Last Saturday’s ‘Council in the Square’ public meeting was held in San Antonio where Ibiza’s elected officials take a question and answer session. It was an interesting experience but what did we learn?
Firstly we learnt that even though the most vague comments on social media public forums attract scores of comments varying in levels of personal abuse when it comes down to it those keyboard warriors would rather stick to their Saturday routine and stay sat behind their computers than stand up and be counted.
The press reported that I ‘monopolised’ proceedings but that’s very easy to do when there are only 20 people in the audience, many there out of curiosity rather than to ask pertinent questions about the decisions that define our Island. This was disappointing in the extreme and shows the total apathy towards Ibiza politics.
We also learnt that these politicians are a slick bunch, smiling their way through 2 hours by answering questions with 5 minute speeches that contain more questions than answers. They also like to hide behind laws that they say they are unable to overcome to make our island a better place.
As expected the housing crisis took up the bulk of the questions and Viviana de Sans the Vice President of the Island Council and leader of the left wing ‘Podemos’ party had a finely worded script that she she has used on many occasions (including 3 times during this meeting).
My question about the housing problem to Sra de Sans was straightforward: “There are over 2000 apartments advertised online for touristic use which is illegal. How many inspectors do you have and how many fines have you given out”.
Sra de Sans repeated her prepared script without going into specifics but when pushed she admitted that under existing legislation it is difficult to prosecute apartment owners when they produce long term contracts even though they are clearly renting short term or say that only family and friends stay. I asked her if they had issued many sanctions and when put on the spot she admitted that less than 100 fines had been given out (and by her body language I suspect its a LOT less than 100).
De Sans is a skilled orator and you can see why she has become the pied piper of the left. Another good talker is Pepa Mari, a career politician who has been around for many years for the socialist PSOE party. She’s now in charge of transport and mobility and fielded questions on taxis, too many cars, public transport and winter flights. She smiled her was through but as is usual in Ibiza, we seem to make life difficult without using the obvious solutions to the big problems. Sra Mari took slight offence to my ascertation that instead of spending thousands sending large political delegations to travel shows around Europe the money would be better spent ‘helping’ Ryanair to put on more international winter flights.
As the questions dried up and the organisers tried to avoid eye contact with me I decided to throw in a last curveball to Miguel Vericad the environment councillor of the left wing Guanyem party. After they eventually gave me the mic I asked: “why did you let the people from Mallorca kill our goats, it was a PR disaster on a global scale, do you regret it?”
The press reported this as ‘a final poisoned dart’ however all I wanted was for him to say that they made a mistake. Sr Vericad came across as a very nice bloke and he explained that he received many death threats but still insisted that it was the right decision although he admitted that is was a public relations nightmare and could have been handled differently.
As the meeting came to an end I had a brief chat with Sr Vericad who I had warmed to over the preceding couple of hours as he looked like an old teacher of mine in his baggy crumpled jacket and comfortable shoes. The politicians went off to another paid for lunch and I mulled over what we learnt? Nothing that we didn’t know already: Not enough apartments, poor laws that’s don’t allow us to fix problems, poor public transport, too many cars, not enough taxis, not enough winter flights (but it’s improving) and some Ibiza restaurants serve a good goat stew (according to my new friend Miguel).
Most importantly we learnt that the ‘Facebook agitators’ are exactly that but for me the meeting wasn’t about any miracle answers or solutions but more about getting the politicians to comment on public record so there’s no hiding place for them if they don’t follow through.