Living in Spain, warts and all

Posts tagged ‘licence’

A Week of Endings and Consternation

As far as anything can be considered conclusive in Spain, I have to say that this week has indeed been a week of endings.

On Wednesday I called at the caja (cashpoint) to draw some cash from our personal bank account, in the knowledge that the balance was getting perilously close to the edge. To my surprise, I was greeted with a balance reading some 3,500€ greater than expected. On investigation, I find that I have received my refund of IVA for the December quarter with more rapidity than expected.

My first item of consternation, though, is that the deposit has been made into my personal account. At the outset, I was instructed quite clearly by my assessor to open a dedicated business bank account, details of which he holds in relation to all business transactions. He has never had my personal account details. So how did that happen, then?

On Thursday I had a call from the oficina técnica to say that their inspectors would be calling on Friday to check that all works had been carried out in accordance with the submitted project documents. I therefore called the office of the engineers who carried out the sound tests, because their report was the only outstanding item from the “condiciones” list that details all necessary items for submission before the licencia de apertura can be issued. So Thursday evening (blimey! what efficiency!) this report was couriered to me. And I am pleased to report that we passed at every point and at every time of measurement. Result!

On Friday morning, when the three técnicos arrived from the ayuntamiento, I had all papers ready to submit.

One técnico (the oldest and clearly the most senior) hit us immediately with the complaint that we had not submitted plans to put up fencing or to put gravel down on the land within its perimeter. We pointed out that the fencing merely replaced old and rusty fencing that already existed in front of the kennels on the terrace edge. Also that gravel was required given that in wet weather the land would otherwise become nothing more than primaeval soup – as witnessed quite graphically by the state of his previously pristine quality leather shoes.

But he was having none of it. Apparently our ingeniero should have included in the project a detailed plan of the whole terrace area, rather than just the barn and the new runs in front of it. So we now have to submit further plans. Salvador, the ingeniero, thinks they are trying to expand the scope of the project so that they can hit us with extra licence fees …

The youngest of the técnicos scurried about with a camera, taking more pictures than even the most self-respecting wedding photographer – presumably so they have a full visual record and can therefore easily check at any point that we don’t sneak an extra brick into the finished product.

The third técnico sat down in the kennels office with me to go through the list of papers.

But his list bore absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to the one I received with my consent papers.

When I queried this, he blithely replied that these were all additional requirements. Oh! Forgive me! I have been so busy, what with the damned project and the chasing up of all things necessary according to the first list, that I have been sadly remiss in attending my bloody TELEPATHY LESSONS.

So I have to chase even more papers! The most ridiculous and potentially expensive of which is that I am now obliged to have a contract for cleaning with an authorised DDD business (desratizaciones, desinsectaciones, desinfecciones). This, on top of the contract for removal of poisonous residues, and the contract for removal of cadavers. I want to know if every other commercial dog kennels in this country have to fulfil this list too, or is it just me?

The general opinion amongst my friends (of all nationalities) is that the powers-that-be haven’t got the foggiest idea what is in fact required, given that nobody has ever before asked el iltmo ayuntamiento de Bullas for such a licence before, and so they are making it up as they go along, and are throwing everything possible at me just to cover their own backs.

Sounds highly plausible to me.

Anyway, I managed to get together the rest of the second list quite quickly- apart from the new plan from Salvador and the DDD contract, and a further fianza (deposit) that I have to lodge for the duration of the business (quite why, nobody can really explain to me). So I went back to the oficina técnica before close of play on Friday.

There, they also made me sign a document that stated the following:

The existing building does not respect the distance from boundaries required by (… relevant law) even though it  is considered out of ordenance (because it is older than the legislation). In these circumstances, I can only be granted a  provisional licence (eight years, they’ve given me).
For all this I pledge to stop using or to demolish the works and installations when the ayuntamiento requires it, explicitly renouncing any right to compensation.

Not particularly reassuring, is it?

As I was on the point of being dismissed, I lost my cool a little. I said that I really had no resources left to pay for more plans, or more contracts, or another fianza – that I need to begin to trade. I was, at this point, frustrated to the verge of tears.
Probably, therefore, because they really didn’t want to have to deal with a major hissy fit on my part in their offices so close to lunch time, I was at last given a document that stated that I could begin to trade immediately as long as I undertook to present the outstanding documents within one month.

HALLELUJAH!!

Two years and one month after I was first granted the right, in principle, to pursue this undertaking, I am finally
OPEN FOR BUSINESS.

I went into the police station (policía local) on Saturday morning, to ask if I needed a licence (or at least permission) to hold an open day for a new business on Sunday 22nd April.

The police officer on the desk, whom I have never seen before (he certainly wasn’t involved in the Mucky, Sticky and Loopy episode) looked me in the eye and said, “Oh, for the residencia canina de lujo?”
“Er, yes,” I replied tentatively, wondering how the hell he would know that.
“Very nice,” he continued, chattily. “Will you be running it on your own?”
I looked at him quizzically.
“I mean, with your husband being a fireman in the UK,” he explained.

OK, now I’m really afraid.

Un-bloody-believable

A quick mid-week post, if I may.

Or rant, rather. I do apologise if I’m becoming a crashing bore about the subject of opening a business in Spain and the impossibilities thereof, but I feel the world should know. Besides which, if I don’t hammer this into my keyboard to relieve the tension then my head will surely explode.

Today was the day of the sound testing in the new kennels. This, you may recall, is one of the absurd conditions that I am obliged to fulfil before the ayuntamiento will grant me my licencia de apertura.

So yesterday the firm I have paid to carry out the tests duly notified the Medioambiente (environment) powers-that-be 24 hours in advance, as required, and at 16:30 today I went to meet the engineer at the motorway exit to guide them in.

As we parked up at the barns and exchanged greetings and pleasantries, Inma (the engineer) commented that it was really quiet, and that she couldn’t actually hear any dogs.

“Errrr,” I said, trying to realign the cogs in my fast-fading brain. “That’ll be because it’s not open yet.”

She looked at me all cock-eyed. “But I spoke to the oficina técnica in Bullas last week to ascertain exactly what tests they require me to carry out. They said I was to test the noise of dogs you have in there!”

“But I can’t have dogs in there until I have the licence to open, and I can’t get that without the tests!!”

She looked perplexed. After some consideration, she then suggested that we could do one of two things. We could put my four dogs in the kennels for the night, measure their noise levels and extrapolate. Or she could go away and speak to the oficina técnica again tomorrow to enquire how exactly they wanted to test a business not yet open.

If we opt for the former, it would expedite matters but there is a possibility that they won’t be content with it and may ask for a second test (another 700€ cost to me!).  If we follow the second course of action, I will have to pay around 50€ for the extra journey undertaken by the engineer and the process will take longer. Of course, I should be able to look to the ayuntamiento to foot that, shouldn’t I?. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA JAJAJAJAJAJAJA (manic laughter in both english and spanish).

I asked if the instruction she had been given by the oficina técnica were verbal or written.

“Oh, verbal only,” she laughed. “Nobody in Spain writes things down if they can avoid it.”

It’s a no-brainer, then. I’ll pay the extra 50€ and she can challenge the oficina técnica tomorrow about their specific requirements. In writing. To be fair, bless her, she did say she’d accelerate the reporting to compensate for the delay.

About five minutes after she’d left, the policía local arrived to oversee the test (high national risk again, obviously) so I had to send them packing, too.

So the ayuntamiento have set me a circular problem. No licence, no dogs – no dogs, no test – no test, no licence.

They either have the brain of an amoeba or they are fiendishly clever. What do you reckon?

The Good, the Bad and the Snuggly

YAY! I finally have in my grubby little paw, as of last Thursday, a licencia de obras (building works licence).

It’s been a long time coming, so please forgive my excitement. And even at the last, the dragon in the Oficina Técnica made me run around the square and do fifty press-ups in each corner.

After signing in triplicate various statements and promises regarding public safety (hah!), site cleanliness (hah!), environmentally conscious disposal of all demolition waste (hah, again!), I was handed a precious form to take to the bank to pay the licence fees and a fianza (bond).

I made haste immediately to the bank and duly transferred loadsamoney into the account of the Ayuntamiento. I then returned to the Oficina Técnica to hand the dragon the receipted form in anticipation of the granting of the licence.

“Did you go to the Ayuntamiento?” she enquired.

“Er, no – why?”

“You need to go there first to show them this and to get a justificante (proof of payment) before I can issue the licence”.

“?” I said. “You are part of the Ayuntamiento and the bank tells me that you will know automatically that the transfer has been made”.

“Nonetheless”, she said, but didn’t expand upon it further. So I had to drive back to the Ayuntamiento (which is next door to my bank) and jostle for parking yet again, just to obtain a note from Sir to say that I had paid and could at last be permitted to receive the Holy Grail for which I have sweated for the best part of a year.

So now we can start officially on the transformation of the barns into luxury kennels. Which is good.

It is August. The temperatures have been touching 40º much of the time, and the sun has been beating down relentlessly from a cloudless azure sky. It was something of a pleasant relief yesterday, therefore, when rolling nebulosity brought in spatters of rain and some cooler, fresher currents: the plants and I all perked up considerably in direct response.

Today, however, has been another matter altogether.

It started with a misty plume hanging in the valley. At seven-thirty this morning it rendered the air almost cold, and I donned a cardigan to venture out with breakfast for the parrots. As I swept the flights, a watery sun broke through the haze and caressed the earth with warm fingers, imparting the promise of a bright and clear morning.

As the day wore on, the air became heavier and more ominous, and a portentous black billow swelled from the horizon, staining the sky like a bruise. Lightning flashes flared intermittently and thunder growled its choleric complaints. Suddenly, at around six o’clock, I was startled by the sound of bullets strafing the house, and was shocked to see hailstones like huge opaque marbles hurtling to the earth and rebounding to head height.

The ferocity of the bombardment was such that the ground was white within a matter of minutes. There was no time to protect, to save. Trees were being stripped of their foliage as I watched; ripe almonds and less mature olives were sheared rudely from their branches and dashed to the ground. The mass of hailstones, collecting on the canopies of the porch on the front terrace of the house, weighed heavily on the material, causing it to stretch and sag, and ultimately to part company with its support frame. The sails were left hanging forlornly as the culpable white balls slid in a great heap to the floor, knocking over the substantial outdoor hardwood chairs during their descent.

Swathes of debris from the camino above the house were swept down the driveway by the force of the hail-melt, leaving bands of  strewn stones and pine petioles. My car, exposed fully to the elements, suffered badly. Pocked and pitted by the icy precipitation, it now has an unbecoming hammered finish.

Dear friends Avril and Iain turned up at my gate within ten minutes of the assuaging of the storm, to lend extra hands and some gratefully received moral support. Between us we managed to drop the canopies without further damage, and to staple back the fly-screens that had been ripped bodily from the roof of the porch.

No-one could quite believe that we were witnessing such destructive climatic conditions in August, the height of summer. We mused that we should perhaps ready the nets in preparation for the rains of fish that we might next expect …

I spent some time last week soaking and deep-cleaning the parrot flights, the need for which effort has been completely negated by this weather. I did it in readiness for a couple of incoming parrots that are boarding with me while their owners Chris and Ken, friends from our previous place in Sucina (near the Mar Menor coast), holiday in Portugal.

The two boarders are a cute little cockatiel and an African grey. Oscar the cockatiel turned up uninvited one day on Chris’ doorstep and was named for Oscar Wilde. She has subsequently laid eggs. Mr Pedro, the grey, came to Chris as a pre-owned pet with a few issues, but who now adores both Chris and Ken and is (with them) a snuggly bird, giving kisses and cuddles on demand.

Not so with me, though, He hates the very ground upon which I walk and would tear out my throat given even a quarter of a chance. When I enter his flight, I do so with a strict choreographed dance routine to avoid having a faceful of parrot as he launches himself at me to claw out my eyes.

Pedro is an exceptional mimic, even for a grey. Ken spends a lot of time with him, teaching him phrases, songs, whistled tunes and so on. One of his favourite utterances is, “you’re lovely, are’n’cha?” However, such is his detestation for me that he can’t bring himself to say it in my presence. So he cuts it short, as a special gesture just for me – he glares at me, slits his eyes and says, loud and clear, “you’re lunch!”

Lucky me.

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