The West End Ibiza in 2018
This year we saw some monumental changes made by San Antonio council to the times that bars were allowed to have their terraces open and when they had to close. So honestly, what effect has it had and what is the West End Ibiza like in 2018?
For those that don’t know the West End is not Ibiza. It does not define Ibiza as much as the British media would like you to think.
It is actually defined as only 4 or 5 streets in San Antonio just off the waterfront and, for the past 30 plus years, it has been the epicentre of where many of the first timers to Ibiza head for a great laugh, cheap drinks and a choice of bars and venues to while the early hours away until 5am.
However, over the years it has grown from a mix of artisan establishments, restaurants, shops and bars to mostly bars, music venues and takeaways where the excesses of Ibiza can be seen in full effect.
In 2015 a new guard of councillor was voted into power by the locals who wanted to see changes made, especially to the noise, rubbish and crime in this area of the town.
So sweeping changes have taken place. Firstly banning visible pr’s and ticket selling on the streets which was followed by the reduced hours for on the street terraces. Then this year, the biggest change of all was announced, with every premise in the 4 streets of the West End having to close at 3am regardless of anything.
The fifth street which is a mix of mainly Spanish bars and venues was excluded from this closing time mandate, for whatever reason we can only guess. I’m sure that’s another story.
So in 2018 the West End is not as it was and by 315am every bar, venue and takeaway is now closed and by 4am you can hear a pin drop on these 4 streets. So surely that’s the problem solved the noise has gone, the rubbish is less and the crime is no more.
Well that was the idea, the council thought that everyone who wanted to continue to party would head off to the Super Clubs and those that didn’t go partying would head back to their beds for a quiet early night ready for another day in Ibiza.
The reality, however, is somewhat different from the intended plan and it seems that those youngsters visiting Ibiza this year didn’t get the memo and suddenly at 3am a somewhat lost and disorganised group of people, which some nights exceeds 5000, pour out onto the streets of San Antonio.
Lost and confused as to where to go and what to do they head off aimlessly in all directions to try and continue the party atmosphere elsewhere. Be it along by the fountains, on the beaches, in the coves, in the squares of the town or even back in their hotel rooms.
This change by the council has without doubt failed to solve any of the problems that the West End created. The noise whilst it may be less in some places has increased expodentially in other areas. The rubbish which was restricted to a small area of the twon is now strewn across a much wider area.
But that’s not the only effect of this change. The criminal element that are present wherever large numbers gather are now no longer monitored or known to anyone by sight and are faced with a free run of the town available to offer laughing gas to everyone, strategically pickpocket victims or even worse with very little police presence to combat this.
Speaking of the police in Ibiza they are already extremely stretched for resources as it is so spreading out 5,000+ people has just made their job infinitely harder. Where do they go? Where do they monitor? What do they respond to first? Who and where should get their attention urgently? It’s an unenviable task, doomed to fail.
The West End was far from perfect, but it does offer some built in safeguards. With the terraces in place many of the venues employed extra security to keep an eye on their patrons inside and sat outside protecting their little area of the street, keeping the criminals at bay and their customers safe from harrassment and abuse.
The area is contained which means that the noise and rubbish are also contained to some degree. People who are tired will wander off in small groups back to their hotels when they have had enough and small groups equals less noise.
The regular criminals in this area are known to everyone and while the security is in place they tend to keep a low profile. The local police can also be more proactive knowing where everyone will be (within reason) and can respond with a more targetted and effective approach.
The local council want to improve the tourism model but by making sweeping changes all they have manage to do is hurt local businesses and their international reputation with the British press blaming the 3am closures for recent and deeply saddening incidents which has also created a social media storm and the blame game between councillors, residents, business owners and the like has ensued which is neither helpful nor constructive to the issue.
Yes San Antonio wants a better tourism model but by creating this void all it has created is more discontent between neighbours, a more widespread problem and the gulf between locals and tourists is now wider than ever.
The tourists are the same people who go to Ushuaia, Ocean Beach, Amnesia and the like and they behave. These tourists are the ones who fill the hotel beds and behave in the most part. These are the same tourists who provide an economy to so many in San Antonio and further afield across Ibiza.
Instead of blaming and putting the West End out of business is it not time for the council to support it? Help it change? Offer incentives to stop crazy drink deals? Help bars refurbish and offer something different? Offer a controlled safe environment where people can enjoy themselves, which may also attract a wider range of tourists, not just the youngsters which further improves the area.
Yes there has to be a balance between youngsters looking for a good time and those residents living close by but working together for the ultimate goal of coexistence should surely be the aim not letting the town become a ghost town.
A town with no tourists will be a sad and sorry town regardless of its reputation and without the income from tourists, the wider problems will be huge for so many people.
Personally and as much as many won’t agree, I would love to see the legal PR’s back on the streets, the times of the West End extended to those bars who abide by a set of sensible rules. The terraces to return for a longer period of time. We genuinely miss sitting out at 2am watching the world go by as do many of the older generations who visit Ibiza.
Every establishment should have its own security and be responsible for the outside of their premises as well as inside and a proper and effective communication system between security, local police and the Guardia be put in place.
Bring back the medical resources which were paid for by businesses in the West End not so many years ago but why not help fund this by the PR charges. I could go on and on but you get the general gist of my thoughts and ideas. Provide a safe and controlled environment for youngsters visiting Ibiza to enjoy themselves where with simple controls the majority will behave and be a better tourist.
Ultimately both the council and businesses have to accept a duty of care for the tourists and patrons who visit not only the West End but San Antonio as a whole and to start talking to each other and not fighting a public war of words across social media at each other as the end for one may well be the end for all.
People seem to forget these youngsters are also the future Ibiza visitors who come back year after year and spread their wings across the whole island.
As simple as it is if the youngsters stop coming to Ibiza and to San Antonio then San Antonio and Ibiza will suffer so the West End in 2018 should be the starting point to put Ibiza back on the map for all the right reasons.