Music, traffic and winter closures in Soller
The issues that concern Soller people this week are complex and various. The music of the town was high on the agenda as three hundred of us attended the concert to celebrate the patron saint of music – Saint Cecilia. The concert was held in the Convent church at the entrance to town last Saturday. We all arrived at the advertised time of 7.30 pm to find that the mass was underway and that the start time really means when the church service finishes the concert will begin. Such little publicity for this and few posters around town but still the church was packed. There is a great thirst for music in Soller and all are delighted to have the concert within walking distance of most of the audience’s homes.
Susan Bradbury the acclaimed pianist of Soller played and accompanied the clarinet and flute soloists. The saxophonist announced that she was introducing a contemporary feel to her solo and prepared us for an ultra modern sound. The Pro Musica Chorus sang as did three other musical groups of Soller. What a concert – it was stunning – the talent here in our midst is overwhelming and the musical traditions that encourage this are alive in Soller and practised daily
In the centre of town the rhetoric grows, everyone is very vocal about the decision to introduce traffic again to the Lluna which is our main shopping street. For a number of years the traffic has been stopped apart from delivery vans at appointed times. Now that has all changed and from 9 pm to 8 am a reverse flow of traffic is to be allowed down the street again. This is very good news if you are trying to get into the centre from Biniaraix and Fornalutx but bad news if you live along the Lluna and have got used to the quiet pedestrianised street. The subject reaches boiling point on the
Social networking hubs such as face book and twitter and everyone has a view. This has become a political storm with all three parties who oppose the ruling party here in Soller against the measure.
Soller is on the verge of signing an Inter European Traffic Agreement which will mean that fines imposed on cars of visitors can be collected from their country of origin. A company exists that will fine the lawbreakers and extract the money from them. They will keep 43% of the fine as a fee for their work and the town council will have the benefit of the remaining 57%. At present most fines on visitors are unpaid so to collect 57% of the money outstanding for the towns coffers is understandable. This is a four year agreement in the first instance and is one more way the Town Council are seeking to balance their books.
Our cathedral like church of Sant Bartholomew in the centre of town announced that for the first time in its history it is closing to visitors for two months – December and January. It will be open for normal church services but not for sightseeing or contemplation. The hours that the church is usually opened to visitors is manned by a team of willing volunteers. They sit at the entrance selling postcards and answering questions on the fine building. In the winter every time it is opened over 100 lights have to be switched on. So to save a little money the volunteers are to be given two months off and the church will remain closed. It will re open to all from 1st February 2013.
The Botanical Gardens of Soller has also announced a closure for the month of December. For the same reason as the Church the gardens are saving money by closing for their quietest month. These decisions are causing concern in Soller as people feel it is sending out the wrong message to visitors. Soller does receive an influx for Christmas and the New Year celebrations and now there are two less places they can visit. Add this to the normal closure of the Soller Train for winter maintenance and the message that Soller has gone into hibernation for the winter will be known by all.
What we need now to balance our visitor numbers is snow! The minute the snow falls on the Puig Mayor and the surrounding mountains we welcome the biggest visitor numbers of the year. The cars arrive in a steady stream to drive the American road up towards Lluch. The prize is to have the miniature snowman on the bonnet of your car as you come down the mountain into town to drink hot chocolate in the Square. A little snow and lots of snowmen, women and children would be very welcome in December.