“Coming AND going”, says Bill Webb, and he should know because his company, Webb’s Removals, is quite often the one to move them on and off the island. Webb’s was established in 1985 when it was just Bill and a transit van, now Webb’s Removals has more than thirty vehicles and with two depots, one in the UK which is run by Gareth and Dawn Webb and one here in Majorca. It’s a family business with a staff team of 25 which has seen its fair share of challenges over the years, not least of all 2020, coronavirus and now… Brexit is looming. I spoke to Bill last week in his depot in Son Bugadelles to get a real feeling of what is going on, are we seeing an influx or an exodus?
Q.— Vicki McLeod: I’ve noticed a big trend in Facebook groups of English speaking people announcing their intentions to come to the island to live with their family, often with young children. Has that been your experience?
A. —Bill Webb: “Definitely in the summer we saw a lot of people moving over. We tripled our capacity in the summer. People are moving out of the cities, they want somewhere to live where there is some space. If they aren’t moving to the countryside in the UK, then they are moving to France or Spain. I’m seeing a lot of young blood, that’s for sure.
Q.— VMc: But these are people with some money I think, rather than ones who are moving over and looking for work in a bar or something like that.
A. —BW: “Yes, right now, the “top shelf” are moving out here. The five, ten million plus houses, that part of the market has been very busy.
Q.— VMc: As a second home or as a permanent move?
A. — BW: “Some of them have been permanent moves and a lot of people are planning on commuting because there is so much uncertainty because of the virus, nobody really knows what is happening.
Q.— VMc: You have to have a certain budget in order to buy on the island.
A. — BW: “Yes, the cost of property here… someone once said to me, that’s not the Meditteranean sea around Majorca, that’s a moat to keep out the peasants!
Q.— VMc: Have you seen any trends in people moving away?
A. — BW: “Not so many people are moving from Majorca to the mainland: a year ago we saw a lot of people selling their property on the island and then buying something cheaper on the mainland and living off the profit from the sale.
Q.— VMc: Where else do you deliver to?
A. — BW: “We have had deliveries all over the world, we work as a freight company and vehicle transport business as well. Can you guess which is our second most popular destination?
Q.— VMc: Err… Minorca?
A. — BW: “Nope, New Zealand! We have had several deliveries there this year, moving members of the yachting community back to their homelands.
Q.— VMc: And where is the most popular place in Majorca for people to move to right now?
A. —BW: “Alaro. Some people would say Calvia, but it is Alaro that is very hot at the moment.
Q.— VMc: Your business would normally be quite seasonal I suppose, given that the island itself sees people coming for the holiday season and then going again.
A. —BW: “Yes, normally we’d see April, May, June coming over, September, October, November going back, January, February the reforms when we are shipping over kitchens etc.
Q.— VMc: What’s a general turnaround time for you, from when someone makes an enquiry to you moving them?
A. — BW: “We’ve had people ringing us up on the Friday wanting to move on the following Wednesday! We have the infrastructure and equipment to cope with those sort of last minute requests, but normally there is more planning involved.
Q.— VMc: And you don’t just move homes for people, you also deliver all kinds of other stuff…
A. — BW: “A lot of people who live on the island prefer to buy their furniture, their sofas, their beds, from their home country and bring it to Majorca. Even though Majorca has got a lot better with what it has here, it’s not just the Brits, it’s the Germans, the French. So up until now we have also been bringing over people’s purchases for them, I can imagine some of this will change once Brexit has happened due to the potential import taxes.
Fast forward from our chat to the announcement this week by the British Government on their intention to introduce a de facto Brexit border. Lorry drivers will need a “Kent access permit” to get into the county from 1 January with “police and ANPR cameras [automatic number plate recognition]” enforcing the system. Drivers, British or foreign, who are travelling, for instance from depots in the Midlands, will need to get a permit before they arrive in Kent if they intend to board a ferry or Eurotunnel train. This time I call Bill on the phone, he picks up, he’s quoting for a job in Selva but spends five minutes on the phone with me.
Q.—VMc: How do you feel about the decision on the border?
A. —BW: “I am happy that we are getting some information now about what we will be expected to provide. Hopefully this will cut down waiting times as we pass between the countries, I imagine anyone without the correct paperwork will just be turned away. I wish that we could have some time to assimilate the rules which we have been waiting for, instead of getting them now with not long to go before the end of the year.
Q.— VMc: And the trend for people to move here? Is that continuing?
A. —BW:” There is still a lot of uncertainty, and when people aren’t sure they tend to go home, just today I have been to price up three jobs, all of which are people going back to the UK from Pollensa. People who have lived here even thirty years or so are heading to the UK because they don’t know what is coming. It’s never dull in the lives of Webb’s Removals that’s for certain!
You can contact Bill on (0034) 61924783 or email him firstname.lastname@example.org