Work, Eat , Live
By Shirley Roberts
The talking points of August have been wide and various. Old friends returning are pinching themselves at the changes of the past two years. Covid and Brexit caused change, of that there is no doubt. The politics of change are one thing, but the practicalities are quite another. Resistance is met at every turn as the majority of people want things to stay as they are, which is where they feel most comfortable.
Everyone has to work… The revolution in the Soller Valley has happened because of Internet speed. The connectivity has allowed people to work from anywhere in the world, take meetings, conduct interviews and give lectures. There are more applications than that but even those four can change the world. The realisation of what this really means is just dawning on us and some are not at all happy. Do you want the Internet user to rock up in your town, rent a house and get connected to broadband? He will then give to the local community his money for shopping, pay his bills and create profit, on which to pay his tax, somewhere else. He or she is with us but not with us. These people are not called Nomads for nothing. All communities can absorb a few of these friends but when they become the dominant group in a small village or Majorcan town then the questions start being asked.
Everyone has to eat … and socialise, and in Majorca the two go together. The cafes, bars, menu del dia restaurants, we know, and love are being squeezed by high end dining. Local people love the expensive restaurants for special occasions, but it doesn’t work if you want to gather with friends for a Friday night chat over a drink and easy dinner. The squeeze is on the purse after 18 months of uncertainty and being ‘price smart’ is the new catch phrase.
So where do you go? Which restaurant fits this criteria. The choice is limited so the new interest is in restaurant openings which fit that bill. No Michelin stars, thank you very much, just listen to what many locals and second home owners want.
Everyone has to live somewhere… The fanciful years created a rule here in the Soller Valley which said that no more apartments should be built. Every house should be a minimum of 120 sq. mts. So who can buy this size house? Incomers with development money is the answer. So now we have the crews in town creating interest in run down large properties. They invest a fortune in them and sell them to the rich of other European countries. The need in Soller is for smaller properties in the price range of locals and people who work here. Many of these people would be happy in an apartment conversion of these large derelict houses. This is now on the agenda of the Town Hall, they are looking at this to change the rules. They are not happy about all the large houses being taken over by the ultra-rich who can afford the expensive conversions.
To work, to eat and to live are the basics of life and they are all under change and review. We talk for August and then watch what the decision makers have decided will come to fruition later in the year.
One outcome of Brexit is that UK people living here as residents are still entitled to vote in local elections. To have any input into what is going on you need to be registered with the Town Hall and on the electoral roll. Two years left in our current administration and then we can vote again on who represents us locally. The chats are very interesting but to really be a citizen here everyone should use the vote to which they are entitled.
The 2021 Census will reveal how many residents with UK citizenship left the Balearics as a result of Covid and Brexit. These figures will also show us the validity of our local vote. The figures taken every 10 years are used for so much in the planning world. From hospitals to schools and to all the residential laws which apply.
To be a resident of Majorca in the true sense of the world means engaging in the fiscal and law-making world we occupy. We do not occupy space in a theme park or a retirement village. Our challenge is to understand the changes which life and demography are going to make to us in Majorca. To work, eat and live in this island is constantly changing and we need to be aware and play our part.