PHOTOS: H. Carter THE new British Consulate was officially opened by Lord Triesman, the Parliamentaty Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Office, yesterday who hailed the new office as the model for an improved and modern global consulate service.

Accompanied by the newly appointed British Ambassador to Spain, Denise Holt, the Consul General and the British Consul Paul Abrey, Lord Triesman said that the new one-million euro Consulate “is a clear indication how determined the British government is to maintain and improve its consular services in the Balearics.” Lord Triesman also used yesterday's inauguration of the new consulate, which he said “sets the standards” the British government hopes all British consulates around the world will eventually meet, to announce two important new services Britain's consular network in Spain is now offering the British community in Spain.

The first is the nationwide Age Concern telephone help line operated from a new office inside the British Consulate in Palma, while the second has involved the opening of two Ministry for Pensions and Employment offices in Alicante and Malaga offering pensions advice, assistance and payment help.

Lord Triesmen said that the new Consulate, the Age Concern and pensions services are all part of a strategy to significantly expand and improve the services provided by the British government to its citizens living and holidaying in Spain.

Lord Triesman, on his first official visit to the Balearics, paid tribute to Paul Abrey and his staff for the excellent work they carry out looking out for the 50.000-plus British residents who live in the Balearics and the 3.4 million Britons who come to the region ion holiday each year.

Lord Triesman explained that, coming from the private sector, Abrey has been able to bring professional experience and know-how to the consular service and that the initiative to recruit directly from new areas such as banking and finance is proving successful is establishing a modern and efficient consular service.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by leading members of the British community such as William Graves, Robert Winsor MBE and the president of ESRA, Dorothy Leoffler, as well as Pedro. A. Serra, the chairman of the Bulletin publishing group, Grupo Serra.

The Central Government Delegate to the Balearics, Ramon Socías, the acting Minister for Immigration, Encarnación Pastor, Palma City Councillor Joana Maria Borras, in representation of the newly appointed Mayor Aina Calvo, and representatives from the National Police and the Guardia Civil also attended.