Mogán town hall do not appear to be focused on even the simplest jobs in hand. Just one week after Puerto Rico SA were forced by the Coastal Authority (Costas) to sign over management of the main Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria beach services concession, to the Ayuntamiento de Mogán (town hall), they have this Wednesday felt compelled to return once more with their beach beds and parasols following a raft of complaints from tourists and local business owners. Surprisingly it is these very politicians, claiming to serve local interests, who have lobbied for for years to take control of the beach from the company that built it, founded by the long-influential Roca family, who have provided services since the very earliest beginnings of this popular holiday resort area, since 1972, following their purchase of the entire valley some five years earlier.
Just seven days after terminating the administrative seasonal services concession that the company has operated for 49 years, ordering the removal of all their equipment, they have found themselves returning to provide some continuity of service, while waiting to find out if any other plans are already in motion to supply these basic facilities, in the middle of the winter high-season. The simplest of procedures has turned into a fiasco.
Puerto Rico SA explained yesterday that they requested permission from the Costas, last Monday, to put back the sunbeds and parasols they were told to remove, but had not yet received a reply, and in view of the uncomfortable situation that the absence of this furniture has generated, both among tourists who come to the beach to enjoy the sun, and among local business men, including tenants of the company’s various properties keen to add their voices to such dealings, they decided that, in their view, this transitional situation is likely to last until a proper replacement concession is put out to tender by the town hall. So, they have concluded, the only remaining option for continuing to offer this service, is to return with their own furniture, which the Costas had given them a maximum of two months to remove. Following last Wednesday’s act of reversion, which is still subject to an ongoing appeal, Puerto Rico SA had complied immediately with the written order to vacate the space, however they now appear to realise that Mogán town hall were not fully prepared to replace the services with any other, leaving the beach unattended and without the usual facilities offered to visitors.
Puerto Rico SA pointed out that by making this decision it has assumed that they may well be fined, with an administrative sanction, for failing to comply with the Costas order forcing them to remove the hammocks and parasols. At the same time, they said, they were also confident that this department of the Ministry of Ecological Transition is likely to be “understanding” based on their providing a remedy, in some way, for tourists who demand this service, until alternatives can be provided by the local administration who is now responsible.
For its part, the Ministry of Ecological Transition reported yesterday that although the Mogán Town Council were the ones to have requested authorisation to take over seasonal services, it will not be possible to continue processing that authorisation until the outstanding appeal has been resolved, after which, they added, the processing of seasonal services should be fairly quick.
Some of these local businessmen expressed their strong opinion that the resort’s image was being damaged, once again, without basic beach furniture, or lifeguards, cleaning services, toilets or showers, and that they felt it could be the “final blow” following the effects of the pandemic and stoppages they have endured over the last 18 months.
Puerto Rico as a resort has not really, in any way, been damaged at all, but this is a farce, and was perfectly avoidable. Some people, it seems, make too much noise and confuse issues, and others choose to stay silent in the face of difficult situations. This was not a situation that needed to play out as it has. But then, the wild south-west of Gran Canaria can be a surprising place.
Is it really so difficult to ensure that basic beach services are provided to visitors enjoying their long over-due holidays with us? Here we have a small-town town hall insisting on taking control of the beaches, refusing to wait for an appeal judgement, and yet failing to properly think-through or plan for proper services provision. Clearly their interest appears limited to simply unseating the long-standing concessionaire, without thinking through the consequences of the ongoing legal action. Shouldn’t Mogán’s town hall be thinking a little more strategically, as public servants? What do they think about?
At the same time we have the company that literally built the resort town, understandably disgruntled by apparent opposition within their own public representatives, and unable to find a way of working with these servants of the citizens of Mogán, despite both sides having been enriched over the last half century, holding privileged positions within the development of the entire economic area, choosing instead to put on a show of giving the politicians a lesson in how not to look after our visitors, and then riding in to “save” the day, backed by rowdy voices of independent businessmen who have felt underserved by this administration and its questionable planning practices.
Really, would it have been so hard for Mogán to just wait a little longer for the outcome of the appeal? Did the hammocks have to be removed so quickly? What is the mayor’s thinking on this anyway? Let’s hope everyone tries to be a little more strategically broadminded and puts an end to this sort of useless fracas.
Trouble at mill
Despite the importance of tourism for the south-west of Gran Canaria, the local town hall appear a little more distracted than usual.
Perhaps (and this is just conjecture) the recent decision to compel the still-serving Mayor of Mogán to face trial has something to do with it? In the first of four separate cases under enquiry, she and several others have been accused of attempting to silence witnesses, as part of an ongoing vote-rigging investigation, following their very public arrest by the Guardia Civil last year. Perhaps not everyone’s head is in the game.
The alleged co-conspirators all maintained their silence in October and refused to give evidence, or respond at all to accusations of vote buying and alleged dodgy-dealings, as is their right, during the initial hearings that began back in the summer. While the investigations continue, Mayor Bueno will be standing trial for allegedly trying to silence witnesses, with offers of cash and employment for her accusers who’d agree to change their story on the stand.
Mogán also took control of the controversial Tauro Beach this summer, following the removal of the concession there, and have plans to do the same at Amadores beach, to which Puerto Rico SA have also been providing services since they constructed it some 20 years ago. For the first time in fifty years, since the jet age tourist boom of the 1960s, the local administration has its sights at last set on controlling the revenues from their beaches, in theory at least, providing future income for use in service of the people of the wider Mogán area, rather than the enrichment of private corporations. Whatever your views, it is incumbent on local government to manage these relationships to the mutual benefit of all in the municipality, not simply grab control but then do nothing more to ensure a well run tourism offer for the nearly 1m people estimated to visit during the normal run of each year.
Meanwhile, at least for the time being, beach services have returned for our visitors, while judicial rumblings throughout Mogán continue quietly on, unseen and unheard by the average “choni” in the street.
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