By Humphrey Carter PALMA

THE article published in the Bulletin on Tuesday which revealed that one in five European residents living in Spain are retired and not registered with their town hall has not come as a surprise to the local authorities.

Yesterday, Calvia Councillor for Foreign Affairs, Kate Mentink, said that she found the report extremely interesting but was forced to admit that she was not shocked by the findings of the study carried out by Spain's leading think tank, the Real Instituto Elcano.

Mentink explained that EU residents who spend 183 days or more in Spain during a calendar year, are obliged to register with their town hall. “The report makes it clear that it is not only British retirees who are ignoring their obligations, but I often get the impression that British residents of all ages coming to live in Spain feel that signing on at the town hall is some kind of ‘Big Brother's watching you' because in Britain they are not required to do so. However, every other country in the EU requires new residents to register with the local authority so that councils know who and where people live. “Perhaps if they did that in Britain the authorities would have a better grip on immigration...” she added. “I know some people don't want to register for fiscal reasons or, as the report states, because they want to live in Spain anonymously, but in today's Europe, it's impossible to hide in Spain.

TAX OFFICES “If the tax offices want to trace someone they can via an interconnected EU data bank, they're not going to look at local council padrons (registers),” Mentink stressed. “But, apart from being obligatory, many elderly residents who never registered are now regretting it. “We're getting cases everyday at the council of foreign residents who may have lost a partner or need medical or home care or some other form of social assistance. “But, if they're not registered we can't help and can only point them in the direction of the local charities and care associations. “It not only increases the pressure on them but the local councils too because our annual budgets from regional and central government are calculated on the population and in many cases, local councils with a high population of foreign residents are not getting the money they really need to cover all the municipal services because a certain percentage of the population is not registered and therefore, as far as the regional and central governments are concerned, don't exist. “If everyone registered, the councils would get the correct amount of funding needed and therefore be able to offer more and better services,” she added. “So, to be quite honest, there's nothing to gain by not registering,” she underlined. “Those who don't miss out on travel discounts, health care, social welfare services, help for those on low incomes, sheltered housing everything a rate and local tax payer is entitled to everywhere else in the EU,” Mentink explained. The Councillor also highlighted that no Spanish or regional political party or government is going to pay too much attention to foreign residents if they are not registered.