Monday, 27 December 2010
Editorial, Última Hora, Menorca. December 27, 2010.
Tuesday, 2 November 2010
Campaigning to safeguard our homes
AUAN Press release – 2nd November 2010
Contact email@example.com or call 646506943
HELEN AND LEN PRIOR - ANOTHER SETBACK IN THEIR FIGHT FOR JUSTICE
Nearly three years after their dream home in Vera was demolished, British pensioners Helen and Len Prior faced another setback in their fight for justice last week.
The Administrative Courts, after a retrial of the case ordered by the Supreme Court in April last year, have upheld the original decision of the Junta de Andalucia requesting the demolition of their home. The decision was taken on the basis that the property was built on rustic land and could provoke the growth of an urban nucleus.
Last year the couple were finally offered temporary housing by Vera council. They had already spent two years living in what was formerly the garage of their demolished home.
Helen and Len, who are innocent victims of a planning row between Vera council and the Junta, will now have to seek compensation for the loss of their £350,000 home from Vera council who incorrectly issued the planning consent. It is likely that this process will take years, given the perilous state of town hall finances and Spain´s notoriously slow legal system.
The implications for the eight homeowners in Albox who face similar proceedings needs to be assessed, but this ruling is not good news for the many innocent victims of planning injustices in this area.
Tuesday, 26 October 2010
Here follows a video (regularly shown on the British Telly and seen by millions of viewers) called 'Paradise Lost'. It's about a small village in Almería, Cantoria, and has been dubbed by friends into Spanish. You might want to pass it around.
Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Campaigning to safeguard our homes
AUAN Press release – 18th October 2010
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 646506943
ILLEGAL HOMES: FACED WITH THE JUNTAS FAILURE, BRITISH RESIDENTS PROPOSE SOLUTIONS
AUAN had a meeting today in Macael with the Delegate for Public Works and Housing, the Director General for Urban Planning and the Director General of the Planning Inspectorate of the Junta de Andalucia.
After the meeting, the President of AUAN, Maura Hillen, said, “We are bitterly disappointed with outcome of the meeting. This was supposed to be a working party to discuss a road map; no work group was formed, neither were we given the supposed road map. We aren’t clear, in fact, what the purpose of the meeting was nor why we were invited.
The first legal proceedings were initiated seven years ago. Since then not one single house has been legalised. Seven years of opportunity have already been wasted.
In our opinion, the Junta doesn’t know how to deal with the problem. Therefore, we presented them with a white paper outlining some possible solutions, asking them to study them and give us their opinion.
We hope the Junta wasn’t simply playing to the gallery in calling this meeting and that they will be brave and intelligent enough to take concrete steps, have a constructive dialogue with the affected parties, and offer fast and effective solutions which we believe can only be achieved by a change in the law.
Politicians can no longer afford to ignore the social and economic damage being inflicted on this valley by their failure to effectively address urban chaos”
(Se adjunta el informe de AUAN)
Abusos Urbanísticos Almanzora No
Luchando para proteger nuestros hogares
Nota de Prensa AUAN –18 de octubre de 2010
Contacto: Patricia Sampson, Tel: 646506943 Email: email@example.com
CASAS ILLEGALES: ANTE LA INCAPACIDAD DE LA JUNTA, LOS BRITANICOS APORTAN SOLUCIONES
AUAN se ha reunido hoy en Macael con la Delegada de la Consejería de Obras Publica y Vivienda, el Director General de Urbanismo y la Directora General de Inspección Urbanística de la Junta de Andalucía.
Tras la reunión, la Presidenta de AUAN, Maura Hillen, declara “sinceramente, estamos disgustados que en la reunión que ha tenido lugar, teóricamente un grupo de trabajo para discutir una hoja de ruta, ni se ha formado grupo de trabajo alguno, ni nos presentaron con la supuesta hoja de ruta. No tenemos claro, de hecho, cual era el objetivo de la reunión y con que objeto fuimos convocados.
El primer procedimiento que llegó a nuestra atención se inicio hace siete anos. Pero hasta ahora no ha sido legalizada ni una sola casa. Siete anos de oportunidad ya han sido desperdiciados.
Nuestra opinión es que la Junta no sabe como afrontarse al problema. Ante todo ello, hemos presentado a la Junta un informe ofreciéndoles unas posibles soluciones, pidiéndoles las estudien y nos den su parecer.
Esperamos que la reunión no fuese simplemente para la galería y que la Junta sea valiente e inteligente y tomen pasos concretos, dialogando constructivamente con los afectados para ofrecer soluciones que forzosamente tendrán que pasar por un cambio normativo.
Nuestros políticos no pueden permitirse el lujo de seguir cerrándose los ojos ante el daño social y económico de que sufra la comarca por su falta de afrontarse efectivamente al caos urbanístico”.
Tuesday, 5 October 2010
Michael Lermontov Midgley
Edifico 2, Apt. 3, C/d’es Port, Es Castell, Menorca, 07720. Tel. 971 364 292. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sr. Marc Pons Pons
Consell Insular de Menorca
Placa de la Biosfera 5
Spain Octubre 4, 2010.
Estimado Sr. Pons,
CARTA ABIERTA AL PRESIDENTE DEL CONSELL INSULAR DE MENORCA, SR. MARC PONS PONS
El pasado mes de junio una compañera suya de partido (PSOE) le entregó un informe detallado de un caso de estafa inmobiliaria contra una pensionista británica, residente permanente en la isla, con la petición expresa de velar por los intereses de la pensionista.
La petición es consecuente con los valores que España ha prometido apoyar como firmante de la carta de derechos fundamentales de la Unión Europea y con el derecho otorgado al Estado por la Constitución española permitiéndole intervenir, por motivos de interés público, en un negocio privado.
Constatamos, pasados tres meses, que se ha hecho caso omiso a la petición, por lo que quisiera, una vez más, atraer su atención poniendo especial énfasis en los siguientes puntos:
. La propiedad inmobiliaria consiste en el domicilio de la pensionista y en lo que viene a ser un fondo para su jubilación. El valor global es de aproximadamente 1.500.000€, cantidad que constituye, probablemente, uno de los mayores desfalcos inmobiliarios cometidos en España contra una ciudadana británica.
. Los dos menorquines involucrados en el asunto son un importante contratista local del Govern Balear y un agente inmobiliario con acreditación de API, quien, además es vocal del Partido Popular y tiene, al parecer, antecedentes penales.
. Durante el desarrollo del caso, los dos menorquines han burlado repetidas veces las leyes de protección al consumidor, tanto españolas como europeas. No han respondido a las demandas de información para una auditoria de Hacienda, ni a la demanda de información enviada por “burofax” por la abogada de la pensionista, ni han confirmado ni desmentido si existen antecedentes penales para uno de los implicados.
. Según la ley española, el derecho a la presunción de inocencia está seriamente comprometido si hay antecedentes penales y si hay obstrucción a la hora de proporcionar datos relevantes.
. El consejo legal dado a la pensionista es: “Que se pueden presentar serios cargos de fraude en el juzgado penal.”
. Sin embargo, la actitud de los menorquines implicados parece ser ésta: “Aunque nuestro comportamiento haya sido criminal, no podéis conseguir nada. En Menorca podemos actuar con impunidad.”
. Esta impresión ha sido corroborada por el Consejo del Parlamento Europeo cuando afirma que el sistema judicial español puede que no “sea un sistema efectivo para conseguir justicia.”(Auken Report), y también por una ONG domiciliada en Berlín: “Transparency International”, que afirma que el 40% de los españoles consideran que el sistema judicial español es corrupto. El monitor británico de Internet, “Eye on Spain”, aconseja que: “no hay nadie fiable en España referente a la propiedad inmobiliaria, incluyendo a agentes inmobiliarios, abogados, promotores e incluso al gobierno.”
. El trasfondo general de este caso es la epidemia nacional de fraude inmobiliario dirigido contra británicos. Un programa de televisión británica decía que “el tamaño del problema da miedo.”
. El Parlamento Europeo ha dicho que incluso el estado español es una victima significante del fraude inmobiliario.
. En Menorca el fraude inmobiliario pone en juego la buena reputación de la isla como destino seguro para inversiones. Por ejemplo, la asociación española Ciudadanos Europeos, aconseja a los extranjeros que no compren propiedades en Andalucía hasta que no se haya arreglado y limpiado la corrupción del mercado inmobiliario. En el caso de Menorca, quisiera que usted leyera las cartas adjuntas de “The London Times”, de Sir Richard Branson y del vicepresidente de Abusos Urbanísticos, No! (AUN), Charles Svoboda.
. A propósito de los menorquines implicados en este caso, quisiera advertirle de lo siguiente:
La existencia de profesionales está justificada para dar un servicio público de un nivel de competencia superior al requerido a un individuo privado ante la ley. En una entrevista el día 29 de septiembre del 2010 en las oficinas de Maó, un inspector de hacienda nos confirmó que el API implicado en este asunto tiene antecedentes penales por fraude. Es de suponer que ello es incompatible con una actividad profesional inmobiliaria.
Es también de suponer que los contratistas que trabajan para el estado, en este caso para el Govern Balear, deben atenerse a formas de conducta éticas. Si hay fraude o si cometen faltas contra la ley y éstas llegan al público, se pone en tela de juicio:
1 La integridad del contratista.
2 Sus cualificaciones para ser contratista.
3 La falta de competencia y de juicio del órgano de gobierno a la hora de otorgar los
Ante la desesperación de esta pensionista británica, le ruego que examine atentamente su caso y que se interese por él. Le recuerdo que el pueblo espera legítimamente que sus gobernantes respondan con contundencia ante la evidencia de actuaciones abusivas, lesivas para los ciudadanos.
La confianza del pueblo en su gobierno no se mantendrá si se demuestra que:
1 Emplea contratistas corruptos y abusivos.
2 Tolera que individuos con antecedentes penales se admitan en los colegios profesionales.
3 El sistema legal no puede responder con efectividad a situaciones fraudulentas.
Dado la naturaleza tan seria del asunto, le ruego que, por una parte, advierta al Consejo General de los Colegios Oficiales de Agentes de Propiedad Inmobiliaria de España y le solicite que:
1 Investigue la conducta del API en este caso
2 Explique cómo una persona con antecedentes penales continúa ejerciendo de API
Por otra parte, que proceda a suspender los contratos vigentes con el contratista implicado hasta que responda adecuadamente sobre la adquisición de la propiedad de la pensionista víctima del fraude.
Que encargue, además, una investigación independiente si el caso no se resuelve dentro de un intervalo razonable de tiempo.
Si no da curso a mi demanda, le ruego que me explique el porqué de su negativa, o el obstáculo que le impide actuar.
Dado el caso de esta pensionista ¿Cómo se puede justificar este fraude ante el pueblo y continuar pidiendo a los británicos, y en particular a los pensionistas británicos, que tengan confianza en sus operaciones de compra venta en Menorca?
Quedo a su disposición por si quiere un informe actualizado sobre este asunto.
Agradecería una rápida respuesta. Muchas gracias.
Michael Lermontov Midgley
P. D. Envío copia a otros receptores.
Sunday, 3 October 2010
Monday, 27 September 2010
Big stuff, with hundreds of millions of euros sloshing around. So, don't be in any hurry for judicial investigations and revelations into the smaller towns, with more modest crimes of corruption, a few bob missing here and there...
From: The Entertainer Online
Saturday, 18 September 2010
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
I will write this email in English, because I even do not have the strenght to translate anymore into Spanish !This morning I received a visit from the local Police here in Cartama, to take pictures of our house to send back to the judge to see if we have really demolished the house as per the demolition order that we received in January of this year.The local police told me that he is just doing what is ordered and I fully understand that, but how come, two houses away from us, the sister of a local police has not even received a fine ?My personal chapter in this story is coming to an end, or it seems like it and all of the fighting that we have been doing, seems like it is just a waste of time if we cannot ALL get together and fight harder.I said over and over again in hundreds of meetings, that we have to stay together and be strong and they will have to give in to all of their corruption, but it never happened and a few of us tried very hard !!I am sick of paying lawyers, gestors, town halls, fines, tax offices and all of the rest and it only seems like we are paying into a pot that is shared between all of the corrupt people that has our faith in their hands !!My friends, as I said before and I will stress it again, this is WRONG and I will go to jail for it, if someone comes to tear our house down !!Our house is 500 meters away from the new hospital in construction and it is on its fourth floor at the moment, so I guess that they need the land also to expand in the area and the only way to do it is this way.Are we REALLY part of Europe and if so, is this really the dream of a European Union that is together and same laws for all citizens in each country and if so, do we not have the right to own a house?We payed for our building licenses to the Cartama town hall, nine years ago, we are registered in the house, we have been paying taxes now for the last 7 years on the house and on the plot, my daughter was born here and goes to school here, we vote in Cartama, we own two companies and employ local people and pay taxes legally ....what else do they want ? Three years ago, I spend 12 weeks in hospital, due to stress and have still not recovered 100% and my mind is just messed up with all of this corruption that is around us.I was proud to live here, work here and have friends here......... but all of this is just draining away and I have nowhere else to go, with everything invested here !May God take care of my daughter and the lady of my life, if anything happens to me. but I really cannot just stand up and accept all of this corruption anymore, after all, I am JUST human with a heart and a soul.This is NOT a life anymore and the sad thing about all of this is that I am NOT the only one that is living this nightmare !!Regards to all !!Alain
SPANISH GOVERNMENT DECIDES TO SEVERELY CURTAIL VOTING REGISTRATION POSSIBILITIES FOR EU RESIDENTS IN SPAIN
13 SEPTEMBER, 2010
NO VOTE NO VOICE SETBACK
SPANISH GOVERNMENT DECIDES TO SEVERELY CURTAIL VOTING REGISTRATION POSSIBILITIES FOR EU RESIDENTS IN SPAIN
A decision by the voter registration office (Censo Electoral) in Madrid announced in the Official Bulletin on 7 September, 2010 will severely curtail voting registration possibilities for next year’s local elections for those European Union citizens (majority British) resident in Spain since before 2007. This is a serious setback for the No Vote No Voice integration campaign being enthusiastically promoted by civic groups and local media, with official support from the British Ambassador in Madrid and Consulates in Spain.
Contrary to the procedure followed in previous local (and European Parliament) elections, those EU residents on the municipal register (padron) before the last local elections in May, 2007 WILL NOT receive a voting application form by post which simply needs to be signed and returned postage paid to the Censo Electoral. Whatever their circumstances, whether they have health, mobility or transport problems and without being sure of their rights and the documentation needed, they will have to go personally to their local Town Hall to fill in a voting application form.
It is obvious that this restriction will affect the great majority of EU citizens who moved to Spain and took up residence in the boom years before the present crisis began in 2007. It is, therefore, a deliberate and targeted decision which will result in the number of EU citizens registered to vote being kept at the present very low levels. It will introduce discrimination between those who were registered on the padron after the 2007 local elections, who will receive the voting application form by post and those registered on the padron before 2007 who will not. It will also discriminate between EU citizens who have been resident in Spain since before 2007 and, for example, citizens of Norway and those of mainly Latin American countries who will be able to vote next year and who will soon receive their voting application forms by post. It will also widen the gap between voting registration facilities for the Spanish, who are automatically registered on the voters list when they register on the padron, and the non-Spanish, long term EU residents who are going to lose a very important facility to enable them to register to vote.
The stated reason for this restriction is to save money by limiting the number to whom the voting application form is sent by post. The justification used is that those on the padron before 2007 will previously have received voting application forms by post and if they have not registered to vote, they are not interested. This is a particularly harsh judgment. It flies in the face of incontrovertible evidence that in previous years, for various reasons and sometimes on a massive scale, voting application forms sent by post were not received and were returned undelivered by the post office to the Censo Electoral. The most striking example of this occurrence was in Orihuela Costa in Alicante where some 12,500 voting application forms (75% of those sent) were returned undelivered. (It is equally certain that many of the remaining 25% also failed to reach addressees but were not formally returned as undelivered.) The consequence of the present decision to curtail voting registration facilities will mean that those people who, for no fault of their own, failed to receive the voting application form for the 2007 local elections, will not receive it this time either. Instead of taking action to improve the efficiency of the voter application by post facility, the Censo electoral is going to eliminate hundreds of thousands of people from the facility altogether.
The argument that it is sufficient to have sent the voting application form in the past also ignores the right of long term EU residents to change their mind and decide to register to vote for next year’s elections if they have become more interested in and more integrated in the life of their local communities. They should be encouraged rather than discouraged to do so.
The decision of the Spanish government to restrict the facilities for voter registration for long term EU residents is a complete denial of the government’s proclaimed policy of promoting integration. The government has been notably lacking in its support for EU citizens who have been the victims of land and urban abuses in Spain. Now they are taking a deliberate backward step which will hinder integration. It is an incomprehensible decision at a time when, often because of corruption in local government, Spain’s reputation as a destination for residential tourism and a haven for the purchase of holiday homes is under severe criticism. Greater participation in the political process by EU expats living in Spain, who are so often the victims, would surely be an effective means of helping prevent the causes of urban abuses.
The justification of saving money is most unconvincing. Since the whole voter registration machinery of the Censo Electoral remains intact and will function for all but the long term EU residents, the only saving will be the postage. How can such a meagre saving be envisaged at the expense of the hundreds of thousands of EU residents who have contributed so much to the Spanish economy by their investment in property, payment of taxes and their daily consumption of Spanish goods and services?
The Spanish government is obliged by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, as well as European and Spanish law, to guarantee the right to vote of EU citizens resident in Spain in local and European Parliament elections “under the same conditions” as Spanish nationals. Now, the Spanish government is taking a deliberate and serious step away from this obligation.
It is hoped that this retrograde decision will be opposed by EU citizens resident in Spain and the hundreds of civic groups which they have created. They should protest by all means possible: in the media, local, national and international, with their Ambassadors in Madrid, the national Ombudsman (Defensor del Pueblo) and directly to the provincial office of the Censo Electoral (telephone number of the Alicante office 901 101 900) seeking information and, if possible an exemption from this harsh decision. The possibility of legal action is being urgently studied.
It is not too late to reverse this mean, unfair and damaging decision. If the Spanish government gets away with it this time, who knows what they will do in the future not only in relation to voting rights but perhaps padron rights more generally – a policy with disquieting implications called “limpieza del padron”, clearing up the padron, has already been started.
To reverse the decision will require an urgent, serious and determined effort on the part of many people. It is an effort worth making.
Monday, 13 September 2010
Posted by Kevin Brass
After years of complaints and political challenges, the European Union's
Court of Justice is scheduled to review Spain's notorious "land grab" laws
During the boom years, many regional governments in Spain adopted laws
allowing jurisdictions to annex land for new developments, in many cases
with little or no compensation. Many of the properties were owned by expats,
who bought in good faith, without knowing their property might be subject to
Next Thursday the court will focus on the laws in Valencia, where the land
grabs were considered most egregious. Several protest groups were spawned by
the Valencia policies, including Abusos Urbanisticos No, which works with
protesters around the country.
The court won't address the propriety of taking land, only its
appropriateness for funding public works projects. Specifically the court
will review Spain's failure to follow EU's law on the "coordination of
procedures for the award of public works contracts, public supply contracts
and public service contracts," according to the published agenda.
"The Commission considers that the LUV [Valencia's land law] infringes the
Community public procurement directives in various aspects," and that
Spain's government has "failed to fulfill" it's obligations under EU law.
Members of European Parliament have long condemned Spain's unwillingness to
address the regional government's laws. But the ability to take action
against Spain falls to the Court of Justice, which could levy heavy fines.
"This marks an important--almost final--step in a long process that we hope
and trust will seriously erode some of the more predatory aspects of the
land laws in this region," said Charles Svoboda, vice-president of the AUN,
in a statement.
Tuesday, 7 September 2010
We have been forewarned of a serious restriction of voter registration procedures to be adopted for the 2011 municipal elections.
A Director General in the Censo Electoral in Madrid has told us that when arrangements are announced in the next few days for voter registration procedures for next year’s municipal elections, they will NOT include a procedure which featured in the voter registration procedures for the 2007 municipal elections and the 2009 European Parliament elections. Voting Application Forms will NOT be sent by post to all voting age, non-Spanish EU citizens registered on the municipal padron. Voting application forms will only be sent to those expats registered on the padron AFTER the May, 2007 local elections.
We consider this is a retrograde step which will greatly reduce the potential number of EU non-Spanish residents who could register to vote. Already the percentage of eligible expats who are registered to vote is very low, in Alicante on average, 10-12%. If 50% of those registered to vote actually vote, participation of non-Spanish EU residents would be so low as to be almost insignificant.
The stated reason for this measure is to save money. However, we believe the amounts involved will be minimal. If the Spanish government really wants to save money on voter registration for non-Spanish EU residents they should automatically include them on the voters list when they register on the padron, which is the procedure for Spanish nationals. This would more closely resemble the obligation in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union that EU citizens residing in another EU member state should have the right to vote under the same conditions as the nationals of that state.
The voting application form sent by post some 8 months before the elections to those eligible to register to vote is the most efficient and simple form of voter registration. The application form needs only to be completed and signed and returned postage paid direct to the provincial Censo Electoral. If these forms are not sent to those already on the padron before the last municipal elections in 2007, i.e. during the period when mass expat immigration took place, the great bulk of resident expats will not receive them. After May, 2007, with the onset of the crisis, it is likely that relatively few new residents will have registered on the municipal padron.
If the procedure for sending the voter application form by post is to be so severely curtailed, it will effectively leave as the only alternative, for the great majority of expats, to register in person at their Town Hall. For many people, for example those of retirement age, this will mean the hassle of a visit to the Town Hall, the uncertainty of documentation requirements and the prospect of language and communication difficulties. It will not facilitate high levels of voter registration. (In principle those registering on the padron should simultaneously be asked if they wish to register to vote: the fact that voter registration percentages are so low indicates that Town Halls are not doing their job and cannot be trusted in this politically sensitive area.)
We were told that those who were registered on the padron before 2007 will already have received voter application forms in the past and if they had not registered it was because they did not want to. This is a harsh judgement and does not allow for expats to change their minds, for example when they become more aware of the issues and want to influence local governance.
It is also a refusal to acknowledge the phenomenon of “devoluciones”, the return of voting application forms which Correos were not able to deliver. This happens on a large scale. Orihuela Costa is a prime victim. In the autumn of 2006 we were told that 12,500 voting application forms had been returned undelivered, nearly 75% of the total sent. The reason for this massive non-delivery of voting application forms is because Orihuela Costa did not have at the time an official address system. Street names and house numbers were those provided by developers and did not correspond to padron addresses to which the Censo Electoral sent voter application forms. Orihuela Town Hall had not even modified an out of date post code. Since 2008, after legal action and a Petition to the European Parliament, Orihuela Costa now has a physical address system which largely corresponds to padron addresses. The bombshell is that the 12,500 who were on the padron before May, 2007 will not receive voter application forms this time either.
The phenomenon of “devoluciones” is not unique to Orihuela Costa. In October-November, 2006, we saw with our own eyes in the Alicante office of the Censo Electoral trays full, literally thousands of returned undelivered voting application forms from elsewhere in Alicante province. We can only assume that similar address problems or postal unreliability were the explanation.
We know that your principal concern in AUN is with urban abuses but a great majority of these problems probably arise from corruption or bad governance by local Town Halls. More effective participation by expats in local government would be a way of controlling such abuses – politicians listen to voters. More effective participation begins with greatly increasing voter registration.
The latest decision, if confirmed, will not contribute to greater voter registration by expats. This consequence must be realised by the government – we have emphasised it with our contact in Madrid. He told us that there would be no announcement of this restriction, it would simply be observed in practice. However, the Censo Electoral would study the situation in the three weeks or so after the announcement, later this week, of the general arrangements. Implicitly, there would seem to be a possibility of a change of position depending on the reaction. However, by not announcing the restriction and perhaps not making it explicit in any published regulations, they are not facilitating any critical reaction!
We are so concerned by this retrograde measure that we plan to launch a media protest involving local, national and international media, letters to EU Ambassadors in Madrid, Ombudsmen and if there is a base, legal action and action with the European Parliament. We are also contemplating a demonstration in front of the office of the Censo Electoral in Alicante. This will involve a lot of activity in the next 3 weeks.
Monday, 30 August 2010
Abusos Urbanisticos Almanzora No
Campaigning to safeguard our homes
AUAN Press release – 30th August 2010
Zurgena: Homeowners in Los Carasoles called to court to take part in legal proceedings relating to their properties
Homeowners in the Los Carasoles area of Zurgena have been invited to attend Court Number 2 in Heurcal Overa on the 8th of September to take part in legal proceedings relating to their properties.
The properties are located on Poligono 4, parcela 98, subparcelas a and e in the area of Los Carasoles. The case (49/2009) appears to have been initiated by some or all of the homeowners.
AUAN strongly recommends that anyone not currently party to this case owning a property on this parcel of land would be best advised to seek legal assistance and take part in the legal proceedings to protect their interests.
The announcement was made on 30th of August on the official bulletins of the province (BOP). This site is monitored by AUAN volunteers.
(See extract below)
Monday, 9 August 2010
“Keep fighting - I am with you!”
A controversial and outspoken MEP with a social conscience, Marta Andreasen is not afraid to tell it like it is. Going public about injustices inside and outside of the European Parliament – even when it cost the MEP her livelihood – and her determination not to be beaten when human rights are at stake makes her a force to be reckoned with in the ongoing war against the various land grab laws...
This week, the Costa Blanca News was given an exclusive interview with Marta Andreasen, MEP, who is one of the main driving forces behind the EU's campaign to eradicate abusive land laws that deprive expatriates and natives alike of their homes and life's savings. A staunch defender of human rights and no stranger to controversy after her public 'outing' of dubious fund management within the EU cost her her job, the head of the United Kingdom Independent Party (UKIP) tells us why she has little faith in the European Court of Justice, why she thinks European funds should be withdrawn from some of Spain's autonomous regions, and why she will never give up the fight to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of property-owners who could face losing everything.
You were voted Personality of the Year by Accounting Age magazine in 2003. Can you tell us more about your history as a whistle blower, including back when she worked as an auditor in the EU Commission?
I was hired as the Chief Accountant of the European Commission back in January 2002. I was hopeful that by that time the administrative reform that was promised after the resignation of the Santer Commission on allegations of fraud, nepotism and financial mismanagement (1999) was very much a reality and I would contribute to its completion and implementation. What I found was that the most basic controls on the use of EU funds were missing and that the reform had not even started. I asked for support from the Commissioners but all I got was pressure to sign accounts that I did not consider reliable. Then Lord Kinnock announced his intention to remove my Chief Accountant responsibility and give me another – less visible – job. I rejected his offer on the basis that I was acting in line with my professional duty and in defence of European taxpayers. I was then suspended and finally sacked. I have not given up on the fight for transparency and accountability on the use of EU funds and that fight has convinced me that the EU is not sincere about its motives nor does it give adequate consideration to the interests of European people.
Since Spain, and in particular Valencia, have tried to bury any external criticism of their predatory laws and practices - most notably last year's Auken report - approved by the full EU Parliament - do you believe it will be possible to freeze some, or all, of the EU subventions to Spain, because of these violations of human rights and the environment because of land grabs, massive over-development, and so on?
Auken's report focused on the environmental matters and only dealt collaterally with the land grabs. While it is true that the report called for the suspension of EU funding, there was no resolution to implement this measure. The European Commission and the European Parliament have made efforts to avoid intervention on the argument that 'it is a domestic issue'. Now that the Lisbon Treaty has been ratified and the EU has embraced the Charter of fundamental rights, it is going to be very difficult for them to ignore a violation of human rights like the one happening in Spain in relation to the land grab. Fighting from this angle, and considering that Spain will most probably need financial rescue from the EU, I have pushed forward the argument that the EU should not help the Spanish government in as much as it does nothing to protect fundamental rights. I believe this will give the Commission and Parliament (a motive and justification) to act.
How much support do you have in this respect?
I am gaining support every day. It is not an easy task as many are prepared to speak strong words against this situation but few are ready to demand action, notably the suspension of funding. But I will get there.
Has there been a review of how Spain has accounted for past subventions amounting to many billions of euros over the past 15 years? If not, why not?
The review is made by the Court of Auditors for all the member states, Spain is identified as one of the countries where 'errors' ( new word for irregularities) happen more frequently.
But I am conducting my own review and have at present identified examples where these 'errors' are linked to land grab cases. I will make these public once I have gathered all the necessary evidence. I am sure that this will make it more urgent for the EU institutions to suspend funding to the regions where this is taking place.
Since Spain has been dragged before that court quite possibly more often than any other EU member, have these fines been paid?
As far as I am aware, there are many cases identified in the past decade where Spain is still failing to return the funds that have not been properly spent. It is the responsibility of the European Commission to take action on this but they have not proved to be very forceful, and maybe therein lies the fundamental problem. The European Commission has the power - granted by the treaties - to suspend further funding until the member state returns the money if proved to have been misappropriated, but it rarely, if ever, uses this alternative.
Would you - your UKIP reservations notwithstanding - support complaints going to the European Commission with a view to taking these issues to the European Court of Justice?
I do not trust the European Court of Justice and I am speaking out of my own experience. My reservations in regards the EU institutions were borne out of my experience and are the ones that caused me to become a Eurosceptic and join the UKIP. Consequently I could never recommend anybody to take their complaints to this court. In addition people should know that the ECJ does not handle complaints from individuals but only from organisations and member states. The only cases handled by the ECJ that relate to individuals are those that occur within the EU institutions. The court the people should complain to is the European Court of Human Rights which is not - for the time being - an EU institution but is related instead to the Council of Europe ( which is different to the European Council, an EU institution).
If the UKIP ever got into power and they withdrew from the European Union, as they state in their manifesto, where would that leave British citizens living in Spain? How can you claim to protect the rights of British citizens abroad, when the party you represent wants to take all those rights away at a stroke?
I will start by the last part of the question to explain where I stand and where UKIP stands. It is totally untrue to state that UKIP “wants to take away the rights of the British citizens abroad at a stroke.” The right to private property and reasonable compensation in case of forced expropriation is a human right that must be defended whether in or out of the EU. Therefore leaving the EU will not affect the defence of the British citizens' rights at all even if the violation takes place in a country different from the UK. This argument which is false can only come from Europhiles who look to confuse people about their true motives.
The fact that this matter is brought to the attention of the European Parliament does not mean the EU will grant any special attention to such violation, on the contrary they are looking to find a way to exclude it from its competence.
People have voted for me and for UKIP because they wanted us to fight for withdrawal. But in the meantime I will fight to defend the interests of my constituents by blocking EU legislation that is harmful or by taking action against any prejudice they should suffer. And that is why I have taken to fight for this cause and my fight is conducted precisely for the same arguments that we have for withdrawal: one of which is the waste of British taxpayers´ money. At the same time, the hypocrisy about the protection of human rights becomes evident in the lack of action of the EU in resolving the matter.
The Consulate's new service provided is only in Spanish and valenciano. Is this another facile trick to dodge the real bullet? What do you think of that?
Indeed this may be another "facile trick to dodge the real bullet,” and this does not surprise me at all.
Do you think there is any likelihood of a solution for the tens of thousands of property-owners out there who face losing everything?
I think there should be and that is why I have undertaken this fight so seriously and energetically. I trust the crisis we are all going through, which is affecting Spain in particular, will force the Spanish authorities to look for a solution that will help construction and tourism - two of the few industries left - to turn around and start growing again. This problem may be affecting half a million families of all nationalities and in as much as we keep up the pressure there is hope for a solution in the short term. So my message is: keep fighting, I am with you!
Sunday, 8 August 2010
Should I make that clearer? In our small town some twenty years ago, if you wanted to get ahead, you joined the political party of your peers (although not, necessarily, your persuasion).
Have things changed in our Almerian pueblos? Well, sure, you can join the party you want, or none at all if it suits you, but answer me this – how will I know if you voted for me?
Politics is not a thing to take lightly. The future of your family can depend on how you vote. The local pretenders for positions on the council are generally there for reasons which have little to do with ideology and much to do with personal motives. They obtain power over their peers knowing that power is not just getting jobs or rewards for one’s friends, as much as sticking it to one’s enemies.
So the local people live in trepidation as deals are struck behind closed doors and, as often as not, governments fall with ‘transfugas’ (turncoats) crossing the floor with their pockets unexpectedly full. Our town has had four ‘mociones de censura’ (motions of censure) since the mid nineties. So who can you trust?
You vote for a list in Spain, the top few names get in, while the tail-end doesn’t. But one of the people near the top might be persuaded to change his allegiance. It’s just ‘politics’ of course.
There are a number of ways of attracting votes – since that’s the game we play. A five hundred euro bill is fairly persuasive, or a simple reminder that your rather useless cousin works in the town hall… for the time being.
The foreigners could be a threat to the status quo, with ideas of transparency, honour and civic pride, but luckily no one has had to take them seriously. Most don’t/won’t vote and those that do can be seduced into voting for a party ticket with some fellow called John or Bill way down the list where he acts as cannon-fodder, a useful shiny toy with no hope whatsoever of getting into the town hall.
Thursday, 22 July 2010
Further to your previous email I have spoken to our Petitions Spokesman Giles Chichester MEP and he has given me an update on the current situation:
1. We had a very successful hearing a few months ago in the Petitions Committee when several petitioners of all nationalities presented their case. The Spanish government was there too. What was really significant was that unlike previous occasions when the Spanish MEPs were very reluctant to admit that anything was wrong, they were for the most part much more sympathetic to the plight of the property owners. There seems to be a real breakthrough.
2. There is now considerable pressure from some member states, eg UK and Germany , to reopen the issue to put further pressure on the Spanish Government. It is very likely that there will be another report to follow up on the Auken report from the last parliament. This time, I understand that as long as the issue focuses on the questions of the law's erratic application, unfair compensation terms and retroactive nature, the Spanish MEPs are likely to be more cooperative. They know that the issue is of some embarrassment to their country, and that many of those badly affected are Spanish.
3. The next meeting of PETI is at the end of September. We will be pressing for an immediate decision to go ahead, to visit some of the worst affected places and to start a report.
I can assure you that we will do everything in our power to put an end to the Spanish property disaster. In the end it has got to be the Member State , i.e. Spain , that sort out the problem but we will exert all possible pressure on them to do so.
Timothy Kirkhope MEP
Wednesday, 21 July 2010
Abusos Urbanisticos Almanzora No
Campaigning to safeguard our homes
AUAN Press release – 21st July 2010
Junta includes AUAN in working party to find solution to illegal housing problem
In an informal 30 minute meeting with a delegation from AUAN, the Minister for Planning and Housing of the Junta de Andalucia, Rosa Aguilar, announced the creation in September of a working party to find and agree solutions to problems arising from the illegality of homes in the
The working party will include representatives of the regional government, the mayors of the valley and representatives of the affected families, specifically AUAN.
AUAN is satisfied with this new development which represents one of our key demands. We look forward to actively seeking solutions to the serious problems faced by our members in an open and transparent manner.
We encourage all those affected by this issue to register to vote to help maintain pressure on the working party to deliver results.
The meeting took place on Tuesday 20th July in Albox when the Minister attended the ceremony to mark the opening of the towns’ new bridge.
Tuesday, 13 July 2010
Property in Spain
There has been a certain amount of excitement among the Northern European settlers in Spain after the head-on critical attack on President Zapatero from a rogue MEP during the plenary meeting in Strasbourg to close Spain’s six month presidency of the European Union. The attack came from Marta Andreasen, an MEP for the Euro-sceptic UKIP (an odd party perhaps for Ms Andreasen, a British citizen who lives in Barcelona and who has a marked Argentine accent, but then the Über-Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan was born and raised in Peru and he doesn’t seem to think much of foreign politicians either). Andreasen compared Zapatero’s treatment of the mainly British owners of ‘illegal homes’ as approaching something dreamed up by President Mugabe, the Zimbabwean despot. There’s a video of her comments and Zapatero’s indignant answer here.
This comes after the new housing tsar for Andalucía, the ex IU mayoress for Cordoba Rosa Aguilar, said in a recent meeting in Cadiz that there are 300,000 illegal homes in Andalucía.
And God knows how many more in the rest of Spain.
There are in fact three different problems that home-owners, whether Spanish, European or foreigners must face, although oddly, most of the ‘victims’ of these problems turn out to be Britons. The three (essential) problems, misunderstood unfortunately by both Ms Andreasen and Mr Zapatero (if he cares) are ‘Land Grab’ (a popular concept where property is expropriated and the owner charged for urbanisation costs for his remaining stake, all for publicly sanctioned commercial reasons), ‘Illegal Homes’ (homes are planned, built, marketed and sold – almost always to Northern Europeans - and only then found to be illegal, thus leaving – apparently – hundreds of thousands of property owners in a extended state of doubt, stress and judicial uncertainty) and lastly the ‘Ley de Costas’, the Coastal Law which started out as a military order to allow clear fields of fire on the Nation’s coast and beaches. Now, while no one is clear on the rules (which vary from one municipality, owner, authority and situation, to the next), the Coastal Law can mean that no one can build within a certain, variable, distance from the water-line unless the rules are bent, ignored or, in some cases, satisfied with a fine. The 1988 version of this law will, apparently, be debated in the Spanish parliament this autumn, so maybe some sense will finally be made of it.
But let us return to Andalucía and the housing tsar Rosa Aguilar. Her predecessor, recently removed from his job after masterminding the demolition of one house in Vera, Almería, in 2008 – and causing a hullabaloo across the world (oddly enough, even in Zimbabwe during their elections) – had talked of homes being ‘ilegal’ and ‘legal’ and something very andaluz between these two extremes: ‘alegal’ – which would translate as something like ‘illegalish’. An elegant solution where everyone wanders off and talks about something else. Unfortunately, many of the illegal houses don’t have water or electric connections and, not being registered officially, the owners can’t pay property taxes or, of course, vote.
Rosa Aguilar thinks that the answer might lie in forcing the owners of these properties to pay urbanising costs which, at least in Chiclana where she made the remarks (a town with 15,000 illegal homes or more), costs per household would be in the region of 40,000 euros. Meanwhile, she has set up a Citizens Forum with a number of women’s groups (for some reason) to ‘establish a permanent dialogue between the Andalucian Department for Housing and Public Works and social groups’. Very nice too, but none of the many property-owners associations or foreigners groups have been invited to join.
They might have made too much of a fuss.
Monday, 12 July 2010
Campaigning to safeguard our homes
AUAN Press release – 12th July 2010
THE AVALANCHE OF PROCEEDINGS IN ALMANZORA CONTINUES WITH NINETY-EIGHT MORE CASES
For some time AUAN has been warning that sooner or later the avalanche of cases against illegal homes bought in good faith by mostly British people in the Almanzora Valley would come to light. Now reports have come to their attention that 98 more homes could eventually run the risk of being demolished.
The reports relate to summary procedure number 23/2007 in the Investigative Court Number 1 in Huercal-Overa (which accumulates preliminary investigations numbers 2188/2005 and 2352/2007 from the same court with case number 760/2007 from Court Number 2). The investigation centres on alleged planning crimes and alleged construction without a building license. It is feared that demolition will be requested when formal charges are made because this appears to be the usual practise of the Prosecutor. The homes affected are in the area of La Aljambra in the municipality of Albox. The investigation was initiated by Seprona in 2005. The case relates to several allegedly illegal urbanisation's which lack basic infrastructure. Many of the affected homeowners rely on generators to provide electricity.
The British community is distressed because of the uncertainty about legal proceedings. It is scandalous that things continue like this without the administration delivering a solution in spite of the promises offered. It is clear that the current solution will take many years and in the meantime the situation is getting worse rather than better.
AUAN recommends that anyone who thinks that they are affected by this case should take legal advice and appoint a lawyer and a procurator to defend their interests in these proceedings. Grouping together can reduce costs.
Wednesday, 7 July 2010
The Spanish press (somewhat surprisingly, having kept silent on this issue for years) have joined in with some coverage of dubious value, sometimes confusing the 'ley de costas', 'land grab' and 'viviendas ilegales' (all different issues) for example here ('Preguntan a Zapatero si confiscará casas costeras a los británicos como en Zimbabue') and bringing in MEPs Magritte Auken and Marta Andreasen together in an article here called 'The two euro-houseflies'.
'Typically Spanish' covers the story here.
Monday, 5 July 2010
Abusos Urbanisticos Almanzora No
Campaigning to safeguard our homes
AUAN Press release –5th July 2010
Seven homes impacted by planning crimes investigation in Arboleas
AUAN sources confirm that the Nov 2009 raid on Arboleas Town hall relates to an investigation into alleged planning crimes and ‘prevaricacion’ (wrongdoing in a public office).
The investigation involves 7 dwellings constructed by Lakes Vega SL on poligono 8 parcela 118 in the La Cana area of Arboleas.
The case (1429/2009) is currently in court number 3 in Heurcal-Overa awaiting formal charges from the State Prosecutor. Such charges often include a demand for demolition.
Anyone affected by this case would be best advised to seek legal assistance and take part in the legal proceedings to protect their interests.
Saturday, 3 July 2010
Abusos Urbanisticos Almanzora No
Campaigning to safeguard our homes
AUAN Press release – 3rd July 2010
Zurgena: Homeowners in Llanos Del Peral given 5 days to take part in legal proceedings relating to their properties
Homeowners in the Llanos Del Peral area of Zurgena were given until the 6th of July to appear before court number 2 in Huercal Overa to take part in legal proceedings relating their properties.
The properties are located on Poligono 17, parcela 348, subparcela A in the area of Llanos del Peral. The proceedings are against CARLOS DOMINGO BERBEL FERNANDEZ. The promoter is named as TISAN SURESTE S.L and the constructor is named as TRAGARCIA S,L.
We do not know if the homes are part built or occupied.
AUAN strongly recommends that anyone affected would be best advised to seek legal assistance and take part in the legal proceedings to protect their interests. It would be foolish not to.
The announcement was made on Friday 2nd July on the official bulletins of the province (BOP). This site is monitored by AUAN volunteers.
JUZGADO DE PRIMERA INSTANCIA E INSTRUCCION NUMERO DOS DE HUERCAL-OVERA
Procedimiento: PROCED.ABREVIADO 63/2007.
Contra: CARLOS DOMINGO BERBEL FERNANDEZ
E D I C T O
D./Dña. Esther De La Cruz González Secretario del Juzgado de Primera Instancia e Instruccion Numero 2 de Huercal-Overa.
DOY FE Y TESTIMONIO:
Que en el Procedimiento Abreviado nº 63/2007 se ha dictado la providencia siguiente:
Practíquense las diligencias solicitadas por el Ministerio Fiscal en OTROS Y II de su escrito de acusación de fecha 15/03/2010, librando para ello los despachos oportunos, señalándose el día seis de Julio para los perjudicados que puedan ser localizados y acordándose emplazar por medio de edictos, en calidad de perjudicados, a los adquirentesde las viviendas sitas en el polígono 17 , parcela 348 SUBPARCELA A) , del Paraje Los LLanos DEL PERAL, del término municipal de Zurgena, siendo el promotor de las mismas TISAN SURESTE S.L , y el contructor “ TRAGARCIA S,L.” que no se hayan personado hasta ahora en la causa, para que en el plazo de CINCO DIAS comparezcan ante este Juzgado a fin de realizarles el ofrecimiento de acciones previsto en el artículo 109 de la Ley de Enjuiciamiento Criminal, edictos
que se publicarán en el Tablón de Anuncios de este Juzgado y en el Boletín Oficial de la Provincia, librando a tal efecto los despachos oportunos. Igualmente, se acuerda requerirles para que en el mismo plazo aporten los justificantes de los pagos efectuados al adquirir las respectivas viviendas.” Y para que conste y sirva de EMPLAZMIENTO Y REQUERIMIENTO a los referidos perjudicados, y su publicación en el Boletin oficial de ALMERIA , expido el presente en Huércal Overa a veintiuno de mayo de dos mil diez.
EL/LA SECRETARIO, Esther de la Cruz González.