THE OLIVE PRESS’S campaign to allow Brits without a Spanish licence back on the road is gathering momentum.
Scott Marshall, the Councilor of Tourism, Immigration, Communication and Local Development in Benahavis on Spain’s Costa del Sol is also taking up our cause.
“I am amazed there are agreements with almost all other EU countries but not Spain. How can the Spanish government make driving in Spain easier if you are a British tourist than a resident?” said Marshall, who has been a councillor for three years.
“The rules have not been clear from the start and there has not been enough information provided to people.”
The 47-year-old, who was born in Spain to British parents, also runs real estate company Propertiespain.
“This needs to be sorted out now, Brits are being punished for no reason whatsoever. I am fully backing the Olive Press on this.”
The Olive Press is calling for a resolution as since May 1, Brits who have been resident in Spain for at least six months and hadn’t yet swapped their licences for a Spanish one under a post-Brexit interim arrangement are no longer legally allowed to drive without taking a Spanish driving test.
Spain refused to further extend a deadline while negotiations are ongoing to strike a bilateral deal meaning thousands are now unable to drive legally and for those in rural areas, this has a devastating impact on daily life.
The Olive Press campaign also has the support of Ladies Driving in Spain – a Facebook group that provides advice to expat women drivers.
They have provided a litany of testimony from their 700-strong membership.
“We’ve been hearing countless horror stories of what people have been through from our group with lawyers telling our members they can’t exchange their licences until they receive their residencia. All of them applied before the deadline but by the time they received recidencía it was too late to register intent,” Trinny Vickers, one of the group’s founders, told the Olive Press.
Vickers, a 34-year-old mother of two, was told by the DGT not to worry, as she is Irish but holds a UK licence.
Indeed, the woman told her she could not register her intent as she is not British.
But the rule applies to all UK licence holders, irrespective of their nationality.
Consequently she is now stuck in Albox, Almeria in a rural area with no public transport.
“Thousands have done the medicals which should have allowed them to exchange before the deadline but this is not registering intent, although many people thought it was.”
The group say many of their members tried in vain to get through to the DGT to register intent – a measure established by Spain’s Driving authority to allow those who were here before the Brexit cut off to register their intention to swap their licence before the deadline. Spanish authorities insisted those that did would be processed under the old rules even after the UK left the EU following rights ensured under the Withdrawal Agreement.
Some called the dedicated line every day with no answer.
In a truly shocking state of affairs, the group also revealed that one of their members – an elderly woman who lived in a rural area with no public transport – recently committed suicide following her husbands death.
After she became stranded at home because of the licence debacle, she felt life was no longer worth living.
“Thank you for sticking up for us, we are fully behind you”, the group told the Olive Press.
We urge our readers to sign the parliamentary petition to force a debate in the House of Commons HERE.
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