Charlotte Wilmot, Ronda’s New Councillor for Extranjeros and Commerce

Ronda’s newest councillor, Charlotte Wilmot, who takes on Extranjeros and Commerce, recently spoke exclusively to Ronda Today about her role and hopes for the next year until the 2011 municipal elections. Charlotte is a British born foreign resident, and the first non-Spaniard to be elected to Ronda’s town council.

Following the resignation of Maribel Morales, councillor for tourism in April after disputes with the mayor Antonio Marin Lara, Charlotte Wilmot was informed that as next on the PSOE list she would be called up to head a delegation.

Politics in Spain doesn’t work quickly, and Charlotte wasn’t confirmed as councillor until the monthly meeting of the full council in May. The role of councillor for extranjeros and commerce creates a new delegation for foreigners of all nationalities in Ronda, and adds a lesser known delegation of commerce to Charlotte’s workload.

Charlotte is well known amongst both the expatriate and Spanish communities, having moved to Ronda 8 years ago, and married a Rondeño with whom she has two children. Charlotte learned Spanish at the School for Extranjeros (PIEE) and met her husband Jaime there, he was her teacher.

Last year Charlotte was selected amongst a handful of extranjeros in Andalucía to be featured on the show ‘Extranjeros en Andalucía’ hosted by one of Spain’s most popular TV presenters Pilar Rubio. However Charlotte says her proudest achievement is being a mum to Danielle and Santiago, and whose future is the reason she entered politics as a member of Ronda’s PSOE party.

In her new role as councillor Charlotte will be responsible for improving the integration efforts of the Ayuntamiento, between Rondeños and extranjeros, a process Charlotte describes as a two way project, helping extranjeros to understand Spanish bureaucracy and feel comfortable filling in forms, and at the same time encourage the learning of Spanish.

The approach sounds simplistic, and when asked, Charlotte admitted at this stage she just doesn’t know how the office of extranjeros will eventually shape up, this is a new experiment in Ronda, though it has been successfully trialed in other cities such as Mijas, Coin, or Marbella.

Foreign residents in Ronda of all nationalities, including British, Irish, German, French, Moroccan, and Central and South American nationalities will all be given equal preference for services, so Charlotte is keen to point out that whilst she is originally English, the integration of other nationalities is also her responsibility.

We asked what the new office for extranjeros plans to do in its first few months, and realistically what it can achieve before the next election when the possibility of a change of local government to the PP or a PP/PA coalition is a distinct possibility, Charlotte stated that the PSOE fully intends to retain the office if re-elected so the mayor is keen to see the office develop regardless of possible political changes.

The first two objectives of the office will be a survey to determine the needs of extranjeros of all nationalities, whilst the second priority is the compilation of a guide for extranjeros relating to essential services which it is hoped will be available in English and Spanish.

Regular readers of Ronda Today will know we have campaigned quietly within the Ayuntamiento for an office of foreigners, so Charlotte’s appointment is an exciting development, though of course foreign residents share some responsibility for helping to push for extra services such as original language films in local cinemas, cultural events for foreigners, and translation of essential information into the most common foreign resident languages.

Regarding the commerce portfolio, we asked Charlotte to explain her role, however this is more difficult for her because the role is clearly not perfectly understood within council crossing over several delegations as it does. This aside, the commerce delegation seems to have at its heart the growth of the central commercial district of Ronda, which at this stage primarily seems to be the promotion of Calle La Bola as Ronda’s main shopping street.

It seems moot to point out that Calle La Bola is Ronda’s only shopping street, and Charlotte is quick to point out that obvious observations aside, there is much work to do supporting the retailers of the central commercial district, and one plan calls for promotion of the street outside of Ronda, whilst her initial discussion with retailers suggests some would be receptive to council funded training of staff to improve customer care.

Time will tell if the new office for extranjeros and commerce will have time to be effective before the next municipal elections, and we’d be interested to know how PP or PA intend to handle extranjero integration, but as several Rondeños and long term foreign residents have pointed out, if the extranjero community doesn’t get behind the new office nothing will be achieved.

Ronda Today will continue campaigning for recognition from all political parties of the need for a strong office of extranjeros, and in the interim we ask that all our readers, both foreign resident and Rondeño please contact Charlotte with ideas or questions.

European Health Insurance Card

Expatriate residents in Spain may not be aware of their rights with respect to health care, especially if you are reliant on government issued health care cards rather than private medical insurance for your cover.

Prior to 2004, all officially registered residents would be issued an E111 certificate that covered health care within Spain, and even whilst travelling abroad, for example back to the UK to see family. The new card however, known as the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in English, or the Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea (TSE) in Spain, is issued by the country of residence, not the country of origin, making it essential you understand your rights.

The EHIC/TSE is not a specifically European Union card, it carries the EU flag and two letter code of the country from which it is issued, but it is in fact a European Economic Area (EEA) card which means that some EU territories are not covered, and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Norway which aren’t part of the EU are. Just for the sake of clarification, the EHIC/TSE replaced the following forms, E110, E111, E119, and E128.

Obtaining an EHIC/TSE is a complicated procedure as all things are that relate to EU legislation, first you must be registered with the Seguridad Social in Spain, and that in itself generally requires also being registered with the National Police for your NIE number, and some offices may also insist on seeing your local census registration (empadronamiento) although by rights this shouldn’t be necessary.

Applying to be registered at the Seguridad Social is nationality blind, all residents of Spain go to the same place, whether you are a citizen, EU resident, or non-EU resident. After acceptance by the Seguridad Social you are then eligible for your EHIC/TSE, and it should be issued to you by default, though it is possible you’ll need to request it.

The difficulty of course comes when you plan to leave Spain to visit another country, the EHIC/TSE should also provide health care coverage throughout the European Union, but in practice it is more difficult than that. Since the 1st of May 2010 new regulations state that people in receipt of a pension from the country of origin (E121) need to notify countries they plan to visit that they possess a Spanish EHIC/TSE, and apply for a temporary card in the country to be visited.

For residents in Ronda who frequently visit Gibraltar, Portugal, or their home country, this situation is terribly complex and seems unnecessary, but until EU legislation is tidied up it is the situation we are stuck with. Whilst private medical insurance might be very expensive, it is worth having minimum cover for travelling, at the very least to cover emergencies and transport back home where your EHIC/TSE wil cover you.

Participating countries of the EHIC/TSE are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus (but not the north), Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland (some nationalities excluded), United Kingdom (including Gibraltar).

Finca Maridadi Self Catered Accommodation

Just outside Ronda in the valley between La Indiana and Arriate lies a very special estate, Finca Maridadi, which offers luxurious comfort and relaxation with a large swimming pool in the heart of Southern Spain.

Finca Maridadi is actually three properties adjacent to each other each in their own secluded gardens. Los Olivos and La Cancela and the country house Finca Maridadi are available for rent all year round. Finca Maridadi is a popular boutique accommodation choice.

Finca Maridadi is actually three properties adjacent to each other, two self stay villas with evocative names, Los Olivos and La Cancela, and the country house Finca Maridadi.

Renting a villa or cortijo for the week or two that you enjoy in Ronda works out to be more affordable than staying in a hotel, and gives you the freedom to prepare your own meals, sleep in without fear the cleaning crew will be knocking on the door, and generally relax in privacy away from watching eyes.

Finca Maridadi offers all of this and more, with tapas lunches and dinner menus available, British satellite television, DVD players, each villa having its own swimming pool, and a host of other home comforts. We even provide high chairs and cots for little ones if you need them.

Even more, each property has established gardens, properly cared for lawns, and mature trees offering shade, whilst outdoor entertainment areas are covered from the sun and rain. The fince also has its own fruit tree orchard and vegetable garden which guests are welcome to make use of.

Evening meals needn’t be a problem with fully equipped kitchens in all three of the properties which includes hob, oven, microwave, and all of the implements, pots and pans you need to make your own wonderful mealst.

Villa La Cancela Guest Room

Los Olivos, the bigger of the two villas has three large double bedrooms with en-suite shower and toilet, plenty of wardrobe space, and large wide beds. The villa is a comfortable respite for a family or three couples, and there are two outdoor entertainments areas, both are undercover, as is parking for two cars. The pool is large and has its own small fountain, and several sun loungers are provided.

La Cancela, the smaller of the two villas is ideal for small families or two couples holidaying together, and like the other properties guests have complete privacy to enjoy their holiday undisturbed. A large pool surrounded by tall hedges and mature trees, with a lovely lawn for sun worshiping is of course yours to monopolise, and in the long summer evenings the villa terrace is a welcome spot to cool off.

Finca Maridadi, the main villa, and most luxuriously decorated of the three, with five large double bedrooms, including the master bedroom that gives all the appearances of being a bedroom fit for a king.

Estate Maridadi Contact Details

Contact Family Havers
Telephone (+34) 952 878 072
Languages Spoken English, Español, Deutsch, Francais, Nederlands

Estate Maridadi Villa Rentals Gallery


Ronda Escuela de Idiomas Recently Visited Kingston upon Thames

Teachers and students of Ronda’s Escuela Oficial de Idiomas (EOI) recently visited Kingston upon Thames in London as part of an EU sponsored program that brings together teachers and students of language schools for an interchange of culture and language.

The recent trip to London was led by the director of EOI, Eugenio Bermudez, and the head of English language studies, Piluca Gomez, whilst the students all work with the English language in their daily activities, including teaching in local schools. The group stayed in Kingston, and participated in workshops organised at the North Kingston School which was officiated by the mayor of the royal borough.

The main objective of the trip to Kingston was to participate in English language classes and workshops along with students from other EU nations under the umbrella of the EU Pathfinder language project that encourages groups of students to visit the native country of the language they are learning.

However, there was plenty of time for siteseeing as well, with memorable excursions into London to see the city of Westminster, though the night time cruise on the Thames was considered a highlight. Ronda’s contingent also visited nearby Richmond, the National Trust’s Ham House, and of course, no visit to Kingston would be complete without also posing in front of David Mach’s sculpture ‘Out of Order’.

The only sour note to the trip was a 12 hour wait for ash clouds to disperse and London’s airspace to be reopened.

EOI is the Junta de Andalucía’s official government owned language academy offering heavily subsidised language courses of up to 5 years and diploma level, and are part of a state initiative to improve the language skills of Spaniards in the global economy.

Bjorn Heidenstrom Reaches South Africa

After 335 days on the road, cycling from Oslo in Norway, via Ronda, and to Johannesburg in South Africa, Bjorn Heidenstrom, the crazy Norwegian cyclist has finally had his dream come true, seeing all of the football shirts he collected turned into a giant flag which will be flown at the opening game of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Bjorn arrived in South Africa from Botswana on May 20th 2010, and made his way to Johannesburg, arriving yesterday just in time for the official opening of the biggest of the new stadiums being built to host the World Cup, and only moments before South Africa’s President Zuma arrived to inspect stadium, and sign Bjorn’s flag.

The Shirt 2010 is a massive yet solo project to raise awareness for the world’s many millions of refugees, over 45 million according to United Nations estimates, people who have been forced out of the homes by war, famine, and natural disasters, but are sadly forgotten.

While he was in Ronda, Bjorn was keen to stress that his project is not about a European footballer having a good time, Bjorn proudly wore a UNHCR cap and emphasised that his mission isn’t to raise funds, his goal was simply to make people think about the world’s refugees, and then to tell their friends about these people, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, just like us, but who are forced to live without security, and perhaps without clean water or shelter.

Known during his footballing days as ‘Heiden’, Bjorn passed through Ronda in late November 2009 and was greeted by the councillor for sport, Carlos Mirasol, and the children’s football league UD Ronda. Bjorn was presented with a CD Ronda and UD Ronda shirt, both of which have now been included in the world record breaking shirt (pictured above).

It is not too late to support Bjorn, he will be raising awareness for refugees throughout the FIFA World Cup, you can read more about his travels on the official ‘The Shirt 2010‘ website, or if you have a football shirt you’d like to donate to Bjorn’s campaign, please contact Ronda Today and we’ll make sure it gets to Bjorn.

Ronda’s Paseo de Los Ingleses Gets Makeover

The Ayuntamiento de Ronda has announced that the heritage walk, the Paseo de los Ingleses, which runs along the edge of the Tajo gorge from the Alameda Park to the Reina Victoria Hotel is to receive a much needed makeover totalling 273,000 Euros.

Currently the paseo is in a state of disrepair, and is closed to the public, though unfortunately not to vandals who have destroyed the once attractive walk, or to teenagers who regularly meet there in the evening for botellon.

Originally built in the late 19th century, the paseo is named in honour of British engineers who built the railway from Algeciras to Ronda, and was a pleasant walk for visitors to the Victoria hotel until recent times.

The new project will see the pathway completely restored using local rock for the paving and walls, and will feature new seating, discreet lighting, and emphasise the harmony of the walk with the surrounding nature.

Construction will be carried out by Construcciones Rugue, with funding provided by Instituto de Credito Oficial (ICO), work is expected to commence by the beginning of June. Significantly, the paseo will not be reopened until anti-graffiti coatings have been applied along the length of the walk.

Ronda – Tourist Information – Hotel booking – Activities – Events in Ronda and Surrounding Villages. Telephone 0034 681 14 70 24

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