ON TUESDAY the Mayor of Valencia promised to reinforce the city’s police, following growing political pressure over the problem of mass street drinking, known as botellones, in the city.
Joan Ribó, the Mayor and a member of the left wing Compromís coalition, has agreed to provide local police with 30 more officers to combat crime and social issues related to mass street drinking gatherings.
The council has also promised to speed up penalties for alcohol consumption in the street, as well as for premises non-complying with the rules.
Ribó said: “We don’t want them to become (as has happened in Barcelona and Madrid) pitched street battles between the participants and police officers.
Political opponents in the PP and Ciudadanos had demanded action by way of an anti-botellones police unit, and they have accused the mayor of not taking the problem seriously.
On Monday the mayor appealed to young people participating in the gatherings to act with more consideration and civility in the Valencian capital.
He said: “We want to ask young people to respect the basic norms and rules of the city when alcohol is involved”.
Ribó stressed that it isn’t just a question of a police response, but the causes behind the lack of respect and manners also needs to be looked at.
Opposition Partido Popular (PP) spokesperson, María José Catalá, has insisted that dedicated police units should be based at trouble spots in the city, such as in the Benimaclet neighborhood, or the plaza of Honduras, the scenes of recent large scale gatherings.
Fernando Giner, spokesperson for the opposition Ciudadanos party (Cs) on the Valencia City Council, has criticized the mayor for his “inaction”, accusing him of ignoring complaints from neighbors and civil society. He said: “It has been two and a half years, and has not done anything”.
Neighborhood associations across Valencia have complained for weeks about the noise and the mess left following botellones, which can number into the hundreds. This month many residents took to their balconies and banged pots and pans in protest.
The Mayor said: “This city has fun and knows how to live, but it must also know how to let people sleep. We ask everyone participating on botellones to be responsible, because if not, we will take all necessary measures to guarantee the right to sleep and rest for everyone”. He assured citizens that troublemakers would be punished and that their fines would be quickly processed.