A month ago, the "danger" to the season was being highlighted; the absence of sunloungers. | MDB


If you are a town hall, there is something to be said for running your own beach services and not contracting them out. Alcudia manages the services directly. As far as I am aware, only Manacor also has this arrangement in Mallorca, and Manacor adopted it after realising the advantages in Alcudia. The pandemic, to say the least, did rather raise additional complications with contracting-out. They were overcome by eventually not bothering with the whole rigmarole associated with drafting specifications, tendering and awarding.

There is admittedly an issue in Alcudia because of the beach bars, but this is an exceptional case, one of urgent redevelopment in order to meet the deadline for completion of the work set by the Costas Authority. The beach bars are the only beach service that Alcudia contracts out; everything else, including the lifeguards, is managed directly by the town hall.

It has become a sort of tradition in Pollensa for critics of beach service arrangements (the lack thereof) to suggest that councillors nip over to the neighbouring bay and admire all the rows of sunlounger sets on Alcudia's beach. This is a suggestion made at the start of the season, when Alcudia is fully prepared for sunlounging visitors and Pollensa isn't.

To be fair, this isn't normally an annual occurrence, only a periodic one every four years when the town hall has to reapply for beach service authorisation (and for which, believe it or not, it has to pay). Typically, this procedure commences with a drafting of the revised specs that are forwarded for authorisation. Until last year, this meant the state Costas Authority. It is now the Balearic government's coasts department. (The business with the Alcudia beach bars is one inherited from the Costas, hence why that authority's requirements have to be followed.)

Once authorisation is given, the town hall can then issue the tender, receive bids and make awards. In this regard, it all seems pretty straightforward. Yet in Pollensa, for one reason or another, there seems to be an unerring ability to balls the whole thing up. Tradition has it that the Costas get the blame, and with some justification if response has been slow or bogged down with challenges to aspects of the specifications. But this hasn't always been justified; the town hall may, for example, have been a tad tardy in sending off the authorisation request.

Anyway, and with the government's coasts department now being the relevant authority, a month ago there were concerns about Pollensa's season being "put in danger" because of the total absence of beach services. The opposition Tots per Pollença were the ones who issued this warning, though they themselves (or under the guise of the Partido Popular before Tomeu Cifre jumped ship and formed his own party) haven't been entirely blameless in the past.

According to Tots, plus their El Pi allies, the town hall had caused the delay because new documents were required to complete the application. This was two weeks before the 'official' start of the season. The mayor, Martí March insisted that all new documentation and the application request were in good time and in order, thus hinting at the coasts department having continued a Costas Authority aptitude for delay. However, the mayor did accept, regardless of having been in "good time", that the application might have been made earlier. How much earlier he didn't specify.

But all was going to be good as the specifications for the tender were about to be approved (which they were) even though the coasts department hadn't actually given its authorisation.

Come forward to last week, by then into the official season, and the town hall felt it necessary to issue a statement explaining why there still weren't any beach services. May 6 was the deadline for tender bids. These were for 44 lots in all, including the sunloungers and terraces (beach bars). The upshot was that, while among things the lots for Formentor beach had now been awarded, those for Puerto Pollensa and Cala San Vicente hadn't been. As a matter of urgency, therefore, these would have to be put out for new bids.

It is fair to ask why these beaches seemingly failed to attract takers. The estimated value of all beach services that were put up for tender (published on the town hall website on April 20) is 5.72 million euros. Without knowing the costs side, one would think that this total revenue would be attractive. There hasn't been an explanation as to why the tender failed. Might this have been because there hadn't been coasts department authorisation? Whatever the reason, fail it did.