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Beach madness or good business? 

Row over exclusive areas for sunbeds.

Controversy over the use of sunbeds and parasols on the main beach of Los Cristianos has prompted people to wonder what has happened to local politics, freedom, priorities and common-sense.

Arona Council has become embroiled in a debate about the concession to hire the hundreds of “hamacas y sombrillas” which are laid out row after row at Las Vistas.

Beach users were stunned when posters went up telling sunbathers they could not lie on their towels in the zones where people had paid for sunbeds and umbrellas. There are more than 1,200 of these beds which take up a huge percentage of the beach.

At first, Arona appeared to agree with the operating company which last June entered into a contract to run the service and pay the council 1.3 million euros each year until 2016 to do so. The council said the concession holder was acting within its rights. A few days later, however, the notices were taken down amid reports that they were considered too aggressive.

Now, however, the council has admitted that it is looking into the whole situation of exclusivity and will be discussing what to do about the other beaches in Los Cristianos. Even Spain’s Coastal Department has been consulted.

Public comments suggest the whole debate is a waste of time, an intrusion into freedom and totally inappropriate when just yards away from Las Vistas is the strike “headquarters” of lifeguards who have not been paid for eight months and have to rely on the generosity of supporters in order to live whilst they still work out of personal duty.

Comments made about the situation include “You should worry about the lifeguards, not posters on the beach”, “public beaches are free without exception”, “you can put your towel where you like” and “it’s exploitation!”

Each hammock rented on the beach is said to be allocated eight square metres and those who pay say they don’t want someone at their feet lying on a towel free of charge. But the converse argument is that there are few other areas of the beach to do so and it might be too close to the waves and incoming tide. Opposition councillors also want to know exactly how many hammocks there are on Las Vistas, suggesting there are more than 1,400 and if the concession holder has paid the first 1.3 million euros. The council says there are no irregularities.

Las Vistas is the only beach being operated by a company with a formal agreement and Arona is to consider new licences for the beaches of  Los Cristianos and Troya. Sun-bathers who use towels are now left wondering if there will be any space at all left for them and if other municipalities might follow the same example.

What do you think about the exclusivity row?  Write to us at info@tenerifenews.org.es with your views