Can Gavella, where the terrace has been closed this summer. | Archive

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We are accustomed in Mallorca to there being associations for all manner of things and to the titles of some of these associations being excessively long. A new kid on the association block has a seven-letter acronym, Adopuma, for a full title of the Association of Businesses for Concessions and Operations in the Mallorca Maritime-Terrestrial Public Domain. If they'd called themselves the association of beach bars or chiringuitos, we would have understood just as well - rather better in fact - but one supposes that there must be some form of protocol requiring grandiose titles.

As and when this association appears in future news reports, I shall - with all due respect to the official title - adopt beach bars association as a means of aiding comprehension and in order to save typing time. The association will be cropping up regularly, you can be sure of that, though I do have to concede that beach bar isn't always accurate. This is because some of these establishments aren't strictly speaking on beaches. They are by beaches, such as in Playa de Muro, the founding place of the association in July, or in Porto Cristo and S'Illot, where the Costas Authority is currently threatening terraces with closure next summer.

Ses Casetes des Capellans lies on the municipal border between Muro and Santa Margalida. This development of summer cottages has a history going back some one hundred years and to when the land came into Muro town hall's possession on the understanding that where the religious (capellans = chaplains) had a summer cottage or two of their own would be for the use of the ordinary folk of Muro.

Capellans, which the Costas have been stalking for a number of years for different reasons, became the centre of anger against the authority among beach bar/beachside bar proprietors when concessions for three terraces were not renewed. The owner of one of these establishments, Jaume Perelló of Can Gavella, is the spokesperson for Adopuma. On Thursday, he and other representatives of the association had a meeting with Mercedes Garrido, who is the Balearic government's minister for the presidency and public function.

Why was the association meeting Garrido? Well, among her responsibilities are institutional relations, and the institutions in question were the Costas Authority, a division of the national ministry for ecological transition and with a delegation in the Balearics, as well as the association. It wished to raise the issue of delays in Costas Authority processing. But this wouldn't have been the only reason. Closure of terraces, removal of beach bars; these would also have been on the agenda.

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Prior to the meeting, Perelló had spoken about the "radical measures" adopted by the Costas, which have harmed businesses, have meant job losses and have not taken into account the environmental management measures that establishments such as his own have adopted. He also had harsh words for the Balearic environment ministry - "It wants to wreck everything that smacks of tourism, even if it is quality."

The reference to the environment ministry was pertinent in that when the Costas transfer responsibilities for the coasts to the Balearic government, which the authority is due to, these will be assumed by the ministry. And this ministry is currently run by Més and has been since 2015; Garrido is from PSOE.

Differences between Més and PSOE regarding tourism have existed right from the time that the first of the two coalition administrations was formed seven years ago. These have been truly exposed by the current rows at the Council of Mallorca and have to be considered in the context of the lead-up to the elections in May 2023. In the interview that he gave before the meeting with Garrido, Perelló said that he doubted that anything positive would happen if the "political management" of the environment ministry stays as it is.

Garrido, one suspects, would have been fully aware of what he had to say in that interview. As to the meeting itself, she expressed her satisfaction at having been able to establish relations with the association. "We are talking about an important economic sector for the islands, with which we will work together, as we have always done with the rest of the association fabric in the Balearics." Will the environment minister, Miquel Mir, have taken note of these words? You can bet that he will have done.

The main opposition party, the Partido Popular, was quick off the mark in giving its support to the association after it was founded. For the PP, the beach bars are another part of the tourism mix that is going to be a huge issue at the elections. So where do PSOE stand?

For Perelló and the association, the hope will be that when the Costas do relinquish their responsibilities (an exact date has still to be given), there will be a less "radical" approach. But it might be remembered that it was the former Més environment minister, now senator, Vicenç Vidal, who used this transfer of responsibilities as a bargaining chip for supporting the Spanish government's budget. The approach might get even more "radical".