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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Recent Court Case & Green Areas

I had a very lengthy meeting this morning in the TH with members of the council regarding recent publicity regarding a recent decision by the T.S.J. in Granada regarding properties within Zurgena where the process, as applies to the legal standing of property due to administrative silence, has been rescinded.

We discussed in great detail the precedents etc and detail of other councils which had similar situations as Zurgena and who have had their norms accepted and we discussed the strategy our solicitors have adopted going forward. I cannot delve into the detail of the strategy as this would not help our fight but I can tell you that the Town Hall totally disagree with this finding, we have had other cases before the same court, where it has been accepted that the norms applied by the Town Hall and agreed by various architects, have been accepted. The T.H. will continue to finance and work on restoring the legality of these norms and hope to get clarification and a decision soon. There is no reference in these decisions about demolitions as has been bandied about in various articles.

Whilst I was in the TH I discovered that the TH architect was meeting with New Horizon villas to organise the legal hand over of the parcels of land which the TH wants to adopt and develope into green areas in the Cuesta de los Pinos area. So we may see movement on that issue before too long.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Firstly the WiFi should be working for all since 4.0pm yesterday.

Secondly still working on the Social Security briefing thingy.

I was in the Town Hall this morning sorting out a number of issues re the IBI and also to make contact with Candido regarding the recent reports in the Spanish press re court cases. He was in conference with the solicitors discussing the content of these articles and some documents which the AUAN had submitted. They are reviewing the content of all these papers and hope to give a more detailed response tomorrow.

Due to these more pressing issues I did not feel it appropriate to spend time discussing the maintenance/public works issues. Will go in again tomorrow and Friday.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Los Llanos Del Peral Court Cases

Following a large number of phone calls and emails today, regarding a report that a number of building licences for properties in Los Llanos del Peral had been revoked, and that people were getting concerned that they may be subject to actions against their properties and that a number of expat free papers had contacted me asking for a response, I thought I had better try and check it out with either Candido or Manolo.

I was aware that Candido was in court this week following a case regarding Los Llanos so I started to believe they maybe some truth in this story. But I also had a concern that I may not be able to get hold of him.

I managed to hold of Candido at 4.30pm and he responded in a very happy manner. I thought this was strange if the story is correct. I then asked about the situation regarding any cases involving Los Llanos del Peral. He said that he was as amazed and surprised as anyone else regarding these stories, the first of which was only carried in one online Spanish newspaper yesterday, and others have picked up on it. This referred to a decision taken on 30th April by a court called the TJFS or similar in Granada and that it had ruled some 14 properties building licences had been revoked. In respect of this story Candido stated that no one had heard of any such decision , no councillor, no official, no business and no individual and, in view of that, he suspected it was a made up story to precede his appearance before the Almeria Court today regarding licences for properties in Los Llanos.

I asked how this case had gone and he explained that the judge, after examining the processes applied in this case and the evidence, had ruled that proper due process had not been followed and referred the case back the originating court in Huercal Overa to start the process over again, if their were of a mind to!

So as far as the Town Hall is concerned a) the reported decision from 30th April revoking licences is most likely a false statement to increase the political pressure and affect the 2nd court case and b) the second court case re Los Llanos was found to have not followed due process and has to start all over again (if they want to).

Thanks for all those who attended at the Renfe today for the talk on health and Social Security. I certainly learnt a lot from Anthonios' talk. I will try and cobble together a resume of the facts and clarify things which were raised. I will check with Anthonio before publishing. It is also worth reiterating on here that the process for help and advice for all those wanting assistance or just wanting to query their entitlements will be open to the public in the Town Hall in January. I hope we can be more helpful in answering all your questions or issues.

The WiFi is no fixed.

UPDATE I have been contacted by the AUAN (see comments below) who have forwarded a number of documents which it is thought are genuine and relate to a court case which includes the area of Los Llanos. I have forwarded them directly to Candido and the Town Halls solicitors for their response and will post any further info as soon as I get it.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Andreas Update & Reminders

Andreas is home from hospital and he has not had a pleasant couple of weeks. The surgeons took two attempts to extract the infected fluid from his throat (on both occasions without anaesthetic) which he describes as not very nice!! He is home now and hopes to be back at work by the  end of the week. I have therefore not managed to progress many of the things outstanding but will try again before the end of the week.

A reminder of the NHW AGM tonight at 6.0pm at Latinos and the Spanish Social Security system tomorrow both of which I think will be worth attending especially tomorrows at the Renfe at 1200.


There is a problem with the internet supplier eg Telefonica and it is affecting a number of areas. They are working on it and apologise for the problem.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Interesting Book for residents of Almanzora valley

Some of you may recall a reporter on the Costa Almeria News called Matthew Pritchard. He returned to the UK a few years ago to concentrate on writing and his first novel has just been published. I would not normally recommend books etc but for any resident of the Almanzora valley who enjoys a bit of fiction and murder mixed in with locations well known to many in the valley then this is well worth a read.

Matthew has had very good reviews of his book which by some critics has been given 5 stars. I was lucky enough to get an advance copy to proof read from a UK Police practise perspective as Matthew wanted it to be as realistic as possible. Part of Matthews commitment to accuracy!

The book is available from Can Connect €10.50 with all profits from those sales going to the AUAN. Otherwise it is available from Amazon £6.47.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

More Good News

Candido has confirmed for us today that the Town Hall, yesterday, signed the contract with Nila, for the surfacing and resurfacing of the many bits of roads which are needed. So we should see them start this work in the next few weeks. This does include, amongst many others, Avenida Poetas, Avenida Europa and bits of the main road through Cucador as well as streets in Carasoles, Palaces, La Alfoquia and Los Menchones.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Poorly Andreas, Dates and Padron names

A bit of a delay this week as Andreas has had to go to hospital for a minor operation on his throat due to an infection. I do not think he will be back in work until at least next week so I may struggle to make progress this week.

A couple of dates for those who are interested, one is the Annual General Meeting of the Zurgena Neighbourhood Watch Scheme to be held at 6.0pm next Monday 25th November at Latinos in La Alfoquia (it is a requirement for our legal standing as a registered scheme that these AGMs are held). I have agreed to do a short explanation, about the recent change of Mayor, and the other changes as a result, following the AGM. I appreciate that it is not quite West End entertainment but if you can make it we (the coordinators and committee) would like to see you there. If any of you have a desire to help out we are always also looking for fresh blood (not in a vampirical way!)

The other is a reminder of the Spanish Health and Welfare Briefing at 1200 hours on Tuesday 26th November in the Renfe building in La Alfoquia.

Lastly I have appended the latest list of randomly generated names sent to us by the Junta for confirmation of their continuing on the padron. As usual if you recognise any names please inform the people. All that is required is for them to call into the Town Hall with NIE or passport and inform Juanjo that they should still be on the padron. If they do not confirm then the T.H. loses income.

Margaret Rose BRADLEY, Ann Violet BROWN, Kathleen GASKELL, Raymond John GASKELL, Frederick George HINKLEY, Michael Terence MILLER, Pauline Elizabeth MILLER, Barbara MURFIN, Gerald Eric MURFIN, Edith & Hakon SEPPOLA, David and Helen Elizabeth SHARP.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Spanish Social Security Talk

As I mentioned previously we have organised a talk from a Spanish Health professional for all expat residents of our municipality.

His talk will cover the operation of the Health and Social Services in Andalucia, Spanish Social Services, Spanish National Health system, Disability benefits, Carers allowance, Winter fuel payments and other benefits to UK residents in Spain.

From my discussions with Antonio, it seems, I certainly am very ignorant of what we can and cannot claim through the various bilateral agreements between the two countries. So to make sure you are aware of what is available or what may be available to you in the future make a note of the date and time.

To be held in the Renfe at 1200 Tuesday 26th November.

Additionally there is a trip to a ham drying factory on Friday 29th November with a guided tour (Spanish) and a tasting for €15 to include transport to Trevelez and back. Register your interest if you want to after 25th November in the Town Hall. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

British Legion, Roads, Health System,Trip etc

Firstly there was a very good turnout at the RBL Remembrance day service today in the Renfe, with an excellent service from the vicar and a moving last post played on a clarinet, which nearly brought a tear to my eye. Candido attended again as he has done each of the past 5 or more years and Noelia also (as deputy mayor) attended. She took a keen interest in the service and asked all sorts of questions and both she and Candido made donations and wore a poppy. Nice!

I then went with Candido to check on the 11 workers who are engaged in replanting the park areas. They are currently working on the small park in La Alfoquia opposite the school where the mature peoples gym and kids play park is. They will then be doing the park Gines Parra in Zurgena.

We also called into the THs store in La Alfoquia and I found some of the missing street signs so asked for them to be installed as and when the workers were working in the areas they apply to. At least we have them. If nothing happens I may install them myself!

We then went to the Town Hall for me to check with him the state of my outstanding issues.

Firstly I asked about the pump for the sewerage works at Cuesta de los Pinos which we were supposed to have repaired before the summer! He explained that we still had not got the correct pump. He made a phone call and Diego from New Horizons turned up with the original project so that Candido could get the exact specification of the pump, model etc and reorder it. He explained that so far he had tried 2 different companies but none had supplied him with the correct pump. He said he would try and get it sorted.

He did explain that at this moment in time we are very short of workers. Instead of 4 cleaners we only have 2 as the other 2 are off sick. In relation to the rest of the workers, the main thrust of their work activity at the moment is on the new sewerage system in La Alfoquia which will probably take them another week or two.

I then asked about the Nila contract based on the project from 2010/11 which we expected to start last month. He explained that the change of mayor had caused a slight delay to that. He had been speaking to Nila and the Diputacion and he hopes that they will sign the new contract tomorrow. Apparently Tuesday is the day our contracts are scheduled to be signed. It is to be hoped that this is the case because Nila have their machinery at Los Higuerales at the moment and they will finish there this week and i will be better if our contract is signed before they finish there otherwise they will move their heavy machinery to another area and it would take longer to get them back to us. This contract, it is hoped will enable us to resurface many bits of roads that need it as well as roads that have no tarmac at all at the moment such as some in Los Carasoles, Palaces, and Los Llanos (Avenida Poetas). The original project showed a one kilometre stretch extending the road between Los Llanos and Almajalejo but he is going to use that to do other more pressing stretches of road. So fingers crossed for tomorrow!

We then spent half an hour going over all the street plans to see where we hope to be able to resurface or surface them, and it seems a pretty comprehensive list of the streets that I know need attention. The only one which I know needs attention but which may well not be included in this project is Calle Finlandia and the end of Calle Hungria as these need earthmoving works and Nila will not do that. We need to do that when we can.

I asked about the electricity supply for the lights on Calle Juan Ramon Jimenez and the other streets around that area. He explained that that is one of the roads to be surfaced and the nearest electric supply is quite a distance away. So much so that we cannot afford to connect it yet but he is aware and will ensure trunking is included when it it resurfaced.

I reported the street lights which are not working (as reported by yourselves) and he rang Enrique (who looks after these problems) so he is aware of those that need attention.

I also asked about my street plan for Cuesta de los Pinos and he said he hoped that the workers would be in that area at the end of November and that it would be installed then.

I am sure I have forgotten some things but I do still have my original list which I continue to revisit until each item is attended to.

I am also trying to organise a talk by a health professional who can explain all the benefits etc that ex pats could and should be claiming as he believes that many ex pats are not getting what they could out of the Spanish Health system.

I am also negotiating for a trip for the elderly of both communities and I have an itinerary and a budget (at last) for it. So I will organise a way that this trip can be populated by both the Spanish and English speaking communities probably for next February.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

IBI Letters and Electricity

There are letters from the Diputacion regarding aspects of IBI awaiting collection at the Post Office in Zurgena for the people named below. Mostly these will be the notification of the assessment for IBI but some may be actual bills. The letters will be returned by the Correos on the 11th and 12th  November. If you are on the list or know someone who is please try and collect the letter today or tomorrow. If you cannot call into the Town Hall and ask for them to check the state of your IBI bill, which they can check on their computer.

Returning on 11th.
Corella Hughes, Andrew Thompson both of Callle Abderamman
Philip Hardorff, Calle Nicholas Salmeron.
Martin Francis, Avenida Europa.
Shand Alison, Av Virgin de la Salud
Clive Cockayne, Farax el Negro

Returning on 12th
Colin K C Smith, Calle Alemania
Martin E Felix
David J Eva, Cl Andorra
Thomas Blake Rothwell, Calle Adriano
Susan Tatman, Cl Finlandia
Adrian Woodcock, Calle Alemania
Johannes Hoffman Rehe, Calle Biorussia
June Boyd, Calle Albania
Peter O'Doherty, Calle Bulgaria
Peter Webster, Calle Maimonides
Paul N Abel, Calle Maimonides.
Mark Sturge, Calle Grecia.

Additionally I have got a copy of the form which requires completion if you wish to spread the cost of the IBI bill over time. I have to say it does not give a lot of grace. If the total bill is under €601.2 then you can apply for 3 months extra, if it is between 601.20 and 3,005.06 then you can claim additional 6 months to pay and if between 3,005.7 and 6,010.12 then you can apply for 12 months period. In each case however delayed payment will attract a small interest charge but not sure how much this will be.

You may, or may not, have noticed but there have appeared on the bins in some areas the fact that the electricity will be cut off for maintenance and upgrades in the following areas tomorrow from 0830 to 1230. Los Carasoles, Los Llanos del Peral, Cuesta de los Pinos and Los Carasoles. Just in case you had not seen the posters.

Lastly, if you are interested, a link to an interview with Candido Trabalon regarding the motion of censure given to a Spanish paper. A translation is not too hard to understand

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Thank You & Update re Village Project (Further Update re Garardos speech)

Many thanks to the many of you who took the time to attend the demonstration today at Almanzora. I know, from the feedback I had from the politicians, that they noticed how many had come from the Zurgena municipality. Initially they were talking about how there were lots of expats but few Spanish but, by the start of the demo, a good number more Spanish people did attend.

I am hoping to get a copy of the speech made by Gerrardo so that I can publish it for your information. In the meantime the Spanish press is covering it.

Thanks to such a good turnout I feel the Town Halls, when they visit the Junta re the PGOUs, can go with an element of public pressure. Given the various bodies were represented at the demo today besides the Mancomunidad and the Businesses of the valley.  

I think you all made a tremendous contribution by your attendance, thanks again.

Secondly the TH has embarked upon another project focusing on the improvements to and restoration of gardens, street cleaning, painting and upkeep of municipal buildings. The works involved are to be carried out by 11 persons who fall under the decree of social exclusion eg unemployed. The TH has made a significant outlay in terms of money for plants, materials and tools for the efficient execution of these works. They will be working in various areas over the next few weeks and months.

Gerardos' speech from today,

After identifying himself and referring to the Prior's demolition he then went on to say,

This couple have not received any compensation for the revocation of their building licence, nor for the demolition of their home. Consequently, they are doomed to a long walk through the desert of the Spanish courts, in order to receive the compensation they are entitled to.

Ladies and gentlemen this is not sensible. Nor is the demolition in the last few weeks of two more houses acquired in good faith sensible either. Not to mention two more homes in danger of possible demolition. All these houses are owned by British investors, and it is not sensible to treat those who have come to our home, invested in it and formed part of the community, in this way.

It is not sensible to treat foreign investors in this way if one wishes to reactivate the Spanish property market. For who is going to buy the 2 million houses in Spain, if not foreigners? Given than, young people who are forced to leave their country, as my own parents were forced to abandon their country in their day, are hardly likely to buy the empty houses.

But ladies and gentlemen, we are not only talking about the British. There are also Spanish people whose homes are threatened unfairly.

If you want to deteriorate the Valle of Almanzora, leaving empty neighbourhoods and abandoned houses, then yes, demolition is the way forward. Otherwise, if what you want is to promote employment, wealth, social and economic welfare in the Comarca, then, Ladies and Gentlemen, let us be sensible, let us fix the problem.  Let us all work together to make those with the power, far from the daily problems on the ground, see that they must solve the problem. And do not say that it is very complicated because it is not. What is complicated is applying unrealistic and complicated solutions such as the ‘Regularisation’ Decree. And I say regularisation in inverted commas.

Ladies and Gentlemen let us be clear, the Decree DOES NOT WORK. What’s more it makes things worse.

I do not want to take up too much of your time, because I am not the main protagonist. The main protagonists are the people who acted in good faith whose human rights are being violated.

We are asking for a rapid solution to this issue. It can be done. The Spanish constitution was created in a month. I sincerely hope that possible solutions are addressed, not only aimed at changing the fundamental planning laws of Andalucia, the LOUA, but also to prevent the demolition of any more houses that were acquired by people acting in good faith, without guaranteeing them a fair, prior compensation. If this requires a change in the State Land Laws to bring it in line with the European Convention of Human Rights then so be it.

For this reason I make a public appeal here and now in this public forum, to the Mancomunidad of town halls of the Valley of Almanzora asking them to do three things for the benefit of the community. The first is that they promote a ‘proposicion de Ley’ by the town halls to change the LOUA urgently. The second is that they make an appeal to the central government that they study changing state law to avoid other cases such as Mr and Mrs Prior. The third is that they immediately promote a real and not merely decorative working party which includes all groups and all political parties to propose solutions and changes. Be brave Mayors of the Valley. We are with you.

Thank you from my heart to everyone here today.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Demonstration Almanzora Village (UPDATE)

I have now been told that it will start at 12 noon. My car is now full.

A decision was reached last night by all the Mayors of the various municipalities in the Almanzora Valley to hold a public demonstration against the continuing demolitions of properties.

Spanish people affected by these actions such as businessmen, associations, politicians and ordinary men and women will be attending to show solidarity with the owners of the demolished properties and to increase the pressure on the Junta to agree the PGOUs (urban plans). I am asking for as big a turnout from the expat community as is possible.

These plans (P.G.O.U.s) are due to be discussed next week in Almeria and this is the only way ordinary householders, like you and I, have of influencing these discussions.

So if you have a spare hour and a half on Saturday please attend at the main square in Almanzora village between 12noon and 12.30pm. Remember the more people who attend the greater the pressure on the Junta to take the right course of action and help us reach an agreed PGOU and stop demolishing homes.

This is the only way, and probably the only time, you as an individual can have any effect on the future of our land and homes. So PLEASE try and make it.

PS I have 3 spaces in my car if anyone needs a lift.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Postponement due to illness

Received a phone call from Andreas this morning as his little girl has chickenpox and he won't be able to make my meeting as he needs to babysit her. Rearranged for Friday morning.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

IBI Update and Discussion

Called in on spec to the Town Hall this morning and managed to have a conversation with Luis about the PGOU. This conversation led to a long debate about the strategy for progressing our PGOU with the result that I ran out of time to discuss outstanding things with Candido so have agreed to meet with him again tomorrow.

In relation to the IBI bills,  I questioned how we could ensure that all the bills reached the appropriate person given our problems with the Correos. I was told that there was little we could do but hope that the Correos ensure that they either deliver it or notify the Town Hall of non delivery. However, it is probably as well to do, as I am doing at the moment, which is to monitor the Diputacion's website for activity. I have shown the link again below with the sequence to follow to ascertain what state your IBI bill may have reached.

If you have your IBI reference number use the first box, if not, then click on the free access box on the line which shows cartography, on the next page click in the localizacion box and then the appropriate province, town, street type and name. Then at the bottom click on Cartografia and this should take you to a map page displaying your property. If nothing is shown they have not yet started to process your file. If your property is shown then they have processed the detail of your property and, if you have not yet had a bill, then it will be prepared and issued next September. If you think that a bill may have been raised then you need to check with the Town Hall. If you are unable to because you are in the UK let me know and I will try and ascertain what the situation is.

For your information our IBI bills are being prepared by the appropriate authority e.g. the Catastro Office of the Diputacion in Almeria, not, as in the case of Arboleas, by the Town Hall itself. As a result of this last fact, if your bill is for the maximum 4 years, and you feel it is too much to pay at once, you need to call into the Town Hall and get a form which on completion will go to the Diputacion for their approval to spread the cost over a period of time.

As usual any problems just email or ring me.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

IBI Bills

I have just returned from 8 days in the UK and have had quite a number of emails about payment of IBI.

Apparently the Diputacion are issuing bills including the past 4 years, which was as we were told they would. However, people are telling me that they have been advised that they must pay it all before 20th December.

This is not how I was told it would be collected with the opportunity being given to stagger the payments over a period of time.

I will enquire next Monday or Tuesday to see what arrangements have been put in place to allow people to do this. I am aware of  scheme down in Vera where this is happening so I will get the right story and post on here.

Friday, November 1, 2013

French Circus

Just for information if anyone interested

Don't miss out on the Grand French Circus, tomorrow and Sunday the 2nd and 3rd November at 6.30pm in front of the school in La Alfoquía. See you there!!!!