New foreign resident's office in centre of Torremolinos aims to help expats integrate

The new foreign resident's office also houses the tourist office and the cultural department.
The new foreign resident's office also houses the tourist office and the cultural department. / T. B.
  • Since taking over in 2015, the council has instigated numerous changes to the town and one of their priorities has been the expat community

Torremolinos town hall has installed a new Foreign Residents Department in the town centre. Although the office, which also houses the tourist and culture departments, was opened 18 months ago, the foreign resident's department has only recently been inaugurated.

The new offices in Plaza de Andalucía, which are open between 9am and 1.30pm, will provide help and support to expats dealing with the important aspects of living in Spain. Currently, the service is available in just English and Spanish, but they will soon be able to attend enquiries in French, Italian and German.

Since taking over in 2015, the PSOE council has instigated numerous changes to the town and one of its priorities has been the expat community. The town hall has acknowledged the importance of this new office and has promised to bring it in line with the services offered by other towns in the province.

Aida Blanes, councillor for foreign residents, is overseeing the new office, along with the assistance of María José Carmona Márquez, the informative administrator of the department.

"The project is in the early stages, but we hope to soon offer a full and efficient service. We have many ideas, but we hope people will tell us what they need, because we are here to serve them," María José explained to SUR in English.

The department is considering a number of possible initiatives to help expats integrate. These include information in English on the town hall's website and an English language news and information programme on Torremolinos Television.

Foreign residents can also volunteer to help create an extensive service. The department has plans to organise English speakers to help students with their studies, or with interpreter services at police stations and local health centres.

"Most residents have many questions when they arrive in a new country, like opening a bank account, the health system and registering their children at a local school. We will also offer residents information concerning local taxes, laws and anything necessary for those who live here permanently," María José said.

Although the padrón is still dealt with in the town hall, the new office will advise local expats about the benefits of registering correctly, something the British must consider before March 2019, Maria José pointed out

"We know that some of our foreign residents might be worried about Brexit. The only advice we can give with any certainty is that they must have a legal residents permit and be registered on the census; that way they will be able to continue living here worry free," she declared.

Residents from the EU who are already on the padrón in Torremolinos no longer need to re-register every five years, as the town hall has implemented a new monitoring system. However, those from outside of Europe must re-register every two years.

"Aside from the Brexit question, the padrón is extremely important for the town hall, seeing as its annual budget is based on these figures. Obviously the higher our budget the better services we can offer our residents, María José explained.

She also pointed out the padrón does not offer an accurate figure, as there are still many expats who have not registered. According to the January 2018 census poll, more than 150 nationalities live in Torremolinos and they make up 25 percent of the population. After the 1,860 Moroccan residents, the British are the second largest community in the town, with 1,665 people registered.

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