Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Tourist Licence For Your Holiday Home Spain 3

The last video on Tourist Licence For Your Holiday Home  Spain 3

Tourist Licence For Your Holiday Home in Spain 2

This is the 2 Part of 3 videos about getting your Tourist Licence for your Holiday home on the Costa Blanca

Tourist Licence For Your Holiday Home in Spain !

This is a 1 of a 3 part videos about getting your Tourist Licence for the Costa Blanca 

Is renting your house as a holiday let still a viable option? Part six – my thoughts on the future of the holiday let market




Is renting your house as a holiday let still a viable option? 


 Part 6 – My thoughts on the future of the holiday let market


Predicting the future is not something I would consider my forte, but as an owner you are always looking ahead at least a year (or should be).  The licensing was introduced because the massively influential hotel lobby felt self-catering lets were undercutting their businesses, especially when the good times came to an abrupt holt in 2008/9.  In fact, if the financial crisis hadn’t happened I suspect we would not be where we are today with rental legalities.  The crisis highlighted to the Spanish government that they were missing out on millions in unpaid tax on undeclared income and that combined with pressure from the hotel lobby was the catalyst for licenses.
Neither of these factors is going to change – hotels will continue to insist on tighter controls for their ‘competition’ and the government will continue to want to receive tax revenues.  So where will it go from here?
Some owners will find they can’t let legally as their property isn’t suitable.  Changes that have been made without proper permissions will start to be picked up as inspections become a more integrated part of the process.  At some point I feel there will be an introduction of re-inspections of already licensed homes, maybe every 3 years or so, with some sort of cross-checking of information between government departments, but that is still some way off.
Some owners have already said it isn’t worth the ‘hassle’ of going legal, they have either foregone the rental income or are selling up.  Some will continue to rent under the radar, but there are checks that tax inspectors can make so sooner or later they will either be caught, or someone will report them.  Remember the fines can go into tens of thousands of Euros.  A fine can be big enough to require you to sell the property!
So, are there benefits to owners?  Yes.  For those that have always tried to be legal there is now a level playing field.  We all have to meet certain standards, certain criteria, and we all have to pay our taxes.    In theory this will weed out in time from the system those who gave the holiday let market a poor name through badly managed and poorly maintained property.  I have noticed a marked increase already in weekly rental costs as owners have increased prices to take into account tax payable, I suspect that upward trend will continue for another year or so as people readjust to their income:cost ratio.  Having to register your guests’ passport details with the Guardia Civil will also bring a degree of security and comeback for the owner – we have never had groups of stags and hens or students but those who have say they often paid the price in problems caused but because they did not obtain the full details of the renter and had no contract, all they could do was retain the damages deposit, assuming they had the sense to take one.
Owners need to be organised – booking forms, contracts, passport details, proper book-keeping and tax returns.  Staying on top of new rules and regulations is the tricky part as some changes are very sudden and not necessarily that well publicised.
With Town Hall now involved in the early stage of obtaining the license I suspect, under pressure from the hotel lobby, that in some areas, maybe in time all areas, the number of new licenses issued will be restricted.  This has happened on the Spanish islands already and is probably the reason why the new earlier stage with Town Halls in the application system has been introduced.  How soon that will happen will be down to the individual Town Halls. 
In any business supply:demand ratio influences price, so fewer available rentals and high demand will eventually increase prices further, but owners must not get ‘greedy’ or people will just look at alternative locations.  It will be a balancing act and for owners a very steep learning curve as we all try to stay on top of the regulations.
Remember this is a blog, not legal advice, so I strongly recommend that you speak to your legal team if you have concerns or are worried about your compliance with the new laws.  Renting out your holiday home was never meant to be stressful or difficult, and some owners will find the new rules just too much to deal with and stop renting or even sell up.  But if you love your dream home in the sun then filling out a few forms and getting organised can still have its rewards.
So, in conclusion, do we think it is still viable to rent out to the holiday market?  A resounding YES!   But keep it legal!                                                
                                                   Beverley

www.spanishdreamproperty.com

info@spanishdreamproperty.com

Is renting your house as a holiday let still a viable option? Part 5– a few house-keeping matters




Is renting your house as a holiday let still a viable option?


Part 5– A few house-keeping matters

We have already mentioned paying tax on your income, but just a quick clarification.  At present, (summer 2018), anyone resident in an EU country pays tax on their rental income at 19% and anyone resident in a non-EU country pays at 24% in Spain.  If you are a Spanish resident, then you would declare your income annually in your normal Spanish tax return and pay the tax at the same time as your other tax liabilities.  If you are non-resident in Spain, then the rental income must be declared quarterly, and in the first two weeks following the close of each quarter.  So, January to March must be declared in the first two weeks of April, and so on through the year.  The tax is then payable immediately.
There are allowances that can be declared to reduce your tax liability, such as a percentage of your Community fees, a percentage of your Suma, certain cleaning and keyholding costs and we are also allowed some of the cost of the air conditioning service, insurances and professional fees, plus a few other sundry costs.  Exactly how much is deducted will depend on how many days the property is rented out.  Some of these costs have changed over the years so it is best to consult a professional to ensure you are claiming the correct expenses and therefore paying the correct tax.  Our non-residents tax is reduced pro-rata by the number of days the property is rented.
You are also required to declare your rental income in your country of residence, which for us is the UK.  This is declared annually from April each year.  Now comes the tricky bit – both countries may want you to produce original receipts!  We keep the receipts in the UK but can send scanned copies to Spain if required, and so far that has been ok.  In the UK we can claim far more in the way of expenses against our rental income, so the net income from the rental declared in the UK is different from that declared in Spain!  I pay someone to file my Spanish tax return quarterly and the cost is very reasonable.  In the UK I have another business so have an accountant for that business and he checks over my booking keeping for the house rentals and then adds it onto our annual tax returns accordingly.  Due to the dual tax agreement between Spain and the UK we rarely pay tax in the UK on the rental income, but we must still declare it.
Your keyholders are vital to a successful holiday rental.  I can honestly say we have had good, not so good and excellent over the years.  We even sacked one!  But a professional company will take a pride in their work and we currently have both a professional and friendly keyholding company who make our guests feel very welcome.  I view the keyholders as our partners in the business.
We do our best to ensure our guests are suitable for our community.  Our target market is multi-generation families (grandparents, parents and children holidaying together) as this tends to mean the children of any age are always under adult supervision.  Renters do sometimes flout the community rules – either because they haven’t read them or don’t think it matters, but we include a copy in the contract and display them on the back of the door, highlighting rules that are of particular relevance to them.  All our neighbours have our telephone number and email address and have been asked to contact us directly if there are any problems.  There have rarely been any issues over the years, but we have always acted promptly if told about anything.   In fact, we are told when people on the community complain about holiday makers that they don’t mean our renters but the ‘other ones’!  Neighbours have even become long-term friends with a couple of our guests!    Returning guests are probably an owner’s greatest compliment and we are fortunate enough to have several who book from year to year or bi-annually, others have recommended our property to family and friends.  The returning guests are a reflection of getting things ‘right’ and I must give credit to the keyholders as well for that.                  

                                              Beverley

www.spanishdreamproperty.com

info@spanishdreamproperty.com

www.housebythepool.com

Monday, 1 October 2018

Is renting your house as a holiday let still a viable option? Part 4 Other requirements

Is renting your house as a holiday let still a viable option?

Part 4 – Other requirements

Being legal and having a licence applies to the property owner but avoiding fines also means ensuring those you use to work for you are also legally registered.   There have in the past been those who were paid keyholders and cleaners who were working cash-in-hand and not declaring their income. When you register for your password with the Guardia Civil they will ask who acts as your keyholder if you are not yourself resident in Spain.  They note the name and contact details and request the person concerned attend the office with their passport and tax number. If you are found employing an unregistered worker, then you can both be fined.
Another common practice has been for people to act as unofficial taxis providing airport transfers.  There are regulations regarding this and recently a mini bus owner was fined 6000 euros when stopped by police and the passengers said they were paying the man.   Yes, that said six thousand euros! The fines in Spain are not small!
For some reason no one yet asks you to produce copies of your insurance certificate, but I’m sure that will come in time as you do need to be insured.  We have always had a specialist holiday rental policy from a UK insurer (small-print in your mother tongue is tricky enough, but in another language, it is a total nightmare!).  This covers the property, us and the holiday makers plus has a public liability provision. Another certificate I’m sure will be necessary in the future is the one from your air conditioning engineer regarding annual service of all air con units.  We ensure we use a properly registered engineer and have a full invoice with his tax number displayed as required under Spanish law. If we had gas appliances I would be anticipating needing to produce your invoice showing the annual service of those fixtures too, but we are all electric.
We also have a fire extinguisher, fire blanket and smoke alarms on each level.  We display our evacuation plan and provide the emergency number with a multi-lingual service.  What we cannot do is ensure that our guests actually read any of this clearly displayed information!
In addition to the information we must display, (we use the back of the front door as a notice board), we duplicate this information in the ‘house folder’ which also contains additional information on the house, the keyholders, washing machine instructions, internet access codes, TV stations, info on the area, directions to the supermarket and beach etc, bus timetables, 24 hour pharmacy, driving in Spain information, matters of personal safety, English speaking radio stations and a few other miscellaneous items.  But we know that despite saying in the welcome letter sent out before the holiday that they should read the contents of the folder, guests don’t look at it! How do we know? From phone calls, emails and text messages asking for information that is detailed in the folder! So, complying with all the rules doesn’t actually mean the guests will take notice of anything, but we must still do what is required of us.



Sunday, 16 September 2018

Is renting your house as a holiday let still a viable option? Part 3 So what do holiday-let owners need to do?



Is renting your house as a holiday let still a viable option? 
 Part 3 So what do holiday-let owners need to do?
First, this is a blog not legal advice.  Second, rules change and new additional requirements will be added over time, so this relates to summer of 2018 and Alicante region only as I understand things currently.  In fact, as I write this, a new rule for the Valencian Communidad has just come in! 
As from 9th July 2018 all new applications will first need a certificate of compatibility from the local Town Hall.  There are over 500 Town Halls and it is likely each one will set their own criteria!  I have been told my Town Hall is estimating a waiting time of 2 months, but I suspect few Town Halls would have been ready on time, generally things get organised after the requirement has started!
Inspections have finally started too, which were not set up until recently in most areas, so more waiting while you take your turn in the queue for someone to check over the property before your licence is issued.
If you don’t want a large fine, then get legal!  You can either pay one of the legal companies who do them to get it for you at a very reasonable rate or fill out the form (which can be downloaded) and submit yourself.  You can attend the offices in Alicante in person, or take the completed form and supporting documents to the post office for stamping and post it.  There is also the option of doing the process on-line, you would need to be confident of your Spanish to do this.  There is a waiting time of approximately 3 months in Alicante (on top of your wait for the Town Hall’s certificate and inspector).
Now you have your licence you will need to purchase the official plague – it is a very bright red and not very attractive!  You display this close to the entrance door either inside or outside the property.  We opted for inside as it didn’t look very weatherproof or attractive, then we had a smaller, discreet plague made for outside.  You must also buy official complaints form and put up the official notice to tell your guests they are available; both are in Valenciano and Spanish only, it is unlikely anyone would want to complete the forms in triplicate and submit them, but you must still have them.
And then you must attend your local Guardia Civil (national police) station, in person, to register with them and obtain your passwords for their on-line register of visitors.  We were one of the early applicants and when we went into the station to ask about making the appointment a confused officer asked why he would want to know who was staying in our house!  He asked another officer, and another, who both shrugged.  So we asked our solicitor to phone them and she was able to make the appointment for the following day.  It seemed that at that time not even those who had to process your application knew anything about it!  But, it transpired, there was just ONE officer appointed to this job who spoke only Spanish and appeared to have all day to do just one set of forms.  I’m told that he is still the only one at that station and has a massive waiting list for appointments.  But without your user name and password you can’t access the site and submit the guests’ details, so you can’t legally rent out.  More delays in becoming legal.
The on-line form on the Guardia Civil site requires owners to enter various passport details for all those guests over 16 years of age.  Hotels have been doing this for years but have a scanner whereas we do it manually.  We added a clause to our contract to say that refusal to provide the details required under Spanish law in advance of their arrival would be treated as a cancellation of the contract by the renter as a protection against people refusing to provide the information when they arrive – no details received then no details provided of how to access the house!  It may seem a bit brutal, but they wouldn’t get their room keys in a hotel without their ID being scanned/shown, and why would anyone refuse if they have nothing to hide from the authorities?  And why should we pay a very heavy fine for their refusal to comply with the law?  We also added GDPR info to our web site, booking form and contract to state what we would need and what will be done with the info.
So, there you have it – how to rent out legally, just don’t expect to ‘get legal’ quickly!
Bev 

Monday, 10 September 2018

Is renting your house as a holiday let still a viable option? Part 2 So what is a holiday-let?

Is renting your house as a holiday let still a viable option?

Part 2 – So what is a holiday-let?

The very first question requiring an answer is what constitutes a ‘holiday let’?  Well each of the 17 autonomous regions in Spain set their own laws regarding this, so it is not necessarily as straightforward a question as it may at first seem!  There may even be additional local laws that also need to be considered. So again, my comments relate to Valencian Communidad (and more precisely to the Alicante region within that).  But all agree that anyone receiving payment in exchange for use of their property for a short-term period needs a licence. Even if only letting to family and friends.
You must furnish guests with details of the community rules, display an evacuation plan, provide a list of emergency telephone numbers and tourist information.  And there is a list of equipment that must be supplied. All that is basic, and we were compliant anyway.
However, there are rules about what properties can obtain a licence.  For all Standard properties there must be heating in all rooms, wall power points in all rooms, a fuse box (relating solely to that property).  For the Primera (mid-range) properties you additionally need parking, air conditioning, a pool or be front-line to a beach and have a security box.  Finally, if you have a Superior property then you need to add internet and a garden (can be communal). It is highly likely that some, if not most, of these will eventually also be required in Standard properties too.  
But it doesn’t end there either.  Next comes the size of the rooms! In a ‘Standard’ property the master bedroom must be at least 10m2, other double/twin rooms at least 8m2 and a single room at least 6m2.  This allows for a minimum of 3.5m2 per person sleeping in the room. Bedrooms must have use of a wardrobe. If you have squeezed a shower, loo and wash basin into a cupboard, it doesn’t qualify as a bathroom unless it is at least 4.5m2; a living room must be at least 14m2 and kitchen 5m2.  The rooms need to be larger for Primera and larger still for Superior. The only exception is for a studio apartment which must be at least 24m2 and include a separate but private bathroom.
All properties must be legal and have a Habitation Certificate (unless exempt due to age).  They also need an ECP (energy certificate). But for some there are complications because some owners have made changes to their properties without the correct planning permissions.  For instance, there is a design of house I know that lends itself to partitioning off a section of the lounge to create a ‘third bedroom’, thereby increasing the price you can charge renters, but if your house is listed at the land registry as having two bedrooms you cannot register it for rental purposes as having three.  Aside from the room sizes for a rental licence as above, there are minimum specifications for what legally constitutes a bedroom including ceiling height and window size. This also rules out some converted ‘underbuilds’ (basements) with low ceilings and very small windows, especially those conversions that have never been granted permissions and not entered onto the property deeds as they don’t even officially exist.
I am aware of an apartment that is close to my house that is on the forth (top) floor that has been previously let out for holiday use, but as there is no lift it won’t qualify for a licence.  Currently the rule in Valencia is up to a maximum level of three floors unless there is a lift. I am sure there are other complications too of which I am not aware. So, the answer to initial question of what constitutes a holiday-let is much more than just a property/part of a property rented out for holidays.






Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Renting your house as a holiday let still a viable option? part 1 how and when things changed.


Renting your house as a holiday let still a viable option?


Part 1 – How and when things changed.



Many owners of property in Spain have rented out their properties for years as a way of funding the purchase, ourselves included. But recent changes in the law regarding rentals means some are now questioning if it is still worth it. This blog relates to property in the Valencian Communidad (the provinces of Castell√≥n, Valencia and Alicante), but nearly all of Spain’s regions require holiday lets to be registered now.

The first thought for me when compulsory registration was introduced was that not a lot was going to change. We were already legally compliant in that we declared our rental income in Spain and paid our tax (after a few allowable deductions), plus declared our rental income on our UK tax return, (we are UK residents), and as we had paid tax in Spain we rarely needed to pay tax on the rental income in the UK as well (thanks to the UK/Spain dual taxation arrangements). However, it turns out that a huge number of owners were NOT declaring their income in Spain, and maybe some were not declaring it in their home country either! So for some there was a very rude awakening with a marked reduction in rental income when they had to start paying 19% of their rentals in Spanish tax. And some have been hit with very large fines for backdated undeclared rental income too.

We registered as a holiday-let with the authorities while it was still a voluntary process, knowing it was just a matter of time before compulsory registration would be introduced in the Valencian Communidad, and the law finally changed in 2015. There was a lot of publicity about it in the English print press in Spain, on forums, in solicitors’ newsletters, on the advertising sites and various other sources. And yet still owners didn’t bother. Eventually the authorities had enough and declared that anyone advertising an unregistered let after 1st June 2018 would be heavily fined, and that included the on-line websites which carry thousands of ads, paid for by owners, that are used by those booking self-catering holidays.

At the end of May 2018 chaos ensued. More than one major advertising site took all their Valencian Communidad properties off their site, only reinstating the properties once the checking of the registration number had been completed. For us this was particularly annoying as they had had over 3 years in which to run that check, our number was already clearly entered in the property details. For other owners this was, amazingly, the first they had realised that they needed a registration number!

I won’t go into details of how to obtain a registration number here, that is covered separately, but suffice to say a system that originally was fast and efficient has become overwhelmed during the course of 2018, and I’m reliably informed that the process is now so back-logged with applications that they are taking a minimum of three months. Bearing in mind that officialdom in Spain virtually shuts down for August, I can’t see that back-logged being cleared quickly. And that is just step one! 
So, now there are owners who have decisions to make: do they register and risk drawing attention to their past illegal activity and undeclared income; do they stop renting out and lose the income; do they continue to illegally let the property and hope they don’t get caught (they will!). What a dilemma! They say ‘honesty pays’ – well it hasn’t up to now as we were worse off for being honest and declaring the income in Spain, but right now I am glad we did!

#spain #costablanca #holidayrental #selfcatering #holiday #housebythepool #playaflamenca



Have a look at House By The Pool


Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Looking to buy Property on the Costa Blanca


Exclusive Offer From Spanish Dream Property

We are often asked if we provide ‘viewing trips’, but we prefer a more personal approach for your visit.
If you are looking for property in south Costa Blanca then we offer our clients the option of staying in our own property in Playa Flamenca. A legal, registered holiday let, (VT-442999-A), but offered to our clients at a highly reduced rate and the promise of a refund in full of the rental and the of the end of stay cleaning fee if you buy one of the properties we arrange for you to view on that trip.

This gives our clients the opportunity to experience living in a real home rather than staying in an impersonal hotel room. The house is walking distance to the beach, Zenia Boulevard and a many other local amenities, yet located in a quiet residential community overlooking the communal pool. We can also arrange for airport transfers (also refunded if a property we show is purchased as a result of the trip). 
We only have one house, so this offer is of course subject to availability and has to be limited to those in a position to proceed with a purchase if their dream property is found on this visit. This exclusive offer is only available to clients of Spanish Dream Property.
Spanish Dream Property
+44 1603 415296




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This is our home



Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Buying Property for the Costa Blanca Holiday Market

Buying Property for the Costa Blanca Holiday Market
Here at Spanish Dream Property we have experience of renting our house as a holiday let. We can help you to find the best property options if you too are looking at renting to the holiday market.

Here are Some Quotes: that people have said to us about the way we work with them.
“Thank you for listening”. “We would like to arrange all our viewings through you as you have been so helpful.” “You showed us what we wanted, not what you had to sell.”


If you are looking for a property that you will want, or need, to let to the holiday market, then please speak to us first. For over a decade we have successfully rented our own house – always fully booked for the summer plus a lot of lower season bookings.
We are happy to share our experiences and information regarding doing so legally. Before buying a property to rent to the holiday market you need to understand the requirements for a property to be legally let and the implications and responsibilities on the owner. There are hefty fines for letting illegally or not paying your due taxes in Spain. We are happy to answer your questions.
David & Beverley Townsend

Thursday, 7 December 2017

From a reluctant political brexit keyboard warrior Part 2


Well after my last Brexit comments things have moved on – or have they?  No one really seems sure!  Mrs May decided to have a works trip with three colleagues, with entourage of security and civil servants, to the beautiful city of Florence (must add to my bucket list of places to visit as it looks wonderful!).  She made a much-hyped speech about the UK leaving the EU to a small room full of reporters, but no representatives or officials from the EU were present, so why the British taxpayers had to fund this little excursion to Florence instead of her saying it in London I have no idea.  I am tempted to say let’s put an ad on the side of a bus to say we should have spent the money on the NHS instead.
BT2
So, we are still leaving, but…  As Mrs May claims she doesn’t do U turns I won’t say that she has, but she should be dizzy by now from all the about turns!  What is a transitional deal?  Is it viable?  Are the EU negotiators even agreeing to one?  Mrs May says we are having one.  We leave, supposedly, in March 2019 but for two years will still pay our fees, still respect all EU laws and rules and still have all those things that the leavers don’t want, but because we will have left we will presumably have absolutely no say in anything that happens regarding the EU Parliamentary decisions as presumably we won’t have any MEPs for those two years.
I’m a complete layman as far as politics is concerned.  Like I have said previously, I have never been interested until the Referendum was called. So this is entirely my layman’s opinion after reading the speech, which I considered was haughty, condescending and managed to insult just about everyone.  The EU have made concession after concession over the years to the UK yet she says we were never ‘comfortable’ with being European.  It’s a bit like being invited to a party, telling the host and all other guests that you would arrive late, leave early and deliberately spend the evening standing on your own only just inside the doorway, and then accusing the host and other guests of not including you.
Remainers want to remain full members.  Leavers want to leave immediately but most don’t get why that isn’t possible.  There is clearly no middle ground so there will always be one group that isn’t happy.  But to annoy both sides, insult the entire EU Parliament and Commission plus offend all 27 other countries in one short speech was pretty impressive!
Mrs May wants an orderly, red-white-and-blue, have cake and eat it, a non-cliff-edge cliff-edge, hard-n-soft, straightforwardly-complicated style Brexit, plus a transitional deal that mirrors exactly our membership, and the closest possible relationship with the EU after the divorce, with a selected list of benefits of membership but no cost.  You don’t need a politics degree to realise that these demands are impossible to meet.  And that’s before we consider trade deals, the Irish border and Gibralter.
BT3
And what of citizens’ rights?  3 million EU27 nationals in the UK are being treated despicably*.  Around 1.5 million UK nationals in the EU27 are being largely ignored by their own government.  Neither group is being ignored by the EU though who have made people a priority over trade.
Already court cases have shown that the current handling of the whole Brexit process has been illegal at times and there are several cases in progress at present challenging other aspects of the process.  Our MPs are neglecting their duty, alternative facts (LIES) are spouted widely and no one is happy.
As the song says – let’s call the whole thing off!
*Please take time to read “In Limbo” 
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"Minor sea" or "Smaller Sea" Mar Menor


Small sea
The Mar Menor means ‘minor (or smaller) sea’.  It isn’t a sea at all, it’s a lagoon, located on the northern stretch of the Murcian coast, just below the border with Alicante.  The lagoon is separated from the Mediterranean Sea by a spit of land 22km long with several breaks where it opens onto the Med.  The spit is between 100m and 1200m wide, so in places the two ‘seas’ lap at beaches the both sides of the road!  The road runs most of the length starting at the southern end and a ferry links the northern point of the spit to Santiago de la Ribera on the mainland side.  Roughly triangular in shape it covers 170km2 with 5 small islands within the lagoon and a total of 70km of coastline.
Generally, the water within the lagoon is several degrees warmer than the Med, making it a popular place for swimming and water sports all year.  At the northern point by San Pedro del Pinatar are the famous mud baths and salt flats.  The salt flats and shallow lakes are noted for their importance to nature and protected by national park status. This area records some of the mildest winter temperatures in Spain.
beach22
Sadly in 2016 the beaches of the Mar Menor lost their Blue Flags, but it hasn’t slowed the rising popularity of the area or the beaches, and the local authorities are working hard to ‘clean up’ the quality of the water and regain their European Blue Flags.
The most popular resorts are (from north to south) San Pedro de Pinatar and Lo Pagan, Santiago de la Ribera, Los Narejos and Los Alcazares, Los Urrutias, Estrella del Mar, Los Nietos, Mar de Cristal and Playa Honda.
26949_the-marina-of-los-nietos-mar-menor_1_large
The world famous La Manga Club Golf Resort is Located to the south of the Mar Menor next to the Calblanque National Park.  More information on all to follow so watch this space…!
Calblanque National Park
playa-de-calblanque (1)
alojamiento-movil
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Sunday, 10 September 2017

From A reluctant Brexit political keyboard warrior

From a reluctant political keyboard warrior.

BT!

It has been a while since I last blogged. Is simply that so much of my non-work time (and some work time too!) has been taken up dealing with matters related to the dreaded Brexit.  I could write reams on how bad it has been so far for the UK.  Reams on how much worse it will get if it finally happens.  I could write about the undermining of democracy and the role of Parliament, the threat to the unity of the UK, the questionably illegal deal with the DUP made by our minority government and the very real concerns about using Henry VIII’s powers.
I could write about the problems caused by the fall in the value of sterling, the discrimination that has arisen against ‘foreigners’ in the UK since June last year.  Or about the fears of the Brits in the EU27 countries.  In fact, there are enough negatives to fill several books (and indeed several have already been written).
But today I want to say something POSITIVE instead.
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You see I have discovered that I have more in common with people with whom I have previously disagreed.  Politicians, broadcasters, journalists and experts from all walks of life.  I have realised that in times of adversity you see people’s true colours.  I have seen the hand of friendship extended across race, religion and colour.  I have seen that political allegiances matter less than moral standing.   I have discovered opinions are easy, but knowledge comes from learning and experience.
Until 2016 I paid attention to politics only when it was necessary – elections predominantly.  I have always viewed it as my DUTY to vote – not exercising my right to vote would be an insult to those past and present for whom fighting for that right has, or does, cost them their freedom or even their life.  But between elections I would express a view on things when they were on the TV news but DO very little about anything.  Even when our eldest son obtained a degree in politics I was still very much an observer.
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Now I have been on rallies, on two London marches, to local meetings and even joined a political party.  I have written to loads of MPs, party leaders, MEPs and Lords.  I have signed petitions by the dozen and become an active as a ‘keyboard warrior’.  I have learnt more about the European Union, its origins, its aims, its inner workings, than I ever thought I’d bother knowing.  I can explain the difference between the ECJ and the ECHR; between the European Commission and the European Parliament; between the Customs Union and the European Economic Area.  I have finally EDUCATED myself on matters that frankly I should have known about all my adult life.  I have also learnt more about UK politics and the working of Westminster.  Children should be taught these things in school because the saddest part of the debates I have had with leavers is discovering their ignorance about the EU and the UK.
I have politely corrected leavers statements that the UK bailed out Greece (it didn’t); that the UK has been forced to take hundreds of thousands of refugees (it hasn’t); that the ECJ doesn’t allow us to deport criminals (wrong again); that the EU makes laws about bent bananas (which it doesn’t); that EU migrants are scroungers taking our benefits (which they are not, they are net contributors to our economy); That the EU stole UK sovereignty (which even the leave campaigners now say we never lost); that immigration will dramatically fall when we leave (no it won’t, there will just be a higher number from non-EU countries instead); that the EU costs us soooo much money - £350m a week (no it doesn’t, in fact around 0.6% of the government’s tax revenues are spent on membership and we get more back in financial benefits from being members); that the EU needs us more than we need them (no they don’t); that we can have great global trade deals (maybe one day in the distant future, but in the meantime we lose dozens of very favourable existing deals plus the one with our biggest trading partners).  I could go on, and on, and on.  But the point is, although I was vaguely aware of the EU benefits the only one that I felt mattered to me personally was freedom of movement, so it was really all I had bothered to learn about.  Now I have educated myself and realise there is so much more to the EU than I thought.  So many benefits.  So many positives.  Instead of just accepting Brexit would be a stupid thing to do, I now have a better and clearer understanding of WHY it is the most stupid mistake this country can make at this point in time – and I am galvanised to do something about it too!
I got to be in my mid-fifties before politics became something real to me.   I have been an EU citizen all my adult life but it is only now, with the threat of losing it all, that it has become REAL to me.  So, thank you Brexit for educating me - now please can we cancel it! #stopbexit
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