A wide range of topics and issues were raised and discussed during Tuesday’s Bulletin breakfast meeting between the British Ambassador, Simon Manley, his consular team and leading local authorities, including the vice-president of the Balearics, the minister for tourism, Biel Barceló, at the Bulletin offices in Palma.
The ambassador repeated his message to expatriates that those entitled to vote in the EU referendum should register to do so. He pointed out that out of the 282,000 British expatriates registered with their local town halls in Spain, only 11,000 have so far registered to vote in June’s referendum, a figure he would like to see increase significantly.
The Council of Majorca’s councillor for finance and the economy, Cosme Bonet, expressed his desire to see British expatriates integrate with the local community more and all parties around the table agreed.
The Consul General, Lloyd Milen, spoke of how on the mainland British expatriates are getting involved with helping the Red Cross: not only to aid fellow Britons in need but members of the local community at large. This is proving extremely successful and something which could perhaps be introduced here in Majorca.
Bonet and Milen agreed that the Council of Majorca and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office could cooperate on proving more services and assistance to the expatriate community.
The Council of Majorca’s tourism director, Maria Paula Ginard, talked about how in Arta, for example, groups of expatriates from across Europe are involved in language sharing groups while the director of the foreign citizens' department in Calvia, Dolina Reynolds, was keen to underline the good work which the British community does in raising funds for local charities but which often goes unrecognised. She also raised the issue of the return of the photo ID resident card but that remains a matter for central government in Madrid.
It was not just one way traffic during the meeting. The local authorities agreed that more could perhaps be done here in Majorca by the locals to improve their language skills in order to make British visitors and other English-speaking holidaymakers feel more comfortable and ensure that they all have a good experience: the mayor of Calvia, Alfonso Rodriguez, suggested this. He and Biel Barceló both said that they were encouraged by the overall improvement in the behaviour of young holidaymakers in Magalluf last year and while stressing that a greater police presence on the streets and tougher municipal laws helped, so too did having British police in the resort. This is something Calvia and the government would like to see repeated but for a longer duration this summer.