The Ayuntament of Barcelona have rejected plans to ban the burka without prior discussions (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The commission of Cultura, Educación y Bienestar Social today rejected the PP group's proposal to ban the burka throughout the city without a prior thorough debate. Almost all municipal councils have expressed opposition to the item but argue the need for a wider debate to prevent the measure becoming a prohibition which does not deal with the real causes of the problem. Daniel Torres, the commissioner of the inmigración del consistorio has announced that the Ayuntament has asked for a report on the matter from legal services. He explained "Before taking any decision we need to know what our area of responsibility is." A spokesperson for the PPC party, Maria Àngels Esteller, had called for a ban because, she says, it is a veil, covering the face and is "attentive to the dignity and freedom of women." All groups have agreed on the "isolation" that can result in this kind of veiling, although the ICV spokesperson and councilor from Women and Children, Elsa Blasco, has stated that the burka is necessary to differentiate from other Muslim headscarves but wanted to distance her party "from the xenophobic discourse that often mask these prohibitions". She went on to point out however that a ban might be necessary for security reasons. A representative of the CiU, Maite Fandos, warned of the possibility that a ban could lead to women staying at home and not leaving if the ban is not preceded by a previous work with communities.
If the trend continues, 2010 could be the year for a resurgence in tourism in Barcelona (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). According to data presented yesterday by the municipal commission of the Promoción Económica, 2010 has started better than 2009, a year marked by the effects of the crisis. In the first quarter of the year the number of tourists grew by 11.7 percent and hotel occupancy remained constant. A break down of the nationalities of the visitors for the first quarter revealed that 34.7 percent were Spanish tourists, followed by Italian (8.4percent), British (7.3 percent), French (7.3 percent), Americans (5.8 percent) and Germans (5 percent) The survey also canvassed the opinions of residents about the industry and it was revealed that one in five of the respondents said that they have a family member or friend who works in activities related to the sector and more than half the population have maintained a personal or business relationship with a tourist. Questioned about the behaviour of the average tourist opinion was divided with 55 percent of those questions believe that visitors are as uncivil than the natives, 19.8 percent believe they are worse but 17.8 percent of the local population believe that tourists behave better than locals.
Jordi Hereu revealed his remodeled government yesterday following the failure of the Diagonal consultation (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). Under the new municipal team Jordi William Carnes and Assumpta Escarp will assume major roles; Carnes will chair the executive committee and Assumpta Escarp will remain responsible for Prevention, Safety and Mobility but also assume the councilor role for the Ciutat Vella Martí district. Imma Moraleda will assume the role of leader of Culture, Education and Welfare which was previously dealt with by Deputy mayor Carles Martí. Speaking of the reshuffle Hereu said in a press conference that these are "the most imporatant changes and will reinforce our priorities in fighting the economic crisis". After the failure of the consultation the mayor has announced an adjustment in accordance to the current economic strength and to "choose what is a priority" he also added that the administrative building to be built in Glories will now not be built. In questions from journalists on the future of the city's bid for the Winter Olympics, Hereu has indicated that the project, now more than ever, needed the support of society, without it, it would "not be possible".
Also in the news: The ruling on the statute that is being prepared today and tomorrow faces serious legitimacy problems according to a survey by La Vanguardia (read article in full, in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). David Villa has signed a new contract with Barça for €40 million (read article in full, in Castilian here, La Vanguardia).