Prohibited, sort of

Malaga city hall has failed to get excessive alcohol consumption on the streets under control

IGNACIO LILLO

I’m not sure how I’m going to explain this to my Swedish neighbours, who are very northern European and see everything as black and white and don’t really understand our nuances. I can imagine the conversation going something like this:

“So, street drinking is banned, then?”

“Well, yes, sort of.”

“But how can you only sort of ban something?”

“Well, you know the way things are here, they ban something in general but then they’ll turn a blind eye at certain times, or maybe nearly all of the time ...”

Malaga council has failed in its duty to control the massive consumption of alcohol in the street, the “botellón” parties as they are known. It’s important to know that, if you are to understand other things, like how it is impossible to live a normal life in much of the historic city centre.

There is no response to demands from residents and others affected (including bars, restaurants and shops), no bottles seized, no action taken against offenders - and for me it could be one or a thousand. Instead, their latest brainwave has been to copy Seville’s brilliant idea at its April fair: at certain times of day during the Malaga fair in August, people will be banned from buying alcoholic drinks from shops, and that will apply to everyone.

It is already being taken for granted that this fair, which hasn’t taken place for two years due to the coronavirus, is going to be complete mayhem and out of control. But instead of focusing on prevention, and mobilising all the officers in the Local Police force, asking the government delegate in Malaga for help from the National Police and contracting private security if necessary, no, let’s ban all the shops and supermarkets in the city centre from selling drinks. There, that’s all sorted now.

We need to see which areas this is going to affect, because if it includes the Victoria district I’ll have to stock up in advance in case I fancy a beer at eight o’clock in the evening and the local shopkeeper tells me I can’t buy any because it’s banned!

You’ll see, in the end we will all be there, me, the kids, and everybody, in the same hypermarket buying our drink for the fair; because in reality we all know that the bags full of bottles that people take with them to their “botellón” parties have been bought where it is cheaper, not in city centre shops.

If we want to be really creative, we could close all the tourist apartments which can accommodate more than four people during the week of the fair, so there are fewer tourists wanting to enjoy a few drinks outside. Or, even better, we could just ban people aged between 16 and 25 from the city centre altogether, because they are the ones who get together to drink in the street.

The saddest thing is that we all know that the coming fair, in the city centre and on the fairground, is going to turn our lovely Malaga into a gigantic outdoor drinking binge, and nobody is going to stop it..