By Ray Fleming

The World Outside.

As a general rule this page confines itself to events and issues of local Balearic and Majorcan interest.

However, from time to time the wider world intrudes and cannot be ignored. This has recently happened with two major disputes -- between Britain and Spain over Gibraltar, again, and following familiar lines -- and also between the West and Syria over the latter’s chemical weapons attack on its own citizens.

As it happened a leading Conservative MP, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, was on holiday on Majorca as his party called all its MP’s back to London for a hastily arranged House of Commons debate on Britain’s role on possble military action with the United States against the Syrian government.

Mr Clinton-Brown is currently chairman of the Conservative party’s International Office and therefore close to what is at stake.

In an interview with the Bulletin’s Humphrey Carter before he left for London the MP said that he would be voting against a military strike and expressed considerable reservations about the principle of international intervention in Syria and especially over Britain’s participation in it as proposed by prime minister David Cameron.

Mr Clifton-Brown’s concluding comment in the interview was, "It is going to be a tough call for the prime minister to make" -- a prediction that was to be borne out in the government’s dramatic defeat in the Commons vote.

An article by the senior Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale, a regular contributor to the Bulletin, appeared alongside the interview with Geoffrey Clifton-Brown.

After a detailed analysis of the issues Sir Roger expressed "grave concern" about a possible strike against the Assad regime and said that he "remained to be convinced that any intervention now will be other than too little, too late and ineffective."

(Although Seven Days does not normally include political comment it is probably a fair observation that in a single page on Thursday the Bulletin caught the spirit of several of his MPs’ opposition to his policy that would lead to Mr Cameron’s historic defeat in the Commons later in the day.)

The holiday letting maze

A Letter to the Editor by a Minorca resident thanked the Bulletinfor its continuing coverage of the legally complex issue of holiday letting of private properties.

After outlining the key issues and asking the newspaper to "carry on being our voice" the writer made this plea to the authorities -- Please Keep It Simple.

"If only" was probably the response of many who read that request.

In the following few days the Bulletin carried two reports on the latest government thinking on the subject, three commentaries by Bulletin columnists and a survey of legislation by a lawyer. By the end of the week Gerry Mulligan came to the rescue on his Local Comment page with a proposal for a "concise, unambiguous booklet, in the appropriate languages, explaining the way to stay legal as a new resident in the Balearics".

The problem, as he admitted, would be to find someone able to spend the years necessary to weed through the bureaucracy to discover the rules.

And to keep pace with their changes, he might have added.

Dog business

Another legal matter that is frequently in the news is dog dirt in the

streets. It is a complaint frequently mentioned in Letters to the Editor but in her Calvia column Angie Guerrero responded on behalf of the Calvia authorities to accusations that the law requring dog owners to clean up after they have done their business is not enforced.

She said it is enforced and fines imposed on a regular basis but in the end the problem can only be dealt with satisfactorily if dog owners play their part. The ordenza municipal says: "Dogs must be on the lead at all times in the public domain.

Dog owners must carry plastic bags, poop scoops or something to clean up their dogs mess."

Fines for failing to observe the law can run as high as 600 euros. Guerrero said that when she gets grumbles about the fines she tells the person concerned, "Pay the fine, learn the lesson and clean up after your dog in future."

Coastal law changes

Still on the legal track, the Bulletin carried an analysis by Alejandro Bellapart of recent changes to Spanish coastal law which, he said, represent "a positive step to permit the renovation of coastal properties hitherto condemned to simple maintenance repair, and undoubtedly will help to reactive the real estate market in privileged coastal properties". Sr Bellapart conceded, however, that the new law "diverges from the original spirit of the 1988 Coastal Law, which was that the Spanish coast should become free of buildings, an objective which unfortunately has not been achieved."


In Brief

Two groups of tourists were involved in a fight in Andraitx on market day when the bus service to Palma could not take them all. The police were called and decided that those with children should be given priority.

Playa de Palma was the site of a stand-off between police and about one hundred illegal street traders who encircled the police when they tried to arrest one of their number.

Eventually two police riot squads reached the scene and brought the incident to a close.

The Bulletin’s report identified the traders as Senagalese. The national tax authorities released figures for those earning more than 600,000 euros a year.

Of the 5,612 in that tax bracket 123 are based in the Balearics -- a lower figure than expected given the number of apparently very rich people with homes here.

Approximaely two thousand Balearic residents declared incomes of over 150,000 a year.