A French tourist paid 3'000 pesetas for a slice of water melon. A British youth paid 1'000 pesetas for a can of Coke and a British couple were forced to pay 1'500 pesetas for two peaches. Yes, the illegal fruit vendors are back working again on local beaches and poor unsuspecting tourists are being fooled or threatened into buying their products. This is a terrible state of affairs. Their activity is totally illegal; they have been banned by the councils but they still seem to be operating. Palma Nova, appears to be a real blackspot. But why isn't the council taking any action? Why isn't there a police officer on permanent duty on some of the bigger beaches, making sure that residents and tourists alike can enjoy their stay on the beach without being bothered? Why can't even the lifeguard be given the authority to deal with beach pests?
If the council is not willing to take any proper action my only advice is stay way clear of these people. It will only end in tears otherwise. The same can be said for carnation sellers.
Now, the local authorities may boldly say that the carnation sellers have been a nuisance for many years but why hasn't something been done? They always operate in the same areas, (the Plaza España, and the Cathedral) but still we receive reports that tourists are defrauded of many thousands of pesetas. The local councils cannot continue to turn a blind eye to these problems. Tourists need some protection because they may not be so aware as those of us who live here. And that protection can only be provided by the authorities.
Cook takes his chance
It was worse than Hamlet without the Prince at Prime Minister's Questions yesterday afternoon in the House of Commons. Also absent were the King, Claudius, Polonius and Ophelia. Tony Blair was in deepest Shropshire and his deputy John Prescott in Tokyo. Five leading Conservatives were otherwise engaged. Robin Cook, as Leader of the House, had his moment in the limelight and thoroughly enjoyed fending off the Opposition's questions, most of which he answered without reference to his notes. Unlike so many of today's parliamentarians Mr Cook has a light touch: I've heard the Conservative leadership election compared to Big Brother, he said, but I think that is unfair to Big Brother at least when they have a vote someone gets kicked out! Much has been made of Mr Cook's supposed demotion from Foreign Secretary to Leader of the House. But responsibility for the business and efficient functioning of the Commons is a not a light task and it may prove to be a heavier one in this Parliament than in the last if the reportedly rebellious mood of Labour backbenchers persists. Mr Cook will need a sure touch in handling any difficulty of this kind. He is also being looked to by backbenchers as a Leader of the House who will be sympathetic to their feeling of frustration when they are treated as voting machines whose personal views are of little account.
He has the standing within the Party to represent these feelings to the Cabinet. One reform that would be widely welcomed is a strengthening of the independence and crossparty composition of the valuable Select Committees of the House. Interestingly, a proposal along these lines was included in Kenneth Clarke's platform for the Conservative leadership contest.
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