By Andrew Ede
IT was 2008 when the great pedestrianisation-which-wasn’t farce erupted in Puerto Pollensa. The eruption was one of almost total opposition. The town hall was, among other things, accused of not observing European rules on public consultation for a project with certain environmental ramifications. There were further accusations - of non-consultation full stop. The scheme, an experimental version, was scrapped after only a short period and was subsequently forgotten by the previous town hall administration. It has resurfaced during the current administration. It was to have been Mayor Cifre’s "star" project.
Politicians should be mightily wary of announcing star projects. The former president of the Balearics, Francesc Antich, did just this when he was elected in 2007. His administration was to have overseen the "age of the train". It turned out to be the age of the drain as first the rail extension to Alcúdia was flushed down the pan and then the renewed Manacor to Artà line started to head for the sidings. It was a star that imploded through political infighting and lack of money.
Cifre’s star project has at least benefited from consultation. It has also benefited from something more like agreement. But it is unlikely to happen. Lack of money is the reason; the lack of the tourism ministry’s money, to be precise.
The project was intended to be a collaboration between the town hall, which was in for almost half the 1.7 million euros funding, the Council of Majorca and the ministry. Because the ministry has seemingly committed itself to paying for the expropriation and demolition of the Rocamar hotel in Sóller, it doesn’t have the odd 600 grand lying around that would be required of it to make the pedestrianisation a goer. Is anyone really weeping though? Maybe some people are, but the scheme, a compromise in that it would only have been semi-pedestrianised and would still have permitted traffic from one direction, has not shone as brightly as a star project should. Half-pedestrianisation, half-baked, it hasn’t had anyone cheering loudly or anyone moaning lowly.
Semi or full pedestrianisation, a question has long hung over the project. Why bother? What actually would it achieve? Does Puerto Pollensa truly need pedestrianisation that was first envisaged under a plan drawn up in the late 1960s? It’s not as if part of the frontline isn’t already pedestrianised. Why extend it? As a project, the motivation has seemed to be more a case of doing something for the sake of it rather than doing something with specific objectives in mind. If the ministry hasn’t got 600 grand to spend, then so be it. The project will doubtless crop up again and, as is the way, will doubtless run up against a different problem. A word of advice to whoever might revive it though. Just don’t go calling it a star project.