30-03-2016Miquel A. Cañellas

The Calle Oms in Palma is one of the city's busiest walkways, as it connects the Plaza España to La Rambla. It has seventeen bar/restaurant terraces, and the town hall is proposing that they be moved to the sides of the street, so right in front of their relevant establishments. This has come about because of a recommendation from the fire service. Having the terraces in the centre of the street can impede emergency services.

Business reaction to this has been mixed, although Mateo Martorell, the president of the street's businesses association, says that some establishments would be harmed by the measure, as they would have less space for their terraces.

For the moment, however, any decision is on hold. This is because it has been realised that there is a European directive which says that there needs to be a free line of movement right in front of establishments to allow blind people to have good access: the walls of buildings are used as a way of guiding them with a stick.

The town hall's public services councillor, Aurora Jhardi, says that in any event the town hall will be looking for a consensus solution. "It isn't necessary to impose anything because there isn't an emergency situation and nor is there any technical report which refers to safety risks. They are just recommendations."

An option, quite obviously, is to move the terraces closer to the fronts of establishments but leave space in line with the directive. Whatever decision is to be taken will not be until the end of April at the earliest, when there is to be a further meeting. The town hall will be taking account of complying with both accessibility and safety criteria.

The terraces along Oms form part of a wider town hall consideration of the occupation of public space. In this respect, a meeting this week has also looked at the harmonising of terrace furniture specifications and the procedures for granting licences.

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