Study trip. | Pere Serra | PALMA¶¶Es el viaje

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We’ve grown accustomed over recent years to some unusual local politicians, but they have tended not to inhabit the established parties, such as the Partido Popular. Eric Jareño, the PP mayor of Llucmajor, isn’t unusual in an eccentric manner. In fact, he is perfectly usual in that he appears to be totally normal and completely sane. No, it’s just that Eric, apart from having been a male model, is quite young to be a mayor. Born in 1989, he will still well recall how things were when he was in his late teens.

Eric is now grappling with an issue that has exercised the minds of previous holders of the Llucmajor mayoral wand. This is an issue on which, given his comparative youthfulness, it might be said that he can speak with reasonable authority, more so than his predecessors. Students.

It’s been going on for years of course - the summer trouble of the study-trip students, that is. Study trip. What a joke. And what an insult to the residents of Arenal. If only students were studying rather more than breaching all known by laws intended to facilitate the frequently cited “co-existence”, that with the people who live there.

Do you remember a few years ago when residents hung black sheets from the balconies, signs of condemnation of what was occurring on the streets and and on the beach? During the night, into the early hours and the not so early hours.

Last summer, and this was before all the Covid stuff kicked off, Eric was insisting on “zero tolerance of any type of behaviour that disturbs the peace and quiet of residents and goes against municipal ordinance”. He sounded like all the older previous mayors. Come on, Eric, you must remember when you were a teenager. But Eric was making good money from his modelling. It’s very doubtful that he was ever part of a rabble.

Nevertheless, he called on the young people there for their Study trips (ha, ha, ha) to show respect to the area and to residents without foregoing their fun. Quite. And that’s what you would call co-existence. Except that there never is any. For the three weeks of students studiously studying the interior of a bottle of Rushkinoff (or whatever), it’s a non-existence influenced by the cycles of behaviour. Periods of relative calm interspersed by longer ones of mayhem.

I don’t know, Eric, maybe I can remember better than you. I could be a nightmare when I was a student. But knowledge of the rabble lends one the wisdom of appreciating full well the ramifications of alcohol and chemical-fuelled fun in the sun masquerading as a study trip. That joke really has run very, very thin, Eric.

As mayor, though, he’s not to blame. Of course he isn’t. Nor were previous mayors. They haven’t asked for this. They just have to put up with it. Organise the police as best as possible. Set the municipal brigades to work at first light, shifting all the crap while manoeuvring around unconscious bodies.

Anticipating this summer, Eric has been holding meetings. Good news, he has announced. The Guardia Civil have assured him that they will be increasing their presence. The tourism ministry inspectors will be out in force. Good news, but he notes, by using one of those idioms that doesn’t quite mean the same in English, that “we can’t stem the tide”. That’s sort of what it means, and so it sort of excuses the fact that no one has been able to do what is the only solution to guaranteeing residents’ peace and quiet - and that is to put an end to study trips, or however they are branded.

The Balearic tourism minister Iago Negueruela has talked the good fight of seeking to do just this. Zero tolerance was the mantra chanted at a recent meeting across the municipal border in Playa de Palma. Zero tolerance has been uttered in Alcudia, because Alcudia can tend to be overlooked. Not by me, though. Eric is not my mayor. Barbara Rebassa is. Zero tolerance.

You may be thinking, well look it’s only three weeks or so. Students deserve their holidays and fun. It’s not like there are roaring hordes throughout the summer. It’s not Punta Ballena. Absolutely. I get all that. But it comes back to Eric and his co-existence, because this stuff is enshrined in municipal legislation. It has nothing to do with, say, the government’s tourism of excesses decree.

It’s long been there and it’s long been treated with contempt. Not by the students per se, but by those who facilitate these laughable study trips. The organising operators, certain hotels. They don’t give a damn, pure and simple.

You see, maybe the tide can be stemmed, Eric. Talk to Negueruela, talk to others who can tackle the source of the tide and not the waves that crash on Mallorca’s beaches.