“Theatrical power couple” Paul Roseby and James Tod have been given the news they were dreading: the demolition order imposed on their dream Algarve home is legal.
The news, coming from Loulé’s fiscal and administrative court, means bulldozers can move in on the seaside property from August 1.
But the men refuse to go quietly.
They claim the demolition order is a “disproportionate act of aggression”, and they are now considering “suing the State for prejudicial discrimination”.
At the same time, they have thrown down a challenge to Olhão mayor António Pina to turn round his executive’s “ineptitude” and “resolve this insane and critical situation” before time runs out.
The Resident covered this story in March (click here), explaining that National Youth Theatre CEO Paul Roseby and his Broadway producer partner James Tod received all the necessary building permissions for their eco-friendly rebuild on the Ria Formosa island of Armona from Pina’s council.
Throughout the process they have been paying council taxes and utility charges.
In February however the pair received a letter from Portuguese environment agency APA saying their home had in fact been built on State (Public Maritime) land – over which Olhão council has no jurisdiction – and must therefore be demolished.
The letter was signed by APA director Sebastião Teixeira – locally reviled for his zeal in demolishing island properties along Ria Formosa.
As Roseby and Tod have repeatedly explained, theirs is not the only home that has crossed what they call the ‘invisible, out-of-date line’ that cuts through Armona island. But it is the only home that APA has slapped with a demolition order.
Back in March, the men said the stance smacked of discrimination because they are gay.
This week Roseby reiterated: “We remain the ONLY owners with such aggressive action taken against us” even though there are “roughly 140 properties” on the wrong side of the invisible line.
“We of course recognise the Loulé judge has acted within the interpretation of the law”, he said. But it opens a Pandora’s Box less than three months before fiercely-contested municipal elections.
For a start, it suggests Olhão council had no right to issue licences and permissions for that stretch of Armona – and that in doing so, it could well be liable to hefty claims for compensation.
Worse, Roseby says, is “the message the whole mess projects: that what is deemed legal by one administration can be thrown out by another in 21st century Portugal”.
“This story will inevitably prevent other European investment in the Eastern Algarve, and other parts of the country”, Roseby told us.
“What a shameful message to Europe and beyond as Portugal parades itself as an advanced modern democracy.
“Sadly we now know to our emotional and financial cost that this is simply not the case”.
Very well-connected with international media – it was The London Magazine that described the pair as “something of a theatrical power couple. Paul is a writer, director and broadcaster as well as being artistic director of the National Youth Theatre; while James is a Broadway and West End producer, who’s latest show, Flashdance – The Musical, played to packed houses in 2010” – Roseby and his partner are also planning some targeted ‘revenge’.
“We have no choice now but to go to UK and European press highlighting our injustice and the prejudicial action taken against us resulting in an attack on our human rights”, he said, adding “I do not want this to happen to any other foreign investor or home maker in the future, so all our endeavours will, I’m afraid, be focused outside of Portugal to prevent innocent victims like us being caught in an unjust (but supposedly legal) nightmare.
The pair will also be approaching the British Foreign Office, with a view to getting it too to spread the word.
“It is our strong and considered opinion that Pina and his local government must start acting seriously NOW on our behalf and to prevent the inevitable loss of 140 homes on Armona”, Roseby concluded in an email.
“Pina has until August 1st to appeal to APA and all central Government departments and members of his own political party to resolve this insane and critical situation”.
The clock is ticking. August 1 a little over a week away.
Photo: not yet complete, the island ‘paradise’ into which Paul Roseby and James Tod have already ploughed many thousands of euros.