There is trouble in paradise this week and Soller residents are ready to revolt. The signs have gone up near the tunnel calling out to residents to get complaining and get involved. The Soller tunnel is the lifeline to our valley and this is the story that is headline news here. It all began in Ocober 2010 and the following is an outline of events so far.

There are costs attached to the convenience of having the Soller tunnel which opened in 1997. The financial side of the project was never clearly defined and as the years have passed the debate about the ever increasing price per use of the tunnel against making it free for all rumbles on.

The compromise has always been that bone fide, full time residents,after completing the forms in triplicate can present themselves for consideration at the Tunnel office .

The paperwork, including the photo copies of the Residencia, Passport, Certificado d' Empadromento and bank details for the deductions needs to be in pristine order. The deal is that if you pass the hurdles you are entitled to pay a reduced rate of 1.20€ instead of 4.50€ every time you use the tunnel. This money is then, in the fullness of time, refunded to you by the powers that be in Palma. Every few months a refund of the previous three month's tunnel deductions hit your bank account. Albeit a long winded process it did work and money was refunded. That is until October 2010 when the Government department responsible decided that it had no money to issue any more refunds.

That is the situation we find ourselves in today. Every time residents go through the tunnel they have no choice but to pay their money but they have not received the money due to them for the past 18 months.

There are now millions of Euros outstanding to Soller residents and they have had enough. There is a petition in town and test cases going to court to unlock this cash.

The words from those with power is that they can't possible repay the money as it has all gone too far. A suspension of tunnel fees for those owed money is one suggestion. Another is that the tunnel will now be free to all and the debt to the people will never be paid.

The storming of the tunnel, a blockade and a sit in were suggestions from the ‘angry of Soller'. A reminder to politicians of their promises to resolve this issue seems to have fallen on deaf ears. So what are the people to do? This is causing serious financial hardship to people who live in Soller but conduct their lives outside via the Tunnel. The average amount that friends say they are owed so far is in excess of 1500€ per driver.

Have you sympathy for us or do you think that it is right to have to pay for the privilige of living amongst such mountain beauty? This now seems to be what we are being told – we pay because we chose to live here. No matter that the rules were quite clear until 18 months ago, finances now dictate that Soller residents should have to pay for their scenery.

Last November the government allegedly had a change of heart and bowed to the pressure of the people and agreed to find the money owing to them from another source. This has not materialised and we are now in a period of petition and counter petition and revolution is in the air. The protest group have set a deadline of early April for this to be resolved or a set of serious measures will be taken.

It is difficult to find out what they are because of course no one wants a fight – they just want their money back.
Will this week bring a resolution?


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