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British expats in Spain blast EU’s response to living conditions: ‘Complete waste of time’

Brexit: British expat discusses difficulty of living in Spain

A group of around 200 retired British nationals living in Spain have issued dramatic warnings after their homes built without planning permission have still not been granted the necessary protections. Many of the expats, like 72-year-old Linda House, were sold land 20 years ago and were advised that pending planning permission would be fine and it was “safe” to build on the land, only to find their new houses were deemed “illegal”. A toxic mix of historic planning failures, Spanish bureaucracy and a lack of help from the government has left them in a very precarious position. The elderly Britons claim they are being “punished” after their access to water and electricity was allegedly cut off by the local authorities. The pensioners, who live in the tiny area of Gea y Truyols in the Spanish region of Murcia, say that two decades after moving to Spain their dream homes are still not legal. In a letter to Murcia Town Hall sent earlier this year, and seen by, the group claims they have been waiting 18 to 19 years to get their properties legalised.

The expats write that they have had an “extremely stressful time” and that they are living in “third world country” conditions due to their lack of access to water and electricity.

Their letter, sent in February of this year, is yet to receive a response, according to the group.

Murcia Town Hall has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

Now, one of the expats has hit out at the EU over the bloc’s alleged lack of interest in their precarious living situation.

Linda House, 72, a retired company PA from Essex, told that reaching out to Brussels was a “complete waste of time”.

Linda (pictured below), who wrote the letter to the Town Hall on behalf of the expats, moved to Gea y Truyols in 2003.

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British expats in Spain blast EU's response to living conditions: 'Complete waste of time'

British expats in Spain blast EU’s response to living conditions: ‘Complete waste of time’ (Image: GETTY)

Expats: Retirees in Murcia blasted EU

Expats: Retirees in Murcia blasted EU (Image: LINDA HOUSE)

She said: “I’ve written to the EU. The EU is just a complete and utter waste of time as far as we’re concerned.

“There were articles in the newspapers here online about some MEPs who had tried to help people in Spain by taking their cases to the European Parliament.

“I’ve written to them, but nothing ever comes of it, because Spain just ignores the EU.

“They just do what they want, which is partly what’s so attractive about coming here, but in our situation it’s very frustrating.

“It’s just frustrating. I’m 72 years old. I’d like to be able to turn my tap on and use the water properly.”

Linda wrote the letter to the Town Hall on behalf of her and her neighbours, who have been blighted by planning issues and a lack of action by the Spanish authorities.

Keith Willis: Expat complained about conditions

Keith Willis: Expat complained about conditions (Image: Keith Willis)

Linda’s fellow Brits, who are living in a similar situation to her, include 71-year-old Keith Willis.

The former Heathrow Airport worker from Windsor is retired with his partner Pat in the Gea y Truyols area.

He told how the couple are forced to use “brown” tap water that is only intended for agricultural use.

Like Linda, because his home is not considered legal and is not on its own segregated plot, his access to basic utilities is restricted.

He said one of the main things he wants is “getting fresh water that we can actually drink or cook with because the water now being agricultural water – you can’t do much with it at all really.”

He added: “It comes out of the taps brown most of the time. So, fresh water will be the main thing.”

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Brown: Tap water at Keith's Murcia property

Brown: Tap water at Keith’s Murcia property (Image: Keith Willis)

For the last five years, Keith has used electricity from solar panels he had installed, however before that he did not have any supply at all.

Linda added: “We get no help from the UK with this situation. We’re being badly treated.

“You talk about human rights. We don’t have human rights, not really.

“We haven’t got the right to water. We haven’t got the right to warmth. We can’t even get the heating benefit.

View: Landscape of Gea y Truyols

View: Landscape of Gea y Truyols (Image: Keith Willis)

“It was six degrees here the other day. I still pay tax in the UK, but I can’t have a heating allowance.

“It’s just dreadful. We feel everywhere we go, we’re up against it.”

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We closely engage with the Spanish Government and regional governments on matters relating to UK Nationals’ rights.

“We encourage any UK National in need of consular assistance to get in touch with their nearest Embassy / Consulate or call the 24/7 phone line for support.”