Junta starts to realise there may be more illegal houses than thought

(Opinion piece)

There is an interesting piece in Wednesdays La Voz de Almeria (remember, I’ve been away for a few days so I spent Sunday catching up) about how in the Seville meeting between the Junta and some of the town halls, Lubrin admitted to having found over a thousand houses built on rustic land, and Oria another 900. This makes 2 out of every 3 houses in Oria illegal!

The Junta has spent some time now quoting the magic “6000” figure in relation to the number of illegal houses in the Almanzora valley. It’s obviously problematic for a politician to stand up and admit that they haven’t a clue, so a nice round figure like 6000 keeps the hecklers quiet. The trouble is, it’s bull plop. Nobody has a clue how many illegal houses there are in the Almanzora valley, for the simple reason that nobody has counted them. That’s the first step in the Juntas new Plan General de Inspeccion de Andalucia – count the damn things.

La Voz, while a nice little paper with lots of interesting yet important local news*, is part of Grupo Prisa, which is Spains largest media corporation that owns among other things El Pais, Cadena Ser, 40 principales, SogeCable…. well, check out www.prisa.com for the full list. It’s staunchly Pro-PSOE, except when it’s owner falls out with Zapatero, and La Voz could be considered to be our own little Pravda. Studying the little details in it is our own little divination, which I call Lavozmancy, and tells of the future as seen by the Junta de Andalucia. Well, it makes more sense than Uromancy!

What this little story tells me is that the Junta is slowly starting to prepare the ground for the truth, ie that the 6000 figure is b.s. In a few months it can point to previous press reports and blame the local town halls for not providing accurate figures, and profess horror at the true scale of the problem. There are also hints that the local town hall inventories may be used to assess the number of illegal builds which will speed up the whole process of the Plan General.

Which, to me, is an encouraging sign. With the current economic crisis in the area, the Junta (and Madrid) knows perfectly well that the local taxes not being paid by the illegal houses are astronomical, and wants to get them in ASAP. So, they are starting to prepare the ground, first by admitting that, yes, there are more illegal builds then previously thought, and that yes, there is a plan to legalise them (the new Plan General de Inspecciones).

But, before we break open the champers…

In many cases, the houses have not paid local municipal building taxes or planning permission taxes. (A bribe to the mayor at the time doesn’t count). What’s the betting that, even if the house is given a clean bill of health (and it looks like all of them, excepting a few in Ramblas or natural parks will) the owner doesn’t get the paperwork until all back taxes are paid?

Start saving!

*I know a couple of the reporters. Lovely fellas. The editor is a nice chap who is genuinely interested in local affairs. It’s the director who’s the toading bastard who fires anyone who doesn’t toe the company line. Allegedly.

later A further “minimum” of 800 illegal houses in Partaloa and a further “minimum” of 900 in Cantoria. Bearing in mind Cantoria claims a large number of its houses are “legal”….

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