"Top manta" street selling proliferates in the centre of Palma. | Joan Torres

Concerns with illegal street selling in Palma never go away (nor do they in other places), and small retailers are once more demanding strong measures, suggesting that police tolerance is shown towards it.

The Pimeco association wants immediate steps to be taken and is proposing that buyers are fined as well as sellers. It is urgent, the association says, to put a stop to the unbridled proliferation of illegal selling that has been witnessed on the streets in the centre of Palma over the past few weeks.

Pimeco maintains that there has been a further increase in the "top manta" style of selling (placing goods on a blanket), especially in areas such as the Parc de la Mar, the Cathedral and the Plaça Major, and that this has extended to the Born and the calle Colón. There are, according to the association, 21 illegal sellers in s'Hort del Rey and usually more than 60 in the Plaça Major and surrounding areas.

These sellers harm small retailers who pay taxes and comply with all regulations but have to put up with unfair competition right outside their premises. Such activity, moreover, damages and devalues the city's tourist image.

The president of Pimeco, Bernat Coll, has called for meetings with the town hall's public safety councillor, Angelica Pastor, and the national government's delegate, Maria Salom, in order to coordinate police control. Neither the town hall nor the government's delegation "can look the other way".

"We support there being social alternatives for these people, who have no choice but to sell on the streets, but the law has to be enforced," Coll said yesterday. He then raised the possibility of sanctions being handed out to purchasers but also suggested that there should be an intensive information campaign directed at tourists and residents. He observed that in places such as Peñiscola on the mainland, measures such as these have proved to be very effective in the past couple of years.