Representatives of associations of those affected by ilegal houses known as Abusos Urbanísticos Almanzora NO (AUAN) and Save our Homes in Axarquia (SOHA), report about their meetings during two intense days in Seville in the Andalusian Parliament. They were there to assess the bill approved on Tuesday by the Cabinet that could serve to regularize a significant number or irregular houses in various parts of the Autonomous Community.
On the first of these days, Tuesday, 7th October, the lawyer Gerardo Vázquez, representing the groups, participated in a technical-legal meeting with the PP party spokesperson for Housing in the Andalusian Parliament, Alicia Martínez and with architects, lawyers, notaries, registrars and town hall secretaries and controllers – with whom the PP has created a working party to analyse the problem of the 300,000, or more, illegal houses that exist in the Autonomous Community.
The next day, Wednesday 8th October, the president of AUAN, Maura Hillen, acting on this occasion as the spokesperson for both associations, and Gerardo Vázquez, had other meetings in the Andalusian Parliament, the first with members of parliament of IU, and subsequently with the Minister for the Environment and Territorial Planning of the Junta de Andalucía, María Jesús Serrano and with members of parliament of the PSOE with the aim of assessing the bill.
Commenting on the meetings Maura Hillen said ‘We thanked the Minister and the three political parties for giving us the opportunity to speak about the current state of affairs. First of all we wanted to emphasise that this legislative change appears to be positive if it is carried out in the manner described in the media. We think that it may help many people and could be an important step. We have asked the political parties, and publically ask society as a whole, to support this change. We also appeal to the environmentalists, whom we hope to meet soon and who deserve our respect. Indeed, we dare to say that this change could be good for the environment. Currently these houses are in a legal limbo and if they could be given the status of AFO, their residual wastes could be managed more effectively. We are talking of a lot of houses’.
Mrs Hillen added, ‘We would also like to convey our thanks for the agreement reached by the PSOE and IU in relation to this initiative. If the project is approved by Parliament in four months, as the Minister of the Environment and Territorial Planning hopes, this will be a first positive step towards providing sensible and viable solutions to the complex problem of illegal houses and a victory for constructive dialogue between the government and its citizens’.
However, Mrs Hillen also says ‘In addition to this and without taking merit away, we have also said in these meetings that not everything is resolved by this change. It is a first step, albeit an important one. Other issues remain to be addressed at the appropriate time, such as changes to the Penal Code and the state Land Law, although those legislative changes are incumbent on the national legislature. We are already promoting them. We also need to discuss the problem of settlements that cannot access water and electricity, and the nature of ‘AFO’ status, to give two examples. In fact, we are in contact with other associations under the umbrella of the Andalusian confederation known as ‘CALU’ who support this change but who want to deal with these other issues in a timely manner’.
She added ‘For now what is important is to bring about the announced change as soon as possible because many people have suffered emotional and economic damage for many years’.
Gerardo Vazquez, legal advisor to AUAN, and SOHA on this occasion, who attended the meetings in the Andalusian Parliament added, ‘These are exciting times. It seems good to me that the voice of the people is heard and it is very good that those in charge try to resolve the real problems of the people. Clearly efforts are being made to begin to resolve all this, and it must stay on course’.