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Albufeira demolitions: “Council meeting raises many more questions than it answered”

A council meeting last week has left the 66 Olhos de Água residents in danger of losing their homes in “just as much turmoil” as ever. There is no solution on the horizon weeks before a judicial order to demolish an entire block of apartments and the top floor of another reaches its deadline (click here).

The irony in this situation is that it appears that only the innocent are being targeted.

The council executive that caused the problem is long gone – and it is not even known if any kind of judicial recourse is likely.

As one of the homeowners involved told us: “The whole thing is surreal. We have all had sleepless nights. You cannot imagine what this has done to us. I have been working so hard to try and stop this happening that I was informed last week that my work contract was not being renewed. I haven’t managed to reach my sale targets”, he explained. “I wonder who could work normally with this kind of pressure hanging over them”.

The Resident has repeatedly tried to contact Albufeira council over this story, which harks back to the era of former mayor Desidério Silva, now in charge of Região de Turismo do Algarve (RTA).

Current Mayor Carlos Sousa e Silva has repeatedly failed to answer our queries, while a spokesman for RTA has said that Desidério Silva will not be answering any questions either.

In Caldas da Rainha, where the builder implicated in the scandal has his business there was also zero willingness to answer any questions. Every time the Resident has called the offices of Luís Joaquim Canas, he has been out – and there has never been a reply to our many requests for a call back.

When the story first broke, Albufeira’s mayor was quoted as telling Diário de Notícias that the residents had “to look out for their own rights”.

As householder Rui Santos has since told us, this could involve a legal suit for compensation of over €5 million.

Again, the bottom line would be that “innocent people” suffer, as the money would come, one way or another from local ratepayers.

“You cannot imagine what a case like this would mean to Albufeira”, Santos explained. “It would affect every single council service and the people paying in the end would, of course, be every single citizen”.

Since Silva e Sousa’s remarks over residents looking out for their own rights, however, the council is understood to have hired outside legal help to try and trounce the judicial order.

“From what we were told at the meeting, the council have lodged two actions in a bid to throw this court order out”, Santos told us.

“Those of us who went to the meeting asked lots of questions, and to be honest, there were not many answers.

“We still don’t know what is going to happen – though the council at least admitted it is liable over compensation”.

The only glimmer on the horizon is that Santos said he felt “more hopeful now” that a solution could be reached.

“We can see we have lots of support and that there is a lot of pressure now to overturn the judicial ruling.

“But our questions as to why the council left things to go this far without telling any of us got no proper answer at all”.

As explained in our lead story at the beginning of August, Loule’s administrative court ruled that planning illegalities dating back to 2004 have to be corrected on pain of the council executive being fined €25-a-day for every day that it does not comply.

A deadline has been set for November, and the clock remains ticking.

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