Fire and fatalities
The week between Christmas and New Year is generally a quiet time in Majorca, but it was far from quiet because of the howling of the winds brought by Cyclone Bruno. It was far from quiet in Puerto Pollensa, where residents started to smell fire around half nine on Wednesday evening and then watched on with horror as the winds fanned flames in the Coll de Siller and spread towards Boquer and Cala San Vicente.
The sirens wailed and the fire crews arrived. For residents closer to the fire, there was evacuation. There was a fear that a butane gas storage deposit might be affected. The darkness - and the wind - didn't help the firefighters. Even so, they managed to contain the fire before the helicopter was able to fly at first light and dampen down flames. Remarkably, the Level One risk to property was downgraded to zero after around an hour of daylight on Thursday morning. Eighty hectares were burned.
By Barcares (Alcudia), 47-year-old Luis Jaume Estelrich lost his life. The Marina area of Pollensa Bay is one of Majorca's two premier spots for windsurfing and kitesurfing. The conditions were such that there was advice not to go out. Luis did, and it would appear that he suffered a heart attack. Two passers-by saw a body and a windsurf board in the sea. They were able to bring him to shore. Paramedics were unable to save him.
Christmas Eve claimed another road fatality, the 39th in Majorca this year. The incident occurred in Establiments, Palma. The car had been going at speed, the driver was drunk. A few days later, residents staged a protest against the inertia of the town hall and the Council of Majorca; they have been demanding improved road safety for years.
The Supreme Court in Madrid upheld one-year prison sentences that the Balearic Provincial Court had handed to five young people who had staged a pro-abortion protest in Palma's Sant Miquel Church in 2014. The court accepted their right to freedom of expression but concluded that they had knowingly contravened the right of religious freedom of others by having held the protest during mass. This right is enshrined in law, and denying it is an offence.
Calvia dog mess
Calvia town hall launched a new campaign directed at dog owners and their breaches of bylaws. This campaign will, among other things, remind owners that fines for not picking up dog excrement can be as high as 600 euros.
Foreign tourists and rentals
Foreign tourism in November, we learned, was almost back to the level it had been in 2008, so around the time that economic crisis started to kick in. The revival of November's tourism (177,390 foreign tourists in total for the whole of the Balearics) was evidence, it was suggested, of a lengthening of the season. Alternatively, it was evidence of what it had been nine years previously.
British and German holiday bookings for Majorca next year were said to be going well, especially for the earlier months of the season. Hotel occupancy rates were looking good. So might these owe at least something to the rentals legislation? Maybe.
Meanwhile, the Council of Majorca was suggesting that rental accommodation could be permitted in protected areas, such as in the Tramuntana. Given the nature of what the Council was referring to - properties on grand estates - the announcement seemed neither here nor there. The Tax Agency stating that Airbnb and its like will have to provide information on property owners and their clients as from 1 July, 2018 was of rather greater relevance for the rentals sector.
The election campaign about to start
President Armengol assessed her party's performance in 2017 and said that in 2018 there will be an "intense" campaign to win the elections in 2019. Prior to her having come out with this, we had already analysed "the year before the election", predicting that Armengol and PSOE will be doing all they can to avoid having to be as beholden as they are at present to Més and Podemos.
After two and a half years of the current administration, opinion polls show little real movement in voter intentions. The Partido Popular is stuck where it was in 2015. Més and Podemos have both slipped a little, and only Ciudadanos is making real gains (all things being relative, that is).