THE Olive Press is backing a campaign to protect the livelihoods of dozens of expat businesses in Santa Catalina.

It comes after a draconian proposed law could see an estimated 42% of terraces in the Palma district shut.

Many businesses fear a dramatic impact – and a loss of dozens of jobs – if the plan to close a large portion of terraces comes into effect this year.

The new law to create more space for pedestrians would lead to 37% of terraces having to shut in Pere Garau area and around 40% in Es Jonquet.

Of the capital’s existing 1650 restaurant terraces, it is estimated around 500 would be affected.

“It’s a complete nightmare,” said Bin Shah, owner of Bindi’s restaurant. “I completely rely on my terrace in summer and I don’t know how I would survive without it.

“I would certainly have to get rid of a member of staff,” added the 50-year-old, from Loughborough.

“I don’t understand why they are doing it. I understand people need to get down the road, but what they are proposing is extreme. It’s so scary.”

She continued: “We work with tourists from Germany, Sweden and England and they all want to sit outside as they don’t get that chance at home. This is very scary.”

Under the new rules, pavements will have to be a minimum of 2.5 metres free of any obstructions, leaving little space for tables.

“This is only being done to keep a few elderly locals happy,” insisted fellow restaurateur Luca Veronesi, of Prosecco.

The Italian added: “The authorities have allowed this area to become a hip and vibrant place and now they are going to completely alter it with this law.

“This could potentially ruin a lot of businesses.”

Manager Marie from La Lollija agreed. “We are just waiting to hear at this point, and hoping, any changes to our terrace would be terrible for business.”

The local restaurant association, the citizens defence association, and the Palma neighbourhood association have all united with business owners to get a temporary stay on the plans.

They say the plans have come in after a few complaints about noise from terraces, and other irritations like more rubbish.

One group complaining is Barri Civic, which claims there are too many terraces and not enough space for locals.

Its president Marilen Mayol says that pedestrians are unable to walk down the pavements, ‘especially old people, people in wheelchairs and mothers with prams.’

She adds that the area is beginning to ‘become like Magaluf’.

This week a meeting took place at the town hall so all the relevant parties could get their views across. Owners and representatives of Santa Catalina did not come to an agreement with the city, again taking more time and meeting again the beginning of March. 

What is certain is that the restaurant scene in Santa Catalina is unlike anywhere else in Mallorca and has a very unique international vibe.

While the area has gentrified and changed rapidly, it has brought substantial business that has mostly benefited the area.

“It’s a very small minority that want this change, everybody else is here for the vibrant life that has come with the restaurants,” said El Aqua Nauta owner Pitxi Vellver, from Catalunya.

“It’s thanks to the terraces that we have all this business and jobs… there were no jobs here a few years ago,” she added.

One local expat Vicky Edmondson, from Brighton told the Olive Press: “Most of my neighbours are a young international crowd, who love this mini metropolitan area.

“It’s like a ‘village inside the city’ as we call it. It would be a big shame to destroy that.”