! Murcia Today – Britons in Spain demonstrate in Madrid against driving license delay

Publication date: 09/19/2022

From May 1, UK driving licenses are no longer valid for driving in Spain

Furious British expats are planning a series of protests outside the embassy in Madrid later this week in a desperate bid to pressure diplomats into pushing ahead with their driving license negotiations.

Furious locals created a dedicated Facebook page titled ‘Invasion of the British Embassy in Madrid for the DL exchange problem’ and one of its administrators, Pascal Siegmund, called on people to demonstrate in the Spanish capital on Thursday, September 22.

The British Embassy in Spain tweeted: ‘We recognize that negotiations are taking longer than expected and longer than you or we would like.

“We are making real progress on the outstanding points but, for reasons we have explained previously, we cannot be definitive on the timetable.”

The embassy added: “We know this is frustrating to hear and we do not underestimate the impact on those of you who are affected.”

In response, the Facebook group was launched with the aim of forming a delegation to meet the ambassador.

“We are writing this following the unnecessary update from the (UK) Embassy. The Embassy update did not satisfy any of us. We will go further (and) organize a protest” , Mr. Siegmund wrote.

The Facebook group paints a grim picture of the challenges facing Britons living in Spain who have spent the past five months off the road. A user described the plight of an elderly man with a physical disability forced to return to the UK after 27 years because he couldn’t get to hospital for cancer treatment, while another woman struggles to visit her terminally ill husband at a Spanish ICU.

Deb Lee, 63, from Oxford moved to Alicante in 2020 but unfortunately missed the deadline to exchange papers. Now, not wanting to take the Spanish test, the expat pays a fortune on taxis.

“I’ve been a safe driver for over 40 years with no points on my licence. How fair is it that an 18-year-old British tourist can come here and hire a car at an airport, but I can’t drive,’ she said.

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