A demonstration in support of Helen and Len Prior took place in Vera, Almeria in 30+ degree heat on Thursday 19th May. Organised by AUAN, the gathering was supported by other associations such as SOHA who came in a bus from Malaga.
The gathering of around 150 people was notable for its civility and the participation of a number of elderly Britons of advanced age. Some of the protestors were more than 70 years, similar in age to Helen and Len Prior who are both 72. Representatives of the major political parties were also in attendance, including the PSOE spokesperson on planning in the Parliament of Andalucia, Rodrigo Sanchez Haro, the President of the Mancomunidad of Municipalities of the Valley of Almanzora, Antonio Ramon Salas (PP) and councillors and representatives of Ciudadanos, Unidos Podemos and PA.
In addition to the presence of politicians there was a notable expression of support from other parts of Spain, including AMA in Cantabria and AGADE in Galicia leading associations in the fight for solutions to the planning issues that affect various parts of Spain.
During the speeches Helen Prior spoke movingly of the years of anguish that the family has endured since their home was demolished in 2008 without prior compensation even though it had planning permission and all its paperwork.
Addressing the crowd AUAN president, Maura Hillen, said that the Spanish state though its administrative decisions and legal manoeuvres had spent 8 years ruining the lives of the Prior family, damaging the property market and tarnishing the image of Spain abroad. She went on that to say that this issue went beyond political partisanship and the allocation of blame. What this family needs and what the property market and the economy of this region demands is an end to this disgraceful situation. She concluded by calling on the authorities to do the right thing.
The various speakers echoed the calls for a just solution for the Prior family and AUAN’s legal advisor, Gerardo Vazquez, underlined the need to avoid such cases in the future. He called for further legal changes to increase the reliability of the Property Register to ensure that it was obliged to record the existence of planning issues explaining that currently an innocent consumer could purchase a property with a clean bill of health according to the Property Register and even get a mortgage on it only to find out years later that the house was subject to proceedings or even had a demolition order.