Saturday, July 15, 2017

Alcudia's Three Weeks Of Mayhem

The so-called Mallorca Island Festival is over for another year. As each year, it has left a trail of complaints about noise, behaviour and vandalism. Also as each year, it has been studiously ignored by the media. Might this have to do with the fact that it is Spanish students causing the complaints? If British or German counterparts were the protagonists, you can bet that everyone would be told about it.

Some people say, well it is only three weeks, let's have some perspective. True, it is only three weeks, but it is three weeks too many for residents who are denied sleep, for those whose cars are trampled on, for businesses which are robbed, for other businesses which suffer because a regular type of tourist isn't present.

Now it's finished, there is talk that there is just one year left to run on a contract (not that anyone seems to know this for certain), that Bellevue doesn't want to renew it because of all the hassle it causes. And hassle there most certainly is. It is hardly unknown for fire alarms to be deliberately set off in Bellevue blocks, but not with the regularity which occurs when the "festival" is occurring. But hassle isn't the right word for the destruction inside the blocks. Hassle isn't the right word to describe what one understands to be the very low prices paid for the students' all-inclusive accommodation. Hassle isn't the right word to explain the reputation of Bellevue being further sullied on social networks, especially TripAdvisor; and by extension, the reputation of Alcudia.

For BlueBay, which manages the complex, the series of holidays for students does nothing for its reputation. It should be being praised for the long-overdue efforts to try and improve Bellevue. Instead, there are the brickbats that are the consequence of a form of tourism vastly more extreme than anything else which is experienced at Bellevue.

Inevitably, assuming that it is correct that there is just one year left to run, reaction will be to do nothing, an attitude that has prevailed ever since the student holidays started (which was at least in 2013): Mallorca Island Festival has been the name for the past three years; prior to this, it was known as Mallorca without teachers. Timidity is how one might best describe the approach of residents and indeed of businesses. It is a timidity which has been exacerbated by a lack of coordination and mutual support among different groups affected. In a sense, the residents and businesses in and around Bellevue have got what they deserved.

Alcudia town hall is all too aware of what goes on. Numerous have been the individual representations made to the mayor and the town hall. But individuals don't get very far. As with all administrations, they want what they consider to be valid interlocutors, associations with whom they can discuss issues. The failure to create such an association is a reflection of this timidity and of a neglect of community.

The fundamental issue with this festival is the location. Bellevue is probably the only place that could accommodate it. But what has been overlooked is the nature of Bellevue. This became a hotel by accident. It was not originally conceived as a hotel. The campus style of the complex is evidence of what was developed - a single urbanisation named Bellavista. On this urbanisation, as things were to turn out, are hotel apartment blocks and residential apartment blocks. They share the same space.

The principle of coexistence, enshrined in law and for which, at local levels, town halls have responsibilities to guarantee, is an expression of mutual respect. People need to live together. There is give and there is take, but coexistence frowns upon excesses. The principle applies everywhere, but it is especially acute on a single urbanisation and a single space. On the Bellevue complex, the give and take is understood. Of course there is noise. By its very nature there will be. Among the thousands of guests at any one time there will clearly be some who don't behave themselves. But this is, in a way, incidental. It is not organised.

With the festival, there is organisation. And this organisation, because of the offers of ferrying the students to off-site clubs from just before midnight and of ferrying them back again, can only lead to one thing. Noise. Coexistence is one thing. Breaches of bylaws regarding noise are another.

Such was the level of complaints to the 112 service that the call centre, which can geolocate the source of calls, was responding by saying that the local police need to be called. There wouldn't normally be such a response. But what, in all honesty, can the police do? They are stretched enough as it is. Should there be a permanent presence (plus the Guardia)? Both forces have other matters to attend to. They are not to blame, nor is the town hall. The blame lies elsewhere.

* A photo just after dawn on one morning of the so-called festival.

No comments: