19 Jan, 2010 @ 13:24
1 min read

The demolitions that are a disgrace to us all

IT’S a funny place, Spain with so many levels of authority and so many public servants (‘funcionarios’ as they are amusingly called).

It is little surprise that we are all scared of doing the wrong thing, panicked by the ever-changing handbook, while every month more of us are said to be living in illegal houses.

Almeria is currently seeing unemployment of 30 per cent and the province is full of moribund pueblos, with little agriculture, industry or tourism, where the old are dying off and the young are leaving.

So what better than an influx of apparently wealthy foreign retirees who not only buy a house (and a car and a washing machine, etc) but continue to bring in money from abroad 12 months of the year, keeping local businesses afloat and creating jobs.

So what is the Junta doing by declaring that tens of thousands of their homes could now be demolished?

Len and Helen Prior, whose house was famously knocked down in Almeria two years ago, actually had their case in the Constitutional Court in Madrid when the bulldozers went in.

Eighteen months later, the court ruled in their favour. Now the Junta is appealing.

After that, the Priors are free to sue either the Junta or the town hall of Vera. Or both. Either way, this will take the rest of their lives.

The problems regarding compensation are a nightmare. Many building companies and promoters have limited liability of just 3,000 euros and the ‘president’ is impossible to track down.

It is criminal that these pensioners should suffer in this way.

The problems regarding compensation are a nightmare. Many building companies and promoters have limited liability of just 3,000 euros and the ‘president’ is impossible to track down.

It is clear that some houses need to be demolished. They have been built in flood areas, dry river beds or other unsustainable places.

But given that the town halls mostly gave them permission, the homeowners must be
compensated fully.

This modern European country, the chosen home for millions of foreigners needs an agency to protect, advise, inform and defend these poor homeowners – precisely because it is in everyone’s interest to do so.

Meanwhile, the Priors, two years on, are living in a garage. It’s a sad state of affairs.

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.

Do you have a story? Contact newsdesk@theolivepress.es


  1. >This modern European country

    Er, where is that again?

    People think that because Spain built a few high speed train lines (which only the upper middle classes can afford) and they have installed a few devices to harness solar energy, that they are a modern, up-to-date country. Think again!

  2. I think it’s about time all expats should get together en mass and harass the EU to stop this happening. It is not always the fault of the home owners and the Junta/Alcalde’s must take 90% of the blame

  3. I’d put ALL these crooks up against a wall,these crooked Politicians,Lawyers,Builders,Promoters,Mayors,Planning Officers and all and shoot the bloody lot of them for what they’ve done to ALL the foreign buyers AND their own countrymen and women.The Town Halls,the Junta Andalucia and Central Government in Madrid ALL deny they knew the illegal building was going on and blame each other? What.The Junta expects people to believe it never knew what was happening in the area it is responsible for,for all these years? WHY DOES THIS PROBLEM OF BUILDING AND PROPERTY FRAUD, PLANNING IRREGULARITIES,MORTGAGE FRAUD, BUILDING WITHOUT LICENCES,ILLEGAL LICENCES,ETC ONLY OCCUR IN ANDALUCIA and VALENCIA??
    I have never known a case occur in Asturias,Castilla,Avila,Cantabria or Galicia because IF a builder began to build an illegal property the authorities would NOT turn a blind-eye and put out their hand for a backhander as they do in Andalucia.They would descend on the said builder and he would be arrested,taken to the Police Station, Charged. Summonsed to Court.Fined thousands of Euros, the building would be sealed for 5 years OR demolished IMMEDIATELY. End of case.Unlike Andalucia the builder would be held at fault,no one else.In Andalucia the poor BUYER is the easy VICTIM for the CROOK and then the AUTHORITIES WHO ARE TOO LAZY TO LOOK FURTHER FOR THE REAL VILLAINS!

  4. Too little,too late, is the phrase that comes to mind where Spanish authorities are concerned.
    When the whole of the world is suffering from a financial crisis and needs all the help it can get, the best the Junta de Andalucia can offer in Andalucia is to cause further misery by its failure to find a sensible solution to the present illegal homes dipute.
    If people in authority, such as local mayors, gave authorisation for houses to be built, it is only fair that they be allowed to remain or compensation be given to the innocent victims.
    The reputation of Spain and its future economic recovery should be jeopardised by the retrospective actions of Junta de Andalucia.

  5. I would like to see all expats including the Spanish all get together and put pressure on the EU to sort this mess out. What annoys me is when we purchased our houses we paid all the necessary fees including the taxes. Surely if the houses are illegal the Spanish government is taking money under false pretences.

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