Meloneras, Gran Canaria – Tensions escalated this week between the San Bartolomé de Tirajana local council and businesses at the Meloneras commercial centre, as the authorities ordered the closure of four outdoor terraces, including the popular Aqua nightclub, a club that has been reportedly operating without all the appropriate permissions for some years.

 


The Policia Local executed a municipal order last Thursday, acting on a file initiated following repeated noise complaints from nearby residents and a neighbouring hotel. Deputy Mayor Alejandro Marichal confirmed the action, stating that the businesses were operating as unauthorised open-air nightclubs.

The Urban Planning and Urban Discipline Department, led by Davinia Ramírez, explained that despite not having the necessary permits, the businesses in question have been organising events on their terraces with high-volume sound systems operating until the early morning hours. This activity has resulted in ongoing disturbances to local residents and hotel guests, some of whom have taken the matter to court.

The issue is not new, and this isn’t the first time that the local council has closed such establishments. Previous instances have reached courtrooms, and the affected businesses now have a limited period to lodge appeals. They can also petition the courts for precautionary measures to try to lift the closure orders.

In response to the situation, at least one of the closed businesses, Bahama, has announced that they will relocate their planned weekend events from their now-closed Meloneras terrace to their secondary location at the Holiday World complex’s Botánico Terraza Club.

The closures highlight an ongoing issue of balancing tourism and nightlife with residential peace and quiet in the region’s most touristed municipality. It remains to be seen how this latest chapter in the ongoing conflict between local businesses and authorities will unfold.

A history of disobedience

The Town Council of San Bartolomé de Tirajana have previously reported the operators of nightclub terraces, in the Meloneras shopping centre, to the Las Palmas Provincial Prosecutor’s Office, back in April 2022, suspected of a “crime of disobedience” having violated a seal on the premises in force for a lack of proper licenses to run as a nightclub.

According to documents submitted by the then councillor of Urban Planning, Samuel Henríquez, the closure of the establishment was ordered in November 2021 due to “lack of the enabling title to carry out discotheque activity with powerful sound players on the terrace, and not having completed the responsible declaration process for the development of the activity”

Somehow, it seems, nightclub owners, and event promotors, such as these, have been able to repeatedly breach similar closures and court orders while generating huge profits despite repeated accusations of nuisance and noise.  Never mind the very likely presence of large quantities of illicit “night time substances” which always go hand in hand with such night time economies.

Questions must be asked about the management of night life rules, if only for the safety of our tourists and the youths that are attracted to the place; and how it is that court orders are not properly enforced by the authorities. No one is against holidaymakers or young people of every age group enjoying themselves, but shouldn’t that be within a framework of public safety and accountability?

It’s great that people go out, dress up, have their photos taken and have a good time, but if licences are not in place that means that no-one is taking responsibility for making sure people don’t get hurt, and there will be problems if anything goes wrong.

There could even be some who start to suggest there have been untoward relationships between the people breaking the rules and the people who are supposed to enforce them, and when that sort of rumour begins then you could be forgiven if members of the public began to lose confidence in their public servants.  You could be forgiven for suspecting that the laws do not apply down here.  But who will there be to forgive when things go really wrong?