News Articles

20/04/2009 - Lliber housing scandal hits the press

Written by Jack Troughton   
Thursday, 16 April 2009

Warning sign to would be buyers
Power Struggle
Dark Days Threaten Lliber Valley

Residents fooled into buying illegal homes in the beautiful Lliber Valley are fighting to get their property officially recognised and secure a proper mains supply of electricity and water.

The recently formed Abusos Urbanisticos Lliber – No! (AULN), under the umbrella of the national action group, has launched a campaign to get houses legalised and is negotiating with the authorities. Meanwhile many households are surviving on utilities provided by a builder – and fear the vital supply could soon be cut off.

And the situation has caused a rift between neighbours supplied with electricity and water by builder Taibach SL – with some being sent to Coventry and receiving unpleasant and unsolicited emails.

The disharmony was described to Round Town News as “civil war” as the situation deteriorates and some residents choose to maintain the status quo – and not risk their fragile supply – rather than fight for their rights.

Adrian Hobbs, one of the founders of AULN, said it was a not a personal vendetta against builder Trevor Bourne of Taibach but the failure of being given the correct paperwork prevented any resolution.

“But we are absolutely fed up with the excuses and lies we have been fed for the last six years,” he said. “We are prepared to take the appropriate legal action as we need to but we are still requiring the assistance of the town hall to resolve some of the very basic issues like keeping our electricity and water.” There are around 300 illegal houses in Lliber, built between 1999 and 2004, after licences were issued by the then local authority under an arrangement with constructors but without the blessing of regional government planners.

However, the Auken Report on human rights and environmental abuses over property issues in Spain, currently voted into law by the European Parliament, calls for protection of those who purchased illegal homes in good faith. “The town hall has a duty of care to us,” said Adrian. “We are entitled to electricity and water and to pay our rates – we want to pay our money into the community in which we live.”

Currently, there are over 50 Taibach built homes relying on four Iberdrola meters – the electricity giant imposing fines for the improper use of its equipment. AULN members are prepared to pay for the power they use but refuse to pay the fines – presented as ‘supplementary costs’.

A similar situation exists over the water supply, with thousands of euros of debt racking up on the builder’s account. Again, householders fear the plug could be pulled on the utility. The campaign group believes the situation in Lliber has been brought about by “corruption and greed” by local government officials, developers, and linked professions.

Adrian believes the best way forward is to negotiate with the town hall, the utility suppliers, and residents’ representatives. “Someone has to break out of this cycle.

“Our freedom of movement is being curtailed because one of the consequences is not being able to sell these houses, there are people where their health is becoming an issue and it affects their ability to sell up and move back home, and mental health is an issue because of the stress.” Another AULN member, Ken Speed said the aim was to build an “interface” between all parties and “make some sense of the situation.”

He said people paid for an infrastructure to be installed when they bought their homes yet some residents were prepared to accept “a very poor electricity system”.
“Unfortunately there is a civil war in the valley between different groups of neighbours,” he added. And another AULN member, Betty Jones told Round Town News: “We are not prepared to sit back and do nothing any longer.” Husband Ron said the town hall was sympathetic but householders felt they were being made “scapegoats” for the illegal development. Mr Bourne was unavailable for comment yesterday despite repeated calls to his ‘phone.