2 Years ago the regional Government of Andalucia horrified the world by demolishing the Vera home of British pensioners Len and Helen Prior, arguing that it had been illegally built despite planning permission from Vera’s town hall. The same cruel treatment now awaits the owners of 8 properties in Albox, Almeria, whose homes will all be demolished, despite having been built with planning permission.
As of 30 December 2009 four British owners of homes in Albox had been presented with demolition orders by the local police, whilst four other owners await the same fate. “According to the Mayor of Albox, Jose Garcia, eight demolitions were ordered some time ago by the courts and he has a legal obligation to carry them out,” explains local pressure group Abusos Urbanisticos Almanzora No (AUAN).
Town halls in Spain are responsible for granting building licences, and all of these eight houses, which appear to be have been selected for demolition almost arbitrarily, were granted building licences by Albox town hall in 2002.
None of the affected owners were given the chance to participate in the proceedings leading to the demolition orders, and according to local sources, the majority do not have the funds to fight them.
In a separate process a demolition order has also been served on a house in Vera, with the demolition date set for 12 January.
Demolishing the local economy?
According to AUAN, the Provincial Commission in Almeria has just approved the re-zoning of 26 hectares of land in Albox for the construction of 400 houses in Santa Cruz. “With hundreds of houses in the area standing empty, unsold or uncompleted, why are they approving further construction?” ask AUAN.
“Meanwhile the Junta de Andalucia has given its backing to a new business scheme to try to attract foreign buyers back to the province in apparent acknowledgment of the mistrust that exists among potential investors due to bad press,” say AUAN. “Given that over half of house sales in the province were, until recently, made to UK nationals, further publicity over illegality and demolition tragedies will be extremely difficult to counteract.”
PROTESTS EVENTS ORGANISED BY AUAN
Candlelight Vigil 9th January
The first of two planned actions will be the holding of a candlelight vigil on the 9th of January in the ruins of the home of Len and Helen Prior, pensioners whose house was illegally demolished in nearly Vera two years ago on that date. This couple are still living in what was their former garage with no mains water, no electricity and absolutely no sign of any compensation for their loss. This event is the result of collaboration between two local groups (AUAN, AULAN) fighting urban corruption in the area and they will be joined by representatives from across Spain, including the newly formed National Federation of Organisations against urban abuse (FAUN).
Peaceful Protest March 11th January
The presentation, just before Christmas, of yet more demolition orders to unsuspecting homeowners in the area, again without any sign of compensation, has been the catalyst for the ex-pat community to take to the streets and make its voice heard. The AUAN (an organisation of homeowners in the area campaigning to obtain legal status for members’ property) is organising a march in Almeria town on the 11th of January to protest against this scandal and appeal to the authorities to respond to the just demands of those innocent people who invested in good faith and are now facing the possible loss of their home and life savings.
We are protesting against legal and planning uncertainty, against bad administration and corruption, against the failure to respect citizens’ human rights and against the failure of the administration to comply with European Parliament resolutions including the Auken report.
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