TRADERS from the centre of Palma gathered outside the city hall yesterday to protest about the new ZAR (residents only parking) areas, and to call for the return of the ORA (restricted parking) areas. They also want the barriers which prevent traffic from entering streets in the area removed.
The traders - 300 according to the organisers, fewer than 200 according to the Police were received by deputy Mayor Francisca Bennassar, who is head of the tourism and promotion departments. She said that she would pass their proposals on to Mayor Catalina Cirer.
The protesters carried a banner reading We don't want barrier. They criticised the council's mobility policy and claimed that the new ZAR parking system, where parking places previously subjected to ORA regulations are now reserved for residents only, has led to a marked drop in sales. Maria Mauri, head of the Olivar-Caputxinos traders association, said that there are 1'500 shops in the area between the Calle San Miguel, Plaza España, Avenidas, Puerta de San Antonio and Sindicato, and claimed that they had all reported a drop in sales since the council introduced its new parking restrictions. She said that the ZAR system meant that customers could not park their vehicles near the shops, which had already lost a lot of money on account of the roadworks in the area. José Nolla, vicepresident of the Calle Velázquez's traders association, said that sales in his area had dropped by 60 percent over the past year.
Nolla blamed Alvaro Gijón, the councillor in charge of traffic and transport, for the losses, and accused the city council of not listening to the sector. He said he was in favour of residents being able to park their cars in the ZAR spaces outside shop opening times and called on the council to bring back the ORA system, which would allow customers to park near the shops. Isabel Izquierdo, of the Calle Constitución traders association, said that council road works had killed off the centre, where shops had lost 40 percent of their business. She said that there are 22 shops up for sale in the four streets adjacent to Constitución, and put the blame on the mobility plan devised by the city council. It has destroyed commercial activity in the centre of Palma, she said. The city council wants to keep cars out of the city centre and to achieve its aims, it has opted for an extensive network of underground car parks and an increase in the number of pedestrian only streets. One of its most controversial moves, the effects of which are still being studied, has been to close one side of the Borne to traffic.
Initially the traders approved the move, but opposition is now growing.
The council is also trying to improve the city bus service to encourage drivers to leave their cars at home. It has been renovating its fleet and putting computerised information panels at bus stops.
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