Saturday, September 12, 2009

Head Bangers

The piece below has been rather overtaken by events - the government is set to divert the funds set aside for the extension to Alcúdia to other rail work on the island and in particular work on the "boulevard" which is part of a solution to issues surrounding the Manacor railway. Or is this just a cunning ploy by the government? More on all this to come, no doubt.

No, not something about Status Quo and their geriatric rocking all over the Darby and Joan Club in Palma the other day, but ever more on the Sa Pobla-Alcúdia train, an ever more which just goes to show how what you read and where you read it can give a less than complete picture of the situation. In "The Bulletin" we learn, thanks to the mayor of Manacor, that there has been "wholesale opposition" to the proposed northern corridor for the rail extension into Alcúdia and that the regional government has "heeded the outcry from Alcúdia" whilst not heeding one in Manacor regarding the rail extension from there to Artà, work on which is due to start shortly.

This is not quite accurate. There has of course been opposition to the northern route, but it is not as great as is being made out. Recently Alcúdia town hall, which has invited "allegations" against the proposed route and which has also extended hours of opening in order to present information, received - on the first day of these extended hours - fifteen people who asked for information. Moreover, the town hall received only a few "allegations". Asking for information does not mean wholesale opposition; it means asking for information. A few allegations do not represent wholesale opposition.

It is not accurate to suggest that the government has "heeded the outcry from Alcúdia". What it, or more specifically the transport ministry, has done is to suggest that if there cannot be agreement to the northern route, it (the ministry) would consider siting the rail extension elsewhere. Heeding the outcry actually means getting hacked off with the apparent intransigence at the town hall. The outcry itself is more one of political statements from the town hall; it is not a great public demonstration against the northern route. Yes, there have been protests, such as signs against the extension some months ago, but the Manacor mayor is overstating the situation. And those protests were essentially NIMBY in nature as they related to finca land that would be needed for a line into the centre of Alcúdia town.

In contrast to the report in "The Bulletin", which deals only with what the Manacor mayor has to say, one from "The Diario" presents a rather different picture. And it is this. The president of the government, Francesc Antich, has met with the leader of the Unió Mallorquina party, Miquel Flaquer, in order to try and gain some sort of consensus to present before the regional parliament. It should be noted that the Alcúdia town hall mayor, Miquel Ferrer, is from the same party as Flaquer. On Tuesday next week, responding to a demand from the Partido Popular, which is in opposition at the regional government, there needs to be some sort of definitive statement from the parliament about the Alcúdia railway. What one concludes, from what "The Diario" is saying, is that the whole issue has now gone over the heads of the main protagonists in the saga - the transport minister and the mayor of Alcúdia. Going over their heads and banging their heads together. And not before time.

The words of Manacor's mayor, himself from the Partido Popular, are essentially political posturing, certainly where Alcúdia is concerned, as the extension there has nothing whatsoever to do with him. But they sum up what this story is all about: political point-scoring. The real issues of environment, convenience, boost to local economy, population density and all the rest have been put to one side while the politicians from differing parties adopt their stances. 'Twas ever thus, you might say, and you would be right, but the fact that Antich has seen it necessary to get involved - overdue some might argue - is indicative of the inconclusiveness of the local political system and of political fighting. It should be remembered that Antich came into power with his "age of the train" declaration. Railways were his "big thing". He should have been more intimately involved long ago.

Personally I don't give a damn where the train goes, so long as it goes to Alcúdia which is the only sensible option in the north. Hopefully Antich can now, through the boss of the Unió Mallorquina, get Alcúdia town hall to accept the northern route, as quite clearly the transport ministry is not prepared to budge except to go to a different and less satisfactory municipality.

Places that are closing
Chances are that this might become a regular slot on the blog in the coming weeks. One place that is going is Mulligan's in Puerto Pollensa. Unfortunately, we can probably anticipate that there will be a number of others.

Yesterday's title - Ian Dury And The Blockheads, and here is the Hairy Cornflake introducing a "newcomer" -


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