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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Help Desk and Demo

The Town Hall of Zurgena has extended care services for their residents with the launch of the Help Desk or in Spanish 'ventanilla de atención al ciudadano'. The new service offers the possibility to English-speaking citizens to be served in their native language in the same way the town hall does for other neighbors. This is to address any issues of health or social care that is required by any of our citizens.

The below copied from the Spanish press is of interest to us all and, whilst we are happy that things are proceeding well regarding our PGOU, there are still many issues in this respect. It is hoped that the below event will attract a large contingent of expats as it will show one of the most important politicians how strongly we feel about the mess regarding property laws in Spain and those affected.

Deputy Secretary General and Popular Party number two for the European elections, Esteban Gonzalez Pons, is scheduled to visit the Almanzora next week. The appointment will be on Monday, May 5 in the town of Fines. Illegal housing and possible solutions is the topic to be covered with neighbors and associations have been invited to act provided for in the Social Hall of the municipality of Fines. Among the groups that have already confirmed their attendance is the Association Urbanísticos Abuses Almanzora No (AUAN), which brings together many of the owners of illegal homes in the Almanzora Almeria and Levante, which is estimated at 12,000 households out of management. Its president, Maura Hillen, is grateful for the invitation and ensures that their relations "are good with all parties," but insists that "what we want is that these issues are resolved. Englishmen leave and never come new buyers who want to stay here, live and spend their money in this country. 90,000 English Gone in Spain in the last year. everyone We want to solve this problem and we must find a solution because obviously Decree Andalusian Regularization does not work " says while some figures; "Have been granted in the past two years less than 200 permits known as AFOs with Decree, when there are about 300,000 illegal houses in Andalucia." The event will be open to the general public, will begin at seven o'clock, although González Pons hour before you plan to meet in the town hall with AUAN Finero to study directly the document affected intend to deliver. "We are tired of good intentions, in recent weeks it is said that the Board is considering regulatory changes, but we want concrete results, we do not want more cases like the Priors lords." Sufferers are convinced that some of these changes have also come at the state level, "for a fair and prior compensation is guaranteed if a house is purchased in good faith charges. This is state competition and is a human rights issue" adds Hillen. Guarantee the right to property as a right human internationally recognized, no one can be deprived of their property and rights, except for cause of public utility or social interest, but in any case, given the corresponding simultaneous and in accordance with the Act compensation and general principles of international law . The right to be compensated by government since the amount of compensation in any case be established before the effective demolition of buildings; payment of compensation is simultaneous to the availability of the property in favor of the administration that is required to realize the demolition. Are some of the arguments that those affected move in that document number two People's Party ahead of the European elections next May. following shall also be expected that other associations affected the rest of Andalusia, also attend the ceremony next Monday in the town of Fines.

PS Sue is making good progress and unless anything untoward is found will be able to return home at the weekend.

Monday, April 28, 2014


Well folks something more of a positive nature to report. This evening we Zurgena Council (unanimously) approved our Provisional PGOU. I have to say I was pleased that it was unanimous, as I worried that there may some voices against!

The process now is that the plan will  be displayed on the Town Hall wall available for all the public to peruse as from a couple of days time.I would suggest that anyone wishing to check it out that you wait until next week or the week after, just to manage the numbers. I hope to be available during some of the days that it is on display but if I am not then Sampo may well be there and the TH technico who can answer any issues that you may have or if none of that is available just email me.

Secondly many thanks for all your best wishes, emails and cards for my wife it has been quite heartening to receive so many good wishes. The above (PGOU) meeting was the only reason I would have left the hospital for a few hours for, although I have been returning home at night since last Friday. For those of you who are interested or who know Sue she is improving greatly and has not needed pain killers since Sunday morning and today had an MRI scan to try and identify the cause of her Pancreatitis, although I suspect it is hereditary. But sincerely thanks. Hope to have things back to some normality next week. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Statement from Luis (Alcalde) re PGOU.

The Town Hall carries full exposure prior to their historic PGOU Approval:
- The general plan will permit the standardisation of virtually all urban households and provides for the development of 2 large industrial zones.
- "It is a step forward of incalculable importance for the people of Zurgena and will allow for sustainable development in our Municipality in areas of industry as well as urban." according to the mayor.
Zurgena is preparing to face a historic moment in the coming months. The town Hall is doing the final paperwork prior to the approval of the PGOU which will standardise the urban situation in the municipality. Also this will allow for the development of 2 industrial areas and allocates 65.95% of building land for housing in the public housing regimen.
Next Monday there will be a meeting as agreed by all for the exposition of the PGOU to the public, before being provisionally approved. "This is a step of incalculable importance for Zurgena. Not only will it permit the municipality to assure their own future by developing the urban and industrial aspects, but using the PGOU they can provide the tools required for standardisation of virtually all the urban households" explains the Mayor of the area Luis Diaz.
The General Plan is expected in the future to develop 2 industrial areas at the boundary of the municipality of Zurgena with a total of 537,396 m2. The zone is situated in the industrial estate of Las Cobaticas to the link to the future Autovia del Almanzora (motorway) in the area of Palaces. It would be intended for the implementation of small and medium sized businesses(SME's) having 176,172 m2. The second industrial estate will start from El Cucador to the actual entrance of the motorway from the Redia del Almanzora. In this case it has been stipulated that 361,224 m2 must be allowed for access to larger industry. "Far from being strictly urban, this government team have worked to become more dynamic and increase the business tissue in Zurgena." the alderman noted in this respect.
Residential Use
The percentage of buildable land for residential use protected referred to in the document is 65.95% of the total for residential use. This data is joined by the planned consolidation of all of the infrastructures required in an urbanisation, purification of water, etc.
"A consensus document produced with the Junta de Andalucia and which marks the road to follow to ensure the future of Zurgena as a place to live and learn with a guaranteed quality of life. So we can leave behind years of uncertainty for the local administration and for many of our neighbours. This PGOU is a seed from which will be born a new municipality. We are close to being able to pick the fruits sown in past times, and it is something in which we have spent much time working. This document will permit all of the municipality and the neighbourhoods to walk in the right direction throughout the next decades without fear of us being wrong" concluded the Mayor.

Apologies BUT

Isn't it just sods law! Now that I have more good news about our PGOU I am not in a position to do much with it. There are articles in the Spanish press which will be picked up by the english press as well.

This is what Luis has put out,
"After much work and effort, Zurgena is finally close to causing the interim approval of its General of urban Plan (PGOU). The document that will allow the industrial and urban development of the town leaving uncertainty and opening the door to the regularization of the vast majority of homes that need it, being one of the pioneers in the adoption of the General plan in the region."

Unfortunately Sue, my wife, was admitted to hospital with suspected Acute Pancreatitis, yesterday afternoon and I am obviously spending as much time as I can with her and therefore will not be in the TH today or much in the next few working days. I will however, make sure I attend our Pleno on Monday ay 6.0pm at which we will be approving our draught PGOU! If we can see this through to fruition in the next year I will be celebrating big style!

I do have to endorse what many of my friends have reported and that is the excellent service at Huercal Overa hospital. I have to say our treatment there was fantastic. We got there 6.20pm after a 2 minute wait we were documented, at 6.35pm had a consultation with a GP, at 6.45pm had bloods done, BP reading and an ECG. at 6.55pm a urine sample was taken for testing and at 7.10pm she had an Xray. We waited for about an hour when we were called back to see the doctor who said she was undecided and wanted a CT scan which was carried out by 8.0pm and at 8.45pm we went back into see the doctor and she said she suspected Acute Pancreatitis (which her sister suffered from some years ago!) and wanted to admit her. When you add that to the fact that my car was parked on the car park for 16 hours for free it certainly beats my experience of the UK A&E service.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Past week.

I have not yet managed to get into the TH this week for a few reasons one of which was spending a full day at Torrevieja for the NHW AGM. Although the meeting was rather poorly attended I guess that is due in no small part to the huge decrease in crime lately. Although we do have to bear in mind we are approaching a more likely time for crime to occur!

We also had a presentation from Kim Clark who is in the business of assisting people to claim benefits to which they are entitled from the UK. Due to a number of changes in the law there are a good number of benefits which expats are now entitled to claim and Kim offers that service. What he does is to give a free initial consultation and then charges if you want to use his services further.  His business has a website at and he lives local to us.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

This article from El Pais has been translated and obviously has some translation mistakes but the general gist can be understood. This is further confirmation of what we had been told some months ago, that the Junta were adapting the 2012 Decree to make it suitable to solve as many of the housing problems as possible

The Board sought to regularize illegal houses in Andalucia with Decree 2/2012 to "assimilate" and leave the legal limbo in which they were involved and legally accede to the supply of water and electricity. been two years since the adoption of this rule and the problem is still entrenched. The issue affects some 300,000 homes in the region and in the case of Almería, with 13,000 illegal houses, has had particular impact on the so-called "residential tourism", with thousands of EU citizens retirees who purchased homes outside management. A regulatory change in the Law on Urban Planning of Andalusia (LOUA) could facilitate, in the coming months, the regularization of houses built in urban subdivisions on rural land.

After two years of implementation of the decree, only 177 homes have been assimilated and have made the statement AFO, short for "Assimilated to Out Management", a Pyrrhic figure that does not even reach 0.1% of all illegal houses the community. Ie those works, installations or buildings made in breach of planning regulations, which were built irregularly, but where the irregularity has prescribed.

One of the regions where over illegal houses product of urban riots is the Almanzora. In Almería only 77 homes have achieved AFO statement. And of course, the balance in the Partnership Urban Abuses Almanzora No (AUAN) is radically negative.

The decree, denounces this association has not addressed the issue of houses built on subdivisions -the division of land into two or more lots for residential use in undeveloped land, something common in Almería and in the province of Málaga, where it is estimated that over 50% of the illegal houses are built on rustic land in urban subdivisions. "The problem we have found is that the decree can not be disabled in Article 185. 2 of the Law on Urban Planning of Andalusia (LOUA). So never prescribe these subdivisions. Not in 100 years they will be legal. Since we asked AUAN will adequately address the problem. We lost two years and continue to the problem, the economic and social suffering, "says Gerardo Vázquez, a consultant and spokesperson for the group.

In Almería, 20% of municipalities have been processed and approved the document forward, something like the inventory which includes its urban reality; and 9% are in the pipeline. "The councils will not take stock in Almería are 52%. These have made ​​the declaration which stipulates innecesariedad decree. As only 20% of municipalities did not adopt any agreement to launch implementation of the decree, "explains the territorial delegate of Environment and Planning Board in Almería, José Manuel Ortiz.

One thing that has been done, for example, the mayor of the town of Albox Almeria, Rogelio Mena, one of the hardest hit in the country with the construction of illegal houses during the boom years. The council has used these two years to make a comprehensive directory of all the data sheets for each and every one of the houses with their data and features.

Albox, 12,000, has a census of 2,000 illegal houses of which about 500 are beyond management possible. "My municipality implemented the decree 2/2012 and generated significant expectations. And it is truth that gives outputs to the temporary connections for water and electricity to many homes. After trying to give a legal basis in the General Plan and partial plans. But what? Well that regulations can not go against the law and Article 185 declares LOUA applicability of the subdivisions, "he stresses.

The profile of those affected by this problem is the retired British citizen and "bona fide purchaser" who has spent years fighting for a solution. In some cases, have planning permission has been even more pernicious. "I've seen cases where suddenly these victims learn that although they have a license and a deed of new development, and a license of occupation, electricity, water and even if the house registered in the Land Registry, your license has been declared illegal by the courts for many years, without them they found out. Taking license may challenge the Board. If no pass expires six years and illegal license, "Vazquez riveted.

The program for European

From the Socialist Party wants to give a "real and effective" to the problem of illegal houses built in urban subdivisions on rural land settlement. A "social need" that does not imply, in any case, "impunity", highlight sources of socialist regional executive. However, given the dichotomy of down or regulate these homes, the most likely alternative is to stabilize these homes with some kind of specific planning instrument.
Secretary of Planning and Housing PSOE, Pedro Fernández, put it clear in a recent visit to Almeria: "There is a decree in 2012 that established the possibility that households in rural land would be regularized. But that is subject to interpretation of the law. We must review the LOUA ". Meanwhile, the PSOE take this issue in the election manifesto for the European elections. The socialist campaign committee, which will meet next Wednesday, will define the terms of the ballot measure.

Does anyone want a bed?

I have received the below email.

"We have a single bed surplus to requirements. Well, to be exact a pull out drawer containing a mattress, which needs another standard mattress on top to make a complete guest bed.
It's in very good condition if you know someone who could use it. Free of course to a good home."

If this is of interest to anyone please get in touch.

Monday, April 21, 2014


A date for your calendars Saturday 3rd May. It is the day of the Almanzora valley 4 wheel drive rally. They will be coming through our ramblas on that date so avoid going into the ramblas on that date. There are many good viewing spots for the rally and if I get a copy of the programme I will post on here. I know that the ramblas will be closed from 3.30pm and 8.30pm on the day.

I attended the informative tour of the village last Saturday afternoon and it was quite enlightening. Discovered quite a few facts about our village, that I did not know, and I would recommend it to anyone who wishes to know more about Zurgena if, and when, they do it again. The general consensus of those who did the tour was very positive.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


I have copied this from the TH FB page.

Tomorrow (Sunday)is the day of Semana Santa called "La merienda". This takes places also during other popular fiestas. But what is it?
It is a day when family and friends get together to eat outside, not in bars but in cortijos, parks, campings, or in merenderos ("outside snack areas").

There is one such at Los Llanos del Peral, which also has a fountain so you can refresh yourselves during a hot sunny day. If you drive through Los Llanos taking the right fork in the road and follow that road for about half a mile, it is on your left. There are a few tables and benches so you can sit and eat what you might have brought from home. Its typical to cook your own food on fire. Paella, BBQ.... If you do , please be careful with the fire!

Additionally remember that there is the last of the guided tours round our villages tonight at 5.0pm departing from outside Zurgena Town Hall. I shall certainly try and make this one as I missed yesterdays!

Also for information the below publicity from Los Compañeros del Teatro who now present their next farce.
With five doors and a window as entry and exit points, this is a fast moving and very funny comic play in two acts. A major hit in the West End of London, it opened with David Jason in the lead roll.
What more do we need to say... Come and watch the action.
The Municipal Theatre, Zurgena

Friday 25th April
Saturday 26th April
                                    CURTAIN UP 7.30

Sunday 27th April... Matinee
                                   CURTAIN UP 3pm
priced at just 5€
i-Cafe Bar, Huercal-Overa
Cat Services, La Alfoquia
Girasol, Albox
One Stop Pool Shop, Longo's Albox

And available on the door

Happy easter.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

English Language Easter Tour of the village

I have been asked by our councillor for tourism to publicise the below for this weekend.

"The Councillor of Tourism in Zurgena continues his support for the sector of tourism.
In Zurgena the Eastern week and its traditions are very important. The “brotherhoods” proudly carry their figures around the town according the tradition.
During the 1st Tourism Fair of Almanzora Valley organized in March in Zurgena one new company called Cultur-Almanzora was presented. They offer guided visit in Zurgena and also explain more about Semana Santa in Zurgena.
You are invited to join the walking visit on Thursday 17th at 17.00pm and Saturday 19th at  17.00pm, starting in front of the Town Hall. In english and spanish, free of charge.
After the guided visit you can enjoy the “processions” and the church services with the local traditions."

There now you have no excuse for participating in the easter traditions!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Easter Week

As those of you who have lived here any time this is easter week and as such little activity takes place!
I have just been informed of the programme for easter weekend (in Spanish) and replicated it below.
Any questions just let me know.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Money Money Money!

Sorry there has been little to update the blog with this week. I guess that is partly down to me spending my time looking at changing my car, instead of working at the TH!

So as a result had quite a busy morning this morning. Firstly I was assisting the people who are organising an easter event in the theatre in Zurgena. It is a programme of theatre, music and dance primarily in Spanish to celebrate the christian celebration of easter. It is to be held on Wednesday  16th April at 8.0pm in the theatre in Zurgena and admission is free. All are welcome.

Secondly I had some time with Candido when we could discuss various issues.

I asked when we could go and get prices for the second street plan, which is for the Llanos del Peral area and we are going to go to some companies the week after easter to get prices, to see if we can get the same quality product as before, but at a better price.

I reminded Luis that we had still not obtained a new memorial for the British Legion and he asked those present to try and locate some suitable marble and when we go to sort the street plan we could also get a price for the work on the marble.

I explained about the annoyance to residents, that the orange grove farmer had caused by digging up the road, between La Vida and Los Llanos. Both he and Luis said, almost immediately, he will replace the tarmac and repair it to its previous condition. I got the impression they were as annoyed with him as some residents were! They had already spoken to him about this.

I asked that we order a new parabolic mirror for the junction of Calle Dinamarca and Avenida Europa as soon as we could, as it does constitute a road hazard. They agreed to do so.

We discussed a number of other issues which we will address the week after easter and, when I am able, I will publish on here.

I informed them that, it had been reported to me, that a company called Greenyroom was advertising on the internet, plots for sale in Los Llanos del Peral with the ability to reserve a plot at €6,000 and asked if something had happened that I was unaware of. They were aghast and said that anyone attempting to sell these plots was doing so illegally as far as they knew.

After that meeting we held one of our regular administrating councillors meetings at 1.0pm. I will give Luis his due he is trying to develope a more open and inclusive administration. We discussed where we were with a number of issues including the extension to the school, opening of the municipal library which the Town Hall wants to stock english books as well as Spanish, (so I may well be launching an appeal for books to assist in this quite soon), the improvements needed at the medical centre and how we can manage that, probably involving a temporary move, various small works in Palaces Zurgena and La Alfoquia (all of course involving money).

Another topic which we discussed was one I had previously raised and that was the state of our parks the one by the Renfe in La Alfoquia and the one by the rambla in Zurgena. Again it is the issue of finance. We feel that particularly the one at the Renfe if it is to be as originally intended with water running through and animals in we need to have a person in attendance and we do not have enough staff.

We also discussed the management of the Town Hall staff in these straightened times and options to save money. No decision was made but various options to improve these areas are to be considered.

We also discussed the need to regularise the collection of rates from places such as bars, houses and industrial units as we are not getting in as much as we should be. It was agreed that we need to telephone Madrid to try and get some additional financial assistance, due to the fact that year on year we need 33 percent increase in funds due to Lo Loma and other unforeseen events.

Candido did state that the cabling has been ordered for various street light projects (including the long stretch up past la Vida) which have yet to be connected but we will have to wait and see what we get.

Luis did inform us that we hoped to have the PGOU for Plenary discussion before the end of the month and that it would be interesting to see if anyone voted against it!!

It was also agreed that the Polizia Local would move their office back down from the old Town Hall to the new Town Hall in the next few weeks.

Sampo then made a proposal regarding the nursery in La Alfoquia due to the falling numbers it looks like the existing situation will not be able to continue. As an alternative, and one which was in general accepted, regarding the nursery in La Alfoquia. This proposal was for a contract to be agreed whereby the nursery would move from its current location to the bar La Cansa and that the people running it would pay €100 per month and pay for the electric and water and also provide bars for fiestas etc and that this should ensure the continuation of a needed facility.

As usual if you have any questions or clarification of anything just drop me an email.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tuesday 1st April

I am resisting the opportunity to do an April 1st joke, despite feeling I should!

Spoke with Candido today about a few things. Firstly I gave him the list of street names people had requested. He thinks that some are in the store (I could not find them) but he will check and if not get them ordered.

Secondly the rumour about Enrique leaving the pool bar is wrong. It is just that the contracts are open to bidding for the 3rd Age bar in Zurgena and the pool bar. They have to be renegotiated. Enriques' last contract has run its 3 year course and needs to be reapplied for.

Regarding the bowling green we have negotiated with Nila, the contractors, to have temporary fencing erected. Once that is done we have to sign the job off, as does the Diputacion. We are hoping to get Nila to tarmac the area to the rear of the green as well as erect the temporary fencing. A matter of a couple of weeks will pass before it is then handed over to the TH. We then need to decide which option is best going forward, whether to put in the extra infrastructure ourselves or put the thing out to tender and include, in the tender, the responsibility for the additional work to that process. So I guess we will decide on that by early May.

The new technical guy is working on the WiFi and we hope to make an announcement within the next week or so regarding the system and the future.

I raised the issue of the clearing of tracks in Agua Arriba and the one from Palaces. He is taking them onboard and should get something done this next week or so.

Luis (the Mayor) is off sick today so I could not progress the Legions memorial stone.

Regarding Avenida Andalucia in La Alfoquia Candido was able to report that the trees had all been pruned and he has asked Paco to order new wooden slats for the broken benches.

I need to speak with Luis (the architect) regarding the street plan for Los Llanos as there are a few mistakes that need correcting bfore we get prices for its manufacture.