| A TOWN council has threatened to close its accounts and withdraw its funds from any banks who repossess homes.
The mayor of Ares (A Coruña) – named, amusingly, Julio Iglesias – says he has written to all the local banks to inform them that if they evict any homeowner in the town, the local authority will withdraw its custom.
He has urged the mayors of all other towns, cities and villages in Spain to follow suit in a bid to discourage mortgage lenders from foreclosing and leaving families living on the street when they are unable to meet their monthly payments due to redundancy and the impossibility of finding a new job.
Iglesias, who is on the socialist party, says banks already have blood on their hands – two people in as many weeks have committed suicide as a result of their homes being repossessed, and a third attempted it and ended up in hospital.
All three were in their early 50s – the first being a man from Granada who hung himself, and the second a man from Burjassot (Valencia) who threw himself out of a third-floor window, but survived.
The latest case is Amaya Egaña from Barakaldo (Vizcaya), in the Basque Country, who jumped out of her fourth-floor window and died instantly.
“Banks foreclosing on mortgages have already caused two suicides,” says Iglesias.
In the meantime, the police union, SUP, has pledged to back up any officers who refuse to participate in the eviction process.
When homes are repossessed, it is the police who are sent to the property to force the owners out.
But for many years, the SUP has been getting contact from officers who do not want to do this on moral grounds.
The union says that, given the proliferation of evictions due to mortgage defaulting, it will not only give its full support to officers who refuse to take part, but will defend them in court if need be – even if the objecting policeman or woman is not a member of the SUP.
“If repossessing homeowners is going to create a conscience issue for any officer, they should tell us and we will help them,” says union leader José Manuel Sánchez Fornet.
He considers the law covering eviction and repossession to be 'harsh and unfair', and hopes that if police officers are able to refuse to carry it out without losing their jobs, the number of people losing their homes will decrease.
Until now, any member of the police force who declined to evict a non-paying homeowner would have been instantly struck off.