IT was good to read Gerry Mulligan's letter in the Bulletin today, which offered a more rounded view of the botellon.

15 '000 young people on the Paseo Maritimo translates into approximately 30'000 Palma parents, most of whom will have been down to the botellon at some time to find out exactly what is going on. They encounter groups of young people sitting in circles, laughing, chatting and, yes, having some drinks. They don't find drunken brawls, drug pushers, prostitution or dangerous gangs. Facebook, Tuenti and other sites offer conclusive proof that the most important thing in the lives of most 16 to 22 year-olds are their friends. Banning the botellon is not going to make 15'000 young people stay quietly at home and learn to knit. Nor is it going to miraculously give them more money to spend in bars and clubs. It will just make 15'000 people migrate to places like Plaza Gomilla or Magalluf, something the whole community should be seriously worried about
Palma council is providing a superb service when they clean the Paseo in the early morning and they are able to do so because it is a concentrated straight area which is far easier to clean than the many small streets leading off the city's plazas. Furthermore, with sea on one side and few exits, it is an area relatively easy to police.

Mr Mulligan is quite correct when he reports that these young people socialise on the front because it is too expensive for them to drink in the clubs. After they have spent time with their friends, those who have the price of the entrance fee, go to the clubs to dance. The 15'000 on the Paseo probably have an average of 5 to 10 euros spending money per week, the vast majority arrive on foot, bicycle or bus. They are not the people causing the drunk driving problems, those are caused by the people who have plenty of money and are in the clubs all night, about whom nobody complains. Our young people are our future and our responsibility. Undoubtedly the botellon creates problems of mess and noise, but it is a safe place for young people to socialise. To ban the botellon without creating a new safe area, accessible by public transport and close to places where young people can dance, would drive them straight into the zones rife with drugs, prostitution and gangs. Palma has many social problems, but we may be creating thousands more if we fail to provide safe, free, areas for our young people to get together on a Friday and Saturday night.

Steph Mason


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