Pollensa's tourism is heavily reliant on holiday rental accommodation.

08-10-2007Andrew Ede

Pollensa's mayor, Miquel Àngel March, is a former spokesperson for the environmentalist group GOB. This background may, therefore, make it seem surprising that he and his grouping at the town hall, Junts Avançam, are advocating that holiday rentals' legislation ensures that properties already registered with the tourism ministry can continue whether or not there are pending proceedings for any infraction or queries over certification of habitability.

The Alternativa per Pollença, opposed to a motion to this effect at last week's council meeting, asked the "ecologist mayor" if his position did not amount to "ideological defection". "We don't know what else to call it."

March, who is an independent, heads the Junts coalition of PSOE, Més and the Republican Left, remained silent during the debate on the motion. For the Junts, it was the tourism councillor Iliana Capllonch who did the talking. The motion was passed unanimously, except for the Alternativa. It therefore received the backing of the Partido Popular, Tots (a spin-off from the PP), the Unió Mollera Pollencina and the non-accredited councillor Martí Roca.

Although the motion did not expressly mention infractions, it was clear that its purpose was to allow the continuation of holiday rentals whether or not they comply with planning regulations. These properties, villas more often than not, have been licensed as holiday rentals since the late 1990s.

The issue of holiday rentals is an especially sensitive one for Pollensa. It has long been the leader in Majorca for tourist villas and it still is. The number of registered and legal holiday rentals' places (all in villas or houses therefore and not apartments) exceeds the number of hotel places in the municipality. Pollensa is unique in this regard. In all other main tourist resorts, the number of hotel places is well above that for rental properties.

The tourism ministry has responded by pointing out that it doesn't control urban planning regulations. These are matters for town halls and the island councils. However, if there are sanctions for serious infringements, the ministry explains, the properties concerned cannot, under the upcoming legislation, be marketed until they are made fully legal.

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