THE Mayor of Calvia, Carlos Delgado, was at the centre of a major row yesterday after it was revealed that he has been hosting a series of lunches at a top Palmanova restaurant for foreign residents. The lunches were allegedly paid for using council funds.

The socialist PSOE opposition said it was the latest attempt by the Partido Popular controlled council to court foreign voters ahead of the local elections in May. “We believe that using council funds to pay for the lunches is an electoral crime,” the PSOE said in a statement, adding that “Delgado is insulting the intelligence of the foreign community by attempting to buy their vote with a free lunch.” The council maintains that the lunches were a way of exchanging ideas with foreign residents. “The citizens of Calvia should not have to pay for these electoral lunches. If Delgado wants to buy lunch for foreign residents then he should pay for it himself,” the PSOE said in a communique.

So far Delgado has had lunch with Calvia's Italian, French, Bulgarian, Dutch and Swedish residents. Yesterday, he was due to hold a lunch for the Polish community and later this month it will be the turn of residents from Belgium, Romania and Denmark. Delgado has been accompanied at these lunches by Kate Mentink, a member of Calvia council and Director for European Citizens of the Balearic government.