Terraferida's Airbnb maps
Few weeks pass without some mention of holiday rentals, but last week took some beating for the sheer volume of news. It started with the environmental pressure group Terraferida revealing the extent of what it claimed were unlicensed rentals in Majorca that were being offered on Airbnb at the start of last year. These weren't just apartments (though the vast majority were); they included the weird and the wonderful - caves and a tree house.
The Aptur holiday rentals association said that Terraferida had drawn false conclusions. It may well have done in certain instances, but overwhelmingly the properties were ones for which there can be no licence if they are being marketed for holiday purposes. Terraferida returned later in the week and gave more up-to-date figures: the number of properties had risen by getting on for four thousand.
Palma divisions over holiday rentals
In Palma there was talk of a ban on holiday rentals. This came from the deputy mayor for the model of the city, Antoni Noguera. It became clear that his announcement was not town hall policy. PSOE, which holds the mayor's post at present (it will be relinquished to Noguera of Més in June), criticised Noguera for speaking out of turn and for blowing his own trumpet.
We saw a good deal of politics in play in all this. Noguera was in effect making a mayoral statement without yet being mayor. The current mayor, José Hila, seemed to view what he said in just this way as well.
Hotel building licence moratorium
Noguera was meanwhile taking note of a residents' federation call for there to be a three-year moratorium on the issuing of any new building licences for city and boutique hotels. He explained that licence suspensions could only be for one year. No moratorium was declared, though it is possible there might be a one-year suspension at some point. Opposition parties and the hoteliers were naturally opposed to this, though the hoteliers added that they were open to having discussions on "sustainable development".
Back on the holiday rentals' theme, there was an unusual story from Ibiza. The island's council has employed a company to root out illegal rentals. One way that it proposes doing this is by taking note of beach towels hanging from balconies. The Partido Popular, in opposition, thought this was all a bit daft.
Més, scandal and crisis
Antoni Noguera's party, Més, found itself at the centre of a storm. It was revealed that five ministerial contracts and one from Noguera's department had all been awarded to the same company. This is operated by Jaume Garau, who had run the Més election campaign in 2015. While the contract amounts weren't problematic, and Biel Barceló of Més said the contracts had been offered to other companies, there was the distinct whiff of scandal because of apparent favouritism.
The fallout was considerable. One of the ministers, Ruth Mateu, resigned (or was she pushed?) and Garau was expelled from the party. Then the Minorca branch of Més, indignant that one of their own - Mateu - had been singled out, announced that it was quitting the government. A genuine crisis for the Armengol government has now developed.
Biel Company became the new president of the Partido Popular in the Balearics. He easily beat his rival, ex-Balearic president José Ramón Bauzá. One of his first acts as the party's new leader was to ask why there weren't other resignations by ministers - Biel Barceló's ministry and Vicenç Vidal's environment ministry were responsible for three of the contracts.
All that gas
There were two gas stories, both involving butane. A delivery lorry in Soller slid down an embankment and turned over, setting off something of an alarm when the gas bottles were thrown from the lorry. No one was hurt and the bottles didn't cause a problem. This was not the case in Esporles where a gas bottle exploded. A 72-year-old received severe burns, while the explosion caused damage to the building and to cars in the street.
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