The people of Arenal are fed up. In demonstrating how fed up they are, they have taken to hanging black flags from balconies. It is a black flag against "the tourist who doesn't respect Arenal".
One needs to explain that this is the Arenal which is part of Llucmajor. Arenal falls into two municipalities, Palma being the other, and in Palma they have an ordinance under which "special intervention zones" have been established. The Palma Arenal is one of them. The zones mean that there is to be "zero tolerance" of anti-social behaviour and especially street/beach drinking in groups. It is debatable as to how well the Palma police are capable of keeping on top of this, but at least they have this bylaw. Cross the municipal border and there isn't one.
The legal niceties of all this are frankly lost on many of us. There are all manner of bylaws that all manner of town halls have to deal with behaviour. Why they need to have specific ordinance is anyone's guess, but it appears that they do. But when it comes to getting round to instituting ordinance, they run up against technicalities of legislation. This is what has happened in Llucmajor, and one should bear in mind that Palma had a whole raft of measures to control behaviour and what have you under a wide-ranging civic ordinance. This was deemed unacceptable by the courts. There are the technicalities for you.
Control via local bylaw is thus forever pitted against some grander law. Palma had exceeded the scope of its powers, it was said. Therefore, it dropped this all-embracing ordinance and fell back on what already existed but which seemingly hadn't been implemented. How daft is that?
To come back to Arenal, the Llucmajor bit, the reason for the black flags is the noise, mess and general misbehaviour caused by end-of-course holiday parties. These are for students - school or university - though one wonders how liberally the term student is used. They come from Spain and elsewhere, and in Arenal this year things are apparently worse than ever. The town hall has been unable to stop the "uncontrolled parties", which take place mainly on the beach. Its ordinance won't be in place until August - too late for this year, so the locals will have to see how effective it is on 2017.
Llucmajor cannot prevent there being such vacations. The same applies to other parts of the island: Alcudia, Cala Ratjada and Magalluf. In Alcudia, and specifically in Bellevue, the mayor said last year that he couldn't tell the hotel which clients it should have or not have. Which is absolutely true. Of course he can't.
Despite Alcudia saying that there was to be "maximum control" this year and despite some logistical alterations with what goes under the title Mallorca Island Festival, things are as bad as ever. Worse in some respects, given that one whole part of Bellevue has been devoted to it: all of the blocks to the right-hand side of the entrance road.
The difference between Alcudia and Arenal is that the "party" is for the most part confined to Bellevue. But not at night. The coming and going of coaches to take these "students" to a club means noise not just from the coaches but also the hundreds who make their way to the coaches. And that's just the going-out. Then there's the coming-back.
One could give chapter and verse about what is occurring in Bellevue, but you probably don't need telling. You can well imagine. At times it is total chaos. But again, because this is chiefly within hotel grounds, it is a case - in part - of out of sight, out of mind. This is not like Arenal. But there are residents affected nonetheless: those who live on the same open campus of the one-time Bellavista urbanisation. There are also the residents who live nearby, who are exposed to the noise of those who haven't got a club pass as part of their package. They instead hit the clubs of Alcudia, taking noise, mess, incivility to much of the tourism centre.
Saturation is a popular word with Balearic politicians at present. It's a word to describe, in essence, too many tourists: too many in specific places, be it Palma city centre or certain beaches. This saturation has a highly negative impact on the psyche of the locals. Used though they are to summer tourists in high numbers, when they are high numbers and are out of control, the impact is compounded many times.
The black flags of Arenal should be flown in Alcudia too. But of the apartments principally affected, there would doubtless be some idiot of a community committee member reminding people that things cannot be hung from balconies, normally towels. And herein lies part of the problem: too many stupid people worrying about stupid trivial matters like how long it might take the maintenance guys to fix something and doing absolutely nothing about wider matters. They get the problems they deserve.
Index for June 2016
Accountability and Facebook - 10 June 2016
Alcudia: tourism issues - 29 June 2016
Brexit - 26 June 2016, 27 June 2016
Car parking and overcrowding - 9 June 2016
Colonia Sant Pere - 25 June 2016
Control in Mallorca - 21 June 2016
Corruption route in Palma - 14 June 2016
Cruise ships and overcrowding - 11 June 2016
End-of-course holiday parties - 30 June 2016
Following Magalluf's lead - 17 June 2016
Foreign property purchasing - 16 June 2016
Holiday rentals - 24 June 2016
Mallorca promotion - 22 June 2016
Mallorca rich and poor - 1 June 2016
Muhammad Ali in Mallorca - 19 June 2016
Pablo Iglesias and Marxism - 8 June 2016
Podemos and Ikea - 13 June 2016
Pueblo Español - 12 June 2016
Ryanair and holiday rentals - 18 June 2016
Sa Pobla's old beach - 5 June 2016
Spain's election - 6 June 2016, 20 June 2016, 23 June 2016, 28 June 2016
Tourist saturation and hotel places - 7 June 2016
Tourist tax - 4 June 2016
Town halls and other authorities - 2 June 2016
Tramuntana appreciation in Mallorca - 15 June 2016
War graves in Mallorca - 3 June 2016