Maura Hillen has stepped down as President of Abusos Urbanísticos Andalucía No (AUAN), after 11 years in the position, during which she received an MBE from the British government for her work.
Maura will continue as an external consultant and spokesperson for the Association, to help the new President, David Fisher, from Chiclana, a city with 15,000 alegal houses, at least during the period of transition.
Maura says “It has been many years, with, logically, some emotional and physical wear and tear. Many journeys, meetings and above all many concerns. I did what I could. I am pleased to think that we have resolved problems for many families. I remember how things were in the beginning, with the shock suffered by foreign buyers when they discovered that their house was illegal, that it had no papers and that it ran the risk of being demolished.
But, united in a common cause and with the help and advice of our Lawyer, Gerardo Vazquez, and with the help also of the political parties, IU, PSOE, PP and later Ciudadanos, other associations, professional bodies, academics and more, we have prevented many houses from falling under the bulldozer.
In fact, working together were have brought about five legislative changes to make urban planning more sensible. I am content and I thank you all, as well as the members of AUAN and its committee for their support throughout the years”.
Gerardo Vazquez adds “What can I say about Maura? Many good things of course. I think that she has devoted most of her time over many years to the association. It would be a rare day when I did not communicate with her several times. She has always been willing to help with what is asked of her.
And it has not been easy. In fact, many times it has been very difficult. We have had to suffer many setbacks, criticisms and external attacks. And thanks to Maura we overcame them.
Without her it would have been impossible. I remember, on various occasions, how we discussed the latest setback on the way back from Madrid and Maura was always willing to continue and to try again. I have to say that it has been an adventure. And during this adventure Maura has been the quiet and measured voice. When Maura speaks it astonishes me to see how the room quietens.
It has been a pleasure to work alongside her and I thank her no only personally but on behalf of the thousands of people that she has helped. Maura, I hope to continue the struggle in your company in one form or another”.
The new President of AUAN is British. David Fisher is from Chiclana and is currently the president of ChiFRA, an association of foreign residents, and spokesperson for Age Concern, Costa de Luz Sur. David explains “Although Maura has set the bar very high, I am very grateful for this opportunity to continue the struggle at the Andalusian level where there are an estimated 300,000 alegal houses, many of them lacking sanitation, drinking water and electricity or cannot get paperwork.
I also welcome the opportunity that I have been given to do something to help resolve the serious planning problems that exist in Chiclana, with some 15,000 houses without drinking water. At the moment, this problem is aggravated by the current health crisis. What does the town hall expect?
That citizens are going to leave their houses to get water from standpipes in the road, as they are currently doing? I am also concerned about the wells being used by many houses due to the level of contamination, creating the possibility that we could be infected by Covid 19 via this route”.
David adds “As always in urban planning in Chiclana, there are too many questions when what we want is answers.
During my mandate we are going to say to the Mayor of Chiclana that enough is enough after so many years of failing to sort out the problems cause be mismanaged urban planning and now is the time to start delivering solutions to these problems via new legislation that allows these houses to obtain and AFO, thus allowing them to obtain basic services.
We are going to insist on this and we are going to do everything legally possible to stop the Town Hall from beating about the bush any longer”.