PALMA City Council yesterday unanimously approved draft legislation to put an end to street drinking parties, known as the botellón.
The new bylaw, which is based on already-existing rules but toughened with measures introduced by the Partido Popular (PP) in opposition on the Council, are due to be passed by a plenary session in the autumn.
The updated proposal states that all mass gatherings, whatever their purpose - whether they be for sporting, political or drinking purposes - are illegal if they continue to interfere with the daily lives and business activities of other people in the area and if they pose a threat to public order and safety. It also states categorically that under-age drinking out on the street will become completely illegal.
Agreement was reached yesterday in an extraordinary session of the Council called specifically for the purpose. The move had cross-party backing and after the proposals are published in the official Bulletin of the Balearic Islands (BOIB), there will be a period of 45 days when claims and complaints against the bylaw can be put forward for Council consideration. Later, a committee will decide whether or not the suggestions and amendments will be added to the text of the draft law which was approved yesterday.
Jose Hila, Palma's Transport Councillor, said at this most recent meeting that the draft law will stop crowd gatherings in the street if they impose on the right of other citizens to live peacefully, if they result in dirt and litter being strewn everywhere, and if they mean that people not involved in the gatherings are prevented from using the rights of way on public roads and pavements.
The new bylaw also makes reference to stopping gatherings in areas at times where they are most likely to conflict with specific use by members of the public. These particular measures aim not just to protect such areas as the Paseo Maritimo between 10pm and 8am where a clean and attractive image for tourists is of vital importance to the local economy, but also ground around hospitals and schools, spaces close to buildings that are of historic or cultural importance, and territory which is of recognised environmental significance.
Other clauses in the draft legislation prohibit the sale of alcohol in shops from midnight to 8am, or from vending machines and itinerant street sellers. It will also be forbidden to throw empty drinks containers away on public ground, whatever material they are made of.
Hila said that the fines for infringement of the law when it is passed later this year will mean fines of between 750 and 3'000 euros depending on the seriousness of its nature. An alternative will be offered, where the Courts consider it appropriate, of community service instead of paying cash, he said. Where offences are committed by minors, the law will hold the parents or legal guardians responsible, confirmed Hila. Sanctions will be heavier, he said, if it is proven that the minors have broken the law as a result of negligence on the part of their parents or guardians.
A committee will be set up when the new legislation is passed to monitor the efficiency of the new measures in minimising social conflict caused by large public gatherings.