A member of the Spanish government has caused outrage amongst the nation’s UK expats by suggesting that they are at fault for the illegal property row that has affected thousands.
Josefina Cruz Villalón, a public works and housing councillor for the Andalucian regional government has hit out at the aggrieved expats and said they are “a group of people who have settled illegally in our territory who are now demanding us to solve a problem that they have been responsible for creating”. She made the comments when questioned about what she plans to do about the expat property problem that is currently plaguing a number of expats in Almeria.
There are thought to be around 12,697 properties that the Spanish government have identified as being built illegally, and the bulk of these properties belong to British expats. The controversial properties were originally thought to have been green lit by corrupt officials, only for other government officials to deem them illegal.
Earlier in the year there were mutterings of a compromise being reached, however now those hopes appear to have been dashed following Villalón’s comments.
Following the outburst, Maura Hillen, the president of Abusos Urbanisticos Almanzora NO, has hit out at the comments: “That's all we need; for the victims who have been mistreated by the planning and real estate system to be attacked. On top of being insulted, we are vilified. Where was the regional government when the houses were being built. Why wasn't it stopped then?”
She added: “And how many people will be made homeless and lose their life savings if 920 houses are demolished to 'restore order'?
However there are still hopes that the homes could be saved. New reports have suggested that a special decree could be published that will allow the homes to stand. Also it seems that Villalón’s outburst may actually have a negative effect on her political party’s hope for election, as Miss Hillen explained: “Villalón's comments have done her PSOE party no favours when you consider she has offended the expat homeowners who now represent a significant proportion of the electorate in this region.”