There has been a lot of political controversy emanating from the town of San Antonio recently. It seems a number of business people, vested interests and political opportunists are not happy with the manner in which the sunset resort governs itself and they have been very vocal in their outcry. The current local Government in San Antonio is made up of a coalition of political parties that came together to oust the center right pro business party, Partido Popular, which is supported and influenced by wealthy Spanish businessman on the island. In 2013 the PP party initiated the demise of the West End by reducing its then opening hours, amid rumours that the big clubs wanted its main competitor reigned in. It now seems their political opponents, Reinicia, will finish the job for them.
More upsetting for the PP party in San Antonio, will be the gilded opportunity they presented to the lefties to score the valuable political goal of sentencing the West End to death by a thousand cuts. They have delivered on their election promise to rid San Antonio of what they see is a foreign blight on their town, after receiving a political mandate from the majority of the people living there to do so. Screams of foul play, old scores being settled and attacks on elected politicians characters, has been the order of the day ever since the local council voted last week to implement severe restrictions on the West End’s opening hours, which in effect will make it extremely difficult for bar owners to trade profitably. To seal its fate, the coalition voted by a clear 20% majority, to declare the area a Special Acoustic Protection Zone, forcing all bar and small clubs in the area to close by 3am, the traditional peak hour of business in the West End.
While one feels understandably sympathetic to those good bar owners affected by this new law, it has been the continuous sins of the few, that has forced the town council to take this action. Some of the big West End pirates, were present at the town council meeting where local businessmen were shouting abuse at elected representatives as they implemented the will of the people. These renegades (who everybody knows) have ruined it for everybody, by ignoring past curfews and blatantly defying local law and order, in turn setting the low standards for others to follow. When you act like a pirate, expect to be treated like one.
It’s indeed a sad day for San Antonio and the jobs affected by this decision, but everybody knew this day was coming, the only real surprise for many neutral observers in Ibiza, is the fact that they actually did it, with much of the political kudos going to Pablo Valdés Cardona, the man vilified by political opponents for leading the councils crusade to exterminate the West End in its present form. Their fury is finding a welcome home in the British Tabloids, always quick to ridicule or sensationalise anything to do with San Antonio and headline another attack on the resort. Mr Valdés represents a new generation of Ibicenco that wants to stamp their own identity on the town and he will be remembered as the man who reclaimed the West End for the people of San Antonio.
We saw democracy in action last week, the people of San Antonio voted not to live in urine and vomit fouled doorways, where drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes and pickpockets roam freely. Where violent gangs control the streets and it unsafe for local children to roam on a late summers evening. Schools, residential blocks and shops all border the West End and one gets the feeling that people have had enough of the cheap and nasty alcohol deals that attract the naive and young, many of which end up passed out on a pavement or worse still, dead after falling from a balcony window or doing some other crazy shit while off their heads on cocktails of designer drugs. Too many families have had to burden the pain of bringing a loved one home in a coffin from Ibiza. Many locals believe it’s time to change the environment that creates these social problems as they take the view that prevention, is better than cure.
The West End, like other iconic institutions in Ibiza, has had its day. There is a new generation of independent Tourist visiting the island and they are looking for a more upmarket and authentic local experience. What is found in the West End is not authentic or Spanish, it is in the main British, a nation that is set to leave Europe next year. Brexit will impact on the type of Tourist that will holiday in a higher cost Ibiza and San Antonio has already responded to this change, with a number of refurbished hotels and a more quality driven product being offered. It’s contained in their plan for the redevelopment of the resort where locals want tourists to respect and value their holiday resort, not abuse it.
I believe in San Antonio and the brave new direction they are taking to improve the image of their town and the quality of its product. It can do much better for itself so it’s time for change and to bid farewell to the current West End, a relic of times past. They say all truth passes through three stages. First it is ridiculed, second its violently opposed and thirdly, it is accepted as being self evident. When we look back on a regenerated West End in a decades time, expect to see a very different business model in place, one that is cosmopolitan and vibrant, open and free and reflects the proud culture and hospitality of a beautiful seaside port.