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Home arrow News arrow ChiFRA Seeks Action
ChiFRA Seeks Action
Wednesday, 21 September 2011
ChiFRA has delivered a letter to the Chiclana Ayuntamiento asking for urgent action to secure the respect, dignity and human rights of the foreign residents of Chiclana.

This approach is the first step in response to our members request for ChiFRA to adopt a more assertive approach.

The letter was written and delivered in Spanish, this is the translation of the text: 

Dear Mayor

As you know, ChiFRA is an organisation which represents the English-speaking residents of Chiclana in matters of relevance to this sector of the community. For years we have been working shoulder to shoulder with successive corporations on the complex issue of the regularisation/legalisation of our members' houses. These houses were acquired in good faith with estate agents, lawyers and even various public bodies (Notaries and Property Registrars) involved in the sales of these properties only for our members to later learn (much to their surprise) that despite the appearance of legality afforded to the sales by the involvement of the aforementioned people, they had in fact been sold properties located in areas of the town where building of a residential nature was not permitted and which hence lacked the relevant compulsory town-planning licences.

In 2008, at a General Assembly of our members, we collectively decided to get in contact with the Town Hall in an effort to resolve the problems underlined in this letter. We agreed to do so by way of collaboration and affability rather than through confrontation or by taking such a serious problem to other, more superior, authorities whether these be at a regional, community or national level, whilst always adhering, of course, to the administrative and legal procedures involved in these processes. After several long years of effort this approach of collaboration and dialogue appeared to be bearing fruit given that the PGOU in force allowed our members to begin the regularisation of their properties and there was a further plan - in an advanced phase - which was aiming to incorporate areas of the town such as Pago Melilla (where the homes of some of our members are situated) into the urban network. As well as these plans there were also further preparations underway to rectify the defects of the town plan then in force which had been under threat because of a sentence passed by the Supreme Courts of Justice of Andalucia (TSJA) which declared the plan null and void.

In addition to all which has been previously stated, a meeting of council members had seen the initial approval of a piece of local legislation which, by declaring some areas of the town as 'outside the town plan' (commonly referred to as AFO), aimed to provide basic services to properties built in areas classified as land which cannot be urbanised (commonly dubbed "white zones"). This situation, which had taken years of effort to achieve, changed drastically after the local elections. The town plan was declared null and void by the Supreme Court (TS) and word has spread that the new plan is at such a stage of inception that it will take years to be approved definitively.

It is true that this council has announced that the Junta de Andalucia has promised to provide Chiclana with a provisional town plan (ex art 35.2LOUA) and that it will do so within a maximum timescale of six months. However, bearing in mind that this measure has never before been implemented and that practically every aspect of Andalucian administration is affected by chronic delays, both our organisation and, in particular, our members, have serious reservations regarding the content and potentiality of the aforementioned plan as well as the viability of the projected timescale. As well as having to deal with the terrible situation brought about by the annulment of the town plan, our members have also received news from various sources assuring them that the ruling allowing some areas of the town to be classified as 'outside the town plan' will not be approved by the new council. This will mean that a large number of our members will have to continue to live without a mains electricity supply which is a clear breach of these homeowners’ human rights.

We use the term human rights not just as a vague and unspecific term but with reference to something as specific and binding as the content of art. 25 of the Declaration of Human Rights, which states the right to a house. Or that which can be read in art. 11 of the International Pact of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (PIDESC) which adds that the home referred to should be suitable, a term which has been defined by the Comité DESC, in its General Observation No. 4 which stipulates that a suitable house should have, at the very least, a secure occupancy agreement and the supply of services, sufficient fixtures, fittings and infrastructures, services providing permanent access to both natural and common resources, drinking water, energy for the kitchen and cooking, heating and lighting {...}.

By virtue of the international treaties mentioned above, to which the vast majority of countries in the world have subscribed, a suitable house, free of any risk to its integrity and with a supply of drinking water and electricity is a bare minimum which, theoretically, even the governments of third-world countries such as Angola or Tanzania must comply with. However, it would seem that in a country like Spain (which was surprisingly the first country in the world to sign the OP-ICESCR protocol which establishes procedures for denouncement and investigation in relation to the non-compliance of the content of the PIDESC) or, more specifically, in Chiclana, the aforementioned regulation and the rights put in place to protect people neither exist nor are they respected.

Taking into account the lack of ability or political willingness to resolve such urgent problems as we have previously outlined, and which previous councils have boasted of, our members, who are greatly frustrated by the failure of our affable attempts to reach a satisfactory solution, have shown us clearly that they feel that methods used until today have achieved nothing. They believe that the time has now come to expose to other authorities the incredible situation that the people of Chiclana are forced to endure. They now wish to take this issue to the highest possible court of justice necessary, whether it be at an autonomous level, a national level or internationally. This would mean a great advancement with regard to the rights to which our members are entitled and which cannot be abused and would remedy the unjust situation they are currently suffering in this town.

We are writing this to let you know that we have always tried to deal with what has happened previously by way of cooperation and in a conciliatory manner and in order to avoid that the change in the way we operate should catch you unawares, since we now intend to establish contact with our respective governments (United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, Holland, etc.) through consular services and embassies in order to inform those at a higher level of the chaotic town planning situation which currently exists in Chiclana and the very serious problems that this predicament brings with it. We plan to highlight the plight of Chiclana at an internal level as well as (fundamentally) at an international level, publicising the situation, if necessary, to the various communications media in our respective countries.

We hope that you will understand that it has never been our intention that the good relationship that has always existed between our organisation and this town hall should deteriorate and we hope that in spite of us having declared our intentions, our good relationship may remain as cordial as it has been in the past. We also wish you to understand that the board of management of this organisation exists purely due to the willingness of its members and the organisation always carries out its activities within the boundaries of its social group, a social group which, tired of resistance to change and stagnation, is now requesting that a proactive approach be taken to solving its problems.

We are, however, wholly at your disposition should you wish to meet with the representatives of this organisation to deal with the issues which we have outlined throughout this letter. We do wish to make it clear that we will not suspend the actions that we have mentioned until such time as words and promises give way to deeds and tangible political measures.

In the hope that you will be sensitive to our just reclamations and that you will take urgent action to secure the respect, dignity and human rights of the foreign residents of Chiclana, we now respectfully close this letter with many thanks for your valuable time and attention. 



+1 # Pam Galllagher 2011-09-22 15:46 An excellent letter, in my opinion, and one which demonstrates unequivocally ChIFRA's readiness to take matters further. The penultimate paragraph validates this.

Well done. Let's hope it gets things moving towards a resolution for all those poor souls without basic services.
# Chris Webb 2011-09-23 18:49 Thankyou so much, I am delighted with the letter, well phrased and to the point. We all must keep up the pressure to change this inhuman situation and protect our childrens inheritance. Once again Thankyou ChIFRA. Elle Webb
# Glynis Elliot 2011-09-23 23:39 A very good letter until you get to the final two lines. It was not necessary to thank the council for their valuable time and attention.

I hold my breath but something needs to be done and yes, time to get pushy.
# Stephen Cole 2011-09-28 23:43 A well balanced opening move. I only wish that it was done a lot sooner. I just hope everyone has the energy and the will to follow this declaration up with assertive actions.

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