Fuengirola. A group of expats who own businesses in the port in Fuengirola held a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the current crisis they are facing regarding the fall in trade caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The group, which has set up a Facebook protest page, is appealing to the town hall to help with the problem, which, they say, is affecting more than 20 bars in the area.
The worried owners were upset by comments made by Fuengirola Mayor Ana Mula last week, when she described the port as "lively". In a post on her Facebook page, the mayor also said, "Like any area of Fuengirola, we cater to the needs of the neighbours who work in it on a daily basis." However, the comments were strongly contested by the bar owners. They claimed that instead of support, the town hall is enforcing laws that are making it impossible for them to survive.
Tolga Erguda, owner of the White Rose pub, told SUR in English that he felt as though the town hall had "let them all down".
"When we first reopened after the lockdown, the town hall promised they would do everything possible to help us. We are suffering from the loss of tourism, but the council is now insisting that we pay a fee to play background music and to show football on our TVs. If we don't have the licence, the police fine us, even though many of us have not even been able to pay our rent."
The group, which included British, Dutch, German and Turkish expats, also claimed that the town hall had not done enough to promote the port. Tolga said they had asked for signposts to be installed to direct visitors to the port, but he claimed that, even though the proposal was accepted, the signs have never materialised.
"Nothing has been done. It has all fallen on deaf ears, but they do not realise that this is our livelihood," he said.
Another business owner, who has had a bar in the port for more than 25 years but did not want to give his name, said that the situation is "devastating".
"We have had a terrible summer and we have all struggled over the past few months. The town hall's refusal to support us is making it even more difficult for us to make a living. Several bars have already shut up shop because they simply don't have the money to survive. The mayor's comments were an insult," he said.
A spokesperson for the town hall told SUR in English: "All bars in the port are subject to the same rules. If anyone has a proposal or complaint, they should make an appointment to discuss it with the town hall."