An open letter to Los Claveles owners from Martin Plastow, Villa 66 & 34, Weeks 23 & 24
Following the recent release and communication from the Club Chairman, and Committee members regarding the up and coming AGM arranged for Saturday 27th April 2019 and its associated calling papers, I feel it is both important, and essential to write an open letter. This said letter, at my request, has been sent to the Club Chairman, with my permission to disseminate and share openly with all LC club owners complying with GDPR, as well as the predominant reason of information sharing for those owners who don’t have the email or internet access.
Hopefully after reading my open letter the main stream Club owners, who like myself have been following this current dispute with immense interest for nearly four years, will decide to give full continuing support or, start to support the Committee, who work tirelessly on our behalf. My letter’s content will hopefully be thought provoking and enlightening, putting into context my thoughts as a regular owner, at the same time assisting those owners yet to show support to the legal representative body, this being the current our Owners Club Committee.
It’s not without question or to be denied that this dispute has been going on far too long. It has been protracted in timescale for all owners. It has dragged on because of Ona/WimPen’s non-compliance with directives, flouting laws and awards, and most importantly, with a total disregard for and contempt of all owners. Pre-orchestrated obstacles have slowed down rightful progression of court processes which has had various negative effects on us said owners. I will cover this further within my letter.
So how did we get to this current position? As we are all aware Onagrup purchased from Ivan Pengelly the WimPen management contract. The question is, did they think they were buying the resort? We can only speculate, but my opinion is yes, it’s possible. As a new company holding the administration management role, and with a reputation later to be discovered of being dogmatic and irrational, either implementing or attempting to implement change without discussion or dialogue with our elected Committee which quickly became a big concern for many owners. As we are aware, as a result of these concerns the Committee served notice on Ona / WimPen, subject to ratification by members at the June 2015 AGM, that the administration management contract would be terminated. This is when Onagrup started to show its true colours via actions which can only be described as bullish and intimidating towards both Committee members and owners alike. The general consensus, and the main concern, was that owners would lose control / ownership of the their resort. For those owners who have not either registered or read the bulletins/ updates and reports regarding these important issues it would be very prudent to register ownership on the owners website and take time to read balance reports and bulletins held there.
After months of fruitless negotiation with Onagrup and Trustee FNTC following the 2015 AGM we, as owners then progressed to arbitration to resolve the dispute on the back of Ona / WimPen’s decision not to vacate our resort, effectively acting as squatters. From the outset of arbitration ONA/WimPen stated that they would abide by the outcome. Arbitration was lengthy, methodical, and conducted in Scotland, as the Club’s Constitution is governed by Scots law. The arbitration process was conducted by a respected and proficient member of the Law Society of Scotland. The crux of the results of the arbitration was that Ona/WimPen was directed to hand back the Club’s Membership Register, money held within accounts, and associated property. We as owners thought ‘great, normality can return, we can enjoy our holidays’. How wrong we were. Ona/WimPen appealed to the Court of Session, the High Court in Scotland. The outcome? Ona / WimPen lost. The arbitration award was confirmed. “Ok, enough’s enough, they now have to comply’. In layman’s terms, they have ‘chanced their arm’ at an appeal and lost. It’s over now, abide by the court. Did they? Well, the answer as we all know is NO.
The arbitration award did not have any impact on the behaviour or actions of Ona/WimPen. Again and again they refused to comply, despite giving their word at the outset to abide by the outcome of arbitration. So left without any, or little, option the dispute, and associated non-compliance, was taken to the Spanish Supreme court of Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. The court ordered that the arbitration award be recognised in full, overruling Onagrup’s objections, and passed it to the Court of Arona in Los Cristianos to enforce. Yet again, Onagrup intends to object to the enforcement as a last ditch attempt to avoid honouring a judgement that was made on 1 August 2017, over 19 months ago. They continue to act unofficially as the Administrator for the Club pending – you guessed it – yet another court appeal. This time it’s against the December 2018 Arona Court order to cease collecting payments without a contract that expired on 2nd May 2017.
I implore to owners again to visit the owners web site and read all relevant documentation, this will give you a full factual and comprehensive outline of this dispute.
During this dispute I was open minded, taking the time to listen to all, with differing opinions and suggestions: some reflective, others provoking, some even verging on fantasy, making accusations without substance. I joined social media sites and associated owners’ forums where passions run high, mine included. It became apparent that owners fell into two groups, pro and anti-committee. Mudslinging between the two was prevalent, and tempers even frayed. A really sad state of affairs, but putting all this to one side, I decided to try to resolve the impasse.
I personally sent three emails to WimPen requesting information, asking for common ground in an attempt to resolve this dispute. For whatever reason all my emails were unanswered. I will leave you to have your own opinions on this and the reasons why. I then changed direction and turned to my attention to the ‘new kid on the block, Roger Barrow. His stated intentions from the outset of his involvement was to attempt to find, like me, common ground to assist a settlement to the dispute. I took time to have correspondence with the said gentleman. Emails were exchanged, but there was little progress. The content of these emails will remain confidential as per his request and his right, but I will state that questions raised by myself were on the whole un-answered and I still await answers, after a statement from him saying that he would put my questions to Ona/ WimPen.
I was also party to information that was not confidential, as many owners knew about it, that there was to be a meeting in Tenerife between the said gentleman and Ona/WimPen representatives. I contacted him again, and offered to meet with them at my expense to discuss relevant issues independently, acting as either a mediator or go-between. Having had vast experience whilst working for the Civil Service within areas of mediation between Unions and departments within the Civil Service, it was a surprise to me that my offer was declined. To be honest I was surprised that they had turned down an opportunity of potential progression. This would have been based on what I believed to be constructive and forward thinking and an avenue of possible movement. I am an owner, and also have power of attorney for weeks owned by family members, under both Club and Escritura ownership. I feel that owners have suffered enough. They have suffered by way of lost holidays, suffered from intimidation, perceived threats, stress, and anxiety. Some have even given up, due to age and not having the will or stamina to challenge any longer, sadly handing their weeks back.
Based on all the information available from both sides, from the owners’ website, forums, and substantiated evidence, my full support is given to the current Chairman and Committee of the Club. We as owners have been treated with contempt by Ona/WimPen and used as a pawn in their ruthless game to control the resort. It is our resort, NOT the management company employed to be an Administrator. They appear to have forgotten that they are there to work for us the owners, take direction from our committee, those legally elected to act on our behalf. We have come this far, over nearly four years of this dispute. We have endured, and definitely taken the rough without any smooth. Our Committee has won so much on our behalf within the courts. We are very close to a successful conclusion. I implore you to fully support the Committee to finish what we instructed them to do on our behalf. We have won considerable gains by occupying the moral high ground and sticking to our principles. Please give the Committee the support they deserve, working long, tireless hours against a ruthless, predatory company that has:
- Failed to hand back our database of owner contact details. Why? Because not complying with the arbitrator’s order denies the Committee the means of contacting all members to give them balanced explanation of this dispute from the Committee prospective and stance. By not handing back this database Ona/WimPen hold a balance of play within the area of communication and can use this to manipulate events to suit their advantage.
- Failed to hand back money from accounts belonging to the Club owners.
- Failed to cease demanding maintenance payments with menaces from Club owners after the management contract expired on 2 May 2017.
- Refused owners entry into their villas having established they have paid the legal and correct body, the Club.
- Refused multiple requests from an owner, as per his constitutional right, the facility to view accounts, covering such areas as rentals and resort running costs.
- Refused to stop issuing ownership certificates for sales generated by ONA/WimPen after their management contract expired on 2 May 2017
- Illegally accepted weeks handed back by Club owners despite there being no provision for surrender of weeks in the Club Constitution.
Turning to the resolutions made by Club members Cooke and Thirkell:
Resolution 8: Firstly any form of vote regarding proposed changes or request for Committee members to stand down cannot be listed as a vote of no confidence. Procedurally, it can only be listed as a vote of confidence that either succeeds or fails. Why is this? As stated by the two individuals proposing the resolution, our Committee has not led us down a route that is both unnecessary and acrimonious, causing distress and anxiety with no resolution. This is pure fabrication. I, along with many other owners, support with confidence both the Chairman and Committee members. This support and confidence is reflected in past AGMs & SGM. Based on this I strongly oppose both Mr Cooke’s & Mr Thirkell’s submitted agenda resolution. The Committee cannot be personally held responsible for this course of action as they were instructed by members at a legal AGM. They were given a mandate to act on behalf of owners in the challenge to remove Ona/ WimPen from Club Administration following the expiry of their management contract.
No intimidation letters have been either raised or sent to owners regarding demands of maintenance payments. Generalised communications have been released informing owners of the correct body to pay and process invoices. Confirmed letters from Committee members to both Ona/WimPen and the DOA President requesting invoices for payment of the running costs of the resort have been ignored. Owners who have been forced by Ona/WimPen to make second payments of maintenance fees to them have been supported by Committee members in this process. Special note should be made and raised regarding ONA/WimPen authority to collect payments and whose instructions and authority they are following to deny Club members access into villas. As reported in the Arona Court judgement Ona/WimPen are acting on instructions from the DOA President. Is this to bolster up the community account? Why does he not fulfil his role and responsibility to uphold the DOA Statutes by instructing Ona/WimPen to issue the Club Administrator with an invoice for the Club’s share of the common services charge for the resort? The committee has not instigated an owner-against-owner situation; a small group of owners exercising their right to disagree with the current Committee has. They have set themselves up as an independent group, but have aligned themselves with, and support, Ona/WimPen. Through a web based forum site they communicate with unsubstantiated or non-evidential information. They have encouraged owners to disregard the Statutes and Constitution, a governing legal document that protects owners from the type of company they support.
The Committee has not encouraged owners to fraudulent recover fees made by credit card payment. I find it a personal affront that ageing family members have been accused of this process. Any refund recovered has been deemed by the credit card company and associated bank as correct, relevant and supported. Owners contacting the Committee regarding enforced second payments to Ona/WimPen have had their individual cases discussed, and based on needs, they have had all the options explained to them. Owners like myself and family members make their own decision. If there were any element of fraud associated in the recovery process, the said credit card company would have stated that and stopped recovery. What they have done is support owners by conducting their own investigations, and have recognised that the process of payment demands by Ona/WimPen has not been justified. I presume this is why Ona/WimPen has now stopped taking credit card payments. If there is any worry or concern from the President or the Administrator of the DOA about having sufficient funds to run the resort, then they should have responded to the Committee’s letters requesting an invoice for the Club’s share of the common parts service charge. But to repeat, these letters have been ignored.
Regarding Club member suspensions, the correct process and action by the Committee was followed in conducting this course of action. Any owner who incites and encourages other owners to disregard Statutes and the legal Constitution, and if proven, makes allegations or accusations that are unproven, untrue or unfounded will be subject to suspension under the Club Constitution. And if this action is taken the owner suspended loses the right to exercise a vote at any meeting.
Regarding finances, at a time of active dispute, it would be regarded as extremely foolish and reckless for the Committee to release any form of financial report that would be given to, and viewed by the company with whom the Club is in dispute, i.e. Ona/WimPen. I, like other owners, support the Club’s democratic decision not to proceed with any release of financial information until this dispute is settled / resolved. I would also point out for the benefit of owners who may be unaware, Ona/WimPen have refused member requests to view and inspect the Club’s accounts. These requests have been placed on numerous occasions and all have been declined or unanswered. I record for note my continued support of the Committee in all their dealings and actions on this subject.
With regard to resolution 10, for the DOA President or an independent moderator chair the Club AGM, what utter foolish bunkum. It is with utter disbelief, and personally hard to comprehend, why we should vote for this process. Firstly, do the two gentlemen proposing this resolution not take note that the awards, directives, etc. from arbitration were completely independent, with the Arbitrator himself being completely independent and highly respected within his field. To suggest the DOA President carry out this role, based on the conflict of interest he has regarding the position he holds within WimPen, he is most definitely not independent. Cast your mind back to the most recent Escritura/DOA AGM where due process was not followed, and voting representation of Club owners was denied, Ona/WimPen was awarded a six year contract by the DOA on the back of votes placed by only 1.8% of the whole Los Claveles community! Points from the floor were not entertained and individuals denied the opportunity to speak. Based on this, my continued support is with Mr Fletcher, who will have my vote along with the proxy votes I represent, and my permission to publish my letter on the owners website.
Martin Plastow (Villa 66 & 34, Weeks 23 & 24) sent by email 25th March 2019