L-r: UK Ambassador to Spain Simon Manley, Adeje mayor José Miguel Rodriguez Fraga, and Arona mayor José Julián Mena. Photo: Adeje Ayuntamiento.
Adeje mayor José Miguel Rodriguez Fraga hosted a working meeting yesterday with the UK’s Ambassador to Spain, Simon Manley, and with Charmaine Arbouin, British Consul to Andalucía, Southern Spain and the Canary Islands, and Helen Díaz de Arcaya Keating, Vice Consul based in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Mayor of Arona José Julián Mena and Arona councillor for tourism David Peréz were also present, as were Adeje tourism councillor Ermitas Moreira Garcia and Ana Oneida Borges Medina from Adeje social welfare department.
The Ambassador was spending a number of days in the Canary Island and had specifically requested a meeting in Adeje with the two mayors to explore areas of mutual interest, including the current situation of British nationals living in South Tenerife, safety for tourists and British residents, and how the Embassy, consular staff and the councils can work together to aid “the most vulnerable people” in both boroughs.
Mayor Fraga welcomed the Ambassador and spoke of the importance of the British in both multicultural boroughs (some 11,000 Britons are on the padrón in the two municipalities). “We have an on-going plan of coexistence with over 120 nationalities in Adeje, as well as different religions and culture, and we are on the way to creating a multicultural society, one where tolerance and respect are paramount”, he said.
Referring to the speed of integration of the British in Adeje he said sometimes it might not be as fast as we wish, so he was delighted to work with the Consul and Embassy to strengthen that process, whereby “both communities can only enrich each other”. In terms of the importance of developing a bilingual society, mayor Fraga added that this was a two-way process, with English speakers living here perhaps needing more help to learn Spanish, and local Canarians being encouraged to learn more English.
Mayor Mena said that Arona was now working to become bilingual in many aspects, and that in many regards he didn’t consider there to be boundaries between Adeje and Arona, at least not when it came to working on integration, especially with regard to the British community generally. He saw the process progressing very positively in this regard and said that making advances in this area was a prime goal for Arona as well as Adeje.
Ambassador Manley told the local English language press that “We had a really good discussion with the two mayors this morning, dealing with some of the challenges British national face here…I’m really pleased by the spirit in which the two mayors have approached this with openness, collaboration, co-operation…we’re a small team and we depend upon the relationships we have – whether they be with mayors of towns like these, with police, with hospital workers, and with British nationals themselves, those in organisations. I am very pleased at the willingness of both mayors to work with these organisations to enhance the integration of Brits here in Adeje and Arona.”
On the need for British residents to better integrate he said, “there are two key things here as in any other part of Spain – I say it to my fellow Brits – get yourself on the ‘padrón’ (residential register), it’s the starting point to secure the services you need. And learn the language.” Mayor Fraga responded, “This is a win-win situation, when British and Spaniards get together and learn each other language. To have English and Spanish, as young people in Spain, they will have them extraordinary access to the world.”