Costly Quintas, Bats in danger, 50 more shop closures?, Government jackpot, … etc.

TODAY’S PHOTO : Thanks to Sarah … the long ascent to the church at Monte

Front Page News : source Diário de Notícias 23/11/2008

With a photo of a wastepaper bin containing €50 notes, the Diário reports on the number of mansions (quintas) that have been restored at great cost but are little used and falling back into disrepair. These buildings beautify the landscape, and enrich Madeira’s historical memories, but were restored at public expense after official intervention to prevent unacceptable deterioration. Their maintenance continues to be paid for by government. Two examples are Palacete dos Zinos in Lugar de Baixo and another known locally as ‘Casa do Governo’ in Santo da Serra. Both properties were supposed to earn enough revenue to pay for their own upkeep, but both are drastically underused.

A project to be undertaken by Madeira University to look at ways to protect endangered local animal species has been rejected (for funding presumably?) by the Foundation for Science and Technology. One of the key aims in the project was the conservation of a type of bat that is in danger of extinction, particularly as they control insect populations. A rough guess says that there are less than 100 remaining, and this is due to changes in human behaviour over the last 30 years.

’50 small shops at risk of closure in Funchal – financial difficulties and the crisis has already closed 348 shops in the last 18 months’. That’s the scary statistic the Diário has come up with to bring home the depth of impact of the recession to date. These new 50 possible closures will result in the loss of between 150 and 200 jobs, to add to the 1,361 already lost through shop and business closures across Madeira. Difficulties in obtaining credit has added to the problem of reduced customer spending. Around 47% of the current unemployment figures are as a result of these business closures.

Marítimo only managed a 0 – 0 draw last night at home against Sporting Braga, knocking them down into 5th place (for now). Nearly 5,000 supporters turned up for the game, more than turned up to watch Sporting, and league leader Leixões in Saturday’s other two games.

Other news :

SPAD (Society for the Protection of Domestic Animals) report that 200 to 300 animals are still being abandoned every month, with no end to the problem in sight. SPAD are having to turn to euthanasia to cope with the problem, a decision they do not take lightly, and they use where possible only as a last resort. Often these animals have infectious diseases that could affect other animals in their care, or suffer from serious stress conditions caused by their abandonment or spending a long period in a kennel.  It’s a long article defending SPAD and the reasons for putting animals to sleep, and I wonder if it was prompted by a readers letter to the Diário last week about stray dogs in Garajau being taken to SPAD and straightaway being put to sleep, which I didn’t particularly believe at the time, and SPAD have now effectively confirmed the matter.

Whilst budgets are being cut all over Madeira and Portugal, the Diário notes that the only budget not being cut was the one they refer to as ‘jackpot’ … the budget that pays the salaries and expenses of Madeira’s politicians, with the required expenditure being approved as submitted. Even the Azores have introduced measures to reduce these expenses. The Diário reckons that if Madeira was subject to the same financial laws as Portugal (another benefit of being a regional autonomy perhaps?), then €4 million would be saved. New legislation is to be passed in Portugal to deal with state provided political party funding which seems to have got out of hand. In exchange for a squeeze of the existing formula, the laws governing donations to political parties will be relaxed. What a disgrace that a ‘democratic government’ will not share the pain that the rest of Madeira has to suffer … maybe that fact will come back to bite them during the 2009 elections.

The beginning of December will see the opening of a new hotel in Funchal (near the Dolce Vita centre) of a type of luxury never seen before on Madeira. ‘The Vine’ will exceed the luxury found in the existing high class hotels in Funchal, marketing itself to high budget business executives. It has 57 double rooms and 22 suites furnished and equipped to a level that will only normally be found in hotels in the major North American and European cities. The hotels is designed and decorated with a theme of ‘wine’, with the restaurant being called ‘Uva’ (grape) with a French chef rated with 3 Michelin stars. It also has an open air roof swimming pool and jacuzzi. The average cost for a room is €200 per night. 85 staff will be employed, selected from the best on Madeira. Nice work if you can get it … I bet the tipping will be worth more than the salaries, that’s if they get any customers.

Nacional won 1 – 0 at home yesterday against Trofense, and rise to third place in the league table.

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If anyone is interested, the old road between Ribeira Brava and Campanário is open again after the works to secure the rock-face just outside Ribeira Brava were completed. That’s the good news … the bad news is that it is due to close again in January, to do more rock-face securing, slightly further down the same stretch of road.

My visit to the festa at Apresentaçao at the weekend brought back happy memories of when a large bottle of Coral beer was just 70 cents (in two places visited). In five short years the price in most places in Rib. Bra. is now €1, a rise of 42%. I know you guys in Funchal can pay up to €2 for the same bottle, so I guess I shouldn’t complain.

Cheering thought of the day : 4 weeks today the days will start getting longer again, and today you are (some of us at least) in the warmest driest region of Portugal as the continent is on yellow and amber weather warnings.

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9 thoughts on “Costly Quintas, Bats in danger, 50 more shop closures?, Government jackpot, … etc.”

  1. Has anyone reading this blog ever visited a Quinta? Or indeed have a desire to do so? It would be interesting to get some figures on the number of paying visitors to these places. The same goes for the many museums on the island. Do they really attract enough visitors to justify their existence?

    RE: New hotel.

    Ditto the comments I made about the new apartment blocks in CDL on Friday. Why does Madeira need another luxury hotel? What is the average occupancy level during the year for the established hotels? If a new hotel was needed why not consider opening a no frills hotel to compliment the budget airline Easyjet?

    What a disgrace that a ‘democratic government’ will not share the pain that the rest of Madeira has to suffer … maybe that fact will come back to bite them during the 2009 elections.

    I think here Der you are living in a dream world. I guess when you envisaged living on this beautiful island you had hoped for beautiful politics too!

    I have not heard of any politician from any party from any country requesting that their pay should be cut in order to show compassion towards the less well off during these difficult times.

    Just take a look at the shambles you left behind in the UK for evidence that politics is a very dirty and murky world. We didn’t even get a choice with the promotion of our current PM.

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    Alberto João Jardim ~ Democratically elected by the good people of Madeira for the past 30 years.
    –Carlos

  2. Hi Der , what are the weather alerts for?

    Why doesnt spad arrange a march , and cause a lot of problems in Funchal to get the point across about the stray dogs, cause they are clearly not winning, and the Government are doing F%&K all about, and at the end of the day its the poor dogs that suffer when it should be the stupid pathetic owners.
    –Tobi

  3. Hi Tobi.
    Yes animal cruelty in general is wide spread especially in rural Madeira. And I am not just talking about dogs. Goats, pigs, chickens etc
    The living conditions of a lot of animals on the island is absolutley appauling.

    I don't want to say that the government is totally blameless. But it is an inherent part of the culture of Madeira.

    I am not excusing the owners actions. Coming from the UK we know and understand better. I am just saying that animal welfare has never ever been high on the priorities of most Madeirans.

    I know people who keep a pig in a space so small it can't even turn around. Or a goat that is locked up inside all day. The dilemma I find myself in is who am I to come to this foreign land and start saying that you shouldn't do this or that and you need to change and do this instead. On the other hand it's hard to keep quiet.

    I guess to solve the problem you would start by educating people followed by implementing new laws preventing cruelty in the first place.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Alberto João Jardim ~ Democratically elected by the good people of Madeira for the past 30 years.

    –Carlos

  4. I think these Quintas can be rented out too.

    Easyjet planned to build a hotel here, but Bertie stopped it, saying he didn't want budget hotels on Madeira.

    Re budget: thought you might bite on that Carlos. I am a realist, and salary cuts I wouldn't expect, though paying the equivalent of 15 x minimum wage to what are really county councellors is somewhat over the top. If the Azores and the republic have chopped their own expenditure though, why not Madeira. Cheaper cars, less lunches out, less travel expenses … why not? Just reflecting what the newspaper said, so are you going to write to the Diário too?

    Tobi, heavy rain definately, maybe storms too? Only two districts in mainland Portugal not on alert.

    SPAD employees are public servants I think, so not much hope of any radical action from them.
    –Der

  5. Der Yes I took the bait!

    I will have to learn to restrain myself in the future. Of course they could all cut down, but unfortunately power blinds politicians to the real feelings of the people. And that’s not an exclusive to AJJ by the way.

    I can see why AJJ didn’t want the budget hotels as Madeira is sold as an up market resort. As such I, for one, do not want Madeira to turn into a Majorca or Ibiza type place.

    However in these changing times and the fact that Easyjet run those cheap flights to Madeira one or two budget hotels would compliment the existing island accommodation.

    On writing to the Diário. I don’t think they would even read, let alone print, my humble thoughts as they don’t fit in with their negative stance on this government.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Alberto João Jardim ~ Democratically elected by the good people of Madeira for the past 30 years.
    –Carlos

  6. I just want to say thanks to Tobi for his help with the web cam. Everything seems back on track now. I had a look at the madeira seekers web cam and was disappointed when I couldn't see Der in Ribera Brava!.

  7. If you look really close his paddling at the waters edge with his bucket and spade, hope you find the island cams usefull.

    Dont forget the new hotel in the lido has opened as well big white thing , not seen anything about it in the paper , i believe its spainish owned.

    And then the new pestana one will open next year , and then how many more are they going to build,down by praia formosa..????
    –Tobi

  8. The new hotel at the Lido is Spanish owned. It is called the Melia Madeira Mare and very swish it is too. I had the benefit of a guided tour just after it opened. I think it will be quite expensive.

  9. I think Bertie exceeds his remit in things like the Easyjet Hotel, OK he is entitled to an opinion, but in prohibiting the project I am pretty sure he is in breach of European regulations.

    That was me with my bucket and spade, well spotted Tobi.
    –Der

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