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So many shades of grey in Puerto de la Cruz 

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The work on calle Quintana is finally drawing to a close. It will be finished by the end of the month, or so we have been told, but whether that is finished, as in completed, or finished, as in there are still a few things outstanding, it remains to be seen.

Do you think that means we are going to enjoy the rest of the year without disruption or the sound of construction in the town centre? There have been rumours of the next street on their hit list, calle San Juan has been bandied about, as has calle Blanco, but without even a sniff of funds being available, both are probably unlikely to happen, at least, for the time being. It does appear that Puerto’s begging bowl has come up quite empty for 2017.

So, what do you think? I am sure they are going to say that calle Quintana is a success story, an essential part of the modernisation of the town, a must, if they are to continue to attract ever increasing numbers of tourists.

Personally I think it is boring, bland and grey, as is the new street furniture, although I do quite like the giant ashtrays they have installed. I feel, as a result, it has become even more of a thoroughfare, a means to get from A to B, not a place to linger. Straight clean lines was obviously the design, I had hoped it would be softened by planting, but that is very sparse and what about the grass banks that hide the rough concrete edges to the new terraces of the Marquesa, aren’t they an attractive feature.

Openness must be surely be the intention, because the powers to be have been quick enough to clamp down on businesses, barring them from advertising or displaying their wares on the street. An action which normally I would be the first to applaud, but in this instance perhaps a bit of colour on the street would take the edge of it. Still with all that available space, it won’t be long before a couple of cafe bars open and fill it with tables and chairs?

It is a valid point and smacks of double standards, I am not a fan of shop goods on the street, but these businesses do seem to have become ‘Authority’s’ easy target and why is the practice banned in some streets whilst an apparent blind eye is turned in others. I can emphasise, to some extent, with shop owners who claim goods on the street attract customers in and I am sure they must be frustrated when restaurant owners can fill the streets with tables and chairs seemingly unhindered, or is it just that shop owners are unwilling to pay.

I have no problem with restaurants, cafes, or bars, having outside tables and chairs; I do however won-der why they should want so many. Is it a status thing, an ego booster, mine’s bigger than yours, terrace I mean? Ok, people want to sit outside, I accept that, and not just the smokers, but whilst restaurants pay for their terrace, that is the theory anyway, they are also paying for a near empty restaurant, so they are paying twice for the same number of bums on seats. Or are they paying?

Stand in Plaza del Charco early evening and watch some of the terraces grow as extra tables appear under the cover of darkness. Everyone knows it goes on; it must be frustrating for those who play by the rules. What else is there to say, there must be a lot of people in authority walking around Puerto using a white stick or be in serious need of one?

The Ayuntamiento recently had a court ruling go against them over outside table charges levied in 2013 by a previous Administration. If I remember rightly they were trying to change from a per table charge to a charge for the area occupied. A good idea I think, only at the same time they took the opportunity to dramatically hike the charges, for some that is. I have always thought that restaurants should operate in a clearly defined space and it should be properly policed.

Other towns don’t have the same problem, take La Laguna as a prime example, each restaurant has a single line of tables along their frontage, usually 4, 6, or 8 tables. All tables and parasols throughout the city are the same and when these tables are full people go inside. However, I should say that the city has World Heritage status and as such has a particular standard to maintain, Puerto has no such restriction; I am guessing that is what makes the difference.

It is not just tables and chairs that clutter the walkways. Now (I am sure they have increased recently) we have to suffer from the invasion of the advertising boards. Complete menus, menu of the day, special offers, a banner hanging between two lampposts, I have seen them all. Even boards on street corners that are advertising restaurants two streets away. Still, at least there seems to be a down turn in PR’s on the streets, which in itself is some compensation. Those really annoying people hell-bent on trying to instil on you the virtues of eating in one particular esta-blishment, I always thought their presence had the reverse effect.

However, it is not just restaurant advertising boards that block the streets, equally, if not more so, it is the boards outside of ‘Excursion’ shops of which there are a proliferation in Puerto, almost one on every street corner. Most have a separate board for each different experience; I counted 20 outside one small shop the other day. Add mountain bikes, inflatable kayaks, and surfboards to the equation, more clutter to clog the walkways. Is this really the image the town is trying to create? Thankfully the owners of the giant cows and yellow elephants seem content to keep them in their doorways.

I am not looking for an ideal world, not do I seek to stifle enterprise, but I look around the town and witness unfairness every day. Surely there should be one rule for everyone and one rule that everyone adheres to. I am a right or wrong man, every situation is either black or white, there is no grey. Puerto on the other has so many shades of grey (not quite 50, that’s another story) and I am not referring to the colour of the paving. There is no level playing field (nor paving for that matter), it’s not what you do, or what you know, it’s who you know, who you are related to, or who you are friends of. Everyone is a cousin in Puerto de la Cruz. Nepotism rules!!

Well, that’s it, I am glad to get that off my chest,I will climb off my soapbox now, moan over, until next month.