Tag: British

Latest Gran Canaria News, Views & Sunshine

Menas Case: Foundation Siglo XXI directors allegedly filed false invoices, unrealistic expenses and repeatedly drew funds from ATMs, meant for the care of migrant children, even charging botox facial treatments and posh restaurant bills to foundation debit cards

A comprehensive analysis conducted by Group I of the Economic and Fiscal Crime Unit (UDEF) of the National Police yielded scandalous results, writes Spanish language daily Canarias7, regarding the alleged irregular use of the public funds intended for the care of unaccompanied minors, by the suspected to have been perpetrated by centres managed by the Foundation Social Response Siglo XXI on Gran Canaria and Lanzarote. In this case, driven by the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, investigators discovered that the director of the Guiniguada centre charged the NGO responsible for €1,500 worth of beauty treatments and €1,113 for bills at top restaurants including Vinófilos, El Vasco de Vegueta, and Triciclo.



Centre-Right Pact Between Regionalists (CC) And Resident Conservatives (PPAV) Returns Marco Aurelio Perez As Southern Mayor

The conservative Partido Popular-Agrupación de Vecinos (PP-AV) and the right of centre regionalist Coalición Canaria (CC) have this Thursday signed a local government pact that will shape the future of the southern Gran Canaria tourism municipality of San Bartolomé de Tirajana. The alliance, dubbed a “Pact for Stability and Socioeconomic Progress of San Bartolomé Tirajana”, represents 60% of the votes cast in the municipality’s recent local elections, emphasised the  mayor-elect, Marco Aurelio Pérez (PP-AV), who returns for the third time to lead the local council responsible for some of the most important tourism areas on the island, including Maspalomas, Playa del Inglés and San Agustín.



Local Government Coalition Agreement Maspalomas and the South of Gran Canaria

A governing coalition pact has been finalised in San Bartolomé de Tirajana. The Popular Party–Agrupación de Vecinos (PP-AV) conservative residents party is to join forces with regionalist centre-right Coalición Canaria (CC) to govern the main tourist municipality on Gran Canaria for the next four years. Marco Aurelio Pérez will serve as mayor for the entire four-year term, and the Popular Party will take charge of Employment, Sports, Roads and Infrastructure, and Human Resources, among other areas. The regionalists, led by Alejandro Marichal, will oversee Urban Planning, Economy and Finance, and Tourism as their main departments.



Storm Óscar Latest: Government of the Canary Islands Declares Rain Alert for Western Islands and Gran Canaria

A storm system, dubbed Óscar, has formed over the last few days over the mid-north Atlantic, unusual for this time of year, and has led to concern from meteorologists and journalists as it passes south of the Azores, its tail should reach The Canary Islands, before the system heads northeast towards mainland Spain.  Advisory warnings have been issued in expectation of heavy rainfall, primarily in the Western Isles of the Canary Islands Archipelago, though some rainfall is also expected to reach Gran Canaria over the next couple of days.  It seems unlikely that any major consequences will stem from the bad weather, however these things can be unpredictable and so every precaution is taken to ensure people are informed and kept safe.



Foundation Investigated for Alleged Mismanagement of Public Funds Meant for Care of Unaccompanied Migrant Minors

The 7th Investigative Court of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has opened a preliminary investigation into the Social Response Foundation Siglo XXI and four of its directors. The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office in Las Palmas filed a complaint against them, alleging crimes that could include forgery of commercial documents, mismanagement, and embezzlement of public funds. The investigation aims to determine whether this nonprofit organisation, and its officials, could have misused public funds intended for the care of unaccompanied migrant minors, during the migration crisis of 2020 that was precipitated by the pandemic confinement on the islands, leading to a build up of arrivals having to be assessed and cared for by the Canary Islands Regional Government, using hotels left empty due to the lack of tourism. The estimated amount involved in the alleged misuse stands at around €12.5 million between 2020 and 2022 on Gran Canaria alone.




Canaries face prospect of empty beaches for Springtime as UK confirms non-essential international travel ban

As the new Covid-19 strain spreads in United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson this Monday announced his roadmap out of the pandemic restrictions including a total ban on non-essential international travel both from and to the country until at least May 17 2021.  Though this may have put a hole in any hopes for a quick return to tourism for The Canary Islands, leaving empty beaches for springtime, it does at least offer a sense of certainty for when we might expect British holiday makers to start to return.  Nevertheless, on these small sub-tropical islands off the coast of Africa, survival often is success and an eye is often cast out across our many horizons for opportunities to turn our environment to our advantage.



Empty beaches for springtime
Brits hoping for any sort of get away to enjoy our empty beaches for springtime, or around easter, had been hopeful of positive data allowing them out of lockdowns and travel restrictions within the next few weeks, however Downing Street made clear that the UK was not willing to take any more risks when it comes to unnecessary journeys in and out of the country. The global travel and aviation sectors have been among the hardest-hit during the pandemic, and in few countries more so than the United Kingdom. The new outright ban comes following fears over data that suggests new Covid-19 strains have been spreading across the country.

Editor’s comment:The Canary Islands received upwards of 5 million British annual visitors over recent years, with more than a million and a half of those choosing Gran Canaria, but now there is certainty of empty beaches for springtime.  The tourism and hospitality sector in the archipelago represents more than 35% of GDP employs more than 40% of the workforce, which in turn feeds nearly 60% of the island population. The decline income and capital losses experienced over the last year of the pandemic in the region have already been shown to be dropping at twice the national average, with the regional economy having shrunk by more than 20% in the last 3 quarters.
Local businesses have struggled with meagre support from the Regional and National Governments, with many self-employed feeling completely abandoned, with contributions still being taken despite a total lack of earnings in most cases, and employees totally reliant on the ERTE (Spanish furlough scheme) to try to make ends meet.  As businesses go under so more and more of the workforce are turning to look for government assistance, and that is foreseeably going to become more and more difficult to administrate under Spain’s already beleaguered Social Security system, creaking under the weight of an aging population and a total lack of reforms for more than a decade. Rental assistance for many has been near impossible to access, meaning ever increasing numbers of people could be facing a housing time-bomb as landlords, also desperate for income, chase growing debts from a population unable to earn a wage.
Spain’s progressive coalition Government, under Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, had barely managed to establish their socialist agenda before this pandemic redrew the rules of engagement, derailing extraordinary plans to ensure Minimum Vital Income for every citizen, who fell below a certain threshold of earnings, in an environment now which is likely to lead to hugh swaithes of the tourism workforce being completely without income for months, and with the reignition of Spain’s tourism industry wholly dependent on origin markets such as the UK, Germany and to a lesser extend other Northern European economies.
For The Canary Islands this latest blow will be painful, however it does at least give us something to aim towards beyond empty beaches for springtime.  In mainland Spain a campaign to Save Our Summer began just two weeks ago, urging the UK Prime Minister to set forward a road map which would allow for summer bookings to start once again.  Here in The Canaries we are blessed with year-round sunshine and a vibrant winter tourism season too, so many business owners now will be weighing up the costs involved in chasing uncertain Summer revenues, as opposed to keeping their powder dry to aim towards a safer and less competitive Winter Holiday Season.
Back in London, PM Boris Johnson said on Monday that domestic overnight stays and self-contained accommodation will be allowed to operate again no earlier than 12 April but non-essential international travel will remain out of the question.
Highlighting his new, long awaited, road map out of lockdown, Johnson said, “This is part of the roadmap’s second step and it will take place at least five weeks after the first step” referring to the 8 March date set for a return to schools, part of his conservative government’s four-step plan, but pointed out that these steps could be postponed if the prime minister or his advisers deem it necessary.
He said the earliest date that international holidays could be allowed would not be before 17 May.
The UK government’s Global Travel Taskforce is set to reconvene by 12 April, and issue a report recommending how they think international trips might resume safely, he said.
Boris Johnson told journalists that this will “give people time to make their plans for the summer”
Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee responded to the news by saying “As the worst-hit economic sector in 2020, this will ensure we will also be the worst-hit sector of 2021”
“The UK and devolved governments must set out sector-specific support to help ensure there are viable airports to be able to restart,” Dee added, saying that the Prime Minister’s recognition of aviation’s important economic role, in particular for businesses that rely on access to international markets or visitors to the UK, was welcome.
British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle said it is “critical we start looking at a way to restart travel”, and added that he is “pleased the government has acknowledged that”
“We support a data-led approach that protects public health. We want to work with the government’s task force on a road map now to ensure that aviation is in a strong position to support the UK as we emerge from the pandemic.” concluded Doyle

Interval between stages
For the UK there will be an interval of at least five weeks between each of the stages of the plan (except the first, which is divided into two steps) to allow the impact of the changes in infection rates and hospital admissions to be assessed. The key dates are as follows:
– Starting March 8: All schools will open and extracurricular activities and sports will be allowed in the open air . Likewise, recreation will be allowed in public outdoor spaces and there will be a green light for up to two people to sit down for a coffee, a drink or a picnic.
– As of March 29:  up to six people or two different households can meet outdoors. Outdoor sports facilities, such as tennis or basketball courts, will reopen and organised sports for adults and children, such as grassroots football, will also return. High school students will be able to access tests and will be required to wear a face mask in classrooms and in shared spaces such as hallways.
– As of April 12: the reopening of many sectors of the economy is planned. Non-essential retail businesses, hair salons, and some public buildings such as libraries will be back in business. Leisure activities will be allowed once again in indoor facilities such as swimming pools or gyms. One of the great novelties is that Brits will be able to travel independently to establishments with kitchens or camping sites. For trips abroad, we will have to wait until this date for the plan developed by Johnson’s Travel Taskforce.
– Starting May 17: Goodbye to the ‘rule of six’ for outdoor gatherings which will, it is expected, be significantly increased up to 30 people. Residents of two different households will be able to mix inside and cinemas, museums, hotels, theatres and sporting events will all reopen. Football stadiums will be allowed to accommodate up to 10,000 spectators, while weddings, receptions, funerals and wakes will be limited to 30 people.
– As of June 21: if the situation allows it, limits on social contact will end . Nightclubs will be able to reopen and Downing Street hopes to eliminate restrictions on the numbers attending weddings and funerals.
Confidence for spring and summer
Boris said the goal was to be “cautious, but irreversible. At each stage, decisions will be based on data, not dates. There is a credible route to a Britain without COVID and a world without COVID”.
Likewise, the wild haired British leader put on display his confidence that the situation will be very different in spring and summer: “They will be seasons of hope, of looking and feeling incomparably better for all of us.” he concluded.


The Canary News

Spain’s DGT “Traffico” puts new system in place to help UK license holders exchange to drive legally in Spain

As you know, one of the key actions for UK Nationals living in Spain is to exchange your UK driving licence for a Spanish one, but recently a lack of appointments has made this difficult. Therefore, to speed up the licence exchange and ensure UK Nationals can begin the process before the end of the year, the DGT “Traffico” has put a new system in place which went live on their website yesterday.
It is a two-step process. The first step is to make an application to the DGT before 30 December. You can do this via their online portal if you have a digital certificate/CLAVE or by calling 060. In some provinces it may also be possible to do so by downloading the form and taking it to your local office, though you may wish to ring ahead to confirm this. You can also ask a representative (eg a gestor) to do this on your behalf. We understand that for this part of the process you do not need to have a residency certificate or TIE, but you will need a NIE.
If you do not hear anything from the DGT “Traffico” in the meantime, three days after submitting your application you can request an appointment with the DGT to do the exchange. This should be booked on the DGT’s website.
As long as your application has been submitted before 30 December, and the UK authorities have verified your licence by the end of the year, your appointment to exchange your licence can be after 1 January 2021, provided it is within the first 6 months of next year. Please note that you will need a residency certificate/TIE to do final exchange, so if you are in the process of applying for residency you may want to choose a later date for your appointment.
Irrespective of whether a UK licence has been verified for exchange by the end of the year, you will be able to drive in Spain using your UK licence for 6 months from 1 January 2021. The future rules on exchange and recognition of UK licences are still subject to negotiation. 

For more information and a link to the online application form visit: The DGT website.Please note that you can change the site’s language to English by selecting it in the drop-down menu in the top right hand corner of the page.

To keep up to date with the latest information on driving, please sign up for alerts to the Living in Spain guide on gov.uk. 


The Canary News

£3 million grant to help UK nationals in the EU prepare for Brexit

UK Government announces £3 million grant to help UK nationals in the EU prepare for Brexit
UK nationals who may struggle to complete their residency applications will be helped by measures announced by the UK Government. Up to £3 million is being provided for organisations who will inform UK nationals who live in EU member states including Spain, about the need to register as resident and support them as they complete their applications. The Government wants to support those who may find it harder to complete all the paperwork – focusing in particular on pensioners or disabled people, those living in remote areas or with mobility difficulties, and those needing assistance with language translation or interpretation.
British Consul Charmaine Arbouin said: “The UK will be leaving the EU on 31 October and we want to help UK nationals living in Spain to be fully ready for Brexit, whatever the circumstances. This funding will ensure people get the support they need to protect their residency rights and access to services.”
Organisations working with people who might be affected and who might require additional support can apply for project funding from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office from 19 September at gov.uk/fco. The fund’s programme team, based in London, will be running a series of webinars to provide bidders with a fuller understanding of the fund and an opportunity to ask questions on the bidding process. Interested organisations can find further detail at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/3-million-grant-to-help-uk-nationals-in-eu-for-brexit. Organisations can also contact their nearest consulate for an initial conversation.
Individuals wanting to access support with their residency applications will be able to contact those organisations who are successful in their bid, once the funding has been awarded. We will provide details of the providers for Spain in due course. Meanwhile, UK nationals living in Spain should continue to prioritise registering as a resident by 31 October.
Advice on residency for UK nationals living in Spain can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/living-in-spain


The Canary Guide

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British man injured in Taurito

A 25 year old British man was injured last night on a public highway near a hotel in the tourist resort valley of Playa de Taurito, in the southern Gran Canaria municipality of Mogán, according to reports from the 112 Coordinating Centre for Emergencies and Security (CECOES 1-1-2) .
The event took place at 03.01 this Wednesday morning, September 19.
The victim needed the assistance of medical teams from the Canarian Emergency Service (SUC) after suffering severe multiple traumas, who, after stabilizing him, transfer the injured man directly to the Insular University Hospital in the capital Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
The Local Police collaborated with the rest of the emergency resources. The Civil Guard instructed the corresponding proceedings.

Man arrested in Maspalomas for posting a sex video of his ex-girlfriend on the internet 

Policia Nacional in Maspalomas have arrested a man alleged to have broken privacy laws by publishing a sex tape on the Internet, of his ex-girlfriend from six years ago.
The investigation began when agents received information, through Interpol, in which Humberside police in the United Kingdom requested collaboration to clarify a complaint filed there. The victim, a woman of British nationality, denounced the suspect after having been reportedly harassed over the last four years by a man she met on her vacation to Ibiza back in 2012.

The recording of them having sex was presumably made without the woman’s consent. When the victim indicated that she did not want to continue with the relationship, the detainee told her of the existence of the recordings reportedly saying that he would not hesitate to publish them if she did not comply with his demands. On this basis she agreed to continue visiting him in Ibiza and Gran Canaria every so often, travelling to both islands from the United Kingdom, although in the end she finally broke off the relationship . She soon discovered the video had been uploaded to several pornographic web sites.

After an investigation, agents managed to identify the man and detained him in  the tourist resort of Maspalomas (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria). He faces charges of infringing on the woman’s right to privacy.