15 Nov, 2023 @ 19:00
2 mins read

La Viñuela town hall doubles down in stand-off with residents by threatening to cut off their water in scandalous water bills saga in Spain’s Malaga

RESIDENTS hit with exorbitant water bills have decried ‘bully boy’ tactics after their town hall started threatening to cut off their water.

The mostly expat victims in La Viñuela, near Malaga, have been accused of ‘abnormal water consumption’ during a time of drought in letters signed by the mayor, Jose Juan Jiminez.

“You are warned that the local administration is obliged to take measures in the event of excessive consumption detected, which may lead to a supply cut-off,” the letter reads ominously.

As the Olive Press reported last edition, around a dozen homes have received water bills running into the thousands of euros and around 20 more with bills in the hundreds.

One Dutch resident claimed on Facebook she had received a ‘bizarre’ letter stating she had gone from 40,000 litres of consumption to 229,000 litres during a period she was on holiday.

The small village of La Viñuela, with just 2,000 people, sits near the famous if severely dwindling reservoir which provides drinking water to the region

“They say I have to fix this or they will turn off the water,” she added. “They think there is a leak or someone is tapping our water.”

The move marks an escalation in the stand-off between the town hall and some of the residents of the Malaga community of 2,000.

Despite two weeks of intense media interest since the Olive Press revealed the scandalous water bills, the town hall has refused to budge.

Jiminez, who has been in power for 11 years, flatly refused to take calls from local Spanish journalists and TV channel Antenna 3 – after similarly stonewalling the Olive Press.

The hardest hit are Scottish couple Gillian and Tom Hodge, who are facing horrifying bills of €74,000 after allegedly consuming an unbelievable 2.6 million litres of water in six months combined.

Gillian and Tom Hodge, who live in Scotland, have been the hardest hit of all the residents

“They don’t grasp the seriousness of the situation or even care about the effect their attitude has on their community,” Gillian said.

“Everybody I know who has seen and read about it is shocked and can’t believe the town hall’s attitude.” 

Local resident Paul Rouse, 70, told the Olive Press that Jiminez was even verbally abusive to a reporter from Diario SUR.

However, the retired mechanical engineer is convinced that the local mayor will eventually see reason.

He cited a previous precedent in which water meters were found to have been installed poorly in the Sevillian town of Écija in 2010, giving inflated readings.

la vinuela town hall water bills
The town hall of La Viñuela has stubbornly refused to listen to complaints about their unbelievable bills and still maintains that they must be paid up – or else

And a judge in Mallorca ruled in 2017 that a water company who had sent out bills of €9,000 had an obligation to warn customers that they must have a leak.

“Combined with the excellent media coverage, we are really lumping it on top of him and I know he’s getting stressed,” Rouse said.

“So I think we have enough bullets in the gun to eventually persuade the mayor to be more reasonable over his demands that we pay these impossible bills.” 

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Walter Finch

Walter - or Walt to most people - is a former and sometimes still photographer and filmmaker who likes to dig under the surface.
A NCTJ-trained journalist, he came to the Costa del Sol - Gibraltar hotspot from the Daily Mail in 2022 to report on organised crime, corruption, financial fraud and a little bit of whatever is going on.
Got a story? [email protected]
@waltfinc

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