BRITAIN’S new Ambassador to Spain has called on the Spanish Government to end uncertainty for British expats living in Spain, while pledging his own commitment to protecting the most vulnerable during his first visit to Malaga.
Simon Manley cited the need to support Brits who, having been mis-sold homes, are now faced with eviction.
The Ambassador said: “We’re seeing an upturn in the Spanish property market, but if the Spanish government wants to make a success of that they need to address uncertainty. And there are solutions in the hands of authorities to stop these sorts of problems from re-occurring.”
“I’ve heard some heart-rendering stories. People have made a choice to come here, they love Spain, but have now been left vulnerable. Now, the power isn’t in our hand to change that, but we can work with these people to influence those who do have the power.”
He said his aim was ´to get the truth on the ground, see how we are progressing and to make sure provision is focused on the most vulnerable people, by making sure they are as well informed and protected as they can be.´
Manley’s comments signal a change in focus for the embassy. His predecessor, Giles Paxman, faced criticism in the past for neglecting Brits in Spain and focusing too much on trade deals instead.
The embassy has even stepped up its engagement with social media in an attempt to reach more of the ex-pat population.
He said: “These days, whether we are young, or just young at heart, we are all going digital. Our new Facebook and Twitter channels are the perfect way for Brits living in Spain to get more information about the issues that matter, and to comment on them so that we can engage better with our nationals living abroad.”
“I would really encourage Brits in Spain to search out our new channels, ‘like’ or ‘follow’ them, and reap the benefits of a new way of communicating with each other and with us.”
Manley also identified fostering economic cooperation between the UK and Spain as one of his most important tasks.
He pointed to the success of the ‘unlucky thirteen’ joint-operation launched by UK and Spanish police, which aims to round up British criminals hiding in southern Spain.
One of the suspects, sex offender Michael McCartney, was arrested within hours of the launch of the campaign.