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Residents in the region are to be offered a chance to vote on the change

Thursday 28th December 2017

JAVEA NEWS | GMT Referendum

Xàbia could adopt GMT and BST as its official time-zones from 2019 after news leaked earlier this week suggested that registered residents across the Costa Blanca are to be offered the chance to vote on the change in a referendum early next year after a feasibility study commissioned by the Diputación de Alicante. The Greenwich Meridian runs through the region, effectively dividing it between east and west, so the move has been seen as a logical step towards standardisation of time zones with the United Kingdom and Portugal.

According to the latest available statistics provided by the Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE), almost a quarter of the official population of the Provincia de Alicante are British whilst more than five million visit the region each year on their holidays and technical advisors at the Diputación, the administrative body of the province, have suggested that maintaining such a prolific demographic group which generates an economic advantage is vitally important to the future success of the region, especially in light of the negotiations between the UK and the European Union over the former’s withdrawal from the latter.

Spokesman Juanma Chistoso explained that one of the ideas brought up in recent meetings to encourage British nationals to stay and spend their much-needed cash in the region after Brexit is to make it more comfortable for them to keep in contact with friends and loved ones in their home country by standardising the time between the two so that there is no need to make adjustments for arranging phone calls, etc. This standardisation would also be particularly important for the thousands of Brits who flood onto the Costa Blanca during the summer and will have no need to adjust their watches when their plane lands, an important attraction since 42% of the 12 million people arriving at Alicante-Elche airport originated in the United Kingdom. In addition, with neighbouring Portugal working on GMT, it is logical that Spain should also adopt the time zone, especially the eastern coastline where the Greenwich Meridian divides the Marina Alta district between the western and eastern hemispheres.

Should the referendum produce a positive result in favour of standardising the time between the Costa Blanca and the United Kingdom, the spokesman said that one of the first acts would be to replace the clock on the Ayuntamiento de Alicante with an exact replica of the famous Shepherd Gate Clock which is mounted outside the Royal Greenwich Observatory and will make it easier for local residents to maintain their own timepieces in GMT and British Summer Time. Replicas will also be distributed to towns across the region with Xàbia set to receive one to replace the antiquated clock face on the bell-tower of the ancient fortress church of San Bartolomé. Hourly chimes will be replaced by the opening few notes of ‘Jerusalem’ to reflect the changes.

Gordon Sekoj, president of the British Residents Overseas – Marina Alta (BROMA) association based in Beniaia, said that the referendum was a step in the right direction towards standardising the region with the United Kingdom and make it easier for people to know the correct time when speaking to family or doing business back home. “Some of our members still have problems wondering whether it will be the right time to phone home, whether it’s plus one hour or minus one hour, do they add or take away. The adoption of GMT and British Summer Time will be fantastic for us.”

However not everyone agrees. When approached for a comment on the forthcoming referendum, car mechanic José Guasón from Forna said that he saw it as a direct infringement on his civil liberties and would be voting against it.

Details of the referendum will be released in late January with the question “Should the Province of Alicante remain in CET or leave CET and adopted GMT/BST instead”. Only registered residents who have lived in the province for less than 15 years will be able to vote.


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