Judge José Castro, who retires this week.

02-06-2017Efe

The effects of snow
Snow last weekend did as snow normally does in Majorca - attract people to go and see it. And they did. Later in the week, we learned that Escorca town hall was concerned about the number of people and especially their cars. It is a problem. Roads and infrastructure in the highest parts of the Tramuntana, and that means Escorca, aren't really designed for massive amounts of vehicles. There again, if things genuinely are to be "better in winter", perhaps consideration needs to be given to some better infrastructure for winter.


Public holidays
There were two public holidays last week. President Armengol chose the first of these, Constitution Day, to call for constitutional reform and a federal Spain. She has said this often enough in the past without having given a clear idea as to what this federalism might look like. On this occasion she did at least venture that it would "celebrate a state that is rich in cultures, languages and history".

Island residents were taking the public holidays' opportunity to get away. London, said the Balearic travel agencies association, was topping the list. The exchange rate and Christmas shopping were the big incentives.


Brexit and citizenship
Brexit has of course affected the exchange rate, and the announcement of a breakthrough in negotiations was timely for governments of Spain's regions. Their representatives had attended a conference at which the deputy prime minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, offered assurances but no real clarity on issues of concern, such as citizens' rights. There now is some.

For British residents in the Balearics, a post-Brexit option has been to apply for Spanish citizenship. This had perhaps always seemed a touch unnecessary, as the expectation had surely been that a satisfactory deal on citizens' rights would be achieved. Still, there are some who have made that decision but very few. The latest figures for foreigners in the Balearics taking out Spanish citizenship showed an increase to over 6,000, but these were overwhelmingly people from Morocco and South America. Only 127 EU nationals had taken out citizenship, with Italians heading the list.


Yet more on rentals
The Exceltur alliance for tourist excellence, an elite organisation with nine of its 23 member businesses being leading hotel groups, took aim again at holiday rentals. These were the cause of so-called "tourismphobia", its latest report suggested. In considering this, we observed that while rentals have been a factor in anti-tourist sentiment, such as in Palma, they are part of a wider issue of social attitudes. It is wrong to therefore single them out. We concluded that there needs to be a "more nuanced debate" and not one that points fingers. "Rentals are not going away, however much Exceltur might want them to."

The Aptur holiday rentals association was critical of the Council of Majorca's "opacity" with regard to its zoning for rentals. Town halls, the association said, were mainly in the dark as to criteria and application. In Palma, meanwhile, the restaurants association was attributing a 50% increase in city-centre restaurant business activity this year to boutique hotels. The association made no mention of any influence from holiday rentals, which seemed a little odd, even if the rentals legislation has diminished the availability over the last four months.


Shopping centres
While islanders were taking themselves off on shopping trips to London, shopping centres in Majorca were causing a fuss. Més in Inca voiced their opposition to the prospect of large commercial centres in the town, advocating a focus on local business rather than the big, multiple retailers. The same party was saying similar things in Santa Margalida. The town hall was looking at a plan for a complex the size of six football pitches in an unspoiled area of Son Serra de Marina. Our opinion on this was that it was a "crazy idea".


Judge Castro
Judge José Castro is the best known of Majorca's judges. Since going to the Court of Instruction in 1991 he has investigated some high-profile names, such as Princess Cristina and the ex-Balearic president, Jaume Matas. Now 72, his final day is this Tuesday, and we paid homage to this "hero of the people".

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