By Andrew Valente
BUSINESS people and residents in the Plaza Gomila area were furious yesterday after yet another outbreak of vandalism in the area.
The latest victim was one of the famous lions that adorn the façade of the Mandarin Chinese restaurant.
Although the rock-solid lions weigh at least 400 kilos and are well cemented to a huge pedestal, a group of teenagers, high on drink and drugs, managed to push over one of the lions, breaking its head and destroying it. Yeung Thung Shing, the owner of the Mandarin, said he won't be able to repair the lion and that he'll have to throw it away. “I brought these two lions from Taiwan in 1988,” said Yeung, “and they cost me 10'000 dollars, almost two million pesetas at that time. The really sad thing is that this was an act of pure vandalism. The people who did this could never have taken the lion away and sold it because it's solid and weighs hundreds of kilos. So they pushed it over for the simple pleasure of destroying it. It's sad that there are people like that.” Thieves have entered the Mandarin in the past. They have broken into the premises at least five times although there is never any money there. On one occasion, though, they got away with 100 kilos of lobster and other shellfish.

The vandals also broke some of the lights on the façade at the Cafetería Taba, next door to the Mandarin. María Bonnin, the owner of the cafeteria, said that vandals in the past have taken off parts of the railing round the bar's terrace. Thieves have also tried to break in. “What we need in this area is a police presence,” said María. “That these people were able to push over one of the Mandarin lions means that they had all the time in the world to carry out their act of vandalism.” If a couple of policemen were patrolling on foot, said María, the vandals wouldn't be able to carry out acts of destruction. The whole area needs a makeover, said María, in order to recover a bit of the charm it had in the old days.

Maureen Rowland, who used to have the famous Africa Bar in Calle Robert Graves, says she never leaves home on Friday and Saturday nights on her own because she's frightened of the young people who are roaming the streets. “It's murder on Friday and Saturday nights because these kids are everywhere,” said Maureen yesterday. “They walk in the middle of the street and don't even let the cars get by. There are druggies in the doorways and hooligans who push over the rubbish containers. These young people are frightening.” Maureen, who has been living in the area for 40 years and is known in the English community as Mother Terreno, said that when she had the Africa Bar the teenagers weren't a problem because they weren't there. “In those days,” Maureen recalled, “the girls had to be home at 10pm at the latest. With no young girls in the area, there were no young boys. Nowadays, the young girls are out on Fridays and Saturdays until six and seven in the morning. And so are the young boys. Times have changed. “And in those days nobody committed acts of vandalism because there was a Guardia Civil post in the Plaza Mediterráneo and the Guardias were always out on foot patrol. On the few occasions when it looked as if I might have a bit of trouble in the bar, I just phoned the Guardia Civil and they came round immediately. So we never had any trouble.” Estelle Hatt, an Englishwoman who has also been living in Terreno for decades, said that the noise young people make in the streets in the early hours of the morning is unbearable. “I am going to write a letter to Catalina Cirer, the new mayor, asking her to give a bit of her time and thought to Terreno. For far too long the town council has let Terreno become like a third world zone. Now it is time to stop this degradation and give back to the area a bit of the delightful charm it used to have.”

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