Saturday, November 09, 2013

Hundreds of British Home-owners Protest in Cantoria

A protest was held on Saturday against the sporadic demolition of homes in Cantoria, Almería, by the Junta de Andalucía.
The 400 demonstrators were almost all British, together with a sprinkling of senior politicians from local towns from within the Almanzora Valley.
The protest was held outside the decaying Palacio de Almanzora, a massive and decrepit building apparently not considered worthy of conservation by the Junta.
The theme for the gathering was 'Yes to Solutions, No to Demolitions'.
Speeches were given by the lawyer for the AUAN association against property abuse; Helen Prior, who lost her home to the bulldozers almost six years ago; and the president of the local union of municipalities, the senior politician for the area.
Gerardo Vásquez is the lawyer for the AUAN. He warned the protesters that, following the recent demolition of two houses in Cantoria, two more are now imminently slated for destruction following the withdrawal of their 'objection' by the town hall. All four homes are British owned.
Points made by Mrs Prior, included that she and her husband Len 'had worked and saved for 45 years to build their house, valued at 690,000 euros when it was demolished in January 2008', and that they had never received any compensation.
'What good did it do', asked Helen, 'besides showing Andalucía to be a poor and uncaring community'.
While many owners of 'the 13,000 illegal homes' in the Almanzora Valley in Northern Almería must live without water or electric – they use hoses and candles, water-tanks and generators – some have given up and returned to the UK, or even, according to one home-owner, died from the stress. However, another home-owner told me that his house had water, electric and even mail delivery, but since it was illegal, he paid no IBI. 
One of those present at the rally on Saturday was 'the Dutchman', a colourful figure from Cantoria who built several of the homes at the centre of the problem there. He was asking for people to sign a petition to reinstate the old mayor who had been fired from his post by the Court for allowing water and electric to those homes. 
An all-party meeting, to include representatives from 26 town halls, the AUAN and provincial planners, slated to be held on November 11th to examine the issue of 'illegal homes', has now been cancelled after the withdrawal of the PSOE, whose María Jesús Serrano, Councillor for the Environment and Town Planning at the Junta de Andalucía, says that her department is working on the problem of the '13,000 illegal homes' in Almería, but that 900 of them were never going to be 'regularised'. Interesting word.
These homes have been built in particularly sensitive areas, like flood plains or national parkland, or else they already have some form of sentence against them, like the Cantoria homes.
To 'regularise' the remainder says María Jesús, 'we need a strong political agreement from the town halls, to work shoulder to shoulder with the Junta de Andalucía on this matter'.

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