which seems to have got out of hand. In exchange for a squeeze of the existing formula, the laws governing donations to political parties will be relaxed. What a disgrace that a ‘democratic government’ will not share the pain that the rest of Madeira has to suffer … maybe that fact will come back to bite them during the 2009 elections.
The beginning of December will see the opening of a new hotel in Funchal (near the Dolce Vita centre) of a type of luxury never seen before on Madeira. ‘The Vine’ will exceed the luxury found in the existing high class hotels in Funchal, marketing itself to high budget business executives. It has 57 double rooms and 22 suites furnished and equipped to a level that will only normally be found in hotels in the major North American and European cities. The hotels is designed and decorated with a theme of ‘wine’, with the restaurant being called ‘Uva’ (grape) with a French chef rated with 3 Michelin stars. It also has an open air roof swimming pool and jacuzzi. The average cost for a room is €200 per night. 85 staff will be employed, selected from the best on Madeira. Nice work if you can get it … I bet the tipping will be worth more than the salaries, that’s if they get any customers.
Nacional won 1 – 0 at home yesterday against Trofense, and rise to third place in the league table.
If anyone is interested, the old road between Ribeira Brava and Campanário is open again after the works to secure the rock-face just outside Ribeira Brava were completed. That’s the good news … the bad news is that it is due to close again in January, to do more rock-face securing, slightly further down the same stretch of road.
My visit to the festa at Apresentaçao at the weekend brought back happy memories of when a large bottle of Coral beer was just 70 cents (in two places visited). In five short years the price in most places in Rib. Bra. is now €1, a rise of 42%. I know you guys in Funchal can pay up to €2 for the same bottle, so I guess I shouldn’t complain.
Cheering thought of the day : 4 weeks today the days will start getting longer again, and today you are (some of us at least) in the warmest driest region of Portugal as the continent is on yellow and amber weather warnings.
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