Priors told their Spanish home was ‘illegally’ knocked down

EXCLUSIVE By Jon Clarke and Matthew Pritchard in Almeria

AN order to demolish the home of an English couple in Spain last year has been overruled as illegal.

The decision by the Andalucian authorities to pull down Len and Helen Priors dream home near Vera was overruled by the Spanish High Court.

The Court ruled that the couple were denied the fundamental rights to defend their case and that the demolition was “a grave injustice”.

The ruling overturns the decision of Almeria’s Court Number 2, on July 6, 2006, which quickly led to the couple’s home Tranquilidad being demolished.

They have since been living in a garage next to the property, and are demanding damages of 600,000 euros from the town hall.

Priors' home demolished in Almeria, Spain

The court did not rule whether or not the licence for their three-bedroom home was illegally given or not. Merely whether the stages of demolition had been undertaken correctly.

“The fact that they were not involved in the legal process damaged their judicial rights,” said the judge at the High Court.

The couple described the move as “very encouraging”.

Len Prior said: “We are very pleased. I really feel this is a step forward and it shows we haven’t been forgotten.”

The Priors’ had bought the land in 2002 and – having secured all the necessary permits and permissions via the town hall – built their house in 2003.

All went well until May 2006 when they received notification from the regional government that the permissions had actually been awarded illegally and their 600,000-euro house could be demolished.

They immediately turned to local solicitor, Victor Muñoz and he engaged a litigation specialist in Madrid to fight the case. As far as the Priors were aware, the case was currently proceeding through the courts.

But on December 16, 2007, they received another letter from the Junta de Andalucía informing them that the case had been heard; and demolition would take place on January 9.

No further appeals would be admitted.

At no point had the Priors, or their lawyers, been informed of the final hearing that decided the fate of their home.

The bulldozers duly arrived and the house was pulled down, making international news and sending yet more shockwaves around a region teetering on the edge of financial freefall.

The Priors are now meeting with lawyers on Friday, April 17 to discuss the implications of the sentence.

They have asked for 535,000 euros in damages to the property and 80,000 euros for the stress it has caused them.

A demonstration earlier this year by hundreds of expatriates in Almeria demanded that the Spanish legal system dealt fairly with cases such as the Priors.

Illegal home protest in Almeria

Mr Prior said he thought the demonstration march organised in January to mark the first anniversary of his home’s demolition had had a major impact.

“The Junta official we met with to discuss our case told us three times we shouldn’t organise any more marches which shows he was worried by it.”

Last month an EU report by Danish Green Party MEP slammed the practices of Spanish authorities over human rights and the environment.

The report was passed in the European Commission by a vast majority of MEPs and Spain is now expecting a huge fine.

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  1. I suppose one has to realise Jorge that most people who feel the need to make a comment on forums are ones with a grievance. I’m sure there are many more foreigners in Spain who are perfectly happy but don’t feel the need to comment on it. That said there is some justification with a high level of corruption in Spain, but it is not insignificant that this country has only been a recent democracy for 33yrs with the previous forty yrs under a very nasty facist regime. 33 yrs is not long to change ways and mentalities that have been so embedded and divided for so long. Is it not the case that many Brits leave the UK because of over regulation which is crippling and draconian.
    The Socialist party are trying with a raft of new laws this past few years but as I’m sure we all know they largely seem to be ignored, presumably because there is no co operation, or will, and it would seem there is a lack of policing, certainly where I live in Andalucia where there are three policemen covering a huge, allbeit rural area.
    So you Brits, lets be a little bit more lenient and respectful and understanding in our comments.
    Spain has had an awful turbulent and damaging history and I happen to think most are pretty all right despite it. I live in Spain and love it’s people. Mike

  2. Stuart,

    You talk out of your rear end.

    Yes, my brother is a qualified English builder with 30 years experience and he has said the work is good. I t looks good and is good, that is why my builde ris still booked up even now. Swimming pool built years ago, still no problem…

    Don’t jump to conclusions you know nothing about. We are not all negative like you, where everything is bad along with all people.

    And I am normally dubious about most things. Get real and get a life.

  3. What a shame, this thread has merely degenerated to personal insults and “he said she said” tit for tat stuff.

    On reading this entire thread, I would have to agree with the view that Spain has more problems than the UK, expecially concerning justice/laws/construction standards etc.

    Other countries in Northern Europe do indeed have problems -however I just do not believe it is anywhere near the same scale as Spain.

    Jorge (who apparently is spanish) it would be informative if you could answer questions raised in posts – just be the bigger man and don’t be drawn into childish argument

  4. Hi Scot, thank you for your thoughts and views.

    Below you will find a cut and pasted copy an e-mail I sent the editor of this publication, Mr Jon Clarke.

    In it I offered my modest views an how about going and least trying to do something about any irregularities. I hope you will find it of interest.

    Here goes…


    Thanks Jon,

    Likewise, I’m sorry if I’ve come across the way I’m not. We all make
    mistakes. You are clearly a good organisation and definatively good guys.

    I think like you, it’s always the small minority that spoil the whole thing
    for everybody. Anyhow, the bottom line remains and yes, I am shamed on the
    attitude of some of my compatriots in their greed. Of course, they are the
    ones that in practice are ruining the country and should be named and
    shamed. If they are politicians they should be reported to the opposition
    party, lawyers to the Colegio de Abogados and so forth. It may be slow but
    at least we are barking up the right tree.

    Another good thing would be to get in touch with the mainframe Spanish
    media. As you know they are firmly divided in two groups, and so are the
    judiciary for that matter and the same applies. If say, somebody from the PP
    is stuffing his/her pockets and you have reasonable evidence then they
    should be reported to the Cadena Ser, El País or others likeminded and vice
    versa. Oh they are dying to get their hands on stuff like this. Anything
    that the media can get a political angle on will be aired with more vileness
    that any of the comments we have seen here so far

    We are an envious nation, people will be made to fall if they get rich and
    others don’t for the simple reason that these others want to be in their
    place. It is the only way that politicians can be disgraced in this country.
    They can have all the extramarital affairs they wish, dress up as Dolly
    Parton in parties or ruin the economy, they will be safe. This is why the
    PSOE are safe in government in Andalusia and have been since day one, they
    are destroying the land we all know but have been lucky enough not to have
    been cought in any corruption scandal of magnitude, like their national
    counterparts were in 1996 (Roldán, Mariano Rubio, Filesa, etc).

    I will continue using the Olive Press, I have no doubt whatsoever.




    As you can see, as a Spaniard I am critical of some of our elected peers, as it should be. I was very much looking forward to reading an objective post such as yours, that although critical, you have expressed you views as it is your right to do so. Thank goodness. In fact, I will be pleased to answer or give advice on all matters Spanish/Moroccan (my two countries) by PM (don’t worry I will not charge…). That is if there is way to do this in this site. I will not comment anymore here and that is for real this time.

    To the rest, farewell.


  5. Reap what you sow,
    so your brother is a builder of 30 years -so you are telling me that the blocks and clay bricks used in Spain are in anyway the equal of what is available in northern Europe, or the double glazing or the doors or the safety regs. Do you not see how every week and sometimes daily people are dying in Spain from carbon monoxide poisoning. That for years the Spanish authorities denied any liability in the deaths of tourists because of the atrocious installation and total lack of maintenance. What is the U factor of your house – U factor is all about insulation, thermal and acoustic, every house being built in the UK has to acheive a certain level before it can be built.

    What about the 18 young Spanish who died this way in a casa Rural in Murcia – and no one is paying the price for their death. Racist comments no – it would be nice to know how many claims about racism come from Catholics who can´t take the truth about their belief system.

    As for the work still looking good so it should but again have you not seen on Spanish news the apartment blocks falling down in Catalunya/Asturias etc – after just 20 years. Get a life you say – I have one but see my comment below.

    You know I have a feeling that a lot of comments on this thread are really about those, angry that it may make the sale of their houses harder if those looking to buy get put off by eyeballing this forum. Sarah and Fred are not among those.

    Then there are those who have been lucky or more careful in choosing locations or property for them it´s obviously a case of I´m allright Jack – it´s one of the reasons we were glad to leave the UK.

    Jorge you must be a freak to have learned to write English so well – The Opening School is/was a chain of English language centres that went bust a few years ago – an opening school – that is really bad english is´nt it has anyone bothered to tell them to change it?

    When we moved Guadix we opened an acount with the BBVA it had a junior manager who had spent 6 months at the BBVA branch in central London – he did´nt have more than 10 words in English. If every Spaniard living in the UK was given an aptitude test in English – how do you think they would fare. Many Brits who come to live in Spain are not young and the older you get the harder it is – virtuallyall the Spanish who come to work in the UK are young.

    Denial syndrome is a clear manifestation of weakness. One poster said that Spain has only been free of Fascism for 33 years – The Spanish have had 5 centuries in Central and South America – you want to come back on that one.

    If the Spanish had gone to India or south west Asia would we still be able to marvel at the Taj Mahal, the fabulous palaces of Rajistan or the temples of southern India or in Thailand/Cambodia or Vietnam – to say that the Spanish have destroyed wilfully and deliberately everywhere they have conquered is not racist but factual – this is their history. When Evo Morales said that “in the time of my grandparents, any indigenous person who tried to learn to read and write had their eyes gouged out and their hands cut off” – who did this – the descendants of the Spanish conquistadores.

    So according to some on this thread that is a racist comment – no a factual one. Are these comments from the chattering classes -you betcha.

  6. Sarah,
    we have an abondoned dog, an ugly little sod when he was found – 3 months old and abandoned on the Autovia sliproad, normal practice, that´s why we see so many killed around the motorway -he now is a very handsome fella and lots of Spanish have asked to buy him from us.

    Tellingly and shockingly we have been asked if he is coming with us to France and this from people we would never have dreamed to ask this question – of course he is!Did they think we would abandon him!

    A dog licence – this has to be something local or just a way of ripping you off, why do I say this, easy to tell. We have an immediate neighbour on our floor – Paco/Policia Local and on the floor above, Alejandro/Guardia Civil – neither have ever said that we need a dog licence, nor has the vet. Yes the Fox is micro-chipped and has all his jabs except flue ones – they can kill, so he does´nt have these.

    BTW, here in Guadix we have an excellant pet and feed shop run by a lovely man called Angel and he is with dogs, just had him clipped out with no anaesthetic or teeth guard and for E25 including bath afterwards and this with a dog that needs two men to hold him when we visit the vet- I´d rec. him to anyone.

    I read something today that absolutely stunned me and I immediately knew this meant even bigger problems for decent people like Fred and Sarah who did´nt buy a house as an investment but as a home.

    Buy today´s Ideal newspaper and read the full page spread on the ´castigation of Spanish architects´. this paper really lays into them about how the Schools of Architects should have acted to stop the overbuilding and how even when the economy recovers (really!) the construction industry can never go back to employing anything like the numbers previously.

    Especially read the small bracketed box in the middle of the page – there must be a new code; the same as the rest of Europe (we can rightly assume they mean northern Europe); better/safer construction techniques (because they are aware that earthquakes will leave maybe millions killed in the event of a big one), better building materials and better concrete.

    Why was´nt this urged and indeed demanded by the then Spanish government when the boom in construction began about 17 years ago?

    So here´s the thing – when this becomes general knowledge it will make it almost impossible to sell existing property, since anyone with at least half a brain will wait until they can purchase a decent and safe home.

    Sarah and Fred, if you can afford to take a real drop in price and sell do so. I realise this places you in a real moral dilemma situation – do you tell potential purchasers about all this or keep quiet – I would´nt like to be in your situation.

    The only other alternative is renting it out and use the rental income to fund a life in France. Don´t use local agents, either Brit or Spanish – I heard years ago how they were ripping off their clients by only declaring half the lets. It might be worth finding out how many others might think about renting out their properties and create your own website and share the costs – remember to be effective it must be professional and idiot proof.

    So there it is, change is coming, of course you can bet your life that the big construction companies will fight tooth and nail not to adopt real standards – think of all the lawsuits they will face when the ordinary Spanish find they have been ripped off.

    For all those Spanish who went abroad to work and walked around with their heads stuck firmly up their backsides I have no sympathy. Why, when they came back to Spain from Germany/Switzerland/Denmark/Norway/Britain did´nt they demand the same standard of materials and construction!

  7. Stuart

    I must admit to losing the plot when informed about this new “licence fee” – as far as I am concerned I’ve done my bit by providing strays with a home – they are vaccinated, ‘chipped and well cared for (I’m waiting for pet passports to be finalised so that I can get them out of Spain when the time comes)
    The dog licence appears to be just that, another cash cow…..according to the town hall it’s been law for years, but has never been enforced – however with all these Brits here now, it appears to be a good time to do just that, as most of them will pay rather than lose their dog. This is in the north of Almería, and apparently is going to be made official soon across the province. We’ll see.

    I wouldn’t mind as much if the dogs in my village were half as well cared for as ours, not to mention being vaccinated and chipped – strangely the police are not interested in this, even though they’ve visited us and other Brits in the village in order to check our dogs’ papers.

    We had an earthquake a few months back, and were near the epicentre of it. It was only 2.8 on the scale, but felt quite strong enough thank you! I used to live in Los Angeles and was used to minor tremors on a daily basis and also experienced a couple of strong quakes…..due to the superior construction, it was not an issue.

    However here in Spain, my house has been badly damaged as a result of this minor quake, and a portion of it needs to be rebuilt – luckily my insurance will cover it but the company has told me that future claims may not be honoured as they will be excluding landslip/subsidence/heave as a result of earthquakes, due to the huge number of claims they’ve had.

    A friend of mine’s house is to be demolished, due to subsidence problems, again as a result of earthquakes in the region. His insurance company are quibbling over the settlement amount as they say the house is not worth as much as when he and his wife purchased it 6 years back.

    I no longer have a moral dilemma as far as selling my house on…..if people don’t do their research in this day and age then that’s not my problem I’m afraid, and as you said, people with half a brain are going to want properly built homes, no matter how much character an old finca/cortijo has.

    However, I don’t see how we will manage to either rent or sell within the next few years, as Spain’s reputation is now so bad. We have the funds to buy in France, but worry about leaving the property in Spain unoccupied – break ins are obviously a worry, but there’s been a few cases around here where squatters have broken into homes and occupied them, and it’s really hard to get them out.

    I would consider allowing a family to live there and just pay utility bills etc., but as we live in the campo, it’s not a desirable location for people that are working in town.

    There’s also the issue of rental agreements….either the rental company ceases trading or the agreements don’t seem to be legally binding – the laws in Spain are apparently more sympathetic to renters than the property owners, so you may have a hard time removing someone from your property even if the rental period is expired.

  8. Sarah,

    You fell into the same trap as we did with abaondoned dogs.
    I have a criminal record simply because of the corrupt legal system (that seems a misnoma to me).

    We have a neighbour who is a pastor and he allowed us to use an abandoned cave house/corral in the Tierras Malas on the road to Benelua. It is a dog´s heaven visited by no one except Pepe and his sheep. In any part of northern Europe it would be heaving with people from the cities at the weekend but the Spanish do not like the land, none more so than the young, so we had it all to ourselves.

    All was well for 14 months until two work crews suddenly arrived – one worked for RENFE – they were a strange bunch and I got a gut feeling that they were ´wrong uns´.

    At this point I have to bring up the word COMMUNICATION yes it does exist in the Spanish language but it´s something the Spanish are unaware of.

    Because there are so many abandoned dogs of every type and size, mongrel and thoroughbred it never occurred to me that dog theft was rampant but it did´nt surprise me that the Guardia could´nt give a damn.

    Our 3 abandoned dogs were stolen and it did´nt take much to work out who the theives were – the Guardia did´nt give a damn. Knowing what kind od life they would have and certain that the beagle cross – Will was too recognizable i was certain that he would have been killed and only the other two sold on. Ossian was a Goribito – a hunting dog. If he was found to be too nervous of gunfire he would be shot or abandoned.

    I had a confrontation with two of the RENFE work crew, one of whom could not have been involved but the other was definately one of the theives.

    I was threatened by this other one who was a body builder with an industrial rake – very big and with 4 x arrow pointed tines. He was a few bricks short of a wall but had enough sense to back off when I was´nt frightened by the rake – I had with me a Swedish skinning knife and piece of olive wood to cut into a walking stick.

    I went to the Guardia (who thought it all a big joke) but persevered. One of the Guardia gave the nod to this RENFE crew to come in and make a denuncia against me.

    It went to Court and when the female judge had heard all the evidence – she spent two minutes laying into the two Spanish. My Court appointed interpreter said that she heard one of the accused saying ´he would lose his job´and I asked her -whathappens next, her reply was, that they would be sentenced later.

    3 months later I get a letter asking me to go to the Court – I am then handed a letter telling me that Iam the guilty party – The knife I had with a 4 inch blade had transformed into a ´machete´ – the piece of olive wood had become a ´spear´and the industrial rake weilded by one of the Spanish guys had ´disappeared´ – this is a realtime example of ´Spanish justice´ – you could´nt make it up.

    I was advised by Spanish friends to let it drop as at least one of those Spanish would be attackers ´knew someone, or paid someone who was ´enchufargo´to ´speak(bung) to the female Judge. I believe this same Judge acted illegally to help her boyfriend, got a smack on the wrist and surprise, surprise is still a Judge.

    Sarah – do not think of using an existing letting agency – you must do it yourself.

    I´m writing this after returning from France.

    It looks like we have cracked it, though there was soem stress and a couple of ´domestics´along the way.

    We are both agreed 100% on where we want to live in France, without pressure from either of us – it is within a 10 K square area. There is an RN within a few K/there is an SNCF line also/ major shopping area within 25K (Lidls and a Geant Casino). The local maries/alcaldes all want to encourage new people into the area.

    There are serious building regs that can´t be broken or ignored for a ´bung´- great I´m not a vaquero.

    And to cap it all it looks like we only have to provide satisfactory finacial refs (no problem) to rent a marvellous apartment, that turns out to be the only one in this old house that has only one negative – it is right near the RN but as double glazing in France is just that REAL, noise is no problem and it comes with a massive garage and storage place and a 250 sq.m garden, that will give him freedom and a ´potage´for me.

    It is right on the edge of where we want to live permenantly -I may even be able to buy a big enough piece of land to build more homes as well. The local marie is very interested in my alt. energy design and would just love it to win a national competition – no one has asked for a bung/back hander.

    All the rooms are big with beautiful views at the back and all for €400 a month. There is a boulangeris just across the road and the owner Phillipe speakes excellant English and Spanish. Worse for my waistline the Hotel where we stayed has a first class restaurant run by the hotel owner where a menu de le jour is €12 has 5 plates, wine and coffee – working men here are eating Cordon Blue standard food – these daily menus blow the Spanish equivalent out of the water.

    I would advise anyone thinking of living in another country to ALWAYS RENT FIRST. I know this is difficult in Spain and that´s why I wanted to build a small alt. energy home for foreigners to rent say for a month at a time. the build would have been totally different to anything available in Spain and would have been an excellant way to promote my designs – it was´nt meant to be – esta la vida.

    Some tips on France – only idiots buy land or houses at the bottom of valleys – why do you think the French want to sell in these situations -because it makes for unhealthy living conditions.

    It is always more expensive and time consuming to renovate rather than new build. Existing French properties are for most foreigners either too small or too big. Older properties especially those built by the French peasants have small windows – planning regs will not allow you to change the sizes.

    Be aware that the whole of SW France is known as the mosquito belt. We visited a lovely small town, 6 K from Figeac/the Lot – absolutely beautiful walks all along and around the Diege river – we got eaten alive by mosquitoes. So no sitting out in the warm months.

    South of France – too expensive, lots of theiving and the same mentality to noise as across the border.

    Do I need to say it – don´t trust agent immobillieres – there is no substitute for ´local knowledge´and the French are only too happy to tell you the bad as well as the good points in their locality – in France communication is something they the French are very good at.

    We are so thankful for the genuine help offered by hotel owners/farmers and ordinary people in general.

    Be aware that san meubles means just that – the kitchen of the house we will (fingers xed)rent has just a kitchen sink, which is fine for us.

    Anything to do with kitchens costs an arm and a leg – buy in Spain, more to the point take advantage of Plan Renove and get a 20% discount.

    Item a gas (Butane) 5 burner hotplate and oven, we are going to buy here for €256 – a smaller version in France would cost €440. Same goes for frost free freezers (buy German).

    I think we will make the move for free on the money we save on buying items here. I will not use a professional movers but hire a lorry and driver and labour at both ends.

    Back to the Priors and to others in the same boat – you will acheive nothing by campaigning in the streets of Spain – you will have to organize yourselves and go to Brussels and Strasbourg – you need to get coverage in the international press. You need to hound the MEPs ( a useless bunch of parasites) If you don´t nothing will be acheived.

    Near the beginning of this thread, there were a couple who poo-pooed my comments about corrupt politicians – I said they either fed from or had done so from the same trough – well it´s all coming out into the open. Of course nothing much will happen because the Brits like the Spanish are too passive or just plain frightened of assuming any kind of personal responsibility.

    BTW there have been lots of comments in the financial press about the ´near banckruptcy´of certain ´southern European countries´. It´s all very well for the German State to say it is happy to sub southern Europe but for sure ordinary Germans/Dutch and Scandinavians are´nt and sooner or later these governments are going to have to listen to their citizens.

  9. Dear Mr Crawford, on 8 May, you said:

    “If the Spanish had gone to India or south west Asia would we still be able to marvel at the Taj Mahal, the fabulous palaces of Rajistan or the temples of southern India…”

    Now please, please tell me that, by saying that, you are not making some favourable comparison between the British Empire and its Spanish equivalent. Please tell me that, because the British chose not to include destruction of the architectural heritage of the Indian sub-continent in its policy of subjugation of the indigenous people, the protagonists of the British Empire were somehow morally superior to the Spanish conquistadores.

    And please tell me that we are not going to cast so harsh a light on the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany just because it took the decision not to raze Paris to the ground in 1944.

    And please tell me that, because of the fabulous and progressive institutions that Napoleon set up in France, we somehow conveniently forget that the wars of aggression that he instigated over a 17 year period left as much as 6 million people dead in Europe. That example is interesting because in France the great man is, even to this day, considered a national hero.

    And please tell me that, in reverence to the benevolent model of democratic socialism we find in Sweden, we brush under the carpet the fact that, between 1934 and as recently as 1976, the country had an open policy of forced sterilisation of people considered as socially unfit; those targeted being people considered as mentally ill, of mixed race, gypsies, or for having physical defects.

    Now I don’t suggest for a minute that you are an apologist for any of the above. But you choose to use facts from the history of the Spanish people in the arguments you propagate against Spain. Please consider this before criticising me for doing the same with northern European countries. And please also first review your comments on this thread if you are going to criticise me for making comparisons between different countries and cultures. I also choose to make such comparisons to support the argument that I will now go on to discuss below; this being addressed primarily to Sarah.

    Dear Sarah, on 2 May you mentioned that comparisons between countries are irrelevant. But you miss the crucial theme of this thread (which I admit is now somewhat removed from the theme of the original Olive Press article). It is the very fact that the comparison is being made between Spanish life and life elsewhere (particularly life in northern Europe) that is important. I go on to explain why.

    Please consider the following quotes that I’ve managed to extract from the ongoing discussion:

    Fred on 16 April: “These Spanish imbeciles are yet again shown to be totally wrong. They have tarnished their country forever as a bunch of ill-educated, corrupt and illegal bunch of incompetents.”

    Fred on 18 April: “France is a properly run country and does not have the inherent corruption of Spain”

    Yourself on 22 April: “I would also comment on the Spanish mentality……they don’t see further than the nose on their face.”

    Stuart Crawford on 27 April: “Militarily it would be suicide to take on northern European armies but if southern Europe did this it would be a great opportunity to come in and sort things out.”

    Yourself on 2 May: “Can you imagine the chaos if Spain had to cope with more people? The power cuts, the litter, the state of the roads etc….are bad enough now!”

    Stuart Crawford on 4 May: “If you Spanish want to be considered ´modern Europeans´you had better start behaving like those in the north – you need to understand that ´we do not need you – you need us.”

    Stuart Crawford on 4 May: “Just take a trip to France and see just how different that country is and how the people treat their countryside compared to Spain – If the French look down on Spain and the Spanish way, you will, if you open your eyes see why they have this attitude.”

    Stuart Crawford on 4 May: “You Spanish have an awful lot of issues to deal with before you can possibly be considered a modern country -un fortunately as a people you are very cowardly”

    Stuart Crawford on 4 May: “remember when all the water is gone – there will be no room for you in northern Europe – you have and are wilfully destroying your country, pretty soon you will have nowhere to go but your Catholic hell.”

    Stuart Crawford on 7 May: “The stone cold fact is that southern Europe is totally corrupt, the question is what will northern Europe and Scandinavia do about it because no change will come from the south -they simply cannot/will not change.”

    Scot on 8 May: “Other countries in Northern Europe do indeed have problems -however I just do not believe it is anywhere near the same scale as Spain.”

    Considering the underlying sentiment of the above comments, would I be wrong to suggest that some contributors to this thread consider that life in northern Europe is somehow superior to that in Spain? And if I am wrong, then could you please tell me what sentiment is being expressed by the above comments?

    Let’s summarise the main gripes against Spain and the Spanish that have been expressed in this thread: a corrupt legal system; corrupt politicians (certainly local anyway); dodgy building practices; poor attitude to litter and the landscape in general; poor treatment of, at least domestic, animals. There’s probably more in there, but those are the one’s that I have picked out.

    Now I don’t claim to be well travelled. However I have visited and spent time in a few places around the world. I have friends who have lived in and visited other places. I have read about yet more countries of the world. Given the above, and a little of bit of research, I reckon that I could take the above list of gripes and make a claim that they apply to large areas of the world today. That would include the rest of southern Europe (as already intimated by Mr Crawford), many countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean, large tracts of Africa, big areas of the Indian sub-continent and some countries in South-east Asia.

    So now we are in the realms of suggesting that life in northern Europe is superior to that of many parts of the rest of the world. We’re now in danger of resurrecting the very rationale that was used to create, expand and perpetuate the British Empire. The empire of liberty that would impose British values on its subjects because British values were inherently better and, you know, Britain was only trying to do what was best for the indigenous people.

    Now am I suggesting that the British Empire is about to make a comeback any time soon? Of course not. That would be ludicrous. But consider the following. In the very recent past a certain George W Bush and his neo-conservative allies drew the conclusion that American values of liberty and democracy were somehow inherently superior to those of other parts of the world, particularly the Middle East. They then drew the further conclusion that those countries would benefit from such values being encouraged, if not imposed, upon them. They then established a foreign and military policy accordingly. And look at the mess we’re in now as a result.

    We all need to be very careful about what we think and, especially, about what we say.

  10. You do waffle, Koba…


    “Fred on 16 April: “These Spanish imbeciles are yet again shown to be totally wrong. They have tarnished their country forever as a bunch of ill-educated, corrupt and illegal bunch of incompetents.””

    I stand by that. Even the Spanish Court said the demolition was illegal. Anyone who demolishes a house and the rules it illegal is an imbecile in my book. I am of course referring to the Spanish planning, local authorities and legal system as a whole, which are laregely incompetant and corrupt and never investigate themselves.

    “Fred on 18 April: “France is a properly run country and does not have the inherent corruption of Spain””

    Absolutely. In Spain, as I said before, one almost expects to be conned/mininformed/lied to about property/legal issues – this is a thread about PROPERTY and LEGAL issues, remember. All countries have corruption, but in Spain the corruption in the planning system is endemic – in France, if you purchase a house the land registry will be correct; the legal advice will be correct and noone will expect a backhander to get the job done. That was my point Koba.

    The Middle East is such a lovely place…. Should I remind you about the teenage girl who was stoned to death recently for an unplanned pregnancy (she was in fact raped) or when a young boy has his hands chopped off for stealing a loaf of bread). These countries need to show some humanity to their own people before lecturing others. It may be “their way” of doing things, but I doubt anyone here would endorse it.

    Most countries have despicable track records in the treatment of people; let us stick to the thread about Spain and the mad planning situation eh?

  11. Dear Fred. I never said the Middle East was a wonderful place. Do I therefore agree that military intervention should be used to sort out their social issues? A preposterous suggestion? Well, I quote again the following comment made on this very thread:

    “Militarily it would be suicide to take on northern European armies but if southern Europe did this it would be a great opportunity to come in and sort things out.”

    Fred, I accept that you are attempting to stick to the original topic of the article. And I admire you for it. However I’m afraid to say that the discussion on the thread has gone beyond that. Please read the following comments and tell me what they have to do with planning laws in Spain:

    “If you Spanish want to be considered ´modern Europeans´you had better start behaving like those in the north – you need to understand that ´we do not need you – you need us.”

    “You Spanish have an awful lot of issues to deal with before you can possibly be considered a modern country -un fortunately as a people you are very cowardly”

    “the problem is mentally you are still in the time of the mass murderers Pizarro and Cortez”

    You can criticise me for not sticking to the original theme. You have the right to do that. But you cannot say that I am not allowed to pass comment on such statements as above. Once they are out there in the public domain, they are there to be challenged whether or not they are anything to do with the original topic.

  12. I didn’t say you were the only person who was waffling, Koba. It is a waste of time going over historical issues, important as they are, since no country is blameless and history just repeats itself forever anyway.

    As for the “we do not need you – you need us” there is a ring of truth in that statement, mainly in the latter part, because unless the expats start buying houses here again, Spain will never properly recover. Indeed having talked to a few Spanish friends over the weekend they said they did not expect Spain to ever recover, purely because of the lack of expat buyers and their spending power. Spain relied on expats for decades and took their money for decades, and and now their abscence is one of the main reasons that Spain is hurting so much.

  13. Koba

    I did indeed make comparisons between Spain and other countries….. after saying some derogatory things about my personal experience of Spain and it’s people, other contributors immediately came back with examples of life in the UK and other countries, which of course I responded to.

    I guess I would echo Scot’s feelings, problems exist in every country – I live in Spain and see the scale of ineptitude, indifference and corruption (can’t wait to see what happens if the lid is ever lifted on the perks and allowances of the ayuntamientos/Junta and the Spanish government) I truly believe it is the most hypocrital country in the EU.

    I cannot wait to get out of here!

    Stuart – is there a way of giving you my email address privately? – I would like to stay in contact as your advice on France is very useful – if we do manage to sell, I will be first in line to rent one of your properties (which will definitely be built by the time I sell!)

  14. Hi Sarah,
    it´s a shame this forum doe´nt have a PM section/private mail. This works very well on audio forums.

    Is it possible for those that live within a reasonable(Spanish) distance of each other to hold a get-together. I live in Guadix which is a peach to get to from either Almeria or Granada – anyone up for this.

    Here´s one of my email adresses Sarah – BTW I will be building and selling houses in France, rather than renting.

    Chris – you want us to shut up – with telling the truth – I´ll bet their are so many who would have loved to have had access to the info available on this forum – dreams are what you need to discard, grasp the truth and act from there – the way you are thinking will end in tears.

    I love Granada it´s one of very few cities I have time for but be aware that it has terrible pollution problems, without this, Albacin would be a wondeful place to live and don´t forget it´s water problems, which will only get worse.

    Kobe – would´nt it be nice if you replied to my comments about your friend living in France – you never do – a typical politco´s response. I remember watching Question Time once and it had a Danish politician on the show – you should have seen the disgust on the UK politicos faces because the man answered all questions immediately with a positive or a negative.

    You have of course totally ignored my comments that ALL European countries and peoples need to take an honest look at where they have come from – why do you do that – it is´nt very sensible is it. Now do tell me what you personally think about your friend´s attitude to living in France.

    There are many things I like about the ordinary working people here in Spain. The eye contact, actually pressing flesh, being able to have an argument without it turning physically violent – it´s the professional class that is the cancer in Spain and yes in the UK too. there is an obvious answer to the mutual problems but it means getting your hands dirty – 95% of people run away from that outcome which is why this parasitic class keeps grinning and will continue to do so.

    We are already lining up Spanish friends to come and visit us – I look forward to cooking French style – if I am lucky I may get to work in Laurent´s kitchen (the hotel) when he is really busy – I can´t wait.

  15. Dear Mr Crawford. I am aware of your previous comments about the conspicuous history of ALL European people. Therefore, given that you have that opinion, I assume that you will be happy for me to add some historical context when you, or anybody else for that matter, decides to draw generalisations about the character of a particular nation of people based on its past crimes.

    I also clocked your comments in regards to my friend living in France. I decided not to respond to those because, unlike things that I mention about history or current affairs that you can of course corroborate, anything I say in response to your comments about my friend has to be taken at face value. I quite simply thought you wouldn’t believe what I said. Perhaps I have done you an injustice there. If so, I apologise.

    Anyway, there are many things that my friend can be accused of, but having a rigid mentality is definitely not one of them. And I don’t believe that I said he was unhappy living in France. If that came across in the words I used it was not my intention. He is very much settled in France and is almost certainly going to be staying there for the duration. But that doesn’t stop him being frustrated at certain aspects of life in France and the way things work in France. And much of this frustration derives from him being accustomed to things working as they do in the United Kingdom. That was the point I was trying to make.

    I’ll give you an example Mr Crawford, which perhaps might conjure up a sense of exasperation similar to what you feel with certain aspects of life in Spain. My friend runs a company in France and therefore is in the business of employing people. You will probably already know that French employment law is extremely complex and is very focused in its protection of the rights of employees. Fair enough. Anyway, my friend ended up employing someone who turned out to be not competent at the job he was being asked to do. Furthermore this person had lied about his previous work experience, almost certainly in order to get the job in the first place. Now you might consider that my friend deserved what was coming to him for not having done his due diligence on this person’s background. But the deception was extremely elaborate and involved his friends acting as bogus referees, etc, etc.

    Of course, once it was clear that this person couldn’t do his job and had fabricated his CV, my friend wanted to sack this person. But could he do it? No he couldn’t. French employment law required him to go through the due process of an employment tribunal, whose proceedings to set up and execute took well over a year. And during that time my friend was obliged to continue paying this person’s salary despite the fact that he never turned up or did a single ounce of work for the company. This tribunal was drawn out in spite of the fact it was already proved that the person had effectively committed fraud in lying about his previous work experience.

    You might be able to imagine how frustrated my friend became at the whole affair. Does that mean that employment laws are better elsewhere, for example in Britain? Well the Frenchman who comes to Britain and works, for example, in a factory in Birmingham as agency staff and realises he can be jettisoned with one day’s notice and has none of the statutory employee benefits that he entitled to in France might not think so.

    As to your Danish politician on Question Time, I don’t know anything about Danish politics, or how their politicians behave in public. I merely ask you the following question. Do you think that politician would have behaved the same way if he was on a political show on DANISH television under the watchful gaze of his OWN electorate?

    It seems to me politicians have behaved the same way, for example not giving a straight answer to a straight question, since pretty much politics was invented. It’s just the way politics works. It’s the same the world over and I very much doubt that Denmark is any different. That said, the system seems to work in that representative democracy, for those countries lucky enough to have benefited from it for a while, has on the whole delivered growing prosperity and greater personal freedoms and civil liberties; infinitely more so than any other political system yet tried.

    While we’re on the subject of politics, here’s what I think is the problem with Spain. It’s essentially an argument against devolution. Local politics in Spain is essentially an amateur business. It has to be that way. When you have elected officials down to individual villages, it can’t be any other way. So, for example in the village I live in, the mayor is a full-time car mechanic. Now this may come across as elitist and I make no apologies for it, but what experience and qualifications does this person have in civic administration?

    So, for example, the mayor of my village gave planning permission for a development of apartments in the village that has since run out of money and has resulted in a half-finished edifice that will no doubt remain in that state for several years to come. If the mayor had even the slightest amount of business acumen, he would have realised that the business plan for the development was doomed from the start, and hence he should never have given it the go-ahead. I’m not going to get into the business of unsubstantiated speculation as to whether the mayor’s consent to the development was motivated by a back-hander.

    Now contrast this with the UK. Despite the recent trend in devolution, local politics in the UK is still organised in fairly large entities; for example a county, or a large city/urban conurbation. Therefore the business of civic administration requires and attracts capable people to it. Thus, while it is true that most local councillors have other jobs to do, local politics in Britain is essentially a professional business, not an amateur one. Elected local politicians in Britain are, on the whole, people who have the experience and qualifications necessary to manage a large and complex organisation such as a local council.

    The other thing is that the civil service in Spain is burdened with a skull-crushing bureaucracy that mirrors the complexity and rigidity of the country’s system of civic law. The British civil service doesn’t suffer in the same way. This isn’t just a problem in Spain. It’s the same all over continental Europe. As I think I mentioned in another thread, you have the Romans and, latterly, Napoleon to thank for that.

    Finally, whatever you might think about British politics at the moment, at least the politicians are accountable to the electorate, thanks to a free and robust media (both newspapers and TV). It seems to me the same level of public scrutiny doesn’t exist in Spain or, indeed, France (not judging by what M. Chirac and M. Mitterand managed to get away with).

    So, in my opinion, and not wishing to get into an argument about how it got to where it is today, it’s the political system that lets down Spain. It’s not, as I think you seem to suggest Mr Crawford, because of some deep-set character flaws in the whole nation.

    So why don’t they do away with the system? Well it’s not that easy is it? Once a political system is in place you can just get rid of it. There’s too much inertia and vested interests associated with it. For example, how do you go about winding up the Scottish Parliament if, in the future somebody decided it wasn’t actually doing Scotland any good? Once it’s created, it’s very difficult to un-create or fundamentally reform.

  16. Hmm Koba, lots of flaws therein… all your friend needed to do was take on the person in question for a TRIAL PERIOD to see if they could do the job, then it would become
    apparant that they could not, and then they would not have got the all important employment CONTRACT. Easy really, so why did your friend not do that?!

    As for your mayor being a car mechanic, it says it all really. No wonder Spain is in a state.

  17. Dear Fred. I’m afraid it doesn’t work like that in France. You’re assuming that employment law in France works the same way as it does in Britain. It doesn’t. Once you are a permanent employee, that’s it. You have a contract from the very first day.

    That’s why the process of employing somebody in France is very long and drawn out. Because employers have to be absolutely sure of who they are taking on.

    A daft situation you might be thinking Fred. Well that’s what happens when you live and work in a foreign country. Things that seem blindingly crazy to you just happen to be the way things are. It’ll be the same anywhere you go. I’m sure there are a million things about how Britain works that the French would think are illogical.

    Now I accept that you could accuse my friend of being a bit naiive in being taking in by this person in the first place. I accept that, although as I say the deception was elaborate. But the main point for me is that, even though it was very quickly established that the person had blatantly lied about his background, the French authorities insisited in going through the due process of the employment tribunal in its entirity. And, like Spain, the French civil service is blighted with inneficiences; it also being interlinked closely with the complexities and rigidity of the country’s system of civil law. Thus a process that in Britain that would probably have been done and dusted in a few days took over a year to come to a conclusion.

    Further to that, I gather that at the end of all of this, the person in question was then entitled to unemployment benefit under the French social security system. The rate was set at 75% of his previous salary. It was payable over a fairly long period of time, possibly as much as a year although I am not exactly sure how long. During that period, like other unemployment benefit claimants in France, he didn’t have to sign on or proove to the authorities that he was actively looking for work. He apparently quite happily took the money and spent the time playing golf. Another crazy situation? Well, that’s just the way they do things in France.

    As to the mayor in my village, I may have done him an injustice. He’s not just merely a car mechanic in that he does own his own car repair business. But I think you still get the jist of what I am trying to say about local politics in Spain.

  18. Dear Fred, further to my previous reply to you this morning. In order to avoid being on the receiving end of another accusation from Mr Crawford of being selective in my arguments, I will point out that French politicians have recently made some progress in attempting to sort out France’s rigid employment laws. They have introduced the more flexible contrat nouvelle embauche (CNE) that makes it easier for employers to dismiss employees in the first two years of employment:

    This type of contract is applicable to employees of any age but only to companies with no more than 20 employees. It was not available in statute at the time of my friend’s situation and, in any case now, is no longer applicable since his company is larger than 20 employees.

    The following (part of a series of five web pages) gives a a nice summary of the situation my friend found himself in:

    The summary being that the burden of proof for dismissal usually lies with the employer, even if the plaintiff is in fact the employee, and that such action is subject to a lengthy tribunal process whose costs are borne by the employer alone.

    The following 7 pages is also gives a summary of the employment law situation in France:

    Although it is possible to employ someone on a short-term contract, such a course of action attracts very stringent conditions. For example you can’t simply turn a position from a short-term contract (CDD) into an open-term contract (CDI) simply for the convenicence of the employer.

    As I say, the common themes of rigidity, complexity and inflexibility all come back to the Romans first and then Napoleon and his Code. The concept of codifying the law is one that most of continental Europe is blighted with. It contrasts with the much more flexible approach of letting case precedence determine the law, as in England and United States (amongst other places). It’s why companies, no matter where they are in the world, want to enter into contracts under the auspices of English or US law. Of course with employment law, you don’t have a choice in the matter.

    Anyway, blah, blah, blah.

  19. Kobe,
    your arrogance is par for the course but still nauseating – your mayor did´nt go to university so he´s a stupid prole who should know his place.

    In the UK we have all these desk jockeys in control of the town halls with all their useless diplomas who pay themselves wacking salaries and expense perks. Who hide these obscene pay packages from the people who actually pay them. Who are terrified to take on the corrupt scum in London who order them to build more homes and destroy more of rural Britain and these homes are for? the chattering classes from London who price out all the locals. Indeed there are many Brits living in France not from choice but because they cannot compete with the Londoners back home.

    Would´nt it be good if these spineless grossly overpaid and pensioned scum copied the Dutch and blocked the sale of any property for those who want (but don´t need) a second home. It has been illegal from way before WW11 to have the use of a second home anywhere in the Netherlands. You can own as many properties as you like but only live in one.

    As to employment issues in the UK being done and dusted in a few days is of course a blatant lie but lying comes very easily to the political class.

    How long does it take to get rid of a corrupt policeman – maybe two or three years and they get paid in full even when it is obvious that that are totally corrupt. Better still it took 3 years to find the murderers of the Brazilian boy not guilty of anything and the arrogance of the piece of scum called a judge. He is one of that select bunch of Monday Club members who don´t have their pensions capped like everyone else.

    What happened to those company directors who knowingly added diseased sheep brains into food for herbivores and caused a terrible death from BSE for so many and will continue to do so into the forseeable future – why nothing.

    You of course talk about yourself when you use the word ´selectively´. We all know ehere you are coming from and who and what you represent. When I was younger I took a great pleasure in demolishing those from the chattering classes but it is so easy that it became boring.

    As to France – well go and see how much less stress the ordinary French person has to put up with. As long as the elite in the UK can put plenty of slops in the trough there will be no problem but the day they can´t will be the beginning of the end for them, which of course they know only too well.

    In France, on the brightest day, the French elite know there is always the shadow of Madame Guillotine and they know that the French people will not hesitate to dust her down and use her to solve their problem once again. Indeed talking to a young Frenchman on my last visit he grinned and said we can do better than our ancestors – we have designed an automatic one that can decapitate thousands per day.

    The professional class has become too greedy – there will be a price to pay. Reading the FT a couple of weeks ago was in interesting chart showing the difference in pay between CEOs and line workers in the USA from 1965 until last year. In 65 the differential was 25-1, now it is 375-1, that is disgusting and is replicated in Europe.

    Not a word from Kobe about the corrupt vermin in Westminster because that´s his own class and it does´nt suit his argument – boring and stupid.

    Kobe, it is obvious that you want to have a US style society where all upward mobility has been impossible for maybe 30 years or more. Where people can be treated as disposable garbage by the bosses and where you better have millions of $ of health insurance or – don´t get sick.

    We live in Europe and yes the UK and most of those that come from there are of Celtic or Germanic blood – we are Europeans – if you can´t handle that if you want to live in a country where only money counts and democracy is a very sick joke. If you want to live amongst weirdos who call themselves Christians but would´nt know it even if Josiah came back from the dead and hit them in the face. where every nutter has access to guns, where your children maybe shot dead in school etc. etc – the answer is very simple – go straight away and buy yourself a one way ticket to the USA -AND DON´T COME BACK.

    Where would you rather get taken ill, the UK or France. On a Saturday night, where would you prefer to take an evening stroll in a small town in France or Spain or amongst the drunken violent English youth in any small town in England. I don´t need to go on do I. Indeed Kobe since everything is so much better in the UK – what the hell are you doing in any part of mainland Europe at all.

  20. Lol Koba you are like a human google, but I don’t need to read reams of links to know how to hire an employee. You just DO WHAT I SAID originally i.e. if this person wants a job so badly, you have a little agreement: 1) trial period, to see how we get along, no paperwork, etc; 2) end of trial period – job or no job. If person disagrees with step 1 – just find someone else. Simple.

    Really Koba – you don’t have to much intelligence to work that out. Really. I didn’t read the rest as I fell asleep ;)

  21. Dear Fred, I’m beginning to wonder whether I’m wasting my time here, but will nonetheless persevere.

    So now you are advocating that my friend should have disregarded French law to employ this person for a period of time out of contract. And it doesn’t just stop with breaking employment legislation. I’m assuming you’re not suggesting that this person work during this trial period for free? He’s going to want to get paid. But how does the employer pay him? Since the person isn’t officially employed, it can’t be booked in the company’s accounts as a salary. It will have to be hidden as something else. Also, since the person isn’t officially employed, he won’t have paid income tax on this salary.

    So what started off as a breach of employment law has now expanded to include accounting fraud on the part of the employer and personal taxation fraud on the part of the employee.

    And while employee and employer are complicit in this deception, the employer now runs the risk of the following. He lets the employee go after the trial period because, for example, the person wasn’t any good. The person, being a bit miffed at this, goes to the authorities to complain that the employer was in breach of legislation by not giving him a contract. Given the underlying sentiment in French employment law about protecting the rights of the employee, who do you think the authorities are going to be more interested in talking to: the employee who agreed to work out of contract or the employer who employed the person out of contract? Who do you think they are going to hammer Fred? Tell me.

    I’m surprised Fred that you would suggest breaking the law to circumvent illogical, or over-rigid, legislation. Given all your experiences in Spain in equivalent situations, it surprises me that you, of all people, would advocate this.

    Now, Mr Crawford. I see that you have gone back to making wild, and unsubstantiated, assumptions about my personal background and my beliefs.

    Again, all of the following has to be taken at face value. It doesn’t bother me whether you choose to believe it or not Mr Crawford. My father was a tailor by trade. An industrial tailor, rather than a fashion one. He made suits for workers whose job required them to wear a uniform; this included the fire brigade, ambulance drivers and the police. My mother’s upbringing could hardly be described as privileged. From the age of four, she and her two siblings of the time were taken away from the mother and grew up in a children’s home. My mother went on to become a social worker. She worked with families with severe problems, particularly chronic drug abuse, in the council estates of South Carntyne and Easterhouse in Glasgow; both of which you may of heard of Mr Crawford.

    Both my mother and father worked hard and saved money such that, by the time I came along, my upbringing could be described as nothing other than middle class.

    Yes, I went to university. I worked hard at school to make sure I got the grades to get into higher education. I did this because I wanted to better myself and have the ability to earn more money. I make no apologies for having that ambition. Furthermore, although I have no children at the moment. if/when I do start a family then I say the following. Now that I have earned a reasonable amount of money, I have no qualms about spending it on my children to give them the best possible start in life. My wife and I won’t be sending them to private schools. This not because I’m ideologically opposed to private education per se. But I believe private schools to be quite closeted institutions that don’t prepare children for the rough and tumble of life outside. However, assuming they want to, I will be more than happy to spend the money to send my children to have the best higher education that they are capable of achieving.

    I’m not ashamed of possessing the sentiment of wanting to provide for my family as best I can. I don’t apologise for it to you or any other would-be social reformer.

    You attack the professional class in your last contribution to this thread, and in previous contributions. Please enlighten us as to who you include in this class. I’m sure the readers will be interested in knowing. Does it include doctors who cure people when they are ill? Does it include architects who design buildings for people to live and work in? Does include engineers who build things for society? Who does it include?

    And you also mention the chattering classes. I have to admit I hadn’t heard of this term before you mentioned it. I’m curious to know Mr Crawford, what type of person would you consider as being in the chattering classes?

    I don’t claim the UK to be perfect Mr Crawford. And I don’t claim it to be fundamentally a better place than, say, France or Spain. You won’t find that assertion anywhere in my contributions. For example, in a previous message, I highlighted that the flip-side of the UK’s flexible employment regulations is lots of workers (particularly agency workers) with very little job security and few statutory benefits.

    I do quite happily make the claim that the British legal system and the influence that it has on the civic administration of the country and commerce is, in many ways, better than that of France, Spain or most of the rest of continental Europe. But do I say that, therefore, the UK is a better place to live? No, I never said that. I don’t make absolute claims for example, as Fred has done, that France is a properly run country. Each country is different. They all have their good points and their bad points and I don’t claim one to be fundamentally better than the other. They are just different.

    You, and others, have the right to continue to describe all that is bad about Spain and draw unfavourable comparisons with other countries, particularly those of Northern Europe. I, and others should they choose to, have the right to put some context to that.

    As for the mayor of the village I live in, I don’t look down upon him as you seem to suggest. I don’t know him personally. But I’m sure he’s a decent man who is only trying to do what is best for his village. And I never claimed that he needed to go to university to gain the skills and experience needed in civic administration. Read my post again. I only claim that to run a large local council with a multi-million pound annual budget and thousands of workers providing all manner of vital services to the public requires and attracts people who have the skill set to pull off that kind of job. In my opinion to try and devolve those responsibilities (with the skills required and the level of public scrutiny that tries to ensure things are done efficiently and legally) down to the level of literally thousands of individual villages doesn’t work and is part of the problem in Spain. But I don’t claim the problem to be something fundamental in the character of the Spanish.

    Is there corruption in the British local politics? Of course there is. But I thought we had already previously agreed Mr Crawford that there is corruption everywhere.

    Mr Crawford, it’s clear that you and I are never going to agree politically. For every good example I put forward to support my political beliefs, you will be able to put forward a bad one. And the contrary will be true of your political beliefs. That being said, I finish with the following example as an attempt to summarise my political convictions. Again it’s about my good friend in France.

    When he had the idea for his business, he needed money to get it started. So he approached an entrepreneur; a wealthy French businessman with money to spare. My friend put forward a business plan to this businessman. The businessman saw the potential and decided to invest money that allowed my friend to get the business up and running. Firstly, the businessman has done well out of the arrangement. The business has been successful and, due to his equity stake in the company, the businessman has shared in the profits of it. My friend has made money as well. And, in spite of his unfortunate experience previously described, he has employed many people and paid them well. His company was set up in Brittany in north-west France; both geographically and economically on the periphery of France. Many of my friend’s employees have come into the area as a result of their employment with the company because he required specific skills that weren’t available at the time in the local workforce.

    These people now live in the area. They spend their disposable income in shops, bars and restaurants in the town. The company exports its products and services abroad, thus brining foreign currency income into France.

    All of this has happened because a wealthy businessman had money available was willing to part with some of it to get things going. My conclusion? Wealth generates more wealth. It’s the fundamental tenet of capitalism and I firmly believe it to be true.

    I don’t claim capitalism to be perfect and, as I say, I have no doubt Mr Crawford can give me countless negative examples of capitalism at work. But, as a means of running a society or country, I see no reason for it to be ideologically dismissed out of hand.

  22. Keep going Koba and you’ll have written an entire book. You need to precis your posts more :)

    >So now you are advocating that my friend should have >disregarded French law to employ this person for a period
    >of time out of contract.

    No law or contract is being entered into (repeat) and any trial period (a month, say) is just a “see how we get on and how you can/would do the job.”

    This is the way savvy people behave, Koba.

    >He’s going to want to get paid.

    Oh yes, but he or she will have to forgo payment for a month to make sure that they can actually do the job, and since the person wants the job very badly and knows they’ll be in full time employment with a spiffy French contract in just a few weeks of his trial period, I would wager the person would jump at the opportunity. I would, if I was in this predicament!

    >I’m assuming you’re not suggesting that this person
    >work during this trial period for free?

    I sure am. In a recession, jobs are scarce. If the offer of a full time salaried position was available and the employer wanted to ensure the employee was suitable (because hiring the wrong person would be unwise given strict labour laws, as your friend knows oh so well) then the parties do a “gentlemans agreement”. Perhaps even a peppcorn wage could be offered, but a non legally binding agreement nonetheless, and both parties would have no comeback if one decided to end the agreement. If the potential employee didn’t like the arragement, then let them go away; I am sure someone else would take the offer if the end-result was worthwhile and given the present economic climate where unemployment in the eurozone is getting higher each month… if your friend had done this he would have saved a lot of hassle.

    And before you say it can’t be done, don’t, because I have already done it numerous times myself in the past. Often, a project would require some initial effort to see if it could be tackled by the employee, and if the employer liked the approach being suggested, or liked the person themselves (this is 90% of the task incidentally) – a trial in other words, and many other people may also be in the running. Sometimes an NDA would also be signed, but there would be no employment contract and no wage (NDAs can be written for any scenario, not employment related even.)

    Is there anything else you need explaining?

    P.S. Your point about private schools is valid. I know a teacher who works at perhaps the most high profile international school in Marbella and she told me just this week, over a meal, that it is a waste of time (and money!) sending children to these schools; they learn less language skills and integrate less, and are not as confident. This from a teacher of 25 years in the sector… parents beware.

  23. I would say the UK is far better than Spain. Lived in Spain done that and now back in UK for many years where Corruption is minimal in comparison to Spain, Iraq, Iran etc.

    Spain is good for a sunny holiday and growing a few tomatoes and smoking yourself to death, drinking copious amounts of alcohol and stabbing each other in the back.

    If you are bored your are probably reading this too often, back to making some money for me.

  24. Now that Stuart Crawford is off to France, can we hope that he’ll never write in the OP forum again? What a relief that would be. Keep it coming Koba. You’re obviously bright, well-informed and, more importantly, open-minded, unlike most of the bitter and twisted people who clutter up this forum with their prejudices.
    As for Chris, I’m sorry you have been put off coming to live in Spain by the torrent of vitriol about the country and its people. Yes, there are problems, but there are anywhere, and as far as I’m concerned, Andalucia is the most “ideal” place to live of all the countries and regions I’ve experienced in nearly 60 years of life on this planet.
    I shall be staying and, understanding the Spanish mentality and the corruption, I’ll make sure I get “enchufado” (check your spelling, folks – always a mistake to try and show off how much Spanish you know, when you don’t actually know much!)
    Enjoy France, those of you who think the grass is greener there. I hope you enjoy the non-existent social life, the lack of activity after 7.00 pm and the snootiness of some French (not all, some of my best friends are French!)

  25. Dear Fred, this is beginning to feel like a tennis or a boxing match. Anyway seconds out, round 5 (or something like that anyway).

    So you said in your last contribution, “No law or contract is being entered into”.

    Let me correct you. There is a law. And that law is being broken. The fact that there is no contract means the law is being broken. I reiterate, what you say assumes that you can employ “at will” in France. You can’t. Not in France you can’t. So the course of action that you describe, which is probably allowable in the UK and, I think, in Spain is illegal in France.

    You also said, “Perhaps even a peppcorn wage could be offered, but a non legally binding agreement nonetheless, and both parties would have no comeback if one decided to end the agreement.”

    That wouldn’t be a non-legally binding agreement. It would, under French law, be a NOT-legal agreement.

    You also said, “If the potential employee didn’t like the arrangement, then let them go away”.

    Let me add to that by saying (again) that the potential employee could quite happily go to the authorities and point out to them that the employer in question was attempting to employ the person without the correct contractual arrangements in place. The authorities could then take action against the employer for breach of employment legislation and that such action might result in at least a punitive fine, if not further impeachment that might impact the employer’s ability to continue as an employer.

    As I say, under the more flexible regime of contract and employment law in the UK, you probably could take the course of action you describe and remain on the right side of the legislation. In France you wouldn’t be. It requires a paradigm shift in thinking I realise, but that’s the difference.

    I’ve got a better idea Fred. Instead of having to break the law, wouldn’t it be better if the politicians in France replaced the current legislation with something that gave employers some degree of flexibility (the lack of which is generally agreed in France to be a major barrier to reducing unemployment in that country, especially amongst young people) while still providing employees with some fundamental rights and maintaining safeguards against exploitation by unscrupulous employers. Something like what exists in the UK, perhaps?

    And before someone fires a missile at me, that last statement does not imply that I consider the UK to be fundamentally a better place than France.

  26. Koba, you lost this match ages ago, but you are a bad sportsman who won’t admit defeat. There is no contract, no law is broken, it is a gentlemans agreement. The authorities are not involved, and could not be involved. It is one persons word against the other, but mututally beneficial to both. Give up arguing, you’ll live longer lol :)

  27. Oh, dear, Fred, you are so full of s**t. You know nowt, and now that you’ve revealed yourself to be a ypoung whippersnapper, it’s hardly surprising you spout such nonsense. It makes me think the Swedes got it right, with their policy of sterylising retards. Heaven forbid you should have any offspring with similar outrageous views to those that you propogate. Please go to France – I’m sure you and Stuart would be very happy together(or are you the same person, I wonder???)
    Editor – I think it’s time to start censoring this thread, before it gets out of hand…

  28. Oh dear Fred, I thought that this would be an easy concept to grasp.

    At least, for the sake of the readers of this thread, our contributions are getting smaller.

    I’ll try once again to explain as simply as I can. The fact that the employer and employee have got into a gentleman’s agreement for the employee to do some work for the employer along the basis of “we’ll see how things go for the first couple of weeks or so” is in itself illegal.

    You are breaking the law by the very fact that there is NO contract.

  29. Pablo, there’s no fool like an old fool lol.

    I may be a young whippersnapper, but I am a young whippersnapper with a degree and two higher degrees, and I possess a greater intellect than you, luckily. I have no outrageous views, indeed you need to review my posts to see they are actually all very balanced. I will await you to point out all of my outrageous views Pablo, but of course you cannot do that so you ask for censorship instead lol.

    As for your comments about retards and sterlisitaion, well at least we know what makes you tick Pablo.

    Koba you must be related to Pablo given the inability to grasp simple concepts. You will just have to battle on in life adhering to every law and bylaw from minute to minute, whilst savvy people progress past these miniscule issues that so confuse both of you. I do love our little conservations.

  30. Dear Fred, I hardly think that the one issue that is said to be the cause of habitually high unepmployment in France, particularly amongst young people, could be described as a miniscule issue.

    Fred, I made as simple as I could for you. I explained in as straightforwardly as possible and yet you still weren’t able to understand the concept. Amazing really.

    Of course there is the merest whiff that you did actually understand but just kept arguing for argument’s sake. There is always that possibility.

  31. The miniscule issue I was referring to was the gentlemans agreement, not the unemployment problems. You certainly explained a lot Koba, but none of it made any sense because you fell over at the first hurdle and did not grasp the concept. You keep putting the law in the way, when the law does need (or want) to be involved.

    And, if anyones arguing, it’s you – look at the length of your rants. Deals are done between people outside of any legal jurisdiction every day of the week; people break laws every day of the week – grasp the concept Koba, think outside of the box. Do you think the law wants to know about a simple mutual agreement between two people?

    Lol, Koba would wait 12 months to get planning permission to paint his house the same colour! I wouldn’t – my case in point.

    Anyway, you carry on your way, and clued-up people will continue on their particular way. Is that ok with you?

  32. Dear Fred, you haven’t read what I said carefully enough. I didn’t say that the unemployment problems were a miniscule issue. I said that the unemployment problems were CAUSED by what you categorised as a minuscule issue.

    You said: “And, if anyone’s arguing, it’s you…”. True genius Fred; this coming from the person who started arguing the point in the first place. It was I that first brought up the example of my friend’s recruitment issues, not the one who started arguing it.

    You also said: “…to get planning permission to paint his house…”. Oh dear, you’ve made a logical leap that wasn’t there to make. Not the first time I’ve noticed this in your contributions. Absolutely superb.

    I must admit Fred that I have failed. Your ignorance on this particular matter and your insistence on continuing to argue from that position of ignorance have proved too big a barrier for me to overcome.

    Keep up the good work Fred.

  33. Koba, keep posting; you can then further expose what a ignoramus you are to the rest of the forum. Let the young, savvy people work things out… but do come back if you need more advice. Anyone who would argue this issue, which is so obviously correct and practiced world-over (especially here in Spain) can only be a fool. Is it perhaps that you are embarassed by being outwitted by a ‘youngster’ Koba?

  34. Lol, that’s hilarious Fred, given your inability to grasp something explained in such simple terms and continuing to argue on a subject you don’t actually know anything about.

    Hey and I note you make comment on our comparative ages when you don’t actually know how old I am. Genius.

    As I said, keep it up Fred. It’s providing great entertainment value.

  35. The fact that you didn’t make an age comparison confirms that you are an old fool. And an old fool who just can’t stand losing an argument and who cannot grasp simple concepts that I have already used personally, and which people all over the world use everyday – except some people of limited intellect, i.e. you. Your inability to close a thread shows that you are a sore loser.

  36. You can be a sore loser at any age Koba.

    The very existence of the term “genteleman’s agreement” cements my argument and puts the last nail in the coffin your silly and embarasssing level of knowledge of real-world life.

    From Wikipiedia: “A gentlemen’s agreement is an informal agreement between two or more parties. It may be written, oral, or simply understood as part of an unspoken agreement by convention or through mutually beneficial etiquette. The essence of a gentlemen’s agreement is that it relies upon the honor of the parties for its fulfillment, rather than being in any way enforceable. It is, therefore, distinct from a legal agreement or contract, which can be enforced if necessary. The phrase’s first recorded use was in 1888…”

    Look Koba, 1888 – the year where you are permenantly stuck in lol.

  37. You can quote Wikipedia as much as you like Fred. Still doesn’t get over the fact that you didn’t grasp the point that the issue is not that a gentlemen’s agreement is not legally enforcable. It is the lack of anything but a gentlemen’s agreement that puts the employer in trouble. Hence the practice of a “gentlemen’s agreement” in regard to employment doesn’t happen – or at least very rare. As I said before, the same is not true in the UK and in Spain.

    You see, unlike you, I had already researched into this subject before I even mentioned it for the first time on this thread. A few years ago in fact. Hence I was able to argue from a position of strength. Unlike you. If I don’t have the background knowledge on a particular subject, I don’t get into arguments about it. Simple really. For example, I’m not going to get into arguments about planning legislation in France, since I don’t know a lot about it. Whereas you seem to have done your research in that area.

    Keep up the personal insults Fred. They are most amusing.

  38. A position of strength? I laugh in the face of your superior Scottish intellect Koba. Btw, your earlier posts on other equally boring threads that you contributed to gave away your age. Another point you have to concede I’m afraid.

    Anyway, the facts are that gentlemen’s agreements happen in employment all of the time – it is just not widely talked about. Because something is not talked about doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist… they do exist, indeed I have been party to them myself. The country is irrelevant – France, UK, Spain – they happen everywhere and are not dependent or controlled in any way by the country of origin. The law is not involved, and could not be involved and it is one person’s word against the other. Facts, Koba. Simple really, and I didn’t need to do any “research”.

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