An Olive Press campaign to get resident Britons without Spanish licenses back on the road is gaining momentum.
A pair of expatriate advisers have joined hundreds of supporters in our U-Turn campaign, we launched the latest issue.
We have been overwhelmed with support for our campaign from all walks of life, no pun intended.
And although the British Embassy insists that a deal is getting closer, we are not taking our foot off the pedal.
We intend to continue to cover it until an agreement is signed between the UK and Spanish government.
big wig stand
A PAIR of popular expat advisors on the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca jumped in to support our campaign.
Darren Parmenter, the adviser for tourism and international relations in San Fulgencio, Alicante, congratulated us on our position and insisted that we must keep up the pressure.
Parmenter, 61, from London, said: ‘It’s great that someone is standing up for Brits, who are too often forgotten.
And he added: “I hope there will be an agreement soon, otherwise Spain will be left out.”
He even insisted on raising the issue with Ambassador Hugh Elliot as part of the Queen’s recent Jubilee celebrations.
Meanwhile, Benahavis Tourism Councilor Scott Marshall has backed the cause.
“I am surprised that there are agreements with almost all other EU countries, but not with Spain.
“How can the Spanish government make it easier to drive in Spain if you are a British tourist rather than a resident? added the British politician, who has worked at the town hall for three years.
“The rules weren’t clear from the start and there wasn’t enough information given to people. Well done for helping them.
The 47-year-old, who was born in Spain to British parents, added: “This needs to be sorted out now, Brits are being punished for no reason. I fully support Olive Press on this.
Although nothing has been signed yet, British Ambassador Hugh Elliott insisted negotiations “continue to progress well” on a deal.
He added that he was “confident that we are almost there”, but again lacked details.
While on June 2 he announced the Brits would have a six-month period to swap their license once a deal was struck, he couldn’t say when that would be.
Critics also insisted that six months wouldn’t be long enough.
“It should be more than six months,” Councilor Parmenter insisted. “At the very least, it should take six months for the British to declare their interest on their own, given the number of examples of people stuck in bureaucracy.
A wheel for a wheel?
British fintech entrepreneur Paul Roberts told Olive Press it’s time to play hardball in the negotiations.
“It is time to take tough action. All Spaniards driving in the UK should have their licenses suspended until we have a solution to this shameful situation,” the 54-year-old insisted.
The tech maestro, who runs a Welsh startup from his home on the Costa del Sol, was considering moving his entire team to the city of Malaga, which bills itself as Spain’s answer to Silicon Valley.
“I have now failed those plans. Not only is this extremely inconvenient for us Brits, but it also makes us all feel extremely unwelcome,” he said.
“They all need to bump their heads and take more decisive action if the Spaniards continue their intransigence.”
He said the UK government should give ‘one week’s time’ to accept the deal and then arrest all Spanish drivers in the UK.
He is furious because although he has tried several times to exchange his licence, calls to the Spanish driving body, DGT, have gone unanswered.
The father of three now has to rely on taxis to get his kids to school.
He also targeted the UK ambassador. “The UK government and Hugh Elliott have been far too lax about this. Now is the time to take a firm line or it will last forever. An eye for an eye…car for car.
“Kudos to the Olive Press team for putting the pressure on!” continued the Welshman.
Social media group, Ladies Driving in Spain, also joined the campaign.
The advice page provided a litany of testimonials from its 700 members.
They revealed that they had heard “countless horror stories”, in particular of lawyers telling members that they could not exchange their licenses until they had received their residency.
“All applied before the deadline, but by the time they received the decision, it was too late to register their intent,” said founder Trinny Vickers.
The 34-year-old mother-of-two was told by DGT not to worry as she is Irish but holds a UK license.
However, she has since discovered that the law applies to all UK license holders, regardless of nationality.
Consequently, she is now stuck in Albox, Almeria, in a deeply rural area with no public transport.
“Thousands of people have had the medicals that should have allowed them to trade before the deadline, but that apparently doesn’t register the intent, which many people thought it was.”
In a truly shocking situation, it revealed that one of its members – an elderly woman who lived in a rural area with no public transport – recently committed suicide following the death of her husband.
After the woman – who did not want to be named – found herself stranded at home due to the licensing debacle, she felt life was no longer worth living.
“Thank you for standing up for us, we are fully behind Olive Press,” Vickers said.
Another victim, Deb Lee, 63, told Olive Press: “Thank you so much for taking this fight.”
She has had a nightmare since retiring to Spain in September 2020 and immediately tried to get her residency and license through a local British expat, who posed as an ‘independent adviser’.
However, she turned out to be “a charlatan” and had no idea of the rules in place.
Surprisingly, Deb learned that the deadline had passed, when in fact DGT cleared the Brits to
register their intention to exchange their license before December 30, 2020.
This left her stranded in the small inland town of Crevillente on the Costa Blanca.
“I was so isolated. I had no one to help me and the food stores were too far away,” she explained.
Her situation was so bad that with her husband working full time in England as a lorry driver, she recently had to move to a campsite in Catral just to have a food supply nearby.
“If it hadn’t been for the support I received from the Ladies Driving in Spain Facebook group, I honestly think I would have done myself,” she added.
“We are just pawns in a political game. They keep saying it’s a matter of weeks, but they’ve been saying it for months now.
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