By INÊS LOPES [email protected]
“À velha aliança” (to the old alliance) was the toast by the British Ambassador to Portugal and the Faro Civil Governor as they looked forward to a continuous strong relationship between the UK and Portugal at the official inauguration of the new consular premises in Portimão.
The party, on Thursday, March 19, saw many dignitaries from across Portugal gather for a chance to meet Alex Ellis, British Ambassador to Portugal, his new Consul to the Algarve, Paul Rodwell, the Director of Consular Services of Iberia, Michael John Holloway, and Faro Civil Governor, Isilda Gomes.
After the unveiling of a commemorative plaque, the Ambassador addressed the audience and spoke about the importance of nurturing the relationship the UK has with Portugal.
This was also evident in Isilda Gomes’s speech, who said: “I would like British people living in the Algarve to feel as if they were Portuguese.
“They have made the region richer and continue to bring good things to the Algarve.”
Paul Rodwell said that with the support of the Portuguese government, the consulate could react a lot quicker to problems.
Michael John Holloway held a separate session with the local English-language press providing those who visited Madrid’s Consulate General last year (see Algarve Resident, September 19) with a chance to catch up on developments in the centralised Iberian Consular Operation.
The Director of Consular Services Iberia told the Algarve Resident that he sees Iberia as a whole, whereby there is a continuous flow of services.
He was delighted that partnerships between the consular operation and several groups were evolving and gave the example of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which was hoping to work closely with Age Concern and the Royal British Legion to provide a more rounded support of citizens retiring to Iberia.
Consular roadshows are also in the plans for later in the year and “a venue such as BLiP would be ideal to hold them” but nothing has yet been confirmed.
Discussions are currently being held for the appointment of an honorary consul for the eastern Algarve by the end of the year.
Michael John Holloway said that they were hoping to open a smaller office in Faro where an honorary consul, “ideally a local businessperson”, could be based and assist British citizens.
“However, the set up in Faro would be limited in the services it would provide and difficult situations such as assault or rape would still be dealt with by the Portimão operation,” he said.
“We’ve always had to deal with cases of crime committed against British citizens, but never had the facilities. Now we do. Our citizens deserve this.”
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