28 Oct, 2009 @ 18:51
1 min read

Not our problem!

AN expatriate has written to 70 MEPs in a desperate last-ditch attempt to save his home from demolition.

But his appeal has so far fallen on deaf ears, with only 12 of the Euro MPs even bothering to respond.

The news comes as procrastinating MEPs also failed to come to a decision on whether to withhold 185m euros from Spain due to property abuse.

A decision was due last week as it emerged that a report by EU commissioner Margrete Auken has fallen on deaf ears.

She revealed this week that it was evident that the human rights abuses over property had still not been addressed.

She said Spain continues to show a lack of respect for the “principles upon which the Union is founded”.

But incredibly, despite a vote being scheduled for last week, the Conservative lobby in Brussels has managed to stall it.

Dan Thorneycroft, who lives in El Fas, Almeria, faces losing his 172,000 euro home, after it was deemed illegal by the Junta.

As the Olive Press revealed earlier this year, Thorneycroft is awaiting a final order to knock it down. He made the move as so many expatriates are facing a similar threat around the region.

“It is an extremely poor response given that tens of thousands of Britons are in the same boat,” he said. “I would expect all MEPs to be working towards a solution, particularly given that most of us did all we could to comply with the law.”

Of those that wrote back, the majority said they couldn´t help as he was from another constituency (Shropshire) in England.

It comes as the Olive Press exclusively speaks to four Andalucian households, including that of Thorneycroft, facing the threat of demolition.

Of the politicians who did respond, Michael Cashman, MEP for the West Midlands, pledged his support. “It is essential we continue to fight on together to end these terrible injustices,” said Cashman.

“We walk around like zombies most of the time.”

It comes as the Junta declared it will re-start court action against Len and Helen Prior who saw their Almeria house bulldozed in January 2008, after their license was revoked.

According to their lawyer, it was an inevitable decision as the Junta desperately tries to save face.

“If the Junta had not appealed the Constitutional Court’s ruling they would be contradicting themselves,” explained Victor Martinez.

“They had no option, otherwise it would be seen that they pulled down a house that was legal.”

The Priors – who are still awaiting compensation for their original legal fees – are awaiting new court dates.

Helen Prior said: “We walk around like zombies most of the time.”

Jon Clarke (Publisher & Editor)

Jon Clarke is a Londoner who worked at the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday as an investigative journalist before moving permanently to Spain in 2003 where he helped set up the Olive Press. He is the author of three books; Costa Killer, Dining Secrets of Andalucia and My Search for Madeleine.

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  1. After all the work carried out by Margaret Auken and Michael Cashman, who by virtue of what they have done or tried to do they would appear to be the only two honest MEP’s in the EU,is their work all going to be wasted because a bunch of crooked, lazy MEP’s are attempting to bury their report and do nothing about it?
    Their report contained enough evidence to show that Spain was running a corrupt Property Industry,Property Planning Law and Regulations were being ignored, houses built cheap and sold expensive,illegal properties allowed to be built on land not licenced etc. Spain had received 2 previous warnings about the same problem, vowed to clean up its act but did nothing.
    Now the CORRUPT MEP’s are trying to bury the report AGAIN!!

  2. Which adjectives can be used to describe this conduct? Sick or sad?

    Both for certain and a reflection of our times. It is

    But the day is not yet done, Dan.

    I hope the Priors’ experience will lead hundreds of local members to come and support you if they dare give you a date.

    Many of us will support you I am certain if shove comes to push. Meanwhile, stay strong.


    Citizen Advocacy

  3. While I have sympathy with the people who are losing their house, it does look as if they really don’t know what they are doing. They should realise that the only MEP who is in a position to do anything is the one where they live, in Spain – writing to the others is pointless, and it’s surprising that ANY of them took the time to write back.
    On that point, how come if they’re ex-pats that their MEP is in england? It sounds like they haven’t bothered to register in Spain – where the article claims they live. If they don’t even abide by the system, why should any MEPs help them?
    So if they don’t even realise that they have to register to vote in Spain, what other parts of the system have they ignored or not bothered about? Maybe that’s why they are having such a tough time with their illegal house, because they aren’t doing things the spanish way and think they’re still in the UK

  4. Paul

    I promised you a response last week re demolition issues from one of our most informed network contacts on guidlines to buying property in Spain They advise:

    See posted on the AUN website (Abusos Urbanisticos-No) some advice on dealing with lawyers, mainly what questions to ask when buying property ( which for now is better to avoid anyway) or when problems are encountered .

    Eye on Spain recently produced a list of 100 suggestions along the same lines, and Ciudadanos Europeos has done so repeatedly as has our associate Gerard Vazquez. What is lacking is the time to go through all these, discard the unnecessary and then reconcile them.

    Re a list of “good” lawyers, associations are quite reluctant, with few exceptions to get into this, because one can’t vet these professionals adequately and don’t wish to be accused of misleading anyone , if things go wrong.The British FCO site has some listed, but even that comes with a cautionary note.

    The problem often isn’t with lawyers but the entire legal system in this country which, in sum, is at best pathetic and unworthy of a member state of the EU even in the last century , let alone the one we are in.

    Although I believe such processes are legal here, lawyers hate, and thus refuse, class action law suits because it reduces their billings to individual clients. Nor do they like seeing potential clients avail themselves of “free” alternatives such as the office of the Ombusdman, Consumers associations, the Petitions Committee , etc. The various “Ilustrisissimos Colegios de Abogados” are held to be a farce- just there so it can be said they are there.

    In terms of dealing with any aspect of the EU , much of this information is also on the AUN website, and will be posted on that of FAUN when it is fully set up, and certainly can be obtained via the plethora of EU websites on practically any subject.

    Besides this , there are some basic texts for Brits, such as “Knowing the Law in Spain” ( King), “You and the Law in Spain” ( Searl) and “Living in Spain” ( Blevins Franks, eighth edition). Plus of course the advice provided by the FCO . We can’t wish or hope to cover all the subjects these tomes and other sources do, or take issue when we disagree.

    Whilst it would be helpful to have a bibliography at some stage, time is needed to put it together. Besides, since not many folks take the time merely to read a newspaper before they buy property here, can one expect them to do decent research , let alone due diligence? Once here, there are so many ways to find oneself in trouble or run afoul of obscure laws, nothing anyone could write would cover all the dire prospects!

    The effects of the Lisbon accord should, at least for those of us living here, be positive in due time.

    Spain is certainly burnishing its third world credentials and goes on demanding poor country subventions from the EU, just as it tries to get into the G20 through a side door. Not long ago it was demanding entry into the G 8 ! ”

    Paul, I trust the above indicates where things ‘are at,’ for the present. Just let me know if your pen is handy and we can begin……

    All the best.
    Citizen Advocacy

  5. Some hopefor the Urbanistically Abused?
    Some cause for optimism?

    Whilst the undernoted report will be published in a more polished and considered form elsewhere it would seem that these are the key elements of interest to present casualties of the Spanish Legal System – with special reference to the scam on selling houses in Almacen (workshed) Licences.

    NB this is simply paraphrased from a broad translation from Spanish to English. It should not be read as ‘gospel’.

    “The report of the Office of the Anlalucian Ombudsman on urban management of the territory, has taken into account opinions , material evidence and experience from networks and environmental tax officers over a period of years and is considering (new?) legislative proposals.

    Jose Chamizo has concluded that the technical inaccuracies and gaps in the Penal Code in connection with crimes against territorial management necessitate urgent reform to ensure a more effective fight against the urban crime that is rife in this autonomous region.

    The Ombudsman, yesterday on delivery of its report to chairperson of the Parliament, recommended increased imprisonment for urban crimes (currently from 6 months – 2 years to from 2 to 3 years.)There is still room for debate but the general principle is that there must be more determination to punish those whose behaviour damages public interest. And it must respond to a broad social concensus and complaint about the existence of at least one thousand illegal urbanisations in Andalusian territory.

    It reflects on the low ‘diligence’ (care and competence?)
    of public administration in their persecution (execution of the law?)(or persecution of individuals whom they accuse?)

    It specifically refers to the illegitimate use of licences granted to build tool sheds which end up as houses
    plus the possibility of imposing an urbanistic moratorium on building around the coastline in order to avoid to continuing its degradation.

    Chamizo, who expressly denounced the lack of action of the municipalities to prevent the (completed) urban developments or those to which they have committed themselves (?) has expressed alarm about matters which deserve to be taken into account and considered by all levels of administrators and legislators.

    He trusts that the consequences of this report in independent institutions do not fall on deaf ears.

    See : Jose Chamizo. Printed Edition in PDF a report prepared by the Office of the Ombudsman Andalusian on spatial planning and urban development .

    He recommends to the responsible politicians the need to address “urgently” and to reform the Penal Code to allow more thorough and effective investigation of urban landscapes crimes.

    The report, delivered yesterday by the Andalusian Ombudsman, Jose Chamizo, to the president of the Parliament, Fuensanta Coves, illustrated that from shared experiences with the network of prosecutors environmental of Andalusia, “not a few technical inaccuracies and gaps” are apparent in the current Criminal Code relating to crimes against the territory.

    The Office of the Ombudsman recommends to the municipalities and the autonomous administration to give an account for their allegedly criminal behaviour to the justices for all those constructions and buildings not authorized to be carried on the land.

    Furthermore, if no offence could be proved from these allegations the municipalities should investigate whether there had been “breaches of planning” and continuity (of breach) despite judicial decions . He indicated that discipline and restitution of legality would have to be re-established.

    The document refers to the procedures in which the public administrations are often the complaining party, requesting the demolition “of the unduly (illegally) built”
    The report examines the municiplities role in issuing almacen (toolshed ) licences (subsequently changed into house licences) which used to happen often in the community but which now violate the law.

    Please : If any Olive Press readers wish to contest this translation in the light of a more comprehensive one please do so! It is submitted as a ‘ray of hope’ for those already bearing too much of a burden already and with time limits of payment of obscene fines running out….

  6. Requirements for solutions: 1. Expat news media. Box ticked. 2. Expat/foreign banks. Box ticked. 3. Expat radio/tv station. Box not fully ticked. Cheap to realise on internet. 4. Expat footbal club. Box not ticked. Might be a bit expensive. 5. Expat political party. Box not ticked. But lots of expats around that have plenty of time and means to participate. Tick all 5 boxes. Classic Spanish formula. Then you will be able to sing and Hollywood will listen.

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