Brexpats in Spain, the Brexit support platform, has been hosting a series of informative talks aimed at the British communities living on the Costa del Sol. On Thursday 24 January, the panel of specialists, which included the British Consul for Andalucía and the Canary Islands, Charmaine Arbouin, arrived in Benalmádena.
The town's mayor, Víctor Navas, and councillor for Foreign Residents, Ana Scherman, were also present. The mayor offered words of comfort for the British residents, saying that they were "not only British, but citizens of Benalmádena and part of the community."
Ana Scherman expressed her concerns about the outcome of Brexit, claiming that she hoped that common sense would prevail and a sensible solution would be achieved. She reassured the local British community that the town hall was "right by their side".
The meeting was chaired by Anne Hernández, Brexpats President, and was attended by 200 people, who were advised on the possibilities of what a no-deal situation might mean and how to best prepare for the UK's exit from Europe. Hernández admitted that she "had no idea" what the future holds. She went on to express her gratitude to the Spanish authorities, saying, "I am quite certain that at the end of the day, Spain is going to defend us: we really do have Spain one hundred per cent on our side."
Clear advice from the consul
The British consul offered advice on the main areas that seemed to be causing the most confusion, like citizens' rights, pensions and healthcare, which, she stressed, have been prioritised in the withdrawal agreement. However, Arbouin warned of the possible dangers for British nationals who were not legally registered, advising everyone to make sure that they possess either the green credit-card-size or A4-size residents' registration certificate, as well as being recorded on the town hall padrón. She also suggested that British expats register their wish to vote in the municipal election at their local town hall before 30 January, a right that was secured in a bilateral agreement between UK and Spain last week.
"We still have no concrete answers, but we can be sure that if British residents are legally registered, then little will change at the moment. The Spanish government and local town halls are working to ensure that citizens' rights do not change. Equally, it is your legal obligation to register correctly if you live here permanently," the consul stressed.
Worried locals had the chance to air their concerns after the talk, when Anne, Charmaine, several financial specialists and a representative from HM Revenue and Customs were on hand to answer questions.
David and Heather from Hampshire, who both voted for the UK to leave the EU, have lived in Benalmádena for five years and they claimed that a no-deal situation would not do Britian much harm.
"I voted for Britain, not for myself. The problem is the negotiators. We should tell the EU that we are leaving in March, take it or leave it. We managed perfectly well before we joined 40 years ago," David said.
Ian and Janet have lived in Benalmádena for 16 years. The couple voted to remain and claim that they are losing faith in the government to secure a decent deal that will not affect their rights.
"We didn't want to leave in the first place, but I think there will be a lot of people who will feel betrayed by the shambles at the moment. It's hard to see how those that wanted to leave can have any confidence inTeresa May to deliver a satisfactory result," Janet said.
Hernandez and Arbouin headed to Mijas on Thursday evening in order to host another meeting.