August is upon us, the vacation month, the month when the whole Spanish system effectively shuts down and Puerto is no different (not that anyone gets over-excited here during the rest of the year!)
So again I am faced with the same dilemma, finger poised over the keyboard, thinking what on earth there is to write about.
What has the council had to say for itself lately? A good place to start. There have been plenty of new announcements; I hesitated slightly before typing new, because of course, although the announcements may be new, their content surely isn’t.
Playa Martiánez, for instance. Work will commence on phase one after the summer. Work is expected to start on the new bus station before the end of the year. News of the new port project is imminent, this month, or maybe next, depending on how many more amendments have to be made to the overall plan.
There is a reoccurring theme; the timescales, they are so very vague and lacking commitment. Are there local elections coming up by chance? Next year I think, so perhaps we will yet see some of these long outstanding projects at least get underway.
So what is actually happening in Puerto? San Telmo, for a start and true to their word, access to the sea, if not the small beach, has been reopened, an anxious attempt to retain its coveted blue flag status, no doubt. Yes, there is access, but it is by no means easy, constructed from scaffolding, I would liken it to an assault course.
Anyone with a fear of confined spaces, or sufferers of vertigo, should definitely give it a miss. I am not a supporter of overzealous health and safety regulations; have often applauded they apparent lack of them here. More often than not they appear to place unnecessary constraints on projects, causing delays, where a common sense policy is all that is needed. I take back my words; this is one time when they should be stringently applied. This bridge to provide access should never have been constructed, common sense should have told them that an accident is waiting to happen.
More roads in the area are to be resurfaced; a list has been published of the streets that will receive the black stuff and rightly so. We all paid our RFL, or the local equivalent of it a few months ago, so it is good to see that some of this money has filtered its way down and will be spent on maintaining the local roads where it should be.
So it seems Camino Tapias was not a one off; this former bumpy track is now so smooth that it has created a new problem. Now drivers using the narrow winding lane are going much too fast. The council for its part have installed a 20 kph speed limit and placed warning signs to alert drivers of pedestrians, but it is not enough, road signs are often ignored. Speed humps, or traffic calming measures , as they like to call them now, although I still prefer to call them by the old term ‘sleeping policemen’, that is what is needed now and they shouldn’t be too hard to find.
There have been reports of restaurant and bar owners not only taking the Council to task, but going further and actually taken it to court over increases in the charge levied this year for outside tables. There have been reports of charges being twice, or even in some cases, three times that of previous years. They had my sympathy, my thoughts were along the lines of, the money grabbing so and so’s, or something similar, but now my opinion has changed. There are two sides to every story and the Council’s side has a ring of truth to it.
Their reply to restaurant claims is that the charge is reflective of the actual number of tables being used. Reading between the lines, I would say that restaurants that are consistently putting out more tables than they have declared are now being asked to pay for them. Take a walk through Plaza del Charco on any weekend evening and you are dodging tables and chairs, evidence enough, I suspect. Either way it is a dispute that needs to be settled and in a courtroom is not the best place for that to happen, but ultimately it will be the customer who has to pay.
Now it seems, as if to throw another spanner into the works, there has been recent Canarian government legislation that states that the number of tables and chairs, be they inside or out, are to be restricted depending on both the number of and the size of the toilet facilities that the establishment has. Bad news for owners of small bars with large terraces, but good news overall if it results in improvements to facilities, many of which are barely adequate.
More of the town’s wheelie bins are going underground, this time, just off Calle Mequinez, bins that are not even prominent. They have been working there a couple of months; I wonder just how long it takes to dig a hole.
I have said in the past that I am not a fan of this out of sight is out of mind approach to dealing with the rubbish. It is not as if it works, rubbish does not just come in uniform size and when it doesn’t fit the chute it is simply stacked up alongside. Sort of defeats the object don’t you think. I fully understand the logic behind the move to hide unsightly rubbish from view in popular and prominent positions, but if that is the town’s aim, why then weren’t the row of smelly bins alongside the harbour, in what must be one of the most popular tourist spots, the first ones to go below ground.
I may be writing this in brilliant sunshine with clear blue skies, but let’s be honest the weather in Puerto has not been great this last couple of months. More fuel for the ‘it’s colder in the north, it’s always cloudy’ brigade, but this year unfortunately it has been true.
The cloud for the last two months has decided to take up almost permanent residence in the Orotava valley. Let’s hope the last few days of sunshine are a sign of better things to come.
As a result of the weather I have been spending more time out of Puerto, visiting neighbouring towns and the surrounding area, just half an hour away yet they have enjoyed entirely different weather.
Having visited various events and fiestas it has been interesting to see the different approaches and the organisation of such events. Quite an eye opener when compared to similar events in Puerto, but then perhaps they have more money to spend.
Author Brian Eldridge and first published in Tenerife News
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