Monday, February 13, 2012

A sleepy town with a noisy problem

You hear so often about the problems caused by young people in England drinking to excess at the weekends, the so called “binge drinking” and assume that this is peculiar to our native land but apparently that is not the case.

This morning I read about similar problems in the small hamlet of los Palacios, near to Formentera del Segura. Apparently weekends in the pedania are a nightmare for the local residents.

It all starts with chairs being taken from the local bars, cars coming and going and a throng of young people congregating in the streets where the bars are located. The car doors are left open to provide a mobile disco and then the party starts.  The noise and the revelling carries on until the early hours of the morning. On Fridays and Saturdays the bars close at 3:30am so that is about the time when things start to quieten down.

It isn’t just the noise levels though that people complain off, it is the fact that the streets are littered with bottles and glasses and the stench of urine which lingers permanently in the air. That is not what you would expect in a sleepy little Spanish hamlet.

People have complained to the police and the town hall.

In 2006 the area around the bars was declared to be “acoustically saturated”, bar licences were revoked and regular patrols by the Guardia Civil were instigated. Since then though, the problem has got worse. There are more bars and therefore more people and more noise.

The local people have asked for a greater police presence with constant patrols rather than just the odd car driving past. Some have even decided to try and sell up. Fat chance they have of doing that!

It isn’t just in Formentera where this problem exists, visit any Spanish town or city during the early hours of Saturday and Sunday morning and you will likely find a similar scenario. It might be convenient to have a flat in the centre of a town but it certainly will not provide you with a quiet life. For that you need somewhere outside like Villas Andrea. Even here though, we suffer from groups of young people carrying their bags of bottles up to La Pedrera to party in the summer. You have to be sound asleep not to hear their noisy return to the town in the early hours of the morning.

Some say the problem has been worsened by the high levels of youth unemployment; I’m not so sure about that. Perhaps I am wrong, but I believe this is a social phenomena brought about by modern attitudes gleaned from American television. Like the introduction of junk food into the Mediterranean diet, it is the inevitable McDonaldisation of the world and the spread of American culture across the globe. It's as welcome to older Spaniards as the law preventing smoking in public places.

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