British residents to stand in La Viñuela elections

Fecha Publicación: 
24 Diciembre 2010

Members of the Save Our Homes in Axarquía association will stand as candidates next year

Sur in English | Noticia

Two British residents of La Viñuela have announced their decision to stand as candidates for the Partido Andalucista in the forthcoming local elections.

Philip Smalley and Gary Miles are the president and the press secretary respectively of Save Our Homes in Axarquía (SOHA), an association of homeowners, many of whom are foreign nationals, whose properties in the Axarquía countryside have been deemed illegal.

In recent years the Junta de Andalucía has declared many homes ‘illegal’, and some have been demolished, as they were constructed on “rustic land” which is forbidden. SOHA say residents were issued with permits from local Town Halls which have now been revoked by the regional administration. “The main concern is that whilst our licenses are being disputed or already annulled our homes are worthless and the threat of demolition is like the Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads,” Philip Smalley said earlier this year in an interview to SUR in English. In Axarquía there are thought to be more than 10,000 properties which have been built on rural or farming land; and in total, SOHA estimates that in Andalucía as a whole there could be as many as 300,000 illegal buildings.

Now in a bid to highlight the issue, Philip Smalley and Gary Miles are entering the fray of local Spanish politics.

“The ex-patriot citizens of La Viñuela have, for many years, been viewed by the incumbent administration as a source of revenue without regard for our legal rights or even our human rights,” explains Miles. “Our job is to remove an absolute majority in order to, at least, introduce some checks and balances into the local political process. Our prime objectives are to ensure that the Ayuntamiento of Viñuela obeys the planning laws of Andalucía, fights for the rights of its foreign residents, and protects the environment of the Axarquía.”

Both candidates are relying on support from the foreign community in the municipality. “Our campaign is based around ensuring that as many foreign residents of La Viñuela are registered to vote. In February, March and April we intend to concentrate on informing residents of our policy of stopping illegal development and instead to promote tourism,” says Miles.

Neither Smalley nor Miles have previous political experience, but instead say they intend to harness their business skills to drive their campaign. “Philip had many years as a senior manager in the Makro wholesale business and myself with 26 years in management consultancy,” Miles confirms.

So should they win, how will they change things? “It is not a question of if we win. This is very unlikely. The question is "what if you hold the balance of power"? If so we will force the Council to obey the law, protect the rights of residents and develop employment schemes based on tourism".
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