Word reaches me that there's to be a protest march in the city of Almería this Friday (January 9) at noon. It’s to demonstrate against the arbitrary political control on the 'illegal builds', 'land-grab', demolitions and institutionalised local fraud in property in Andalucía. The date coincides with the anniversary of the demolition of the Prior's house in Vera by the Junta de Andalucía.
Since that time, the Priors, a retired British couple who bought in good faith, have been living in a garage without water or electric connection. Neither have they received compensation or an apology. They are the best known, but many thousands of homes are at risk in Almería province alone.
Indeed I know a member of the Guardia Civil who is assigned to the environmental arm – Seprona – who has been stationed in Almería province. He says his main task is to deal with illegal properties and tragically the majority of the owners are non-Spanish.
Whilst this corruption is often portrayed as the cheating of foreigners this is not actually the case. The fraud affects all but unfortunately as foreign residents have bought many of the properties on the coast they have borne the brunt of the problem. However in recent years I have written reports on illegal urbanizations, especially those inland in both Cádiz and Málaga provinces, where the owners have been largely Spanish.
It was Lenox Napier who kindly sent me the information of the Alméria protest and he admits it is not only the Northern Europeans that suffer as the local small-town businesses and work force are also threatened.
The demonstrators plan to disrupt the busy city of Almería on a working day to make their cases more widely known. They also want an office set-up to help and advise residents coming from outside of Spain on their rights and how to deal with the appalling situation that faces many of them.
Lenox is known to many in Spain as having owned The Entertainer newspaper that still flourishes on-line. However those interested in the history of Gibraltar and the military will recognize the name Napier. Lenox is descended from the first Baron Napier of Magdala, a British Field Marshall, who was also a Governor of Gibraltar.
For more information on the demonstration go to: http://spanishshilling.blogspot.com