The Majorca Restaurants Association has lodged an appeal for judicial review of Palma town hall's bylaw as it affects establishments in La Lonja. Under the revised ordinance, restaurant terraces have to close at 11pm, an hour earlier than was the case on Mondays to Thursdays and ninety minutes earlier than at weekends.
The appeal makes clear that restaurants will be unable to continue providing the same service if terraces have to be closed by eleven o'clock during the tourism season. It is normal, the association points out, for diners (Majorcan and Spanish especially) to sit down at ten o'clock. The town hall's measure will result in the loss of a significant number of jobs and in financial losses running into the millions.
The association suggests that earlier closure of terraces will lead to degradation of La Lonja and it argues that the revised bylaw is the result of "manifest incompetence". At the centre of its complaint is the councillor for public service, Aurora Jhardi of Podemos, who was responsible for revision of municipal regulation of terraces. She will not be a councillor once the new administration is settled; she wasn't on the Podemos list for the town hall election.
Noise from terraces, the association maintains, is not an issue. The establishments are restaurants; they are not nightlife and they are not bars just for drinking. There are eighteen in all and none have ever been the subject of proceedings because of noise.
The document which deals with the earlier closure, the association adds, runs to twelve pages but these do not contain analysis or rigour to justify the measure. "The bylaw was amended without supporting reports, without public participation, without public information, without a financial and economic report and without any analysis of alternatives." The whole thing was arbitrary and, in the view of the association's president, Alfonso Robledo, solely the product of electoral motives on behalf of Aurora Jhardi.
The bylaw came into effect in mid-April and doesn't only apply to La Lonja. Robledo says that some restaurants have been fined. The police have been turning up at five minutes past eleven. The appeal for judicial review is asking for the suspension of the earlier closing time while the court considers the association's legal challenge.