Thursday, June 02, 2016

Exasperation: Too Many Authorities

Toni Mir is the mayor of Alcudia. In my dealings with him, he has always come across as being very straightforward: straight to the point, no nonsense. It may be because of this that he can get slightly exasperated. When things get in the way that deviate from the point, it can be understandable.

It was a meeting on Tuesday to consider a new bridge that has been built. Businesses are up in arms because they say it will take trade from them; they being located on the Bellevue half of the Avenida Pedro Mas y Reus, more popularly known as The Mile (other names can also apply). 

The source of the exasperation was an agency which, despite it having a Balearic delegation, is a long way distant: the Costas Authority. The very mention of the Costas has at times been something to send even the most mild-mannered into a fit of rage. Or to make the strongest tremble.

It is a curious fact that in Alcudia the powers of the Costas stretch inland. Because the City of Lakes (and Albufera) are linked by canals to the sea, there is land influenced by the sea: the Costas' domain. These powers have been such, however, that the authority has done little or nothing for the City of Lakes down the now getting on for fifty years of its existence. When it was finally shaken out of its torpor a couple of years ago, it decided to install some new bridges: they were long overdue.

It could all be of course that because Madrid is a long way away there was going to be some issue with these bridges. And there is: one bridge in particular. The Costas, benevolent with its one million plus investment, came up with the plan and went ahead without consultation. You've been hounding us for investment for years, so don't complain now that the investment has been forthcoming. That might seem like the attitude. For Toni Mir it's a case of a division of government taking too little account of local needs. Exasperation.

It's a story though that is commonplace. For Alcudia it just so happens that the town hall is affected by the Costas more than in other coastal resorts. They all are in one way or another, as they are affected by other divisions of government. Alcudia has to concern itself with the Balearic Ports Authority: the port is a state-run port. Other ports come under a different ports authority. There is talk of making the two work together in the future. And surely not before time.

Town halls can generally be thought to know what's best for their resorts, for their beaches and facilities. Decentralised government is such that the town halls do have a good deal of responsibility but they are also bound by the regulations of others. There do of course need to be these regulations, but it is the multiplicity of regulation in the hands of different parts of government, the at-times contradictory nature of this regulation and the sheer difficulty of knowing where the buck actually stops (if at all) that can and does generate exasperation.

Here's perhaps the craziest one of all. In Manacor. The problem of overcrowding on the unspoiled beach of Cala Varques is nothing new: it has existed for years. The town hall decided to take the matter into its own hands last summer and seek to prevent cars being parked on the approach road to the cove. All this achieved was to create a new problem, one of parking on the main road: Tráfico had a field day with parking tickets.

This year, the town hall (a different administration to the one in power last summer, as it was thrown out after a vote of no confidence) has set about trying to establish some lines of responsibility for Cala Varques. Lines of responsibility? How many can there possibly be? And that is precisely the issue. The town hall has had to engage an external company to fathom them all out and to arrive at a definitive "plan of uses" for the beach, the roads, parking and what have you. This company has had to consider: the town hall and so therefore also the local police; the National Police, which is centred in Manacor; the Guardia Civil with its traffic function; the Council of Mallorca; the regional government; and, yes, the Costas Authority. It's no wonder that there can be exasperation when taking all this lot into account. The town hall can be grateful that there isn't a port at Cala Varques; it's had enough of an issue in this regard with Porto Cristo.

It's a story repeated to varying degrees around the coast of Mallorca. So many authorities, so many regulations, too little action. And when action is taken, it causes its own exasperation. There's a bridge in Alcudia doing just that.

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