Sales of chicken take a nose-dive

THE Far Eastern chicken flu has led to a major fall in chicken sales in local supermarkets. It is quite incredible how consumers react. Sales of lamb are also down because of the “Blue Tongue” virus. To quote a Spanish phrase, “these days, we eat with our eyes” and perhaps it is a very sensible option. However, we are getting to the point where you start to wonder what food is safe these days. Every day that goes by there is a new scare. To convince consumers that they are safe, proper labelling has never been so important.

What is the solution?

ALTHOUGH I broadly agree with today's march through the streets of Palma to “Save Majorca” following the local government's controversial road building plan, I find myself asking what is the solution? In other words every month that goes by it appears that there are more cars on the road. In other words we are living in a province which has a two-car family mentality. Also, during the summer months you have to add all the rent-a-cars. The Balearic government has perhaps taken the sensible and easy option. Just build more roads. They believe, probably quite rightly, that pushing through legislation which would take aim at car owners would prove hugely unpopular. But perhaps it is time for some radical action. You can't have your cake and eat it. London's congestion charge has proved a success. Should Palma consider a similar move? I believe, yes, because this is a problem which is not going to go away. Until motorists are hit in their pockets there are going to be more and more cars and as a result Majorca's few remaining green zones will disappear. You can't just forget the problem. It is not going to go away. Perhaps this is an ideal occasion to hold a referendum. More roads or less cars? D O I need a residence permit or not? Is a question which is often phoned through to the Bulletin news-desk. Under Spanish legislation the answer is no. But really if you want a trouble-free life the answer is yes.

Madrid was forced into passing this legislation because of a legal challenge from a group of foreigners living in Ibiza. They said, quite rightly, that it broke European Union legislation on the free movement of labour.

So in other words the solution was to phase-out residence permits for those who are already in the system. But of course, Spanish legislation is not so easy and at the end of the day it is easier to have a residence card. Very European it is not but that is the present system.

Tourist police

I am looking forward to the introduction of the tourist police force this summer. However, I am concerned that the officers will have very limited powers. In other words they are more trouble-shooters than anything else. They will be unable to make an arrest so really they are glorified traffic wardens.

The easiest solution would be just to recruit more officers to the existing force. So in summer 2004 in Majorca we are going to have five separate policing forces; the National Police, the Guardia Civil, the municipal police, the ORA restricted parking wardens and now the tourist force. All these units have their own command structure and probably need an army of civil servants just for all the paper-work. Perhaps Spain should give some thought to a single force.

Top marks

LOOKING forward to seeing Lost In Translation at the Renoir cinema this weekend.
I am told that 21 Grams the other film showing in English has been a major success. I must admit the Renoir is one of my favourite cinemas in Majorca. It's got a nice homely atmosphere.

I'm also pleased to report that the complex is being made bigger with a fourth screen being added.
Full marks to the Renoir and I hope that they will continue showing their films in English.

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